A Few Gems for New Year's Eve

Just a few blocks away from the Diamond District, the world’s most famous ball is preparing to drop. The glittering orb’s annual, vertical pilgrimage will ring in the New Year, just as it has every year since 1907.  The somewhat random tradition began after the city banned the raucous fireworks display that had marked the holiday in years prior (fair enough). Of course, sparkly spheres look just as nice dangling from ears as from sky scrapers.

Drawing on earlier pagan traditions, Julius Caesar officially designated January 1st as the first day of the new year in 46 BC. The month of January is named for the old Roman deity, Janus, god of change and new beginnings. He is often depicted as the Janus Bifrons; a head with two faces that looks into the past and present. A golden pendant, found in Bulgaria and dating to the 4th century BC illustrates:

A double-face gold pendant, 4th/3rd Century BC. History Museum of Schumen, Bulgaria. 

A double-face gold pendant, 4th/3rd Century BC. History Museum of Schumen, Bulgaria. 

Julius’s calendar was adopted and slightly updated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1576, re-confirming January 1st as the beginning of the New Year. Thus, over the course of a millennia, the Christian nations slowly adhered to the Gregorian calendar and the New Year’s date we know and love today. We’re a big fan of Gregory’s calendar, but also keen admirers of his papal ring stacking prowess:

Exchanging gifts on New Years Day was a longstanding tradition in many European courts. In 1405, Isabeau of Bavaria gave her husband, King Charles Charles VI of France this 62cm tall statue of solid gold studded with gems and pearls:

"The Golden Pony," sculpture, French c. 1405. Altlotting Church. 

"The Golden Pony," sculpture, French c. 1405. Altlotting Church. 

 

And who could overlook Norma Desmond’s stunning collection of gems at her New Year’s Eve soiree for two in the classic 1950 film Sunset Boulevard?

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in  Sunset Boulevard,  1950. Get a load of those bracelets!

Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, 1950. Get a load of those bracelets!

 

Wishing you all a night to remember, and a happy and healthy 2015!

Fondly,

The Gray & Davis Team

Aggrandizing Agate: Hardstones Demystified

People have been using hardstones in jewelry since forever, so lots of different names have developed for the same thing. The distinctions between different varieties of hardstones (the science name is chalcedony) are somewhat arbitrary, and are for the most part based purely on visual distinctions, not any actual difference of the mineral’s composition.

Victorian 15k gold and agate seal ring, at Gray & Davis

Victorian 15k gold and agate seal ring, at Gray & Davis

Early 20th c. 14k gold, blue chalcedony and diamond cluster ring, at G & D

Early 20th c. 14k gold, blue chalcedony and diamond cluster ring, at G & D

Victorian 18k gold and moss agate dangle earrings, at G & D

Victorian 18k gold and moss agate dangle earrings, at G & D

Victorian 10k gold, bloodstone and carnelian fob, at G & D

Victorian 10k gold, bloodstone and carnelian fob, at G & D

Victorian 10k gold, diamond and onyx ring, at G & D

Victorian 10k gold, diamond and onyx ring, at G & D

Arts and Crafts 14k gold and carnelian ring with enamel, at G & D

Arts and Crafts 14k gold and carnelian ring with enamel, at G & D

Because we are nerds, we made this flow-chart to help explain how the tangled terminology fits together:

The Victorian "Remember" seal ring, in 15k gold, also has a fun surprise, which we captured on video!