All posts in Engagement Ring News

French Bridal Ring Traditions

Capture the Essence! of French Romance with this Antique 1930s Engagement Ring featuring Old Euro and Old Single Cut Diamonds. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of French Romance with this Antique 1930s Engagement Ring featuring Old Euro and Old Single Cut Diamonds. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Very little seems to be written about the exchange of bridal rings in France. What little there is appears somewhat contradictory without traceable reference sources. The few bits of information available are intriguing enough, however, to warrant a brief post on French bridal ring traditions.

According to Planet Wedding, the French exchange wedding rings which are engraved in such a way that when they’re united on the wedding day they form a complete whole. The bride’s ring features her name and part of the wedding date, and the groom’s ring bears his name and the remainder of the wedding date. The source of this information is not provided in Planet Wedding’s book.

Though the custom of wearing diamond engagement rings is extremely popular in the US, it appears that the French are not as inclined to choose diamonds, and when they do, according to one resident, they opt for smaller sizes, ranging from 0.3 – 0.4 carats. The source of this tidbit, a woman from America who married a Frenchman, reports that among her French friends the choice in wedding bands tends toward simple bands or mixed-stone rings {cited}.

As reported by Expatica, the French are believed to opt for three interwoven bands of varying colors. Again, no reference point is offered for this information and a search on Google for multi-colored French wedding bands directs the seeker to Cartier, creator of the famed Cartier Trinity Rings. It is not clear whether this is truly French tradition, or whether this is simply one French company’s brand of romance.

According to Vicki Howard, who wrote the book Brides, Inc.: American Weddings and the Business of Traditions, the custom of exchanging wedding rings in France was tied up in the liturgical practice of the prevailing religious tradition, French Catholic. She notes that the first account of both men and women donning rings during the wedding ceremony appears in the 16th century. She makes no mention of the traditions surrounding the engagement ring in French culture.

The most credible source for information on current French bridal ring practice comes from the author of the blog, Becoming MadameIn a guest post written for EmilyintheGlass, this American woman describes her firsthand experience of planning a French wedding according to her family-to-be’s strict French traditions. As she notes, these traditions may not be customary to all of France, but they certainly were important to her new Catholic French family.

She first discusses the tradition of the engagement ring. While her fiance opted for what the French call a “Hollywood proposal,” where he got down on one knee and presented her with a ring, this gesture was completely lost on his mother, who was “less than pleased” to discover that she was wearing her engagement ring prior to the customary les fiançailles. This event is a formal party during which the parents of the bride and groom meet for the first time over a hearty feast and the couple is blessed during Mass. This is also the traditional time for the presentation of the engagement ring.

According to French tradition, a betrothal is proposed by a simple question posed by the man, “Will you marry me?” If the woman accepts, then the man must don white gloves before asking her father for permission. Once consent is granted, announcements are made and the couple goes out together to purchase the engagement ring, a gift presented by the man in front of their families during the les fiançailles.

While ring bearers are not a part of the traditional French wedding ceremony, there is a custom akin to American bridal shows called Salon du marriage. During these trade fairs, couples can choose their wedding attire and stationery, sample the wares of various caterers, hire their music and photography, and even choose their wedding rings.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, our Madame left out the “little” detail of exchanging the wedding rings, but she did share the delightful tradition of une Pièce Montéea pyramid made of “small, golden, cream-filled balls called les choux mounted with caramel glaze.” This is the stand-in for the many-tiered wonder we call a wedding cake, and it sounds absolutely delightful to me!

Choose the Sparkle of Diamonds Set A’Jour

Capture the Essence! of Vintage à jour with this Antique Old Miner Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring with Ornate Filigree. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Vintage A’Jour with this Antique Old Miner Diamond Solitaire Engagement Ring with Ornate Filigree. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

This exquisite antique engagement ring features a 1.04-carat Old Mine Cut diamond set à jour in an elaborate filigree setting of white gold. The French word a’jour means “open to daylight” and describes perfectly its application in antique jewelry. Not to be confused with filigree, which is also a strong characteristic of this ring, à jour refers not to the rich carvings decorating the crown and shoulders of this lovely ring, but to the particular way this diamond has been set.

The term is widely applied in writings of the late 1800s and early 1900s, often in regard to rings, but not always to the setting of stones. In his treatise, On Some Finger Rings, of the Early Christian Period (1870s-1890s), Charles Drury E. Fortnum writes of a Roman key-like finger ring which features twelve fluted portions which have “a central square piercing, in which one letter of the inscription is reserved in the metal, and from which the ground is entirely cut away (decoupe-à-jour)” {p. 36}. Clearly he is describing a type of carving and not a stone setting.

Writing in 1917, gemstone expert George Frederick Kunz, in his book Rings for the Finger, describes a number of “episcopal rings listed on this inventory were set with sapphires bordered with small gems, one of them having a ‘black sapphire’ set à jour, and held in place by claws” {p. 274}. One can just picture a cathedral style setting on an elaborate bishop’s ring with a large dark stone held in place by four claws, open to the light on all sides.

More recently, the term has been applied to carvings discovered in ancient burial mounds in Turkey between 1950 and 1973. In the volume dedicated to the discoveries made in these grave mounds, Rodney S. Young describes an inlaid screen which was framed by “an elaborately carved horizontal panel secured in place by three dowels…” This panel was “carved à jour from a single piece of soft light-colored wood…” {Three Great Early Tumuli, p. 180}.

According to Lang’s Jewelry Universtiy, the à jour stone setting style was developed in the 18th century, but was not widely adopted for use in rings until the Victorian Era. Prior to this time, gemstones were safely ensconced in closed back settings which covered the entire pavilion. These tight enclosures impinged the movement of light through the diamonds, significantly inhibiting the fire and brilliance of the stones.

Notice in this ring that the diamond is completely unencumbered, save for the delicate bezel-type setting which hugs the stone just around its girdle. Thanks to this marvelous open style, light is free to enter through the top, the bottom, and even a fair portion of the side of this diamond, allowing the stone to emit a greater brilliance than that of a diamond of equal size and clarity set in a full bezel or a closed cathedral prong setting.

If your intended loves light and color, this ethereal antique ring is the perfect choice to pronounce your forever love.

Greek Orthodox Wedding Rings

 

Capture the Essence! of Greek Orthodox Tradition with this elegant 18k Gold Antique Wedding Band. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Greek Orthodox Tradition with this elegant 18k Gold Antique Wedding Band. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

During a Greek Orthodox wedding, the exchange of wedding rings is a significant part of the ceremony. The bride and groom wear their rings as they approach the altar. The bride wears her engagement ring on her left ring finger, and both wear their wedding rings on their right ring fingers.

In accord with one of the prayers in the Greek Orthodox Betrothal Service, the rings are placed on the right hand in observance of the rings of power, authority, and pledge worn by the Biblical figures Joseph, Daniel, and the prodigal son, who was given a ring to wear on his right hand as a symbol of compassion and celebration for his hoped-for return. The right hand symbolizes the establishment of truth and the source of strength, as well as the power and authority required to fulfill a pledge of commitment.

After the priest explains the sacrament of marriage, the profound mystery of two becoming one while yet remaining unique individuals, he begins the very important blessing of the rings. Using the rings to make the sign of the Cross on the groom’s forehead and then the bride’s forehead, he repeats the following declaration three times: “The servant of God…(groom) is betrothed to the servant of God … (bride) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He then reverses the order, beginning now with the bride’s forehead and the bride’s name, blessing the union three more times. He then places the rings once again on the bride’s and groom’s right ring fingers.

Next, the couple’s koumbaro (sponsor), a role filled in modern times by the best man or maid of honor, then steps forward to perform the exchange of rings. Crossing his/her hands, the koumbaro takes hold of the groom’s ring in his/her right hand and the bride’s ring in the left. Then, s/he slips the rings off their fingers and transfers them to the hand of the other person, back and forth three times. This exchange is made to symbolize that both lives are now interwoven, that one person’s strengths will compensate for the weaknesses of the other, and that together their lives will be richer than if they were lived apart.

It has long been the custom of Greek couples to choose simple gold bands to serve as their wedding rings. Though some Greeks living abroad have been known to move the rings from their right hands to their left hands after the ceremony, others maintain the custom of wearing the wedding bands on the right hand. Princess Tatiana of Greece has been seen wearing on her left hand her sapphire and diamond halo engagement ring with an elegant diamond eternity band and a simple gold band, though on her wedding day she was wearing only her engagement ring on her left hand and a plain gold band on her right.

 

Spotlight on Milgrain Technique in Engagement Rings

Admire the Technique! in this IGI-Certified Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with Milgrain Details. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Admire the Technique! in this IGI-Certified Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring with Milgrain Details. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

This delectable engagement ring is crafted of solid 18k white gold with accents in solid 14k gold. The central stone is an exquisite D-color, Princess Cut diamond weighing in at 0.97 carats. Mounted cathedral style in a four-prong setting, this magnificent diamond is flanked on either side by four round brilliant cut diamonds totaling another 1.37 carats.

The top of the ring’s tapering shank is crisply etched in a scalloped design, and the edges are finished in the milgrain technique, giving the ring an antique look and feel. Milgrain, derived from the French word millegrain (meaning ‘thousand grains’), is most often seen on the edges of rings and can take the form of teeny-tiny beads or a series of serrated grooves resembling the edges of coins.

Special tools are used to imprint the desired edging pattern into the rings. One such tool, called a knurling tool, consists of small rolling wheel attached to the end of a handle which, when rolled along the edges of the shank, produces a beaded appearance. Another such tool features a chuck-holding handle with several different attachments which, when rolled along the edge, produce different effects, including decorative beads or fine rows of cuts.

These hand techniques were the only ones available to early-century jewelers. Today, however, jewelers can make use of 3D-CAD programs to execute the milgrain effect. These programs include a milgrain decoration which is added as a decorative feature. The finished design is then sent to a special printer which fashions a 3D wax model of the ring which can be cast in metal die form. Goldsmiths pour molten alloys into these dies to form casts of the ring parts which when dried and cooled are assembled prior to setting the stones.

No matter how the milgrain technique is executed, the results are similar to applying a frame around a finished painting. This framework adds another dimension to the piece, highlighting certain design elements such as the gemstones or, in this case, the hand engraving on the shank of the ring.

Was the Virgin Mary’s Wedding Ring Amethyst and Onyx?

Santo Anello, the Blessed Virgin's Wedding Ring, Perugia, Italy.

Santo Anello, the Blessed Virgin’s Wedding Ring, Perugia, Italy.

Rumor has it that Joseph gave the mother of Jesus Christ a wedding ring on the day of their betrothal. Such was the widespread belief among Catholic communities in the mid-to-late 1800s. This rumor appears to have two separate sources. The first source comes from the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich, a mystic seer and Augustinian nun who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004.

Between 1813 and 1819, the sickly nun began experiencing the sainted sign of stigmata. A series of investigations took place, and her piety and sanctity were confirmed by a number of inquirers. Soon after, she was visited by several figures prominent in the emerging Church renewal movement. One such visitor, the poet Clemens Brentano, made it his mission to record their discussions about her visions.

It is within a series of these visions, dated between July 29 and August 3, 1821, that Sister Catherine saw the wedding ring of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is said to have reported that the ring was “neither of silver nor gold, nor of any other metal; it is dark in color and iridescent; it is not a thin narrow ring, but rather thick and at least a finger broad. I saw it smooth and yet as if covered with little regular triangles in which were letters. On the inside was a flat surface. The ring is engraved with something. I saw it kept behind many locks in a beautiful church. Devout people about to be married take their wedding-rings to touch it.”

Nearly simultaneously, in 1823, William Hone wrote a book titled Ancient Mysteries Described. In it, he also describes the Virgin Mary’s wedding ring, though he reported that it was said to be of onyx and amethyst, representing the budded rod of Joseph.

So, did Mary have a wedding ring? Was it amethyst and onyx, or was it the larger quartz version eluded to in Sister Catherine’s visions?

Even Mr. Hone holds his tongue in his cheek as he comments on the ring’s miraculous powers. Not only was the ring capable of healing the sick and bringing fortune to those whose wedding rings touched it on St. Joseph’s Day, but the ring also held “miraculous powers of multiplying itself” {1}. Apparently, there were several churches claiming to possess the precious relic during the mid-1400s.

Legend has it that the ring was acquired by a traveling jeweler and lapidary, Ranerius. In 966 AD, Judith, wife of Hugo, Marquess of Etruria, hired Ranerius to travel to Rome in search of beautiful jewels for her. While in Rome, Ranerius met a jeweler from Jerusalem who offered him an onyx and amethyst ring as a token of their friendship.

Ranerius appears to have been somewhat callous about the gesture, considering the ring to be of little value despite the Jewish man’s insistence that the jewel was the betrothal gift given to the Virgin Mary on her wedding day. The Italian tossed the ring in a chest, clearly unconvinced by the Jewish lore surrounding the ring. Ten years later, the man’s son lay in a coffin, borne upon a hearse toward a cemetery.

In a moment of mystical mayhem, the young boy suddenly rose up and called for his father, claiming a visitation from the Blessed Virgin. The story goes that the boy described the ring and its location in the forsaken chest and insisted that Mary desired her wedding band to receive its full due. When the chest was brought to the boy, he pulled out the ring and kissed it, just as the bells began to peal spontaneously. The onlookers were moved to worship as the scene unfolded, and the boy delivered the ring to church officials. Satisfied with his task, the boy lay back down in his coffin and breathed (again) his last. He was buried that day.

The ring remained in church custody for the next 500 years, rumored to bring relief to women in labor, to heal sciatica and diseases of the eye, to bring about reconciliation between married couples, and to exorcise demons. In 1473, it was handed over to the Franciscans in Clusium, where it was shown by appointment to visitors. On one such occasion, some say in 1488, a visiting priest, described by Mr. Hone as “a crafty German” named Wintherus, faked the ring’s return to its cherished box, hiding it instead beneath his sleeves. He fled to the countryside, where he encountered trouble in the form of a mysteriously deep darkness supposedly created by the disgruntled relic {2}.

Failing in his efforts to smuggle the ring out of the country, he made his way to Perugia where he convinced the resident church leadership that he had rescued the relic from the Clusiums. Realizing he would not make it out of the country under the thick veil of darkness, he willingly exchanged the ring for a modest fortune and a position in the governance of the city of Perugia.

When Sister Catherine saw the ring in her vision, it was housed in a medieval lock box gilt in silver and gold in Perugia’s San Lorenzo Cathedral. The box required seven keys to open, and the ring is neither onyx nor gold. Today, a wide band of pure quartz with a flattened bottom hangs from a golden crown at the apex of an elaborate statue.

Notes

  1. Hone, William. Ancient Mysteries Described. London: J. M’Creery, Tooks Court, 1823, p. 119.
  2. Ibid.

Love & Luxury Unite with Van Cleef & Arpels

Capture the Romance! with this Vintage Van Cleef & Arpels Diamond and Ruby Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Romance! with this Vintage Van Cleef & Arpels Diamond and Ruby Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The passion of red ruby surrounded by the purity of white diamonds constitutes the perfect blend of love and luxury. A pristine oval-cut red ruby stands front and center, a beautiful declaration of love’s ardent passions. Surrounding the red stone are eight round brilliant diamonds, a halo symbolizing pure devotion. Two large pear-cut diamonds are set en pointe in a north-south orientation, with two marquise-cut diamonds set vertically in an east-west position. Between them lie four smaller pear-cut diamonds. The effect is pure, exquisite luxury, a characteristic long associated with every Van Cleef & Arpels piece.

This natural pairing of Luxury and Love have long been united in the hallowed halls of one of the world’s most notable jewelry houses. Some of the most extravagant gestures of love have been signed VC/A*. Among them, a stunning diamond and ruby bracelet commissioned by the former King of England, Edward VIII, for his mistress, later his bride.

Set with four clusters of rubies surrounded by white diamonds, this token of affection was inscribed with the couple’s enduring motto: ‘Hold Tight’. Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Princess Grace of Monaco were also showered with jewels created by the iconic Parisian jewelers.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a love story forms the very foundation of the famed house. According to their website, the impressive jewelry dynasty was “inspired by the unique creative energy of love” {4}.

While the details of this legendary love story continue to elude the public eye, the broad strokes paint a story in which Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef enjoyed a “love story like no other, a great adventure beyond expectation” {4}.

Alfred Van Cleef made his start in jewelry at the bench of David et Grosgeat, where he learned to create and market beautiful jewelry. After his marriage to Estelle, Alfred joined forces with his bride’s father, Léon Salomon Arpels. Together they opened a small jewelry shop specializing in precious stones {3}.

After the senior Mr. Arpels passed away in 1906, his sons, Charles-Salomon, Julien, and Louis Arpels, threw their lot in with Alfred and Estelle, and the family opened a shop on the prestigious place de Vendome. The family dedicated their life to perform “the ultimate act of creativity” by combining exceptional stones in uncommon settings to transform precious metals and gemstones into phenomenal jewels {1}.

During World War II, the Van Cleef & Arpels families fled the hostile environs of Paris and settled in New York. Well established as principal players upon the international jewelry stage, Van Cleef & Arpels remained a family-owned and operated business until 1999, when it was purchased by a Swiss luxury group {3}.

*The company’s hallmark substitutes the / with a stylized imprint of their company’s flagship store.

Notes

  1. Macklowe Gallery. “Van Cleef & Arpels.” Accessed April 4, 2014. http://www.macklowegallery.com/education.asp/art+nouveau/Artist+Biographies/antiques/Jewelry+Artists/education/Van+Cleef+%26amp%3B+Arpels/id/12.
  2. Primavera Gallery. “Van Cleef and Arpels.” Accessed April 4, 2014. http://www.primaveragallery.com/biography/van-cleef-and-arpels-bio.
  3. Serafin, Amy. “Van Cleef & Arpels: The Family, The Jewels, The Legend,” France MagazineFall 2012.
  4. Van Cleef & Arpels. “Estelle & Alfred: The Founding Love Story.” Accessed April 4, 2014. http://www.vancleefarpels.com/us/en/article/3080/estelle-alfred-the-founding-love-story.
  5. Van Cleef & Arpels. “The Maison’s Enchanting Love Stories.” Accessed April 4, 2014. http://www.vancleefarpels.com/ww/en/article/806/the-maisons-enchanting-love-stories.

Spotlight on Design: Jean Schlumberger Engagement Rings

'Bee Ring' by Jean Schlumberger. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's, 2011.

‘Bee Ring’ by Jean Schlumberger. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s, 2011.

According to Tiffany & Co., Jean Schlumberger (pronounced ‘zhahn shlumberjay’) was the most important jewelry designer of the 20th century. His designs continue to be employed by Tiffany & Co., and his engagement rings are among the most sumptuous on the market today.

The pictured ring features a stunning fancy vivid yellow diamond (11.13 carats) surrounded by a colony of bees fashioned out of yellow gold and white diamonds. From the top, the bees appear to be drinking the honey nectar of a yellow flower bud. This particular ring was purchased for $1.08 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2011.

Mssr. Schlumberger designed several ring styles using this bee motif, many of which would make lovely as engagement rings. In addition, he designed several engagement rings which have become Tiffany classics.

The most iconic are his flower bud designs. The first, called simply the Jean Schlumberger Engagement Ring, features a diamond-encrusted band in fluid formation which rises to meet a central stone of 1.5 carats. This ‘bud’ stone is wrapped in crisscrossing diamond-studded bands. The sparkling brilliance of white diamonds against platinum set in a natural floral form evokes heady romance and stately charm.

In another variation of flower bud ring, called the Buds ring, Mssr. Schlumberger incorporates tightly formed sepals rising up to meet a crowning diamond bud. The platinum band is encrusted with inlaid round diamonds. Another of Mssr. Schlumberger’s famous engagement rings, the Rope ring,  incorporates a large-carat round brilliant diamond ensconced within a web of twisted ropes of yellow gold.

Nothing says quality like a Tiffany engagement ring, and Jean Schlumberger raises the bar even further for those interested in the finest quality and most innovative designs of the 20th century.

A History of Transitional Diamonds

Look Right Here! at this Vintage 1-carat Transitional Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Look Right Here! at this Vintage 1-carat Transitional Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

The story of diamond cuts is a fascinating look at the evolution of industry. In previous posts, we’ve explored a history of early cuts, as well as the primary characteristics of a number of these early cuts.

At this point in the timeline, it’s time to take a look at the history of transitional cut diamonds. These diamonds are unique in that they fall outside the parameters of the Old Mine and Old European cuts of the 1800s. Similarly, they do not quite measure up to today’s standard Modern Round Brilliant.

Transitional-cut diamonds typically bridge the gap between antique and vintage. Direct descendants of the Old European Cut, these progressive cuts saw an evolution toward a larger table, a lower crown, and a smaller culet than previous cuts. However, unlike later brilliants, the girdles of these stones remained unfaceted.

These cuts were the invention of those cutters under the watchful eye of Henry D. Morse. Mr. Morse owned the first American diamond cutting operation. His passion for diamonds led to the first cuts specifically designed to unlock the beauty of these stones. For this reason, many refer to Transition Cuts as Early American Cuts.

These cuts, also sometimes called Early Modern Cuts, are considered precursors to both the Modern Round Brilliant and the Ideal cuts. Using the newly-invented steam-powered diamond lathe, Mr. Morse and his team sought to standardize proportions for cutting diamonds. Mr. Morse was a true pioneer, and as such these transition diamonds feature a wide range of proportions, angles, and facet numbers. Since they were hand faceted without uniform parameters, these stones are truly one-of-a-kind.

One could call this transition the trial-and-error phase, for that is essentially what these diamonds represent. While symmetry and consistency were the goals, it would take some time for the cutters to work out all the angles. Ultimately, it would be another 30 or 40 years before the work represented by Mr. Morse and his men would be adopted into mainstream use, thanks in large part to the mathematical analysis of Marcel Tolkowsky.

As is often the case, these practice cuts are now a significant piece of diamond-cutting history. Transitional diamonds are special, and we celebrate whenever we find a fine specimen from such an important time in jewelry history. Currently, we have a number of gorgeous engagement rings featuring transitional diamonds. We invite you to browse our selection. Don’t forget to make an appointment to view these remarkable pieces in person.

A Brief Look at Early Diamond Cuts

Look Right Here! at this Heirloom Old Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Look Right Here! at this Heirloom Old Mine Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

It was George Frederick Stras, a Parisian jeweler, who perhaps deserves a fair portion of the credit for launching the greatest period of innovation for diamond cutting in the world. In the late 1700s, a time during which candlelight prevailed, Mr. Stras discovered a method for applying metal backings to fake glass gems. The flash of light sparkling off these imitation gemstones sparked a craving among society’s ladies for more sparkle. For the first time in history, diamonds had a rival.

As the glittering light of thousands of tiny glass stones tantalized the eyes of beholding women, diamond merchants scrambled for a way to maintain their competitive edge. Cutters began to experiment beyond the Rose and Table cuts so prominent in that day. These cuts suddenly appeared dull and drab in comparison with the sparkling faceted glass being sold for a fraction of the price of diamond jewels.

The Table Cut was developed during the 14th century. This cut featured one facet, a slice right across the top. This octahedronal cut emphasized a diamond’s clarity and luster, but failed to release any of the stone’s brilliance.

The Rose Cut was developed in the 16th century. A Rose-cut diamond might have between 3 and 24 facets, with a flat bottom and a dome-shaped crown. Named for its resemblance to a budding rose, the Rose Cut was the first diamond cut which allowed light to pass into the stone and refract in a flash of brilliance.

Amid the flurry of activity following Mr. Stras’s invention, diamond cutters soon developed the Old Mine Cut. This cutting style features a high crown, a small table, and a fairly large culet. This style was developed in the early 1800s and maintained its popularity until the late 1870s, when the steam-powered diamond lathe was introduced by Henry D. Morse’s company.

The lathe made bruting possible, a precise method for creating a thin, round girdle on a diamond. The precision of this machine made symmetrical faceting possible. The resulting new cut, named the Old European Cut, maintained the small table, high crown, and larger culet characteristic of the Old Mine Cut, while at the same time presenting a symmetrically round outline.

These beautiful diamonds remained popular through the 1930s, tapering out in favor of the modern Transitional Cuts which soon gave way to the Modern Round Brilliant Cuts which remain the most popular cuts today.

These early diamond cuts represent the majority of diamonds found in antique engagement rings. If your gal loves romance by candlelight, any one of these dazzling antique cuts will thrill her to bits. We invite you to make an appointment with us soon to view our selection in person.

Easter Proposal Ideas

Easter Eggs

Spring is here, and love is in the air. Perhaps you’ve had a ring box sitting in your sock drawer for the past three months. Having bypassed a standard Christmas-New Year’s proposal and the compelling pull of a Valentine’s Day proposal, you may be wondering if you’ve missed the holiday proposal boat. Have no fear, Easter is right around the corner.

A holiday filled with hopeful symbolism, Easter brings to mind new beginnings and renewed hope. Expressions of romantic love are perfectly in step with these.

Perhaps you already have an Easter tradition: A day spent with family, at church, eating chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, hiding Easter eggs, or a visit to the Easter Bunny. If so, weaving your proposal into any one of these traditions is simple and filled with memorable possibilities.

In case you don’t have Easter traditions of your own to spur your imagination, we’ve compiled a number of possible proposal options to make this Easter the most memorable of all:

  1. Jelly Bean Eggs. Purchase a set of plastic hiding eggs and fill five or six of them with jelly beans, nestling the ring into one of them. If she grows at all suspicious, shaking the eggs will offer her no clues. Place the eggs in a basket (she will be inclined to keep the basket as a memorial, so make sure it’s a beauty), with the ring egg firmly at the bottom. Since she’s not likely to eat all the jelly beans at once, hide love notes in each one, as well. She will be compelled to keep opening them to read the sweet notes. You can include a Will You Marry Me? note in with the ring, or you can just let the ring speak for itself. Note of caution: If your girlfriend likes to savor her gifts or her candy, you may want to hide the ring egg closer to the top. Urging her to open more will feel like suspicious pressure and will add a tension to the moment that she may not enjoy.
  2. Golden Easter Egg Hunt. Purchase a set of gold-colored plastic hiding eggs from a local party goods store. In addition, purchase one hollow egg made of real gold in which you can hide her engagement ring. Fill the plastic eggs with treats and clues that will lead her along to find all the eggs, ending, of course, with the ring egg. Note of Caution: Hiding the ring egg outside may be an exciting and wonderful opportunity to really surprise your lady love; however, it also presents some danger to the ring. We suggest that you do so only if you’re certain she will find it without too much “egging” on. If you feel ill at ease about hiding the ring outside, send her inside with the final plastic clue egg and meet her in the doorway on your knees holding the golden ring egg, or hide the ring egg somewhere safe inside.
  3. Easter Basket Surprise. Purchase a beautiful Easter Egg basket–make this one count, as she will likely want to save it for life. Fill it with her favorite spring things. If she loves gardening, get her a set of feminine garden tools and some pretty gloves (make sure you know her size). If she loves candy, get her lots of chocolate and jelly beans (don’t forget the Peeps). Whatever she loves, fill her basket with it and make it as beautiful as possible (get your sister to help you, or better yet ask her sister to help you). Whatever you fill it with, find a way to incorporate the ring/ring box into the mix.
  4. Chocolate Bunny Surprise. Chocolate bunnies are a staple of almost every Easter celebration. Ranging in size from colossal to minuscule, there are a number of ways you can incorporate these delicious goodies into your proposal plans. If she likes grand, purchase a colossal chocolate bunny in her favorite flavor (white, dark, or milk). Tie a ribbon around its ear, its paw, or its neck, and string the ring on it. Place it in her favorite spot in her house (or yours), and wait in the wings until she finds it. As she begins to untie the ribbon, bend on one knee beside her and say those magic words. If your sweetheart is more subtle, choose a more diminutive chocolate rabbit. Again, you can tie the ring around the bunny with a ribbon, or you might be able to slip it onto the rabbit’s ears or one of its paws. It’s really hard to go wrong with the chocolate bunny; there’s nothing quite like diamonds and chocolate to make her swoon.
  5. Easter Picnic. Pack a basket filled with her favorite delicacies, hiding the ring box in and among the picnic supplies. Choose a favorite outdoor location, or find a special natural hideaway she’s never been to before. Make sure you’ll have privacy and cooperative weather. After you lay out the blanket for her (chivalry is not dead), you can ask her to help you unpack the picnic basket. Turn the basket so that the ring box will be within her reach. If your girl is hard to surprise, consider packing extra presents in the upper layer of the basket. One man threw his lady off the scent after he gave her a set of pearl earrings and a matching necklace toward the beginning of their time together.

If you haven’t found the perfect engagement ring to finalize your Easter proposal, it’s not too late. Give us a call to schedule a visit to our Seattle Area Showroom. If you browse our selection first and send us a list of your top choices, we can have them waiting for you when you arrive.