An Opal for October

Oh, the opal. Just one of these intriguing gems can contain "the piercing fire of rubies, the purple brilliancy of the amethyst, and the sea-green of the emerald."

 Art Nouveau stick pin with carved opal face by Wilhelm Lucas von Cranach. c. 1900. Currently in the collection of the   Pforzheim Schmuckmuseum  in Germany. 

Art Nouveau stick pin with carved opal face by Wilhelm Lucas von Cranach. c. 1900. Currently in the collection of the  Pforzheim Schmuckmuseum in Germany. 

Once upon a time, a Roman senator by the name of Nonius was in possession of a beautiful opal the size of a hazelnut. The oligarch Marc Antony coveted Nonius's opal, and desired to have it for himself. To avoid having to part with the gem, Nonius took it and fled, leaving behind all his other possessions. We can't say we blame him 

How Diamonds Became April's Birthstone

The time has come, once again, to be jealous of all your friends who’ve been blessed with April birthdays and the diamond as their official birthstone.

 A selection of vintage diamond rings, currently available at Gray & Davis. 

A selection of vintage diamond rings, currently available at Gray & Davis. 

Famed Tiffany gemologist G.F. Kunz traced back the modern tradition of wearing stones specific to one’s birthday to eighteenth-century Poland, when gem dealers tweaked ancient lore about the twelve gems found on the biblical Breastplate of Aaron to more aptly reflect their current inventory. It was at this time that the diamond, not originally mentioned in Old Testament texts, was assigned to the month of April. The fact that the Portuguese had recently discovered huge deposits of diamonds in their colony of Brazil certainly had something to do with European dealers’ new supplies.

Though its’ status as a birthstone has a slightly-less-than-mystical origin, there’s no doubt that this special stone had more than secured it’s spot by the late-nineteenth century when Kunz was doing his research. Typical of a Victorian gentleman, he described this special species of gem in delightfully flowery prose:

“The diamond…is the gem of light. Its color is that of ice, and as the dew drop or the drop of water from a mountain stream sparkles in the light of the sun, as the icicle sparkles in winter, and the stars on a cold winter night, so the diamond sparkles, and it combines and contrasts with all known gems. Like light, it illumines them just as the sun does the plants of the earth. “

 

Happy birthday, to all our April friends!

Happy Birthday July!

It appears that certain dangers exist, or are said to exist in the lands where Rubies are found, such as malaria, wild beasts and venomous reptiles. But it is possible that these dangers may be exaggerated by the Ruby merchants in order to hinder competition

These words were written in 1879 by a famous British adventurer/gem hunter, Edwin Streeter.

 A 19th century image of Edwin, the British gem adventurer.

A 19th century image of Edwin, the British gem adventurer.

Rubies are as alluring and sought after today as they were then.  While there are no tales of dangerous wild beasts patrolling the gem mines rubies have more modern deterrent, prohibitively high prices.  Just this past May the most expensive colored gem was sold for a grand sum of $30 million dollars! It was named ‘Sunshine Ruby’. 

 Above image the 'Sunshine Ruby'

Above image the 'Sunshine Ruby'

Whether you love them for their rarity or their sheer beauty, one thing is for certain, they belong to July. Happy Birthday to all our friends born in July!

May Birthstone: Emerald

Emeralds, known to the Romans as the smaragdus are the most valued variety of the beryl mineral family. 

 3.41 carat cushion cut Zambian emerald. 

3.41 carat cushion cut Zambian emerald. 

According to the medieval lapidary of Marbode of Rennes, the Emperor Nero preferred to watch gladitorial combat through an emerald lense, as the green color was believed to be soothing to the eyes. Marbode also states that one who wears an emerald will have luck in lawsuits and be protected from harsh fever. If you should find yourself cornered by a venomous snake, just show him an emerald, and he will be so scared that his eyes will fall out of his head and he'll leave you alone.