AntiqueREGARD ring, circa 1850. A yellow gold ring horizontally set with a ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst, ruby and diamond consecutively in millegraincollet settings, the first letters of each gemstone spelling out “regard”, with gold beads set to top and bottom between the collets, the stones with a twisted gold wire border, the shoulders each set with an applied gold florette set with a cabochonturquoise and with two green gold leaves, all on a tapered gold half shank.
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AMETHYST In many cultures amethyst has been known as the stone of protection. A purple variety of quartz with a hardness of 7. The Greek for amethyst was 'amethustos' which means 'not drunk'. The stone was thought to protect against drunkenness. For this reason goblets were sometimes made of amethyst.
ANTIQUE Any item judged to have been made at least 100 years ago.
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.
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.
REGARD RING A ring set with a row of small stones of different kinds, the initial letters of which spell a word, for example, to spell 'regard', the stones could be: Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Diamond.
RUBY One of the most valuable gemstones on earth, ruby is regarded as the stone of passionate love. From the corundum family, the red variety being ruby and the blue, sapphire. With the exception of the diamond, corundum is the hardest of the gemstones on the Mohs scale scoring a 9. Ruby is derived from the Latin "Ruber" meaning red. It has long symbolised eternal devotion and romantic love.
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.
EMERALD Emeralds are said to be the gemstone of good fortune, healing and fertilty according to the various cultures which have revered them over the centuries. They are a variety of the beryl family, coloured green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium, a family which also includes aquamarine. Beryl scores 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The word "emerald" comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' meaning green stone.
GARNET Garnets have a long and ancient history, and over time have been revered for possessing protective powers. A garnet is a species of gemstone that appears in a variety of colours, though the most common and most widely recognized is a deep red hue. Garnets are categorized into over ten varieties, and come in various shades of green, purple, red, orange and yellow. Dark, warm hued red garnets of the pyrope variety were particularly popular in eighteenth and nineteenth century jewellery. It is a relatively durable gemstone, and rates a 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The name derives from the Latin word 'granum', meaning grainy.
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.
GOLD A metallic element which is the most ductile and malleable of all metals, and impervious to corrosion, thus making it ideal for use in jewellery. Pure gold is yellow in colour. It is usually mixed with other metals, such as copper and silver, to create an alloy, such as white gold or rose gold. The unit of measurement used to express the percentage of pure gold in the alloy is the carat, for example '18 carat gold'.