Category Archives: Estate Jewelry

Go Retro with a 1960s Gemstone Engagement Ring

Retro Vintage Old European Cut Diamond and Ruby Ring

In the 1960s, color was king, and big and bold were in. One could submit that 60s-era jewelry represented the best of both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Strong architectural lines remained, but to these geometric lines were added sweeping curves and artful flourishes, lending an organic flair not seen in the early 1950s. It was a time of free love among the masses, so the wedding industry had to turn almost entirely toward America’s landed gentry for its cues.

The likes of the Vanderbilts, Kennedys, and Astors set the standard for designer engagement rings, buying their important ladies the best of Cartier, Tiffany, and Van Cleef and Arpels. Stylized floral themes emerged, even in wedding jewelry, and brooches, bracelets, and necklaces became larger and more ostentatious. One could argue that the wedding industry boomed under the heavy influence of these art-conscious trend setters.

If not for the insatiable and exotic appetites of these world travelers, these historic jewelry legends might have become stuffy and repressed in their designs. Instead, those who had all that money could buy wanted the unusual, the unreal, the unexpected. This leant a decided flair, even to engagement rings. Thus, we have the stunning, larger-than-life step-cut aquamarines flanked by diamonds in platinum, as well as sweeping swirls in platinum and yellow gold ornamented with blue sapphires, rubies, and diamonds.

With the onset of this new wave of art jewelry, stone size became only slightly less important (unless you were Elizabeth Taylor). A number of styles features modest blue  sapphires, interspersed with diamonds of equal size, which were displayed right alongside solitaires boasting large diamonds. Rubies were also popular, and sometimes designers used all three precious stones together. It was a time of showy beauty, and every one of these pieces evokes the nostalgia of a unique era.

If your sweetheart loves the high-style of Jacki Onassis Kennedy or Gloria Vanderbilt, may we suggest you surprise her with a 1960s retro-vintage engagement ring? We have a number of beautiful options in stock and would relish the opportunity to place a bit of history right into your hands. Just give us a call.

Gemstone Spotlight: Watermelon Tourmaline

© 2013 EraGem
© 2013 EraGem

Six round brilliant diamonds are channel set into the wide shoulders of this gorgeous gemstone ring. Its shank crafted of 14k gold, is contoured to hug the fingers, and its geometric shape and size grant it unisex appeal. Crowned with a stunning 9.8-carat cabochon slice of Watermelon Tourmaline, witness a juicy cocktail ring fit for any occasion.

Watermelon tourmaline is the rarest form of elbaite tourmaline found in nature. Like all tourmaline varieties, it forms when magma is forcefully injected into hardened granite. As the hot viscous solution begins to cool, crystals form.

For watermelon tourmaline to grow, this liquid syrup must be rich in sodium, lithium, aluminum, boron. In addition, atoms of chromium (red), vanadium (green), lithium (green, pink), and/or manganese (pink) must be present during growth. These chromophores fuse themselves just so into the lattice structure of the crystals, resulting in the layering of green, white, and red indicative of watermelon tourmaline.

These beautiful stones are rare, and rarer still are specimens greater than 10 carats. Watermelon tourmaline is typically flecked with inclusions, but these only seem to add to their allure.

Depending on the precise crystal structure of the stone, tourmaline rates between 7 and 7.5 on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness. Experts agree that while tourmaline is fairly durable, it is wise to remove one before undertaking heavy labor, most especially if you’ll be working in dirt.

A fine grain of quartz or other harder mineral could scratch it, and the stone itself could crack or break under pressure. Experts further advise the avoidance of ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Rather, a soft brush with warm, soapy water is all that’s required to maintain your stone’s lustre.

In addition to its unique play of color, watermelon tourmaline, like all tourmaline, is naturally piezoelectric, pyroelectric, and pleochroic. Piezoelectric stones become electrically charged when friction is applied, and pyroelectric stones become electrically charged when heated.

By heating or rubbing your watermelon tourmaline, you will find that small particles of dust and dirt will jump onto its surface as if it were magnetized. Long ago, Nederlanders capitalized on this characteristic, heating them in order to clean their pipes {cited}.

Pleochroism refers to the variation in color achieved when viewed from different angles. The color of your stone may darken or even change color depending on how the light striking it reaches your eye.

Legend has it that tourmaline is a lucky stone, protecting its wearer from danger and misfortune {cited}. It is also said to promote relaxation, joy, and artistic expression. It is also believed to enhance cooperation and connection and to promote happiness.

Sounds like a recipe for a powerful cocktail party:

  1. Wear this stunning ring to the next party you attend.
  2. Bend down as if your hands are cold, and breathe your warm breath upon the stone. (Or discretely rub it against your jacket.)
  3. Demonstrate to your table mates the stone’s magical ability to attract dust and debris to its surface. (Just don’t embarrass your hostess who may be astonished at the dust it attracts.)
  4. As your watermelon ring casts its enchanting spell, take note of how all eyes are on you.
  5. Smile big, and witness how magnetic you’ve suddenly become.
  6. Take a brief bow and whisper a word of thanks to your stone. You’ve just made some new friends.

Old Hollywood Glam: Diamond Fringe & Ribbon Necklace

© 2013 EraGem
© 2013 EraGem

This gorgeous estate necklace features 359 natural round brilliant diamonds set in 18k yellow gold capped in 18k white gold. The jewel’s link chain converges on a double strand of diamonds soon interrupted by a scrolling ribbon motif.

The double strand of diamonds picks up again, this time with a fringe of diamond clusters alternating with bezel-set diamonds. The whole affair culminates in an elaborate pendant featuring a stylized ribbon with cascading diamond fringes which terminate in lozenge-shaped bezel settings mounted with round diamonds.

The effect is reminiscent of Old Hollywood Glam. Indeed, it was during the 1950s when Boucheron, Chaumet, and Mauboussin incorporated the scrolling ribbons and diamond sprays which surely must have inspired this stunning estate necklace.

This one-of-a-kind diamond necklace would surely hold its own beside the graceful elegance of the designer necklaces worn by Elizabeth Taylor or Grace Kelly in the mid-century. Fortunately, the classic fringe necklace is back in vogue. Add a touch of Cartier classic, and you’ll be set for your next high-profile cocktail party.

Designer Spotlight: Sabbadini Milano

Photo © EraGem Jewelry
Photo © EraGem Jewelry

Crafted of solid 18k yellow gold, this wide-band bracelet features two indented rows of black champlevé enamel which border a centered row of 28 very high-quality diamonds. Crafted by the Italian firm Sabbadini, this retro-style bracelet, weighing 40.8 grams, is of extraordinary manufacture, just as one would expect from one of Italy’s premiere gioiellieres.

Based in the heart of Milan, Italy, Sabbadini is headquartered in via Montenapoleone, “one of the most important ‘streets in fashion'” {cited}. On this street in 1783, a financial institution was established in the Palazzo Marliani. Later, this same bank re-opened under Napoleonic rule and was renamed the Monte Napoleone, after which the street was named.

Prior to World War II, via Montenapoleone was home to Milan’s most elite, living luxuriously in palatial castles up and down the avenue. The final palace standing was the Palazzo Marliani, which succumbed to the Allied bombing campaign of 1943.

After the war ended, the via was reinvented to encompass Milan’s fashion center. It is here, in 1940, among the best of the best in Italian fashion, that Bruno Sabbadini wisely established himself as an expert in the trade of high-quality gems.

Later, Bruno’s son, Alberto Sabbadini, began designing exquisite jewels into which he set his father’s most beautiful stones. Soon after, he and his father expanded the business to include a manufacturing firm and a network of small craft shops dedicated exclusively to the creation of Sabbadini jewels.

For over 40 years, Alberto Sabbadini, with his wife Stefania, has governed the design and manufacture of Sabbadini jewels in Milan. In 1983, they opened their first showroom in New York, and in 2007, a boutique in St. Moritz. Together with their children, Pierandrea and Micol, the Sabbadinis continue to make history with their bold and enticing designs.

Probably their most delectable pieces are their panther bracelets. Hinged cuffs ornamented with intensely colored gemstones feature “hand-textured feline [beasts] made of sterling silver” {Fourtane}. “Belly-crawling across the top at the crest…muscles bulging, emerald eyes sparkling and with an open-mouth snarl, [the panther] grips the bracelet with sharpened claws and lays, poised to spring forth and capture his [prey]” {Fourtane}. Design genius!

Today, the Sabbadini’s work together to maintain the prestigious legacy handed down from founding father, Bruno Sabbadini. His son, Alberto, serves as President of the company, working closely with his wife to oversee and promote the brand internationally. Their son, Pierandra, oversees the company’s boutiques in Milan, St. Moritz, and New York. He also organizes the company’s exhibitions, which tour annually to high-end locations, such as Palm Beach, the Hamptons, Montecarlo, Sardinia, and more.

Their daughter, Micol, works alongside her father, designing many of the firm’s contemporary collections. An artist through and through, Micol studied art, and with a style all her own has brought a contemporary edge to the firm’s creations. She credits her brother for the courage she demonstrates daily as an artist. He once told her, “Stop being afraid and start showing the world what you can do” {cited}. As is always the case, the world is better because the artist listened to the mentor and chose to shine.

If you love Made in Italy, or if you’re an avid collector of all things retro, this magnificent Sabbadini bracelet will do you no harm!

EraGem invites you to explore the possibilities of Italian artistry. Just click to purchase, or call to make an appointment to try the bracelet on in our downtown Bellevue showroom.

Designer Spotlight: Milor Italy

Photo © EraGem.
Photo © EraGem

Velvety blue iridescence and streaks of feathery black captivate the eye in this gorgeous cabochon labradorite stone. It appears to draw the light to its deepest depths, swirling it around a bit and then releasing it into a shimmering ocean of movement. Surrounding this stunning central stone is a twisted rope-style bezel of 14k gold. The beauty alone is a sufficient reason to make this ring your own, but we can up the ante with a dose of family heritage.

Since 1979, Milor Group Designs has operated as a family-owned business out of Milan, Italy. Joseph Mouhadab fled to Italy with his family during the Lebanese civil war in the mid-70s. His commitment to learning the ways of the Italian goldsmiths has ensured that Milor is now well established among the finest of these Italian craftsmen.

Furthermore, his commitment to passing on a legacy has ensured that the Milor name will continue, guaranteeing the value of Milor jewels to collectors. Currently, the company continues to thrive under the management of his four sons, Salim, Noury, Moshe, and Albert.

Milor strives to deliver Italian style to an international market. The twisting goldwork and ornate styling of this particular ring are hallmarks of the ancient artistry of the Italian goldsmith. Milor’s devotion to excellence in design, development, and production guarantees that every one of its Made in Italy jewels are made to last.

Made by designers and craftsmen deeply rooted in the Italian tradition, when you purchase this Milor ring you are purchasing not only a piece of this vast history, but also a high-quality jewel.

History & Characteristics of Baguette Diamonds

Sapphire Cocktail Ring with Baguette & Round Diamonds


This stunning cocktail ring strikes a beautiful chord with its classic combination of white gold, white diamonds, and blue sapphire. The central stone, set in a 4-prong claw setting, is a 1.55-carat, oval-cut natural blue sapphire which is only lightly included and radiates in 90% blue and 10% violet color.

The Dali-esque square setting is accented with 24 round brilliant diamonds in a pyramidal design. Four sharply cut baguette diamonds are set diagonally in line with the prongs holding the sapphire in place.

The baguette cut evolved from an antique cut called the hogback, a slender cut which featured a long rectangular table with a simplified crown featuring either a ridge or a single row of steps. Dating as far back as the 16th century, hogbacks were most frequently used to form crosses, letters, and figures.

According to Randle Cotgrave’s French-English dictionary from 1673, a bague was a “ring or jewel set with one precious stone, or more” {cited}, and one definition of baguette was “little jewel” {cited}. However, the word baguette was not used to refer to a diamond cut until the early 20th century, when the geometric designs of the Art Deco movement lent themselves perfectly to the development of the modern baguette cut.

Baguette stones are miniature table cuts and therefore have 14 facets and are most frequently used as accent stones, especially in channel- and pavé-set designs. Though the fire of a baguette diamond is often subdued, the clarity and luster elicited by this cut makes it a stunning accent stone, as demonstrated in this brilliant sapphire and diamond cocktail ring.

Designer Spotlight: Simon G

Simon G Emerald-Cut Sapphire Engagement Ring


A dazzling 1.05-carat blue sapphire takes center stage in this magnificent designer engagement ring. The bold rectangular lines of the stone are echoed by the architectural design of the ring’s shank, where four emerald-cut white diamonds grace the shank. With a rock like this on her finger, your bride will thank Simon G for making her the talk of the town.

Indeed, Simon G prides himself on pouring every ounce of passion he has into every single jewel he makes. Especially when it comes to engagement and bridal jewelry, the LA-based designer knows that history will be indelibly marked when his handiwork is slipped upon the finger of an expectant, but hopefully unsuspecting woman.

As you gaze upon the clarity and beauty of this amazing jewel, you will find it easy to imagine the painstaking care Simon G takes with his work. First, he alloys his own metals, ensuring maximum durability and longevity. Second, he chooses only the highest quality gemstones, sourcing all of his diamonds from Belgium, Israel, and India. Finally, he hand draws every design, infusing each one with old world techniques, intricate details, and nothing short of perfect attention to detail.

Indeed, Simon G declares, “If you want jewelry that gets stared at, you can’t afford to overlook anything.” So with every Simon G piece, you know you are staring at perfection. His value for excellence and his aim to create a legacy were instilled in him as a young boy in Beirut. His hope is that the people who wear his jewelry will find as much joy and pleasure in the wearing as he did when he designed it.

If your bride is a woman who appreciates the finer things, embraces her individuality, and wants her ring to make a statement, then you can’t go wrong with this stunning Simon G ring.

The History and Characteristics of Invisible Settings

Invisible Set Princess Cut Diamond Engagement Ring

This solid platinum estate engagement ring features a stunning 1-carat central round brilliant diamond set in a gorgeous four-prong mounting. Along the shank, 24 princess-cut diamonds are embedded side-by-side in an invisible setting.

Developed in France in the mid-1800s, the invisible setting gives the appearance of a floating gemstone mosaic. Set side by side, the stones are notched by expert jewelers and snapped into place within a wire framework hidden beneath the surface of the mounting. The effect is dazzling, as the light is free to emit greater radiance across unhindered stones.

In 1933, Van Cleef & Arpels, the famed Paris maison, patented their exclusive invisible setting, called the Mystery Setting™. The Mystery Setting™ is most often used to create daring color, with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds set in VC&A’s larger showstopping pieces, such as in their beautiful flower brooches, stunning necklaces and bracelets, and ornate earrings.

In bridal jewelry, the invisible setting is used in two ways. First, as seen in the pictured engagement ring, as a sensational way to showcase princess- or baguette-cut accent stones. Second, the invisible setting allows several smaller diamonds to appear as one large diamond, as seen in this lovely diamond and yellow sapphire halo ring.

Invisible settings are one of the most difficult mountings to make, and they are one of the most susceptible to potential loss of stones. The delicacy of this mounting makes it a poor choice for brides who work regularly with tools or heavy equipment. You will want to remove an invisible set ring before working in the garden, doing heavy housework, or using tools, especially hammers. If your stones do loosen or pop out, be sure to choose an expert jeweler with experience in invisible settings to examine and repair your ring.

Of course, it is this same delicacy that makes an invisible set engagement ring a most stunning choice for the bride who wants sophisticated lines and lots of sparkle. Be sure that you purchase your ring from a reputable dealer in engagement rings, and examine it carefully with your fingers. The surface should be smooth and even. If there are any rough surfaces or if any of the stones are uneven, keep looking. Your perfect engagement ring will be able to withstand the tests of time, so don’t settle for poor construction.

Designer Spotlight: Somos Creations 18k Platinum Enhancer Pendant Features Fifty Natural Diamonds

Somos Creations Diamond Enhancer Pendant

Crafted entirely in 18k platinum, this magnificent enhancer pendant features round brilliant diamonds set off by intricate metalwork fashioned in an ornate shape reminiscent of Art Nouveau design. Fifty high-quality natural diamonds dazzle the eye in this handcrafted treasure from Somos Creations.

Opened in 1979, Somos Creations is an award-winning jewelry design firm established by Kyriakos and Marie Somos. As his wife wrote upon his death, Kyriakos was “a true perfectionist who believed in old-world craftsmanship.” He began his apprenticeship at an early age, working first alongside a sculptor and wood carver, then later under a master jeweler, setter, and hand engraver. His attention to detail and commitment to old-world practices, which he mastered in Greece, kept him busy at his workbench all the days of his life.

Marie Somos was born into the jewelry business. In 1917, her father, Genaro Perrella, became a jewelry apprentice, working long hours hand piecing jewels together. In 1928, her Uncle Charles came alongside her father and learned the craft, as well. Her father passed away just a few years later, and her uncle maintained their original direction, opening his own jewelry design firm in 1948. He maintained an emphasis on hand-made work and followed the European industry standards by which every artisan was trained in all aspects of jewelry design and creation.

Marie Somos designed her first piece of jewelry at the age of 10. She went on to master the art of jewelry design and craftsmanship and went on to partner with her husband in building their legacy, Somos Creations, where she continues to operate their business with the same attention to quality and fine detailed craftsmanship.

This particularly dazzling jewel was designed by Marie Somos, who also designed complementary platinum earrings. As with every piece of jewelry made by Somos Creations, this platinum and diamond enhancer pendant was meticulously handcrafted by highly skilled jewelry artisans in the company’s Nyack, New York, workshop.

Jewelry buyers flock to the Fall Antiques, Fine Art & Collectibles Auction

Jewelry buyers flock to the Fall Antiques, Fine Art & Collectibles AuctionIf you’re interested in expanding your collection of antique jewelry, there’s no better place to do so than at an auction. These events are dedicated to placing valuables on sale to the public, many of which can no longer be found through traditional vendors.

One sale that recently drew jewelry buyers from near and far was the Fall Antiques, Fine Art & Collectibles Auction hosted by Professional Appraisers and Liquidators, according to At the event which was held on October 27, there were 500 lots of valuables for bidders to explore.

“October always brings our best auction,” owner Charles Fudge told the news source. “We spend the Spring and Summer scouring the East Coast, from Maine to Florida, looking for estates, collections and special pieces to present in our Fall Antiques, Fine Art & Collectibles Auction, which is held on the last Saturday of October each year.”

Those who want to find everything from brooches to necklaces that are no longer in production can try their luck at auctions where they have the opportunity to name their own price. Online and phone bidding is also making it easier for people to expand their collections from afar.