Period Pieces Art Nouveau Jewelry

Period Pieces

Amethyst and Pearl Art Nouveau Lavalier

February 3, 2017 6:38 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Art Nouveau

Amethyst and Pearl Art Nouveau Lavalier

This is not an amethyst!  This pretty lavalier is set with a garnet/glass doublet.

And what, you ask, is that?  Well.  A garnet/glass doublet is an assembled stone consisting of a thin crown of garnet, usually almandine, fused or glued to a colored glass

They were developed to imitate amethyst, peridot, tourmaline, and other transparent gems popular in the last half of the 19th century.  Amethyst in particular was scarce and expensive.  Russia was the major source of amethyst until it was discovered in Brazil in the nineteenth century, causing the price to drop.  Queen Charlotte owned an amethyst bracelet which was valued at £2000 at the beginning of the 18th century and only £100 two hundred years later.

Why use garnet?  Garnet is the only stone which will easily fuse to glass.  Garnet has a hardness approximately equal to that of amethyst, and greater than that of glass, so the garnet cap keeps the top of the 'stone' from scratches.  And, even though the garnet is red, the cap is so thin that doublets can be made in any color, even colorless.  Looking at the stone from the top, the color is determined by the color of the glass.

In our catalog:

Art Nouveau Lavalier

February 1, 2017 6:58 pm
Estate Jewelry : Other Metals

Art Nouveau Lavalier

Synthetics and Imitations

When is a gem not a gem?  When it's a synthetic or an imitation.  Are those the same?  Nope.  Synthetic gemstones are man-made, but have the same chemical composition and structure as the natural gem.  Imitations are just that...some other substance that looks like (to some extent at least!) and pretends to be the nature-created gemstone.  

Historically, gemstones have been an easily portable form of wealth.  We've all heard stories about refugees fleeing with diamonds sewn into hems.  Since gems are easily portable and of high value, it inevitably follows that some people will try to pass of imitations or synthetics as the real thing.

But, this is a big but, synthetics and imitations are not intrinsically bad.  It's only when they're made/sold with intent to deceive that the whole business of right and wrong comes into the equation.  Sometimes a substitute 'gem' is the result of ignorance and sometimes it's a good idea.  Way back when, all green gems were known as emeralds, even though there are many other green gems.  And one of the rubies in the British Crown jewel collection, the Black Prince's Ruby, has long been known to be a spinel.  And think of the many elegant ladies who have had their jewelry copied with not-real stones to deter thievery!

One of the very popular imitations, rampant in Victorian times, was the garnet-glass doublet.   Some families spent their evenings working together to pour glass into  gemstone-shaped molds that had a very thin slice of garnet in the bottom.  When cooled and taken from the mold, voila, a gemstone!  The bulk was inexpensive glass, and the flat top, known as the table, hard, scratch-resistant garnet.  The garnet slice in these doublets is so thin that the color of the gem depends on the color of the glass.  Amethyst and peridot were the most popular and many lovely pieces of jewelry held these doublets rather than the real thing.

And sometimes just plain glass was used as an imitation, as is the case in this pretty Art Nouveau lavalier! 

In our catalog:

Elegant Amethyst & Pearl Lavalier

January 27, 2017 7:35 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Art Nouveau

Elegant Amethyst & Pearl Lavalier

Amethyst occurs in  colours ranging from the palest lavender to the deepest red-purple.  Its beauty makes it suitable for any form of jewelry.  A variety of quartz, it has a hardness of 7, which also makes it ideal for rings and bracelets.

This lovely gem has been used by man for adornment since ancient times.  Because of the way it forms, large stones are readily available, making it a favorite of jewelry makers and carvers through the ages.

In Victorian England amethyst was rare and expensive.  Garnet and glass doublets were frequently made to imitate amethysts.  Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) had an extremely expensive amethyst necklace, which lost considerable value after the discovery of Russian amethyst (1799) depressed the market.

Brazilian amethyst commonly is found as perfect crystals lining gas cavities in lava flows These geodes may reach sizes of 4-5 feet in diameter.  Such geodes are commonly found for sale at rock and gem shows along with smaller geodes, which are split and displayed on stands.

Amethyst may be heat treated to lighten dark stones, or to change the color completely or partially to yellow, to produce citrine or bicolored ametrine.

Many myths are associated with amethyst.  The name comes from the Greed 'amethustos' which means 'not drunken'.  It was used as a talisman to prevent drunkenness, and thus was a popular material for wine glasses.  Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence.

This lovely Art Nouveau lavalier is set with a large central amethyst and has an amethyst dropper.

Garnet and Pearl Ring

January 26, 2017 4:09 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold

Garnet and Pearl Ring

Garnet RingThe birthstone for January is the garnet.  To most people, this means the dark red stone, as shown in this ring, but garnets are an incredibly diverse group of gems.  At least eleven major types of garnet are known, ranging in color from colorless to black, and including yellow, orange, and green.

Garnets are rarely synthesized, but misleading trade names are, alas, often seen.   Cape ruby, Arizona ruby, California ruby, Rocky Mountain ruby, and Bohemian garnet all refer to Pyrope garnets.  Malaya is a trade name for a pyrope-spessartine that varies in color from red, through shades of orange and brownish orange to peach and pink.

This vintage ring is 14k gold set with a beautiful garnet surrounded by seed pearls.

 Legends: Noah used a garnet lantern to steer his ark at night. Travelers carried garnets for protection from evil and disaster.  Garnets are said to promote sincerity and stop loss of blood.

Care:  Garnet is a hard gemstone [7 to 7.5], but like diamond and sapphire, can be chipped, so treat your jewelry with the care it deserves.

In our catalog:

Marquise Diamond & Emerald Ring

January 8, 2017 9:09 pm
Estate Jewelry : Platinum : Vintage

Marquise Diamond & Emerald  Ring

Rings have been worn for many reasons, adornment being a major one, since prehistoric times.  Wood, iron and other non-precious metals, gold, semiprecious stones, precious stones, cameos, seals...the variety is fascinating.  As methods for working metals and cutting stones became more sophisticated, so did ring designs.

Cocktail rings became popular during the Prohibition Era, presumably because the wearers wanted to call attention to their uninhibited behaviour (drinking illegal cocktails) and status (rich!).  Certainly the rings, big and flashy and generally beautiful, are attention-getters.  Big, flashy rings continued to be popular in the 1940s and 50s and onward.  Today, rings of this type are often referred to as Statement Rings.

This diamond and emerald ring can certainly make a statement for you!  The central marquise-cut diamond is surrounded by emeralds and more diamonds.  It’s beautiful and romantic and a grand companion to any cocktail—or lady’s hand.