Inspired by Pantone’s ‘Color of the Year 2019’, Rui Galopim de Carvalho FGA DGA dives into the underwater world of precious coral and addresses some of the misunderstandings around its use in the jewellery industry.
The colour of many precious corals has been announced as the ‘Color of the Year 2019’ by Pantone, the US-based company known for its proprietary colour system widely used in the printing industry. Under the name ‘Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral’ this colour code alludes to the pink to red colour that is commonly associated with corals. A clarification is therefore in order to properly understand what it is meant by coral in the jewellery industry.
Coral is the collective name that has been used to describe a very large number of species of cnidarians of the Anthozoa class. Among these more than 7,300 species, we encounter the endangered shallow-water coral species in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere that have been suffering from bleaching and death as a result of climate change and ocean acidification.
This dramatic situation for the equilibrium of the planet’s marine ecosystems has negatively impacted on the reputation of coral as a luxury product. It happens that the corals used in the jewellery industry do not live in the same ecosystem as those endangered reef corals. This is why those that are used jewellery and decorative arts have been designated as ‘precious corals’ by CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, separating them from the ‘common corals’ and even more dramatically from the endangered reef corals.
What are Precious Corals?
These are corals most used in high-end jewellery and decoration and are limited to species belonging to the Corallidae family, particularly from the genus Corallium, Pleurocorallium and Hemicorallium. It is in some of these groups that we can find the red and pink, sometimes salmon-coloured and often white varieties with porcelain like lustre after polishing that relate to this year’s Pantone colour.
A parcel of polished small branches of Deep Sea coral (Hemicorallium laauense). Photo courtesy of Liverino 1894.
Although a few varieties of red and pink coral were listed for the monitoring of the trade in Appendix III of CITES at the request of China in 2008 (Corallium elatius, C. japonicum, C. konojoi and C. secundum[sic]), no precious corals are listed in the more restrictive CITES Appendixes I and II.
It must be said that the recommendation for monitoring expired in 2013, being extended until 2016, and that for the next CITES meeting in 2019, no further action is to be proposed for precious corals. Current fishing regulations in the Mediterranean, Taiwan and Japan have played an important role in resource management of precious corals and more initiatives are being implemented to further the issue.
Let’s then establish what are the precious coral species currently recognised by the trade:
Corallium japonicum (Aka, Moro or Oxblood coral), the dark red to very dark red corals with a lengthwise white interior which live at depths of 80 to 300 in Japan
Pleurocorallium elatius comprising of two varieties: the so called Momo, Cerasuolo or Satsuma coral, a bright red, salmon, orange and flesh colour with a lengthwise white interior and its albino variety, known in the trade as Angel Skin, Boké or Magai coral, a delicate flesh pink, with different colour intensities, which live at depths of 150 to 300 meters mainly off the coasts of Japan and Taiwan
Pleurocorallium konojoi (Pure White or Shiro coral), the milky white and sometimes with red or pink specks, that live at depths of 80 to 300 meters in the South China Sea and off the coast of Hainan
Pleurocorallium secundum (Midway, Rosato or White/Pink), the veined white or pink, and sometimes with red specks, or uniform clear pink, that lives at depths of 400 to 600 meters off the coasts of Hawaii and Midway Island
Hemicorallium laauense (Deep Sea or Shinkai coral), the bright white, clear pink or white pomegranate with red veins or spots which live at depths of 1000 to 2000 meters off the coast of Midway Island, north-west of Emperor Seamount
Hemicorallium regale (Garnet coral), the pomegranate colour with different shades of uniform pink that live at depths of 350 to 600 metres off the coast of Hawaii
Hemicorallium sulcatum (Misu, Missu or Miss coral), the pink to violet uniform colour which live at depths of 100 to 300 metres in the Philippines northern coastal waters
Corallium rubrum (Sardinian or Mediterranean coral), the historically and culturally famous uniform red with medium to strong saturation that live at depths up to 1,000 metres (harvested only bellow 50 meters) in the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa, including in the waters of the Canary Islands and Cape Verde The taxonomy of precious corals (in Pantone 'Living Coral' colour) and Common corals (in grey).
What are Common Corals?
Apart from the above mentioned Corallidae family species, there are a few other corals that have been used for decoration and in jewellery. These, defined as common corals, include mostly calcareous types, like sponge corals, bamboo corals and blue corals as well as black and golden corals, which have non-calcareous exoskeletons. Many of these must undergo treatment (e.g. bleaching, dyeing, impregnation) to be used as gem materials.
Contrarily to precious corals, certain common coral species are listed in CITES Appendix II, e.g. black coral (Antipatharia spp.), blue coral (Heliopora coerulea), stony corals (Scleractinia spp.), organpipe corals (Tubiporidae family), fire corals (Milleporidae family) and lace corals (Stylasteridae family).
Reef coral preservation should be on the top of the agenda not only of the jewellery industry but also of society as a whole, mainly by reducing the carbon impact of civilization that is responsible for climate change and ocean acidification.
The dramatic effects of bleaching in coral reef (before and after). Image courtesy of The Ocran Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey/Coral Reef Image Bank.
CIBJO recently argued through its Coral Commission president Vincenzo Liverino under the banner of a ‘Promise of Sustainability’ at the 21st FEEG Symposium and CIBJO Seminar on Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability held at the VicenzaOro show, Italy in January, that it is a task of the industry and first of all of the coral industry to set an example by embracing the ‘Jewellery Industry Measurement Initiative’ promoted by CIBJO to help companies within the jewellery industry understand their environmental impact, reduce their carbon footprint, and protect themselves and the industry as a whole.
The need for education of both the trade and the consumer in these matters is therefore of prime importance to correct what was a lack of consistency in the terminology used to describe precious coral, to inform the public of about the biology, ecology, history and legacy of precious coral and to raise public awareness of issues related to the sustainability of coral in general, and precious coral in particular, predominantly in light of the challenges posed by global warming and ocean acidification.
This article was first published in the Spring 2019 edition of Gems&Jewellery. To find out more and read the magazine archive online, please click here.
Cover image: Two necklaces: Angel’s skin (Boké or Magai) coral, the albino variety of Pleurocorallium elatius, and Oxblood (Aka or Moro), the deep red variety of Corallium japonicum. Image courtesy of Chii Lih Coral.
Images courtesy of the author unless otherwise stated.
Understanding how to identify jewellery from different eras and design movements is essential for historians, valuers and antique collectors. Here, Starla Turner FGA GG offers us a glimpse into the refined and elegant world of Edwardian jewellery and describes the motifs that make pieces recognisable.
Fashion of the Edwardian Era
The short reign of King Edward VII (1901 to 1910), his court, his sporting lifestyle and his wife Alexandra of Denmark were a breath of fresh air to fashion at the close of the 1800s. Jewellery motifs changed accordingly, with intricate and gracefully symmetrical, diamond-encrusted and lacy designs adorning the neckline, chiffon gowns and the ‘up-do’ hair styles of the well-to-do. Delicate scrolls, leaves, ribbon bows, hearts, circles, swooping swags (or garlands as they were later called), and veil-like twinkling jewellery complimented a new sophisticated style.
To me, Edwardian designs look like a frozen moment – curled in movement, shimmering, draping, scrolling, swaging, circling – just waiting to be worn and move again. The Edwardian femininity, fluidity, and fineness are unmistakeable. Iconic pieces have hinges, dangles, swags, articulation, and tiny swinging gemstone droplets evoking a liquidity and liveliness.
Queen Alexandra loved the uncomfortable but fashionable ‘dog collar’ plaque style necklace, often backed by black velvet. The style transitioned into a column of 6-16 rows of pearls — a challenge to wear for sure. Changing dress necklines brought changing neck ornamentation. A good example is the rivière necklace – a neck-encircling strand of graduating, millegraine-edged, bezel set diamonds — sometimes worn as two bracelets.
We see up to 72-inch long strands of ‘spectacle set’ diamonds, a minimalist technique where only a thin wire wraps the diamond girdle and small side jump rings attach to the next gem. The lavaliere is an articulating drop suspended from a matching design element and attached directly to a thin, fancy link chain. The negligee necklace has two drops, often on different lengths of chain, attached to one design element and a simple chain. Basic pendants have diamond-set, double side engraved, tapered bales that hang on thin, intricately designed chains.
Tiaras of the Edwardian Era
The Edwardian era also saw a fascination with tiaras. Bandeaus, like tiaras, could double as necklaces or bracelets — screw holes or extra loops in the backside show their transitioning versatility. Sautoirs, long bundles of pearl strands ending with tassels, were wrapped around necks, waists, bodices and arms. Bracelets show symmetrical repeating designs in either full length or top half only designs. A new trend was the more diminutive, tapering diamond and coloured stone bracelets with articulating or stretching metal links in the rear. Rings were becoming wider and domed just enough to accommodate the depth of the centre diamond.The back of a beautiful swan pin, showing calibré cut emeralds and the 'swinging' diamonds typical of the Edwardian era.
The Rise of Platinum in Edwardian Jewellery
Solid platinum or platinum over gold suited the pale, pastel and feminine fashion palette. Platinum was a new white metal that, unlike silver, didn’t stain the skin and clothing and could strongly, but delicately, hold the all-important diamond. Initially, platinum was bonded to yellow gold, a technique created to add value and acceptability to this new, inexpensive and unappreciated metal.
The vast majority of Edwardian diamond pieces I see are hand-fabricated (cut, sawn, rolled, drawn and assembled). Cast pieces are uncommon due to the high heat required to melt the metal. Edwardian jewellery is typically assembled from fewer parts, likely due to the visibility of the yellow gold-based solder that was used.
This yellowish solder in seams disappeared into a whiter hue after WWI when white gold made its debut. In addition, platinum is a noble metal – it does not tarnish – so the tarnish one sees is from the solder mix of gold, silver and platinum. Therefore, tarnish and patina can add provenance as it develops with age. Sometimes re-polishing the metal can remove a bit of authenticity.
Diamonds in Edwardian Jewellery
South Africa supplied a plethora of diamonds. While the Second Boer War (Oct 1899 –May 1902) had an impact on pricing, the demand continued. The diamond circular saw, the fixed dop (the clamp that holds a diamond being cut) for precise angles, bruiting machine advancements and electricity reduced cutting times. They also resulted in the more brilliant, rounder European-cut diamond.
Marquise and pear-shapes also became more available. The beauty of a finished diamond became the focus, rather than the weight retention.
An Edwardian era pin that would have doubled as a tiara or hair ornament.
Later into the period, single cut diamonds replaced the rose cuts of the past. With faster cutting techniques, the sparkling 17 facet single cut became the perfect accent to delicate jewellery. Smaller Swiss-cut and small European-cut diamonds also help date this era. Old mine cutting was phased out by the end of the era, but diamonds were still recycled into new pieces.
Pearls in Edwardian Jewellery
Pearls were second to diamond in popularity and suited the monochromatic styling of the era. Their ethereal sheen worked beautifully with gossamer fabrics. Articulating drops gave the appearance of water and added the wonderful element of movement in open work designs. Due to the rarity of natural pearls (cultured pearls were about to debut in high numbers) seed pearls of 3.5mm or smaller were cut into two useable halves and flush mounted onto metal.
The American and Scottish freshwater pearls reveal a whiter, wrinkled skin whereas the Indian Ocean and Gulf saltwater pearls are creamy to light grey (often turning grey from a soap that has been used to clean them) and smooth skinned. Uncut and larger natural pearls are often button or oval shaped. The very round cultured pearls in Edwardian pieces tend to be replacement stones.
Gemstones in Edwardian Jewellery
Sapphire, emerald, opal, ruby, amethyst, demantoid garnet, moonstone or peridots were recessed into a circle of diamonds — enter the halo ring! Look for treasures in these old pieces: Kashmir sapphires, Burmese rubies, Russian demantoid garnets, Australian black opals.
A pierced-out brooch from the Edwardian era.
Calibré cut stones, the tiny (1-2mm), straight-sided, geometrically shaped ruby, sapphire, emerald and amethyst, were cut to fit into channels and dance around designs. The newly-created and evenly-coloured synthetic sapphire and ruby calibré appear in late Edwardian pieces. Black enamel or onyx also provided contrast to the all white look as it transitioned from the mourning jewellery age.
A platinum and diamond central ornamentation could also be highlighted with a larger splash of colour from background bases of pastel toned, transparent to translucent enamels over an engraved gold base — a technique called ‘guilloche’.
Defining Traits of Edwardian Jewellery
Further defining methods of this era are millegraining and fret work. Overall pieces are finished with delicate, minute beading making the metal disappear into the design. This millegraining took away the sharp edges, softening the look and emphasising the diamond sparkle. Millegraining also enhanced the knife-edged, open, thin wire work called fret work (like the frets for chords on a guitar neck) that created the airiness to the designs and highlighted the incredible expertise of the craftsman.
After WWI the flowing movement of the graceful Edwardian jewellery eventually blended into, and was then lost to, the geometrical, static, anticlassical, architectural style of the Art Deco era — that caught on like fire. Out with the old, and in with the new.
Gems&Jewellery is delighted to welcome jewellery historian and valuer, John Benjamin FGA DGA FIRV as our columnist for 2019. As part of a new Gemstone Conversations series, John explores the history of the use of garnet in antique jewellery and tells us why we should give more credit to this special yet undervalued gemstone.
I have often thought that garnet is a rather underappreciated stone. True, it is extremely common and turns up in everything from ancient gold rings to cheap, modern, mass-produced bijouterie — but this misses the point, which is that the sheer beauty and versatility of garnet meant that right up to the beginning of the 20th century it was consistently one of the most popular of all gemstones used in decorative jewellery.
Historic Uses of Garnet in Jewellery
Garnet was esteemed by the Romans at a time when a vivid gemstone conveyed wealth and status. Fine examples were polished into cabochons or cut into cameos and intaglios depicting classical figures or deities. By the 5th and 6th century garnet was often the stone of choice with small, simple, domed or faceted examples providing a decorative embellishment to Anglo Saxon brooches, pendants and buckles.
A Neo-Renaissance gold 'Holbeinesque' pendant mounted with a pyrope garnet cabochon in a champlevé enamelled frame set with chrysolites, circa 1870. Image courtesy of Woolley & Wallis.
Garnet Jewellery of the 17th Century
No doubt because of its widespread availability it was frequently set into medieval rings and ornaments and by the late 16th and 17th century its sheer abundance and desirability led to it being used throughout Europe in everything from rings and earrings to opulent pendants, usually accompanied by colourful, polychrome enamel and gold mounts.
Many of these Renaissance and later garnets were polished into large and irregular-shaped hollow-back cabochons known as ‘carbuncles’ and were usually rich, purplish-red almandines from India and Ceylon. There are quite a large number of these garnets on display in the incomparable Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London.
For me, part of the allure of garnet is the broad range of colours available and I have always admired hessonites, not only for their rich, orangey-brown colour but also for their interesting ‘treacle-like’ inclusions. Since garnet is a reasonably hard gemstone it provides an excellent cutting surface, so from the 16th to the 18th century hessonite (known in those days as ‘Jacinth’ or ‘Hyacinth’) was a popular stone for fashioning into cameos or setting into bracelet clasps.
The Golden Age of Garnet Jewellery
Undoubtedly, it was the late 18th and early 19th century when garnet really came into its own. Flat-cut almandines of cushion, pear and circular shape were artfully set into parures comprising a necklace, a pair of bracelets, earrings and a brooch. Foiling the stones and fully enclosing the mounts at the back intensified their glowing appearance, especially when illuminated in candlelight.
A Georgian gold and flat-cut almandine garnet parure comprising a necklace, earrings, maltese cross and brooch, circa 1800. Image courtesy of Woolley & Wallis.
The use of garnet in moderately priced jewellery continued through the 19th century reaching a peak of popularity in the 1870s when ‘Holbeinesque’ jewellery – pendants and earrings of a design inspired by the look of the Renaissance – resulted in large pyrope cabochons being set in colourful, champlevé-enamelled frames often accompanied by compatible gems such as diamond or chrysolite. This was the so-called ‘Grand Period’ of jewellery manufacture and the rich, vibrant colour of garnet provided the perfect vehicle for showing off bold and distinctive bracelets, brooches and necklaces.
Handmade craftsmanship gave way to mechanical, repetitive mass production at the end of the century. Garnet continued to be used in cheap central European jewellery often accompanied by inexpensive colourful gems especially turquoise, pale green beryl and pearls in poor quality, silver gilt settings.
At the same time jewellers in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) began to set clusters of small simply faceted pyropes in base metal thus providing colourful but affordable bangles, brooches and earrings for the mass market. These ‘Bohemian’ garnets are very much of their time and are still very common today.
A 'Bohemian' garnet cross circa 1890. Versatile and inexpensive, these colourful jewels were extremely common at the end of the 19th century. Image courtesy of Woolley & Wallis.
Demantoid Garnet Jewellery
There was, however, one last moment of glory for garnet. Demantoid, the bright green variety of andradite garnet, had been discovered in the Russian Urals as far back as 1853. Nevertheless, it was not until the 1880s that it started to be set commercially in jewellery and accessories, firstly by Peter Carl Fabergé and subsequently by jewellers in London who obtained supplies from gem merchants such as E W Streeter.
The naturalistic green tones and adamantine lustre of demantoid perfectly conveyed the look of a reptile’s skin or an insect’s body, resulting in a surge of popularity in novelty brooches designed as frogs, lizards and dragonflies.
A Demantoid garnet and diamond dragonfly brooch, circa 1880. The naturalistic colour of this ever popular variety of andradite garnet resulted in a wide range of novelty insect and reptile brooches appearing on the market at the end of the 19th century. Image courtesy of Woolley & Wallis.
This article and images were originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Gems&Jewellery. Gem-A Members can read the issue here.
Cover Image: Late 18th/early 19th century Neoclassical hessonite cameo ring of the Emperor Tiberius. Images courtesy of Bonhams.
We are thrilled to announce that the Gem-A Photographer of the Year competition is back for 2019!
With new rules, a new judging process, and fantastic new prizes, this year’s competition promises to be our biggest and best yet. What’s more, while the competition had traditionally only been open to Gem-A Members and students, we are now happy to accept entries from anyone with an interest in gemmology and a passion for photography.
We are very excited to see what marvels this year’s competition will bring as we have decided to forego categories; instead, we want to see entries that display your own unique interpretation of gemstones, gemmology and the wider trade.
You might decide to share a photograph of a piece of jaw-dropping jewellery, or maybe you have captured the hidden, intricate beauty of a particular gemstone through photomicrography? Or perhaps you have shot a spectacular scene while gemstone mining or trading on a recent trip abroad?
Whatever highlights an unusual or insightful facet of our sector, we want to see it!
Win the chance to have your photograph featured in Gems&Jewellery. Winners could be featured on our cover, our Last Impression or our Big Picture feature page.
You can add the accolade of being named Gem-A’s Photographer of the Year to your portfolio.
Entry is free and open to all.
2017 Overall Winner - Dandelion flower in sapphire. Growth blockage with thin film rosette in Sri Lankan sapphire using modified Rheinberg illumination. Field view of 1.34mm. Image by Jonathan Muyal FGA.
The overall winner will be gifted a £300 voucher to spend at Gem-A Instruments and one year’s free Membership of Gem-A.
Two runners up will win a £50 Gem-A Instruments voucher.
All three winning entries will see their photographs published in Gems&Jewellery magazine.
The competition is open now and we shall be accepting entries until August 30, 2019. The winner will be announced on Gem-A’s Facebook page shortly after the competition has closed.
For the Competition rules and details on how to enter click here. Good luck!
Cover image: 2017 entry - Frog in Amber from the Dominican Republic. Image by Anthony Shih FGA DGA.
Interested in developing your gemmological knowledge? Have a look at our upcoming one-day workshops.
Treasured the world over for their timeless elegance, lustre and iridescent multi-tonal colours, pearls have been a favourite of high-end jewellers and collectors alike for hundreds of years.
The majority of gem-quality pearls are produced by bivalve molluscs (an animal whose shell has two hinged parts), but they can also be produced by gastropods (a single shell) which are more rare and may come at a higher price. A pearl is created when an irritant agitates the body of a mollusc and initiates the growth of nacre, a substance that is created by platy crystals of aragonite (a calcium carbonate mineral) held together by an organic compound known as conchiolin.
Well-shaped, naturally occurring specimens can be very rare and highly expensive – in 2017, a natural pearl and diamond drop pendant sold for US$1,452,500 at a Bonhams auction. Cultured saltwater and freshwater pearls are far more abundant and can be cultured to produce excellent lustre in a variety of colours and sizes. But what are the main differences between saltwater and freshwater pearls, and what are the key characteristics that make the highest quality and most desirable specimens?
Saltwater pearls are produced by oysters found in the sea and generally only a single pearl per shell is found. As natural saltwater pearls are extremely difficult to come across, cultured specimens make up the vast majority on the market. Cultured saltwater pearls are farmed with a bead nucleus made from shells of freshwater molluscs (mussels) as these varieties tend to have thicker shell sections which are ideal for fashioning into a sphere.
Kokichi Mikimoto perfected the process for culturing pearls in Japan in the 1890s, utilizing Akoya pearl oysters. Akoya pearls are characterised by their very bright lustre and usually white body colour, often enhanced by bleaching. Pink, silver, blue and yellow shades can also occur naturally. Akoya pearls will normally have a diameter of 6-8 millimetres.
Grey and black saltwater pearls are highly desirable and have been known to fetch stellar prices at auction. The Cowdray pearl necklace, a string of 42 natural grey saltwater pearls once owned by Viscountess Cowdray, broke the auction record for the sale of a pearl necklace when it sold for US$5.3 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2015.
South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls can also be cultured, and although natural specimens would be infinitely more valuable. Cultured South Sea pearls have been known to reach astronomical prices at auction. In 1992 a strand of 23 Australian South Sea pearls sold for $2.3 million at Sotheby’s Geneva. Among the larger of saltwater varieties, they will typically reach 11-14mm in diameter but in some cases they can grow much larger. Part of the desirability of South Sea pearls may be the iridescent gold and silver hues they acquire from the silver-lip and gold-lip molluscs in which they grow.
Cultured in a black-lip oyster, Tahitian pearls have a darker nacre with surface iridescence and overtones of peacock, blue, green, purple and gold. Tahitian pearl quality is regulated by the French Polynesian government exerting tight controls to ensure consistent, quality material reaches the market.
Originating from rainbow-lipped molluscs found in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, Cortez Pearls are dark in body colour and display a fabulous rainbow iridescence on the surface. Furthermore, these pearls are somewhat unique as they are the only variety which can show an unusual red fluorescence when exposed to long wave ultra violet light.
Fiji Black Pearls
Another highly desirable variety of saltwater pearls are Fiji black pearls. Among the rarest types of pearls in the world, they are also a relatively new variety, having first entered the industry in the 1960s. Since then, their introduction by J. Hunter Pearls in 1999 has increased and expanded their market. As a result, we can now see Fiji pearls in a range of vivid colours including gold, peacock, green and chocolate, and although they only have a small yearly output, they command premium prices.
Freshwater pearls are grown in rivers and ponds using mussels, and many pearls can be grown within a single shell in a much shorter time that saltwater counterparts. Although freshwater pearls can occur in various colours, white, pink and pastel shades are by far the most common.
There are two ways in which freshwater pearls can be cultured; they can be tissue-nucleated, which means that a small piece of foreign mantle is grafted into the host. This process will usually result in a baroque-shaped pearl.
Cultured freshwater pearls can also be bead-nucleated in the same way as saltwater pearls. Shapes range from round to unique baroques with names like fireball, soufflé and Edison. However, other shapes are possible, including star, coin and heart. Colour, lustre and size are the most important value factors but they tend to be less lustrous than Akoya pearls.
When considering purchasing freshwater and saltwater pearls, whether natural or cultured, there are five key aesthetic features to take into account in order to make a good investment:
The general rule is the bigger the pearl, the higher the value.
Pearl lustre and orient (shine)
Lustre is a key factor for the majority of cultured pearls and it relates to the amount of light return from the surface of a pearl. Orient is the iridescence of the pearl, a subtle feature created by dispersion of light between platy crystals of aragonite creating different tones.
Pearl colour (shade)
White is a timeless favourite but the value of particular colours is driven by what is popular in fashion at any given time.
A perfectly spherical shape is always most valuable for pearls.
Pearl surface condition
A near perfect surface condition free from blemishes such as bumps, dimples, scratches and spots will significantly raise the value and market desirability of a freshwater or saltwater pearl.
While it would always be a very special and rare treat to be able to purchase a set of lustrous, natural round pearls, high quality cultured pearls can make equally, if not more, stunning jewels and a very good investment, particularly when mounted in fine settings from luxury jewellers; exquisite pieces from Harry Winston, Van Cleef & Arpels and Buccellati have recently fetched tens of thousands dollars at auction.
In spite of such awesome prices, the great thing about pearls is that they can be one of the more affordable gemstones to purchase and seem to perennially exude glamour and luxury. If you look out for quality, size, lustre, colour, shape and surface, you are sure to find a fabulous and timeless jewel.
Interested in developing your knowledge about gemstones? Have a look at our upcoming workshops.
Cover Image: 12-13mm South Sea pearls, 0.38ct of diamonds, set in 18ct white gold. Part of the Yoko London Classic Collection.All images courtesy of Yoko London:www.yokolondon.com
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) famously shared a love of fine jewels and coloured gemstones with her beloved husband, Prince Albert. In fact, one of her most prized possessions - a sapphire and diamond coronet - was designed and commissioned by her husband in 1840. Here, we delve into the story behind this beautiful piece of history.
It is perhaps fated that Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet found its permanent home at London's Victoria & Albert Museum in 2019, not least because this year marks the 200th anniversary of the births of both Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Now, housed within its own cylindrical display cabinet at the heart of the refurbished William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet is once again the star of the show.
The coronet was first acquired by the museum in 2017 and is considered one of Queen Victoria’s most important jewels. It was lovingly designed by her husband, Prince Albert, in 1840 (the royal couple’s wedding year) and was made by jeweller Joseph Kitching.
The coronet is mounted with diamonds set in silver, with 11 step-cut sapphires of octagonal and calf’s head shape, set in gold. The piece was designed to match a sapphire and diamond brooch that Albert gave to Victoria the day before their wedding, perhaps kick-starting the Queen’s love of parures.
In fact, in the same year, she purchased a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings, a brooch and a bracelet of sapphires and diamonds, which suggests she was building a rather impressive matching set!
The design of the coronet was based on the Saxon Rautenkranz – acknowledged as Prince Albert’s coat of arms – although the gemstones are believed to have come from jewellery previously given to Victoria by King William IV and Queen Adelaide.
Prince Albert took a keen interest in Victoria’s jewellery, with one of the Queen’s diary entries from February 1843 stating: “We were very busy looking over various pieces of old jewellery of mine, settling to have some reset, in order to add to my fine ‘parures’. Albert has such taste and arranges everything for me about my jewels.”
Soon, the coronet was immortalised in influential early paintings of Victoria, including the 1842 official portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, making the sparkling jewel a recognisable symbol of her power and status.
Prior to the untimely death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria famously had a great love of colourful gemstones and transformable pieces that could be worn in multiple ways. In 1866, she wore the coronet in place of the heavy state crown at the first Opening of Parliament she attended after Albert’s death (perhaps signalling that the piece gave her confidence).
Speaking on the introduction of the coronet to the V&A, senior curator Richard Edgcumbe said: “Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet is one of the great jewels of her reign. Designed by Prince Albert, it is an iconic symbol of their love, worn by Victoria as young queen and as widow. We are entirely indebted to William and Judith Bollinger and their sons for the gift of this masterpiece of the jeweller’s art, which is so intimately associated with Victoria and Albert that it will become part of the identity of the V&A.
"Together with an array of eighty new acquisitions and loans made possible by the generosity of many supporters, the display of the coronet inaugurates the next phase in the life of a much-loved gallery.”
All images credit to Jewellery, Rooms 91-93, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).
This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of Gems&Jewellery.
In his third Gemstone Conversations column for Gems&Jewellery, Jewellery Historian and Valuer John Benjamin FGA DGA FIRV explores the fascinating history of turquoise and its use in jewellery design from the Shahs of Persia to the Art Deco design movement.
If you're lucky enough to be born in January, vibrant garnet is your birthstone. A rainbow jewel of the gem world, garnet displays the greatest variety of colour of any mineral and is very often untreated, making it a rarity in the gem world.
Do you know your calcite inclusions from your dumortierite, epidote, fluorite and rutile? Here, Charles Bexfield FGA DGA EG explores some incredible quartz inclusions and explains what to look for when shopping for quartz specimens.
Iridescence has to be one of the most mesmerising and magical optical effects seen in gemstones. But have you ever wondered how it occurs? Gem-A's Collection Curator Barbara Kolator FGA DGA shines a light on this fascinating optical effect and tells us about the gems that are most likely to display it.
Are you looking for the perfect festive gift for a December baby? Gem-A tutor Lily Faber FGA DGA EG considers tanzanite – one of three birthstones for December – and shares how this relatively new gemstone compares to its purple and blue-hued rivals.
Beautiful blue turquoise is one of three birthstones for the month of December (in addition to zircon and tanzanite). It is enriched with real cultural significance that can be traced back thousands of years. Here, we explore the blue shades of turquoise and explain what makes this gemstone so special...
Chatoyancy is the gemmological name given to the curious optical effect in which a band of light is reflected in cabochon-cut gemstones, creating an appearance similar to light bouncing off a cat's eye. Gem-A's Collection Curator, Barbara Kolator FGA DGA explains chatoyancy and highlights some of the many gems in which it can occur.
Jade has long been revered by gem lovers internationally, but nowhere more so than in China. But what is it that makes this gemstone so special? Gem-A's Assistant Gemmology Tutor Dr Juliette Hibou FGA gives us an overview of jade, how to identify it and its significance in Chinese culture.
The Gem-A Conference is always the highlight of our gemmological calendar! If you didn’t manage to make it, we’ve put together a few of the highlights from this year’s event to fill you in on what you missed, and whet your appetite for Gem-A Conference 2020!
Having successfully completed her Gemmology Diploma and Diamond Diploma, Charlotte Pittel FGA DGA shares an abridged version of her excellent project on Cardinal Jules Mazarin and his legendary love of diamonds.
The Mazarin diamonds were a collection of 18 diamonds left to Louis XIV and the French Crown Jewels by Cardinal Jules Mazarin. Discovering the story of this group of diamonds, the man who collected them and what happened to them is like an incredible work of fiction.
The Life of Cardinal Mazarin
Born Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino on July 14, 1602 to a minor Italian noble family, Mazarin was a man of many interests and talents. His early education was at Jesuit school in Rome before studying law in Madrid. On his return to Rome around 1622 he attended the University of Rome La Sapienza, and following a spiritual awakening he entered the pontifical army.
In 1628 he joined the diplomatic services for the Holy See and became involved in Italian politics whilst working alongside the Cardinals Sachetti and Barberini. His subtlety, patience and hard work were recognised and in 1630, during the war between France and Spain over Mantua, he was sent to negotiate with Cardinal Richelieu.
Richelieu, impressed with the young man, invited him to Paris where he soon became a confidant and advisor to the Cardinal, joining the court of Louis XIII and Queen Anne d’Autriche. After taking French citizenship he became known as Jules Mazarin and in 1641, was promoted to the rank of Cardinal.
Following Richelieu’s death in 1642, Mazarin succeeded him as the Chief Minister of France and, after the death of Louis XIII in 1643, assisted the Regent Queen Anne in governing France on behalf of her then child son, Louis XIV.
Mazarin was a keen student of the arts, but diamonds were his first love. His collection contained the most beautiful examples, many of them sourced from other European royal families, his preferred jewellers of the time including Lescot, Gabouri, Lopés, and almost certainly from renowned traveller Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689), who would also supply King Louis XIV.
The 18 Mazarin Diamonds. Illustration inspired by the work of author, Bernard Morel. Image: Charlotte Pittel.
Following his death, Mazarin made generous donations to hospitals, hostels and the arts, and bequeathed his extensive collections of jewellery and gems. Queen Anne received the Rose d’Angleterre (a large round diamond of approximately 14 carats) and a perfect cabochon ruby in a ring.
The Duc d’Orléans received 31 emeralds, while Queen Marie-Thérese was bequeathed a cluster of diamonds. Among his more noteworthy instructions, however, was his wish that a collection of 18 diamonds be given to the King and the Crown of France, on condition that they carry the name Mazarin.
The Famous Mazarin Diamonds
Mazarin assembled this rare and beautiful collection of 18 stones towards the end of his life. Only three of these stones are named: the Sancy, the Mirror of Portugal and the Grand Mazarin. Sadly, due to the tumultuous nature of 18th century French history, many of the 18 stones have disappeared.
The Mazarin I — the Sancy Diamond
It is believed that the 106 (old) carat Sancy formed part of the collection of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Following his death it disappeared for over 20 years, finally reappearing in Germany in the hands of a merchant banker named Jacob Fugger. He planned to sell the diamond to the King of Portugal, Don Manuel I, and re-cut it into the pear shape we see today.
During a period of huge political upheaval and conflict between England, France, Spain and Portugal, the diamond would finally end up in the collection (and take the name) of Nicholas de Harley, Seigneur de Sancy and Baron de Maule (1546-1629).
De Sancy was made Superintendent of France by Henry IV and pledged his diamonds to raise money for the crown. In 1596, however, he negotiated the sale of the stone to James I of England, who set the Sancy as a pendant into the jewel known as the Mirror of Great Britain.
James’s successor Charles I sold off precious stones to raise funds for the Royalist cause and, in 1644, sent his consort Queen Henrietta Maria to France to secure supplies and munitions. She borrowed enormous sums from the Duke of Epernon and pledged the Sancy as collateral. In 1649, when Charles I was beheaded, the Queen was exiled. The Sancy diamond was claimed by the Duke and subsequently sold to Cardinal Mazarin.
The Sancy then became part of the French Crown jewels and was mounted in Louis XV’s coronation crown in 1722. Today, the Sancy is on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The Mazarin II Diamond
Author Bernard Morel suggests that this stone could well be the Pinder diamond, based on a 17th century description and drawings made by Thomas Cletscher. Sir Paul Pinder was a businessman and diplomat and, in 1611, James I made him an ambassador to Turkey where he managed to acquire some exceptional jewels, including the Pindar.
Called at this time the Great Diamond, it was acquired by Charles I in 1625 for 18,000 livres but not paid for. It is likely that this is one of the stones pledged by Queen Henrietta Maria in 1646 and then acquired by Mazarin, becoming known as the Second Mazarin.
It was included in a diamond chain worn by Louis XIV, before being re-cut and set into the centre of the Order of the Golden Fleece made by Jacquemin for Louis XV. Thereafter it was unset and remained in the collection of Louis XVIII until his death in 1824, at which time it was returned to the Crown collection. Sadly, the stone was stolen during the 1848 revolution.
The Mazarin III — the Mirror of Portugal Diamond
This stone belonged to Dom Antonio, Prior of Crato. After a short period with Elizabeth I and named the Portugal Diamond, it was mounted into a pendant set with a large pearl drop and given to Henrietta Maria on her betrothal to Charles I. It eventually became a part of the Mazarin Collection.
As was the custom, many of the French crown jewels were in settings that allowed a freedom in how they could be worn. As such, the Mirror of Portugal was set not only in Louis XIV’s diamond chain, but also in a hairpin worn by Queen Marie-Thérèse, which also bore the Grand Mazarin and some substantial pearls.
The Third Mazarin was unfortunately lost to the French Crown jewels when a substantial number of the jewels were sent to Constantinople never to return, including the Mirror of Portugal and many other Mazarins.
The Mazarin IV Diamond
This stone was first referenced in Bernard Morel’s book as being set into a pair of Girandole earrings created for Queen Marie-Thérèse. It is shown sitting as the top button with the Mazarin V as a drop. Its pair uses other diamonds, including the Mazarin VI as the drop.
An illustration of Queen Marie-Thérèse's girandole earrings, inspired by the work of Bernard Morel, containing some of the Mazarin diamonds. These earrings were documented in the 1691 inventory of the French Crown Jewels and were valued at 500,000 livres. Image: Charlotte Pittel.
The Mazarin V and VI Diamonds
Both the Mazarin V and Mazarin VI were pierced at the top, so were perfectly shaped to be worn as drop earrings. Records suggest that both of these stones were cut by Francisco Ghiot of Antwerp: 1632 for Mazarin VI and Mazarin V in 1636. In a later inventory of 1774, they show up possibly as rings.
The Mazarin VII — Le Grand Mazarin Diamond
This legendary coloured diamond was sold at Christies on the November 14, 2017, achieving a price of CHF 14,375,000 (approximately GBP £10,969,567.60). A GIA certificate (No. 5182785154) and classification letter confirms that this historic light pink, old-mine brilliant-cut diamond is a Type IIa and weighs approximately 19.07ct.
This diamond can be traced back to Indian mines near the Golconda trading centre, but quite how it came to Cardinal Mazarin is unknown. Once the diamonds were passed to Louis XIV and the Crown Jewels collection, it is believed that Queen Marie-Thérèse was the first to wear it.
Following her death in 1683, Louis regained the Grand Mazarin and added it to his legendary chain of diamonds. It was listed in the 1691 inventory as sitting at number five on a chain of 45 diamonds, numbered in descending order of size. It was added to the crown of Louis XV, along with the Sancy.
The Mazarin VIII Diamond
One of the few diamonds to survive a significant sale in 1795, this Mazarin stone sat at either position six or seven on Louis XIV’s diamond chain. The standout piece in which it featured, along with the Grand Mazarin, was the Diamond Diadem of Marie-Louise, Empress of the French from 1810 to 1814. A large diamond parure was ordered soon after the wedding of the Emperor and Empress, along with a coronet, a necklace, pair of bracelets, girandole earrings and a belt. There was also an order for a substantial diadem.
The Mazarin IX Diamond
Originally described as boat-shaped, the term ‘marquise’ was coined during the reign of Louis XV, largely due to a rumour that it matched the lip shape of his mistress, Madame Marquise de Pompadour. This diamond was set as the eighth button on one of Louis XIV’s justacorps (an open-fitted coat).
The Mazarin X — XVI Diamonds
Along with others, these diamonds were also included in the diamond chain belonging to Louis XIV and also in the coronation crown of Louis XV. The Mazarin XII was described as having a red colouration, probably due to the reddish flaw in its girdle.
The Mazarin XVII-XVIII Diamonds
The last two stones of the collection - XVII and XVIII - were virtually identical, with XVIII slightly larger. It seems that these stones were kept as a pair and used as buttons on a coat belonging to Louis XIV. They are most famed for being part of Empress Eugénie's reliquary brooch of 1855, now part of the collection at the Louvre.
The Mazarin Cut
It should be noted that none of the 18 diamonds that Cardinal Mazarin bequeathed to Louis XIV were cut in the ‘Mazarin cut’. Instead, the cuts were as follows:
Pear-shape double rose cuts — I (Sancy), V and VI
Rectangular table cuts — II (Mirror of Portugal), III, IV
Square table cuts — VII (Grand Mazarin), VIII, X, XI, XII, XIII, XV, XVI
Heart-shape flat rose cuts — XVII, XVIII
Marquise — IX
The fashioning of diamonds in 17th century Europe was undeveloped. Until the 1400s the natural form of the diamond was used, so an octahedral crystal or other rough was refined and set (known as the ‘point cut’). The table cut was first seen around 1477, marking the first true cut where the octahedron crystal had its top flattened by grinding and sometimes a culet added to the lower point. Varieties of the table cut are the thick table cut, the mirror cut, the tablet and the lasque cut.
After the table cut followed rose-cut stones; a flat backed stone with a domed front. There were a variety of rose-cut styles in use at the beginning of the 15th century and it was considered the most appropriate cut for a flatter, thinner stone. Early brilliant cuts were first seen in the mid- 1600s, leading us back to the diamond-loving Cardinal Mazarin.
Single-cut or eight-cut diamonds had eight facets on the table and eight facets on the pavilion plus a culet. These then evolved into the double, cut with 16 facets on the table and 16 facets on the pavilion plus a culet.
It was in the mid-17th century that the Mazarin cut appeared, cushion-shaped with 34 facets in total: 17 facets on the table and 17 facets on the pavilion, including the culet, plus a girdle. This design of facets greatly increased the diamond’s reflective properties and it showed more fire and brilliance.
Although Mazarin was a devoted diamond collector, it is unlikely that he actually invented the Mazarin cut. However, he was a definite forerunner in the rise of popularity for this style of cutting and it is most likely that the cut was named after him as a tribute.
The complete version of this project, including references, appendices and a bibliography are available upon request. All images and illustrations are supplied by the author unless otherwise stated.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of Gems&Jewellery.
Do you share Mazarin's passion for diamonds? Enhance your knowledge with our Diamond Diploma.
Gem-A is delighted to announce the return of the Gem Empathy Award for 2019 - a jewellery design competition hosted in collaboration with International Jewellery London.
For many years the Gem Empathy Award has given exhibitors at International Jewellery London (IJL) the chance to win a gemstone and bring a unique and inspiring jewellery design to life. Now, for the very first time, the Gem Empathy competition is open to IJL exhibitors AND registered IJL 2019 visitors.
To get involved with this fantastic competition and win some great prizes, continue reading below. We look forward to seeing a whole host of creative entries.
The Gem Empathy Award Gemstone 2019
The challenge is simple: design an inspiring piece of jewellery that incorporates a special gemstone selected by Gem-A. The designer or brand with the best design will win the gemstone to transform their hand-drawn sketch or CAD design into a three-dimensional, finished piece.
So, what is the gemstone of 2019? See below for the essential facts...
+ 12.9 carat precious coral cabochon
+ Sourced from sustainable coral supplier, Enzo Liverino 1894
+ Dimensions - L: 22.8mm W: 10.09mm H: 6.9mm
+ Hardness 3 - 4
The Pantone Colour of the Year is coral, which means it is the perfect time to shine a spotlight on this beautiful stone. Moreover, with pollution, climate change, trawling and overfishing leading to vast levels of coral bleaching, stock depletion and damage to sea life in recent years, it is more important than ever to advocate for sustainable sourcing of precious coral which live in a different ecosystem than the endangered reef corals. This is why we have chosen a stone from Enzo Liverino 1894.
With a history of coral work going back over 120 years, Enzo Liverino 1894 is a long-established family business based in Torre del Greco, Italy. Through constantly developing techniques, and a commitment to creative and original design, Enzo Liverino 1894 has become internationally renowned as a coral jeweller of exceptional quality.
Enzo Liverino, the company’s director, is also president of the CIBJO Coral Commission, which aims to ensure that all precious coral is harvested in a responsible way and with sensitivity to sea life in order to ensure sustainability.
The particular breed of coral we have chosen is known as Pleurocorallium elatius (Ridley, 1882), a species of precious coral within the Corallidae family that originates from Japan and Taiwan, and tends to grow in depths of 150-350 metres.
The Pleurocorallium elatius grows in a fan shape and is the largest type of precious coral; an average colony will reach, in average, a height of 35cm, have a trunk diameter of 25mm and weigh approximately 500g. This variety of coral typically appears in bright red, salmon, orange and flesh-coloured tones, known in the trade as Cerasuolo, Momo or Satsuma, and can be uniquely identified by its white lengthwise interior, usually visible at the base of the cabochon.
How to Enter the Gem Empathy Competition 2019
Send your design (hand drawn or CAD image) along with an accompanying paragraph describing the materials used and the inspiration behind the piece to email@example.com before 12 August 2019.
Our judging panel, which includes the Editor of Retail Jeweller Ruth Faulkner, will choose the winner to be presented on the Gem-A booth at IJL on September 1 2019. The winner must be present at the show on Sunday.
+ The winner will receive the stone
+ A press release from Gem-A announcing the Gem Empathy Award winning designer
+ An article in Gems&Jewellery magazine
+ A voucher to put towards the construction of the piece
The Judging Process
+ The judging panel is made up of three industry experts from the jewellery industry and Gem-A. They will judge the designs based on the evaluation criteria below:
+ Relationship between stone and design
+ Practicality of design
+ Style and beauty
All designs will be reviewed independently and anonymously by each judge. If the judges do not feel that the design can be considered for the award the judge will clearly mark this on the judging form with a No. Any designs that receive a No from ALL judges will be eliminated from the competition.
The remaining entries will be reviewed by the judges using a points system. Each design will be awarded points between 1 –10 based on the evaluation criteria. The design with the highest score will be the winner of the Gem Empathy Award, announced at IJL and crowned on the Gem-A booth on the first day of the show.
We look forward to seeing your designs! Good luck.
Cover image: A profile view of this year's prize stone, a 12.9 carat precious coral cabochon harvested in Japan and fashioned in Torre del Greco, Italy by Enzo Liverino 1894.
Interested in enhancing your gemmological knowledge? Take a look at our upcoming Gem-A Workshops.
Delve into the Gem-A Gemstone & Mineral Collection and you will find this fantastic cut tanzanite and rough tanzanite crystal specimen (pictured above). Here, Gem-A gemmology tutor, Charles Bexfield FGA, explores what makes this relatively new gemmological discovery so special.
Found in 1967 at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, tanzanite is a relatively new stone and is the purplish blue variety of zoisite. Zoisite is a species of gemstones which share the same chemical composition; zoisite’s composition is calcium aluminium silicate with hydroxyl.
Today, tanzanite can only be found in the Merelani Hills of Tanzania. A year after its initial discovery it was named after the country in which it was found and introduced to the market by Tiffany & Co., who transformed this previously unknown gemstone into a highly fashionable jewel. Testament to this stone’s huge popularity, in 2002 tanzanite became adopted as a new birthstone for December by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA).
The Natural Availability of Tanzanite
Tanzanite is a relatively abundant gemstone. Based on a study conducted by TanzaniteOne Mining Ltd in 2012, 270 million carats are mined per year, which equates to 54 tonnes. The current projections suggest the mines will continue to produce gem quality material at the same rate for another 23 years, providing they can progressively dig deeper and reach all the potential material remaining.
A pear-cut zoisite alongside a rough zoisite crystal. Image: Gem-A.
Currently, there are four main commercial mines for tanzanite in Tanzania, separated into blocks A, B, C and D. Each block is owned by a different company; the case study above was carried out on block C, which is by far the largest block on the site, being bigger than the other three mines combined.
Tanzanite Colour and Structure
Tanzanite gains its distinctive purplish blue colour from the trace elements of vanadium and chromium present within its structure. Tanzanite shows very strong pleochroism, which is an optical property and a term used by gemmologists to describe different colours seen in the same material when viewed from different directions. The pleochroism in tanzanite is so strong it is visible by just turning the stone and viewing it through different directions without the aid of a dichroscope.
Pleochroism in tanzanite. Image by Pat Daly FGA.
Providing tanzanite has not been heat-treated, it will show three pleochroic colours: red-violet, deep blue and a greenish yellow. However, if heated above circa 400°C to 500°C, the greenish yellow colour is removed or substantially reduced and the bluish colour deepens.
The vast majority of tanzanite on the market today is heat-treated to enhance its colour and marketability. Indeed, tanzanite has proven to be a favourite of the rich and famous in recent years, with celebrities such as Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker and Penelope Cruz having been pictured wearing the gem. The Duchess of Cambridge has also on many occasions been spotted wearing a matching set of pear-cut tanzanite earrings and necklace.
A faceted tanzanite displaying the stone’s distinctive purplish blue colour. Image: Gem-A.
Currently there is no known method for creating synthetic tanzanite. But keep an eye out for synthetic forsterite, which can be used as convincing simulant at first glance. Like tanzanite, it is also strongly pleochroic, however the colours seen when viewed in the different directions are vivid blue and purple, which helps to differentiate between the two stones.
The Value of Tanzanite
On average tanzanite is quite an expensive gemstone; specimens weighing one carat or less will reach prices of about £225 to £250 per carat. Most faceted tanzanite seen commercially on the market is below five carats, while faceted stones over 30 carats are more seldom seen.
The average price of good quality, untreated tanzanite over five carats is about £900 to £1,100 per carat, while smaller sizes around two to three carats can achieve prices of between £350 to £580 per carat. With this in mind, prices do vary depending on colour and treatments, as well as on the particular suppliers or retailers from which you choose to purchase.
Tanzanite crystals are usually prismatic and quite well formed; any crystals over 50 carats are considered large and are usually sold to mineral or crystal collectors rather than being cut. The largest piece of tanzanite rough reported in the press was found in 2005 by TanzaniteOne Mining Ltd, weighing in at 16,839 carats (7.43lbs or 3.37kg) and measuring approximately 21.8cm x 8cm x 7.11cm, making it a hugely impressive specimen.
An example of a large rough tanzanite crystal. Image by Pat Daly FGA.
However, the largest tanzanite ever sold at auction is the 423.56 Namunyak Tanzanite, which was set into an 18-carat white gold necklace accompanied by 53 carats of diamonds by jewellery designer Kat Florence; the piece fetched over $300,000 USD at a charity sale in 2016 to raise funds for victims of the Nepal earthquake in 2015.
Tanzanite Buying Advice
Before purchasing a piece of tanzanite jewellery it is important to bear in mind that tanzanite measures between 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale and therefore is not a particularly hard stone. As such, tanzanite can be more liable to scratches and damage and consequently may not be the most suitable stone for wearing as an everyday ring.
If you decide to buy a tanzanite use a 10x loupe to examine the cut, clarity and any presence of chips or cracks. It is also advisable to compare a number of stones to gauge the hue and saturation of colour. By taking these short steps you can better ensure that you will walk away with a good quality tanzanite specimen.
We are pleased to announce that the Autumn 2019 issue of Gems&Jewellery is now available to Gem-A Members and students in print and online.
Our quarterly magazine includes exciting updates from the world of gemstones and jewellery, as well as interviews and features from industry experts and the latest Gem-A news.
The Autumn issue begins with our CEO Alan Hart looking ahead to some of the most anticipated events in Gem-A’s calendar, including International Jewellery London, the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair and of course the Gem-A Conference 2019! Turn to page 16 for an exclusive preview of the brilliant line-up of speakers and talks planned for this year’s Conference.
An opal mine in Queensland, Australia. Image: Barbara Kolator.
On page 10 you can read Olga González’ highlights of Las Vegas’ jewellery and gem shows in June, which included Couture, JCK and AGTA GemFair. The shows may have been a departure from the norm, but the jewellery was bigger and better than ever. You can see some sparkling and inspiring examples from Valani Atelier, Lord Jewellery and L. Courteille Créations on pages 10 and 11.
Turn to page 12 to go on a journey through the Australian Outback with Gem-A collection curator, Barbara Kolator FGA DGA EG. Her account includes tales of visiting opal mines, sifting for sapphires and gemstone shopping!
Celebrated gemmologist and author, Renée Newman GG, tells us why we should consider redefining the 4Cs of diamonds and proposes a new system '6Cs and 2Ts' on pages 20-21. Directly following on page 22, we delve into the famous Al Thani Collection of treasures, including the 400 pieces recently sold by Christie's, and turn to jewellery historian Jack Ogden FGA for his expert opinions.
Elsewhere, Brighton-based lapidary artist Sanni Falkenberg takes us through the step-by-step process of creating her agate ‘Moonflower’ vase, which won gold at the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council Awards 2019, while over on page 44, we bring you all the essential information – including the brilliant prizes up for grabs – about this year’s Gem-A Photographer of the Year Competition!
The striking cover photo from this season’s issue features the astounding 'Siren of Serendip' sapphire set in a white gold and diamond necklace. On page 36, Rui Galopim de Carvalho FGA DGA reports on the origins of this 422.66 carat gem and the process of transforming it into a magnificent piece of jewellery.
A Turn of the century gold necklace set with turquoises, turquoise matrix and blister pearls designed by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co. Image courtesy of Charlotte Glyde at Woolley and Wallis.
Jewellery historian and valuer John Benjamin FGA DGA FIRV brings us the next instalment in his Gemstone Conversations series with an exploration of the various faces of turquoise in jewellery design history, from the courts of the Shahs of Persia to the cutting-edge jewels of the Art Deco era. To round off our issue, we look back on our visit to JCK and AGTA GemFair in Las Vegas and let you know where we are heading next!
If that wasn’t enough, this issue also features articles on jewellery designer Sarah Ho’s new Full Circle Collection; the interesting career and upcoming projects of Belgian jewellery designer Jochen Leën; tortoiseshell trading confusion; a Gem-A student project on ‘The Importance of Jade in the Mughal Court’; and a quick introduction of the Ivory Act.
Gem-A Members and students can access a PDF version of Gems&Jewelleryhere. Simply access the archive with your log-in details.
Would you like to receive print editions of Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology straight to your door? Become a Gem-A Member today.
Do you have an idea for an upcoming Gems&Jewellery feature? Share your thoughts with our editorial team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover image: The 422.66 carat Siren of Serendip blue sapphire set in a white gold and diamond necklace by jeweller Ingo Henn. Image courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
International Jewellery London is just around the corner and all of us at Gem-A are hugely excited for what promises to be a scintillating showcase of jewellery and gemstones!
If you will be attending IJL 2019, we would like to invite you to join us at Booth F21, where you can meet our team, find out about our courses and try out some practical gemmology with our tutors!
While in recent years we were located in the upstairs section of the show, this year we are positioned at the front of the show (on the right hand side as you walk through the door) in a learning hub alongside the NAJ and The Goldsmiths’ Centre.
Guide to International Jewellery London 2019
Sunday 1 September 2019
Presentation: Gem Empathy Award Winner 2019
Location: Gem-A Booth, F21
The entries have been judged and one lucky IJL exhibitor/visitor will be announced the winner of the Gem Empathy Award 2019 and take home the 12.9 carat precious coral cabochon sourced and cut by Enzo Liverino 1894.
Rui Galopim De Carvalho FGA DGA, Vice-President of the CIBJO Coral Commission, dives into the underwater world of precious coral and addresses some of the misunderstandings around its use in the jewellery industry.
Daily at the Gem-A Booth
Across all three days at IJL 2019 we shall be running in-booth gemmology training sessions at our Practical Gemmology Lab! These fun, 20-minute sessions run by our brilliant team of tutors will help you get to grips with the basics of gemstone identification:
10:30 am: The Diamond Detective
Learn the basics of separating diamonds from its simulants and synthetics.
12:30 pm: A Gemmologist’s Best Friends
Get the most out of your loupe, lights and the microscope.
2:30 pm: Become a UV Jedi
Master the use of UV to distinguish between similar-looking stones.
4:30 pm: Spot the Difference
Separate blue stones with the use of the dichroscope and Chelsea colour filter.
Are you a gem detective? Drop by the booth at any time and test your knowledge! Cast your eye over eight different blue stones and try to identify the gems! If you are new to gemmology you can get some help from our gemmology tutors or use the clues provided.
Exclusive Offers for IJL Visitors
We are pleased to invite you to take advantage of special discounts and offers, exclusively reserved for exhibitors and visitors at IJL, including 15% off Gem-A one-day workshops and our GemBasics course when you book at the show!
What’s more, we are offering two fantastic instrument bundles at a significantly reduced rate – an offer only available at the show and while stocks last! IJL visitors and exhibitors can choose from:
Offer 1: The Filters Bundle
Includes: Chelsea colour filter, dichroscope, flat light and Maglite all for £75 inc. VAT, saving £23.40.
Offer 2: The Power Couple
Includes: A desktop microscope plus PhotoAtlas Vol. 3 for £1650 inc. VAT plus free UK shipping, saving £220.
We cannot wait to see some of the fascinating presentations lined up for the Inspire Seminar Programme, fresh designs from emerging talent and of course the amazing array of gems and jewellery on display. If you haven’t already, head to the IJL websiteto register! We look forward to seeing you there!
We have some fantastic guest speaker events planned for October, including a workshop on Organics with Gem-A President, Maggie Campbell Pedersen FGA ABIPP and a workshop on The World of Antique Jewellery with jewellery historian and valuer, John Benjamin FGA DGA FIRV. To book tickets, head to the workshops webpage.
Gem-A’s communications assistant, Olivia Gillespie, reflects on her first experience at one of the UK’s biggest jewellery trade shows, International Jewellery London.
Having never visited International Jewellery London before, it was difficult to know what to expect! Upon walking through the front door of Olympia London on Sunday, the opening day of the show, I was quite taken aback by the enormity of the venue and the masses of visitors and exhibitors already networking and eyeing the many dazzling jewels on display.
I was also quite surprised by the variety of exhibitors, ranging from jewellers and gem wholesalers, to watch dealers and educational institutions, and by how far some had travelled to be at IJL, with some being based as far afield as Denmark, Hong Kong and Canada. There was a veritable feast of jewels and gems to behold at IJL, but a few remarkable exhibits and events made an especially sparkling impression on me…
The amethyst 'Victoriana' necklace by Fei Liu Fine Jewellery.
International Jewellery London: Fine Jewellery Design
IJL 2019 had numerous exhibitors showing fine jewellery but I was particularly dazzled by the beautifully elegant statement jewels from Fei Liu Fine Jewellery. Fei Liu was showing his new collection, Victoriana, which is inspired by popular gemstones and stone cuts from the Victorian period, most notably the octagon cut, which featured in an exquisite suite of amethyst jewellery on display.
Two stunning statement rings by Fei Liu Fine Jewellery. Ring 1: 18 carat white gold ring set with a 17.35 carat green tourmaline and surrounded by 1.92 carats of tsavorites and 2.19 carats of baguette-cut diamonds. Ring 2:18 carat rose gold ring with a 9.35 carat garnet, 1.68 carats of diamonds and 4 carats of rutilated quartz.
I was utterly transfixed by two glorious rings on the brand's stand. The first is an 18 carat white gold ring set with a 17.35 carat green tourmaline and surrounded by tsavorites and baguette-cut diamonds, while the second is an 18 carat rose gold ring featuring a 9.35 carat garnet centre stone, flanked by 4 carats of rutilated quartz and bordered by diamonds.
As a member of the Gem-A family, I always get excited to see unusual coloured gemstones. I was very happy to get the chance to peruse the collection of gemstones exhibited by Ntinga, a London-based fine jewellery brand, which included a brilliant array of interestingly gems, including tanzanite, watermelon tourmaline, ametrine, iolite, indicolite and a fiery orange sunstone.
Sunstone from Ntinga
The IJL Catwalk
I made sure to pay a visit to the first catwalk of the day which showcased stunning jewels for women and men from the show’s exhibitors. It was great to see British gemstones as well as British jewellers on display, as one of the models sported CW Sellors’ silver and jet octopus ring and octopus pendant, bracelet and necklace on the catwalk. The huge Whitby Jet jewels on display at CW Sellors’ stand also caught my eye, especially the somewhat spooky spider necklaces!
Whitby Jet jewellery from CW Sellors
Gem-A's Gem Empathy Award
The first day of IJL also saw the presentation of the Gem Empathy Award, an annual jewellery design competition run by Gem-A and hosted at IJL. Entrants were asked to conjure a design featuring this year’s prize stone, a 12.9 carat precious coral cabochon sourced from Enzo Liverino 1894.
The winner of this year’s award was student designer Bingjie Zhao for her magnificent ring design entitled ‘Trawling’. Like the judges I also adored Bingjie’s original and sophisticated design and look forward to seeing her future creations!
Pearls! Pearls! Pearls!
Another of my personal highlights had to be the amazing variety of pearls and pearl jewellery on display. It seemed like there was an ocean of pearls at the show, with wholesale suppliers such as Raw Pearlsselling ropes of an amazing variety of pearls, including freshwater, Akoya, and Tahitian, in a sublime array of colours.
The new collection from Ora Pearls
Positioned near the entrance on the ground floor, it was difficult to walk by without stopping to gawp at Yoko London’s divine fine pearl jewellery. At very much the high end of the market, Yoko London’s jewels ooze luxury and many pieces shimmered and sparkled in diamond and white gold settings.
Another fabulous pearl jeweller exhibiting at IJL was Ora Pearls, who was showing a new collection of jewels with a focus on brilliantly large baroque pearls.
New Designers at International Jewellery London
It was very encouraging to see a spotlight on young and emerging jewellery designers at IJL and to see their fresh and unique creations on display. I also really enjoyed getting to speak to these designers and finding out about the inspirations behind their collections. Eloise Kramer told me about her intention to tell a story through jewellery with her nature-inspired pieces, explaining that her colossal resin and copper peach ring should be worn alongside her insect rings to create a scene of creatures swarming around an irresistible fruit.
Eloise Kramer's 'Peach Ring', made from copper and resin, accompanied by one of her 'Insect' rings.
Isla Gilham of Isla Gilham Jewellery was also attracting a lot of attention with her fantastically fun and colourful ‘Jelly Tot Tiara’, which swapped out gemstones for genuine jellies! Another piece which quite literally made me stop in my tracks was a show-stopping necklace from emerging fine jewellery brand Aureliean, which featured a huge sapphire surrounded by diamonds and smaller sapphires and set in 18 carat gold on a double strand of pearls.
The 'Jelly Tot Tiara' by Isla Gilham Jewellery
Leading Lights Awards & Celebration
As I visited on the first day I was lucky to have been able to attend the drinks reception and Leading Lights Awards, a new addition to IJL for 2019. I found that the awards were a good way to highlight exceptional work from a range of disciplines within the industry – including jewellers, jewellery education providers and bloggers – and to celebrate the achievements of all exhibitors and everyone working behind the scenes to produce such a showcase of international jewellery.
All in all, I had a fantastic experience at International Jewellery London 2019; the variety of interesting jewels on display was a treat for the eyes and I especially loved having the opportunity to speak to designers about their creations and inspirations. I can’t wait to see what next year brings!
Interested in learning more about gemstones? Check out our upcoming workshops.
Are you ready for the Gem-A Conference 2019? Find out more here.
Cover image: Fei Lui Fine Jewellery's 9.35 carat Garnet Ring in rose gold featuring diamonds and rutilated quartz.
Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair is only a few days away and we are getting excited to meet visitors and colleagues from the jewellery and gemstone industries, and of course be dazzled by the many gemmological marvels that will be on show at this world-class event.
We invite you to join us at Booth 3M204 in the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre from 18-22 September to meet our team, find out about our courses, collect your pre-orders and test your gemmological knowledge with a gem quiz! Although our booth number has changed, we shall be located in the same space as last year (in Hall 3 of the Centre).
We also have an exciting array of additional activities and events planned for our four-day visit to Hong Kong – take a look at our schedule to make sure you don’t miss out!
Wednesday 18 September
Join us at Booth 3M204!
On the much anticipated opening day of the 2019 show we shall be set up at Booth 3M204, ready and eager to meet you and assist with any questions you may have about becoming a Gem-A student or Member. Please note however that we are not able to carry out membership renewals at any point during the show.
The Gem-A booth at Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair 2018. Look out for our legendary front door at this year's show!
You can also test your gemmological knowledge with our ‘Are You a Gem Detective?’ quiz! Drop by the booth and cast your eye over eight different blue stones and try to identify the gems. If you are new to gemmology you can get some help from our gemmology tutors or use the clues provided.
From Wednesday you can also pick up your pre-orders placed with the Gem-A Shop from our booth at any time during exhibiting hours.
Thursday 19 September
Gem-A Meet & Greet
From 11.00am-13.00pm you can meet our CEO, Alan Hart FGA DGA, at the Gem-A Booth and take your photo outside the Gem-A front door!
After the show on Thursday 19 September, we shall be holding our third Gem-A Gathering in Hong Kong at the Assaggio Trattoria Italiana in the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Less than a 10-minute walk from the Hong Kong Convention Centre, the Assaggio Trattoria Italiana is a modern Italian restaurant with stunning views over Hong Kong.
We invite you to join us at this relaxed and sociable event, where you will have the opportunity to network and catch up with fellow gemmologists, friends and colleagues from 6.30-8.30pm over drinks and canapés. This is a free event and anyone can attend, but please ensure to register your attendance in advance here.
Friday 20 September
Gem Empathy Award: Special Presentation
We would love you to join us at the Gem-A booth at 3.00pm for a celebration of entries from Asia to the 2019 Gem Empathy Award and a special award presentation to one outstanding jewellery design that particularly impressed our judging panel. You can read more about the 2019 Gem Empathy Award and announcement of the overall winner at International Jewellery London 2019 here.
Saturday 21 September
Meet your local ATC!
On Saturday we will be joined by representatives from two of our Accredited Teaching Centres (ATCs) in Taiwan. If you are interested in studying one of our courses in Taiwan, this is the perfect opportunity to put any questions you may have to our fantastic ATC tutors.
From 11.00am-12.30pm Mr Wu Chao Ming will be on the stand ready to answer questions, followed by representatives from Taiwan Gemmological Institute from 3.00-4.30pm.
Sunday 22 September
The Last Day!
We shall be back at Booth 3M204 for the final day of the show. Make sure to make the most of your final chance to meet our team, pick up your pre-orders, find out about our courses and discover how you can get involved with Gem-A!
This year’s show looks set to be packed with a host of seminars, talks and exhibits showcasing some of the world’s most incredible gems and fine jewellery. If you haven’t already, visit the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair website to book your place for this year’s show. We look forward to seeing you there!
Interested in developing you gemmological knowledge? Take a look at our Gemmology Foundation course.
Do you have a passion for diamonds and want to find out more? Check out our free Introduction to Diamonds webinar scheduled for 10 October 2019.
Chatoyancy is the gemmological name given to the curious optical effect in which a band of light is reflected in certain cabochon-cut gemstones, creating an appearance similar to light bouncing off a cat's eye. Gem-A's Collection Curator, Barbara Kolator FGA DGA explains chatoyancy and highlights some of the many gems in which it can occur.
Chatoyancy is the name given to the ‘cat’s eye’ optical phenomenon which can be seen in certain gemstones. The term ‘chatoyancy’, deriving from the French for ‘shining like a cat’s eye’, denotes the effect that occurs when a bright light is shone onto a rounded, reflective surface and causes light to be reflected back in narrow line perpendicular to the observer’s line of sight. This can be seen by looking at a spool of shiny thread or some cabochon-cut gems.
What Causes Chatoyancy?
Chatoyancy occurs when a band of light is reflected from a series of thin inclusions which are parallel to each other (these may be hollow tubes or needle-like crystals of, for example, rutile or haematite).
In order to display this effect there must be enough fibres oriented in parallel to the base of the stone. The gemstone also has to be cut as a cabochon to provide the necessary rounded surface for the line of light to be seen.
As the light moves, or the observer’s eye line moves, the line appears to move too, appearing just like the way a cat’s pupil will look under a bright light.
A chrysoberyl cabochon showing a sharp chatoyant effect. Image by Pat Daly, Gem-A.
The type of line produced will depend on the types of inclusions; the sharpest, finest line is produced in chrysoberyl, which is the only stone which may actually be called ‘cat’s eye’, without a qualifying species name. Such a stone will possess needle-like inclusions which form an effect known as ‘silk’. As a result, a very definite and sharp chatoyant effect is produced.
Which Gemstones exhibit Chatoyancy?
Many species can exhibit chatoyancy including tourmaline, apatite, beryl, actinolite, demantoid garnet, scapolite, sillimanite and quartz among others but only chrysoberyl can be called simply ‘cat’s eye’, the others must be prefixed by the species name.
Tiger's eye quartz. Image by Pat Daly, Gem-A.
Chatoyant quartz known as ‘tiger’s eye’ is the only chatoyant gem produced in abundance. It can be found in South Africa and Australia and is particularly popular for use in men’s jewellery.
Cat’s Eye Gems
Cat’s eyes commonly occur in yellow, yellow-brown and greenish-yellow. Some stones, such as cat’s eye alexandrite, can even exhibit colour change which is very rare, extremely expensive and desirable. The chatoyancy is caused by very fine needles which give a bright, sharply defined eye.
A cat's eye alexandrite appearing green in daylight and purple-red under incandescent light. Images by Charlie Bexfield, Gem-A.
Cat’s eye can also show a mesmerising ‘milk and honey’ effect where one side of the line is milky and the other translucent. As light moves across the surface the bands part and merge like the blinking eye of a cat. This particular effect has led some to believe that the stone possesses supernatural qualities.
At 8.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, cat’s eye is a hard and durable stone and is especially popular in Japan for men’s jewellery due to its rarity.
Cat’s eye was also a very popular stone for engagement rings in Victorian times, when it was known as chrysolite. Another old name allocated to this stone is cymophane which means ‘wave’ and ‘appearance’ because of its optical effects.
Chatoyancy is an interesting and unusual effect worth looking out for to add interest to either a jewellery or mineral collection. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be expensive; actinolite, sillimanite and apatite can be found quite easily, and cat’s eye quartz is very popular and obtainable.
Do you have a passion for gemmology but don't know where to start? Why not consider trying one of our upcoming Introduction workshops?
Interested in developing your knowledge on gemmology? Take a look at our Gemmology Foundation course.
Cover image: A yellow chrysoberyl cabochon showing a cat's eye effect. Image by Pat Daly, Gem-A.
The Gem-A Photographer of the Year Competition returns for 2020 to discover the very best images which capture facets of the gem world in all its diversity and beauty.
Gem-A is pleased to announce that the Gem-A Photographer of the Year Competition is returning for 2020! We would like to see gripping images which represent the vast breadth and variety of the field of gemmology. If you’ve captured a truly dazzling piece of jewellery, an incredible inclusion or an eye-opening image of gem mining in the field, we want to see it!
This year's competition has three themed categories: Cover Shot, The World of Gems and Photomicrographs and Special Details.
The Categories in Detail
Cover Shot: Entries to this category should be images suitable for a magazine cover; images should be shot in portrait and feature striking subjects. Images representing the vast breadth and variety of the field of gemmology are welcomed.
The World of Gems: We want to see images that illustrate the full spectrum of gemstone culture, including people, places and finished jewellery products. Examples of subject matter may include jewellery making, gem trading, mining, finished jewellery, rough and cut gems and gem artistry.
Photomicrographs and Special Details: This category is exclusively for photomicrographs and photographs of special gem features, for example, intriguing inclusions and visual phenomena such chatoyancy, fluoresence and colour-change - the list is extensive!
+ Win the chance to have your photograph featured in Gems&Jewellery magazine. Winners could be featured on our cover, our Last Impression or our Big Picture feature page
+ You can add the accolade of being named Gem-A’s Photographer of the Year to your portfolio
+ Entry is free and open to all
'Microchip' by Evgenios Petrides, a photomicrograph of an iron oxide inclusion in quartz from Brazil, was named the winner of the Gem-A Photographer of the Year Competition 2019. Image credit: Evgenios Petrides FGA.
+ The overall winner will be gifted a £300 voucher to spend at Gem-A Instruments and one year’s free Membership of Gem-A
+ Two runners-up will win a £50 Gem-A Instruments voucher
+ All three winning entries will see their photographs published in Gems&Jewellery magazine
Danny Sanchez's 'Play of Colour in Opal from Jalisco, Mexico' made the final shortlist of Gem-A's 2019 competition. Image credit: Danny J. Sanchez.
+ The Gems&Jewellery editorial team will shortlist nine entries (three from each category) which will be uploaded to the Gem-A Facebook page where the public can vote for their top five.
+ A guest judge will then choose a winner and two runners-up from the final five photographs.
How to Enter
Email your entry to email@example.com. The Competition is open now and will be accepting entries until 30 September 2020. The winner will be announced on Gem-A’s Facebook page shortly after the Competition has closed.
Wim Vertriest's 'A Hard Day's Work' was a shortlisted entry in last year's competition. Image credit: Wim Vertriest FGA GG.
+ A maximum of three photographs may be entered per person and each photograph must fit into at least one of the three listed categories
+ Entries must be accompanied by your name and post-nominals (if applicable)
+ Images must be captioned with a title and a description of no more than 150 words telling the story behind the photograph
+ All photographs entered into the Competition must have been taken within the last 18 months
+ The image must be your own work and not belonging to a third party
+ Photographs must be high resolution, with a minimum of 300dpi and ideally a minimum of 1mb in size
+ Please send files larger than 10mb via Dropbox.com or WeTransfer.com (these are free to use media transfer services)
+ By entering the Competition you accept that your image may be used in Gems&Jewellery magazine, on the Gem-A Blog and on Gem-A’s social media channels. You will always be credited as the creator of the work
For more information on the Competition rules, terms and conditions click here. If you have any further questions you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can't wait to see your entries - good luck!
Cover image: 'Floating Mushroom' by Billie Hughes FGA was a runner-up in last year's Gem-A Photographer of the Year Competition. The photomicrograph shows a mushroom-shaped cristobalite inclusion in amethyst. Image credit: Billie Hughes FGA.