Friday, September 21, 2012

New Video Feature – Discovering Sapphires

We’re delighted to introduce our new video feature, Discovering Sapphires.

This short presentation explores the history of the gemstone that is emblematic of romantic love for many societies around the world and presents items of fine sapphire jewelry from our collection.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gold: Power and Allure

The Goldsmiths’ Company’s summer exhibition this year explores the history of the most coveted of metals—gold.

Some say that gold was the first metal to be worked by man, due to its unique natural properties.  Gold is the most malleable of all metals, making it easily worked, and just one gram of gold can be hammered into a one square metre sheet.   Gold is also extremely heavy, which makes it easy to collect.  Much gold is found in alluvial sources, and because it is heavier than any other particles in the river, it can be separated from other minerals and debris.  It is said that the ancients used sheep fleeces to filter rivers with gold deposits, into which the heavy gold pieces would become embedded—perhaps resulting in the Ancient Greek myth of the Golden Fleece.

Unlike most other metals, gold is also non-corrosive, not to mention exceptionally beautiful, and thus it is no surprise that it has been coveted since ancient times.  The oldest known gold articles were found in Bulgaria, however the ancient Egyptians are perhaps best known for the finest ancient gold jewellery.   The Egyptians sourced their gold from Nubia, an area in the southernmost part of modern day Egypt.  Nubian gold was made into some of the most famous ancient gold artefacts known today, including the treasure of King Tutankhamen.

Gold is never found in its pure form, but instead mixed with other metals—known as an alloy— most often silver and copper.  Pure gold, from which all impurities have been removed, is known as twenty four carat gold.  The measure of fineness of gold expressed as a percentage of pure gold to other added metals, this being the benchmark for purity.  Eighteen carat gold, for example, is eighteen parts pure gold and six parts other alloy metals.

The colour of gold, which is naturally yellow, can be altered depending on the type and amounts of alloy metals added.  In addition to yellow, other colours of gold are white gold, green gold, and red (or rose) gold.  The further benefit of such alloys is that they increase the hardness of gold, which is naturally quite soft, making it more durable and, in turn, more suitable for jewellery.

Gold work is often marked with a hallmark—a small stamp which indicates its purity, often in addition to the stamp indicating the maker, or maker’s mark.  This system has been in place since the middle ages.  The Goldsmiths’ Company is the body in England that regulates hallmarking, which has been in operation since 1300.

‘Gold:  Power and Allure’ runs from the first of June to the twenty eight of July at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London.  For more information follow the link:

http://www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/exhibitions-promotions/

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Rare Golconda Diamond Ring

In honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the sixtieth year of her reign, Buckingham Palace is hosting an exhibition of some of the most important pieces of diamond jewellery in the Royal Collection.  It is a rare chance to view three centuries of royal jewels, most of which have rarely, if ever, been on display.

The diamond-themed exhibition will showcase a number of antique jewels in the Royal Collection, including Queen Victoria’s coronation earrings and necklace of 1838, her diamond fringe brooch created in 1856, as well as Queen Mary’s tiara, made for the queen consort in 1893. Acquired by the present queen, in the exhibition will also be the ‘South Africa’ necklace and bracelet which she received on her tour of the country in 1947, and her famous ‘Williamson’ diamond brooch made by Cartier in 1952, set with a glorious 23.60 carat pink diamond.

As always, the Crown Jewels—a collection of regalia used primarily for state occasions—will also be on display in the Tower of London.  This collection includes one of the most famous diamonds in history, the 106 carat Koh-i-noor ( ‘Mountain of Light’), which was acquired by Queen Victoria from India in 1850.  This magnificent stone, prized for its size, colour and clarity, was mined in the Golconda region of India, the ancient source of the world’s finest diamonds.  It is now set into a platinum crown made for the late Queen Mother, and is only worn by queens as it is said to bring bad luck to any man who bears it.

This most famous of diamonds is known in the gemmological world as Type IIa, one of the four classifications of diamonds based on precise chemical composition.  Unlike the other three types (Ia, Ib, and IIb), IIa diamonds are pure carbon, and due to their purity exhibit superior transparency and colourlessness.  They are the rarest of all diamonds, making up only two percent of gem-quality stones.  Berganza is extremely lucky to have one such diamond in the present collection–featured in the ring pictured above—, fortune only surpassed by that of the future purchaser!

For more information of the Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration exhibition, please follow the link:

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/exhibitions/summer-opening-of-buckingham-palace-diamonds-a-jubilee-celebration

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Exceptional Ring by Lacloche Frères

The jewellery firm of Lacloche Frères was founded in 1875 in Madrid, Spain by a family of four brothers:  Fernand, Jacques, Jules and Leopold Lacloche.  In 1892 the firm moved to Paris, taking up a shop on the Avenue de l’Opera, where they competed among the top jewellers, including Cartier, Boucheron and Van Cleef and Arpels.   In these early years in Paris Lacloche produced jewellery in the reigning Belle Époque style, of which this ring is a rare and exceptional example.  The ring exhibits all the hallmarks of this high style, including delicate floral motif, openwork scrolls and elongated bezel, all executed in platinum topped yellow gold and a two-tone gemstone combination;  the latter element was most often comprised of diamonds with one other precious coloured gem, typically ruby, sapphire or emerald.  Pieces made by the firm are recognizable for the intricacy of craftsmanship, this being no exception, as exemplified by the fine pavé setting of the calibré-cut rubies, which was a new technique introduced around this time. Few early Lacloche pieces are seen today, and fewer still rings, making this, in conjunction with the outstanding quality of the work, a collector’s item.  It is truly an example of the crème de la crème of French Belle Époque jewellery.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Take advantage of our free gift wrapping service!

We are pleased to now offer complimentary gift wrapping on all purchases.  Either request the service at our shop, or if purchasing online, tick the ‘Gift wrap this item’ box when in the Shopping Basket stage of purchase.  Your gift will be wrapped in our signature gold paper and navy blue Berganza ribbon.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Try Our New Wish List!

Just in time for the holidays, you can now email your Wish List of favourite items via both the Berganza website and our mobile site.  Simply add your favourite items to your Wish List and select ‘Email list to a friend’ to make gift-giving a more uncomplicated and pleasant experience for all.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New MMS Feature — Text Your Favourite Jewel to a Mobile!

You can now send information on your favourite pieces of jewellery via text message!  Just select ‘Send to Phone’ on the jewellery item page, and enter the mobile phone number of the recipient to share your desired items.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Discover our New Mobile Site!

We have recently refurbished our mobile website for your convenience.  You can now shop, save and send a list of your favourite items, edit your account details, read about our latest featured items, and much more.  Just type www.berganza.com into your mobile browser and you will automatically be redirected to our streamlined site.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Jewels of Elizabeth Taylor

A number of jewels once belonging to the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor were exhibited at Christie’s London last month, in a prelude to the upcoming sale set to place in New York City.  Aptly labelled by the auction house as ‘The Crown Jewels of Hollywood’, it is poised, the year being only 2011 notwithstanding, to be the jewellery sale of the century.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in Hampstead, London in 1932, the daughter of two Americans of artistic disposition, her father an art dealer, her mother an actress.  She is quoted as saying, ‘My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring.  I was hooked.”  And so she was, on both jewellery and matrimony.

‘Liz’, as she apparently did not like to be called, vies for the title of greatest jewellery collector of her day, a testament to which is the fact that two important diamonds bear her name.  She received rare and important jewels from her string of famous husbands (of which there were seven), as well as purchasing on her own account, being the utmost connoisseuse.   The first diamond named for the star will be sold by Christie’s—the Elizabeth Taylor diamond.  Originally known as the Krupp diamond, it was given to her by once-and-again husband, the famed actor Richard Burton, in 1968. It is a 33.19 carat Asscher cut diamond set in a platinum ring, flanked by tapered baguettes, and is conservatively estimated to fetch between 2.5 to 3.5 million US dollars.

Though most would assume that a diamond of that magnitude could not be topped, in the very next year Burton gifted his wife with what is now known as the Taylor-Burton diamond.  The pear shaped diamond was cut by the premier American jeweller, Harry Winston, with a final weight of 69.42 carats, and was set into a necklace by Cartier.  It is said that Ms Taylor would casually toss the diamond necklace into her jewel box, which resulted in a chip—proving that diamonds are not indestructible, despite the common misconception.  Not a part of the sale, today the Taylor-Burton diamond is now owned by Robert Mouawad, and after being recut to remove the chip, weighs and even 68.00 carats.

Another famous diamond in the exhibition, yet another gift from Burton, is the ‘Taj Mahal’ diamond, set in a Mughal style necklace.  This historic diamond, believed to have been cut circa 1628, was once owned by Shah Jahan, who commissioned the famed building—itself a temple to love—for which it bears the name.   Not only of rare provenance, its cut and decoration are unusual—a flat, heart-shaped diamond inscribed with the words ‘Love is Everlasting’ in Arabic script.

Not without variety, perhaps the world’s most famous pearl—La Peregrina—is also part of this epic sale.  Meaning ‘The Wanderer’ in Spanish, this pear-shaped 55.95 carat pearl is believed to have been found in the Gulf of Panama in the mid-sixteenth century, and as a part of the Spanish colonies at the time, was given to then king, Phillip II of Spain.  It is said to have been worn my Queen Mary I of England, his wife, and appears in various European royal portraits, including one by Velasquez.  It was subsequently in the possession of other illustrious persons, including Napoleon III, before finally ending up in the collection of Elizabeth Taylor.

This is just a small selection of the fabulous jewellery of Ms Taylor.  The exhibition will continue at various locations around the world, before being sold in New York City on the thirteenth of December.

Image:  The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, copyright Christies Images

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Stunning Art Deco Bracelet by Georges Fouquet

The renowned French jewellery firm of Fouquet was founded in 1862 by Alphonse Fouquet (1828-1911).  Alphonse was particularly renowned for his jewels in the Renaissance revival taste, many of which incorporated engraved gems, cameos and enamelled miniature paintings of the highest calibre. His jewels were exhibited at various International Exhibitions, including those of 1878 in Paris and 1883 in Amsterdam.

The successive generations carried on this excellence in quality and design. Alphonse’s son Georges (1862-1957) took over management of the firm in 1895, and maintained its high standards and cutting-edge designs.  He is particularly known for his Art Nouveau works which are considered to be on par with Lalique, and for which the House of Fouquet won praise at the 1900 Paris Exhibition with their jewels designed by Czech painter Alphonse Mucha.  One such collaboration was made for the famed turn-of-the-century actress Sarah Bernhardt.

The firm next took up with great mastery the Art Deco style, with the help of Georges’ son Jean, who contributed to their display at the famed 1925 Exposition, from which the movement acquired its name. Georges himself was the President of the Bijouterie-Joaillerie class at the Exhibition.  Shortly thereafter he retired from the firm, ceding full control to Jean.

The present bracelet was most likely created under Georges’ tenure of management, based on its early Art Deco style, placing its manufacture date between 1920 and 1925.  The delicacy of weight, monochrome palette, and use of fine millegraining act together to suggest this timeframe.  The graceful design harks back to Georges’ Art Nouveau jewels, yet the austerity of line and colour render the design timeless.

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