• A Gorgeous Brooch by Bayco NY

    Bayco New York Cherry Brooch Pin Diamonds & Pink Sapphires Bayco New York Cherry Brooch with Pink Sapphires and Diamonds. Click here for details. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    This gorgeous cherry brooch, custom made by Bayco NY, features 11 prong-set triangular mixed-cut pink sapphires. The center of each cherry radiates with a round brilliant diamond. Twelve smaller round brilliant diamonds decorate the conjoined stem.

    In total, 19.44 carats of pink sapphires and 3.42 carats of white diamonds adorn this brooch. With the Bayco name, this jewel guarantees exquisite sapphires and diamonds, matchless quality, and a rare opportunity for collectors.

     

    Bayco History

    Bayco's history begins with Amir Hadjibay, a young man inspired by an entrepreneurial spirit. Amir traveled regularly between Iran and India, selling Persian rugs. Eventually, Amir developed an interest in gemstones and began trading them for the elegant rugs.

    His expertise opened royal doors for Amir. Trading with the Maharajahs of India, he began leaving for home carrying bits and pieces of royal jewels. Indescribable treasure.

    Over the next 50 years, Amir, joined eventually by his sons, continued to establish important relationships and networks for buying exquisite gems abroad. Sometime around 2008, Amir's sons decided to begin re-cutting these stones and setting them in their own designs.

    Rejecting mass production, the Hadjibay brothers make each jewel by hand. Designing as a team, they draw upon their extensive exposure to the world of gemstones to create exquisite jewels. Each one unique and custom made according to the Bayco philosophy.

     

    The Bayco Philosophy

    The Bayco philosophy begins with the uniqueness of their gemstones. Known across the industry for their expertise, the Hadjibays source only the most exceptional stones.

    Upon acquiring the stones, they set to work re-cutting the stones to maximize beauty and clarity. The family then orients their designs around these rare and exquisite stones.

    They conceive of each design for specific stones. Sometimes the pieces remain in the vault for years, until the jewel's owner comes to find it and buy it. They have never forced the sale of a piece, trusting their timeless designs will remain in fashion for as long as it takes.

    Although Bayco is relatively new to the jewelry design scene, the family's extensive experience and passion make them a favorite among royals, celebrities, and serious collectors.

     

    Bayco Inspiration

    Since they believe jewelry is eternal, the Hadjibays draw from all ages of jewelry design for their inspiration. Hence, their designs pair classical design principles with a passion for the Mogul era and the extravagant jewels of the Maharajahs of India.

    As I mentioned earlier, each Bayco jewel begins with a precious stone. The design evolves around the stone as muse. Made to accentuate the eternal beauty of the stone, the design must enhance the stone rather than fit it into some kind of mold.

    As such, their jewels typically command astronomical prices. In fact, a 2017 article in Financial Review proposed that the average price for a Bayco jewel is $250,000, with many running in the millions.

    With this in mind, if you are a serious collector of rare and exquisite jewels, might I suggest you give us a call for an appointment? We offer you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to add this Bayco cherry brooch to your collection.

  • René Boissevain - A Man of Passion

    René Boissevain amid the gigantic selenite crystals at Crystal Caves, Australia. René Boissevain amid the gigantic selenite crystals at Crystal Caves, Australia.

     

    René Boissevain is more than a collector. His passion for crystals elevates him to explorer, adventurer, teacher, and philanthropist. I include the latter because he founded two museums, including Crystal Caves, a magnificent place where anyone can see, touch, and see the wonders of the earth in person. This is philanthropy at its finest - sharing your passion with the world.

     

    René Boissevain - Caveman

    Unlike his peers, the young René spent many of his endless childhood hours digging out rabbit burrows. He collected tree branches and drug them within the earth. Hoisting them up between the ground and ceiling of the burrows, he used the branches to create reinforced caves and caverns.

    Around the same time, he conducted a thorough investigation of the habitats of moles. To begin with, he hauled mounds and mounds of dirt into his bedroom. Apparently, this didn't bother his mother. (source)

    Next, he captured a few live moles. Forever an advocate for the wellbeing of wildlife, Rene ensures that no moles were harmed during the course of his experiment.

    With notebook in hand, René spent what must have been hours observing the moles at work. As they built, he performed calculations on how high their mounds rose and how deep their tunnels burrowed. Finally, when the experiment ended, he returned the moles to their native habitat. He gave them all their dirt back, as well.

    This inquisitive, hands-on approach to life remains with René Boissevain to this date. Though now in his 80s, he remains as young at heart as he was in the bedroom that day.

    His many explorations have taken him all over the world, inspiring an eclectic collection of jobs and skills. In keeping with his love of animals, his resume includes guinea fowl breeder, bird nesting materials farmer, and mink farmer. He also worked as a tobacco grader, a café owner, a sales rep, a museum owner, and a cave builder.

     

    Building Crystal Caves

    While working as a tobacco grader in tropical Northern Australia, René met a man who introduced him to Agate Creek. For three years during the mid-1960s, René and his wife Nelleke took regular excursions to Agate Creek.

    The couple loaded their Nissan Patrol with camping gear, picks, shovels, food, and water. Setting off into the Australian wilderness, they drove for two days and camped for almost two weeks at a time.

    Every day, they endured blistering sun and dusty environs in order to haul home as many agates as possible. Though at one time agates the size of potatoes lay around on the surface, by the time the Boissevains found the site, surface finds were rare.

    Therefore, the couple dug holes up to 9 feet deep, hauling and dragging agates to their vehicle. After the end of each stay, they hauled the rocks home. Sorting and cutting came next. René learned to cut and polish the collector-worthy pieces.

     

    Jewelry & Museums

    In 1969, René moved his wife and daughter back to Holland in an attempt to transmit his passion for agates into sales. Alas, his kinfolk found little use for the rocks. Far from ready to give up, René transformed these "rocks" into beautiful jewelry. These, he and his wife sold without limit.

    Very quickly, they earned enough money to open a museum. They chose a rainforest theme for the museum, using the lush tropical backdrop to highlight many of René's mineralogical treasures. In 1977, René retired and moved his family back to Australia.

    During a three-year period of ease, he continued fostering his passion for minerals and gem cutting. He also began dreaming, literally, of a new museum.

    Every day, René lay on his bed imagining a grotto. Each imagined foray into this grotto expanded the vision for leading people on their own cave explorations for mineralogic treasures.

    Today, the dream lives in full color. Visitors to the Crystal Caves receive a miner's hat and a catalog before embarking on a winding exploration of over 300 meters of caves, grottos, and tunnels designed and created by René Boissevain.

    Along the way, visitors happen upon crystal treasures around every corner. The 600 specimens, some of which stand taller than a man, were all obtained by the faithful exploration of René Boissevain and his family.

    Though René is now retired, his daughters continue to run the Crystal Caves, ensuring that others continue to experience the fascinating wonders of mother earth. For more information about visiting the Crystal Caves, I invite you to visit their website.

  • Carmeltazite the World's Newest Gemstone

    Carmeltazite, the newest gemstone discovered in Israel. Carmeltazite, the newest gemstone discovered in Israel. Also known as Carmel Sapphire.

     

    The world's newest gemstone, Carmeltazite, was found in Israel near Mount Carmel. The mining company Shefa Yamim found the new mineral in their corundum mines.

    Not surprisingly, they named it after the location it was found - Mount Carmel - and three distinctive minerals that comprise it - Tanzanite, Aluminum, and Zirconium.

     

    The Great Discovery

    While the International Mineralogical Association registers new minerals every year, Carmeltazite caused a sensation. To date, the mine in the Haifa District of Israel remains the only source of the new gemstone.

    Its rarity and potential as a gemstone prove exciting news for the mining company and the jewelry industry. The gemstone forms within veins of corundum (sapphire). Experts believe Carmeltazite and its host sapphire formed deep beneath the earth, near the crust-mantle boundary.

    At a depth of nearly 18 miles, extreme heat and pressure forced fluids out of the molten corundum. From these free-agent fluids, a new mineral formed. Together, Carmeltazite and sapphire erupted into the earth's crust through the many volcanic vents in the region.

    Eons later, Shefa Yamim discovered the metallic black-green veins running through the larger blue sapphire vein. The mining company recognized an important opportunity and sent the specimens for analysis. After that, the Mineralogical Association approved its registry as a new mineral.

     

    Carmeltazite Characteritics

    The Mineralogical Association classified the new stone as a complex zirconium-aluminum-titanium-oxide. It also contains trace amounts of scandium, calcium, and magnesium.

    While it shares a similar chemical composition to rubies and sapphires (corundum), Carmeltazite possesses properties uniquely its own. In the rough, it ranges from black, to blue-green, to orange-brown.

    In light of the similarities it shares with its blue sapphire host, Shefa Yamim patented the new gemstone with the name Carmel Sapphire.

    From the beginning, they hoped to market it for jewelry. On February 26th, the mining company announced a collaboration with jewelry designer Yossi Harari.

     

    The Heaven On Earth Collection

    In addition to Carmeltazite, Shefa Yamim has discovered 30 more unique gemstones in their mines. Yossi Harari worked closely with leaders of the mining company to design a suite of jewels using these exciting new gemstones.

    Harari designed 31 jewels using the new gemstone minerals. Of course, Carmeltazite, as their Carmel Sapphire, features prominently in the suite of jewels.

    He designed and handcrafted each jewel in the Heaven on Earth Collection in 24K 'Gilver'. An alloy combining 24K gold with oxidized silver, Gilver provides a gorgeous setting for the exceptional jewelry.

    Conceived with the historicity of the Hebrew Promised Land, the jewels resonate with a Mediterranean aura. Following ancient goldsmithing techniques, Harari fashioned each piece by hand in his Istanbul atelier. He drew inspiration from the sacred sites of Israel, as well as from archeological Mediterranean jewelry of old.

    Working without the use of casts or molds, Harari ensures the uniqueness of each jewel. Every piece in the collection merges the modern with the ancient. Two of the rarest and newest gemstones on earth, Carmel Sapphire (Carmeltazite) and Moissanite, establish the collection as truly Heaven on Earth.

     

  • The Jacklin Collection of Silicified Wood and Minerals

    Petrified Wood is a primary focus of the Jacklin Collection Petrified Wood is a primary focus of the Jacklin Collection on display at Washington State University. Photo from flickr.

     

    The Jacklin Collection, on display at Washington State University in Pullman, features an extensive collection of silicified (petrified) wood and mineral specimens. Gifted to the University by alumni Lyle and Lela Jacklin in 1983, the collection contains petrified wood dating back 200 million years ago.

     

    40 Years of Rockhounding

    Housed on the first floor of the Kate B. Webster Physical Sciences Building, the Jacklin Collection features hundreds of mineral and mineralized wood specimens, such as sections of petrified trees. For over 40 years, the Jacklin family spent their free time rockhounding together.

    Scouring the Saddle Mountain region of Vantage, Washington, as well as the Hampton Butte and Swartz Canyon areas of Eastern Oregon, the family eventually expanded into other western states of the US, and even to Europe.

    Many of the specimens in the Jacklin Collection came from California, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona. They also hunted in Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

    For some of the more exotic specimens, the Jacklins traded material they had hunted themselves. Some of these exotic specimens come from Mexico and Brazil.

     

    Highlights from the Jacklin Collection

    The Jacklin Collection represents one of the most extensive collections of cut and polished petrified wood in the United States. Perhaps the most exciting item in the collection is a section of petrified palm tree.

    Believe it or not, palm trees grew abundantly in Central Washington about 12 million years ago, when the climate was far milder. The collection also includes an 8-foot petrified tree, as well as a 500-pound portion of tree trunk which shows evidence of prehistoric beaver teeth marks!

    The majority of the Jacklin Collection consists of similar sections of petrified logs, gorgeous geodes (or thunder eggs), dinosaur bones, and bookends made from petrified wood. The University offers free admission to view the Jacklin Collection during open hours on the weekdays.

     

    The Jacklin Family

    The family behind the Jacklin Collection resided in Spokane, Washington, during the 1930s through the 1970s. In 1936, Lyle Jacklin, along with his father, and a cousin, founded the Jacklin Seed Company.

    In its beginnings, the Jacklin Seed Company specialized in the development of pea, lentil, and navy bean seeds. After World War II, Lyle's brother Arden joined the company. At that point, the company expanded to include grass seed.

    The Jacklin Seed Company flourished as they expanded to include research, breeding, and production of many types of turf grass seed. Presently, the company holds patents on a number of these varieties of grass seed.

    In 1977, the family moved the company to Post Falls, Idaho, where they began producing Kentucky blue grass seed. Twenty years later, the family sold the company to J.R. Simplot.

    Several generations of Jacklins graduated from Washington State University. In addition to the donation of the Jacklin Collection, the family also sponsors an Education Abroad Endowment.

    Visitors to the WSU campus can stop in and view the Jacklin Collection during the science building's open hours. For more details, please visit the university's website.

  • 3 Reality Stars Engaged in Early 2019

    Rachel Missie, who is engaged to reality star Abram Boise, chose Montana Blue Sapphire You can choose a Montana Blue Sapphire engagment ring like Rachel Missie, who is engaged to reality star Abram Boise. Click here for more details. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    As usual, several celebrites got engaged during the first two months of the year. Several posts ago, I wrote about three actresses who got engaged in February. Today, I write about three reality stars who either popped the question or announced their engagements in January and February.

     

    Mariah Brown Engaged

    Mariah Brown, of Sister Wives fame, announced her engagement to girlfriend Audrey Kriss this February. She popped the question at the Women's March in Washington, D.C., on January 16.

    Surrounded by a crowd of women, Mariah knelt down on one knee and presented a ring to Audrey. The ring appears to be a classic diamond solitaire set in white or yellow gold.

    Mariah chose the moment to commemorate their first date two years prior. Mariah describes the first march as "such a special time," expressing that she planned to propose there.

    Audrey, so overcome with emotion, cried and cried. Mariah stood up, gave her a kiss, and then heard those around her asking if Audrey said, "Yes."

    She hadn't. "I do! I do!" she cried. Eventually, the stunned Audrey said, "Yes."

     

    JJ Lane Engaged to Kayla Hughes

    You may remember JJ Lane from his appearance on The Bachelorette. Today he works as an investment banker. On January 28, he announced his engagement to Kayla Hughes.

    He spent four months planning the proposal, teasing Kayla along the way. JJ told the former NFL cheerleader to make sure she had her nails done at all times between January and April.

    He surprised her during a vacation trip to Hawaii. On the Beach at the Beach House Restaurant in Kuai, at sunset, JJ knelt on one knee and popped the question.

    Kayla said yes, so he slipped a gorgeous diamond solitaire on a yellow gold band onto her finger. In his many social media announcements, JJ Lane credits New World Diamonds with the creation of the custom made ring.

    New World Diamonds specializes in lab-created diamonds. Lab-created diamonds, they say, provide a sustainable, conflict-free, earth-friendly option for engagement rings. I estimate Kayla's lab-created rock weighs between 2 and 4 carats.

     

    Abram Boise Engaged to Rachel Missie

    Abram Boise is a long-time MTV reality TV star. He starred in Road Rules and The ChallengeOn Valentine's Day, Abram asked Rachel Missie to marry him.

    On Instagram, Rachel explains that she is not a big fan of jewelry. In fact, she doesn't even like diamonds. When picturing her special day in the future, she always skipped the engagement ring.

    "I never thought I would connect with someone on such a level and if I did, would only have a wedding band," she wrote.

    Abram asked her to think more deeply about the idea of an engagement ring. She did some searching and came upon the Montana blue sapphire, a gorgeous and unique stone! One tidbit she gives away as to the meaning of the stone for her? It matches his eyes.

    The ring features what looks like it might be a copper band with a tear-drop shaped, bezel-set, cabochon Montana sapphire. It is simply gorgeous.

    Congratulations to all! May love and joy abound in your lives together!

  • Christie's Diamonds as Told By Victor Meylan

    Diamonds are Christie's Favorite

     

    In my last installment reviewing Victor Meylan's book, Christie's: The Jewellery Archives Revealed, I focus on the last chapter of his book. Not surprisingly, Meylan saves the best for last.

    Chapter 11 is all about Diamonds. I’ve already written articles about The Archduke Joseph Diamond, The Princie, The Star of South Africa, and the Oppenheimer Blue Diamond.

    Now, I get to write about three more - The Agra, The Polar Star, and The Eureka Diamond.

     

    Christie's Sells The Agra

    In 1990, The Agra, a pink diamond weighing 32.24 carats, sold at Christie's. This gorgeous gem is one of the oldest precious stones in the world.

    Originally thought to belong to the rajahs of Gwalior, the Duke of Brunswick acquired The Agra in 1844. In 1909, it sold in Paris, having come to auction through Salomon Habib.

    After Christie's sold it in 1990, the new owner shaved several more carats off it, most likely to improve clarity and color. The original stone weighed 41 carats. Today it weighs 28.15 carats.

     

    The Polar Star

    The Polar Star, another Indian diamond, weighs 40 carats. Joseph Bonaparte, King of Naples and Spain, appears to be the first European to own the stone.

    Eventually, Prince Felix Youssoupov purchased the stone, taking it with him to Russia. In 1917, Felix escaped the revolution and took The Polar Star with him.

    With the help of Cartier, he sold the diamond to Lady Deterding of England. It came to Christie's among the other offerings of Lady Deterding's estate in 1980 and sold to an unknown buyer.

     

    The Eureka Diamond

    The Eureka Diamond holds the distinction as the first important diamond discovered in South Africa. When on display at the 1867 Exposition in Paris, it weighed 21.25 carats.

    In 1946, at the time it passed through Christie's doors, it weighed 10.73 carats. It sold at Christie's London that year as part of a bracelet.

    In 1967, de Beers purchased the diamond and subsequently donated it to the people of South Africa. Today, it's on permanent loan at the Kimberley Mine Museum.

    I'm truly blown away by the scope of this magnificent book. Meylan wrote fascinating tales about so many jewels and their intriguing owners. Accompanying each tale, exquisite photographs of gorgeous jewelry dazzle the eye.

    Furthermore, portraits of the people who wore them place the jewels in context of time and culture. Also, scanned images of inventory documents and Christie's catalogs add to the historicity of the book.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge about some of the most important jewels of history.

  • Tales of Celebrities and the Far East From Christie's

    Christie's Often Sells Jadeite Similar to this jewel

     

    Here I offer part three of my series on Victor Meylan's book, Christie's: The Jewellery Archives Revealed. This time I want to highlight Chapters 9 and 10 of the book, Ladies of the Stage and Gems from the Far East.

     

    Christie's Celebrates Celebrities

    Chapter 9, Ladies of the Stage, focuses on Merle Oberon and Gloria Swanson. Merle Oberon hit the big screen in 1933, playing the role of Anne Boleyn in Korda's film The Private Life of Henry VIII. Her story is yet another one of rising fame, closely held secrets, and private tragedy.

    Meylan states that Merle Oberon's collection of jewels was the most beautiful ever sold at Christie's. Following her death, her exquisite collections of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires sold at Christie's in 1980.

    From Gloria Swanson's vast collection of jewels, Meylan draws special attention to a pair of rock crystal and diamond bracelets by Cartier. He goes on to describe their singular Art Deco technique and elegance.

    Meylan slips right into the next paragraph detailing the singular sensation of Gloria Swanson herself. He describes her as the first person to capture the affection and attention of the international press, calling her the first "star."

    After her death in 1983, most of her collection sold through a New York gallery. In 1988, the Cartier bangles found themselves up for auction at Christie's Geneva. Cartier smartly purchased them back for their personal collection.

     

    Gems of the Far East

    Chapter 10, Gems from the East, highlights jewels from India, China, and more. These include the treasures of Aga Khan and the Soong Sisters.

    Contended by the Aga Khan himself, the sale of the wealthy Imam's treasures to Christie's was organized by his ex-wife, Princess Salimah. After ruling in the princess's favor, the court suggested that the contentious ruler buy his jewels back at auction if he really wanted them.

    In November 1995, Christie's Geneva offered the collection for sale, raising an astonishing 31 million Swiss francs. One jewel rose above the rest, fetching 8.8 million francs.

    The Begum Blue, a 13.78 carat blue diamond cut in the shape of a heart, forms a portion of the elaborate pendant of a diamond necklace designed by Poiray.

     

    The Soong Sisters

    Moving on to China, Meylan hails Soong Mei-ling as one of the most famous women of the 20th century. She and her two sisters married powerful Chinese men. Each of these women played an integral role in China's rise in global power in the 20th century.

    The sisters remained close throughout their lives, passing their jewels back and forth to one another. One sister married a millionaire. Meanwhile, a second sister became honorary President of the Chinese Republic. Finally, one converted her husband to Christianity, blending eastern and western traditions.

    Their jewelry collection sold at Christie's Hong Kong in 2015, raising more than $14 million. The top three lots all featured gorgeous green jadeite.

    Again, the stories Meylan tells fascinate, inspire, and compel historians and collectors alike. Stay tuned for my final installment of this series - Christie's Diamonds!

  • Christie's Book Highlights the Jewels of Tragedy

    Jewels worthy of Christie's

     

    I continue here with part two of my series about Victor Meylan's fabulous book, Christie's: The Jewellery Archives Revealed.

    In this segment, I'll share about the jewels associated with tragedy. First of all, those belonging to tragic lovers. Then, those seized by revolutionaries in countries riddled with war.

     

    With Love From Christie's

    Chapter 6, From Christie’s with Love, focuses on jewelry owned by troubled lovers. Elizabeth Taylor, Empress Soraya, and Marie Mancini stand out.

    Elizabeth Taylor's jewels from all her many lovers sold for more than $130 million. Empress Soraya, nicknamed The Sade Princess, endured so much tragedy. Worst of all, she was forced to divorce the love of her life in order to ensure an heir to the throne.

    Marie Mancini fell madly in love King Louis XIV. He loved her back. Unfortunately, the royal family frowned upon their plans to marry, especially the king's mother. Sadly, Louis's family forced Marie into exile, but not before the King gave her a string of pearls.

    Her return to France after the King married a Spanish princess flustered the king's family. So they married her off to Italy, taking her pearls from the king, as well as her collection of jewelry and gemstones from her uncle, Louis XIV.

    Pearls & Disgrace

    Moving on to Chapter 7, Meylan highlights several famous pearls, including La Peregrina and the Necklace of the Baroda Maharajahs. La Peregrina arrived at Christie's among the vast collection of Elizabeth Taylor's jewels. Measuring 203 grains, the extraordinary pearl dates back more than four centuries to the Spanish Royal Collection.

    Meanwhile, the necklace belonging to the Baroda Maharajahs represents a fantastic collection of pearls, strung in seven strands. By the time the necklace found its way to Christie's, it had been reduced to the top three strands of pearls.

    The favorite of the legendary Maharani Sita Devi, these pearls sold at Christie's as one of many lots. Maharani Sita Devi had so many beautiful jewels. The stories about her are endless. Unfortunately, she possessed a bite to her personality, and eventually she lost her standing.

    In 1974, she was forced to sell her jewels for much needed cash for her and her son Princie. All told, the entire collection sold for $7 million.

     

    Blood Money

    In Chapter 8, Meylan writes of five bloody revolutions and the jewels taken as spoils of war. He begins with Russia.

    In 1918, the Bolsheviks murdered the entire Romanov family and seized as many of the Russian jewels as they could. This nationalization of jewelry and other property continued under Stalin.

    In 1921, the government needed funds to bolster their faltering economy. Leon Trotsky employed Agathon Faberge to catalog the extensive Russian Crown Jewels, as well as those seized over the decades of revolution.

    An astonishing 25,300 carats of diamonds and 4,300 carats of sapphires numbered among thousands of other gemstone jewels. The leaders planned to sell all of it to the highest bidders.

    At the last minute, the Soviet government decided to reserve some of these jewels in the Kremlin for public display. The rest they sold privately. Fortuitously, a collection of 124 pieces, sold to a group of businessmen, came to auction at Christie's in 1927.

    Several more countries lost their jewels through revolution, including Spain (twice), Iran, and Egypt. The stories of these losses and their subsequent passage through the hallowed halls of Christie's makes excellent historical reading in Meylan's book.

    Stay tuned for the final installment in my series on Victor Meylan's book.

  • Royal Jewels Featured in Book About Christie's

    Jewels Worthy of Christie's
    The staggering number number of jewels passing through Christie’s auction house each year blows the mind. In his landmark 2016 book Christie’s: The Jewellery Archives Revealed, Victor Meylan tells the stories of some of the most important jewels sold at Christie's. He also tells the stories of the remarkable people who owned them.

    In this three-part series, I will highlight elements from throughout the book. I begin with notable jewels owned by past royalty.

     

    Royal Jewels Sold at Christie's

    In the first five chapters, Meylan describes notable jewels of royal courts. Highlights include a diadem and seven other lots formerly owned by Queen Draga of Serbia, a diamond and gemstone bracelet once owned by HRH Princess Margaret, and a diamond rivière worn by Empress Josephine de Beauharnais.

    Assassinated by her people in 1904, Queen Draga of Serbia's story ends with seven lots sold to Christie's by an unknown party. Among these lots, a beautiful diadem of brilliant diamonds which she wore at her wedding to King Alexander in 1900. Today, no one knows who brought the items to Christie's.

    HRH Princess Margaret, who passed away in 2002, left behind several magnificent jewels. Her collection sold at Christie's for an astonishing 9 million pounds.

    One jewel stands out, a diamond bracelet with a pearl, a sapphire, and a ruby, which sold for 67,000 pounds. Princess Margaret's grandmother, Queen Mary originally purchased the bracelet from the estate of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.

     

    Empress Josephine of France

    A final jewel of note highlighted in the book, a diamond rivière, once belonged to Empress Josephine de Beauharnais. Josephine married Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796. Theirs was a marriage of great romance and passion, as well as great tragedy. Josephine died of pneumonia in 1814.

    Almost sixty years later, the first of her jewels found their way to the block at Christie's. They arrived through her grandson Prince Louis Napoleon.

    After another sixty-five years, another group of her jewels sold through Christie's. Among these lots offered by her distant relatives descended from her son Eugene, Meylan draws attention to what he refers to as the most important of her jewels. A diamond rivière comprised of 40 graduated diamonds, perfectly matched one to another.

    The stories Meylan tells of the royal figures whose jewels sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometime millions, are intriguing, fascinating, and exciting.

    I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in royal jewels or collecting jewelry. Stay tuned for the next installment, where I discuss stories of tragic love and gorgeous jewels.

     

  • Iolite History + Characteristics

    Iolite Cocktail Ring Estate Natural Iolite Domed Cocktail Ring. Click here for more details. Photo ©2019 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Iolite is a fairly new gem classified in the cordierite family. As such, it is a silicate mineral gemstone with magnesium, iron, and aluminum. Though cordierite has been around for a long time, iolite has only been known since the 1700s.

     

    Iolite History

    Named in 1912, iolite actually held popular sway in jewelry before that. Throughout the 1700s, the blue crystal adorned jewelry in Europe. However, it seems to have fallen out of fashion for reasons unknown to me.

    In 1996, an American geologist by the name of W. Dan Hausal discovered the bluish-violet cordierite in Palmer Creek, Wyoming. Since then, Palmer Creek remains an important source for the stone.

    In fact, the largest known iolite crystal was discovered there in Grizzly Creek, Wyoming. This magnificent crystal weighs more than 24,000 carats. An astonishing find.

    Iolite elicited its name from the Greek word ios, which means "violet." Not surprisingly, it most commonly forms in hues of blue, ranging from pale to dark blue, often with a violet tinge. This beautiful gemstone also forms in shades of yellow, brown, gray, and green.

     

    Iolite Properties & Characteristics

    Possibly the most interesting characteristic iolite displays is its pleochroism. Pleochroism refers to the way light reflects off the surface of the crystal. A pleochroic gemstone appears to be different colors when looked at from different angles.

    Sometimes referred to as dichroic, the gem may appear light blue from one angle and completely transparent from another. Some specimens even demonstrate three colors at different angles. Indeed, iolite demonstrates more visible color changes than most other pleochroic gemstones.

    As mentioned before, iolite hails from Wyoming in the United States. Deposits also surfaced in Connecticut (USA), Australia, Canada, Norway, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Madagascar, Namibia, and Brazil.

     

    The Compass Stone

    The waters of the Arctic Sea are frigid. The cold temperatures combined with a sunny day often lead to what the locals refer to as sea smoke. Actually a misty vapor, sea smoke obscures the sun and other landmarks even on a clear day.

    In the time of the Vikings, when sailors navigated the Arctic Sea by sun and stars, this sea smoke created a problem. The Danish archaeologist Thorkild Ramskou first proposed that the Vikings solved this navigation issue with the use of iolite.

    By reading the Sagas and other Viking texts, Ramskou learned that the Vikings used a special "sunstone" to filter out the haze and locate the sun. He proposed that whatever this Compass Stone was, it had to be available locally, and quite abundantly.

    With its powerful pleochroism and its abundance in Viking territory, iolite fit the bill. Since Ramskou first proposed the notion, gem experts commonly refer to iolite as the Compass Stone.

    Of course, no one knows for sure which stone the Vikings used. However, modern navigational experiments have proven that iolite would work to locate the sun in sea smoke conditions in the Arctic. Therefore, it remains a strong contender.

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