Art Decoemerald and diamond ring, American, circa 1930. A platinum and iridium ring set with one central square step cut emerald in a millegraincollet setting with an approximate weight of 1.00 carats, flanked by two round old cutdiamonds in millegrain collet settings with pierced surrounds with an approximate total weight of 0.30 carats, all set within a pierced curved frame with integrated shoulder set with twenty eight round old cut diamonds in bead settings with an approximate total weight of 1.00 carats, all on a tapered square shank.
Art Deco emerald and diamond ring, American, circa 1930.
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ART DECO Characteristic geometric design form begun in the late nineteenth century and specifically associated with the period from 1920-1935.
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.
Part of the platinum family, it is used as an alloy for platinum to create a harder metal. Platinum is generally alloyed with 3% copper to make it softer; if a harder metal is wanted, the alloy is 10% iridium and for a medium hard alloy, 5% is used. The hardness of iridium also makes it serviceable for pen nibs.
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 It is lighter, harder and stronger than gold or silver which it superseded as a setting for diamonds making finer intricate settings possible.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.
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.
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.
STEP CUT A step cut is a style of cutting a gemstone characterized by straight sides with parallel facets. Most often step cut stones are square or rectangular.
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.