Thursday, October 3, 2013

Shop Renovations Complete!

Over the past year and a half the Berganza shop has been under renovation while still remaining open to our customers. Our aim has been to improve our service by having more space for stock, to research jewellery pieces, accomodate our expanding library, to sort stones, and room for our archives. We are well equipped to continue to provide our customers with a high level of knowledgeable service that they expect when buying important pieces of jewellery.

Berganza is now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! Make sure you follow us to keep up to date with our latest acquisitions, jewellery news, current trends, ideas and inspiration.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hollywood comes to Hatton Garden!

Filming of ‘Red 2′!

Berganza was transformed into a Russian jewellers for the day…

Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta -Jones came to Hatton Garden for the day to film the upcoming release of Red 2 directed by Dean Parisot, hitting cinemas this July!

Greville Street was made into a Russian film set, shop fronts were turned into grocery stores, takeaways and flower shops, while Berganza remained a jewellers. Our window display was gazed upon by extras as our Hollywood stars took to the set.

Even in the hive of activity we remained open for business, making our customers’ days all the more memorable!

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Winners of The People’s Vote for Object of the Year!

For this year’s Country Life – LAPADA Object of the Year competition we submitted an extremely important ring from our collection. It is an amethyst memorial ring for the Right Honourable George Grenville (British Prime Minister, 1763-1765), English, circa 1770.

George Grenville (14 October 1712 – 13 November 1770) was a prominent British Whig statesman during the reign of George III. Educated at Eton, Christ Church and Oxford University, he led a distinguished political career, which included holding the positions of Treasurer of the Navy, Leader of the Commons, Northern Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, and ultimately, Prime Minister. He is perhaps best known for the Stamp Act of 1765 on the American colonies which, due to major opposition there, played a part in provoking the revolution. He was one of five brothers, all of whom became MPs, as did his sons, George and William.

Setting aside the historical importance of the man it commemorates, the ring is a wonderful, rare piece of Georgian craftsmanship in excellent condition. Due to the large size and quality of the ring it may well have been commissioned as a commemorative piece to be worn by his son, William Grenville, who also went on to serve as Prime Minister from 1806 to 1807.
This ring is of undoubtable importance, and thanks to your support we won The People’s Vote!

Thank you very much to everyone who voted for us in celebrating the quality and rarity of this truly important ring.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

The Great Gatsby: Glamour of the Roaring Twenties

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In anticipation of the upcoming release of Baz Luhrmann’s new adaptation of the film ‘The Great Gatsby’ we take a closer look at the sumptuous style and elegance of Art Deco period jewellery, which was at its height in the decade in which the story takes place: the glamorous 1920s.

The central character of the film Daisy Buchanan played by Carey Mulligan, is bedecked with sumptuous deco jewels luxuriously set with an abundance of diamonds and pearls.

After the end of World War I, women enjoyed a new freedom of living and a more important part in society and this was reflected in the clothes and jewellery that they wore. Originality became sought after, bringing a freedom of expression to designers and makers. Working closely with the fashions of the time, jewellery design incorporated new or rediscovered materials and developments in technology and followed the forms of a new artistic revolution adopted by artists and architects.

After the naturalism of Art Nouveau, geometry became the new style and forms became simpler and purer with an enhanced clarity of lines and shapes. Platinum became the metal of the decade and this was the perfect background to set off the distinct blocks of colour of large transparent gemstones contrasting with opaque materials such as onyx, jade and coral.

Headdresses, layered pearl bracelets, drop earrings, hair slides and big diamond rings – Carey Mulligan looks every inch the wealthy flapper girl. Of course, it will take more than jewels to recreate the style, elegance and talent of one of our favourite actresses in this film, but at Berganza we are lucky enough to boast a fantastic selection of Art Deco jewellery from the 20s period that will help along the way. Surely the most luxurious decade of all was the 1920s, and what better way to channel glamour and style than to wear a genuine piece of original Art Deco period jewellery?

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Tudor Rings

On display at the Victoria & Albert Museum is a mesmerising collection of over 150 objects, jewellery and paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries, shown to highlight the relationship between the British Monarchy of the Tudor and Stuart courts and the Russian Tsars. This exhibition would be of interest to anyone fascinated by hand crafted objects from this period, with some being good enough to be presented as gifts to foreign Royalty. Within this exhibition are three gold finger rings that were made in the 16th – 17th centuries. One is an ancient sapphire intaglio set within an early 17th century ring, another is a memorial / wedding ring circa 1550 – 1600 and lastly a signet ring circa 1580, all with decorative scrolling shoulders, which are interesting comparisons to some important new additions to our collection. The V&A holds a vast array of important rings from this period and we are lucky to have such pieces of museum quality here at Berganza.

The Treasures of the Royal Courts exhibition coincides with our recent acquisition of an extremely rare medieval ring, circa 15th – 16th century. It is a yellow gold ring set with a faceted ruby and is in excellent condition. At this time, rubies would have come from both India and Ceylon, and diamonds were rare. By the early fifteenth century diamonds and gemstones were being faceted as this brought out the desired reflective properties that the earlier cabochon cut gemstones just didn’t display. Yellow gold would have come from various sources, as it was being imported from the Arab world and European production was increasing, with the first gold producing mine in Europe being at Trenmitz in Bohemia, discovered in the 1320s. This ring is a rare and fascinating example of early gemstone cutting, set within its original typical crescentric scalloped closed back quatrefoil collet, tapering inwards to trumpeted supportive shoulders carved with foliate imagery and further detailed with niello inlay. At approximately 500 hundred years old, this is still set with its original ruby and is in remarkable, wearable condition.

Comparable pieces to this new addition are our earlier medieval amethyst cabochon ring, circa 14th – 15th century and the cabochon sapphire ring circa 12th – 15th century . This rounded effect of a cabochon was gained by polishing and rubbing the stone, which is seen prior to the early 15th century. The amethyst probably came from Europe, as quartz at this time was found in Germany, France and Switzerland, with amethyst being the purple variety. Sapphires were a popular choice, coming from Ceylon and encircling regions, finding their way to jewellers via trade routes.

From the 15th – 16th century we have a silver signet / fede ring in our collection. Silver was produced mainly in Western Europe and was also gained as a by-product of lead mining around this time. It was considered the second most precious metal to gold and was also used as settings for gemstones. This piece is engraved with an image of a dog, representing fidelity, two overlapping hearts and two clasped hands to the rear of the shank, making this a fede ring of love imagery. This is a fair size, leading us to believe this may have been the wedding band of a noble man.

Furthermore, we have another new addition from the 14th – 15th century of a silver gilt seal ring engraved with an image of the Agnus Dei. This has an oval bezel with intricate engraving and dotted border, bearing resemblance to the signet ring in the aforementioned exhibition at the V&A and the detailing in the signet / fede ring above, which would have been worn by a gentleman of religious belief.

Rings from the late medieval period that are in fine condition are extremely rare. Those detailed above are fantastic examples of the types of workmanship seen at this time, across different metals and serving different purposes. To own and even wear a medieval piece of such rarity is to own a piece of jewellery history, comparisons of which can be seen on display in museums and in portraits from this time. See pictured, Queen Elizabeth of Austira, 1571, with two yellow gold rings set with early faceted gemstones, and further to her dress.

The ‘Treasures of the Royal Courts’ exhibition is on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum until July 14th 2013.
Sources: Cherry, J. ‘Medieval Goldsmiths’, The British Museum Press, 2011.
For comparison: Scarisbrick. D, ‘Rings, Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty’ Thames & Hudson, 2007, Page244.
Oman, C.C, ‘Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Rings 1930’ Anglia Publishing, 1993, image 281, 16th century, image 256, 13th or 14th century.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Roman Jewellery – Pompeii and Herculaneum

The British Museum’s eagerly awaited new Exhibition ‘Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ will be opening on 28th March. With more than 34,000 visits booked three weeks before the opening this is a once in a lifetime chance to gain a fascinating insight into daily life at the heart of the Roman Empire, and some of the top exhibits are items of jewellery worn by the people of these cities at the time of the eruption – one of the most impressive exhibits being a gold snake bracelet made of solid gold. In celebration of this exhibition we will be highlighting a few selected pieces from our extensive collection of Roman jewellery.

In Roman times to be adorned in gold from head to toe was a sign of the very highest status. Images of real and fantastic animals were of widespread popularity in jewellery design, and indeed one of the highlights or our current collection of genuine Roman rings at Berganza is a gold lion ring made during the 1st century BC.

Finger rings were the most popular type of jewellery worn during the Roman period and were worn by men, women and children. Most male finger rings had a function to perform. These were signet rings used as a form of royal insignia by higher-ranking officials. Ladies rings however were used solely as decoration and were ornately carved in precious metals or gem set with garnets, cornelians, agates and jasper.

A significant signet ring in our collection is a grey chalcedony ring dating from the 2nd century AD. The ornate gold ring is set with an intaglio, or engraved gemstone, carved with a full-length figure of the Greek god Zeus, seated on his throne and holding a sceptre. Zeus was god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian gods, and we can only imagine that the original owner of this ring was an important man of the highest rank in Roman society. The shank of the ring is ornately decorated with filigree, a fine gold wire that was finely manipulated by bending and soldering to form the most intricate of designs, popular amongst those who could afford it to show off their wealth and status. Gemstone engraving was an important art form in Roman times, and due to the hardness of the stones was something only the most skilled and specialist craftsmen could achieve. The designs would often take months to be cut into the stone using abrasive powder ground from an even harder material. The complexity of the image was important in ensuring the seal could not be copied.

Earrings were commonly worn by women at the time and there were many different styles and types. Towards the end of the Roman period the custom became popular of making patterns in sheet-gold by cutting out portions of the metal with a chisel. This process came in to use in the second century AD was popular for necklaces, however we have in our collection a pair of earrings that were handcrafted in the 3rd century AD using this technique. Composed of a square sheet of gold pierced with squares and triangles producing a geometric lace-like pattern, each earring is centrally set with a cobalt blue spherical glass bead, attached by fine gold wire in a method typical of the period.

As Roman jewellery was made chiefly out of gold, many decorative processes were available to the goldsmith. Some of the most ornate processes were filigree and granulation work. These closely related processes are for decorating goldwork by the application of wires and grains of gold. Filigree consists of fine gold wires which are soldered in patterns on a background. Our ancient Roman gold pendant is one such example and consists of a drop-shaped solid gold plaque set with an intricate pattern of scrolled, twisted and plaited gold wire.

These are just a few of the ancient techniques that were used to create a rich variety of styles in Roman jewellery. This extraordinary jewellery that has survived almost 2000 years has not only endured through the preservation of museums. It has also endured due to the pleasure and enjoyment gained from wearing such a significant piece of history and craftsmanship. This jewellery was made to be worn and enjoyed in Roman times but has lasted through millennia, and the incredible part of this? It can still be worn and enjoyed by us today.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Romance with Rubies

Rubies are one of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. They evoke emotions of love, lust and true romance. Rubies are said to bring the wearer love and power, and have long been a symbol of passion, energy and life, stemming from their intense red colour. The name ruby was derived from ‘ruber’ meaning ‘red’ in Latin and has been used in jewellery for centuries. In Biblical times they were regarded as a most adored gemstone, ‘She is more precious than rubies’, Proverbs 3:15. Indeed, there is nothing that says ‘true love’ more than a blood red ruby.

Ruby is very hard and durable, bearing the same qualities as sapphire – both sharing in the corundum species of gemstones. On the hardness scale corundum is just below diamond, making it a striking alternative to diamond and adding a colour most desired. Traditionally rubies are red, but can occur in many differing shades from a lighter pink to dark, deep red.

The most important mines for rubies are undoubtedly the Burmese mines from the Mogok region in Upper Burma (Myanmar). These mines have been worked for centuries and produce the finest, gem quality stones of a very distinctive red with specific inclusions. Different mines bear different shades of ruby. It is from here that the highly revered ‘Pigeon’s blood’ hue is found of a bluish-red, along with other desirable shades that too are only found in this region, namely those with a certain pink tinge. We are extremely lucky to have a range of rubies from the old Burma mines in our collection. Although mining is still active there, the yield is somewhat insignificant to what it used to be, very rarely producing the quality rubies that were mined many years ago. This means rarity is a huge factor when it comes to the fine rubies from this region, as it is such a distinguishing feature, hard to find and highly sought after. Other areas of occurrence include Vietnam and Thailand, also Central Asia and East Africa.

Bearing in mind the rarity of the hue of these rubies, matching them within a piece of jewellery is exceptionally hard to achieve, especially with natural unenhanced stones. Today, creating a desirable hue within a ruby can be made by heating and certain treatments, which is quite common in modern jewellery as demand for these hues outstrips supply. We ensure all of our rubies are natural and unenhanced.

Rubies can be fashioned into faceted gemstones or en cabochon depending on their qualities and both are seen within jewellery. When certain silk-like inclusions are arranged in a particular manner within the stone they can display an optical effect when cut en cabochon called ‘asterism’, or ‘star ruby’. As the name suggests, when light is reflected in a particular way onto the gemstone a shimmering star can be seen. This phenomenon is rare and is therefore desirable. Colour primarily, clarity, carat weight, cut, origin and whether it is natural or enhanced are key to their value. Today, very fine rubies are fetching extraordinarily high prices and continue to ascend due to their increasing rarity and of course, desirability to own such a magnificent piece of nature.

Fortunately we have quite a range of fine rubies in our collection, from star rubies, to ruby and diamond three stones, to calibré cut rubies, to beautiful classic ruby and diamond clusters. Owning a ruby set piece of jewellery, particularly one that is as nature created with no enhancements, should be treasured as a most important jewel as it is one of the most prized gemstones of all.

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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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