Archive for the 'Jewelry' Category

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.

The Splendor of Natural Colored Diamonds

May 30th, 2012 | posted by Bill Rau
This astounding 4.05-carat Green Diamond is one of the rarest gemstones in the world
This astounding 4.05-carat Green Diamond is one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
Another masterpiece from M.S.  Rau's extensive Jewelry Collection: A veritable rainbow of colored diamonds are showcased in this exquisite bracelet
Another masterpiece from M.S. Rau’s extensive Jewelry Collection: A veritable rainbow of colored diamonds are showcased in this exquisite bracelet.
Less than 1/1,000,000th of all yellow diamonds are graded as Natural Fancy, and even fewer bear the Intense color grading of this spectacular specimen
Less than 1/1,000,000th of all yellow diamonds are graded as Natural Fancy, and even fewer bear the Intense color grading of this spectacular specimen.

Few objects in the world posses the beauty and allure of natural colored diamonds. Ancient peoples first discovered these wonders of nature circa 3,000 B.C.E., and wore them as talismans to ward off evil spirits. Once cutting techniques emerged in the late 15th-century, colored diamonds quickly became associated with power and wealth, with the grandest examples finding their way into crown jewels and prestigious private collections throughout the world.

M.S. Rau Antiques has the honor and distinction to offer a select few of these opulent treasures in our expansive Fine Jewelry Collection. The star of the show is this incredibly large and exceptional 4.05-carat Natural Fancy Green Diamond. Since the precise environmental and geological conditions that are necessary to achieve such a brilliant verdant color seldom occur in nature, green diamonds rank among the rarest gemstones in the world. Surrounded by 40 full-cut Natural Pink Diamonds in a beautiful platinum and 18K rose gold ring, this green diamond is in a class by itself.

Intense fancy yellow diamonds are the most rare and valuable of all the yellow diamonds, and hence, are the most desirable. The vibrancy of this Natural Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond is found in less than 1/1,000,000th of all yellow diamonds. This particular example weighs an incredible 7.59 carats and is set in a fine platinum and 18K gold ring, with sparkling white diamonds on each side. Again, only exact conditions lasting over millions of years are needed to achieve such a gorgeous specimen.

Nature has proved to be the greatest artist of all time. It takes millennia to create just one of these stunning gemological masterpieces; the majority of which weigh well under one carat. For the few who have ever had the chance to view natural colored diamonds in person, the awe and fascination they inspire is as undeniable as their beauty and rarity.

To learn more about M.S. Rau Antiques incredible selection of rare diamonds, and to view our latest Jewelry Catalog, featuring colored diamonds and other gemological rarities, click here.

The Fire Within

April 26th, 2012 | posted by James Gillis

Nonius, a Roman Senator, preferred exile to parting with the Ethiopian Opal that Marc Antony demanded from him. Furthermore, the famous 1st century author Pliny wrote that Opals combine the best possible characteristics of the most beautiful of gemstones.

One look at this magnificent opal bead necklace and you instantly understand why these stones have been revered for thousands of years. The necklace juxtaposes the cool glimmer of over 4 carats of diamonds with the warmth of 33 gleaming Ethiopian opals. Each bead contains a lightning storm of fiery hues within, sure to make the wearer glow.  While the stones are, as they have been for millennia, beautiful in their own right, cut into the round bead form, they really exude radiance.

In their natural state, opals tend to exist in thin, flat layers making them rare to find of a size that allows them to be cut into large beads.  The layout of graduated beads (often pearls) in this necklace is classic, but to display opals in this way brings an unexpected twist to the elegant design. The quality, size, and shape of these opals make them highly sought after and they are without a doubt some of the finest to be offered on the market today.

To say that this necklace has an ethereal quality would be an understatement; every bead mesmerizes, seemingly containing its own cosmos. We all deserve the right to own something this beautiful, so, now is your chance!

To see all of our opal jewelry in stock, click here.

Purple Sapphires, a Rare and Regal Delight!

March 20th, 2012 | posted by James Gillis

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Sapphires can be called the gemstones of the sky . . .they lie well hidden in just a few places and have to be brought to light through extremely hard work. Sapphires are found in India, Burma, Ceylon, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania and Kenya. From the gemstone mines, these raw crystals are first taken to the cutting-centers where they are turned into sparkling gemstones by skilled hands. When cutting a sapphire, the cutter has to muster all his skill, for these gemstones are not only hard; depending on the angle from which you look at them, they also have different intensities and shades of color. So it is the job of the cutter to orientate the raw crystals in such a way that the color is brought out to its best advantage. Just as they have done with our Purple Sapphire.

Purple sapphires are, in fact, quite extraordinary and far rarer than more traditional blue sapphires. Unlike most blue and pink sapphires which need to be heat treated in order to obtain their best color display, purple sapphires very rarely require any heat treatment. Furthermore they tend to change color in different lighting!

This purple sapphire not only radiates beauty, magnificent color, and transparency, but also constancy and durability associated with these stunning gemstones. The sapphire belongs to the corundum group, the members of which are characterized by their excellent hardness (9 on the Mohs scale). Indeed their hardness is exceeded only by that of the diamond, the diamond being the hardest mineral on Earth! Thanks to their durability, sapphires are exremely easy to look after, requiring no more than an occasional cleaning on behalf of the wearer.

To take a look at our other sapphires in stock, click here.

Tiffany for Everyone!

December 26th, 2011 | posted by Susan Lapene

There are but a few names synonymous with exceptional quality; Tiffany & Company being one of them. Since opening its doors in 1837, Tiffany and Co. has been a uniquely American brand representing glamour, sophistication and creative design. The company has successfully held its designs to the standard of the finest art – and to own a piece of antique Tiffany jewelry is akin to owning the best work by the greatest painter.  The four pieces I have the privilege of offering to you this holiday season are classic Tiffany.  They make a statement; they are playful; they are utterly chic.

The first piece, a stunning 18K gold bangle bracelet by Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger, is a study in pure design. Teal green enamel is the back drop for a series of applied gold bands and cross hatches.

The second piece is also by Jean Schlumberger and is of the same nature but features royal blue enamel with 1.50 carats of diamonds around it. There are 19 larger diamonds and 38 smaller ones making it utterly eye-catching from every angle.

Jean Schlumberger is one of the most respected jewelry designers in history. Born in France, he created costume jewelry for Elsa Schiaparelli before moving to New York after World War II. Hired by Tiffany in the 1950s, Schlumberger’s work quickly became the talk of the town, attracting collectors such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Duchess of Windsor.

The other two pieces I am presenting to you are bold brooches that will instantly transform any outfit – from a gorgeous gown to a wool blazer – you will be noticed. The stunning reclining cat pin features emerald eyes and numerous diamonds covering the platinum base. It’s truly a charming piece that any cat-lover would be enthralled by. The emerald eyes are the perfect complement to the shining diamonds.

The second piece, the catfish brooch with sapphires, emeralds, and enamel is one of the most unique pieces of jeweled ornament I have ever seen. It’s excellently crafted and pictures truly do not do its charm justice.

Any one of these pieces would make a lovely addition to your collection. Please let me know which of these entice you most!

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