11152018Thu
Last updateWed, 14 Nov 2018 12pm

Diana Jarrett

The Story Behind the Stone: When bracelets were King

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Jarrett TutChildhood scarab bracelet of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun.The practice of adorning oneself with beautiful metals and stones is hardly a new concept. From ancient civilizations like that of Egypt to modern times, we have been endlessly fascinated decorating ourselves. And it’s not just the women who are compelled to decorate themselves with extravagant jewels. Persian, Babylonian and Egyptian men, especially nobility, were heavily bedecked with precious ornaments.


The Story Behind the Stone: Lost Legends

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Jarrett BollMabel Boll c. 1920. Courtesy Wikipedia. Before there was Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat - before the Kardashians became famous for being famous - there were infinitely fascinating people whose lives would leave modern selfie-prone narcissists in their wake.

Money Flows

The early 20th century saw the fruits of the earlier industrial revolution by spawning an imaginative subset of society folks with money galore only topped by their terrific sense of spending.

Queen of Diamonds

One such American darling was Mabel Boll, dubbed the Queen of Diamonds in her time. She lived from 1893 to 1949 and packed in a lot of living during her 55 years. She was referred to as an American socialite known for her record setting flights during aviation’s early days in the 1920s. Though she claimed to be an heiress from a wealthy family, in reality she was the daughter of a Rochester bartender and she first worked as a cigar girl.

She earned the moniker Queen of Diamonds for her penchant for wearing oodles of diamonds and serious jewels all together at the same time. It was not uncommon for her to be spied wearing over $400,000 worth of diamonds at a time in history when $400-thou meant something. That amount in 1922 would be worth $5,700,000 today. So, you get the idea. She was also photographed wearing a sweater made of woven gold and platinum. Wallflower Mabel, not so much.

Live like an Heiress

It seems she married into her money - five in all over her lifetime, including a Count and a Colombian coffee tycoon. The coffee magnate, Hernando Rocha lavished her with baubles including over a million dollars (in 1922) worth of jewels and a *46.57 ct emerald cut diamond named the Mabel Boll Diamond. Records differ on the size of the gigantic stone. And I tend to prefer Harry Winston’s account of the jewel. At some point in time, this legendary diamond came into the possession of diamantaire Harry Winston at the time of her death in 1949. *Winston identified her famous jewel as 60 carat emerald cut. It’s difficult to imagine its relative size to the human hand. No known photograph of this important diamond is known to exist - so its quite possible it came into possession of an owner who prefers anonymity.

Jarrett 40 ctA “small”40-ct diamond contrasts to Boll’s 60-ct. Courtesy Jordan Jewellry.

Mabel was fodder in New York’s society columns for her larger than life personality and her illustrious marriages. Along the way she was nicknamed “Broadway’s Most Beautiful Blonde” and the “$250,000-a-day bride” for the extravagant honeymoon she enjoyed with one of her husbands. Eventually as time went on, her star waned; a final 5th husband was said to be a harp player in Florida. Her story gives us a peek into a time long gone and an era when people with extravagant wealth lived like they wanted to - and not for the benefit of social media.

Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).

 

 

The Story Behind the Stone: Trapiche, Gabeesh

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There’s a funny little gemstone variety that is more science than simply cute. I’m talking about trapiche gems. Trapiche (pronounced tra-PEE-che), it’s endlessly fun to say. But when you learn how they came to be, it makes grade school science fascinating all over again.

The Story Behind the Stone: The Jade Riot

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Seems like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Red and jade? Of course, we love the limpid verdant hues that made jade so coveted. Asian jade collectors can deftly express the subtle nuances that inform wild price differences in this lovely ancient stone.

The Story Behind the Stone: By George!

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Jarrett CharlotteKing George III’s bride Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz shown with her jewelry suite.Jewelry lovers adore period or antique jewelry. Besides its often-storied provenance, vintage jewelry bears some important traits that all serious collectors covet; fine workmanship and originality. Today’s mass manufacture does not provide these quality characteristics, and jewelry fans can readily see that.

Period jewelry from specific eras are often collected as a set once people learn more about the time period in which it was made. One of the most popular antique jewelry styles is from the Victorian era. The name refers to Queen Victoria who ruled the British empire from 1837 until her death in 1901. This highly romanticized styling reflects the Queen herself.

However, Victorian jewelry motifs took a radical turn upon the sudden death of her beloved husband Albert in 1861. She went into a period of mourning from which she never recovered. So, her jewelry reflected this sorrow. All Victorian jewelry from 1861 onward was heavy, dark (like Bohemian garnets) and even black.

But there’s a longer jewelry period that didn’t reflect the tastes of just one royal person. This is the Georgian era jewelry. This era is defined as the period between 1714 and 1837 - and it was known for its opulent and regal flair. The Georgian era was named for British kings George I, II, III, IV and William IV.

Special techniques were employed in making these one-of-a-kind artworks that are often seen in original Georgian jewelry. Foil backed gemstones, which seem like a quirky addition to modern jewelry were used in an effort to add pizzazz to gemstones and make them sparkle better in candlelight at night - which was the only type of illumination at the time.

Repoussé which involved hammering out raised effects on metal to create intricate designs was also popularized during this time. Cannetille, was a name for a metalworking technique in the mid-Georgian period; so delicate and intricate it replicates embroidery.

Jarrett DamesDames a la Mode uses early artwork to inspire their Georgian-style modern jewelry.

There were so many expressions of artistry during this era - as you can imagine, since the period spanned over a century all told. World wars and political and social upheaval in Europe and abroad meant that most of these precious pieces did not survive to the 20th century. But that doesn’t mean that it lacks its ardent fans.

Modern crafts-people rely on portraits and various forms of early artwork from that period to study the jewelry styles and faithfully reproduce them for today’s market.  Antique jewelers occasionally come across original Georgian jewelry and usually have collectors standing by to snap up the best pieces. One trait that is consistently found with this period’s jewelry is its solid workmanship - that is how it survived to be admired today. Hand-fabricated pieces of Georgian jewelry are rare and costly - but they are certainly worth the hunt.

Award winning trade journalist and gemologist Diana Jarrett is a Registered Master Valuer Appraiser and a member of the Association of Independent Jewellery Valuers (AIJV). She’s a popular speaker at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett writes for trade and consumer publications, online outlets, her blog: Color-n-Ice, and www.jewelrywebsitedesigners.com. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit her website at www.dianajarrett.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter (Loupey).

 

 

 

The Story Behind the Stone: Spinel has its day

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JarrettFor centuries, dealers relied on a simple visual test to determine what to call a colored stone. There are a couple of basic reasons for that; the foremost being that there were no reliable scientific methods of separating look-alike gems until the late 19th to early 20th century. To complicate matters, some similar color gems were found side by side in the same deposits or near each other in certain geological regions.

The Story Behind the Stone: The Markle Effect

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JarrettCall it Markle Madness - the custom-made engagement ring Prince Harry designed for fiancée Meghan Markle contained two side diamonds from his mother Diana the Princess of Wales’ collection. Cleave and Company, Court Jewellers to Her Majesty the Queen helped Harry pull it all off. The center stone - looks like a 4-carat sparkler perhaps - is from Botswana, a sentimental reference to their favorite holiday locale in southern Africa.

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