Period Pieces Art Nouveau Jewelry

Period Pieces

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.

In our catalog:

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.

Titanic-Era Peridot Necklace with Seed Pearls

August 4, 2013 3:56 pm
Estate Jewelry : Gold : Edwardian

Titanic-Era Peridot Necklace with Seed PearlsTitanic-Era Peridot Necklace with Seed Pearls

Titanic-Era Peridot Necklace with Seed Pearls


Peridot [the 't' is silent] is the birthstone for August.  It is a lovely semiprecious stone, transparent and lime or olive green in color. Favored by King Edward of England, and given by Napoleon to Josephine, this stone is evocative of nature—its lovely color brings to mind the green fields and burgeoning hopes of spring.

In Ye Olden Days, it was thought that all green stones were emeralds (and all red stones were ruby, all blue were sapphire). Not all of history’s famous gems, including some in crown jewel collections, are what they were thought to be. Many historic "emeralds" are actually peridot.

Peridot is the gemstone for 16th wedding anniversaries, the state gemstone of Nevada, and the national gem of Egypt. Peridot is sometimes called “Brazilian Emerald.”  “Chrysolite” is a mineralogical term that includes peridot, and it is sometimes called by that name.

Originally mined on an island in the Red Sea which was the property of Egyptian Pharoahs beginning around 1500 BC, the island and its green treasure was guarded jealously, with death the fate of would-be thieves!

The location of the island called Zabargad, and later St. Johns, was actually lost for centuries. Mining started again after the island was rediscovered in the early 20th century, but the mines played out in the 1930s. Peridot also sometimes occurs in meteorites – how cool is that!

The legends and lore of peridot are numerous, as might be expected of a stone with such a long history of popularity. Here are a few:

            brings good luck, peace, and success;

            attracts love and helps friendship;

            calms anger, soothes nerves. and dispels envy;

            helps dreams become reality;

            was worn by pirates (Arr!) for protection from evil;

            protects against terrors of the night when set in gold;

            works best when worn on the right arm [Pliny the Elder].

Peridot can be broken by a sharp blow, and it can be scratched, so take care! Do not clean peridot in a home ultrasonic cleaner; use warm, soapy water and a soft brush. (And work over a bowl of water, not the sink drain.)

Co-Written by Jocelyn Reynolds (Period Pieces,  and Jenny Andersen,