Turquoise and diamond cluster ring. A platinum ring set with one central oval cabochon turquoise with an approximate weight of 2.00 carats, encircled by a single row of twenty round old cutdiamonds in millegraincollet settings, on integrated pierced shoulders in a geometric pattern set with eighteen round old cut diamonds in millegrain bead settings, all thirty eight diamonds with an approximate total weight of 0.60 carats, on a square shank. Marked platinum, circa 1915.
Turquoise and diamond cluster ring, English, circa 1915.
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CABOCHON A polished, not faceted, dome shaped stone - either round or oval with a flat polished base, primarily used as a cut for phenomenal stones such as cat's eyes and stars.
In reference to gemstones, a unit of weight, abbreviated 'ct'. 1 carat is equal to 0.2 grams.
In reference to gold, a unit of purity or fineness of gold and gold alloy, expressed as a number out of 24 parts by weight, e.g. '24 carat' signifies pure gold, '18 carat' 18/24th gold in the alloy, et cetera. Also abbreviated as 'ct'.
Originally derived from the carob seed, called quirat in Arabic, a seed of naturally uniform weight.
MILLEGRAIN A type of setting for stones in which tiny beads of the metal are raised to grip the girdle and so enhance the sparkling effect.
OLD CUT Refers to a stone cut with a rounded outline and large culet, predominantly prior to 1910. This style was meant to maximise light return in low light conditions, namely candlelight.
PLATINUM Platinum is the hardest precious metal. It is lighter, harder and stronger than gold or silver which it superseded as a setting for diamonds making finer intricate settings possible. Platinum was first hallmarked in the UK in 1975.
A beautiful opaque stone which gives its name to the colour, turquoise was so named by the Venetians who bought the stones from Turkish traders. In fact, it came from Persia, where the best quality stones are mined--those of a pure, unblemished sky blue. An ancient gem, it was used by the Ancient Egyptians, and was thought to bring good fortune and general well-being to the wearer. More recently it was used extensively in nineteenth century jewellery, and was symbolic of true love. For this reason Queen Victoria gave her bridal party gifts of turquoise brooches.
SHANK The part of the ring that encircles the finger, not including the top piece or head.
COLLET Very early method of setting gemstones. A collet is a thin, round band of metal that goes right the way around the stone.
Diamonds have been prized for their unique physical attributes for millennia. Formed of crystallized carbon, they are the hardest substance on earth. It is unsurprising then that diamonds have long been the symbol of strength, invincibility and eternal love.
The first significant source of diamonds was India, more specifically a region known as Golconda. These diamonds are particularly prized for their lack of impurities, resulting in colourless diamonds of supreme clarity and brilliance. Many of the world's most famous were found in the Golconda mines, including the Hope diamond and the Koh-i-noor.
From India diamonds were carried along the Silk Routes of Central Asia, through Turkey and thence on to Europe. It was during this time that Venice became a major diamond trading centre, with Bruges and, later, Antwerp at the northern end of the route. India remained the primary source of diamonds until the eighteenth century, by which time the mines there had been largely depleted. Rather fortuitously, around the same time diamonds were discovered in Brazil. This source, however, was short-lived, and ran out in the mid-nineteenth century.
But yet again, a new source immerged to replace it, this time one of much more significant supply. In 1866 a child in South Africa found an unusual looking stone, which turned out to be a twenty one carat rough diamond, now known as the ‘Eureka' diamond. Shortly thereafter, in 1869, the discovery of an 83.5 carat diamond-the ‘Star of South Africa'-confirmed the significance of the deposits.
The now famous DeBeers Company, founded by Englishman Cecil Rhodes, controlled all of the diamond deposits in South Africa from the time of its establishment in 1888. And so it came to pass that London became the world's rough diamond trading centre, as all stones passed through his London offices, while cutting carried on in Antwerp, and later Tel Aviv and New York. Today South Africa remains a major source of world diamonds, joined in the twentieth century by Canada, Australia and Russia, which helped to break down the DeBeers monopoly.
Though most people think of diamonds as colourless, diamonds can form in most any colour of the rainbow, including black.
PLATINUM A metallic element prized for its rarity, whiteness, high tensile strength and insusceptibility to corrosion. It first became widely used in jewellery in the late nineteenth century, when methods were found to make it more easily workable. It features heavily in the delicate Edwardian jewellery of the first decades of the twentieth century.
BEAD SETTING A type of setting in which small beads of metal are placed at intervals around the perimeter of a gemstone in order to secure it to the mount.