Alphonse Augis, the Lyons based jeweller, is best known for creating in 1907 the first of his famous medallion pendants inscribed with a couplet from a poem, known as "L'éternelle chanson" ("The Eternal Song"). This poem was written by the French poet and playwright Rosemonde Gérard (April 5, 1871, Paris – July 8, 1953, Paris), who is perhaps best known today as the author of the lines:
Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t’aime davantage,
Aujourd’hui plus qu’hier et bien moins que demain.
(For, you see, each day I love you more, Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.)
The couplet inscribed on Augis' medal became celebrated as an expression of ever-growing love.
A. W. Crosbee & Co, later restyled to A.W. Crosbee & Sons, was a Birmingham jewellery manufacturer founded by Arthur Walter Crosbee in 1902, with premises at 7 Vyse Street, Birmingham. The firm continued production until the 1940s.
Birmingham based silver and goldsmith specialising in intricate silvergoods and fine gem set gold jewellery. The maker's mark A.M.B was first registered in 1879 and is seen on silver and gold goods into the early 20th century.
Ahronsberg Brothers established their showroom and workshop in Albion Street, Birmingham in 1892, the company changed their name to Albury in 1916. Known for their impressive goldsmithing and silversmithing work, elaborate carving technique and fine details - Ahronsberg Brothers created a number of ornate decorative objects as well as fine jewellery; with a reputation for manufacturing these pieces to the highest standards, the surviving items are highly collectable today.
The firm of Alabaster & Wilson was established in Birmingham by Arthur Alabaster and Thomas William Wilson in 1887 at 109 Vyse Street. Three years later they moved to 9-11 Legge Ln. The third and fourth generations of the Alabaster family were the last to run it, the company remained a true family business and ceased manufacturing and selling jewellery in 2018.
Refers to a man's watch chain, single or double width, which was popularised by Prince Albert.
French Jeweller and goldsmith famous for his Art Nouveau designs, Chambin registered his mark in 1893 which was used until 1922. His address was 11 rue de Turbigo, Paris The Paris Salons 1895-1914.
Albert Sydenham was a Birmingham jewellery manufacturer, with premises at Frederick Street, Birmingham.
The firm was founded around 1836 by brothers Alexander Alexander and Napthali Hart Alexander. They established themselves in Hatton Garden, London, and remained there until 1904.
The gem alexandrite was discovered in Russia in April of 1834, and named for the reigning tsar, Alexander II (1818-1881). A rare and special stone, it changes colours in different types of light, from reddish-purple to bluish-green--rather appropriately, the colours of Imperial Russian--making it one of the most valuable gemstones in the world.
Alfred Menu was born 1828 and was a prolific bijoutier and excellent craftsman who had been apprenticed to Louis Benoist in 1840, before he spent eight years with Marret & Jarry. Alfred Menu's beautifully-finished gold pieces were often inspired by architectural motifs and designs of the Renaissance. He was often comissioned by Frédéric Boucheron to produce gold jewellery.
An organic material made of fossilized tree resin, Mohs hardness of 2.
Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz with a hardness of 7 Mohs.
Because of its wine-like colour, early Greek legends associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine and it was believed that wearing amethyst prevented drunkenness. Other legends reflected the belief that amethyst kept its wearer clear-headed and quick-witted in battle and in business affairs.
A natural unenhanced fine amethyst of an intense rich purple is one to be truly admired. The most valuable amethysts are prized for their depth of continual colour, a velvety richness of purple with a hint of blue. The colour of amethyst can vary from lilac, pale purple, lavender, through to deep mauve and pinky purple. Vividly coloured amethysts have come from the old mines of Siberia, Brazil and Ceylon.
Natural amethyst has been held in high regard and has been seen as a symbol of power over the centuries, featured in both Crown Jewels and Bishop’s Stirrup rings during the Medieval period. The symbolism of colours in Christian jewellery of that time was highly significant- amethyst’s purple colour symbolised penitence and is the liturgical colour for the seasons of Lent and Advent.
A style of chain composed of interlinked ovoid loops, resembling the form of the type of nautical chain attached to anchors.
André Vassort set up his workshop at 34 Rue Sainte Anne, Atelier Vassort. He registered his business and maker’s mark in December 1955. He quickly became one of the most recognised and famous craftsmen of high-quality French jewellery in the mid-20th Century. World renowned jewellery houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron and Mauboussin, trusted him not only with creating their own fine jewels but also gave him special commissions for their clients. Frequently these clients would include Royalty of both the East and West as well as legends of Hollywood. One of his most famous creations is the spectacular emerald, ruby, pearl and diamond crown made on behalf of Van Cleef & Arpels for the coronation of Empress Farah of Iran.
Any item judged to have been made at least 100 years ago.
The gemstone aquamarine is associated with trust, harmony, friendship and good feelings in general. A bluey green transparent variety of beryl, the name is meant to suggest the colour of seawater. 7.5 - 8 on the Mohs scale. Aqua in ancient times was credited with aiding sleep, protecting sailors and counteracting the effects of poison.
The Art Deco period is a stylistic movement that spanned from the 1920s to 30s and is characterised by strong lines and bold geometric forms. Taking its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels that was held in Paris in 1925, the Art Deco movement marked a daring move away from the delicate garland styles of the Edwardian and Belle Époque periods. In the wake of the devastation wreaked by the Great War, a forward-looking society emerged that was keen to distance itself from the traditions of the past. It was a prosperous age, defined by a new-found freedom of expression, of emancipation, of Jazz.
Technological innovations were vital to the formation of this new style, which was directly influenced by the ground-breaking forms of the aeroplane and the skyscraper. An eclectic style, the Art Deco movement drew inspiration from many sources. Archaeological discoveries awakened an interest in Ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, whilst African and East-Asian art also influenced designers. First appearing in jewellery in the early 1900s, by the 1920s platinum had replaced gold as the metal of choice and was used in conjunction with diamonds to achieve an ‘icy’ aesthetic. In keeping with the geometric nature of the wider Art Deco movement, square cuts, such as the asscher, emerald, baguette and step-cut, grew in prominence during this period. Unusual combinations of gemstones were highly prized, with turquoise, onyx, coral and lapis-lazuli juxtaposed with diamonds to create bold, colourful pieces.
An extension and modification of Art Deco into the 1940's & 50's.
Characterised by unusual combinations of precious and semi-precious gemstones, the use of materials such as citrine, rock crystal and onyx in the Post-War period was initially borne out of necessity rather than desire. The disruption caused by the Second World War meant that stocks of diamonds and other precious gemstones were severely limited and consequently jewellers were driven to be more experimental in their choice of materials. For instance, famed American jewellery designer, Seaman Schepps produced a range of cutting-edge designs in rock crystal during the 1940s and again in the 1960s, whilst the French house, René Boivin carved rings and bangles entirely out of this material. Iridescent gemstones such as labradorite and moonstone were particularly popular during this period, notably appearing in the revolutionary designs of Cartier protégé Dinh Van in the 1970s.
Whilst Cubism was a definite influence in the pre-war Art Deco movement, Modernist jewellers abandoned its rigid lines and strict linearity in favour of rounded, asymmetric shapes which reflected the biomorphic forms of contemporary sculptural works by the likes of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The natural world was also a source of inspiration, particularly for Anglo-Italian designer Andrew Grima, who produced textured, organic forms in which crystals took priority over faceted gemstones. It was also during this period that artists such as Man Ray, Salvador Dali and Georges Braque began to delve in to the world of jewellery, in a move that would reconcile fine art with the applied art of jewellery design. In turn, this would lead to a revival of individual craftsmanship and the re-emergence of the artisan jeweller during the 1950s and 60s.
In the wake of the Second World War a vastly changed society emerged, one which was fast-paced and defiantly opposed to many of the traditional aspects of pre-war life. Individuality was prized, thereby granting jewellers the creative freedom to experiment with shape, form and texture. Technological advancements and the dawn of space exploration led to futuristic designs appearing in jewellery and across the wider decorative arts, further reinforcing the vogue for unusual gemstone combinations and unconventional forms.
The Art Nouveau period (1890 to 1910).
During this movement designers rebelled against the norm and created daring pieces inspired by nature and the sensuousness of the human form. Unusual creations emerged depicting dragonflies and moths in flight, sprays of flowers, branches and vines adorned with leaves and erotic female figures all paying homage to naturalism. Goldsmiths decorated these pieces with an array of gemstones including natural pearl, moonstone, opal, sapphire and diamonds further enhancing them with bright vivid enamels.
The signature theme running throughout the Art Nouveau movement was the free flowing line. These melodious lines are seen in the weaving of plant stems, the arcs of wings, a woman’s flowing hair and in feminine curves.
Arthus-Bertrand is a French house which specialises in the manufacture of jewellery and medals. Established in 1803 by Claude Arthus-Bertrand, they continue to be highly regarded and are solely responsible for the manufacture of the Légion d'Honneur medal.
The Arts and Crafts Movement first occurred in Britain during the latter part of the nineteenth-century, in direct response to the wave of mass-produced jewellery that had taken hold during the 1880s and 90s. Guilds and art schools helped to promote the Arts and Crafts ideology, which advocated exceptional workmanship and strength of design above the wealth of materials used. Brightly coloured enamels and hardstones such as lapis lazuli, turquoise and onyx, were the preferred means of the decoration for artisans working in this style.
The impact of the Arts and Crafts Movement could be felt across Europe, Scandinavia and the United States. In Germany, jewellers worked in the ‘Jugendstil’ (Youth Style), which combined the exquisite craftsmanship and symbolism of the Arts and Crafts Movement with the geometric forms of the Art Deco. Notable designers to have worked in this style include Charles Horner of Halifax, Georg Jensen, Sybil Dunlop and Omar Ramsden.
The Asscher Brothers were famous for their expertise in diamond cutting and in 1903 Abraham Asscher was given the honour of cleaving the largest rough diamond found at that time with a weight of 997 carats, named The Excelsior. In 1907 the Cullinan diamond, with a weight of 3106 carats was found. Joseph Asscher was asked to cleave this rough diamond into three parts by King Edward VII – famously the diamond would not cleave on the first strike and the blade broke. On the second attempt it is thought that Joseph fainted after striking the diamond. The cleaved stones went on to be set into the Crown Jewels of Great Britain.
After the Second World War, the Asscher Diamond Company was severely damaged - it was seized by the Nazi’s and the majority of employees were victims of the Holocaust. The existing family members decided to rebuild the company in Amsterdam and in 1980 it was given a Royal title status. The Royal Asscher Diamond Company has since enhanced the original asscher cut, which had been closely imitated by other companies since its patent expired during the World War. The new enhanced cut is now trademarked and patented, and is even inscribed with the Royal Asscher logo. The company is still owned by the Asscher family and is internationally renowned for its diamond expertise and of course the famous Asscher cut.
The Asscher cut was designed by Joseph Asscher in 1902. The cutting style is characterized by its square outline, parallel lines and fifty eight facets. At the time of its creation the Asschers were the leading family in the Amsterdam diamond industry and so, consequently, the world.
The Asscher Diamond Company was founded by Joseph’s grandfather, Joseph Isaac Asscher, in 1854. Very quickly the company rose to prominence, as evidenced by commissions to cut some of the world’s most famous diamonds. This included the Excelsior diamond in 1903 (at 997 carats the largest diamond ever discovered at that time), shortly thereafter trumped by the Cullinan diamond (3106 carats) which the Asschers cut for King Edward VII in 1907, now part of the British Crown Jewels.
Ever innovative, the Asscher cut was the first diamond cut ever to be patented, the history of which adds to both its beauty and rarity. The company held the exclusive rights to produce this cut until World War II. Shortly after the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam in 1940 the Asscher Diamond Company’s assets were seized and the company dissolved. As a result the patent for the cut expired, and other companies began to utilize this cutting style, though not necessarily according to the specific proportions of the Asscher patent.Thus an original pre-war Asscher cut, due to both its scarcity and elegance of proportion, remains to this day one of the most sought after and, consequently, rarest of antique diamond cuts. Simultaneously classic and modern, an original Asscher cut diamond is truly an object of timeless beauty.
The Atkin Brothers firm were a Sheffield based silversmiths who produced flatware, hollowware and cutlery. The company started life as the business of Thomas Law, a silversmith active in Sheffield between 1750 to 1775. This business was continued by the Law sons. They were joined in 1824 by Henry Atkin and they started trading as Atkin, Oxley & Co. They dissolved their partnership in 1840 and Henry went on trading on his own account as Henry Atkin & Co. When Henry died in 1853, his brothers, Harry Wright Atkin, Edward Thomas Atkin and Frank Shaw Atkin took over the firm and traded as Atkin Brothers.
Atkin Brothers produced a wide range of Britannia Metal, electroplate and silver and plated cutlery which they supplied to firms such as Thornhill & Co in London and Barraclough & Sons in Leeds as well as to many other businesses in the UK and in the colonies. They continued successfully, opening offices in London and registered as a limited company in 1925 – Atkin Brothers (Silversmiths) Ltd. Their flatware business was sold to C J Vander of London and their hollowware business sold to Adie Brothers in Birmingham in 1958.
A French jewellery designer and craftsman who exhibited at the 'Salon des Artistes Francais' in 1903, known for his highly skilled engraving.
In 1875, in the Swiss village of Le Brassus, two young men Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, decided to unite their skills in order to design and produce watches with complex mechanisms. Their determination, imagination and discipline were soon to earn them noteworthy success. Today, Audemars Piguet remains the oldest Manufacturer of Haute Horlogerie never to have left the hands of its founding families.
1892 in a world première Audemars Piguet develops and completes the first minute repeater wristwatch.
1899 A “Grande Complication” pocket-watch emerges from the Audemars Piguet work-shops.
1915 Audemars Piguet sets a world record that remains unmatched to this day, by creating the smallest five-minute repeater movement of all time.
Audemars Piguet continues to set world records and remains a brand dedicated to craftsmanship, attention to detail and quality.
Auguste Peyroula was a renowned Parisian silversmith who was active between 1904-1937 from 5 rue d’ Alger, Paris. He was famous for making vanity cases and boxes in different enamel colours with the slide adorned with diamonds and coral or jadeite flower decoration. He was also known for offering his incredible manufacture for some of the most precious Cartier Art Deco vanity cases.
The baguette cut, from the French for ‘long rod’, is typically a slender rectangular cut with parallel facets. Baguette cuts with their unusual arrangement of facets work the light in a very different way from round stones, rejecting the traditional ‘sparkle’ associated with diamonds and instead glinting with bright flashes when catching the light.
This cut of diamond was first developed in the 1920s when there was a changing trend towards geometric crisp straight lines - typical of the Art Deco era.
Baguette cuts can be seen occasionally as an eye-catching central focal point in a piece of jewellery, however most often are used as highlights, flanking a central gemstone.
The firm of Bailey Banks and Biddle first started as Bailey & Co, founded in 1832 by Joseph Trowbridge Bailey and Andrew Kitchen on fashionable Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1878 George W. Banks, previously of Philadelphia’s other top jewellery firm J.E. Caldwell & Co, and Samuel Biddle joined the firm under the management of Joseph T. Bailey II. Over the years the firm counted among its clientele many presidents of the United States, from Woodrow Wilson to Ronald Regan. It is currently thriving and is now owned by the Zales Corporation.
Ballerina cluster rings are a fanciful and distinctive style of cluster. Inspired by the shape of a ballerina's tutu, the cluster of diamonds simulates the flowing movement of the ballerina dancing, creating a dramatic swirling effect on the finger.
Ballerina clusters are first seen in the 1950s and were a design favoured by some of the most prestigious of jewellery houses such as Tiffany, Boucheron and Oscar Heyman Brothers. The skill in creating a ‘ballerina' involved meticulous precision and exactness in the cutting and setting of the gemstones to lie perfectly next to each other.
A bracelet which is not flexible.
An irregular shape more common than spherical (normally referring to pearls) may be natural or cultured.
Any non-precious metal.
A method of enamelling in which the surface of the metal is hollowed out to receive the enamel. Similar to 'CHAMPLEVÉ'. The design in the base metal was first made by chasing, carving, engraving, stamping or engine-turning, and then the surface was covered with transparent or translucent coloured enamel that is then fused by firing in a kiln.
French jewellery maker producing pieces from 1900 to 1912.
A type of setting in which small beads or grains of metal are placed at intervals around the perimeter of a gemstone in order to secure it to the mount.
Born in the town of Sainte-Claude in Eastern France, Suzanne Belperron was one of the most influential jewellery designers of the twentieth-century. Recognising her talent at an early age, Suzanne’s mother enrolled her in the School of Fine Arts at Besançon where she studied ‘Watch-making and Jewelry Decoration’, receiving an award in the school’s 1918 competition for her design of a pendant watch.
In 1919, the young designer moved to Paris and soon found a job at the Boivin atelier, where her flair for design was immediately recognised by Jeanne Boivin. In 1924, at a mere twenty-three years old, Suzanne became co-director of the Maison Rene Boivin. During the 1930s, she resigned from this position and took up a post as the exclusive designer to Maison Bernard Herz. Herz, who was of Jewish-origin, was captured by the Nazis in 1942 and was sent to an internment camp where he died the following year. Because of her association with Herz, Belperron was frequently questioned by the Gestapo, which prompted her to join the French Resistance. Once the war had reached its conclusion, Belperron went in to partnership with Jean Herz (son of Bernard) to form a company known as 'Jean Herz-Suzanne Belperron SARL' which continued until the 1970s.
Jewels by Suzanne Belperron are highly sought-after by collectors, and are characterised by highly innovative, rounded, sculptural forms, and frequently feature carved hardstones, such as rock crystal and onyx. Belperron did not sign her jewels, insisting that her unique style was her signature. Notoriously exclusive, she operated by appointment only and studied the lifestyle and appearance of the individual so that she could create a piece entirely tailored to them.
Established in 1819 by Samuel W Benedict, New York, Benedict Brothers were noted for the superior quality of their watches and gold jewellery and specialised in diamonds. Samuel Benedict retired from business in 1860 and his sons Read and Ovington Benedict continued the family business into the early 20th century.
BKT (Rings) Ltd is a family firm established over 60 years ago, when it incorporated Bennell, King and Titmas. They are based in Hatton Garden and are still producing fine jewellery.
The central section of a ring upon which the gemstones or other main ornaments are placed.
Bishop’s stirrup rings were a distinct style of ring during the Medieval period in France and England.
The shape of the ring rises to an apex or dome, and so furnishes its name from the shape of a horse’s stirrup. It is also thought that the shape echoes the Gothic vaulting ceiling arches within cathedrals so it is fitting that these rings were often worn by bishops, most often worn on the middle finger of the right hand, sometimes over a glove.
Founded in 1801 in Savannah, Georgia, the firm known today as Black, Starr & Frost was first called Marquand & Paulding. In 1810 Isaac Marquand moved to New York, establishing a premise on Broadway in lower Manhattan, and consolidating his with a number of other firms. Under this name the company exhibited in the 1851 London Crystal Palace Exhibition, one of the few American jewellery firms in attendance. In 1860 the company changed its name to Ball Black & Company, again marking a new partnership. By this time the company was established as one of the premier American jewellers, alongside Tiffany and Gorham.
In 1876 Cortlandt Starr and Aaron V. Frost joined the firm, changing the name to Black Starr & Frost, and moved the shop to 251 Fifth Avenue. In the same year they exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia to great acclaim. One final merger, in 1929 the company joined with Gorham & Co, becoming Black, Starr & Frost-Gorham Inc. In 1939 the firm was one of five American jewellers invited to exhibit at New York’s World’s Fair. Through its various incarnations, it is known today as one of the oldest and most prestigious American jewellery firms, which produced the highest quality in terms of material, craftsmanship and design.
In jewellery, the Moor of Venice - Blackamoors or "moretto" inspired by Shakespeare's Othello - are mostly brooches depicting the head or the bust of Africans wearing turbans, characteristic clothes and rich jewels. Typically carved from ebony or onyx, they are set with gold leaf and various coloured stones.
Blackamoor jewels were originally Venetian souvenirs which became popular in the late 1920's and the early 1930's. The Blackamoor jewels from the Venetian jeweller Nardi - whose store is located in Piazza San Marco - are the most renowned and sought-after. Royals as well as famous people such as Grace Kelly, Ernest Hemingway, Barbara Hutton or Liz Taylor have possessed a Blackamoor brooch as a token of love.
A loosely used term to indicate the small dark red rose-cut garnets used regularly in late nineteenth century jewellery.
A French jewellery house founded in 1890, most famous for its bold creations of the 1930’s and 40’s. While the firm was named for its founder, René Boivin, it was Boivin’s wife and her entourage of female designers who produced its most famous creations.
When Boivin died during World War I, his wife Jeanne took over the business. Over the next two decades, Jeanne hired a series of female designers including Suzanne Belperron, who worked at Boivin from 1921 until 1931; Juliette Moutard, who designed for the firm from 1931 until the mid-seventies; and her daughter Germaine who began designing in 1938.
Boivin's clients included artists, intellectuals, and socialites like Sigmund Freud, Edgar Degas, as well as film stars and royal figures. For this reason, Boivin fancied itself the 'jeweller of the intelligentsia'. The firm presented its work at select exhibitions, including the 1937 World Fair in Paris and the 1947 French Institute of Decorative Arts Show. Since it never advertised and refused to occupy a ground floor location with window-displays, the public was rarely exposed to its name or work.
In 1991 the firm was sold to Asprey.
‘Bombé’ rings have an appealing rounded curving shape. The name ‘bombé’ comes from the French and literally means ‘bomb-shaped’. This style of ring is seen from the Edwardian period onwards however it is in the vintage 1950s, 60s and 70s that this shaping became all the rage. The bombé shape offered a rounded canvas allowing for a multitude of possible unique variations, with each period providing an interesting different adaption on it.
Founded in 1798 in Liverpool. Boodles remains steadfast to its original principles of designing and crafting jewellery themselves and has been owned by the Wainwright family since 1880.
The House of Boucheron was founded by Frédéric Boucheron in 1858, with his first salon at the Palais Royal. The firm quickly became one of the premier French jewellers and gained deserved international acclaim, having exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the 1889 and 1900 Paris Expositions Universelles, the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago, and the 1925 Exposition des Art Décoratifs in Paris. Moving to the current headquarters at 26 Place Vendome in Paris in 1893, Boucheron has been and continues to be patronised by numerous royals and stars of stage and screen, including among others, Queen Elizabeth, Tsar Nicholas II, Sarah Bernhardt, Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz.
This marking is found on French items and objects and is abbreviated from 'Brevete Sans Garantie du Gouvernement' translated from French as 'Patented without state guarantee'. It is often mistaken as a maker's mark which is found on jewellery to indicate the identitity of the manufacturer. This marking can be found on a vast number of French patented objects including jewellery.
A diamond or coloured gemstone cut within the last 50 years to display maximum brilliance with minimal crystal weight loss.
An oval or teardrop shaped stone covered with small triangular facets.
An ornamental piece of jewellery fitted to reverse with a pin and clasp allowing it to be attached to clothing.
Brooches have come a long way from their origins in the ancient world where they were used in a functional capacity to fasten or secure articles of clothing. The practical uses of brooches ceased during the middle ages when brooches transitioned into ornaments used purely for adornment and decoration.
Brooches can be found in an array of designs featuring precious metals, gemstones of every kind, fine enamelling, engraving and carving. Due to their versatile nature brooches can and have been worn on hats, scarves, overcoats, ball gowns, sashes, belts and even as pendants.
The house of Buccellati is famous for its textural gold jewellery and exquisite silver objects. According to the family, the Buccellati's first steps into the jewellery trade were in 1750 when Contardo Buccellati worked as a goldsmith in Milan. In 1903, Mario Buccellati revived the family tradition, apprenticing at Milan’s prestigious Beltrami & Beltrami. In 1919, Buccellati took over the firm, changing its name to Buccellati. International fame came quickly. Exhibiting at the Madrid Exposition in 1920, Mario Buccellati caught the public’s attention when he hurled an expensive compact out of a window when a woman asked for a discount, shouting, "I am not a tradesman"! The next day, hundreds of curious spectators turned up to look at his booth, curious to see the unknown jeweller’s pieces. It was a complete sellout. Buccellati was then invited to exhibit his work at a solo show; the Spanish aristocracy came in force, including the royal family who became lifelong clients. Celebrated Italian Poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called him "The Prince of Goldsmiths" and ordered pieces by the hundreds. As his sons came of age, all but one entered the business: Frederico, Gianmaria, Luca, and Lorenzo. New stores were opened in Rome (1925) and Florence (1929). In 1951, Buccellati became first Italian jewellery designer with a location on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In 1967, when Mario Buccellati died, the brothers split the business.
The main design accomplishments of the Buccellati clan span four decades: from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The most distinctive aspect of the firm's pieces is their rich textural quality. As one jewellery historian put it, "every bit of surface is worked and finished, whether visible or not". Use of mixed metals (silver and gold, platinum and gold) is also typical. The pieces are bold and instantly recognizable as Buccellati.
A stone cut with cabochon crown (top) and faceted pavilion (bottom).
Bulgari are a famous Italian jewellery house founded by Sotirio Bulgari in 1884. He opened his first shop in Rome on the Via Sistina and then moved in 1905 to Via dei Condotti. In 1932, the business was suceeded by his sons Giorgio and Constantino, who largely created the distinctive Bulgari style, heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance combined with Greek and Roman classicism. They expanded internationally in the 1970s, first opening in New York, then on to Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo. It was at this time that they began making watches.
Bulgari are best known for their bold designs, with bright, high quality gemstones, geometric shapes and archaeological influence. They were one of Elizabeth Taylor's favourite jewellers.
A country in South East Asia (now known as Myanmar) known historically as an important source of many gemstones of exceptional quality, including top quality rubies and sapphires, jadeite and spinel.
European traders first came to Burma as early as the 15th century seeking exotic spices. The abundance of gemstones, particularly sapphires and rubies, however also caught their eye.
Mogok Valley, the ‘Valley of Gems' in Upper Burma is famed for its abundance of gemstones. This area is about 4,000km above sea level. Unsurprisingly, the terrain is inhospitable, with snow covered high mountain ranges and little or no road access. The unstable political climate also adds to the danger and difficulty in reaching these gemstones, explaining one element of their rarity.
RUBIES: Burma is the source of the world's finest rubies. Known for their pink-red through to a deeper blood red colour, the stones have a pure and highly saturated colour. The presence of the trace element chromium in their chemical makeup, allows these rubies to fluoresce in natural daylight, giving them the added allure of glowing from within. The Mogok region in Burma is the world's only known source of the most sought-after ‘Pigeon's Blood' rubies. The colour is probably best described as a vivid velvety blood red with hints of blue undertones - extremely rare and strikingly beautiful.
SAPPHIRES: While the vast majority of stones mined in Burma are rubies, fewer than 10% are sapphires. These sapphires are celebrated for their intense, highly saturated, rich colour and exceptional quality. The term ‘Royal Blue', is reserved for sapphires of a pure and saturated blue hue and is usually associated with the finest of Burmese sapphires.
JADE: The only important and most highly prized source of the finest jade is Upper Burma, known for its rich, emerald green colour along with high translucency. Revered to such a degree by the Emperors of China that the highest quality jade was solely reserved for the top echelons of society until the fall of the Qing dynasty. Also known as ‘the stone of heaven' and ‘imperial jade', this stone has become the most culturally important gemstone in the East. Today the annual auctions of Burmese jade boulders brings specialists and enthusiasts from around the world.
The Byzantine Empire, the continuation of the eastern part of the Roman Empire, thrived from 330 to 1453 AD. It was the centre of a flourishing trading network which extended across North Africa and Eurasia. The capital Byzantium, later referred to as Constantinople, was the epicenter of one of the most advanced economies in the world during this period.
A simple secure fitting for brooches or chains, in which the closure is in the shape of a "C".
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.
Calibré cut and invisibly set gemstones are techniques seen in antique jewellery in which gemstones were intricately fashioned by hand. To produce these exquisite techniques on an often minute scale, every facet and aspect of the stone required skilful and precise fashioning.
Calibré cut gemstones were worked into special shapes to fit into a specific area. Often calibré cuts fill a tapered row, encircle a stone, or create a flash of colour as a design element to a piece. Calibré cut stones can form a continual flow of colour due to the incredible channel settings in which they sit. Each gemstone would be fashioned so they sit right next to each other within a channel, with no metal in between visible from above. They would usually be held securely in place with a rubover or millegrain setting - a fine piece of secure metal bordering the stones. Calibré cut gems were usually faceted into small step-cuts or could also be polished to create tallow tops or miniature cabochons. Typical gemstones used were precious rubies, sapphires and emeralds, creating a burst of colour usually contrasted by bright diamonds.
The process of carving in order to leave a raised design (above the table of the stone) on a single piece of material. Cameos originated in ancient Greece, and at that time were exclusively made from hardstones, such as chalcedony. Antique cameos are rare and traditionally made from shell or stone. Modern copies are often made of plastic. The opposite of a cameo is an intaglio, which is carved into a material.
Open coiled wirework, a technique popular during the first half of the nineteenth century.
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.
A term traditionally applied to an un-faceted domed polished gemstone with a concave back, usually associated with garnet.
Maison Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier when he took over the workshop of his master. In 1874 his son, Alfred Cartier took over the company, but it was Alfred's sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the world-wide brand name of Cartier.
Louis assumed responsibility for the Paris branch, moving to the Rue de la Paix, in 1899. He was responsible for some of the company's most celebrated designs, such as the mystery clocks, fashionable wristwatches and exotic Orientalist Art Deco designs, including the colourful "Tutti Frutti" jewels. Cartier also created the famous Panthère brooch of the 1940s for Wallis Simpson. Jacques took charge of the London operation and eventually moved to the current address at New Bond Street. Pierre Cartier established the New York City branch in 1909, moving in 1917 to the current location of 653 Fifth Avenue, the Neo-Renaissance mansion of Morton Freeman Plant which Cartier bought in exchange for $100 in cash and a double-stranded natural pearl necklace valued at the time at $1 million.
With a seemingly endless list of elite clientele, from kings to maharajas to Hollywood ‘royalty’, Cartier has since become synonymous with glamour and prestige.
A decorative shield, usually with scrolling edges. It often frames punchmarks.
The firm Carvin French was founded in 1954 by Andre Chervin and Serge Carponcy, two Frenchmen working together in New York. They believed in producing only the finest hand-made jewellery with the best materials available, manufactured in their own workshop. This set them apart from other manufacturing jewellers at that time. They have created pieces for important jewellers such as Raymond C. Yard, R. Esmerian Inc. and Verdura. After Serge Carponcy retired in 1983, Andre Chervin maintained control of the firm, moving it to the current address at 515 Madison Avenue in 1987.
Founded by Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865) in 1816, the jewellery firm of Castellani is credited with popularizing Archaeological Revival style jewellery. Heavily influenced by the collection of ancient Greek and Etruscan jewellery of the Duke of Sermoneta, Fortunato focused of reviving ancient techniques, including granulation and filigree, in his jewellery. The Duke also contributed to Castellani’s business in his network of important international friends including Stendhal, Chateaubriand, Liszt and Balzac.
In 1851 Fortunato retired and left the business to his two sons, Alessandro (1823-1883) and Augusto (1829-1914). Augusto was the driving force rather than Alessandro, who had lost an arm in an accident was imprisoned for his political views and later was temporarily declared insane. He was then exiled and became the company's foreign representative. They opened a London outlet on Frith Street in 1861 under the management of Carlo Giuliano, who was later to make his own name in the London jewellery industry. They later branched out into Christian symbolism, Byzantine-style micromosaic, and Renaissance revival jewels.
Formed by pouring molten metal into a mould. 99% of modern jewellery is cast, as opposed to antique jewellery which was made by hand.
A well defined streak of light along a cabochon (chatoyancy).
The island of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon is nicknamed the ‘Jewel box' of the Indian Ocean, and has been recognised throughout history for its spectacular abundance and astonishing range of precious gemstones.
Despite being a small country, Sri Lanka is rich in a natural wealth of stones and has produced quantities of many types of gemstones such as garnet, moonstone, peridot, spinel and topaz but to name a few. Sri Lanka is however primarily known for its profusion of corundum gems, for example the prized phenomenal gems such as star sapphires, the rainbow hues of fancy colour sapphires, and notably the extraordinary and highly sought after padparadscha sapphires.
Of the most famous old mines, the Ceylon mines produced the largest quantity, as well as being the earliest source of sapphires in the world. Veddahs, the indigenous people of Ceylon, were the first people to come across the coloured pebbles in the sandy bottom of streams. From their discovery, the island became surrounded in myth and legend because of its treasure of beautiful, previously unheard of gemstones. One legend has it that King Solomon wooed the Queen of Sheba with jewellery set with Ceylon gemstones in 10th century BC. The island and its gems were even known to the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians and inspired the early 9th century ‘Arabian Nights' tales.
Ceylon sapphires are celebrated for their bright mid blue colour, often referred to as a distinctive ‘cornflower' blue hue. This attractive colour is typically a lighter shade of blue than sapphires from other mines across the world.
Chalcedony is a form of quartz with a very special structure, known in gemmological circles as cryptocrystalline—meaning the crystal structure is incredibly small and dense, rendering it one of the smoothest gemstones. This allows for the material to be crisply carved, which makes it perfect for the jeweller type for which it is best known—cameos and intaglios.
Chalcedony also comes in a myriad of colours and patterns, and is often better known by these sub-types. One is onyx, a black form of chalcedony, often with white banding. Another is agate, which has fine layers of colour, and was thought by ancient peoples to quench thirst, and protect against fever. One of the most popular is sardonyx, characterized by wider, straight banding, which makes it perfect for use in cameo carving. Bloodstone is deep green colour with red splashes. Carnelian is the name for the reddish orange variety, while jasper is the name of chalcedony of any other colour or pattern.
A term used to describe an enamelling technique, derived from the French meaning 'raised field'. A section of the surface metal is hollowed out to form pits which are then filled with enamel and fired.
A type of setting wherby rows of gemstones are set next to each other and secured by metal borders to top and bottom, with no claws or beads used.
Established in 1824, Charles Green & Son is a sixth generation family-run company which has been creating hand crafted jewellery in Birmingham for the last 200 years. To this day, Charles Green & Son continue to prduce fine quality pieces of jewellery.
Charles Howard Collins was a Stud & link manufacturer with his workshop situated at
The jewelry firm of Chartlon & Co was found in New York City in 1909 by John W. Charlton. Initially at 298 Fifth Avenue, Robert S. Chapin joined the firm at which point they moved to 635 Fifth Ave. Known for producing excellent quality high-end jewelry, Charlton was purchased by James Todd and Grant Peacock in 1919, followed by branches opening in Paris and Palm Beach. In 1943 Peacock assumed full ownership, renaming the firm, which is today located at 450 Park Avenue.
The French jewellery house of Chaumet was founded by Marie-Etienne Nitot in Paris in the late eighteenth century. Among the first of Ninot’s dealings with the royal jewels of Europe was when he was asked to take inventory of the jewel collection of Marie-Antoinette. Over the next century, the firm would become the premier French jeweller, acting as the official jeweller to Napoleon I. Later in the nineteenth century the company came to be controlled by the Chaumet family, who continued this tradition of excellence, with patrons including the Tsars of Russia and the Shah of Persia, among many others. Today Chaumet’s flagship remains in the prestigious Place Vendome in Paris.
A tube of metal cut and set as a cross section, normally under the gallery or shoulders, traditionally used in antique jewellery to enhance a design.
The firm of Child and Child was established in London in 1880 by Walter and Harold Child. Their first premises were located at Seville Street in Knightsbridge, then in 1891 at Alfred Place West. They are particularly known for their enamelled Art Nouveau jewels, as well as platinum Edwardian designs, for which they were awarded a Royal Warrant from Queen Alexandra. The partnership came to an end in 1899, after which point Harold Child operated the business until it closed its doors in 1916.
Chivor is a town in central Colombia, best known as an ancient source of some of the world’s finest emeralds. Though pre-Colombian tribes had been mining emeralds in this area for centuries, it was the first source that the Spanish were able to locate, in 1538, after their arrival in the New World.
Chivor emeralds are particularly prized for their light yellowish-green hue.
Chopard were founded in 1860 in Switzerland by the expert watchmaker Louis-Ulysse Chopard. They were known for their high quality watches and were based in Geneva. In 1963 the company was sold to Karl Scheufele III who was a young goldsmith and watchmaker. He then introduced the jewellery segment to the company and in 1976 the first 'Happy Diamonds' watch was made. In the 1980s 'Happy Diamonds' jewellery pieces were created, for which they are well known.
Most common variety is "cat's eye chrysoberyl" known for its honey and milk colouration. Alexandrite is a rare variety, this is a colour change stone and is green in daylight and purplish red at night.
Means "approximately", usually with regards to dates. Approximations with antique jewellery are necessary, unless a piece is hallmarked with a date stamp.
The golden yellow to orange variety of quartz.
A Claddagh ring has a distinctive design, two hands clasping a heart, and typically surmounted by a crown. This is often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). The expression which was associated with these symbols in the giving of the ring was: "With my hands I give you my heart, and crown it with my love."
It is said that this design first orginated in the Irish fishing village of Claddagh, Co. Galway at some point in the seventeenth-century.
A claw setting is one in which the gemstone is secured via a number of metal 'claws' above the girdle of the stone, typically no less than four. This method was an innovation of the late nineteenth century, and most famously featured in the 'Tiffany setting' invented by the famed American jeweller Tiffany & Co in the 1880s. Prior to this gemstones were surrounded by a metal collet (or strip of metal formed around the girdle) which had the disadvantage of blocking light from passing through the gemstone.
A break parallel to a cleavage plane. Possible only in some stones i.e., topaz, diamond, fluorite, tanzanite and some others rarely used in jewellery.
A decorative technique acheived by forming compartments (known as cloisons in French) using gold or silver wires which are soldered to the surface of the metal. These sections are then filled with enamel and fired in a kiln.
This style became popular in the 19th Century following a renewed interest in the Renaissance and what became known as Japonisme.
A type of setting where the pavilion (bottom) of the stone is enclosed and not visible. Sometimes the gemstone may also be foil backed within this setting to improve the gemstone's brightness, colour and appearance. Closed back settings are usually seen in early jewellery as well as in the Georgian and early Victorian periods.
Caution; do not immerse jewellery with closed back settings in any liquid.
A grouping of gemstones, formed into a wide array of designs.
A type of finger ring invented in the second quarter of twentieth century that is not prescribed any particular form, but is typically large and set with various gemstones.
Cocktail rings were large enough so that they could not be worn under a glove, and thus were appropriate for more casual social occasions such as cocktail parties.
The company was owned by silversmiths Albert Cohen & Charles Soloman. The firm Cohen & Charles was established in 1890 at 11 Thavies Inn, Holborn, London. In 1958 the business was bought by S.J. Rose & Sons Ltd.
Very early method of setting gemstones. A collet is a thin, round band of metal that goes right the way around the stone.
See "BEZEL SET".
Colombia is the source of the world’s finest emeralds. The mines of Colombia are situated in the eastern range of the Andes. The most famous of these are the Chivor and Muzo mines, known for high quality emeralds with a saturated pure green hue with bluish green overtones and a superior clarity. These mines were an ancient source of emeralds, first mined on an industrial scale by the Spanish in 1538.
Conch pearls are formed inside the Queen Conch mollusk, a large sea snail, which lives primarily in the Caribbean Sea. Unlike true pearls, which are composed of nacre and derive from oysters or mussels, conch pearls are calcareous concretions with a porcelain-like surface.
Conch pearls are extremely rare. The most desirable specimen are orange or pink in colour and exhibit a distinctive flame structure which gives them the appearance of a burning fire on the surface.
Coral is classified as an organic gemstone, separate from the larger mineral category, meaning that it is derived from animal or plant life, a group which also includes pearls and amber. More specifically coral is a ‘calcareous concretion’, and is in actuality the skeleton of the sea animal coral, composed of calcium carbonate. There are many types of corals, but the varieties used in jewellery typically form in warm salt water including the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and the waters of Asia, Australia and the Caribbean.
Coral has long been associated with protective powers, and particularly in Mediterranean cultures was believe to ward off the evil eye. For this reason it was often used in children’s jewellery as well as toys, such as rattles and teething devices. It was also thought to banish tension and fear, and to promote positive social interactions. Still today in Italy it is common to see ‘cornicello’ pendants made of polished segments of red coral.
The coral used in jewellery is typically red, pale pink, or peach, but it also forms in white, black, brown and, though quite rare, in blue. Usually it is polished to a shine, however peach coral is often left matte, and is known in the trade, rather charmingly, as ‘angel skin’. In any shade, it is a lovely and apropos summertime gemstone.
Cornelian is the translucent orange coloured variety of chalcedony, a member of the quartz family.
It was particularly prized in Ancient Roman times when it was often carved into to form an image.
A design composed of a central gemstone encompassed by a row of smaller gemstones, visually representing a small crown or a coronet.
Typically, a cross-over ring is composed of two juxtaposed central stones, flanked by gently curved, softly scrolling shoulders. Often the stones would be a diamond set next to a coloured stone, for example, a ruby, emerald or sapphire. Further diamonds could also be set to the shoulders, or around the main stones. A ring could have more than two central stones, but would usually have stylistic curving, or ‘crossover' shoulders.
This style of ring first became popular in the Edwardian and Belle Époque period. Jewellery at this time was typically extremely elegant. The introduction of platinum into jewellery at the turn of the century allowed craftsmen to work with more apparent delicacy and softness. Concurrently, the Art Nouveau movement promoted flowing lines and soft curves, taking inspiration from nature. The resulting designs made their way directly into the jewellery of the period.
The idea of two central stones is especially romantic for an engagement ring. Sometimes referred to as a ‘toi et moi' ring, this style combines the symbolism of both stones within one. For example, a diamond can signify strength, purity and beauty, alongside a ruby symbolising eternal romantic love. It also represents the joining of two - a romantic idea for an engagement piece. The popularity of this style continued throughout the century across the different jewellery periods. In 1910, the famed American jeweller Seaman Schepps gave his wife a crossover ring marking their engagement, of an opal and a diamond. In 1953, John F. Kennedy gave an emerald and diamond crossover ring by Van Cleef & Arpels to Jacqueline Onassis.
Relating to a stone, the portion of the stone which is above the girdle (widest area).
Items in the form of a cross.
A small facet polished across the pavilion (bottom) point of a faceted stone. Larger culets are popular on old cut stones.
Forced introduction of a bead nucleus into a mollusc, stimulating the animal to secrete layers of "nacre" over it, which forms a cultured pearl. Note, the use of the word "pearl" alone means "natural". See "Natural Pearl". Mohs hardness of 2.5
Flattened, oval chain links.
Cushion cut diamonds are exceedingly beautiful and are found almost exclusively in antique jewellery.
When you see a cushion cut diamond, you immediately know that it was cut over 100 years ago and as such is one of the very earliest cuts of diamonds. The most usual shape of a natural rough diamond crystal- the octahedron- naturally lends itself to the cushion shape, with a rectangular or square outline with softly rounded corners.A very rare cut of cushion shape diamonds is the ‘old mine’ cut. This cut is the very earliest form of cushion shape diamond. If you see an old mine cushion shape diamond, you know that the diamond would have originated from one of the first diamond sources ever discovered- namely India or Brazil. You do not see this cut from the abundant South African mines which were discovered in the late 1860s, the world leader in production of diamonds on the market continually to this day. Old mine diamonds typically have deep proportions and are slightly more irregular both in outline and arrangement of facets, scintillating with old world charm.
A method of setting a gemstone by which a strip of metal surrounding the stone (or collet) is raised at intervals by narrow vertical strips of metal in order to lend it further strength. This technique is typically seen in jewellery of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
A variety of shank in which a cross section resembles the outline of the letter 'D'.
The jewellery firm of David Morris was founded in London in the late 1950s, with the first London branch opening on Bond Street in 1962. Morris first rose to fame via his one off commissions for a number of Bond films, including ‘Diamonds are Forever’, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ and ‘The World is not Enough’. In the 1990s Morris jewellery began to be retailed at Harrod’s, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, as well as expansion of their boutiques to include Dubai, Moscow and Palm Beach. The company continues to produce glamorous and imaginative jewels.
David Webb was a leading American designer, forming David Webb inc. in 1948. From the 1950s to 1960s Webb focussed on organic forms for his designs, moving on to his iconic animal designs in the 1960s to 70s. His bold designs, which developed with the rapidly changing times, were always at the forefront of the style and design of the era. Since his untimely death in 1975, the company is still producing jewellery drawing on the archives of Webb’s original designs.
Deakin & Francis is a Birmingham jewellery manufacturer, first established by Benjamin Woolfield in 1786. In 1848 the firm was purchased by Charles Washington Shirley Deakin, and became Deakin & Francis upon the formation of a new partnership in 1882. During the twentieth century the firm came to specialise in 9 and 18 carat gold jewellery.
The demantoid is one of the most dispersive gemstones that exist, yet until recently it was little known except among collectors and stone lovers. It is a green garnet, or rather the star of the green garnets. Not without reason does it bear a name which means 'diamond-like'. The name comes from the Dutch and makes reference to the outstanding quality of this gem, its incomparable brilliance and fire.
The demantoid belongs to the garnet family, and is actually a variety of the garnet mineral andradite. But it is more than that: it is the most expensive kind of garnet and one of the most precious of all gemstones. It is highly prized because of its rarity, coupled with an intense luminosity. Demantoid has an extremely high refractive index 1.880 to 1.889. Its high dispersion is also remarkable, its ability to split the light which comes in through the facets and break it down into all the spectral colours. The demantoid surpasses even diamond in its dispersive properties.
This stone comes in many shades of green, from a slightly yellowish green to a brownish green with a golden glow. Particularly precious is a deep emerald green, though this only occurs very rarely indeed. It is not only fine and unusual, but the specimens are also mostly small, large ones being extremely rare. Once cut, only a few stones weigh more than two carats, and most of them hardly exceed one. And even if you come across one set in a piece of jewellery, it is always likely to be a small stone.
After its discovery in 1868 in Russia's Ural mountains, the demantoid rapidly proceeded to become a much desired gemstone. It found fame among the finest jeweller's workshops in Paris, New York and St. Petersburg. First and foremost, Russia's star jeweller Carl Fabergé adored it for its tremendous brilliance and loved to incorporate it in his precious objects.
The demantoid garnet has long been prized for its rarity and brilliance, it remains today one of the most unusual stones available in jewellery in the world.
A small suite of jewellery, usually consisting of three matching pieces (ie. a brooch, earrings and necklace).
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.
Jean Dinh Van is a French jeweller who learnt his craft at Cartier and manufactured jewellery for them throughout the 1950s. In 1965 he set up his own company creating innovative jewellery and working metal into bold, sculptural designs. In 1976 he opened his first shop on rue de la Paix, where he also exhibited art and projects he supported, and further stores were opened in New York, Geneva and Brussels. Dinh Van continues to create wearable, simple and crisp jewellery designs.
A double brilliant cut has twice the number of facets as a standard brilliant cut stone, which typically is comprised of fifty seven facets. The double brilliant cut is often used on gems which are relatively large in size, both on diamonds and coloured stones.
The jewellery firm of Drayson was founded on Bond Street in London in 1936 by Cecil Drayson. Initially working in the Art Deco style, they are now more known for high quality sculptural designs they produced from the 1930s through the 1960s.
Dreicer & Co was one of the leading American jewellers of the early twentieth century. Though their early history remains largely obscured, they are believed to have originated as J. Dreicer & Son, under which name they exhibited at the 1904 International Exposition in St Louis. The firm had a boutique at 560 Fifth Avenue, and particularly specialized in diamond and pearl set jewellery which is said to have rivalled that of Cartier. They also held a branch at the elite Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Upon the death of Michael Dreicer, the founder's son, in 1923, the company was liquidated and its stock was purchased by Cartier for 2.5 million dollars.
The ‘drop’ or ‘pear’ shape cut of gemstone is unusual and rare.
The first form of the drop shape, the ‘pendeloque’ or ‘briolette’ was invented by a Flemish cutter, Lodewyk van Berquem as early as the 1400s. He is also credited with the discovery of the diamond polishing wheel which allowed him to polish facets and thus better optimise light reflection and ‘sparkle’ within a diamond- a defining moment in the history of diamond cutting.
Some of the most famous diamonds have been fashioned into drop shapes, for example the world’s largest white diamond ever discovered, the Cullinan I or Star of Africa, is a 520.02 drop shape set in the ceremonial sceptre of the British Crown Jewels. This fancy cut did not escape the notice of Hollywood either, as Elizabeth Taylor’s awe inspiring engagement ring given to her by Richard Burton was a drop shape diamond solitaire of approximately 69.42 carats.
Émile Séraphin Vernier began his career aged 13 as an apprentice to Poussielgue-Rusand learning the art of sculpturing, metal engraving and metal chasing. Having an early start to his career his skills in medal engraving pioneered a new type of jewellery never before seen. In France he was esteemed as a jewellery maker and sculpturist and many commemorative plaques during the late 1800s were handcrafted by him. By the turn of the century Vernier was somewhat of a national treasure, recognised with numerous awards by the government and his peers. In 1905 he was elected as the president of Société des artistes décorateurs which was a position Vernier held for five consecutive terms.
His medallion and medal carving became popular in the Art Nouveau movement when his skills were used to intricately carve naturalistic forms and whimsical scenes. Vernier became the expert on Antique Egyptian jewellery when the French government commisioned him under a special assignment to travel to and learn about the subject in Cairo. His publications on the subject continue to be viewed as the authority on the subject.
E. Wolfe & Co is a family run business, established in London in 1850 and is still making jewellery to this day. They are most famous for creating exquisite animal brooches and jewellery, with diamonds and coloured stones. In the 19th century they were known for making tiaras, which were worn by royalty. At the 2003 Tiara Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, fifty percent of the tiaras on display were made by E. Wolfe & Co.
Edward Petri came to New York from France in the early 1900s. A watchmaker by trade, Petri went to work at Tiffany & Company in New York City. He then moved to Indianapolis and continued his craft with jeweller, Julius C. Walk. In 1921 he opened the Edward E. Petri Jewellery Company which he ran until his retirement in 1966.
Description used for the period during the rule of Edward VII 1903-1910.
For more information, see our Design Period section.
An eight cut diamond has 18 facets in total and is reserved for smaller diamonds. The more simplified number of facets allow light to reflect in a soft manner that complements its small size and does not overpower its appearance.
The firm of Ellis Brothers was founded in Toronto, Canada around the year 1876 by Philips W. Ellis and Matthew C. Ellis, nephews of the Toronto silversmith James E. Ellis. Ellis Bros became a premier purveyor of engagement rings and diamonds in their day, claiming one in every five diamonds sold in Canada was an "Ellis Faultless Quality Diamond!" In 1928 the firm was taken over by Birks of Montreal.
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.
The emerald-cut is a type of step cut, similar to the baguette, with a rectangular or square outline, truncated corners and stepped facets. A classic cut with a subtle beauty and elegance, emerald-cut diamonds display less fire than round brilliant cut diamonds but tend to have more dramatic flashes of light. This cut is reserved for stones of a very high quality and value, as low clarity and colour appear far more noticeable to the eye.Although the style of cut was widely used for coloured stones throughout the Victorian period, it was only in the 1920s with the beginning of the new Art Deco style that the emerald-cut began to be used for diamonds. With the new fashion for clean lines and dramatic geometric shapes, jewellery designers required a corresponding style of diamond cut. Emerald-cut diamonds became very popular for engagement rings, particularly in solitaire diamond rings as they provide an effortless art deco look with minimal embellishment. They also feature in more elaborate Art Deco cluster rings and were set with similarly cut coloured stones in two stone and three stone rings.
An enamelling technique, translating to 'in the round'. It describes the process of enamel being applied to three-dimensional figures or reliefs.
A French term used to describe jewellery that has been set in such a way that it trembles when touched. This is mostly seen in 18th and 19th century jewellery. The movement is particularly effective in diamond set jewels as they shimmer the light beautifully when trembled.
There are numerous different enamelling techniques that have been developed throughout the centuries, each producing a different and individual result. However, all the techniques involve the fusing of coloured glass to metal that leaves a layer of smooth, polished colour.
Enamelling itself is a highly skilled craft which takes a great degree of control. A combination of potassium oxide, quartz sand, iron oxide and borax is ground together into a powder. Different metal oxides can be added to create different colours. These are then made into a paste and applied in a manner similar to paint. When it has dried the piece is fired in a kiln with temperatures rising to between 700 and 900 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most vital stages of the process and it is important for the kiln to remain at an even temperature. When the piece has cooled it is then sanded and polished.
Machine engraving to produce design and/or brilliance, often as a base for enamel or on larger items to give a pattern.
The process of decorating or inscribing a phrase onto a hard surface, often metal, from the exterior with incised lines.
Ornamentation using chisels or engravers to cut away design.
A cabochon rock crystal which has been engraved from behind and then hand painted and backed with mother of pearl. These pieces are highly collectable.
A ring set around the full circumference with diamonds or coloured gemstones, symbolising eternal love.
Gem set bands of this type have been known as early as circa 4000 years ago in Ancient Egypt however it was from the early 20th century that the popularity of these fabulous versatile bands really took off.
The precursor to the modern concept of eternity rings was called a ‘keeper’ ring, and was either a single band ring or a pair of matching rings worn on either side of the wedding ring to protect it from damage or loss. Most often keeper rings were plain bands, however around the middle part of the eighteenth century they began to appear set with a single row of matching gemstones.
Eternity bands of the early twentieth century were characterised by hand cut round old cut diamond and platinum designs, often with millegrain settings and foliate engraving along the sides of the band.
These rings can be chosen for many occasions- in 1954 Marilyn Monroe received a baguette cut diamond eternity band as a combination engagement and wedding ring from Joe DiMaggio, fully throwing open the functionality of such rings.
Today eternity rings are more popular than ever, with eternity bands being worn as wedding rings with that added bit of sparkle, to commemorate wedding anniversaries, to celebrating the birth of babies, as well as to mark any number of life’s other monumental occasions. Worn singly or stacked up on the finger you can decide on your style. As was perhaps best stated in a 1938 issue of Vogue, “What better emblem of unending devotion than eternity rings?”
F. & F. Felger were in business from 1911 to the 1950s, operating in Newark, New Jersey. They manufactured their own lines as well as supplying pieces to Tiffany & Co. and Cartier.
The house of Fabergé was founded in 1842 in St Petersburg by Gustav Fabergé(1814-1893). Of Huguenot heritage, the family fled the Picardy region of France in the late seventeenth century due to religious persecution, eventually settling in Russia. Though earning commissions to the court of Tsar Alexander II in 1866, the firm did not reach its status as the preeminent Russian goldsmith until after Gustav’s son Carl (born Peter Carl Fabergé, 1846-1920) undertook management of the firm. Carl joined the firm in 1864, but due to a lengthy apprenticeship it was not until 1872 that he assumed management of the business. In 1885 Fabergé was named Supplier to the Court of His Imperial Majesty Tsar Alexander III. Fabergé won numerous other royal and distinguished clientele, including various members of the British royal family, Emanuel Nobel and Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, to name a few.
The firm’s rise to prominence within the Russian court also acted to expand its international clientele, in particular with relation to the royal courts of Europe. More specifically, the Russian and British royal families were closely linked, being that the queen of England at the time, Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward V, and the Tsarina of Russia, Maria Feodorovna, consort of Tsar Alexander III, were sisters, both daughters of the King and Queen of Denmark. The two families commissioned seemingly countless gifts from Fabergé to be exchanged amongst one another, as well as distributed to prominent friend and diplomats. Queen Alexandra and, subsequently, Queen Mary were avid admirers of the firm, and the establishment of a London branch of Fabergé in 1903 was in large part to cater to the British royal family’s commissions.
What, one may ask, has attracted the most elite of connoisseurs to the work of Fabergé? It is the combination of impeccable quality, ingenuity of design and--very simply--beauty. First and foremost, every piece that came out of the workshop was flawlessly finished, due to Carl’s eye for detail and insistence on perfection; the enamelling in particular is unparalleled, an art which has been lost despite general advances in technology over the last century. Second, the creativity with which the materials were approached—prizing subtle contrasts in colour and texture above intrinsic value, which was quite a revolutionary concept in the age of diamonds—, not to mention the inventiveness and intricacies of the more complex works, such as the Imperial Easter eggs, some containing complicated mechanical conceits. Finally, the sheer prettiness of the objects, which was perhaps best summed up by art historian and critic Terence Mullaly:
‘The real key as to why Fabergé answers a widely felt need lies in the fact that [his jewels] are intensely pretty, a world of which, thanks to puritanical aesthetic theories and even what imagine to be a social conscience, we have become frightened.’
Polishing a rough gemstone into a series of flat planes in order to bring out its maximum beauty and brilliance.
The firm of Fattorini & Sons was founded in 1827 by Italian immigrant Antonio Fattorini (1797-1859) who settled in Yorkshire, England. The company initially specialised in jewellery, watches and fancy goods. In the nineteenth century Fattorini became especially known for badges and trophies, including the FA Cup and the Rugby League Challenge Cup. Today they are known as Thomas Fattorini Ltd, Thomas being a direct descendant of the founder.
The clasped hands, or fede motif (Italian for 'faith'), symbolises the marriage union as the joining of hands in a handshake marks the consecration of the marriage ceremony. It is one of the earliest and most enduring of motifs used in jewellery- seen as far back as Ancient Roman times.
Claddagh rings (two hands holding a crowned heart) seen from the Georgian period onwards are the evolved version of these fede rings.
Figural jewellery—jewellery in the form of human or animal figures—has been made for millennia. Jewels of this kind were fashioned by the Mesopotamians as early as 3000 BC, and were likely used as amulets, or symbolic objects of protective function. Examples also originate from ancient Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Celtic, Chinese, and South and Central American cultures. Figural jewellery is categorized into two types, either with figures in the round, or with figures set against a background. Rings in particular lend themselves to designs of the first category, with full figures making up the shank of the ring.
In the modern age, figural jewellery, very often rings due to the suitability of the form, became fashionable in Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, particularly in France, Italy, and Germany. An evolution of their ancient amuletic use, Renaissance figural jewels often displayed a theme or told a story, frequently Biblical or mythological. Albercht Dürer, the famous Renaissance German artist, is known to have designed rings of this type. Many figural rings from this period incorporated gemstones, as seen in designs for rings by Pierre Woeiriot, a French artist and goldsmith, dating from 1561.
Figural rings became popular again in the latter half of the nineteenth century, first in the guise of various revivalist styles, including the Gothic, Classical, Egyptian and Renaissance modes. Gothic revival style rings integrated full length figures of angels and saints. Sphinxes, pharaohs, and serpents can be found in Egyptian revival style rings, and Greco-Roman gods and nymphs in Classical revival style works, both drawing on ancient examples. Rings in these two styles were regularly set with intaglios, which again were inspired by their ancient counterparts. Renaissance revival designs largely mimicked the human and mythological forms of the Renaissance originals discussed above.
Around the turn of the twentieth century jewellers working in the Art Nouveau style embraced the use of the human form, especially nudes. These rings, like the original Renaissance jewels, were often allegorically themed. They are distinctive from the earlier revivalist figural rings in their swirling, intertwined designs, so characteristic of the Art Nouveau.
Whatever their age, ancient to antique, figural rings allow the wearer to bear not only a piece of beautiful jewellery, but also a piece of sculptural art, and as well as a myth.
Diana Scarisbrick, Rings: Jewelry of Power, Love and Loyalty, Thames and Hudson, 2007.
Hugh Tait, 7000 Years of Jewellery, The British Museum Press, 2006.
A means of decoration, acheived using fine gold or silver wires which are formed in to delicate tracery.
Decorative enamel in the manner of cloisonné.
A ring design composed of a single gemstone set between smaller accent gemstones to the shoulders. In Art Deco rings for instance, one commonly sees baguette cut diamonds flanking the central gemstone.
A decorative feature which takes the form of a stylised lily. The fleur-de-lis can be traced back to the early Medieval period, when it first appeared as a heraldic motif and as a decorative device in illuminated manuscripts. The fleur-de-lis is perhaps most closely associated with the French monarchy, who incorporated the emblem in their heraldry from the thirteenth-century onwards.
A type of mosaic which originated in Florence, usually depicting floral studies and naturalistic subjects set within ornately formed gold framework. Unlike Roman micromosaics which were formed from tiny glass tesserae, Florentine mosaics combine individually carved coloured hardstones set within a background of dull black Belgian slate. This technique is also known as pietra dura (from the Italian meaning 'hardstone').
Florentine mosaics were particularly popular during the nineteenth-century, when they brought back as souvenirs by individuals who visited Florence on the Grand Tour.
The varying colour effects produced when materials are subjected to ultra-violet light. Some diamonds fluoresce strongly, the dark blue 'Hope' diamond fluoresces deep red for example.
A seal or other decorative items suspended from a man's watch chain.
A thin metal foil placed behind a gemstone within a closed-back setting to improve its appearance. Metallic foil improves the reflectivity of certain gemstones, whilst coloured foils act as colouring agents when placed behind colourless materials, such as paste and rock crystal.
The practice of foil-backing gemstones can be traced back to Minoan times (circa 2000 BC), however it is most closely associated with the Georgian and early Victorian periods.
In 1840 Fontana was founded by the Swiss citizen Thomas Fontana 1813 - 1861. The company was first located near the Palais Royal in Paris. The business continued through the family and the name changed to Ch. Fontana et Cie. in 1881 under Charles Fontana. Charles' cousins then created their own company, 'Fontana Freres'. Fontana was known for producing classical jewellery of distinct quality. Chaumet now hold the Fontana archives.
The renowned French jewellery firm of Fouquet was founded in 1862 by Alphonse Fouquet (1828-1911). He is particularly known for his jewels in the Renaissance revival taste, many of which incorporated engraved gems, cameos and enamelled miniature paintings of the highest calibre. 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 continued the high standards and cutting-edge design. 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. 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.
Lawrence was born on 2nd November 1864 and died on 10th March 1929. He apprenticed with several noted jewellery and silver makers in New Jersey and New York City beginning in 1880. Lawrence started his first business in Newark in 1889, and moved it to New York City in 1894. Some of Lawrence’s distinctive silver work was produced by Newark's Lebkuecher and Company. In 1913 he and two cousins incorporated the company, and added an "INC." to all their work.
Established by Fred Samuel in 1936 in Paris at 6 Rue Royale. Fred Samuel grew up in Argentina and as such his designs are inspired by the vibrant colours of South America. FRED jewellery is renowned for its modern and creative colourful designs which match current fashion. Some of their most notable clientele include Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich.
FRED is the jeweller to the cinema, in 1989 designing the necklace made up of twenty three rubellite hearts worn by Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman’. More recently FRED showcased their Star Collections pendant and earring suite in the James Bond film ‘Casino Royale’.
In 1995 FRED joined the Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton LVMH group.
Frédéric Charles Victoire de Vernon (1858-1912) was a leading French medallist, sculptor and engraver who worked in the Art Nouveau style. Trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Vernon exhibited at numerous Paris Salons, where he won a first class medal in 1895. Vernon and a small group of other French medalists created medal-jewels which were a highly popular form of adornment around the turn of the twentieth century. Most featured female figures, sometimes set with gemstones. They were sold by the top Parisian jewellers of the day, including Vever and Boucheron.
Black glass made to simulate jet and was widely used in 19th century mourning jewellery.
The firm of Froment-Meurice was one of the most important French jewellery and silver houses of the nineteenth century. Founded by François Désiré Froment-Meurice (1802-1855), he was regarded as the premier goldsmith of his day, described by Victor Hugo as the Cellini of his age. He exhibited in a number of International Exhibitions, winning numerous awards. His clientele was the elite of Europe, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. After his death the firm was managed by his son, Émile (1837-1913), who was an accomplished designer in his own right. He upheld the status of the firm, continuing to win awards for his displays at the International Exhibitions.
A decorative series of curving flutes, usually seen on the underside of Georgian closed back settings.
The vertical part of a ring which supports the central settings of the bezel, which is often decoratively pierced or engraved.
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.
As a firm, Garrard can trace its origins back to the Georgian period, when in 1735 a young goldsmith by the name of George Wickes began to trade from a premises near Haymarket in Central London. Wickes was celebrated for his work in the fashionable rococo style and drew clients from amongst the elite and aristocratic, soon gaining the patronage of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Upon his retirement in 1760, Wickes was succeeded by two of his apprentices, John Wakelin and William Taylor who took control of the company until Taylor’s death in 1792, at which point Robert Garrard became a partner. In 1802, Garrard acquired sole ownership of the company and it would remain under the control of his family for the next one hundred and fifty years.
In 1843, Queen Victoria appointed Garrard as Crown Jewellers, and in this position the firm were responsible for producing jewellery for the royal family, as well as for upkeep of the Crown Jewels. Over the years they have produced numerous important pieces for their royal patrons, to include Queen Elizabeth’s coronation crown and the famous sapphire and diamond cluster engagement ring presented by Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, and now worn by HRH the Duchess of Cambridge.
David Gass & Co was established as a jewellers and watchmakers in 1808 with premises at 42 Oxford Street, London. In 1834, now as Gass & Sons, they moved to 166 Regent Street. The firm enjoyed much success throughout the nineteenth century, including exhibiting silver and jewellery at the Great Exhibition of 1851. By 1897 the firm moved to 138 Regent Street, where they were to remain until their dissolution in 1916.
The study of gemstones.
In 1904 Georg Jensen first established his own small silversmithing company at 36 Bredgade in Copenhagen.
Jensen's training in metalsmithing along with his education in the fine arts allowed him to combine the two disciplines and breathe new life into the tradition of the artist craftsman. Soon, the beauty and fine quality of his Art Nouveau creations caught the eye of the public and his success was assured. The Copenhagen quarters were greatly expanded and before the close of the 1920's, Jensen had opened retail outlets in New York, London, Paris, Stockholm, and Berlin.
Georg Jensen died in 1935, but in the preceding years he imbued the firm with his strongly held ideals concerning both artistry in design and excellence in craftmanship, this tradition has been adhered to throughout the twentieth century. Although Jensen himself was a proponent of the Art Nouveau style, he had the wisdom and foresight to allow his designers their own freedom of expression which expanded the stylistic scope of what the firm produced and allowed it to keep step with time.
It is because of this timelessness that Georg Jensen pieces are so highly prized by collectors the world over.
George Joseph appears in the 1851 London census as a goldsmith working in the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell. He subsequently moved his shop to another location in this area, which closed upon his death in 1874.
Georges Lenfant was one of the most important jewellery designers and manufacturers of the twentieth century. His firm created jewels retailed by Cartier, Hermes, Mellerio, and Van Cleef and Arpels, to name a few.
The firm M. Gérard was founded in 1968 by Louis Gérard, formerly of Van Cleef & Arpels, at 8 Avenue Montaigne in Paris. Within less than a decade they became the largest French exporter of fine jewellery, with a reputation for manufacturing jewellery to the highest possible standards. The company was bought by an American group of investors in November 1985 and Louis continued to run it until his retirement. In 1988 the firm reopened near its original location, under the name Louis Gérard, Joaillier International. The doors then closed in December 1991.
Giardinetti means 'little gardens' in Italian. This style of cluster originated in Italy in the late 17th century and became very popular throughout the 18th century. Typically, a giardinetti piece is made up of multi-coloured gemstones depicting a floral bouquet arranged in a basket or vase.
Dipped in gold.
A gimmel is a ring that is made up of two separate but interlocking bands, the name coming from the world 'gemmelus' meaning 'twin' in Latin. They were often used as engagement or wedding rings due to the obvious symbolism. Some examples have a split bezel set with two different coloured gemstones.
A pendant, brooch or earrings with swinging pear-shaped drops. Popular in the Edwardian period.
The middle of a fashioned gemstone, it divides the crown and pavilion.
The jewellery firm of Giuliano was founded in London by the Neapolitan-born Carlo Giuliano (1831-1895) in the 1860s. With his first mark registered in 1863, the early history of the company is uncertainly, however it seems likely that Carlo came from his master’s workshops in Rome—the great Archaeological revivalist jewellery house of Castellani—to manage the new London outlet. Whatever the precise sequence of events, Carlo established his independent shop at 115 Picadilly in 1874. Though his earliest works were much in the style of his master, in the mid-1870s Giuliano developed his own distinct style, turning towards inspiration from Renaissance jewels, and incorporating colour via enamel and unusual gemstones. Upon his death, the company passed to Carlo’s two sons, Arthur Alphonse (1864-1914) and Carlo, who maintained their father’s success with many royal commissions, until the firm closed in 1914 with the death of Arthur.
‘Golconda’ refers to a region in India which was the first significant source of diamonds in the world. This area was also the first source of rare type IIa diamonds. This group of diamonds are the most chemically pure and display a fine whiteness and superior clarity. Golconda diamonds are still revered to be the finest quality diamonds in the world and this description implies a particularly rare quality. For centuries India was virtually the sole source of the world’s diamonds until the discovery of diamonds in Brazil in the early 18th century and then South Africa in the late 18th century.
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 24 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. 18 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 or small stamp which indicates its purity, often in addition to the stamp indicating the maker, or maker's mark.
The Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company Ltd was established by William Gibson and John Langman in London in 1880. In 1952 the company was taken over by Garrard & Co, and finally by Mappin & Webb in 1959. They specialised in fine jewellery, silver, clocks and watches.
Gorham was one of the most important American silver and jewellery manufacturers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, rivalled only by Tiffany & Co. The company was founded by Jabez Gorham in 1831 in Providence Rhode Island. Gorham was the first in America to make French filigree jewellery, along with other innovations such as the Gorham type gold chain. They also excelled at silversmithing, many pieces of which are still a part of historic American collections, including the White House. Today Gorham focuses exclusively on the production of fine silver and other tableware.
A type of setting wherby small beads of metal are pushed over the edge of the gemstone to hold it securely in place.
The firm Granat Brothers was established in 1905 in Stockton, California. Known for their innovative styles in fitted wedding rings and elegant diamond set engagement rings, the firm quickly made a name for themselves as skilled manufacturers. Brothers Joseph and Leo eventually moved their business to a larger home in San Francisco and opened their flagship store there in 1922. By 1961 Granat had a chain of nine retail outlets all specialising in wedding rings, engagement rings and a variety of jewellery items all with their signature look. In the decade from 1950 to 1960 they won the Diamond International Award for Excellence in Creative Designs for a consecutive eight years. The company was sold in the later part of 1961.
Application of tiny gold beads to a plain surface by soldering. Employed extensively by the ancient Etruscans, the process was lost until the 19th century when it was rediscovered by experimentation's carried out largely by the celebrated Italian, Fortunato Castellani. Typical of the Etruscan style popular in the mid-nineteenth century
A small rounded bead of metal. A decorative technique often used on ancient jewellery.
Andrew Grima was an anglo-italian jeweller. He opened a shop on Jermyn Street in 1966, as well as locations in Sydney and New York in 1970, Zurich in 1971, Tokyo in 1972, Lugano in 1987 and Gstaad in 1992. He was appointed jeweller to Her Majesty the Queen in 1970. Grima designed a collection of watches for Omega, the series entitled "About Time" in 1971. Andrew Grima died in Gstaad, aged 86 in 2007.
Jojo and Francesca, his wife and his daughter currently design and sell bespoke pieces from Gstaad and twice yearly shows in London.
Layer(s) of white enamel over grey ground produces a monochromatic effect. A type of decoration in painted enamel in which the picture or design is monochrome - usually shades of grey on a white background.
The watch company of Gruen was founded by Dietrich Gruen (1847-1911) in Columbus, Ohio. A German immigrant, he founded the Columbus Watch Company in 1876, which later became known as Gruen in 1894. Eventually Dietrich involved his sons in the business, and moved its headquarters to Cincinatti, Ohio. Throughout the life of the business, until its closure in 1958, Gruen produced superlative watches containing Swiss and German-made movements of the finest quality.
Gübelin can trace its origins back to the mid-nineteenth century, when a Swiss watchmaker by the name of Jakob Josef Mauritz Breitschmid set up his shop at Pfistergasse in Lucerne. He was soon joined by a young apprentice, Eduard Jakob Gübelin, who would eventually marry Breitschmid’s daughter and take over the business in 1899.
In the 1920s, it was decided to expand the company to include a jewellery atelier and gemmological laboratory. In the context of the time, when technological advances meant that synthetic stones and cultured pearls were flooding the market, the jewellery industry was in need of a competent and trustworthy knowledge of such materials. Initially, the laboratory was intended to give Gübelin’s customers reassurance with regards to the quality and integrity of their jewellery, however it would become one of the world’s most respected authorities in this field. This is largely due to the work of Edward J. Gübelin, who joined the family business on a part-time basis in 1932 whilst studying mineralogy at the University of Zurich – a subject in which he would eventually achieve a doctorate in 1938. The following year, whilst working at Gübelin’s New York office, he completed a diploma in gemmology and subsequently became a GIA Certified Gemmologist. Dr Edward J. Gübelin is best remembered for his pioneering studies in to gemstone inclusions and as a result of his research inclusions are now recognised as valuable indicators of a stone’s identity, geographic origin, and crucially, they are often conclusive proof of whether a material is natural or synthetic. Dr Gübelin passionately continued his work in gemmology until his death in 2005, publishing books and articles, as well as achieving countless honours in this field during his lifetime.
Over one hundred and fifty years after it was founded, the company remains under the control of the Gübelin family. With boutiques throughout Switzerland and Asia, the jewellery atelier continues to produce handcrafted pieces using only the best of gemstones. The Gübelin Gem Laboratory has expanded to include branches in Hong Kong and New York and is relied upon as a source of high quality gemmological reports and expertise.
A type of setting wherby the gemstone is sunk into its mount with the table facet flush with the mount surface. Usually there are one to three stones in the ring. Popular Victorian setting.
Mr Harris Leon Brown came to England from Poland with an introduction to Alfred Beckett & Sons. He started by travelling around as a watch maker.In 1867 H.L. Brown begins trading at 29 Gower Street, Sheffield. In 1876 H.L. Brown was situated at 24 Angel Street and in 1877 connected directly to Greenwich, with the introduction of the 1 o’ clock time signal. H.L. Circa 1888 Brown moves to 71 Market Place, Sheffield. In 1896 H.L. Brown moved to 65 Market Place, Sheffield. In 1906 they opened a branch at 92 Regent Street, London. In 1917 H.L. Brown died. His son, Bernard Brown succeeded him. In the 1920's and 1930's H.L. Brown branches open in Doncaster and Derby. Bell Brothers of Doncaster is acquired and joins the family business. In 1923 Colonel Denis Brown (Bernard Brown’s only son) joined the business. In 1940 The Blitz occured and the shop in Sheffield was bombed and the business moved to 70 Fargate, Sheffield.
In 1957 Harris Brown’s great Grandson, Michael Frampton joined the business as a Chartered Accountant and later served as Managing Director from 1972. In 1986, H.L. Brown moves to 2 Barker’s Pool, its current location.
In 1989 James Frampton (Michael Frampton’s son and Harris Brown’s great great Grandson) joins the firm after qualifying as a gemologist and training in the jewellery trade in Switzerland and London. James Frampton serves as Managing Director from 2001 onwards. They are still selling jewellery today.
A glass compartment on the reverse side of a piece of jewellery which held hair of a friend, lover, or relative, not necessarily a memorial piece of jewellery. Popular mid-nineteenth century.
Braided or designed human hair made into jewellery (i.e. lockets, brooches, etc.) for memento or memorial.
System of marking precious metals, not required on antique jewellery, but sometimes marks can be found.
The Hamilton watch company was founded in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1892. Known for accuracy, the firm soon became a supplier to the railroad and aviation industries, as well as the US military. In the mid-twentieth century Hamilton watches graced the wrists of Hollywood stars, including Elvis Presley in "Blue Hawaii". Ever pioneering, Hamilton introduced the first battery-operated watch in 1957, and the first digital watch in 1970. Today the company is going strong, and its designs were featured in such blockbuster films as Men in Black, The Talented Mr Ripley, Fight Club and Independence Day.
The jewellery house of Harry Winston was founded in New York City in 1932. Known throughout his life as "King of Diamonds" and the "Jeweller to the Stars", Mr Winston was among the most noted jewellers in the world, well-known to the general public. His jewellery designs had an emphasis on individual gemstones and important diamonds. Harry Winston possessed some of the world's most famous gemstones, including the Jonker, Hope and Winston Legacy Diamonds. Today, the jewellery house of Harry Winston continues its tradition of creativity, rarity, and quality in its stores around the world, including New York, London, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Henry Birks was a silversmith and founder of Henry Birks and Sons. He was born in Montréal on the 30th of November 1840 and died on the 16th Apr 1928.
In April 1857 he joined Savage and Lyman, a large firm of watchmakers and jewellers. On the 1st of March 1879, he opened the first Birks store on St James Street in Montréal. Six years later he moved to larger premises on the same street. In 1893, since his three sons: William Massey, John Henry and Gerald Walter Birks were active in the business, the company name was changed to Henry Birks and Sons. The following year the store was moved to their new building at the corner of St Catherine and Union streets. The Birks building still stands on Phillips Square and houses the organization's head office.
Since its founding in 1879, five successive generations of the Birks family have been involved in the company. In 1934 the Royal Warrant of Appointment was granted to Birks in recognition of supplying British Royalty. The Birks Group was created in November 2005 through the merger of Henry Birks and Sons Ltd. and american company Mayors Jewelers Inc. They are still manufacturing and selling fine jewellery today.
Henry (Harry) George Murphy was a silversmith, jeweller and teacher of metal work and enamelling.
Born at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent. He studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts where he was a pupil of Henry Wilson. Murphy then studied briefly under Emil Lettré in Berlin. In 1913 he established his own workshop in London. From 1907, alongside running his own workshop, Murphy taught at the Royal College of Art and later at the Central School. In 1928 he opened the Falcon Studio, running a large workshop and retail outlet. In 1932 he became head of Silversmithing at the Central School and four years later was made Principal. He died in 1939.
In April 2005, the Goldsmiths’ Company successfully held the exhibition “At the Sign of the Falcon: H.G. Murphy – Art Deco Silversmith and Jeweller,” at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London. Published to coincide with the exhibition, the book by Paul Atterbury and John Benjamin 'The Jewellery and Silver of H.G. Murphy: Arts and Crafts to Art Deco.'
Henry Griffith & Sons was established in Birmingham by Henry Griffith in 1850. The firm moved from the jewellery quarter in Birmingham in 1923 and opened a large factory in Leamington Spa where the firm continued to produce high quality jewellery and silverware until the late 1960s.
The firm of H. Williamson Ltd was established in 1865, first as a dealer and then retailer of jet jewellery. By the 1880s the firm expanded its wares, eventually manufacturing and selling jewellery, fancy goods, glassware and silverplate, and growing from a company of eight employees to over five hundred. The premises during this time of growth were located on Farringdon Road in London. The firm exhibited at various exhibitions including the Jewellers' Exhibitions of 1912 and 1913, several of the British Industries Fairs, and the Barcelona Exhibition of 1929.
Hermès was originally established by Thierry Hermès in 1837 as a workshop creating horse harnesses in Paris. It was only in the 1920s that jewellery was introduced to their growing collection of handbags, ties and scarves.
Hermès worked in collaboration with Georges Lenfant, one of the foremost jewellery designers of the 20th century, to create iconic pieces of jewellery which frequently referenced the company's equestrian heritage.
A ring cut from one piece of gem material, without joins or connections.
Founded by Joseph P. Howard in 1878, who was for many years employed by Tiffany and Co. One of the first jewellers on Fifth Avenue in New York, renowned in his day for high quality craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The firm closed its doors in 1908 due to the affect on sales caused by a failing economy.
The term given to a group of medieval rings engraved to the bezel or shoulder with devotional images or saints. This type of ring is often triangular in section and can also be found with geometric or floral decoration. These rings are unique to England and remained popular from the 14th to the 16th century. They are believed to have been very popular as gifts at weddings and at New Year.
A type of setting wherby the metal surrounds a stone making it appear larger than it is, by working the metal in such a way that it looks like an extension of the stone.
To set in a surface to form a decoration. The process of decorating by inserting shaped pieces of material (not enamel) into the surface or ground of an object so that the surfaces of both are level.
A stone carved so that the design is cut into the surface and is the opposite of a cameo (carved in relief).
The origin of the engraved signet-stone can be traced right back to the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia. Seals were used in the Ancient Near East from about 3400BC for over three thousand years, however initially only relatively soft stones were used. Due to the soft nature of the material a precise, detailed image could not be produced on such a small scale. Therefore new technologies were required to carve harder, more durable materials.
Even right back at this time gemstones were prized above all other possessions and this led to a high perfection in the art of gem-cutting. These materials would have been immensely difficult to carve and engrave in such detail with the tools and materials available at the time. Therefore the engraved gemstone must have been a valued and treasured possession belonging to someone of immense importance and wealth.
The classical history of gem-engraving in Europe is known to begin in the second quarter of the sixth century BC, as this is when new materials and techniques became available to the Greek artist. The new techniques were those required to work the harder stones, mainly the use of a cutting wheel and drill, probably driven by a bow, where before figures had been cut or gouged free-hand in the soft stone. Techniques were passed down to the Romans, and the use of drills and wheel technology soon enabled the processing of harder gemstones and facilitated the production of more demanding images. A finely carved seal was practical, as it made forgery more difficult. This was of utmost importance in Roman society as a seal stone often mounted in a ring was used only by its owner to validate serious legal documents.
The materials used for Roman intaglios differed little from the earlier Hellenistic period, with a great variety of coloured translucent stones coming from the East and Egypt including garnets, carnelian and amethyst. These gemstones were cut by using abrasive powder from harder materials. Emery has been mined for this purpose on the Greek island of Naxos for well over two thousand years until recent times. It largely consists of the mineral corundum, mixed with other minerals such as spinel and also rutile.
The highly specialised art of gem engraving was slowly lost during the later centuries of the Roman Empire, however there were major revivals of interest in engraved gems in Europe during the Byzantine era, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries. A revival of the art of gem engraving began in 15th century Italy, where so many gems were being unearthed from Roman sites. These discoveries, which coincided with contemporary admiration for classical culture, inspired the emergence of a new school of gem engravers. The skills that had been lost for centuries were consequently studied and re-learned due to this renewed interest and the art was revived.
During the Neo-classical revival of the 18th century, connoisseurs avidly collected engraved gems of the ancient periods, along with copies by the most skilled engravers of the time. Through their collections, noted travellers and ‘dilettanti’ could confirm their elevated social status and display intellectual refinement and elegant taste. In this period ancient gems were regularly copied, and by 1800 there were flourishing studios working for royal or notable collectors in Italy, France, Germany and England. Laurentius Natter, a gem engraver of the 18th century, wrote ‘A treatise on the ancient method of engraving, compared with the modern’ in 1754. In this essay he describes the lathe and iron tools he used for engraving.
Natter explains that the size of the tools used gradually decrease from that of a large pea to the point of a fine needle, to be used in finer work. ‘One puts on the head of the tool some diamond powder moistened with philosopher-oil, which is the most thinnest and fixest than other oils. Then turning the great wheel with the foot, the stone (which is cemented with mastic to the end of a little stick) is applied to the tool to be engraved, the figure having been first drawn on it with the point of brass or diamond.’ This description is very similar to the tools and techniques that were used by the Romans almost 1000 years earlier.
The art of engraving gems was one of the prime arts of antiquity, with a tradition that continues through history. Due to the unique qualities of the gemstones together with the skill involved in cutting these materials, intaglios have remained greatly prized and collected.
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.
The firm of J. Milhening Inc. was known for their platinum and diamond jewellery. They operated out of Chicago, Illinois and Auburn Heights, Michigan between 1909 and 1973.
James Emmett Caldwell established the jewellery company bearing his name in 1839 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having trained as a silversmith in New York, Caldwell supplied Philadelphia’s elite with silver, jewellery and objets d’art. By the turn of the century, the company became known for their gem-set Art Nouveau jewels, and to this day remain one of the premier American jewellers who worked in this mode. In 1916 the company moved locations to Chestnut Street, Philadelphia’s most fashionable street. In the 1920s the firm shifted gears to produce exceptional pieces in the Art Deco style.
Watchmakers by family trade since 1749, in 1847, the company J.W. Benson was founded by James William Benson and Samuel Stuckley Benson. The London based company was held in high regard primarily for their watch and clock making skills, however they did also produce fine jewellery.
During the 19th century, J.W. Benson held a number of royal warrants, including being watchmakers to the Tsar of Russia, Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales and was the watchmaker to the Admiralty. The company finished trading in 1973 when the name was reputedly sold to Garrards, the Royal jewellers.
Jabel was founded in 1916 by Jack J. Abelson in Newark, New Jersey, which was then the jewellery manufacturing centre of the United States. In the earliest years of the company Jabel produced only rings. The company introduced the "illusion setting", which appeared to enhance the size as well as the brilliance of the stone. Still family owned, today Jabel produces a full line of jewellery which includes, in addition to rings, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches.
A 'Jabot' was a type of ruffle worn on the chest of a man's shirt or woman's blouse. The 'jabot pin' was designed to hold the 'jabot' onto the shirt. It is a pin with a decorative terminal at either end.
Jacob Hookaylo was a Russian-born jeweller working in Newark, New Jersey, the primary manufacturing centre for American jewellery during the first half of the twenieth century. He was established at 15 Mechanic Street in the 1920s, and though little is known about him, he patented at least one of his intricate designs for a diamond ring.
Jade, with its pleasing lustre and immense strength, has been revered by many cultures over time. The pre-Columbian civilisations of South America valued it over gold, and the Ancient Egyptians thought of it as the stone of love and harmony. In China, however, is where it was and still is today the most sought after, and is believe to symbolize good and happiness.
The term jade actually covers two distinct types of stones: jadeite and nephrite. It is only in recent times that the distinction was made clear, as green specimen of each can resemble one another quite closely. Jadeite is rarer and more precious. Jade from Burma and southern China ranks as the finest in the world, followed by jadeite from Siberia. The best known contemporary source of nephrite is New Zealand.
Founded in 1833 by Antoine Le Coultre, his small workshop was to become the base for one of the most prestigious watch companies in the world.
In 1903, Parisian Edmond Jaeger challenged the Swiss to manufacture ultra-thin watch calibers of his own design. Jacques-David Le Coultre, grandson of Antoine undertook the challenge, forming a partnership which was cemented in 1937 by the official renaming of the brand to 'Jaeger-Le-Coultre'.
The business of manufacturing silversmiths, platers and Britannia metal workers was started in circa 1806 by James Dixon in conjunction with Thomas Smith in Silver Street, Sheffield.
In 1824 both silversmiths moved to Cornish Place, a large site, which enabled them to expand and develop the workshops, casting shops, offices and warehouses.
In 1823 Thomas Smith left the company and William Frederick Dixon, the eldest son of James, joined the firm. In 1830, the firm began making silver and plated goods at Cornish Place by acquiring the firm Nicholson, Ashforth and Cutts.
When James Willis Dixon, the second son of James, joined the firm the name was changed to James Dixon & Sons. In 1836, the firm began to make spoons and forks from nickel silver. In the 1850's, several new buildings were constructed in Cornish Place to accommodate a stamp shop, showrooms, plating shops for the electro-plate processes and more warehouse space.
The firm exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851, being awarded several prizes in different classes for silver and Britannia metal.
Dixon's costing book of 1879 includes designs by Christopher Dresser, registered from 1880, and these were produced until at least 1885, according to the trade catalogue issued in that year.
In the 1920's the firm began to use stainless steel to make both flatware and hollowware as the production of silver and silver plated goods declined. Stainless steel spoons and forks manufactured by James Dixon & Son carried the name "staybrite" and "Firth", as Firth Brown was the firm where "straybrite" steel was invented in the 1910.
In 1920 the firm was converted into a limited liability company and in 1930 the firm of William Hutton & Sons Ltd of Sheffield was absorbed into James Dixon & Sons Ltd.
In the 1980's the firm had a financial collapse and the production in Cornish Place closed in 1992.
The firm of Janesich was founded by Leopoldo Janesich in Trieste, Italy in 1835. After establishing itself in Italy, the company opened a branch in Paris in 1896 under the leadership of Leopoldo's son, Giovanni. There the house earned a reputation among the best jewellers in the world, and won many prestigious commissions. Today the firm continues under the stewardship of the Janesich family.
An opaque, compact form of quartz which occurs in shades of dark red, brown, yellow, green and grey. Used especially for larger decorative pieces.
Born in Alsace, France in 1907 Jean Schlumberger was always sketching. His love of design was not fostered by his parents, and he was sent to Berlin to be a banker.
By the 1930's he had left banking and joined Elsa Schiaparelli, designing costume jewellery and buttons.
By 1946 he had realised his true gift and opened a jewellery salon, with his partner Nicolas Bongard.
By 1956 he was so successful that Walter Hoving, the president of Tiffany & Co asked him to become one of his named designers.
He was inspired by nature and the natural form, and as such his jewellery often has an instintive organic form.
His devotees incuded, the Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn and John and Jackie Kennedy.
To this day, Tiffany & Co has only had four designers that they allowed to sign their own pieces.
His friend and longtime client Diana Vreeland once said of him that he 'appreciates the miracle of jewels. For him, they are the ways and means to the realization of his dreams'.
Jean-Baptiste-Emile Dropsy (1858-1923) was a French jewellery designer working chiefly in the Art Nouveau style. He designed primarily medal-form jewels, typically with female faces, and many with religious themes. Dropsy won a third class medal for his display at the 1898 Paris Salon.
A hard black variety of coal or lignite. Specimens are known from the Bronze Age. The main source since Roman times is the Yorkshire coast in England near Whitby. Whitby jet, particularly, was a favourite of Queen Victoria during her widowhood.
John Brogden was and English jeweller who worked in London in the mid-nineteenth century. He first apprenticed for a London watch and clockmaker with a workshop at Bridgewater Square, where he became a partner with James William Garland in 1831. He was then a partner at the firm of Watherston and Brogden, a goldsmithing firm located at 16 Henrietta Street in Convent Garden, and fully taking control of the business in 1864. From 1881 to 1885 he worked as an ‘art goldsmith’ in the Grand Hotel Buildings in Charing Cross.
Brogden created jewels in various revivalist styles, most notably the Renaissance and Archaeological revival mode, the later much inspired by the work of the famed Italian jeweller Castellani. Brogden exhibited in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, the 1855 Paris Exposition, and won a gold medal for his jewellery at the 1867 Paris Exposition. His success at these fairs not only won him royal patronage, at the 1878 Paris Exposition he was praised by the Castellani for his submissions.
John Goode & Sons Ltd, makers of fine gold chains, was established by John T. Goode at Regent Place in Birmingham. They later opened a premise at Hatton Garden in London.
Jules Chéret (1836-1932) was a French jeweller and lithographer working in the Art Nouveau style in Paris at the turn of the twentieth century. He was especially famous for his images of beautiful ladies, which often appear in his jewellery.
Juliette Moutard was a prominent and talented designer of bold, original pieces who worked for the House of Rene Boivin from 1931 until her retirement in 1970.
Kashmir sapphires are most famous for their superiority of colour, a colour unlike any other sapphire. It is possibly best described as an intense cornflower or cobalt blue with a fine velvety, milky softness. Their beauty is unparalleled and they have a rarity to match.
In 1881 a landslide exposed sapphires in a remote snow covered area in the Zanskar mountain range, in the Padar region of the north-western Himalayas, Kashmir. The sapphires were traded and found their way to Delhi where they were quickly admired for their exceptional colour. The physical mining of these stones was incredibly difficult. For several months of the year, the harsh, snowy climate combined with the mountainous landscape prohibited any kind of production. Coupled with this, the mining methods at the time were still fairly primitive; making the actual unearthing of these sapphires very difficult indeed.
Within just six years, the old Kashmir sapphire mine was exhausted. In this short space of time they earned a reputation as being the very best sapphires in the world. Incredibly, all of the fine Kashmir sapphires in existence were mined between 1881 and 1887. Even today, these stones remain the exemplar by which other sapphires are compared.
To own a fine natural unenhanced Kashmir sapphire is to have a truly astonishing gemstone of immense rarity.
Wide band of gold deeply engraved and worn above the wedding ring to prevent its loss. Some were incised with the word "Mizpah" (The Lord be between me and thee when we are absent one from the other). Popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A style of ring band in which the exterior edge comes to a point, like the edge of a knife.
Kohn & Co was a jewellery manufacturing firm located in Newark, New Jersey during the first half of the twentieth century. This period was the heyday of American jewellery manufacturing, with Newark at its centre. Newark jewellers like Kohn manufactured under their own name, as well as produced jewellery for companies such as Tiffany & Co.
Krementz & Co. was founded in Newark, New Jersey by George Krementz, a German immigrant. The company was originally a partnership called Alling & Krementz, founded in 1866, but Krementz soon took sole ownership in 1869. Krementz is most famous for his invention of the one-piece collar button machine in 1884, which revolutionized the industry. By the turn of the century Krementz & Co. was producing the vast majority of collar buttons in the world. Krementz remains in operation in Newark to this day, employing over 300 workers.
Charles Krypell studied sculpture at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and launched his first jewellery collection in 1976. His designs favour emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, famously set to smooth twists and curves. He channels his artistic training into his jewellery, creating pieces that are enjoyed from all directions, like a piece of sculpture. His pieces are collectible and he continues to create successful modern collections.
Kunzite is a purplish pink variety of the gem family spodumene. It was discovered relatively recently, in 1902 by George Frederick Kunz (1856-1932), namesake of the stone. Kunz is considered the father of modern gemmology, and was the first Chief Gemmologist to be employed by a jewellery company, the eminent American house of Tiffany & Co.
The jewellery firm Kutchinsky was founded in the 1890s in the East End of London by a family of Polish immigrants, who had at one time been jewellers to the court of Ludwig of Bavaria. Heading up the firm in England for most of the twentieth century was Joseph Kutchinsky (1914-2000). Trained in the family business, and also as a diamond polisher, Joseph worked his way up from being the youngest of four children. He had two sons, Roger and Paul, who also entered the family business. In the 1950s the firm moved to Knightsbridge, where a shop remains today, though now under the ownership of Moussaieff.
A French engraver and medallist from Lyon who worked in the late ninteenth and early 20th century.
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, where they competed among the top jewellers, including Cartier, Mauboussin, and Van Cleef and Arpels. In the 1920s they became particularly known for their Art Deco nécessaires (jewelled vanity cases, powder compacts, lipstick holders, and various smoking accessories).
The company founder, Illias Lalaounis, was born in Athens in 1920, son of four generations of goldsmiths and watchmakers. After studying economics, he joined the family firm to begin his training as a master craftsman. He took control of the firm in 1941, and began to focus on ancient designs and techniques as inspiration for his modern jewellery. In the 1960s he branched out on his own, forming the company as it is today, still focusing on an archaeological aesthetic, rendered primarily in gold. Today the firm’s designs are recognized by prestigious institutions such as the Institute de France, Academie des Beaux Arts et des Lettres.
Established as a New York family run business in 1877, Lambert Brothers jewelry specialised in fine quality jewellery, watches and gifts. Their craftsmanship and elegant jewellery designs were reknown during the Art Deco period with the use of diamonds and coloured gemstones of the highest quality. The business continued to be run by the Lambert family until it was sold to Zale Corporation of Dallas in 1977.
Lapis lazuli is an opaque rock aggregate of intense cobalt blue colour which often displays irregular grains of golden pyrite or veins of white calcite. The name is derived from the Latin word for stone ‘lapis' and the word ‘lazuli' is the Persian name of the mine. Over time, the word ‘lazuli' has become synonymous with its colour, for example the English word ‘azure' meaning bright blue. Lapis lazuli is typically formed into beads, cabochons and colourful inlays.
Historically this stone was mined in Afghanistan as early as the 7th century BC and featured in the jewellery of some of the earliest civilisations. Beads have been discovered at Mehrgarh, a Neolithic site in Pakistan; also at Shahr-e Sukhteh, a Bronze Age site in Iran; the Assyrians and Babylonians were known to have used lapis lazuli in jewellery; the Ancient Egyptians also worked it- for example one of the most iconic artefacts of the ancient world utilises lapis as the eye makeup on the funerary mask of King Tutankhamun. In the ancient world, lapis was prized to the same extent as other blue gems such as sapphires or turquoise and was transported from its remote mountainous mine location by merchant caravans.
Lapis lazuli is also famously known for being ground up as pigment for some of the most celebrated works of art ever created. This pigment, ultramarine, was the most expensive of all blue pigments and was used by Vermeer, Da Vinci and Titian but to name a few of the Old Masters. It was so expensive a pigment that the colour was often reserved only for the robes of Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Brass, a mixture of copper and zinc. A common metal of the Middle Ages. It resembles gold in colour and is much softer than bronze.
The first record of the firm of Laurie & Lazarus is in 1898, as china and glass agents located at Holborn Circus, London. In 1902 they registered as gold and silver workers with the Goldsmiths' Company. The partnership was subsequently disbanded in 1913.
A delicate pendant(s) worn on or attached to neck chains.
A new variety of tourmaline, named after Richard T. Liddicoat. It has a hardness of about 7.5 on the Mohs scale. It is similar in colour to the elbaite tourmaline with zones of red, pink, and blue in many specimens.
A type of very fine enamelwork on copper. The design is painted in translucent enamel onto the dark enamel base layer. This technique was perfected in Limoges, France in the 15th century.
A very long chain to be worn around the neck, having clasps at the ends to be attached when the chain was passed through a lady's fur muff. These chains were worn in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Winston Churchill's wife Clementine was given a longuard chain as a wedding gift.
A pair of eye glasses mounted on a handle; opera glasses similarly mounted.
Very little is known about the French jeweller Lucien Gautrait. He is said to have worked for the house of Vever, as well as for Leon Gariod, in the late nineteenth century in Paris. His work is noted for extremely fine chasing and enamelwork. Despite the lack of records with regards to this designer, quite a few of his jewels remain, and are characterized by finely wrought gold decorated with plique-a-jour enamelling, and are most often in the form of pendants. Vever, the famed French jeweller and historian and Gautrait’s contemporary, described him as, ‘an excellent jeweller with a delicate style, who perfectly executes rare and charming works in which the engraving and enamel play an important role.’
Heart shaped brooches, the name presumably because they were sold in the Luckenbooths street stalls (locked booths) near St. Giles Church, Edinburgh. They were often pinned to the shawl worn by a child at its christening to ward off evil.
Lustre is the quality and quantity of light reflected from the surface of a gemstone.
There are eight types of lustre (1) Adamantine - characteristic of diamonds only, (2) Vitreous, the appearance of broken glass (sapphire, ruby, emerald, topaz, tourmaline and rock crystal), (3) Metallic, opaque gemstones (hematite and pyrite are examples), (4) Pearly (moonstone and opal), (5) Waxy, (turquoise) (6) Resinous, having the appearance of resin (amber), (7) Silky, (malachite), and (8) Oily like the sheen of oil (chrysolite).
Mabé pearls are assembled cultured blister pearls. Once the hemispherical 'bead' nucleus is removed, resin is inserted.
The jewellery firm Mackay, Cunningham & Co. was established in Edinburgh by James Mackay and David Cunningham in the early 19th century. Known for their craftsmanship and manufacture of Scottish jewellery they soon offered additional wares including fine jewellery, silver, watches and clocks. In 1856 their work was recognised and they were awarded with the coveted title 'Goldsmiths to the Queen.' By 1912 the firm had been aquired by James Hardy & Co. Ltd.
One of the most important French jewellers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the house of Vever was founded in 1821 in Metz by Pierre Vever. His son Ernest succeeded him and moved the firm to Paris, and was eventually joined by his sons Paul and Henri, the later who became famous for his invaluable tome on French jewellery of the nineteenth century. Growing in acclaim, Maison Vever won the Grand Prix along with Boucheron at the Paris Exposition of 1889. The firm reached perhaps its zenith at the 1900 Paris Exposition, submitting glorious enamelled and jewelled pieces in the Art Nouveau style, which again won them the Grand Prix. The firm was then handed over to Paul's sons, André and Pierre.
Initials or trademark stamped or engraved on a piece.
From the Greek 'malache', from its green colour. A dark green stone with bands of various shades of green. It is hydrated copper carbonate. Found in the Ural Mountains, Tagilsk in Siberia, Zaire and Zimbabwe.
Founded by Jonathan Mappin in 1774, he began the family business as a silversmith.
In 1846 the firm was managed by Frederick Thorpe Mappin who took his brothers into the business and the firm became Joseph Mappin & Co. In 1846 the business was amalgamated with that of William Samson & Sons changing to Mappin Brothers. Between 1849 and 1858 they opened three shops and a factory producing fine quality silver and jewellery.
Its partners were the founder's four sons, Frederick Thorpe Mappin, Edward Mappin, Joseph Charles Mappin and John Newton Mappin.
In 1850 John Newton Mappin left to establish a new firm trading under the name Mappin & Co, this changed in 1863 to Mappin & Webb after an agreement to avoid confusion between the two firms' names.
Mappin Brothers continued to be advertised as the original firm, but in 1902 it was amalgamated with Mappin & Webb Ltd. Thus emerged the company we know today.
The House of Marchak was founded by Joseph Marchak in Kiev, Russia in 1878. The firm was considered to be the greatest rival of Fabergé, and thus was known as the ‘Fabergé of Kiev’. They exhibited at the various International Exhibitions, including the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where they were awarded a medal. Due to the Russian Revolution the firm moved to Paris in 1920, establishing themselves on the Rue de la Paix, alongside the world’s other top jewellers, where they remain to this day.
Hermann Marcus was born in Germany in 1828. As a young man, before moving to New York in 1850, he gained experience at 'Ellemeyer', the court jewellers in Dresden. His first job in New York was at Tiffany & Co, though he soon moved to Black Ball & Co. In 1864 he started his own firm, a partnership with Theodore Starr, forming Starr and Marcus. Though highly successful, the firm was dissolved in 1877, Marcus returning to Tiffany. In 1884 Marcus left Tiffany to become a partner in the firm Jacques and Marcus where his son William was already a partner, and in 1892, when Georges Jacques retired, the firm became known as Marcus & Co. They exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where they showed beautiful examples of flowers with plique-à-jour enamel. In 1962, after an illustrious career, they merged with Black Starr & Frost.
A French sculptor and medallist working in Paris in the 1890s. She studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Ponscarme.
Marina Bulgari is a Italian jewellery designer from the third generation of family members brought into the business. When her father Constantino died in 1973, she and her sister Anna assumed central management and design roles within Bulgari . In 1976, however, Marina left Bulgari due to artistic differences with her cousins and the other owners. Due to her ambitious and adventurous spirit in 1978, she opened her own store in Milan, Marina B and in 1986, she opened a boutique in New York. Throughout the 1990’s, other locations were launched. Given her heritage, it is not surprising that her designs resemble those created by her family at Bulgari. They are characteristically voluminous, bold, and colourful and reflect her personality. Marina’s unique style became recognised around the world for its boldness and timelessness. Her designs are opulent and rich but also very contemporary.
In 1986, the Marina B. line was bought by the Saudi Arabian sheik of Jeddah, Ahmed Fitaihi. Windsor Jewels purchased the line from Fitaihi in 2010 and resumed production. In 2014, Paul Lubetsky acquired Marina B and is launching a re-branding of the line founded by Marina Bulgari.
A small hallmark or punchmark either on the inside or outside of the shank which indicates the metal is platinum, gold or silver.
If the metal is gold, it may also indicate the carat for example 18 carat or 9 carat gold.
Elegant marquise shape diamonds are an attractive and remarkable choice for a special piece of jewellery. The marquise shape is a soft oval with a stretched point at each end, although there can be a wide variety of proportions from almost ‘spiky’ thin marquises to ‘fat’ rounder shapes. Another name for the marquise cut is ‘navette’ which is French for ‘little boat’ and echoes the smooth outline of a ship’s hull.Marquise shape diamonds can be seen either as a single focal point on an engagement ring, letting the beauty of the diamond speak for itself with the elegant shape elongating the finger or used in combination with different diamond cuts in an intricate cluster creating a highly distinctive and usual look.
Matrix is the parent or host rock in which a mineral is contained, and is a term most often associated with turquoise or opal.
The house of Mauboussin was founded in Paris in 1827 by M. Rocher in collaboration with Jean–Baptiste Noury. Throughout the nineteenth century the firm exhibited in numerous World Expositions, including the 1873 Vienna Exposition and the 1878 Paris Exposition, winning a medal in the latter. In 1925 Mauboussin won the Grand Prix at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs, considered by some to be the birthplace of the Art Deco style. The house of Mauboussin continued to produce innovated jewels through the twentieth century, opening their flagship at the famed Place Vêndome in Paris in 1955. Throughout their existence, their elite clientele has run the gamut from moguls to movie stars.
Maurice Beck, worked from 1898 to 1926. Beck was a successful jewellery manufacturer, in Paris. During the 1920's he made jewellery for René Boivin. He married Flora Huppert, (Aunt of poet Hugo Huppert). Beck invested in the Huppert family apartment building, at 6 Tuchmachergasse, Beilitz, Austria, now Poland.
See "single cut".
Established in 1613, the firm of Mellerio has been passed down through fourteen generations from father to son, making it one of the oldest family owned companies in Europe. The Mellerio family originated in Lombardy, but have lived in France since the time of King François I. In 1804 the company was deemed ‘Les plus en vogue’ by the Parisian publication Almanac des Modes. Thus started perhaps Mellerios most illustrious period—the nineteenth century—during which French royalty, nobility, and emperors, depending on the political situation of the moment, were all customers. The firm also participated in the great exhibitions of the nineteenth century, including the 1855, 1867, 1878, and 1900 Paris exhibitions and the 1862 London exhibition and the 1873 Vienna exhibition, winning various distinctions. The firm is currently located at 9, rue de la Paix, Paris.
Popular from the 16th to 18th century, a tradition arose whereby jewels and other trinkets were commissioned in memory of a deceased family member – these were known by the Latin phrase Memento Mori, which translates to the grim expression ‘remember that you must die’.
Typically featuring skulls, urns and other symbols of death, these jewels were frequently enamelled in black and white, and inscribed with the names and dates of the deceased. In many instances, hair and occasionally skin from the deceased was incorporated in to these designs. Certain gemstones were also closely associated with mourning – pearls for instance, were said to indicate the loss of a child.
Jewellers in New York who made wedding rings, callibre guard rings, diamond animal charms and crosses for more than fifty years.
Small pieces of glass (tesserae) grouted to form a design so fine that the design may appear to be painted onto an item.
A tiny decorative feature in which minute beads of metal are raised along the edge of a setting, adding texture and enhancing the sparkling effect. This feature is usually used in platinum jewellery.
Similar to moss agate. Inclusions are manganese oxide, which produce arborescent markings. It is found especially in Montana and Wyoming USA.
A gemstone trade term for a bi-coloured sapphire. Due to the colour zoning found in natural sapphires there are a number of rare cases where two completely different colours are displayed in one gem, this effect is called bi-colour.
This term found it's origins in Ceylon where a number of bi-coloured sapphires are unearthed and traded to precious gemstone dealers from all over the world.
A table of comparative hardness devised by the Austrian mineralogist, Friedrich Mohs. Based on the ten relatively common minerals which are ranked from 1 to 10 in order of increasing hardness: (1) talc (2) gypsum (3) calcite (4) fluorite (5) apatite (6) feldspar (7) quartz (8) topaz (9) corundum (10) diamond. A fingernail will scratch gypsum and softer substances. Ordinary window glass is slightly softer than feldspar. Almost all-important numbers in the scale indicate only the order of hardness and bear no relationship to quantitative hardness. That is, there is a greater difference between the hardness of corundum and diamond (9 and 10) than between 1 and 9.
Moonstone, the alluring pale gemstone, is known for its attractive pearly sheen and is so named for its resemblance to the moon. It is a transparent to translucent gem, with a base colour which is often pale or colourless. Moonstone is usually cut as a cabochon as this best displays its special characteristic which is known as ‘adularescence'. This effect of a billowing sheen which moves over the surface of the gem when under a light source is caused by the internal construction of the gemstone.
Moonstone belongs to the mineral group feldspar- a mineral which makes up almost two thirds of all Earth's rocks. There are two varieties of feldspar which create moonstone- albite which is uncommon and orthoclase which is more prevalent. Sri Lanka is its major source of the best quality moonstone.
Moonstone has a long history- the Ancient Romans believed it was made up of the rays of the moon and identified it with lunar deities, such as the goddess Diana. Pliny, the Roman historian, thought that moonstone changed appearance with the phases of the moon- astonishingly a belief which persisted until the 16th century! In India, moonstone was a sacred stone, and was a traditional wedding gift as it was thought to bring harmony to the marriage.
Moonstone set jewellery was especially popular in the Victorian and Art Nouveau periods. French glass and jewellery artist, René Lalique, experimented with the subtle shimmering colour of the moonstone set within the ‘whiplash' free flowing designs of the Art Nouveau period.
Pieces of glass or gems set in grout. See "Micro-Mosaic" & "Pietra Dura". An object decorated with many small adjacent pieces of inlaid varicoloured glass or stone arranged to form a picture of design. For articles of jewellery. The mosaic was usually made in the form of medallions set in brooches, pendants, and necklaces. Finger rings, earrings and parures.
A type of chalcedony. Varying amounts of iron oxide inclusions produce moss like effects.
The iridescent inner layer of certain molluscs such as oysters or abalones which is used as a decorative inlay.
It is often used in watch faces and men's cufflink dress sets.
Rings made especially to mark the death of a loved one. Often called 'memento mori' rings. Rare examples survive intact and are highly collectable.
Murrle, Bennett and Company was a wholesale jewellers established in London in 1884 by Ernst Mürrle and a Mr. Bennett. Mürrle was a German immigrant born in the jewellery making centre of Pforzheim, and Bennett acted as the English partner. The firm produced jewellery largely in the German Art Nouveau style, also known as Jugendstil in Germany, meaning ‘youthful style’. The company likely sold much of their jewellery at Liberty & Co., the London Arts and Crafts emporium, as well as collaborated with famed art jewellers of the day including Theodor Fahrner. Their designs are often characterized by Celtic inspired interlacing elements, stylized foliate forms, pierced geometric shapes, hammering, rivets, luminous enamels and semi-precious stones. The company was renamed to White Redgrove and Whyte after the First World War, due to the repatriation of Mr. Mürrle.
A town in central Colombia known for its mines, which produce what are widely considered to be the world’s finest emeralds. Though emeralds had been extracted from the mountains of Muzo since pre-Colombian times, the Spanish pioneered large-scale mining here starting in 1538, exporting the gems throughout the world. Muzo emeralds are known for their desirable highly saturated bluish-green appearance, large size, and superior clarity. Furthermore, Muzo emeralds, along with stones from some other nearby Colombian mines, posses a unique chemical make-up among world emeralds sources which causes them to fluoresce in normal light, enhancing their already ideal hue.
Iridescent layers of six-sided crystals of aragonite (calcium carbonate) held in a web - like deposit of conchiolin to which pearls owe their luminous beauty.
Term used to indicate irregularities of facets. Common in jewellery prior to the early twentieth century.
Natural can refer to a gemstone or a pearl. A natural stone is called such because it has not been subjected to any treatments.
A natural pearl is one that has grown through a natural irritant getting into an oyster, as opposed to a cultured pearl which will have been seeded with a bead nucleus.
A pearl bearing mollusc that has not been tampered with in any way by man to produce a pearl. The use of "pearl" alone means natural. See "Cultured Pearl".
The marquise or pointed oval.
A style of necklace which came into fashion in the 1900s consisting of fine links with two drop pendants suspended parallel to one another at different lengths.
An alloy of 65% copper, 5 to 25% nickel, and 10 to 30% zinc.
Nicolo is a variety of onyx which in the ancient world was frequently engraved as an intaglio. The thick parallel band of darker stone has a thin band to top of whitish blue which once engraved into provides a contrasting colour from which the image is defined.
A black alloy of copper, silver and lead sulphides, used as a decorative inlay.
Niessing is a German jewellery manufacturer which was founded in 1873. The company is best known for its production of wedding rings and for developing various machines which continue to be widely used within the jewellery industry. Since the 1970s, Niessing’s jewellery has been heavily influenced by contemporary design and technological innovations, collaborating with the modernist architect Max von Hausen amongst others.
Also sometimes referred to as 'old European cuts', old cut diamonds are characterised by a symmetrical rounded outline, and a deep crown and pavilion (the top and bottom sections of a brilliant cut stone when viewed in profile). Though they existed as early as the seventeenth century, they did not reach the height of their popularity until the late nineteenth century.
This was largely due to two men in the United States, Henry D. Morse and Charles M. Field. In 1874 they patented a steam driven bruting machine--bruting being the term for the process by which the outline of a diamond is fashioned during the cutting process. Morse was a diamond cutter, and was the first to utilize this invention to create rounded symmetrical stones with newfound relative ease.
Not only did it allow diamonds to be cut more easily, the invention coincided with an influx of diamonds into the world market, with the discovery of the gems in South Africa in 1867. The downside to this cut, which is in part why it was avoided in the past, is the inevitable loss of weight, which would otherwise be retained when sticking more closely to the squared shape of a natural rough diamond, as in table and old mine cuts.
However, another machine--the power-driven circular saw--invented around the same time, made it possible to cut a diamond and retain the excess, which could then be cut into smaller diamonds, rather than grinding the excess into diamond dust, as was done in the past. As a result of these three converging factors, this cut soon became the new standard, largely replacing the cushion shaped old mine diamond. The cut remained popular well into the mid-twentieth century, and are today a much-loved feature of antique and vintage jewellery.
The term 'old mine' refers to gemstones deriving from historical, often ancient, mining sources.
With regards to diamonds, for example, this would indicate that the stones were mined in India or Brazil, the two primarily mining locales prior to the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in the late nineteenth century. India in particular is renowned for diamonds mined in the central area of the subcontinent surrounding the city of Golconda, and are known for their particularly high quality in terms of size, colour and clarity. The Hope diamond and the Koh-i-Noor, perhaps the two most famous diamonds of all time, are Golconda diamonds. To add to the rarity of such stones, these mines have been largely exhausted.
In the case of emeralds, stones classified as old mine would be from Egypt, Austria, Gandahara (the ancient central Asian kingdom) or, primarily, Colombia. The highest quality old mine emerald material derives from this last source, which had been mined by pre-Colombian tribes for approximately one thousand years. It was not until the Spanish presence in the New World in the early sixteenth century, however, that these stones graced the royal courts of Europe, the Middle East, and, primarily, India.
Onyx is an opaque black variety of polycrystalline chalcedony quartz. It has a very fine, smooth texture ideal for carving. As such, onyx has been used for thousands of years to make figurines of the gods and heroes and for ceremonies and burials, to make beads for necklaces and later in fine jewellery to create elegance and to beautifully offset the intense sparkle of diamonds.
Some onyx also displays white bands or ribbons against a black background. If the layers are even, this type of onyx can be carved into cameos, producing a contrasting white relief over black. This banded onyx was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans in seal rings.
In more recent history, black onyx rose to popularity in Victorian times for necklaces, rings and earrings. This popularity is attributed to the Victorian ritual of mourning, in which those who had lost loved ones could only wear the colour black. Following the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s mourning played an important part in the fashion for black clothes and jewellery throughout the mid-Victorian period, both in mourning dress and also in everyday wear.
Moving into the 1920s and 30s, onyx provides a striking contrast when paired with diamonds or rock crystal and exudes elegance in Art Deco designs. In jewellery design as in fashion, colours look crisper against a black background. The fact that onyx can be cut into almost any shape makes it ideal for dramatic Art Deco jewellery, particularly when a flat geometric form is required in the design.
According to the Australian aboriginies--Australia being the preeminant source of opals--the gems are the physical manifestation of a rainbow that brought peace to all humans.
Precious opals display an optical effect called ‘play of colour’ or ‘fire’. This is due to a combination of different factors. Opal is composed of a stacked framework of silica spheres, and it is the diffraction and interference of light between these spheres that create the fascinating colour play. The colours produced depend on the size of these spheres. A whole spectrum of colours can be seen in the most desirable opals. The play of colour shimmers with iridescence across the stone and is distinctive of these beautiful gems.
Opals occur in a range of body colours from white, black or grey, bright orangey red and a pale watery colour. The most precious opals show strong colour contrast and generally have a dark body colour with a vivid array of colour play. They are usually cut en cabochon which displays their optical effect beautifully and is also the best shape for their hardness.
In Roman times opals were mined in Czechoslovakia, and continued for centuries to produce white opals, prior to the discovery of the world’s main source for opals, Australia. Australia is famous for its opal production of the most vivid colours and occurs in many localities. In 1903 black opal was found in Lightning Ridge in north-east New South Wales, which is now one of the most famous areas for precious opals in the world. An opal weighing 203 carats was found in Andamooka, Australia, in 1949 and was set into a necklace presented to Queen Elizabeth II. Mexico is another major source for opals, especially for fire opal of a strong red / orange body colour.
Open back or a jour (from the French for 'day') settings permit the underside of the gemstone to be visible. This lets a larger quantity of light enter the gemstone, so it appears brighter than the closed back settings of previous periods. One typically sees this type of setting from around 1800 onwards. Often the patterning of the open back settings creates an attractive appearance from the reverse.
The firm of Oscar Heyman & Brothers was founded in 1912 in New York City, and since its inception has been a manufacturer of handmade jewellery of the finest quality. With no obvious prospects in their native Latvia, Oscar (b. 1888) and Nathan Heyman (b. 1885), thirteen and sixteen years of age respectively, left home to become apprentices with their uncle at the famous Fabergé workshop in St Petersburg, Russia. In 1906 they fled Russia to avoid conscription into the Imperial Army and moved to New York City. Oscar then worked for Pierre Cartier who was just starting Cartier, New York. With skills learned from these top jewellers, Oscar and Nathan, soon joined by other members of the family, formed the company we know today as Oscar Heyman & Bros.
The firm’s exacting craftsmanship was contracted out to other jewellers of great renown with Cartier as their first customer, and a list which was soon to include Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Bailey Banks & Biddle, and Marcus & Co to name a few. For example, the world may think that Cartier made the necklace upon which hung the famous D flawless, 69.42 carat Taylor-Burton diamond, but if was in fact Heyman. There is a cachet to owning an Oscar Heyman piece, as the attention to detail and fine quality of materials is 'de rigueur' for the firm. They are the jeweller's jeweller, and are only recently being recognized for their lasting contribution to jewellery history.
Silver that has a blackened finish either from immersion in potassium sulphide, or naturally blackened over time.
The silver settings of the Georgian and Victorian eras frequently have blacked silver settings, which add a striking contrast if set with diamonds.
Padparadscha Sapphire is a rare pink/orange sapphire mainly found in Sri Lanka. The word Padparadscha is derived from a Singhalese word for a lotus flower due to its unusual and much sort after fiery salmon colour. Padparadscha sapphire was believed to be so strong it could protect its owner even once it had been passed on to somebody else. It is said to bring inner peace to its wearer and enables them to become more aware of their surroundings. They are considered to be among the most beautiful and valuable of the corundum gems.
Palladium is a silvery-white metal, discovered by William Hyde Wollaston, the English chemist and physicist, in 1803. He named it after the Greek goddess Pallas, the daughter of Triton (god of the sea). Palladium is part of the platinum group metals, which includes, of course, platinum and iridium, both also used in jewellery. The metal was first used in jewellery in 1939, as an alternative to platinum, which was highly restricted after it was declared a strategic government resource during World War II due to its use in the war effort.
A matching set (suite) of antique jewellery consisting of a necklace, earrings, brooch, ring, bracelet, and sometimes a tiara. Parures were introduced in the 18th century.
Glass made to resemble gem materials, which may be moulded, faceted, carved, etc.
The word 'paste' is thought to derive from the Italian word 'pasta' as early Italian glassworkers likened the molten glass to boiling pasta.
The surface finish to a precious metal, often relating to an ancient or antique item.
Paul-Emile Brandt (1883-1952) was a Swiss-born jewellery designer working in Paris during the first half of the nineteenth century, with an address at the Rue des Saints Peres. During his early career he worked in the Art Nouveau style, focusing on floral and foliate forms as well as medals, and exhibiting annually at La Societe des Artistes Francais. His later works were in the Art Deco style, creating jewels and cigarette cases in a monochromatic or bichromatic palette, relying heavily on white gold, diamonds, onyx and lacquer. He retired from the jewellery business after World War II, when he established a tinware manufacturing company.
The portion of the gemstone below the girdle.
Birmingham jewellery manufacturers situated in Vyse Street in the Birmingham jewellery quarter. They were also known as Pepper, Payton & Co and shared premises with C Payton & Co and T Acott & Co. They were in business until around 1997.
The jewellery firm of Peacock was founded in 1837 in Chicago, Illinois, by Elijah Peacock, a third generation watch and jewellery repairman. Reputedly the first jewellers to open in Chicago, it was established in the same year the city was incorporated (population 4,000) in a frame building on Lake Street. During the Great Fire of 1871, while the majority of the city was destroyed, all Peacock stock was locked safely away in a fireproof vault. In 1889 the firm was taken over by Elijah’s son, Charles Daniel, as so the name was changed to its current one. Growing with the city, Peacock has remained one of Chicago’s finest jewellery stores, with numerous locations, including the famous Palmer House Hotel and on Michigan Avenue. Famous clients from over the years range from Mary Todd Lincoln to Mick Jagger.
From the gods of Ancient Egypt to the high society in ancient Greece and Rome, pearls have been held in very high regard and were worn as a status symbol. In The Dark Ages they were kept for protection during battle, and have been revered by many different religions. Pearls were seen as the ultimate display of wealth, coming from the deep seas of the mysterious orient, and continued to be worn by high society. In 1612, the Duke of Saxony passed a law meaning only Royalty were permitted to wear pearls. Instantly, the desire for these prohibited gems increased and had the intended effect of distinguishing royalty. The difficulty in gathering pearls from their source is one of the main reasons natural pearls were so exclusive.
Natural pearls are an organic gem formed inside live mollusc shells and come in all shapes and sizes. They are formed as the result of a natural irritant within the mollusc's mantle and as a defence, layers of iridescent nacre form over the top of it, creating a pearl. The major historic source for gathering natural pearls is the Persian Gulf. The majority of pearls found are not good enough quality to be used in jewellery, meaning a natural, spherical, sizeable, smooth, lustrous, white pearl with no blemishes is exceptionally rare. All pearls occurred naturally up until the twentieth century.
In 1893, the Japanese entrepreneur Mikimoto Kokichi created the first cultured pearl. Cultured pearls are created by a person manually inserting an irritant into the mollusc's mantle. The mollusc will naturally protect itself against the irritant and form layers of nacre to create a pearl. Any shape irritant can be inserted and quite large size spherical cultured pearls can be created.
There is a vast difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls. Natural pearls occur naturally, and are very rarely found today. This makes antique strands of natural pearls especially important. Very few natural pearls were good enough to be used in fine jewellery, so matching them in quality within a necklace is incredibly hard to achieve. Cultured pearls can be farmed on a large scale and were invented to appeal to more of a mass market. The miracle of a beautiful pearl forming is somewhat less fascinating when they are cultured, and their inherent value changes accordingly. Their appeal lies in their iridescent sheen and lustre, their silky whiteness, and their rarity. Only one in a thousand natural pearls is spherical, white, lustrous and unblemished.
Small rounded beads of metal, used as a decorative technique and most often used on ancient pieces of jewellery.
The archaeological term 'penannular' refers to a ring or brooch which is an almost complete circle with open ends.
A variety of chrysolite. It is the gem of variety of olivine. The colour is generally a warm olive or yellowish green. The main source is St. John's Island in the Red Sea.
Pickslay & Co. was founded by Charles Pickslay who was born in England and got his start at Theo. B. Starr, New York Jewelers. Gustav Manz was one of his suppliers.
A popular setting during the Medieval period when very few stones were faceted. The 'pie-dish' bezel was developed which allowed the goldsmith to adapt the bezel to fit the natural contours of the gemstone.
From the Italian meaning 'hardstone', this technique originated in Florence and takes the form of coloured hardstones which are shaped and set into backgrounds of matte black slate. Floral studies and naturalistic subjects are the principal motifs which feature in these designs. For further information, see Florentine Mosaic.
A term used to describe an extremely rare and distinctive hue of bluish-red found in rubies from the Mogok region in Upper Burma.
For more information on the rarity of these rubies, follow the link to our feature. https://www.berganza.com/feature-romance_with_rubies.html
An early 18th century alloy of copper and zinc (9 parts zinc and 48 parts copper) invented by Christopher Pinchbeck. Another formula consisted of 83 parts copper and 17 parts zinc. It looks like gold, wore well and maintained its colour. Now collected, not as a substitute for gold, but for its antiquity.
Gold and silver inlay on tortoiseshell or ivory, sometimes also with mother-of-pearl. This technique, inspired by the inlaid tortoiseshell and metal furniture of the seventeenth century French cabinet maker André Charles Boulle, was popular from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Early examples of piqué work tend to be in the form of fancy goods, such as snuff boxes, while later work appears in jewellery.
The word platinum derives from the Spanish word ‘platina' meaning ‘little silver'. Acknowledged since the 1900's, platinum's durability and natural brightness has been and still is today highly treasured.
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.
Due to its natural brightness, diamonds set in platinum create a striking appearance and overall it enhances their true beauty.Platinum enabled decorative techniques to used more regularly such as millegrain, whereby tiny beads of metal are added to create endless sparkle with the gemstones; it also lent itself to many open work designs and scalloped detailed edges creating the illusion of fine hand-made lace.
Type of enamel work in which there is no backing metalwork, it is confined within open metal frames. The design is outlined in metal and filled with a variety of coloured transparent/translucent enamels. In this process there is no backing behind the enamel, so the effect is similar to stained glass windows. A technique used widely in Art Nouveau jewellery and of which Rene' Lalique' is considered the master.
French for punch, stamp or French hallmark.
Diamonds have been set into jewellery since ancient times. The stones were probably worn as early as the sixth century BC, though the oldest extant examples date from Ancient Rome. During this period, however, the technology did not exist for cutting diamonds-the hardest substance on earth-and so the gems were set in their natural form, an octahedral crystal. Though not technically a cut since the diamond was largely unaltered from its natural state, these are now termed ‘point cut' diamonds.
Most old point cut diamonds were subsequently unset and re-cut, once technology advanced, over the following centuries, rendering any such jewel a remarkable survival.
It was not until the thirteenth century AD when the technology developed so that the first true dia-mond cut would be developed, known as the table cut.
Poiray is a Parisian fine jewellery and watch making brand. Established in 1975 by François Herail and Michel Hermelin, Poiray is the last jewellery house to join the prestigious Place Vendôme, therefore often known as “the young lady of The Place Vendôme.”
Established 1967 in Milan by Pino Rabolini, Pomellato jewels gained notoriety for creating modern and unconventional designs. Characterised by rounded tactile forms, irregular settings, hand cut gemstones and vivid coloured gemstone combinations. Inspired by the concept that jewellery can be worn at any time of the day, Pomellato pieces walk the fine line between haute couture and prêt-à-porter with sleek sophistication.
After decades at the forefront of innovative design the Pomellato firm was acquired by the Kering Group in 2013. Today the brand has over thirty boutiques dispersed across the globe.
The term 'posy' (or 'posie', 'poesy', 'posey'), is based on the French word 'poésy', to describe the motto or poem inscribed on the ring. A posy ring is a band of gold, with a short inscription on the outer or inner surface.
They were traditionally used as a lover's token, a wedding ring, in friendship, for loyalty or even as memorial rings.
Popular during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries in England and France.
In early posy rings the inscription was written in Norman French, with French, Latin and English used in later centuries. The posies were originally written on the outside, moving to the hidden inside of the band in the mid 16th Century and onwards.
The British and V & A Museums in London and Ashmolean Museum in Oxford have the most extensive collections in the world.
The documented history of a piece of jewellery including origins and important owners. Typically this is associated solely with important period pieces.
Quartz is a silicon oxide with the various colours being derived from metallic oxides. Varieties include, amethyst, citrine and smoky.
A shape with four leaves or petals.
The firm of R. & W. Sorley was established by Robert and William Sorley and recorded at 1 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, in 1877. In 1899 the firm moved to 93 Vincent Street, and was last recorded at 107-109 West George Street in 1924.
Based on the emerald cut, it features 70 facets with step cut facets above the girdle and triangular facets below.
Often used on intaglios for seal purposes. Words are represented by objects or symbols, the names of which, when sounded in sequence, give the solution.
A deep red beryl is a crimson counterpart of emerald, and was discovered in Utah and reported to the 36th annual Conclave of the American Gem Society held in Cincinnati in 1970. It is the first true red beryl ever reported.
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, ruby, diamond.
René Boivin (1864-1917) was a Parisian-born jeweller, who was first a designer and engraver before establishing the House of Boivin in rue St. Anastase in 1890. In 1893 he relocated to the rue de Turbigo, around which time he also married Jeanne Poiret, sister to Paul Poiret, Paris' leading couturier. René rejected the prevailing Art Nouveau style of the early twentieth century, and instead opted for chunky designers inspired by the East. Upon his death Jean and their daughter Germaine assumed control of the business. The pair continued to design, but also brought on a series of important female designers, including Suzanne Belperron and Juliette Moutard. The firm them moved to the prestigious avenue de l'Opera, and continued to be known for their bold, colourful designs. Boivin exhibited in a number of World Exhibitions to great acclaim, becoming particularly popular with intellectuals, film stars, and working women, such as Sigmund Freud, Edgar Degas and Louise de Vilmorin. Family ownership ceased in 1976 with sale of the firm to Jacques Bernard, one of the firm's designers. It is now owned by the Asprey Group, and continues to produce fine jewellery in the typical Boivin style.
René Lalique is widely considered to be the master of Art Nouveau jewellery. He began his jewellery career as an apprentice for Parisian goldsmith and jeweller Louis Aucoc, while also attending the École des Arts Décoratifs, and later Sydenham College in London. In 1880 he returned to Paris and worked as an independent designer for various important jewellers, including Cartier, Boucheron and Vever. Eventually setting up his own workshops, he experimented with enamel and glass casting, as well as an innovative use of materials such as horn and crystal in his Art Nouveau designs. At the 1900 Paris Exhibition he was awarded the Grand Prix and Order of the Legion of Honour. At the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris he had his own pavilion.
The raising of a pattern in relief on metal by beating from the under side.
The jewellery firm of Riker Brothers was founded by William Riker, who first partnered with George H. Tay in 1846 to form Riker & Tay in Newark, New Jersey, at the time the centre of American jewellery production. After early success allowed them to buy out other firms in order to expand, as well as an incarnation another partnership, William Riker gained complete control of the business, with the addition of his sons, in 1864. The Riker firm is renowned for its fine craftsmanship, work in the Japanesque and neo-Renaissance styles, and their use of plique-à-jour enamel.
Rolason Brothers were manufacturing jewellers and silversmiths who operated out of a premises in Vyse Street, Birmingham. They are recorded at the Birmingham Assay Office between 1891 and 1922.
The ‘rose cut’, defined by its rounded outline and multiple triangular facets, is one of the earliest diamond cuts, with its origins in sixteenth century Europe. At the time of its development the primary source of diamonds was India, and so one might wonder why diamond cutting was not pioneered there? One theory is that the Indians kept the best-formed crystals for the domestic market, diamond being a gem which, under ideal circumstances, takes the form of an octahedron (two four-sided pyramids, base-to-base). With large, symmetrically-placed facets—an ideal shape to be set into jewellery without any fashioning—, coupled with the fact that diamond is the hardest substance known to man, it does stand to reason that the irregularly shaped diamonds would have been exported.
There are two other main factors which likely contributed to the advancement of diamond cutting in Europe at this time. First, key in transporting the raw material to Europe, was the establishment of the first major sea trade port in India with the Europeans, by the Portuguese at Goa in 1510, soon followed by the Dutch and the English. Second is the contemporaneous development of continuous rotary craft tools in Europe, which resulted in the invention of the diamond cutting mill, allowing for more facets, placed at varying angles—ideal for transforming irregular diamond crystals.
And so the first diamond cuts with multiple triangular facets was introduced in Antwerp. This can be considered the earliest form of true ‘faceting’, as prior to this the only cut was the table cut, which largely utilized the natural octahedral habit of the stone, but only with the top and bottom points removed, which was in actuality the result of polishing rather than cutting.
Why Antwerp? Due to the establishment of the aforementioned seafaring trade with the East, the economic centres of Europe shifted from the Mediterranean (namely Venice, which was the gateway to primarily land-based trade with the Middle and Far East), to the ports of Northern Europe. Thus Antwerp, one of the largest, and with political and economic links to Portugal, Spain and England, became the centre of the international economy and the richest city in Europe. In turn it became the primary cutting and diamond trading centre, which despite the decline of its other industries, persists to this day.
Because of this history, the rose cut is also sometimes called the ‘Antwerp’, ‘Holland’ or ‘Dutch rose’. A rose cut typically has a flat base and anywhere from six to twenty four facets, the latter known as a full rose cut. Rose cuts can also be modified to take any outline, such as hearts or drops, or be faceted on both sides to form a double rose cut. Rose cut diamonds remained popular through the late nineteenth century, but today also seem to be experiencing a renaissance in popularity.
A gold of any carat alloyed with copper or copper and silver, to give a pinkish or rosey colour or hue.
A standard modern round cut for stones, having 57 or 58 facets, typically cut by machines and in calibrated sized for the modern mass market.
A secure type of setting in which the top edge of the collet (band of metal surrounding the stone) has been made flush around the edge of the gemstone.
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.
Watch our informative video on rubies
Ruthenium is a rare metallic element forming part of the platinum group of metals. It is mixed with platinum due to its hardness, desirable whiteness and inert qualities.
S. Blanckensee & Son was founded in 1826 in Bristol by Solomon Blanckensee. Soon after he moved the firm to Birmingham, and also opened another location in Glasgow. Solomon's son Aaron joined the firm in 1865, and continued operation after his father's retirement in 1874. In 1884 another location was opened in London, at 35 Ely Place in Holborn where the produced all manner of gold and gem-set jewellery. They exhibited in a number of exhibitions, including the Health Exhibition of 1884 and the Jewellers' Exhibition of 1913.
S. Kind & Sons was an American jeweller located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company was in operation from 1872 until 1938.
A ring that goes across the width of a finger which is more than one stone deep.
A small chain applied to a piece of jewellery with the purpose of adding additional security to prevent loss. On bracelets and necklaces a safety chain will often join the clasp ends should the clasp fail. On a brooch it is often attached to a small pin which is to be used in tandem with the main brooch pin.
Jewellery manufacturer who specialised in making wedding rings and signet rings. The premises were situated at 126 Vyse Street in the Birmingham jewellery quarter.
Sapphire is said to be the gemstone of harmony, friendship and loyalty. Part of the corundum family, which also includes ruby, sapphire comes from the Persian "Saffir", or the Greek "Sapphiros". Blue is the best-known colour but it can be found in all colours of the spectrum. After diamond it is the hardest gemstone.
Identical to cornelian except for the colour which is a deep brownish red. It was used by the Greeks and Romans for engraved intaglios and seals; not used much now for jewellery. The word comes from the Greek, Sardios - a Sardian stone from Sardeis, capital of Lydia.
The Sasanian Empire was one of the major world powers, ruling between 224-651 AD with vast territories which extended across modern day Iran and the Near East.
A well-known jewellery manufacturer established in London by Cornelius Saunders and Francis Shepherd in 1869. Though first selling jet, they soon came to manufacture silver and gold jewellery of all types.
A very long narrow necklace (beads or chain), often having a tassel or ornament at the bottom.
Like large finger rings, but flattened instead of circular, with a gadget inside the back which held the scarf securely. These were popular in the Edwardian period.
Scottish jewellery was in large part popularized by Queen Victoria, who purchased the Balmoral estate, located in the Scottish highlands, as a royal retreat in 1848. The Queen as well as Prince Albert are both known to have owned pieces of Scottish jewellery. It was often designed in the Celtic manner, sometimes directly inspired by ancient examples. The thistle, the national emblem of Scotland, was also a common motif in Scottish jewellery. Furthermore, examples are typically set with stones mined in Scotland, particularly quartzes of the smoky, brown variety, then known as 'cairngorns', named after the mountian from which many were mined, as well as agates, and granite.
A stone or metal plaque carved with an image (an intaglio) but with design reversed so that it is readable when impressed in wax.
Seaman Schepps was born in New York City's tenement-dominated Lower East Side in 1881, the son of Hungarian immigrants. Rising from these humble beginnings, he built a business which featured designs that drastically departed from the traditional modes of his day. These adventurous jewels came to define a new style that became popular with the elite of the 1930's-movie stars, socialites, barons of industry, and royalty-a clientele which earned him the title "America's court jeweller".
His work was featured in all the major fashion titles, regularly gracing the covers of Vogue and Harper's. His clients included Old Guard American families such as the DuPonts, Mellons, and Roosevelts, movie stars including Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor, and international elite such as the Duchess of Windsor. Schepps jewels are distinctive in their bold, gem-centric designs, which utilized unusual materials and employed atypical gemstone cuts and sizes. His influence has been felt throughout the jewellery industry and to this day he continues to inspire. To own a Seaman Schepps piece is to embrace your individuality and not be afraid of making a statement.
A very small natural pearl, 2mm or less in size. Seed pearls were often used as decorative borders or highlights in larger clusters of gemstones.
Shakudo is the legendary Japanese metalwork which was first used on samurai swords until the Japanese government prohibited the wearing of such swords in 1877. It terms of materials, it is gold and silver inlaid into black copper alloy. Craftsmen started to supply the Western world with stunning pieces which were then mounted into items of jewellery.
The part of the ring that encircles the finger, not including the top piece or head.
A round convex shaped piece of metal in the centre of a shield.
The point on a ring where the central section meets the shank or band, often carved, decorated or inlaid with small diamond accent stones.
Shreve Jewelry, founded by the Shreve brothers on Market Street in San Francisco, was incorporated as Shreve & Co in 1894. In 1906 the store moved into a new state-of-the-art building on the corner of Post and Grant, one month prior to the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, which destroyed most of the city. Due to the revolutionary construction, the Shreve & Co building was one of the few to survive the quake. Shreve went on to produce other luxury goods in addition to jewelry for San Francisco’s elite, including fancy goods and flatware. The firm has created wares for numerous illustrious figures over the years, from Teddy Roosevelt to Queen Elizabeth II. Shreve remains today a California institution.
Former name for the South East Asian country now known as Thailand, still often used in the gem trade in reference of origin for rubies and sapphires.
A signet or seal ring is one that features a central incised decoration, either engraved directly into bezel of the ring or into a flat gemstone. The signet ring is one of the earliest forms of jewellery, originally a utilitarian object used to authenticate documents by impressing the seal into wax or clay, thus transferring the owner’s name or symbol.
Some of the earliest known signet rings were made by the Minoans in the sixteenth century BCE, though cylindrical signets set as pendants were used by the Sumerians as early as 5000 BCE. The ancient Egyptians wore signets rings with raised engraved metal bezels as well as rings set with hardstone scarabs which rotate to reveal a signet on the bottom of the stone. The ancient Greeks also embraced the practice of wearing signet rings, most commonly set with gems carved with gods and goddesses, though they are thought to have become primarily decorative in purpose. The ancient Romans, reinstated signets for sealing purposes. The use of seal rings continued throughout the Byzantine Empire, though they were made primarily in metal as knowledge of gem carving had been largely lost, and Christian symbolism replaced the Greco-Roman deities.
A metallic element which is malleable and ductile, and white in colour, making it ideal for use in jewellery. It is usually mixed with copper to improve its hardness.
Its name come from the Ancient Greek word meaning 'shiny' or 'white' and is a metal which has been prized by cultures since prehistoric times.
Silver is a metal which reacts to oxygen and over time creates a darkened or blackened effect on the surface of the metal.
Electro-plate or deposit layer of silver electrolytically on a base metal.
A round stone with just 18 facets, top and bottom, used only on very small stones.
An enduringly popular style of engagement ring featuring a single diamond or gemstone set on a band.
It is frequently called "Balas Ruby", a term derived from Badakshan, the name of the district in Afghanistan which is said to have been the source of the finest stones in mediaeval times. Spinels are often mistaken for rubies, perhaps the most famous of these is the "Black Prince"s Ruby" in the Imperial State Crown which is actually a red spinel and the "Timur Ruby" in the private collection of the Queen.
A phenomenal gemstone which displays a shimmering six pointed star when viewed under a light source. The star effect or 'asterism' is caused by minute needle-like rutile inclusions within the gemstone. Natural, unenhanced star rubies are very rare.
A phenomenal gemstone which displays a shimmering six pointed star when viewed under a light source. The star effect or 'asterism' is caused by minute needle-like rutile inclusions within the gemstone. Natural, unenhanced star sapphires are very rare.
A gem is deeply set, with its table scarcely rising above the surface of surrounding metal, having rays engraved as though coming from the gem, which then appears as a star.
A step cut is a style of cutting a gemstone characterised by straight sides with parallel facets. Most often step cut stones are square or rectangular.
Pierre Sterlé (1905 - 1978) was an important Parisian jeweller, who designed jewellery for both Boucheron and Chaumet, establishing his own company in 1934 in Paris. His jewellery is known for being technically advanced and inspired by nature. He was keen on challenging conventional jewellery manufacture and wanted to find new ways of manipulating metals and using precious stones to symbolize the beauty of the natural world.
His designs were distinctive and caught the imagination of some of the most desirable clientele, receiving a commission from Egyptian Royalty for a crown to be made for Queen Narriman in 1950. The trade also recognized his innovative designs and he won the De Beers Diamond Corporation 'Diamond Award' over three consecutive years in 1953, 1954 and 1955. Although his jewellery is famed, his business sense was not. He fell into financial difficulties and in 1976 his boutique was forced to close, with Chaumet purchasing his stock. His jewellery continues to demand high prices and is considered one of the most original jewellers of his time.
An alloy of 925/1000 fine silver with a permitted tolerance of 4/1000ths for an article made without solder or 10/1000ths if it includes solder.
Stuart Devlin was born in Geelong, Australia in the 1930s. Upon completing a Diploma of Art in gold and silversmithing at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1957, he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art in London, after which he travelled to Columbia University in the United States where he completed a two-year long fellowship.
As a designer, he rose to prominence in the mid-1960s when he won the prestigious commission to design the first decimal coinage for Australia. The following year, Devlin moved to London where he set up a workshop and developed his own distinct style, producing limited edition Easter eggs and Christmas boxes for his ever-expanding clientele. During this period, he moved away from the restraint and austerity of the modern Bauhaus/Scandinavian aesthetic, in favour of a more ‘romantic use of precious metal’ which became manifested in his intricately crafted, whimsical designs.
Throughout his career, Stuart Devlin has worked across a variety of disciplines, to include furniture and interiors, as well as jewellery, silver, objets d’art, coins and commemorative medals. In 1982, he was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment as Jeweller and Goldsmith to Her Majesty the Queen. He also served for a time as Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, an organisation in which he continues to take a great interest.
Stud earrings appear to float on the earlobe, and comprise a decorative front, a post which pierces the ear and secure fixture to reverse. The decorative front of a stud earring could be simplistic such as single diamond, or a cluster of gemstones.
A shirt stud is an ornamental fastener that holds together the opening of a formal dress shirt and became popular during the mid 19th century. Shirt studs can be seen in very varied designs from simplistic ‘buttons’ through to gem set inlays, enamel or engraved patterns.
Jewellery dating from the turn of the twentieth century and comprised of the colour scheme purple, white, and green is often associated with the suffragette movement in Britain. The Women's Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) in 1903, and formed to recruit working class women to the cause for the vote, officially adopted the colours in 1908. They were designed to stand for dignity (purple), purity (white), and hope (green). A number of badges and brooches with this scheme are known to have been commissioned for party members, including the Holloway Brooch, now in the collection of the Museum of London. These pieces were worn to show support for the cause as well as honour acts of particular hardship or bravery such as imprisonment in the name of women's suffrage. In their Christmas 1908 catalogue, London jeweller to the crown Mappin & Webb advertised suffragette jewellery, and Emmeline Pankhurst was presented with a specially commissioned piece in purple, white, and green.
This firm was founded circa 1873 under the name of Sydenham Brothers & Tebbett, by George and Robert Sydenham and Claude Tebbitt on New Edmund Street in Birmingham. After Tebbitt's departure, a third Sydenham brother, William, joined the firm, and eventually they moved premises to Tenby Street, where they remained until 1930.
A man-made material with essentially the same optical, chemical and physical properties as its natural counterpart, but completely artificial. Commonly used for calibré settings due to the colour matching possibilities.
The large facet on the crown of a faceted gemstone.
It was not until the thirteenth century AD that the first true diamond cut appears, known as the table cut. The simplest of all methods of faceting a diamond (or creating additional planes on the surface of a stone), it consists of removing the top and to bottom points of the octahedron. Though it is the hardest substance known to man, the crystalline structure of diamond is such that a relatively weak plane exists in parallel layers through the stone from top point to bottom point, which can be ground down with the application of another diamond, and then polished with diamond dust.
This technology likely originated in the Middles East or Venice, along the major trade route from the sole source of diamonds at that time—India—to the courts of Europe. The ability to grind further facets, as seen on modern diamonds, would not be possible until the invention of the rotary diamond wheel during the fifteenth century. Table cut diamonds set into Medieval and Renaissance jewels are extremely rare, as diamonds were highly uncommon and, as a result, very valuable at the time. Often colourless stones, such as quartz and white sapphire, were cut in this manner to mimic diamond. Furthermore, most old table cut diamonds were subsequently unset and re-cut, once technology advanced, over the following centuries, rendering any such jewel a remarkable survival.
A kind of enamelling, the reverse of CHAMPLEVÉ, as the ornamentation is simply engraved and then filled with enamel.
The deep blue variety of zoisite was first discovered in Tanzania in 1967 to which Tiffany & Company gave the trade name "Tanzanite". It has a hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale. Most crystals occur in a variety of colours, usually brownish or greenish and are heat treated to produce the deep blue colour. This treatment is permanent and is a duplication of the natural process, but accelerated by man.
A cluster in the shape of a target or bull's eye, with concentric circles of alternating gemstones. Originally these were given as love tokens in the Edwardian era with each gemstone providing a secret meaning.
A metal that has been acid tested to ascertain that it is gold, platinum or silver, and if such further tested to give a near accurate assessment of gold content or silver content. This is necessary as the majority of antique jewellery is not hallmarked.
The Goldsmith's Alliance Limited was founded in the second half of the nineteenth century, and retailed jewellery, watches and clocks. The company exhibited at the Colombian World Exhibition in Chicago in 1893, where they displayed, among other fine wares, a clock they made for the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. In 1903 the firm became Goldsmiths’ & Silversmiths’ Co. Ltd, and moved to 112 Regent Street and 48 & 49 Warwick Street London, as well as having an additional outlet in Bristol.
The Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company was founded in 1880 by William Gibson and John Langman in London. The company produced jewellery, watches, clocks and silver and became a large business with a vast premises on the corner of Regent Street and Glasshouse Street which included a tea room. In 1898 this became the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Co. Ltd and in 1952 they amalgamated with Garrard & Co. Ltd. the Crown Jewellers.
Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and modern jewellery was manufactured by the firm of Theodor Fahrner for a hundred and twenty-five years (1855-1979). Growing into a major producer of style-conscious jewellery, the company both led and was inspired by the major European art movements of Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Art Moderne. From their workshops in Pforzheim, Germany, they exported goods worldwide.
Theodore Fahrner sensing the trend away from symbolism and historicism, Fahrner turned to the Darmstadt Colony for new designs. The Darmstadt Colony was an artist’s enclave in the Arts & Crafts tradition founded in Germany in 1897 by Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, Queen Victoria’s grandson.
Fahrner’s collaboration with artists provided him with cutting-edge, modern designs for jewellery and gave the artists a conduit for the manufacture and sale of their pieces. Exceptional among jewellery manufacturers, Fahrner allowed the artist/designer’s name to appear on some pieces along with his own “TF” trademark. Fahrner’s jewellery manifested the new trend for streamlined, modern pieces, a culmination of the new philosophical approach to design.
Thomas Austin was a jewellery manufacturers established in London in 1818.
The jewellery firm of Thomas Eady & Co Ltd was established by Thomas Arthur Clay Eady in 1896, on Regent Street in London. The firm also later opened locations in Liverpool, England, and Calcutta, India. They advertised as 'Manufacturing Jewelers, Designers & Craftsmen. Dealers in Pearls, Gems & Antiques. Specialists in Buttons, Links, Rings, etc. for all Markets. Licensed Valuers.'
Tiffany & Company is an American jewellery and silverware company founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902) and John Burnett Young (1815-1859) in New York City in 1837. The store initially operated as a "stationery and fancy goods emporium" in lower Manhattan, soon taking on a new partner and with him a new name, Tiffany, Young and Ellis. The name became Tiffany & Co in 1853 when Charles Tiffany took control, and around that time the firm established itself as a purveyor of silver and jewellery of their own design and manufacture.
Tiffany was a pioneer on various fronts, including silversmithing, jewellery design, and gemmology, all of which won them numerous accolades and grand prizes from International Exhibitions throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. Of particular note was Tiffany’s promotion of the science of gemstones lead by George Frederick Kunz (1856-1932), prodigy and Head Gemologist at the firm from 1879 until this death.
Upon the death of Charles Tiffany, his son Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), a contemporary of René Lalique and perhaps most famous for his own art glass, presided over the firm. During the twentieth century the firm became a truly global brand, bringing top designers—including Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso—as well as the finest materials from all over the world. Due to their prolonged excellence over the years Tiffany has enjoyed the patronage of barons of industry, movie stars, heads of state and royalty.
A gem variety of the quartz family. Tiger's eye, contains iron which produces its golden brown yellow colour. It is regularly cut as a cabochon to show the chatoyancy (small ray of light on the surface) that resembles the eye of a tiger. Tiger's eye is found primarily in South Africa, also in Western Australia, Burma (Myanmar), India and California.
Topaz is said to have various magical powers, including the ability to render men handsome and women happy and fertile. The name comes from a Sanskrit word meaning heart of fire. According to Pliny, the gem was named for the island of Topazus in the Red Sea, where the stones were first found. Topaz is very hard, being 8 on the Mohs scale, with a high cleavage. It comes in many colours, including brown, green. blue, yellow, red, pink and orange.
Any strands of jewellery that can be worn twisted.
From the French word for 'whirlwind', this can refer to jewellery of a crossover design or a particular type of movement in extremely high end watches.
Tourmaline has been regarded as the gem of long-lasting love and friendship since ancient times. The name is derived from the Singhalese word 'turamalli' which was applied for the first time when some of these stones were brought from Ceylon to Amsterdam in 1903. They may occur in pink, red, yellow, blue, brown, black or green. The hardness is 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.
The jewellery firm of Trabert & Hoeffer was founded around 1925 in New York City. They sold both antique jewellery and their own creations, and worked in close collaboration with the French house of Mauboussin. Their retro designs became popular with the Hollywood elite of the day, including Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich.
The firm of Traub Brothers & Co, producers of fine jewellery and silverplate, was founded in Detroit, Michigan in the 1860s by Christian and John F. Traub. They continued to sell high quality luxury goods, including watches, through the 1970s, when they were purchased by Josten's Inc. Traub is particularly known for their Orange Blossom line of engagement rings and wedding bands, the designs often featuring the flower. Orange blossoms are a symbol of purity, and were worn by Queen Victoria at her wedding in 1840.
A decorative ornament composed of three parts or leaves.
A section of a piece of jewellery- usually a brooch- mounted on a tiny spring to allow it to tremble when worn. This technique was favoured during the 18th and 19th centuries when the lighting of the time, candlelight, best showed off the scintillation of the diamonds set on the jewellery.
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.
Turquoise is a copper aluminium phosphate - copper being the primary cause of its pleasing blue colour. It has a microscopic crystal structure, which makes it ideal to be fashioned into smooth cabochons rather than faceted. The material takes a good polish and has an appealing waxy lustre to the surface. The most desirable turquoise specimens display a highly saturated blue hue, by which the colour itself is now defined, though it can also be found with hints of green or grey.
It is an opaque gem, and is often formed in what is called matrix, a black or brown veining derived from the host rock in which the gem forms. In fine jewellery, unblemished sky blue turquoise is the ideal, although regularly patterned matrix turquoise is also sought-after.
A pin in two parts, one part having a hole or socket into which the point of the actual pin fits, so that it is joined into one piece.
The watchmaker Vacheron Constantin first started as a small shop founded by Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755. In 1819 the company grew via partnering with Francois Constantin, to become Vacheron et Constantin. The firm is responsible for numerous innovations in the watch industry, winning itself numerous accolades throughout the years. One of their greatest achievements was a pocket watch commissioned by King Farouk of Egypt which was so complex that it took five years to make. They are also responsible for the thinnest watch ever produced, only 1.64 mm deep.
Van Cleef & Arpels was founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and brothers Julien and Charles Arpels, the latter of whom was also Alfred’s brother-in-law. Their first shop in Paris at number 22 Place Vendôme, where they are still located today, was designed to attract a wealthy clientele and led to immediate success.
Their clients included celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier and Eva Peron, for whom the firm designed a diamond and sapphire Argentinean flag brooch in the early 1950s. The company also designed the tiara worn by Grace Kelly when she became Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956. For the coronation of Farah Pahlavi, the former Empress of Iran, Van Cleef & Arpels received an order to design and build a crown of emeralds and diamonds in 1967, which weighed four pounds and took them six months to make.
The firm's jewellery is characterised by its graceful lines, colour, and a sense of movement. Ever innovative, they are the creators of the ‘Mystery Setting’, an innovation in which the prongs are hidden beneath the gemstones. In addition, Charles is credited with the invention of the minaudière, a case constructed of precious materials to hold all a lady’s necessary items for an evening out. The firm is now a part of the Richemont Group.
Sterling silver base with a heavy gold plating applied.
The Scandinavian sea-faring warrior civilisation flourishing between 8th-11th century AD.
The Viking craftsmen created jewellery rich in geometric and stylised animal design in intricate filigree and repoussé work. The most important jewellery to the Vikings were bands of metal, made up of hammered rounded rods of metal, either plain, simply twisted or in very elaborate and complex plaited designs. While appearing to be simple and rudimentary in design, these items of jewellery for the neck, arm or finger were in fact very difficult to manufacture.
To the Vikings, jewellery had the purpose of instantly displaying the wealth and status of the wearer. Fascinatingly jewellery was used as portable bullion and they would hack off sections as necessary to pay for goods or services. We know this from finding nicks on the edges of pieces of jewellery- nicks which prove that they would check that the jewellery was solid metal, not merely a plated base metal when bartering. These chunks of jewellery are known as ‘hack silver' or ‘hack gold'.
A birmingham jeweller and silversmith located at Hockley Hill, Birmingham.
A small box for holding smelling salts or aromatic vinegar with perforations on the lid for the aroma to escape.
An item which is under one hundred years old, but over approximately fifty years old.
W.A. Bolin was established in 1791 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and has been family-owned ever since, earning Bolin the title of the world's oldest jewellery family in the business today. During the firm's tenure in Russia they were court jewellers to five Russian tsars, alongside Fabergé, with whom they at one time planned a merger. Due to the Russian Revolution, however, Bolin moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where they have since been established and served three Swedish royal courts. Bolin remains of the most important jewellers in Sweden.
Wartski is a family-owned firm of jewellery and antique dealers, specialising in fine jewellery, gold boxes, silver and works of art by Fabergé. The firm was founded in Bangor, North Wales in 1865 by Morris Wartski, maternal great-grandfather of the present day Chairman. By 1907 two more shops had been established. The business thrived under the patronage of King Edward VII and personalities such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Bing Crosby.
M. Waslikoff & Sons was an American jeweller based in New York. The company specialised in diamond and platinum jewellery in the 1920s and 30s and was a prominent maker of platinum flexible watch bands and bracelets.
Goes to one pocket of a waistcoat and has a bar and drop chain for attaching a charm.
The firm West & Son dates its origin as far back as 1720, though it was first documented in 1748 when John West apprenticed to Bartholomew Mosse, Master Silversmith of Dublin. He was followed by his brother Matthew who became an apprentice in 1762.
After their apprenticeship both brothers were active as silversmiths. Matthew West went on to become Master of the Company of Goldsmiths in 1783/4 and one of the most renowned silversmiths of Dublin.
The silversmiths and retailers business continued throughout the 19th century, as Clarke & West in 1803, then Matthew West & Sons in 1825 and later from 1841 as James West & Son, becoming one of the foremost jewellers in Ireland.
The Royal Collection has two brooches made by West & Son, which were bought by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria on a visit to Dublin in 1849.
West & Son participated in the 1851 Great Exhibition in London and in the Dublin Exhibition of 1853.
Their replicas of antique Irish ornaments played an important role in the revival of ancient Celtic designs and in the development of the Arts and Crafts movement.
After the death of James West in 1877 the firm was managed by his son Langley Archer West.
West & Son closed on 13 February 2010.
White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one other white metal, most often nickel or palladium, both of which act as a bleaching agent to reduce the natural yellow colour of the gold.
Founded in Cincinnati, Ohio at the end of the nineteenth century. By the 1920s, Whitehouse Bros. had become the largest manufacturing jeweller in America, employing over one hundred craftsmen. Many of these craftsmen were German or of German-descent, and were highly skilled in the use of platinum – a material in which Whitehouse Bros. continues to specialise.
Jules Wièse (1819-1890) is considered to be one of the finest French jewellers of the nineteenth century. He was among three preeminent Parisian goldsmiths producing exquisite silver jewellery in the Neo-Renaissance style. Born in Berlin, Wièse was apprenticed there to the court goldsmith Johann Georg Hossauer before moving to Paris. In France he first worked under J.-V. Morel as a chaser and jeweller, and finally Froment-Meurice from 1839. By 1844 he is recorded as holding the position of workshop manager, and in the same year he registered his own maker’s mark. In the next year he opened his own workshop with twenty five craftsmen at 7 Rue Jean Pain Molet, first working exclusively for Froment-Meurice, for which he was awarded a Collaborator’s Medal at the 1849 Paris Exposition. By the next Paris Exposition, in 1855, Wièse exhibited under his own name, winning himself a First Class Medal for his work in the Neo-Renaissance style. His contemporary M. Magne wrote the following of him and his display: ‘[Wièse is a] fine goldsmith and jeweller with an already distinguished reputation which can only be enhanced by his display. The importance of his pieces and his brave experiments reveal, even in the most modest work, an awareness of art and beauty which deserves to be encouraged by the jury’. More medals for his work were to follow, including the Medal of Honour at the 1862 London Exposition.
After his death in 1890, his son Louis Wièse assumed management of the firm, registering his own maker’s mark in that year. Louis carried on the excellent standards established by his father until his own death in 1923. During this time he produced extremely fine gold jewellery, often bejewelled and enamelled, much of it Classical or Renaissance in theme.
Schmidt (1845-1938) was a 19th century German gemstone engraver, who specialised in the difficult technique of cutting and carving opal.
Schmidt was a master of this art form, and began his training at the age of 15 in Paris under the tutelage of the cameo-cutter, Arsène. Later on, he set up his own engraving workshop in Hatton Garden, London from where he cut some of the most exquisite cameos featured in jewellery created by John Brogden, Child & Child and Guiliano but to name a few. Schmidt never signed his work and the cameos he produced were never credited to him.
The jewellery manufacturing firm of Wilkinson Limited was established in 1830 by John Wilkinson at 2 Skinner Street in Clerkenwell, London. He was subsequently joined by his son William, who took over control of the business in 1877 after the senior partner’s death. The company came to focus on producing wedding bands, which continues to this day.
American jewellers and silversmiths located on Flatbush Avenue and Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York. The company was running between 1834-1903. When Wise's son Alfred Wise was admitted to the firm in 1882, the name was changed to William Wise & Son. William Wise died in 1903 and the business was sold to J. Ernest Stern in 1915.
Jeweller and silversmith situated at Northwood Street, Birmingham. William Devenport was especially well known for his elaborately decorated vanity sets and engraved silver pieces.
William Evans was a jeweller based in London in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. His earliest shop is registered at Church Street in Soho. In 1841 he moved premises to New Street in Covent Garden, and then finally to Great Queen Street, off Lincoln's Inn Fields.
Willam Phillip Whiteman was a Birmingham jeweller who had a shop at 115, Church-lane,Handsworth, Birmingham, and later moved to 84, Vyse-street with premises on Vyse Street, Birmingham.
Wilson & Sharp was the partnership of Robert Wilson and Andrew Sharp and the company was established in 1889. They ran shops and smithed in both London, England and Edinburgh. They were based in Scotland for most of the 20th century. Eventually, they merged with Mappin & Webb.
A decorative feature using fine wires of precious metal.
This is a technique often employed by ancient and medieval cratfsmen to great effect.
Raymond Yard worked his way up from humble beginnings to become one of America's premier jewellers. Born in 1885 to Caroline and William Henry Yard of New Jersey, Raymond's childhood was riddled with trials. His younger sister died in his early years followed by the untimely death of his father in 1897 when Raymond was only twelve years old. It was the death of his father, a train conductor that paved the beginnings of Raymond's illustrious career within the jewellery business. At the young age of thirteen he was employed as a door boy at the leading New York City jeweller Marcus & Co. Through his teen years he was a diligent student learning from his superiors and displaying a natural talent for recognising quality gemstones and craftsmanship. By his mid-twenties Raymond was the general manager and it was in this position that he became acquainted with many from New York's high society. John D. Rockefeller was one of his special clientele who recognised his talent and encouraged him to start his own business.
With his decades of experience, Raymond took the advice of John D. Rockefellar and opened his first showroom in 1922 at 527 Fifth Avenue. During these first years, now referred to the firm's "classic period", Yard established himself with the American elite. His classic designs grew popular amongst barons of industry such as Henry DuPont and Henry Flagler, and celebrities like Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks. It was also during this period when Yard's own distinctive style emerged. Primarily working in the Art Deco mode, Yard designs ranged from understatedly elegant to charmingly whimsical. His rabbit brooches created in the late 1920s and 1930s are today one of the most collectable pieces of fine vintage jewellery.
During his early years within Marcus & Co., Raymond was exposed to stringent work practises and quality control. This early training developed Yard into a notorious perfectionist. Only the finest quality gemstones were selected for Yard jewellery, which included sapphires from Kashmir, rubies from Burma and natural pearls. Each gem was set by hand with close instruction from the designs. Another renowned quality was the widely used highly polished platinum settings which secured gemstones without cumbersome claws created the illusion that gems are floating on air. Yard also utilized contrasting gemstone cuts, playing simple step cuts against sparkling brilliants, which lent his jewels an added lushness. No shortcuts were utilised which meant that Yard's jewellery was finished with impeccable precision so the jewel was eye catching from every angle including the reverse. The attention to detail, use of rare gemstones, innovative settings and individual design created a sophisticated style and legendary legacy.
Raymond Yard retired in 1958, the firm was taken over by three men selected by him one of which was his protégé Robert Gibson, who was originally Yard's golf caddy. Continuing the stewardship of Yard's trademark quality, the torch was then passed to Gibson's son in 1989, who continues to maintain the Yard name.
Zircon is said to be the gemstone of honour and wisdom. Somewhat ironically, it is often confused with cubic zirconia, a lab-grown diamond stimulant. Zircon is, however, a naturally occurring gemstone which forms in a variety of hues, including bright blue, brown, green, red, orange and colourless.