All Things Jewelry

  • The Lab-Created Ruby on The Jeweler's Bench


    Lab-Created Ruby Cocktail Ring by Tenthio This gorgeous Tenthio cocktail ring features a striking oval-cut lab-created ruby. It also features natural and synthetic diamond accent stones. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    This designer cocktail ring, featuring a gorgeous lab-created ruby, resembles a budding flower. Golden petals trimmed in natural and lab-created diamonds nestle against each other to form a tight bud. Embedded in their midst is a 1.3 carat created ruby.


    Synthetic vs. Lab-Created Ruby

    Synthetic rubies are chemically discrete from natural rubies. They are most often made out of glass, but can also be made from resin, plastic, ceramic, or other materials. Rarely will you see an imitation ruby at a fine jewelry store, unless it is incorporated as an original part of an antique. A reputable jeweler labels all imitation rubies as such, using terms like imitation, synthetic, or glass.

    A lab-created ruby, on the other hand, is chemically identical to a natural ruby mined from the earth. It has the same chemical, optical, and physical properties of a natural ruby. As long as they are properly labeled, lab-crated rubies are definitely a purchase worth considering.

    As their name implies, created rubies grow in a laboratory setting. Today, gemstone chemists continue to use the historical flame fusion process discovered in the late 1800s by Auguste-Victor-Louis Verneuil.


    History of the Lab-Created Ruby

    Scientists first attempted to create rubies in the early 1800s. Rubies proved rare, and when found they rarely exceeded 3 carats in size. Industry demanded a greater supply, particularly as microabrasives and for jeweled watch bearings.

    The French chemist, Edmond Fremy, reached success first with his huge fireclay crucibles. A mixture of alum, red lead, silica, and potassium dichromate reached temperatures referred to as "red heat" in these crucibles. When held at this high temperature for 20 days, the result yielded small, brittle, but perfectly formed rubies identical to naturally mined rubies.

    Verneuil, who began as Fremy's lab assistant, carried on with the crucible experiments, eventually forming created rubies the size of a nail head. While one jeweler successfully mounted a few of these created rubies into a brooch, and others used them in watches, their small size rendered their use limited in the jewelry industry.

    Eventually, Verneuil discovered Geneva rubies. In 1885, an influx of large jewel-grade rubies hit the market. These rubies appeared to be high-quality stones of rare large carat size. They sold for thousands of dollars per carat.

    However, under microscopic scrutiny, these rubies contained minute opaque spheres, gas bubbles which formed during some sort of melting or fusion process. The French Syndicate for Diamonds and Precious Stones declared them "artificial." They forbid jewelers from selling them as natural and forced those who had already sold them to refund their customers' money. The source of these Geneva rubies remains a mystery to this day.


    Flame Fusion

    While the Geneva rubies caused a fuss for many jewelers, Verneuil studied these manufactured gemstones, looking for a new approach to creating rubies. Using a hydrogen-oxygen or gas-oxygen mixture, Verneuil began using blowtorches to apply flame heat directly to a ruby "feed" made from aluminum oxide.

    Over the next 15 years, Verneuil continued to perfect his technique, creating several means for controlling flow of the feed and gas mixtures, as well as timing for removing the heat. Finally, in 1902, he published his perfected flame fusion method for creating rubies. This method remains the favored method for creating rubies, as I mentioned before.

    In two hours, a lab assistant created a 15-carat boule which could be cut into several faceted rubies. A flame fusion-created ruby possessed identical chemical and optical properties as a natural ruby. The only differences were physical, visible only at the microscopic level. Indeed, they were almost too perfect, lacking the usual inclusions of their natural cousins.


    Benefits of Lab-Created Rubies

    Lab-created rubies offer the jewelry connoisseur several benefits. For one, they come at a lower price point than natural rubies. Yet, they radiate with gorgeous color and beautiful shine in the same way as natural rubies.

    As such, lab-created rubies are the perfect choice for traveling. Travelers often leave their authentic jewels at home, locked away in their safe, while out of the country. But perhaps you wish to travel in style. In that case, we urge you to travel with your lab-created ruby jewelry. That way, you can shimmer and shine as usual without as much fear of loss.

    Finally, creating rubies in a lab leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Manufacturing rubies in a lab uses far less natural and manmade resources than mining rubies does.

    Here at EraGem, we have a handful of lab-created ruby (and other sapphire) jewels we would love to show you. We welcome your call and look forward to hosting you in our showroom very soon.

  • Characteristics of Parti Sapphires

    Parti Sapphire engagement ring A gorgeous Parti Sapphire engagement ring which creates a butterfly pattern. For more details, click here. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.


    Parti sapphires comprise a gorgeous and rare class of corundum. All sapphires belong to the corundum family, a class of gemstones comprised primarily of aluminum and oxygen (aluminum oxide). Parti sapphires include traces of iron and titanium to produce exquisite zones of colors in the same stone.


    Sapphire Characteristics

    In its purest state corundum appears clear white, like a diamond. In fact, at one time pure corundum posed as diamonds in jewelry. However, the rarity of the pure white stone forced jewelers to seek other options for diamond alternatives.

    Corundum is a hard gemstone, rating a 9 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. All sapphires, whether blue, green, yellow, red, or pink, belong to the corundum family. Consequently, all sapphires lend themselves to daily wear. Their hardness protects them from harm throughout most of an ordinary day. Sapphires can be worn every day, as long as they are removed before engaging in heavy work, like gardening, welding, or construction.

    Another bonus of sapphires is that they come in almost every color of the rainbow. Although blue and red/pink (ruby) sapphires are the most popular engagement ring stones, colored gemstone engagement rings are growing in popularity.

    Depending on your preference, you could choose a green, yellow, or even a violet sapphire. You could also choose among two types of very special sapphires - the color change sapphires and the parti sapphires.

    Color change sapphires will appear one color in dim lighting and another color entirely in bright light.


    Parti Sapphires

    Unlike color change sapphires, parti sapphires do not change color in different light. They actually display different colors in different regions of the stone, under all light. Deep in the earth, as the corundum forms, different trace minerals infiltrate the crystal structure in distinct zones.

    These trace minerals create areas of differing colors, most particularly regions of green, blue, and/or yellow. Most parti sapphires display two colors. However, some of these special sapphires display three different color zones.

    These exceptional sapphires primarily come from Australia, though they have also been found in Nigeria, Madagascar, and Tanzania. The rarity of parti sapphires endows them with exceptional value. Typically, the brighter the color zones, the higher the price per carat.

    Usually, parti sapphires radiate in yellows and blues. The most unusual parti sapphire is called Pharaoh's Eye, a blue crystal with a yellow core.

    In light of their unusual color zones, gem cutters typically cut parti sapphires to enhance the color, rather than to preserve carat weight. This can result in unusual cuts with some deviations from the uniform cuts associated with more typical sapphires. Rarely will parti stones be free of inclusions, therefore clarity does not play as large a role in determining value as it does for, say, a diamond.


    What's In the Color?

    As mentioned above, parti sapphires, like all sapphires, obtain their colors from the intrusion of trace minerals. Zones colored yellow or yellow-brown contain trace amounts of only iron. Those with blue zones contain titanium with very scant traces of iron. On the other hand, those with titanium and higher traces of iron appear green.

    The parti sapphire engagement ring pictured above contains zones of deep blue (with a hint of green) and an almost brownish-yellow. The gemstone cutter capitalized on the placement of these color zones to create an enchanting butterfly effect when the light catches the facets.

    This beautiful ring can be yours. Simply give us a call and make an appointment to visit our Bellevue showroom.

  • Art Deco Engagement Ring Characteristics

    Art Deco Engagement Ring Old Euro Diamond w/ Sapphires Platinum

    Art Deco jewelry dates from 1920 to 1935 and represents the transition away from Art Nouveau and Edwardian styles. Whereas artists working in the previous styles imitated nature's sinuous curves, Art Deco designers emphasized the sleek geometric lines of modern industry.


    Three Spectacular Art Deco Engagement Rings

    In this post, we feature three gorgeous engagement rings that characterize the Art Deco style. To begin with, the ring pictured above features a central old Euro cut diamond set in solid platinum. A concave square frame surrounds the stone, with smaller diamonds set in triplicate between two bezel set diamonds on each corner.

    The shank features three single cut diamonds and three channel set calibre' French cut blue sapphires. The lines of the shank and shoulders are stunning in their geometrical renderings. The top and sides of the shank feature engraved wheat motifs. For more information about this stunning engagement ring, click here.

    Art Deco Jewelry

    Jewelry from the Art Deco period features the following characteristics:

    • Geometrical shapes
    • Large central diamonds - Old Euro, Asscher, transitional, cushion cuts
    • Precious stones as accents
    • Combining precious with semi-precious gemstones
    • Platinum or white gold only (no yellow gold)
    • Hand-carved, then later die-cut filigree
    • Wheat motifs
    • Clean, symmetrical or parallel lines
    • Vibrant, colorful designs with bold lines
    • The use of synthetic emeralds and blue sapphires
    • Motifs inspired by India, Persia, Central America, and Egypt


    Art Deco Engagement Ring 1.5 Carat Transitional Cut Diamond w/ Sapphires

    An Intricate Transition Ring

    This gorgeous Art Deco engagement ring features a central transitional cut diamond which sparkles with intense fire in the sunlight. The intricacy of this ring's mount demonstrates a transition from the Edwardian style into the Art Deco style of the early 1920s.

    Four old Euro cut diamonds and 20 French cut synthetic sapphires surround the central stone. Synthetic sapphires were wildly popular during the Art Deco period, as chemists refined new formulas and processes for creating them during this time. These stones are channel set, in keeping with the usual technique of the period.

    The platinum shoulders feature a pierced design accented by three single cut diamonds. The upper portions of the shanks are engraved with wheat motifs. For more information about this magnificent ring, click here.


    Art Deco Engagement Ring Characteristics

    Art Deco engagement ring features demonstrate distinctive characteristics. First of all, they typically feature a larger central stone surrounded by smaller accent stones. Usually, the central stone is either an Old Euro, a cushion-cut, or a transitional diamond.

    Jewelry designers typically paired these larger central stones with geometrically shaped accents of emerald, blue sapphire, or rubies. With the advent of synthetic emeralds and blue sapphires during this period, designers often chose to include synthetic colored stones instead of genuine stones. This is one of the only periods in history in which these synthetic stones do not detract from the value of the ring.

    Of course, the geometrical Art Deco aesthetic demanded new cuts for these accent stones. Parallel lines and geometric channels required novel shapes to fill the spaces between. Therefore, Art Deco artisans invented new accent cuts, including triangular, trapeze, and half-moon cuts. As a whole, the practice of cutting a stone to fit the design is called calibré cut. French cut diamonds and gemstones also suited the purposes nicely for outlining design contours, lining edges, or flanking larger diamonds.

    The platinum or white gold settings of Art Deco engagement rings feature intricate filigree carvings. Early designs are hand carved. However, later filigree was made using innovative die-cut machines.

    As a result, the filigree of the late 1920s and early 1930s appears stark, with cleanly stamped edges. In contrast, late 20th century filigree appears less precise, as a result of the wax molds used in modern replicas.


    Art Deco Filigree Engagement Ring 2 Carat Diamond GIA H/VS2

    Another Gorgeous Gap-Year Design

    Our final Art Deco engagement ring features characteristics of both the Edwardian and Art Deco styles. The Edwardian period spanned the years between 1901 and 1915.

    While most experts date the beginning of Art Deco at 1920, an obvious gap of about 5 years lies in between the two styles. During this time, the styles overlapped and morphed before transitioning from distinctly Edwardian to distinctly Art Deco. We think this ring may have been crafted during those gap years.

    Set in the usual Art Deco platinum, this ring features the characteristic wheat grass etched on its shoulders. The ring features a 2-carat transitional stone, also characteristic of Art Deco style. In addition, the face of the ring demonstrates the intricate die-cut filigree work characteristic of the Art Deco style.

    On the other hand, the rounded curves and elaborate faces of the ring are definitely Edwardian in character. While decorated in filigree, the sinuous curves and rounded diamond accent stones clearly represent a contrast to the stark geometric angles and lines of the Art Deco designs which would become popular in a few years.

    Also, the absence of colored accent stones lends this ring a more delicate elegance, as opposed to the bold sophistication of later Art Deco designs. For more information about this gorgeous ring, click here.


    At EraGem, we hold a particular fondness for Art Deco engagement rings. Besides these three stunning beauties, we offer nearly 200 more Art Deco rings for you to choose from. Call us today to make an appointment to choose your very own Art Deco engagement ring.

  • Vote for EraGem's Best Wedding Rings!

    EraGem has been nominated in the "Best Wedding Rings" category of the Best of Western Washington 2015.  We would love your vote and are offering a great giveaway on EraGem's Facebook page to celebrate.

    Enter for a chance to win this beautiful Montana sapphire ring

    Montana Sapphire Facebook Giveaway

    First go and leave us a vote for "Best Wedding Rings" HERE

    Then leave a comment on EraGem's facebook post announcing the giveaway to let us know that you voted.

    When voting concludes we will randomly select a winner from the comment entries. We hope many of you enter and leave the comment to let us j ow you voted on our facebook!

  • A Leo Diamond®

    A Leo Diamond exhibits excellent brilliance and scintillating fire. This diamond solitaire engagement ring features a .48-carat Leo Diamond mounted in platinum and 18k white gold. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry. A Leo Diamond exhibits excellent brilliance and scintillating fire. This diamond solitaire engagement ring features a .48-carat Leo Diamond mounted in 14k white gold with a platinum head. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

    A Leo Diamond® effortlessly emits an exquisite brilliance in an original way due to its patented modified round brilliant design. Each Leo Diamond® is precisely cut with 66 facets.

    The cut's eight additional facets, which distinguish it from the round brilliant cut, are carefully placed on the pavilion of the diamonds. This precise design ensures excellent return of light, thereby maximizing brilliance and fire.

    As one expert commented after inspecting a Leo Diamond®, these extra facets "do a good job of lighting up the center" of the stone. It is this increased brilliance that serves as the signature characteristic of these specially crafted diamonds.

    This unique cut is the genius of Leo Schacter and his team at Leo Schacter Diamonds. Mr. Schacter navigates his work with a distinctive passion for diamonds and a dedication to excellence and integrity. Every Leo Diamond® conveys this commitment to quality and brilliance.

    Pictured above is a classic diamond solitaire engagement ring which features a .48-carat Leo Diamond® mounted in solid 14k white gold with a platinum head. The inside shank of the ring is engraved with the words "THE LEO", with a small white diamond set in place of the "O". The diamond itself is laser inscribed with the serial number LEO 063720.

    Each Leo Diamond® carries one of these distinctive serial numbers. This "fingerprint" allows a prospective buyer to trace the stone back to the diamond cutters and/or polishers who crafted that particular diamond to perfection.

    In the case of this particular stone, an inquiry informs us that a group of four artisans worked together to craft this Leo Diamond®. Yankee Cohen and Elijah Zariff from Israel, together with Haim Amoyal and Albert Iluz from Morcco,  cut and polished this diamond to perfection. Each of these men are celebrated by Leo Schacter Diamonds as specialists in what they call "brilliandeering"--the art of "revealing the maximum sparkle and fire from within the stone."

    To own a Leo Diamond® is to own a work of distinction. These remarkably cut stones reflect an "unmistakable passion for diamonds" and are endowed by their makers with the symbolism of true and passionate love.

  • Cartier Turban Ornament for the Maharajah of Kapurthala

    The Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala wears the Cartier Turban Ornament fashioned in 1926. The largest hexagonal emerald weighs 117.40 carats. The Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala wears the Cartier Turban Ornament fashioned in 1926. The largest hexagonal emerald weighs 117.40 carats.

    The Cartier Turban Ornament, made in 1926 for the Maharajah Jagatjit Singh of Kapurthala, has been called by Newsweek "one of the most famous pieces Cartier has made" {2}.

    Designed by Royalty?


    According to the Maharajah's great-grandson, Tikkaraja Shatrujit Singh, the ornament was drawn by Jagatjit Singh himself {2}. It features nineteen emeralds in varying sizes and shapes and numerous pearls and white diamonds for accent. The emeralds belonged to the vast treasury of the Maharajah, who commissioned Cartier to reset them in this exquisite modernized turban ornament.

    According to Hans Nadelhoffer, former president of Christie's in Geneva, who wrote Cartier, the definitive work on the jewelry maison's legendary history, notes that the design was pure Orientalism, a sure departure from the Art Deco style Cartier was known for during the 1920s. This may serve as further proof that Jagatjit Singh did indeed design the ornament himself.

    The Cartier Turban Ornament

    Nadelhoffer calls it a "pagoda-style tiara," an apt description indeed {p. 166-67}. The large central emerald, a hexagonal cabochon, weighs 117.40 carats. It is surrounded by round and rose-cut diamonds with six white pearls at each point.

    Just below it rests a smaller emerald cabochon with two wing-type clusters of diamonds set on either side. Beneath this stone hangs a cluster of pearls. Above the central stone rises a top knot of three more emeralds, one smaller hexagonal cabochon, one crescent-shaped, and one pear-shaped. Diamonds serve as accents between and atop these stones.

    Shop Mens Vintage Jewelry

    Symmetrical swags of diamonds, emeralds, and pearls round out the piece on either side of this central display of opulence. Three oval-shaped cabochon emeralds form the foundation of these swags. Each one is surrounded by pave-set diamonds, and each has a round-cut diamond perched atop it.

    Placed in between are two faceted, oval-shaped emeralds with a small emerald bead and a pearl mounted atop each one. A curving arch of diamonds holds everything in place, and a final diamond flourish in the shape of a crescent, with a single pearl resting in its shadow, finishes off the piece.

    Upon the Brow of a Great Prince

    In his book Cartier, Hans Nadelhoffer included a photograph of an ad taken out in Star Magazine in 1931. The ad included a full-spread photograph of the exquisite turban ornament along with the following caption: "For the Brow of a Great Prince" {1}.

    Indeed, the Maharajah of Kapurthala was a great prince, and he loved the opulence his position and wealth afforded him. He commissioned the piece for his Golden Jubilee in 1926, and sat for the above portrait before the painter Marcel Baschet {1}. He wore the ornament throughout his jubilee celebrations and perhaps on other state occasions over the next ten years.

    These occasions, if they happened, do not appear to have been recorded. There are only two other occasions Jagatjit Singh was known to have worn his Cartier Turban Ornament. One was during the Silver Jubilee of King George V of England in 1935 and two years later at the coronation of King George VI {3}.


    1. Nadelhoffer, Hans. Cartier. Chronicle Books, 2007, p. 162.
    2. Reddy, Sameer. "There's Nothing Else Like it in the World," Newsweek, May 26, 2008.
    3. Traveler's India. "Lives of Indian Royalty in Europe: The heyday of European jewelers." Zeno Marketing Communications, Inc., 2004.
  • What's So Special About Orange Diamonds?

    Capture the Essence! of Orange Diamonds with this Colored Diamond Cocktail Cluster Ring with Orange Diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry. Capture the Essence! of Orange Diamonds with this Colored Diamond Cocktail Cluster Ring with Orange Diamonds. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

    A fancy orange diamond mingles with fancy yellow, fancy green, blue, champagne, and white diamonds to form this gorgeous cluster cocktail ring set in 18k yellow gold.  Colored diamonds enjoy a special status in the world of jewels.

    Not only are they rare, but they take the exquisite fire of a diamond to a whole new level. As demonstrated by this magnificent ring, colored diamonds come in nearly every color, but it is the orange diamond with which we are concerned today.

    Orange Diamonds

    Orange diamonds come in a variety of shades, ranging from faint orange to deep, vivid orange. It has long been believed that the color is a result of a nitrogen impurity in the carbon crystal structure. However, experts disagree about what causes the orange in diamonds.

    Gemologists at William Goldberg cite nitrogen as the element responsible {2}. However, Harry Winston believes hydrogen is the culprit. Perhaps it is a combination of the two that really comes into play. For now, the true source of orange in diamonds remains a mystery {2}.

    These orange beauties are found primarily in the mines of South Africa and Western Australia. Orange diamonds are counted among those other hard-to-find colors, such as blue, pink, red, and green.

    The most desirable would be a Fancy Vivid Orange, which is an orange diamond without a hint of brown.  As you might expect, most of these rare beauties have become historically famous and now reside in the collections of some of the world's most celebrated jewelry collectors.

    Famous Orange Diamonds

    Two of the most famous orange diamonds are the Pumpkin Diamond, owned as recently as 2003 by Harry Winston {7}, and the Koi Diamond, owned as recently as 2013 by the Rawstone Business Holding {1}.

    The Pumpkin Diamond is a Fancy Vivid Orange which weighs 5.54 carats. It was mounted in a pinky ring designed by Harry Winston in 1997/98. It was worn by Halle Berry on her left hand during the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony. If you haven't seen her acceptance speech, I highly recommend giving it a viewing. It remains one of Hollywood's most moving moments.

    The Koi Diamond is a multi-hued orange and white diamond weighing 32 carats, which has been cut in the shape of Japan's celebrated Koi fish {1}. The pattern of colors adds to the resemblance and makes the Koi Diamond one of the most unique fancy-colored diamonds in the world.

    Rare and Wonderful

    Orange diamonds are the second rarest colored diamonds, with red being the rarest. According to William Goldberg, less than 1% of all diamonds are orange, with pure orange coming in at an even lower rate {8}. The grading of an orange diamond is based on tint and undertones. The Pumpkin Diamond has been classified with the rare distinction of pure vivid orange without a hint of brown, making it among the rarest of the rare.

    What do you think of orange diamonds? Would you wear a fancy vivid orange diamond?

    Perhaps your style would lead you away from the rarest of the rare and more toward a yellow-orange stone, or a browner orange, like the one pictured in the cocktail ring.

    What about it? Which shade of orange do you prefer?


    1. Butler, Phil. "Sparkling Koi Diamond, the ultimate embodiment of Japanese legend and tradition," Japan Today, May 19, 2013.
    2. Genis, Robert. "Collecting Orange Diamonds," Gem Forecaster, November 2003.
    3. Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDA). "Orange Diamonds." Accessed January 30, 2015.
    4. Naturally Colored. "Orange Diamonds." Accessed January 30, 2015.
    5. Rachminov Diamonds, 1891. "Fancy Color." PDF accessed January 30, 2015.
    6. Rare Colored Diamonds. "FAQs." Accessed January 30, 2015.
    7. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. "The Splendor of Diamonds." Accessed January 30, 2015.
    8. William Goldberg. "Orange Diamonds: Colors of the Fall," October 24, 2012.
  • Big Diamonds Are Irresistible

    Big diamonds flash with blinding light and capture the attention of every passerby. This month, EraGem welcomes these two grand rocks which have recently graced our presence.

    A spectacular 1.74-carat Princess Cut diamond engagement ring by Simon G. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry. A spectacular 1.74-carat Princess Cut diamond engagement ring by Simon G. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

    The big diamond on this dazzling Simon G engagement ring weighs in at 1.74 carats. The central princess cut diamond is flanked on either side by white baguette diamonds. These exquisite accent stones are set into channels decorated with milgrain edging. The shoulders of the ring are bead set with 36 round brilliant diamonds on all three sides.

    A princess cut is a wonderful cut for a big diamond. Its unique pyramid shape and extra facets create greater light dispersion than any other square-shaped diamond. Simon G has maximized this light dispersion by setting this central diamond in a gorgeous cathedral setting, allowing the diamond to catch the light from nearly every possible angle from top to bottom. This is an absolutely stunning ring!

    This This gorgeous pear-cut diamond weighs an astonishing 1.71 carats. The two side stones are also pear cut and bring the total carat weight for this diamond and platinum engagement ring to 2.71 carats. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.

    This ring has three big diamonds. The central stone is a 1.71-carat pear-cut diamond with E color and SI2 clarity, as certified by the GIA. On either side, set horizontally, are two pear brilliant cut diamonds weighing a total of 1 carat together. All three are three-prong set in a hefty mounting of solid platinum.

    This ring is absolutely gorgeous, a true celebration of the pear brilliant cut. This cut features triangular facets and is half-oval and half-marquise in shape. The elongated nature of the pear makes it perfect for accentuating length in the fingers. It can make long fingers appear elegant and pronounced, and can visibly lengthen the appearance of shorter fingers. This ring is absolutely beautiful!

  • Nina Dyer's Jewels Fetch $2.9 Million in 1969

    This pink and blue sapphire panther cocktail ring evokes the mystique of Nina Dyer's Cartier Panther jewels. Nina's panthers were embodied in white diamonds with blue sapphire spots and green garnet eyes. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry. This pink and blue sapphire panther cocktail ring evokes the mystique of Nina Dyer's Cartier Panther jewels. Nina's panthers were embodied in white diamonds with blue sapphire spots and green garnet eyes. Photo ©2015 EraGem Jewelry.


    Nina Dyer's Jewels went under the block on Thursday, May 1, 1969, during Christie's first jewelry auction in Geneva, Switzerland. According to Hans Nadelhoffer, as quoted in The New York Times (1985), Geneva was the 1960s hot spot for jewelry. The Swiss banks were booming, and Geneva's tax laws favored a seller's market, with few tariffs applied to jewelry sales {4}.

    Christie's Auctions Nina Dyer's Jewels

    Christie's opened their offices in Geneva in the summer of 1968, and six months later, auctioned the jewelry collection of Nina Dyer. This collection carried an estimated value of $1.25 million {4; 6}. On the day of the auction, according Alan McGregor, who wrote in 1969 for the Chicago Times, eight hundred of "the world's richest people on earth" packed themselves into the ballroom of the Geneva Hotel Richmond {3}.

    McGregor reported that the sale featured "some 40 lots," most of which belonged to Ms. Nina Dyer. Her collection had been amassed over the course of approximately five years and two divorce settlements. Her first marriage took place in 1954. Her husband, the Baron Hans Heinrich 'Heini' von Thyssen-Bornemiza made his millions in the German steel industry.

    Baron von Thyssen

    According to Arthur Vevsey, reporter for the Chicago Tribune in 1969, in Germany, the Thyssen family's wealth came second only to the illustrious Krupp dynasty {7}. Nina became the Baron's mistress when she was 17 years old {2}. It seems that one of von Thyssen's favorite gestures was to give lavish gifts to those who captured his heart.

    As his mistress, she received two sports cars with gold-plated keys, a Caribbean island, and at least one baby black panther {2}. After several months together, the Baron left his wife and married the young and ambitious model. Ten months later, he divorced her after catching her with another man. As a settlement, Nina received nearly $3 million in cash, almost $400,000 in jewelry, and a chateau {2}.

    Nina Dyer's Cats

    By this time, she had acquired a second black panther. Her cats were everything to her. She took them on trips, during which they would destroy her hotel rooms {2}. She was said to have developed a taste for panther-skin clothing and became well known for her signature panther jewels {5}.

    Most of these pieces were made by Cartier, by commission from Nina Dyer's second husband, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. The prince married Nina on August 27, 1957. The first piece he commissioned was made that same year--a Panther Cliquet Pin.

    This stick pin features a geometrical diamond clasp on one end and a white diamond panther on the other end. The white diamond-bodied panther lifts itself languidly on its front legs. Blue sapphire "spots" cover its entire body, and its green garnet eyes shine brightly from its alert face {1}.

    In 1958, the prince asked Cartier to fashion two more pieces, a two-headed panther bangle and a crouching panther clip brooch. Both were fashioned from the same white diamonds and blue sapphires, with green garnets for eyes and onyx for the noses {1}.

    During the Christie's auction in 1969, these panther pieces were purchased by Cartier and are now kept in Cartier's vast historical jewelry collection.

    Top Dealers Purchase Ms. Dyer's Jewels


    According to Mr. McGregor, dealers from New York, London, and Paris attended the auction on behalf of their clients. The majority of Ms. Dyer's pearls, emeralds, and diamonds were purchased by these esteemed dealers. One of these was a diamond solitaire ring crafted for Nina by Harry Winston in New York. Mr. Winston purchased the ring during the auction for $276,000 {3}.

    At the end of the sale, Nina Dyer's jewels fetched a staggering $2.96 million, more than twice the initial estimates. In her will, Ms. Dyer stipulated that she wished the proceeds from the sale of her jewels to benefit animals in Africa, Asia, and Europe {7}.

    Unfortunately, Swiss law precluded the fulfillment of her last wishes. As a resident of Switzerland, her lawyers were forced to place an advertisement for living relatives. According to Arthur Veysey, fifty potential claimants answered the ad.

    Only one appeared to have a viable claim, a man named William Aldrich. His elaborate story of a double-crossing wife (Nina's mother), failed to convince the courts in November 1967. However, by 1969, it appears as though his appeals granted him access to the fortune of his alleged late daughter. In the Montreal Gazette a report dated February 26, 1969, states that Mr. Aldrich, after 3-1/2 years was legally declared Nina Dyer's father {6}.

    In the same report, the writer states that in honor of Ms. Dyer's final bequest, Christie's staged a champagne reception two nights before the auction. Tickets cost $7.50, and visitors were able to view Ms. Dyer's collection of jewels while sipping champagne and mingling with Geneva's elite patrons. Proceeds went directly to the World Wildlife fund {6}.


    1. Cartier. "The Cartier Collection: Panther." Accessed February 23, 2015.
    2. Jennifer. "The Black Panther Queen," Jennifer Fabulous Blog, August 14, 2012.
    3. McGregor, Alan. "Single Diamond Ring Brings $276,000 at Auction in Geneva," Chicago Tribune, No. 22, May 2, 1969, p. 1.
    4. Reif, Rita. "Auctions." The New York Times, July 5, 1985.
    5. Ross-Simons. "Celebrity Jewelry: Famous Jewels." Accessed February 23, 2015.
    6. "Suzy Knickerbocker," The Montreal Gazette, February 26, 1969, p. 10.
    7. Veysey, Arthur. "Love, Tragedy, and a Fabulous Collection of Jewels," Chicago Tribune, No. 117, April 27, 1969, Features p. 1.
  • Vera Krupp and Her Diamond

    Vera Krupp. Image credit: Alamy Images. Vera Krupp.

    We've been following the legacy of Elizabeth Taylor's famous Krupp Diamond, now called the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond. This gorgeous stone is a 33.19-carat Asscher cut diamond mounted in a Harry Winston platinum band. On its shoulders rest two baguette diamonds set horizontally.

    Vera Krupp

    The Krupp Diamond began its public journey on the finger of Vera Krupp sometime between 1952 and 1956. By 1956, we find Frau Krupp growing weary of life with her husband in Essen, Germany, where the average temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees (F) and the rain falls fairly steadily year-round.

    There are many who write of Alfried Krupp's love for his wife. Several authors, including Jeff Burbank, quote historian William Manchester, who wrote the book The Arms of Krupp in 1968. According to Burbank, Manchester described Herr Krupp as "defenseless against such a woman" {2, p. 117}.

    Apparently, Vera was an assertive woman with few inhibitions who was one of the only people who could make Alfried, generally a straight-faced man, smile {Burbank}. Her beauty, ambition, and intriguing ways served Alfried well during high-powered business dinners {1} .

    However, Alfried was a driven man on a mission to restore his family's company to its former glory. As true as his love for Vera may have been, it is well documented that Alfried Krupp owed his prime allegiance to the business.

    Krupp Steel Works

    The notorious Krupp steel works, which supplied Germany, and many other countries, with weapons and armor for nearly all the European wars of the 21st century, were in dire straits after the Nuremberg trials. Alfried alone could set things right and bring Krupp back to life.

    This took nearly all of his time, and after a few years of neglect, the cultured and sophisticated Vera hungered for warmth and excitement. Burbank writes that she eventually abandoned the "hideous, provincial, joyless city" of Essen in 1955, and purchased a ranch in Las Vegas, Nevada.

    Though the couple's parting appears as a mere blip in the history of Krupp, as described by the majority of its various biographers, it doesn't take a lot of guess work to realize that Vera was done, not only with Essen, but with Alfried Krupp.

    Divorce & Alimony

    In October 1956, Vera filed for divorce. According to Peter Batty, who wrote The House of Krupp, Vera claimed that Alfried refused to have marital relations with her, pressured her to rescind her American citizenship, and "refused her a home life" {1, p. 305}.

    Whether he wanted to contest the divorce or not, Alfried was unable to attend the hearing scheduled on American soil due to his convictions in 1948. The divorce was made final in January 1957, and a sum of ₤1,800,00 was requested immediately, followed by a request for annual alimony payments of ₤90,000 per year {1}.

    According to Mr. Batty, the actual amounts settled upon by the two parties are undisclosed to public record due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding Mr. Krupp's inability to be present for the divorce proceedings. To be sure the settlement was sizable. Given her regular visits into town sporting diamonds and platinum, most prominently the Krupp Diamond, Vera appears to have lived more than comfortably after her marriage ended.


    1. Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.
    2. Burbank, Jeff. Las vegas Babylon: Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

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