All posts in Fine Jewelry News

Jelly Opal History and Characteristics

Capture the Essence! of Jelly Opal with this Victorian-Era Antique Jelly Opal Locket. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Jelly Opal with this Victorian-Era Antique Jelly Opal Locket. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

This gorgeous Victorian-Era Jelly Opal Locket is exquisitely made. It features an ornate frame made from solid 14k gold. The detailed setting includes traditional gold work, including milgrain and granulation. The back of this locket has a space for a photo. It currently holds a black onyx tablet. A single multi-colored jelly opal cabochon with broad flash of fire and very strong brilliance graces the center of this locket.

What is Opal?

Opal is considered a mineraloid. This means that it does not form with a solid crystal structure and does not have a rigid chemical composition. This range of chemical compositions allows for many different types of opals, including jelly opals. Among the many different types of opals, black opals, harlequin opals, and fire opals are among the most desirable for jewelry. However, white, semi-black, and jelly opals are extremely popular. Though they are lower in price, they still generate the beautiful play of colors that makes opals so spectacular.

Opals formed long ago when solutions of silicone dioxide and water ran over the surface of the earth. As this liquid moved across the earth, it picked up silica from sandstone. This silica-laden solution pooled in cracks and fissures carved out by decomposing fossils, volcanic activity, and erosion. The water eventually evaporated from these pools, leaving behind layers of silica. Over time, as the cycle repeated itself again and again, nobby rough opals formed in these crevices and cracks.

According to Opals Down Under, today’s opals are found in “wild and unruly places surrounded by a moonscape of mullock humps where people fight against horrendous climate conditions in their search for precious gemstones” {7}. This quote refers to those found in Australia. However, opals are also found around the world in crevices, cracks, stalactites, stalagmites, and in the hollowed-out spaces left by disintegrated fossils.

Gemstone-quality opal (precious opal) was originally found in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Mines in these locations continued to produce the world’s supply of opal until 1922, when the mines began to run dry. Around that same time, opals were discovered in Australia. Today, approximately 97% of the world’s precious opals come from Australia, where opal is the national gemstone.

What is Jelly Opal?

Jelly Opal is a transparent precious opal with a gelatinous appearance. Characteristically, these beautiful gems have a bluish sheen. However, the play of color within them will include yellows, greens, pinks, oranges, and sometimes bright reds.

Jelly Opals are darker in appearance than crystal opals. Today, these beautiful stones are often found alongside black opal in the Lightning Ridge mines of Australia {4}. However, Victorian-Era Jelly Opals, such as the one pictured here, would likely have been found in the Czech mines.

Jelly Opals are more transparent than other types of opal. Therefore, the play of color acts differently. The color rolls through the stone rather than appearing in shifting patches. As with all types of opals, Jelly Opals display more color when they are slightly warmed by nearness to the skin.

Notes

  1. AJS Gems. “Opal Gemstone Information.” Accessed October 18, 2014. http://www.ajsgem.com/gemstone-information/opal-95.html.
  2. Collector’s Weekly. “Opal Jewelry.” Accessed October 18, 2014. http://www.collectorsweekly.com/fine-jewelry/opals.
  3. Eckert, Allan W. The World of Opals. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.
  4. Gemstone Co., The. “Buying Guide: Opal.” Accessed October 18, 2014. http://thegemstoneco.com/buying-guide/opal.
  5. Geology.com. “What is Opal?” Accessed October 18, 2014. http://geology.com/gemstones/opal/.
  6. Opals Down Under. “How is Opal Formed? – the Geology of Opal.” Accessed October 18, 2014. http://www.opalsdownunder.com.au/learn-about-opals/advanced/how-opal-formed-geology-opal.
  7. Opals Down Under. “Australian Opal Mining Fields.” Accessed October 18, 2014. http://www.opalsdownunder.com.au/learn-about-opals/intermediate/australian-opal-mining-fields.

Angelina Jolie Wears an Exceptional Engagement Ring

Capture the Essence! of Exceptional Craftsmanship with this Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Exceptional Craftsmanship with this Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

An intimate wedding took place in France on August 23, 2014, though a few of the couple’s most tender moments were displayed for all to see in September issues of People and Hello! magazines. A veil decorated with the art of their children, a kiss to send you to the moon, and a beautiful story of love, laughter, and the antics of children.

It was the wedding of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated couples, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The exclusive stories written in People and Hello! offer a peek-a-boo view into many of the wedding details, including the dress, the veil, the cake, and the ties.

However, they offer only a hint about the couple’s wedding rings. All we know is that they were made by the couple’s favorite jewelry designer, Robert Procop, who creates truly exceptional jewels, just as his website declares.

A bit more is known about Angelina’s exceptional engagement ring, which was designed by Brad Pitt and executed by Robert Procop. A series of graduated emerald-cut diamonds pave the band, with one central emerald-cut diamond weighing an estimated 7 carats.

In a statement released in 2012, Robert Procop wrote, “The side diamonds are specially cut to encircle her finger.”

One could call Mr. Procop a tailor for rings, at least for the Jolie-Pitt family. He has worked closely with Angelina to design jewels for her role in Malificent, as well as a whole collection of pieces inspired by personal jewels worn by the actress and also those given as gifts to her now-husband, Brad Pitt. The proceeds from all of the jewels sold by Robert Procop in partnership with Angelina Jolie are donated to charities for children.

There has been speculation that Ms. Jolie’s ring is fashioned from platinum and that they’re wedding bands are also fashioned from platinum. However, based on a survey of the jewels created by Robert Procop and the descriptions given for these jewels, especially those in the Tablet Collection, it would be this writer’s estimation that the rings they wear are fashioned from 18k rose gold.

Without doubt, the two very grounded, very sentimental actors have laced these most treasured jewels in their personal collections with meaning and engraved messages that only they and their intimates will understand. The weight of history in their rings reminds this writer of the power of jewelry to preserve history even as it is in the making.

Choose Sensational Diamonds For Your Sweetheart

Capture the Essence! of Sensational Diamonds with this 7-Carat Asscher Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Sensational Diamonds with this 7-Carat Asscher Cut Diamond Engagement Ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Periodically, we come by a stunning diamond over 3 carats. Right now, we happen to have two of these sensational diamonds mounted in exquisite diamond engagement rings. Both of them are magnificent and must be seen in person to appreciate their full effect. There is no better time to make an appointment to come and view these beauties with your own eyes. Purchasing an estate ring from a reputed dealer is the perfect way to rock your girls world without spending a celebrity fortune to do it.

This dazzling beauty features a breathtaking Asscher cut diamond weighing in at 7.66 carats. This GIA-certified diamond grades G/SI1 and features very good cut, very good polish, good symmetry, and no florescence. This stunner is held in place by four platinum prongs atop a cathedral crown lined in diamonds. There is no end to the brilliance of this ring, as channel-set baguette diamonds line the band, while 150 round brilliant diamonds fill every nook and cranny on this ring’s surface.

Is your sweetheart in love with you AND diamonds?

If so, then look no further. We’re certain you’ve found her ring!

Tiffany Promises a Starry Surprise with Etoile

Capture the Essence! of the Stars with this Tiffany & Co. Etoile Engagement Ring in Platinum and Diamond. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of the Stars with this Tiffany & Co. Etoile Engagement Ring in Platinum and Diamond. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Picture yourself beneath the starry September skies, kneeling on the soft ground. In your hand you hold a dark blue box of promise. The words Tiffany & Co. line the inside of the box in silver. You know the minute she sees the brilliant diamond winking at her from inside that box, her breath will catch, and her next word will be, “Yes.”

Few other names can give you the confidence you’re certain to need on this day of great import. Tiffany & Co. ensures brilliant diamonds, stunning designs, and the history of a company forged in the faery air of the Art Nouveau period. True to its origins, the world renowned design company continues to fashion superior jewels laced with history, yet designed with today’s contemporary beauty in mind.

In particular, their exquisite Etoile line boasts perfect timelessness in a modern streamlined design. French in name, Etoile (which means ‘star’) evokes celestial brilliance and promises effortless elegance. This stunning authentic Tiffany & Co. Etoile engagement ring is centered with a 0.30 carat, semi-bezel set, round brilliant cut diamond grading H/VS2. With excellent cut, symmetry, and polish grades, this diamond is sure to dazzle the eye.

The solid platinum band is 4mm in width and features a comfort fit design. The diamond is certified with paperwork from Tiffany & Co., and the ring comes with its original box and papers.

How confident do you want to be when you pop your question?

History + Characteristics of Rose Cut Diamonds

Capture the Essence! of Antique Rose Cut Diamonds with this Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring with Rose Cut Diamond Accents in 18k White Gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Antique Rose Cut Diamonds with this Blue Sapphire Engagement Ring with Rose Cut Diamond Accents in 18k White Gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

A magnificent 1.89-carat, oval-cut blue sapphire is set in an elaborate diamond-studded halo-type three-stone setting. Crafted in solid 18k white gold with milgrain detail, this ring is further decorated with two beautiful rose cut diamonds flanking either side of the sapphire. The overall effect is antique royal elegance.

The rose cut is traditionally an antique cut dating as far back as the 16th century. This cut produces a flat-bottomed diamond with a varying number of triangular facets meeting together at a tipped crown. The earliest rose cuts were produced in Brabant and Antwerp, though a number of them were cut in Charleroi, as well.

Beginning with three or six facets in a single row around the stone, the number soon increased to 12 with two rows of facets. Though the extra facets increased the brilliance of the diamond, the light remained lost in the depths of the stone. Eighteen-facet rose cuts became popular during the 1800s, and with their increased popularity these cuts were soon chosen for larger stones. This allowed for the development of the full rose cut with 24 facets.

The most distinguishing features of a rose-cut diamond are their flat bottoms and their dome-shaped crowns with facets which meet at a central peak in the center. On close inspection, they almost appear to be set upside down. A variation on the cut, called the Double Dutch Rose, features 48 facets and forms two back-to-back hemispheres.

These rose cut diamonds offer a touch of something beautifully old nestled right alongside something exquisitely blue.

If your sweetheart savors tradition and history, this beautiful engagement ring will surely touch her heart.

Three Old European Diamonds Rest in a Setting Fit for Royalty

Capture the Essence! of Antique Hand Engraving with this Antique Victorian Three-Stone Diamond Ring in Yellow Gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Antique Hand Engraving with this Antique Victorian Three-Stone Diamond Ring in Yellow Gold. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Three carats in exquisite white diamonds grace this magnificent turn-of-the-century three-stone ring. The central diamond is an Old European, 1.52-carat diamond with an H/VS2 grade. Accenting this central beauty on either side are two Old Euro diamonds totaling an additional 1.58 carats. Made in the early 1900s, this ring is crafted of solid 18k yellow gold which has worn well for its years.

This dazzling beauty rests in a setting fit for royalty. Three elaborate prong settings, featuring no less than 9 prongs per stone, rise to the occasion of supporting the diamonds, while the shoulders boast a beautiful design fashioned by lines of white enamel painted upon the deep grooves cut by a hand engraving tool.

Under the skilled hand of a turn-of-the-century goldsmith, a graver was held at a shallow angle. As the steady hand pressed the tool forward, its sharp point sliced out a minuscule channel of gold. Stroke by stroke, the channel was deepened with tender precision. Slow and steady, the hand of the master goldsmith rushed not.

Stroke by stroke, line by line, the design took shape beneath his hand. He smiled, satisfied with his work which would one day hold those beautiful diamonds. Did he know that his work would endure beyond his lifetime?

When he finished his part, he passed the band along to the skilled hands of the enameler. The trained painter in the art of fusing glass and silver, picked up his tools and applied layer after layer of white vitreous glass. The piece was then fired to fuse the enamel to the gold, and voila we have the ring you see here.

Would You Propose With This Magnificent Edwardian Diamond Engagement Ring?

Capture the Essence! of the Delicacy of the Edwardian Period with this Edwardian Engagement Ring in Platinum and Diamonds. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of the Delicacy of the Edwardian Period with this Edwardian Engagement Ring in Platinum and Diamonds. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

The Edwardian period of jewelry design spans the years 1901-1920. The Edwardian period bridges a gap between English and French royalty, and also between the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods of design. Because the style belonged primarily to royalty, Edwardian lines are ornate with great flourish. Edwardian rings are typically exquisite in their delicacy, featuring extensive etching reminiscent of those most extraordinary carved German candles.

Pictured here is a stunning Edwardian engagement ring in platinum and diamonds. Crafted in the 1910s, this ring boasts an exquisite 1.1-carat Old European diamond with a J/VS1 grade. Four platinum prongs hold the central diamond in place atop an elaborate scroll motif set with 8 single-cut diamonds.

The crowning diamond is set so that it appears as a diamond-shaped stone with milgrain edging surrounding it. The four remaining single-cut diamonds are prong-set directly into both shoulders of the ring, and the remainder of the band is hand engraved with an intricate criss-cross pattern. The intricacy of this ring cannot be overstated. It is absolutely stunning in its design and effect.

If you’re planning a romantic proposal with grand flourishes, may we suggest that you consider ending with a presentation of this most magnificent Edwardian engagement ring?

Desi Arnaz Proposed to Lucille Ball with a 40-Carat Aquamarine

Capture the Essence! of Lucille Ball with this 27-carat aquamarine ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Capture the Essence! of Lucille Ball with this 27-carat aquamarine ring. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Imagine the luxury of wearing such a large and beautiful stone on that finger every day. This beautiful 27-carat aquamarine rests beautifully in a modern four-prong ring fashioned from 14k yellow gold. A total of 12 round brilliant diamonds flank the stone, six on either side, giving an architectural dazzle to the whole of the ring.

Can you feel the weight of it? Now, imagine that the aquamarine was another 25% larger.

This was the scrumptious luxury afforded the late Lucille Ball, to wear such a knock-out ring on a daily basis.

In 1947, a journalist wrote of a collection of jewelry which Lucille Ball carried with her when traveling {4}. According to reports from that time, these jewels were among her favorites, gifts from her husband Desi Arnaz. According to an AP news report from 1950, her gorgeous aquamarine ring was actually her engagement ring {5}.

To date, I have been unable to verify this claim with any primary sources. All secondary sources seem to trace back to this one AP article, which does not list its source for the information. There are some reasons to believe such a claim, one of them being that aquamarine was one of Lucy’s favorite colors.

Lucille Ball was clearly a woman of her own mind, not likely to hold to the traditions of men when making her choices. Several sources claim she actually chose the ring herself, and some facts surrounding her marriage to Desi Arnaz intimate that she may have actually purchased the ring for herself.

The authors of Planet Wedding describe a scene that begs the question of an engagement ring. In this account, Desi is said to have overheard Lucy giving an interview onset in 1940.  During this interview she proposed a list of all the reasons why she would never agree to marry Desi. In an outrage, Desi is said to have confronted Lucy with an announcement that not only would she marry him, but she would do so the next day.

Again, I have been unable to confirm this information with a primary source, but quotes from both Desi and Lucy intimate a shotgun style wedding on Saturday, November 30, 1940. So hasty were their plans that Desi forgot to purchase a wedding ring. He slipped a brass ring, purchased at a nearby department store, onto her finger as he made his vows against their “Christmas card” backdrop at the Byram River Beagle Club in Greenwich, Connecticut {1}. If the account in Planet Wedding is true, then it’s likely Lucille Ball did not actually receive a true engagement ring.

I have, to date, found no comment from Lucy on the aquamarine ring, though she does remark that her brass ring, though replaced by Desi with a platinum band, enjoyed a long life “among the diamonds and emeralds in my jewel case…” {2}.

Unfortunately, this beautiful aquamarine ring was among the $6000 worth of jewels stolen from the comedienne’s hotel room in Chicago in 1950. It is unclear whether her jewels were ever recovered.

Notes

  1. Arnaz, Desi. A Book. Cutchogue, NY: Buccaneer Books, Inc., 1994, p. 115.
  2. Ball, Lucille. Love, Lucy. NY: Berkley Books, 1997, p. 110.
  3. Choron, Sandra and Harry Choron. Planet Wedding: A Nuptial-pedia. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2010, p. 91.
  4. Karol, Michael. Lucy A to Z: The Lucille Ball Encyclopedia, 4th Edition. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse Star, 2008, p. 231. 
  5. “Lucille Ball Robbed of $6000 in Jewelry,” Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 2, 1950, p. 9.

Noble Purple Bridal Jewelry for the Royal-Inspired Bride

Long associated with royalty, purple is such a beautiful choice for an evening bride. Are you planning to say your vows at sunset or just after? May we recommend dripping yourself in these royal purple jewels?

 

3-Carat Lab-Created Purple Sapphire Engagement Ring Palladium

 

Begin at the beginning with this gorgeous conflict-free lab-created purple sapphire engagement ring. Crafted from solid palladium this gorgeous solitaire band is crowned with a 3.22-carat, royal purple, round fancy-cut lab-created sapphire set into a four-prong fishtail head. If you love purple, this is the ring for you!

 

Art Nouveau Amethyst & Seed Pearl Brooch

 

 

Made of 9k gold, this beautiful antique brooch was crafted during the revolutionary Art Nouveau movement. Its royal frame is paved with 40 cultured seed pearls. Six bezel-set round amethysts decorate the outer edges, while a 1.3-carat oval-cut natural amethyst rests regally in the center within an oval bezel-type setting with granulation details.

 

Antique Bezel-Set Amethyst Pendant

 

Complete the royal theme with this gorgeous drop pendant in solid 10k gold and natural amethysts. A combination of cushion-cut, pear-cut, and round-cut stones are bezel-set in an elegant design fit for royalty, indeed.

Beautiful Antique Brooches for the Royal-Inspired Bride

Brooches are growing more popular by the minute in bridal jewelry. If you’re a bride who looks to the royal courts of Europe for inspiration, we believe these stunning antique pins will turn your head. Choose one for your hair, pin one to your waistline sash, or wear one clipped into your hair. Whatever you choose, they will add a touch of elegance and nobility to your special day.

Antique Crown Brooch with Diamonds and PearlsVictorian Rhodolite Garnet Brooch 18k Gold Antique

 

This magnificent 1930s brooch is fashioned as a solid 18k yellow gold crown topped with platinum. Its open work design renders it light and easy to wear, and also lends it a delicate presence. Its simple design is embellished with 14 Old European cut diamonds and 5 pearls.

 

 

 

Here we offer a most exquisite Victorian Rhodolite garnet brooch. Eight faceted pear-cut garnets are prong set in a flower pattern  around a round cut central garnet. A single cultured seed pearl rests within an etched golden sunburst. The whole is surrounded by an intricate metal framework decorated with intricate filigree and granulation in solid 18k yellow gold. A drop pendant features a larger pear-cut garnet set within a pear-shaped metal frame decorated in granulated scrolls. This piece is absolutely stunning.

Antique Star Brooch with Diamonds Opals and Pearls

 

Our final offering is this delicate antique star brooch. Centering the piece is a beautiful Old European cut diamond set into a five-prong buttercup head. Surrounding the diamond are six cabochon-cut, prong-set natural crystal opals. Radiating out from this central open work piece is a star-shaped design in 14k yellow gold accented with 42 flush-set half seed pearls. This beautiful piece would look beautiful clipped into your hairpiece or onto the waistline of your dress.