Archive for the 'Jewelry' Category

Tickled Pink

October 4th, 2012 | posted by Susan Lapene
Natural Pink Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

M.S. Rau's Natural Pink Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

Jewelry is serious business. The very best jewelry, like we have here at M.S. Rau, is endorsed by qualified gemologists and has been certified in labs. Gems are inspected and rated for physical characteristics and the source is noted – whether South Sea pearls or Golconda diamonds. There is so much sophisticated science involved in that it’s easy to forget just how much fun jewelry can be.

We have a new piece in the gallery that is pure fun. It’s a natural pink tourmaline and diamond ring with a simply magnificent hue. Depending on the light, the stunning tourmaline varies between a honeyed rose to a slight lavender. Pink is among the rarest hues in which to find this colorful gem, and at 15.29 carats, it is truly impressive. I have never seen a tourmaline in the unique Asscher cut, which makes this ring even more spectacular.  The white gold setting and two sparkling baguette diamonds perfectly frame the joyful pink gem. This ring shines!

And since we are serious about jewelry at M.S. Rau, I will let you know that tourmaline is rated as a natural pink transparent with very good clarity and the diamonds are near colorless with a VS1 and VS2 clarity.

This pink tourmaline and diamond ring would be the life of the party of any jewelry collection. Click here to see more of M.S. Rau’s beautiful jewelry.

Wearable Art at M.S. Rau Antiques

September 21st, 2012 | posted by Deborah Choate

A 17th century painting of a "cabinet of curiosities" by Frans II Francken

The origin of the institutions we now call museums lies in the motley 18th century collections known as “cabinets of curiosities.” Assembled by the wealthy, who could afford to travel the world on the Grand Tour and amass souvenirs along the way, these cabinets (which were actually rooms and not furniture) contained everything from exotic animal specimens to automata to fine art. Meant to demonstrate the worldliness of the owner, the cabinets were part side-show spectacle and part educational dioramas.

Micromosaic Necklace, ca 1870. Image from V & A.

One of the most desired destinations of the Grand Tour in the late 18th century was Rome, where the medley of ancient cultures produced artifacts, jewelry and objets d’art were perfect for the educated collector’s “cabinet of curiosities.” Especially desirable were the mosaic jewelry pieces which demonstrated both exacting skill and historical importance.  Mosaic jewelry was made in two distinct styles: micromosaic and pietra dura, differentiated by both geography and technique.

The Romans perfected the micromosaic technique, and their workshops grew to the height of popularity through the entire 19th century. Only highly skilled craftsman could work with the tiny tiles – called tesserae – to manufacture the intricate and beautiful jewelry. Tesserae were formed from metal, marble, stone or glass, and dexterously positioned using cement and precious metals. Each piece could take many months to create, given the level of both complexity and artistry.

Victorian Micromosaic & Gold Necklace at M.S. Rau Antiques.

M.S. Rau Antiques owns one of these stunning examples, a 19th century micromosaic necklace created in the Etruscan Revival style, crafted of 18K gold and painted glass tesserae. Designed en esclavage – which refers to the swag chain and the multiple hanging pendants — the striking Egyptian motif is highlighted by rich, gold beading. Those in New Orleans will instantly recognize the fleur de lis accenting the pendants, suggesting a European’s take on ancient Egyptian style. A similar necklace is found at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, attesting to the importance of this piece.

Influenced by the burgeoning field of archaeology, this micromosaic necklace is a wearable work of art. After donning the piece, one could hang it as if a painting, perhaps in her own “cabinet of curiosities.”

Click here for more images of the necklace and to see more of M.S. Rau Antiques exciting jewelry collection.

Gems of the Gems

September 14th, 2012 | posted by Ludovic Rousset

I would like to invite you to experience a selection of rare, unusual, and stunningly beautiful gemstones. The stones set in these fine jewelry pieces are set apart for being not only exceptionally rare, but also exhibiting the color and presence that are the finest examples of their kind. Less well-known and yet far more unique than traditional gems, these jewels are worthy of any discerning collector. 

Paraiba Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

Paraiba Tourmaline and Diamond Ring

Showcasing a jaw-dropping neon blue hue unseen in any other gem, this Paraiba Tourmaline is the most precious of tourmalines. This 3.15 carat stone glows with the extraordinatry vividness of the bright summer sky. Only having recently reached the market within the last few decades, they are close to being mined to depletion. The aura of this rare precious stone is fresh, spirited, and dazzles with vivacity.

Natural Almandite-Spessartite Garnet & Diamond Ring

Natural Almandite-Spessartite Garnet & Diamond Ring

Warm, rich red garnets have guided and protected mankind for thousands of years. The luminous stone is traditionally worn as a talisman, as it was believed to light up the night and protect the wearer from misfortune. Tradition tells us that Noah used a garnet lantern to help him steer the ark through the darkened night. The 11 carat stone at the center of this ring is a unique hybrid of two types of garnet, Almandite and Spesserite. Almandite gives the stone its deep wine-colored hue while the Spesserite brightens the stone with flashes of fiery golden orange. A timeless gemstone, a classic setting and an exquisite color with a tale to tell; this ring is a standout in any collection.

Edwardian Amethyst & Diamond Pendant and Brooch

Edwardian Amethyst & Diamond Pendant and Brooch

Inspiring and enthralling people for centuries, the regal color of amethyst is shown at its best in this stunning work of Edwardian aesthetics. The amethyst is extravagence in violet. The rarest fine color stones have been prized throughout the ages: Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God, and the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, send thousands of miners into the Ural mountains to look for it. Whether worn as a pendant or a brooch, this piece dazzles. A deep and vibrant violet seven carat amethyst featured at its center, the color and clarity are hightened by the frame of sparkling diamonds that surround it.

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Natural Alexandrite and Diamond Ring

Mysterious alexandrite is famed for its sensational color change. This unique optical characteristic makes it one of the most rare and valuable gemstones of all. “Emerald by day, ruby by night, ” this extremely fine example of alexandrite will appear vivid green in daylight and warm purplish red under incandescent or candlelight. Seldom found in stones weighing over one carat, the 7.27 carat gemstone as the center of this ring is truly a tremendous find.

Whether you are looking for the “wow” factor from a rare gem, or a striking, one-of-a-kind color these pieces have something for everyone. This collection of gem has inspired for millennia. Now let them inspire you.

The Natural Beauty of Emeralds

August 8th, 2012 | posted by Phillip Youngberg
9.28 Carat "No-Oil" Emerald Ring

9.28 Carat "No-Oil" Emerald Ring

We just got back from the Aspen Antiques show, which was a huge success. Our staff really enjoyed much cooler weather than we have in New Orleans in July.  On a morning walk, I ran into a bear!

I love the city of Aspen, and the beautiful green of the mountains reminds me of M.S. Rau’s wonderful collection of emeralds. Emeralds are the most difficult stone to get right, so when we acquire a spectacular example, I get really excited. Most –nearly 99% of emeralds — are oiled to enhance the color and to hide the inclusions. When you are able to obtain an emerald that is untreated it is extremely rare. 

This 9.28-carat emerald is full of life, un-oiled and very clean. When emeralds are cut they usually have 30% of the weight at the bottom which makes the color better.  However, when you have superb saturation of color you do not need this extra depth.  As a result our emerald looks more like a 4-carat emerald than a 9.28-carat emerald.

This verdant stone would bring life to any wearer. Click here to learn more about M.S. Rau’s oustanding collection of emerald jewelry.

The Cullinan Diamond and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee

June 27th, 2012 | posted by Ludovic Rousset
The Imperial Sceptre of Great Britain, with the Great Star of Africa

The Imperial Sceptre of Great Britain, with the Great Star of Africa

Queen Elizabeth II in Coronation Robes
Queen Elizabeth II in Coronation Robes, Image from V & A Collection

2012 is an extraordinary year, not the least for the international celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. In honor of the occasion, an exhibition will be on view at Buckingham Palace that showcases the entire Royal Collection and will include an unprecedented number of her majesty’s personal jewels. Displayed in this spectacular exhibit will be many diamonds with “histories”, including the Cullinan diamond, first discovered in South Africa in 1905 as a single diamond.

When Captain Frederick Wells was making his inspection of the Premier Mine in Transvaal, South Africa, he stumbled upon a diamond twice the size of any he had ever seen. Convinced it was worthless, he sent the stone to be analyzed. His discovery turned out to be one of the most important gems in history.

The 3,106 carat diamond was found to be perfectly clear and colorless and was thus named after the chairman of the Premier Diamond Company, Sir Thomas M. Cullinan, who had discovered the mine in 1902. After causing world-wide attention, the diamond was given as a gift to King Edward VII as a symbol of loyalty and appreciation from his Commonwealth constituents.

In order to get the now-famous stone across both land and sea and to its intended recipient, a clever combination of subterfuge and security was enlisted. First stowed in a hatbox of the wife of a South African postal employee, the stone was then sent via parcel post without declaring its full value, which would arouse attention. A dummy stone was also sent on the very same ship that carried the mail, stored safely in the captain’s cabin. When both stones reached their destination safely, the Cullinan was brought to King Edward the VII for inspection.

Imperial Crown of Great Britain, with Cullinan II

The Stars of Africa were sent to the Tower of London to be displayed with the rest of the Crown Jewels, along with the hammer and cleaver Joseph Asscher used to shape them. Afterwards, the largest stone, Cullinan I,—known as the Greater Star of Africa–and Cullinan II (the second largest) were brought to glory in the Sceptre with the Cross and the Imperial State Crown respectively. Cullinan III and Cullinan IV – the Lesser Stars of Africa – were set as a brooch by Queen Mary in 1910. The majestic brooch was the single most valuable item in her collection and was later inherited by Queen Elizabeth II, her granddaughter.

Queen Mary's Brooch with Cullinan III and Cullinan IV, The Lesser Stars of Africa

Queen Mary's Brooch with Cullinan III and Cullinan IV, The Lesser Stars of Africa

Today, as in over a century ago when these magnificent gems made their appearance, jewels define a monarch’s status. The image of royalty always includes spectacular jewels – symbolizing the power of the wearer and, by association, the people she reins. Queen Elizabeth II sought to be more than just adorned by the famous Stars of Africa and made a journey to the Asscher diamond works in the Netherlands during a State visit in 1958. The occasion marked the first time she wore the brooch, and she honored the elderly Louis Asscher by handing him the brooch that his brother had cleaved in his presence.

The fascinating biography of the Cullinan gems represents the powerful charisma jewelry can bring to the wearer. As we celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, let us also remember the legacy of her jewels. The exhibition will be held at Buckingham Palace until the 7 October, 2012 and it is a life time opportunity to admire these incredible gems.

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