Ravishing Rubies

Although the word ‘ruby’ simply means ‘red’ in Latin, this precious stone can be found in a range of shades from pale pink to a deep red known as ‘pigeon’s blood’. Pigeons might be surprised to hear it, but pigeon’s blood rubies are in fact the most valuable!

Rubies have been mined in Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar, for thousands of years, and were traded to Europe along the Silk Road. They were highly desired wherever they went. In ancient India, rubies were known as the “king of gems,” and often paired with sapphires in local jewelry. Rubies were so precious in the ancient world that the writers of the Old Testament often compare its value to that of wisdom itself.

Two of the world’s most valuable rubies are shrouded in mystery. The Liberty Bell Ruby was the largest ruby ever to be mined. Discovered in Africa in the 1950s, it was carved into the shape of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to honor the Bicentennial of the American Revolution in 1976. Sadly, the jewel was stolen in 2011.

No less mysterious is the Sunrise Ruby, the most expensive ruby in the world, named for a poem written in the thirteenth century by the Sufi poet Rumi. This gem fetched over thirty million dollars at auction. It was purchased by an anonymous bidder. At this time the whereabouts of the Liberty Bell and Sunrise Rubies are unknown.

But at least lovers of rubies can always turn to the poet Rumi whose verse gave the Sunrise Ruby its name. In a poem of love and devotion, Rumi compares the purity of his feelings for his beloved to the intense, all-encompassing red of a ruby:

He says, There is nothing left of me.

I am like a ruby held up to the sunrise.

Is it still a stone, or a world

made of redness? It has no resistance

to sunlight. The ruby and the sunrise are one.

It has been over eight hundred years since Rumi wrote this poem yet rubies continue to inspire us with their ravishing beauty!

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Angelababy’s Fabulous Wedding Jewelry

Angelababy wed Huang Xiaoming in May 2015, in one of the world’s most lavish wedding ceremonies ever. The wedding banquet cost a whopping $31 million US, pushing the Kardashians into the pauper category. Angelababy wore some exceptional jewelry at the wedding, along with her lavish Dior gown, featuring yards and yards of organza and tulle.

Angelababy is a highly successful Chinese model, actress, and singer. She’s most recently known for her voice in the Cantonese version of the Disney movie Tangled, and Independence Day: Resurgence, Kill Time and The Ferryman are being released in 2016.

With all this movie star activity comes an income to match. The beautiful jewelry at her wedding was lent to her by the prestigious jewelry house Chaumet, that has been around since 1780. It was originally founded by Marie Etienne Nitot and is now owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton).

Prior to the wedding, the couple visited the Chaumet headquarters at Place Vendome in France to select the exquisite pieces. It’s not known whether Angelababy got to see her fabulous wedding band in advance though.

The Chaumet jewelry made the wedding truly majestic. From their collection was a diamond and pearl brooch, a necklace, and an antique tiara called the Chaumet Curvilinear, made with white gold, diamonds, and natural baroque pearls. These items are usually housed in their Paris museum. They were designed and crafted during the 1930s and complemented Angelababy’s youthfulness and elegance.

The Chaumet bow brooch is fit for royalty and features large oval shaped pearls and pave set diamonds. It was commissioned in the 11th century by the French noble family La Rochefoucauld. It was a perfect and auspicious choice for the wedding gown, as the bow-knot is a symbol of happiness in China.

During the ceremony she received an elaborate wedding band from the groom, with a design echoing that of the tiara. It was crafted out of platinum and features an exceptional five carat, pear shaped, diamond center stone. It has been aptly named the Josephone Aigrette Imperiale ring and proudly bears the Chaumet trademark.

Angelababy had the distinction of wearing jewelry fit for royalty at her magical wedding. Even though she had to return most of the pieces to Chaumet, she did get to take home her stunning wedding band, and the groom too!


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Tantalizing Topaz

Topaz, the primary birthstone of November, is a mineral made of hard silicate. Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but gets tinted by impurities. This often valuable and popular gem has regularly been misidentified and is sometimes confused with, the other birthstone of the month, citrine.

Topaz has been found around the Mediterranean since ancient times. It comes in several different colors such as yellow, gold, orange, blue, violet, green, pink and red. Natural pink hues are the rarest. Imperial topaz, also known as precious topaz, is the most sought after. It gets its names from the 17th century Tsars, who claimed exlusive rights to the pink topaz gemstones mined in Russia.

Blue topaz can rarely be found in nature. However, today, thanks to advancements in technology, blue topaz has become regularly available and highly fashionable. Blue topaz is usually colorless at first, and later treated with radiation to get its stable ‘sky blue’ or ‘London blue’ color.

Topaz is one of the hardest gemstones found in nature. Its stunning colors and brilliance make it understandably a very attractive and fairly afforable choice for jewelry. Fine topaz pieces can easily be washed by using warm water and mild soap.

It is believed that topaz has certain healing characteristics. It has a reputation for being a cold prevenative, encourages relaxation, restores energy and boosts creativity. It is often associated with virtues such as wisdom and courage. The ancient Greeks used it to give them strength before battle, to restore sanity and to cool down a temper.

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Faberge Egg Reborn

Fabergé, the world’s most iconic artist jeweler, has after 99 years revived its revered tradition of creating the most precious and coveted of objets d’art, the “imperial egg”.

Founded in 1842, by Peter Carl Faberge, the company won worldwide acclaim for its artistry in creating objets d’art, jewelry and timepieces. The imperial Easter eggs, which were commissioned by The Russian royal family, are universally recognized as some of the greatest masterpieces of the jeweler’s art.

The story began, in 1885, when Tsar Alexander III decided to give a jeweled Easter egg to his wife the Empress Marie Fedorovna, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. It is believed that the Tsar, who had first become acquainted with Fabergé’s virtuoso work at the Moscow Pan-Russian Exhibition in 1882, was inspired by an 18th century egg owned by the Empress’s aunt, Princess Wilhelmine Marie of Denmark. The object was said to have captivated the imagination of the young Maria during her childhood. The Tsar was, apparently, personally involved in the design and execution of the egg, making suggestions to Fabergé as the project went along.

Easter was the most important occasion of the year in the Russian Orthodox Church. A centuries old tradition of bringing hand-colored eggs to church to be blessed and then presented to friends and family, had evolved through the years and, among the highest echelons of St Petersburg society, the custom developed of presenting valuable bejeweled Easter gifts.

So it was that Tsar had the idea of commissioning Fabergé to create a precious Easter egg as a surprise for the Empress. Thus the first Imperial Easter egg, The Hen Egg, was born and with it a 32 year annual tradition that continued all the way up until the Russian Revolution.

This year in collaboration with the Al-Fardan family, one of the world’s most renowned collectors of pearls, Fabergé has crafted the extraordinary Pearl Egg.

Pearls have been coveted and treasured for centuries, linked inextricably with royalty, style and status. The Pearl Egg draws inspiration from the formation of a pearl within an oyster.

Harnessing twenty highly skilled workmasters, the egg has been crafted from 139 white pearls, 3305 diamonds, carved rock crystal and mother-of-pearl set on white and yellow gold. An ingenious mechanism enables the entire outer shell to rotate on its base, simultaneously opening in six sections to unveil its treasure, a unique grey pearl of 12.17 carats, sourced from the Arabian Gulf and exhibiting exceptional purity.

The company revealed that Hussain Al-Fardan paid an undisclosed seven figure price for this masterpiece!

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest

Precious Peridot

Peridot, famous for its stunning green hues is, along with sardonyx, the birthstone for August and associated with the Zodiac sign Libra.

Formally known as olivine, it is considered a semi-precious gemstone and mined worldwide. It is usually found in wonderful translucent green hues. In fact it is one of the few gems that basically comes in one color, green. It ranges in shades of yellowish green through to brownish green. The finest being a lime green color, originating from the Island of St. John in the Red Sea. 

The stone has been set in jewelry since the time of the Ancient Romans, although practically almost all material found on the market today is either Victorian or later. The name Peridot is thought to be derived from the Arabic word, faridat, which means gem.

The mystics believe that peridot has healing powers and is associated with the heart chakra. They are thought to strengthen breathing and promote prosperity. 

The largest cut peridot known weighs 310 carats and was found on the island of Zabargad in Egypt. It is on display in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, where it keeps company with many incredible treasures, including the Hope Diamond!

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Gold Is Valuable Jade Is Priceless

Over  thousands of years jade has become completely ingrained in Chinese culture, art and history and denotes status, symbolizes love, virtue, beauty, grace and purity. It is not only used to create fine objects but was also crafted into grave goods for the imperial family. 

Jade mines in China have long been depleted, but the association and love for this stone endures with the Chinese till this day. Though prized by other civilizations throughout history, no other culture can rival China for the richness and intricacy of the jade carvings found there.

The term jade is actually used to encompass two distinct stones nephrite and jadeite. Both these stones share many qualities, but jadeite has a wider range of colors. The hardness and brittleness of jade requires great skill to craft, however great intricacy can be accomplished with it. Coupled with its high luster and translucency, gemstone grade jade has always been highly sought after.

The Chinese have been working jade since the Neolithic period. Discs and tubes made of jade found in Neolithic graves are the earliest indication of this stone’s association with the otherworldly. By 200 B.C. the stone was established as an aid to immortality. In the Han dynasty, emperors were buried in jade gowns and jade cicadas were placed on dead kings’ tongues to prevent decomposition and safeguard chi or energy. During the Shang Dynasty (1600 B.C. to 1050 B.C), jade was used for personal adornment by kings, as well as for utilitarian and ceremonial objects. Jade knives, daggers and objects imbued with symbolic meaning like scepters have been found in tombs. Towards the end of the Tang Dynasty however, funerary practices changed and by the time the Ming and Qing dynasties rolled around, in the 16th century, the stone had became primarily used to craft objects d’art.

In the minds of many Chinese the gem of both Heaven and Earth has always been empowered with magical properties. It was considered a guardian against illness and evil spirits, which is why even babies in China are given a tiny jade bangle to wear to ward off bad luck. The gem is often referred to as a live stone due to its propensity to change color. Many believe that if the stone likes the wearer, it will grow a deeper, darker shade of green. A lot of jade pieces do indeed change color over time, and believers who wear it for protection and good luck attribute this to the absorption of bad chi that would otherwise have affected the wearer. Jade is also supposed to improve blood circulation and calm the mind. 

The lush milky stone is  seen as a metaphor for human virtues because of its hardness, durability and beauty. Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, famously said “the wise have likened jade to virtue. For them, its polish and brilliancy represent the whole of purity; its perfect compactness and extreme hardness represent the sureness of intelligence; its angles, which do not cut, although they seem sharp, represent justice; the pure and prolonged sound, which it gives forth, when one strikes it, represents music. Its color represents loyalty; its interior flaws, always showing themselves through the transparency, call to mind sincerity; its iridescent brightness represents heaven; its admirable substance, born of mountain and of water, represents the earth. Used alone without ornamentation it represents chastity. The price that the entire world attaches to it represents the truth. To support these comparisons, the Book of Verse says: “When I think of a wise man, his merits appear to be like jade.”‘

Today jade is still worn due to its auspiciousness but it is speedily finding its place in the fashion and jewelry industries. Modern pieces of jade combine both cutting edge design and cultural references to its ancient heritage.The popularity of the gem speaks for itself with a single strand, imperial green jadeite, bead necklace fetching over $9 million at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong.

Thus saying jade is merely special in Chinese culture would be a massive understatement, as the Chinese proverb goes “gold has a value; jade is invaluable.”

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest 

Simple Care Tips: Jewelry

We all likely should be cleaning our treasures more than we probably do. Jewelry, though meant to be worn, is delicate and ones daily routine can take its toll.

As a general rule, “It’s good practice to put your jewelry on last—after cosmetics, hair products, body sprays and perfume,” notes Mark Mann, the GIA’s senior director of global jewelry manufacturing arts. “You’ll protect the integrity and appearance of all gemstones and metal alloys and keep your pieces looking beautiful in the long run.”

Inevitably grime will build up so when it does follow these simple cleaning tips:

Diamonds, Rubies & Sapphires….

Return your non-porous gemstones to sparkly wonderfulness by soaking them in warm (almost hot) water for at least 30 minutes, with a bit of good old dishwashing soap. Stick to a basic detergent, one without moisturizers or anti-bacterial ingredients. If there’s a build-up of gunk, use a soft wooden toothpick to carefully lift heavy materials away from the back of the gems after soaking.You can also gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush, working the bristles in, around, and under the gems. Rinse under warm running water and repeat until all the gunk is gone. Do not use abrasive cleaning products such as those with bleach and degreasers. These products will scratch precious metals and chlorine has the potential to attack base metals in gold alloys and weaken prongs.

Turquoise & Pearls…

Turquoise and other porous gemstones should be wiped with a soft cloth. They should never be soaked it in water as they may absorb the moisture, dulling their surface. Don’t use cleaning solutions on them and if there’s accidental contact with chemicals, immediately blot the gems dry with a cloth. When possible avoid getting sunscreen, make-up, perfume and body lotion on them. Pearls can occasionally be cleaned with mildly soapy water and a very soft brush. Rinse, blot and allow to dry lying flat on a towel so as not to stretch the string. Make sure strands are completely dry before wearing.

Silver

Contrary to popular belief soaking actually makes tarnish worse. Dishwashing soap is your friend, just mix a few drops with warm water, then dip a soft cloth in and use it to gently rub the jewelry; after rinse in cool water and blot until dry. For heavier tarnish, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels, which can scratch). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry. I have also found non whitening toothpastes to be ‘silver friendly’.

Gold & Platinum 

Yep, you guessed it, dishwashing liquid and warm water. Let gold jewelry soak for about 10 -15 minutes, then get your soft toothbrush and give it a good scrub. Rinse your pieces off after with warm water and dry with a towel. Don’t swim or shower in your gold, chlorine causes discoloration and soap can leave an unattractive film on it.

I hope you will find these tips useful. If you have any questions or blog ideas please send me an email. I would be delighted to hear from you!

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest