It’s the most visually exhausting time of the year: auction season. These sales are so big and varied that it’s impossible to choose just one item to gape at, so I’ll show you a couple of pieces from each (and link to a bunch more). First up, we have the December 8th Jewelry, Watches, Objet de Vertu, Gemstones auction at Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, N.J. While there’s a pretty serious Tiffany & Co. emerald and diamond necklace leading the estimates, I’m way more taken with these little gold octopus earrings. Each one cradles a bronzey-gray Tahitian pearl in its little tentacles. [...]
Next week, London jewelers Symbolic & Chase will be showcasing an historic pearl at the Masterpiece London art and antiques fair.
The pearl, which they believe was owned by Mary Tudor (daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and Queen of England from 1553-1558), was put up for auction at Christie’s in 2004 by an anonymous family and bought by Symbolic & Chase for $282,090. Since then, the company has determined that this is the pearl depicted in various royal portraits of Mary Tudor, and not the famous “La Peregrina” pearl, which is probably best known for having been bought by Richard Burton as a [...]
Her main account would be De Beers. For the next 25 years, she wrote all of the company’s ads.
1. Can I wear it in the shower?
A question for the ages. Or at least for all of the ages since showers have been invented. The three aspects of your jewelry to consider before bringing it into the bubble bath are: mechanical, metal, mineral.
- Mechanical considerations:
See if there are any nooks or crannies (just ate an English muffin) in your jewelry that might trap water. Think lockets, hollow bangles, or rings with closed-back stone settings. Also, see if any part of your jewelry is threaded on string or glued in place. If any of these features are present, it’s best not to wear that item in [...]
I've gotten a number of questions about pearls lately, so I put together a primer of sorts. Send me your questions here!
Natural pearls form when a parasite burrows into an oyster or mussel. The mollusk, trying to make itself more comfortable, coats the parasite with layers and layers of the same shiny, smooth, comfy material that covers the inside of its shell. This material, called “nacre,” is produced in the mollusk’s mantle tissue. When the mantle deposits enough layers of nacre around the parasite a little clump forms, and voila—you have a pearl! Because a relatively small percentage of wild mollusks ever need to make a pearl, for [...]
1. My engagement and wedding rings were custom made by a local jeweler in platinum, and have the PLAT marking. I noticed (after over a year of wearing them) that my rings were attracted by a magnet, yet my husband's platinum band isn't.
I recently took the rings back to my jeweler to be cleaned, and I intended to ask him, but I chickened out. The rings cost us several thousand dollars, and the jeweler gave us a valuation certificate when we bought them. Should I be worried?
Don’t worry, your jeweler is legit! Here’s why:
One hundred percent pure platinum is too soft to be used in jewelry, so [...]
1. Could you offer some suggestions for a non-metal engagement ring?
I work as an industrial electrician, and my company has a strict policy prohibiting metallic jewelry (which I am totally on board with, for the record.). For the time being I've pretty much decided not to get an engagement or wedding ring, because it seems silly to pay so much for something that I'd only get to wear a few waking hours a week. I'm ok without the token but … it would be nice to have my reminder that someone cares, especially at work.
As someone who also has a reaction to metal worn for more [...]
Masquerade balls have a long, colorful history. They’re believed to have originated in the Carnival traditions of medieval Italy (Venice in particular), but the custom soon spread to other Catholic countries and eventually reached England and America in the 18th century. One of the most famous, the Bal des Ardents, or “Ball of the Burning Men,” was held in in Paris in 1393 by the then Queen of France, Isabeau of Bavaria. Six members of the nobility, including her husband King Charles VI, performed a dance while in costume as “savage men.” Unfortunately, their shaggy costumes were wildly flammable, and when the king’s drunken brother leaned a torch over [...]
This little spider is American, circa 1900. He’s made of gold and platinum, with diamond-accented legs, demantoid garnet eyes, and a body consisting of water opal (colorless, with an internal bluish or gold glow) and fire opal (variations of bright orange, yellow or red).
Spider cufflinks! Tiny, unnervingly realistic spiders of white gold and black star sapphire rest on beds of mother-of-pearl, set in 14k yellow gold.
Circa 1860, this beautiful gold fringe necklace is by Castellani. Using woven chain as a support structure, it features a fringe of tiny flowers and amphorae, with little lapis- and turquoise-colored details in enamel. It was inspired by the Hellenistic “Melos" necklace (c. 330-300 BC) that now resides in the British Museum. Alessandro Castellani (who I told you about in one of my very first columns) actually restored the Melos necklace in the 1860s or 1870s, and the museum bought it from him in 1872.