Diamonds complement colorful gemstones in Jan. 29 sale

Large, colorful precious gemstones, complemented by fiery brilliant diamonds in contemporary settings, are offered in a 400-lot fine jewelry auction being conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

AGL-certified 26.14-carat oval Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring, 18K white gold. Estimate: $220,000-$264,000. Jasper52 image

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Colorful Stambolian jewelry starring in online auction Jan. 22

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, Jasper52 will conduct an online auction devoted exclusively to the designs of the Stambolian House of Jewels, the fine jewelry brand specializing in 18K gold, diamond, and precious and semiprecious stones. More than 300 lots of Stambolian jewelry, all handmade in the United States by highly skilled and experienced artisans, will be offered.

Stambolian 18K gold bangle bracelet with pink sapphires (12.25 carats) and diamonds (4.30 carats). Estimate: $16,000-$19,000. Jasper52 image

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Celebrate New Year’s Eve bidding on big colorful gemstones

From certified emeralds to glowing sapphires, tourmalines and rubies, a diverse loose gemstones auction presented by Jasper52 showcases a variety of cuts, stones and a and kaleidoscope of colors. The 486-lot online auction will take place Tuesday, Dec. 31, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

GIA certified step-cut aquamarine, 36.48 carats, 21.91 x 18.27 x 12.56 mm, very minor inclusions visible under 10x magnification. Estimate: $17,000-$20,000. Jasper52 image

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Aug. 27 auction sparkles with magnificent loose gemstones & diamonds

NEW YORK – On August 27, Jasper52 will bring on the bling with a diverse selection of loose gemstones in a variety of cuts and colors. The 376-lot online auction running exclusively through LiveAuctioneers is brimming with fine gems, from certified diamonds to glowing emeralds, and more.

Whether your purchase of gems is driven by an interest in geology or you’re simply looking for a stunning “rock” to set in a special piece of jewelry, you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for in this wonderfully diverse sale.

Estimate: $19,000-$23,000. Image courtesy of Jasper52

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Exceptional loose gemstones offered in online auction July 23

A diverse loose gemstones auction will be conducted by Jasper52 on Tuesday, July 23. This 470-lot auction showcases a variety of cuts, stones and colors. From certified diamonds to glowing tanzanites and more, bidders will find unique treasures among this kaleidoscope of colors.

4.53 carat natural pinkish red ruby from Madagascar (unheated), fine VS-Clarity rich. Estimate: $25,000-$30,000. Jasper52 image

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Colored diamonds add radiance to Jasper52 gemstones sale June 4

Four hundred lots of colorful loose gemstones, highlighted by fancy colored diamonds, are offered in a Jasper52 online auction taking place Tuesday, June 4. Certified natural emeralds, sapphires, opals and topaz are also featured in the auction.

Natural diamond, fancy deep yellow-orange cushion shape, 1.51 carats, GIA certification no. 5243311705, 4.44 x 4.22 x 3.16 mm. Estimate: $16,000-$18,000. Jasper52 image

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Kaleidoscope of colors will dazzle in gemstones sale April 3

Jasper52 will present an online auction of diverse loose gemstones auction on Wednesday, April 3. The 388-lot auction boasts a variety of cuts, stones and colors. From certified diamonds to lustrous emeralds and more, bidders will find a unique treasure among a kaleidoscope of colors.

Natural blue topaz, 33.62 carats, emerald cut. Estimate $350-$400. Jasper52 image

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Coral: treasured since ancient times

NEW YORK – Although coral reefs resemble underwater branched plants, they are actually colonies of tiny organisms living on limestone exoskeletons of their ancestors. Precious coral, as the decorative type is commonly known, ranges from pale pink to deep red. Since it is colorfast and polishes to a high sheen, this gem-like matter harvested mainly along the Mediterranean coasts of France, Italy, Spain, Tunisia and Algeria has been esteemed for its beauty since ancient times. It was also prized for its purported restorative and protective powers.

The ancient Greeks, believing that coral transformed from plant to stone when exposed to air, endowed it with wondrous powers. Many Greeks carried coral amulets to deter ghosts and witches, deflect lightening, neutralize poisons, avert shipwrecks, cure scorpion stings and repel curses.

Snail brooch, 18K gold, featuring carved coral body, Boucheron, Paris; French maker’s mark for Bondt and guarantee stamp, signed, 33.9 grams, 2½ inches long, realized $4,750 in 2010. Image courtesy of Skinner and LiveAuctioneers

Other Greeks believed that coral was born of blood. As the legend goes, when mighty Perseus beheaded the snake-haired monster Medusa, her blood, as it seeped into seaweed, hardened into red coral. So, amulets featuring Medusa’s likeness were deemed especially protective. In addition, people reputedly relied on powdered coral to cure internal bleeding, diseases of the spleen and bladder ailments.

Romans, too, believed that coral held therapeutic powers. Besides using it to treat snake bites and arouse libido, scores of them used powdered coral to quell life-threatening blood loss. Romans also draped pieces of coral around their children’s necks to guard them from harm.

Coral and bone carved yad (pointer) for reading a Sefer Torah, 11.4 inches long, 68 gr, 20th century, realized $1,700 in 2017. Image courtesy of Moreshet Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

From the first century AD onward, coral traders plied “coral routes” to the Arabian Peninsula and through Central Asia to the Far East. Eventually, communities they served integrated this valuable “red gold” into their local traditions.

Berber women in Morocco, for example, favored bracelets, ear ornaments and brooches featuring delicate coral beading or inclusions. Many also wore lavish necklaces or filigreed silver amulets enhanced with amber, silver beading, metallic coins and bits of coral.

Berber Moroccan silver, coral and amber necklace, 11 inches long, with enameled amulet, 3.23 inches wide, realized $400 in 2013. Image courtesy of Westport Auction and LiveAuctioneers

The Chinese, who perfected the art of hardstone carving, have long prized coral for its rarity and beauty. Artisans favored it because of its softness, which made it easy to “work” in fashioning pieces of wearable or decorative art. This craft rose to new heights during the Qing Dynasty, (1644-1912) when artisans, under Imperial patronage, carved fine, red coral figurines, jewelry and sculptures as royal tributes and ornaments. Their finest works, large, organic pieces featuring incredibly detailed images, frequently embodied auspicious wishes for good luck, wealth or longevity.

Sculpted Buddhist Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) with dragons, Qing Dynasty, China, about 15 inches x 19.6 inches, 6.19 pounds, realized $80,070 in 2014. Image courtesy of Cambi Casa D’Aste and LiveAuctioneers

Coral jewelry was especially fashionable during the Victorian era, when British women embraced ostentatiously carved cameos, densely designed floral trinkets, and flashy gold, diamond or sapphire-set brooches resembling beetles, bugs or dragonflies. Yet, British journalist G.A. Sala noted in 1868 that coral jewelry “carelessly selected, clumsily set and ignorantly arranged … may become one of the most vulgar and unsightly of all ornaments.” Today, happily, Victorian coral jewelry, which is widely collected, is available in abundance.

Spanish conquistadors introduced fine, red Mediterranean coral to the American Southwest in the 16th century, possibly as rosary beads or ornaments on najas, silver pendants hung on horses’ foreheads to avert the Evil Eye.

Old pawn Zuni sterling silver cuff bracelet, Irene Paylusi, 5⅜ inches round with 1¼-inch gap, 24.9 grams, realized $200 in 2012. Image courtesy of Santa Fe Gallery Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

It was not until much later that Navajo, Hopi and Zuni craftsmen began gem-working commercially. Their inlay work, delicately fashioned from coral combined with bits of turquoise, mother-of-pearl and black jet, often depict traditional tribal images like Rainbird, Sunface and Thunderbird. Alternately, many brooches, bracelets belt buckles, and bolo ties feature restrained, repeating coral beaded patterns. Coral necklaces range from impossibly petite, tube-shaped heishi beads and graduated, horny twigs to plump, shaped and polished cabochons. Contemporary Native creations, such as pins and rings, may dramatically integrate bits of unworked coral into traditional designs.

Graduated natural-piece coral necklace with 14K gold linkage, 19½ inches long, realized $125 in 2016, image courtesy. The Popular Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Coral amulets remain popular, as of old. Many Italian men, for instance, carry or wear slightly twisted, horn-shaped coral cornicellos to deflect the Evil Eye. Their wives and daughters may prefer more delicate coral-twig earrings, pins or pendants.

Today, too, enthusiasts scour auctions for authentic precious coral creations – superb sculptures, decorative natural specimens and enticing pieces of jewelry.

Lustrous loose gemstones gathered for online auction Dec. 26

Jasper52 will conduct a diverse loose gemstones auction on Wednesday, Dec. 26, showcasing a variety of cuts, stones and colors. From intense sapphire to lustrous emeralds, certified diamonds and more, bidders are sure to find a unique treasure among this kaleidoscope of colors to fit into a setting of equal beauty.

Ethiopian opal, 34.58 carats. Estimate: $1,500-$1,600. Jasper52 image

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Versatile lapis lazuli prized for its shades of heavenly blue

Lapis lazuli, a gem-like stone prized since prehistoric times, is featured extensively in ornaments and jewelry. The finest “lapis,” mined in the remote mountains of present-day Afghanistan, is intensely blue, evoking the sea and sky.

Yet due to varying mineral content, blue lapis actually ranges from light blue and bluish-green to deep indigo. In addition, some pieces include small, glimmering flecks of gold-colored pyrite, reminiscent of the starlit night. Lapis featuring excess pyrite is dullish-green, while that with excess calcite features white streaks.

Dramatic lapis lazuli bracelet, beads 3 inches in diameter. Image courtesy of Westbury Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers

Over the centuries, traders, plying age-old caravan routes, transported small, costly lapis chunks far and wide. Rough beads have been found at Neolithic burial sites in central Asia. In addition, gravesites in Mesopotamia and Persia revealed beads, dishware, animal statuettes and protective amulets, some embellished with delicate, decorative lapis inlays.

Many ancients believed that blue, the color of the heavens, held great protective powers. So scores of Egyptians carried tiny, carved lapis eye, animal and deity-shaped amulets strung about their necks, in pockets or attached to finger rings. The wealthy, in addition to favoring luxurious lapis anklets, collars, bracelets, necklaces and headdresses, outlined their eyes with powdered lapis. They also took finely ground lapis internally, to prevent melancholy, insomnia, fever and gallstones.

Tiny Egyptian lapis hippopotamus amulet featuring star-like pyrite inclusions, 2 inches, Late Period, Egypt, circa 712-304 B.C. Image courtesy of

As Egyptians also associated blue with royalty and the afterlife, lapis-derived pigment decorated pharaohs’ sarcophagi and statues. In addition, carved lapis necklaces, figurines, scarabs, and heart amulets were customarily tucked among the grave goods in royal burial tombs.

Despite its use by barbarian tribes, the color blue remained popular throughout the Roman Empire. Wealthy women not only prized lapis beaded necklaces and lapis-carved gold rings. They also used it, powdered, as a medicinal, a cosmetic, and an aphrodisiac.

Victorian lapis lazuli gold-plated pendant-brooch, set in a Greek revival gold-plated tassel mounting, realized $175 in 2015. Image courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Through the Middle Ages, powdered-lapis motifs enhanced Afghani caves, Zoroastrian temples, Buddhist frescoes, Chinese paintings, and Indian murals. When Eastern trade routes reached Venice, monks graced manuscripts and Bibles with costly, powdered lapis illuminations.

During the Renaissance, the Medicis of Florence, along with others rich or royals, assembled collections of fabulously expensive, carved, gold-accented lapis lazuli footed bowls, goblets, flasks, and unguent bottles. Many also furnished their palaces with luxurious, lapis-inlay tables, virginals, house altars, cabinets, and mounted intaglio carvings.

Mosaic-like bowls, each 8 inches in diameter, featuring lapis geometric sections with pyrite inclusions, Afghanistan, realized $1,125 including the buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy Bonhams,

During the Baroque era, lapis was laboriously ground into the deep blue, ultra-expensive pigment ultramarine, a “noble color, beautiful, the most perfect of all colors.” In frescoes and oil paintings, it was generally reserved for garments of heavenly figures.

Opulent, blue-hued, carved lapis creations remained fashionable symbols of wealth and status through the 20th century. Gilt-mounted boxes, statuettes, vases, clocks and lapis-laden candlesticks adorned many a parlor mantelpiece. Due to their exquisite quality and aesthetic appeal, each piece is worth far more than the amount of lapis it contains.

Bold lapis-dial wristwatch, 18K solid gold, signed, numbered, unworn with box and papers, Christian Dior, circa 2014. Image courtesy of Watches of Knightsbridge Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

Lapis lazuli creations continue to charm. Tiny Egyptian and Roman amulets, shaped like hippos, hearts, hawks, fish or frogs, offer spiritual protection as of old. Intricately carved Chinese figurines, snuff bottles, plaques, pendants and prayer beads evoke the mysterious Orient. Russian and Chilean white, cloud-streaked chess sets, vases, trinket boxes and bangles, when set to advantage, are not less alluring.

Exciting contemporary lapis designs also abound. Towering, highly polished, deep blue obelisks, freeform chunks and mosaic-like sculptures make dramatic decorative statements. So do stunning jewelry boxes, vases, inlaid clocks and artistic, nature-themed pieces.

Yet lapis lazuli jewelry, available in countless forms, sizes, styles and designs, is a perennial favorite. Classy lapis cufflinks and pinky rings vie with elegant tie tacks, wristwatches and lapis-veneered fountain pens. Delicately carved indulgences vie with chic, cabochon-cut lapis earrings, beads and brooches, many glittering with diamonds and gold.

Many, as of old, believe that lapis lazuli holds great healing powers. A pebble-size pyramid placed beneath a pillow, for example, allegedly eases insomnia. Lapis arm bangles are said to relieve stress, purify blood and boost the respiratory, immune and nervous systems. Rubbing lapis on afflicted areas alleviates a litany of ailments. Moreover, say some, lapis lazuli promotes self-awareness, inner harmony, confidence, joy and peace.