Posts

Birthstones: What Does Yours Mean?

When shopping for a birthday gift, it’s hard to go wrong when you choose jewelry that includes a birthstone. For centuries, various gemstones were associated with months of the year. Then, in 1912, a standardized list was developed by the American Association of Jewelers. It is the most widely accepted guide to months and their birthstones option for the month of December, according to the American Gem Society.

Let’s examine birthstones, their history and symbolism, month by month.

 

January: Garnet

This gemstone is not just one mineral, but a combination of several similar minerals. Although the most common version of garnet is a dark red specimen, garnet also appears in yellow, orange, brown, gray, purple and green. Archeological exploration has unearthed portions of garnet jewelry daring back to 3100 B.C., and the popularity of garnet jewelry among the elite of the Middle Ages is well documented. The garnet represents peace, health and wellness; weal, and great happiness, while also providing an additional measure of safety for the wearer during their travels.

Tip: The rarest of all garnets are green and blue, so expect to pay a premium for either.

 

February: Amethyst

Amethyst, diamond, platinum and gold brooch designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., features cushion-shape amethyst weighing approx. 56.00cts. Sold for $25,000, Heritage Auctions, Dec. 5, 2016. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Heritage Auctions

The name of this striking quartz mineral hails from Ancient Greece and the word methustos, which means “intoxicated.” This gave way to the storied belief that if one were to wear an amethyst, they could avoid drunkenness. Although that may be up for debate, what isn’t is the amethyst’s durability, which is a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. They’re found in North America, regions of South America, and Zambia in southern Africa. The availability of amethyst gemstones has increased since the late 19th century, when significant deposits were discovered. As supply increased, the gems became more affordable. Perhaps owing to the legend of amethysts warding off drunkenness, it is said that the gemstone helps the person wearing it to be clear-headed, courageous, humble and loyal. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that the amethyst was useful for sharpening the mind and ridding oneself of evil thoughts.

Tip: Amethyst stones often appear to contain layers of color, which develop naturally as the stone is formed. However, the manner in which a gemologist or jeweler cuts the stone can even out the layers of color.

 

March: Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a variation of the mineral beryl, and gets its name from the Latin word aqua, or water, for its calming color reminiscent of the sea. Aquamarine gemstones vary in intensity – the larger the stone the more intense the color – but are consistently green-blue to blue-green in color. Most aquamarine gemstones are mined and exported from Brazil, however some specimens have reportedly been mined in Nigeria and Mozambique, as well as other parts of Africa. Legend and lore affiliated with aquamarine is extensive. Early adventurers and sailors were said to wear the gemstones to gain protection during a voyage and to bring about calm and clarity. It’s not hard to imagine how a clear head might be helpful when navigating uncharted oceans. History reveals armies of ancient societies had soldiers who believed wearing aquamarine would bring them victory. In addition to these benefits, there are also reports of the aquamarine being used as a cure for a variety of infections. The gemstone in powder for is said to help heal eye infections.

Memo: The bloodstone is regarded as an optional birthstone for the month of March.

 

April: Diamond

Edwardian-style sapphire and diamond 18K white gold jewelry suite with a bib necklace and pair of matching ear pendants. Sold for $32,500, I.M. Chait, March 2016. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers

The formation of diamonds from carbon atoms, in a high-pressure and high-temperature environment about 100 miles below the surface of the Earth, is a fascinating scientific process. It results in one of, if not the most, sought after of all gemstones. The formation process involves diamonds breaking the surface following a course of volcanic eruptions that occurred centuries ago. The diamond lays claim to being the hardest entity in nature – 58 times harder than any other substance. Its durable quality makes it the ideal choice for engagement rings, and it has been the subject of many songs and motion picture themes. While the colorless diamond is perennially desirable, diamonds also come in other colors, including yellow, pink, blue, and others. The recent upsurge of interest in colored diamonds has prompted the development of color-treated diamonds in laboratories.

Tip: Recent diamond-buying trends reveal a preference for Art Deco designs that incorporate scrollwork or flower shapes with diamond elements.

 

May: Emerald

Highly important platinum, emerald and diamond ring with fine 9.00ct green emerald flanked by two pear-shape diamonds totaling approx. 1.20cts. Sold for $9,250,000, Bruce Kodner Galleries, Dec. 19, 2010. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Bruce Kodner Galleries

This deeply hued gemstone shares a history like that of the aquamarine, as it, too, is a variation of the mineral beryl. The intensity of an emerald’s color is one factor in determining its value, with the rarest emerald being dark green-blue. Emeralds are mined in regions around the world, with the majority coming from Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia. Some of the earliest emeralds are estimated to be nearly 3 billion years old. Emeralds were sought out after by various ancient societies as fashionable adornments in life, as well as in death (burials). One of history’s greatest fans of emeralds was Cleopatra. They were among the gemstones harvested from mines near the coast of the Red Sea during Cleopatra’s reign. Ironically, or not, Elizabeth Taylor, who famously portrayed the fabled vamp in the 1963 Academy-Award film, was known for her sensational collection of jewelry. In 2011, an emerald and diamond brooch designed and created for Taylor by Bvlgari sold for $6.58M at Christie’s auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection. The brooch was one of 14 lots of the movie legend’s jewelry that included emeralds. The gemstone is a symbol of new beginnings, peace, security and loyalty.

Tip: A quality emerald should have an even distribution of color and a deep, but not too dark, green-blue hue.

 

 

June: Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone

18K yellow gold necklace with 245 round, brilliant-cut diamonds and 34 pearls; and a pair of earrings containing 40 round, brilliant-cut diamonds and six pearls. Stamped 18K HAMMERMAN. Sold for $15,000, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, April 18, 2010. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

People born in June have the good fortune of being able to select from three birthstones. The pearl is unique in that it is made by a living creature that relies on an irritant to form the creamy gemstone. Clams deposit layers of calcium carbonate around the irritants to create the pearl, which is among the softest of all gemstones, posting a minimum of 2.5 and maximum of 4.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. In addition to natural development of pearls, the process of freshwater culturing of pearls is a growing market operation. Natural harvesting of pearls is confined to an area of the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The most common characteristics associated with pearls are purity and innocence.

Did You Know: One of the rarest types of pearl is the Black Pearl. However, its color is more often dark green, purple, or even blue.

Another June birthstone, the alexandrite is a “youngster” among birthstones, said to have first been discovered in the mid-19th century in Russian mines in the Ural Mountains. The gemstone’s most fascinating quality is its changing color. Due to a rare chemical composition, alexandrite appears green in daylight and with a purple-red hue when placed under incandescent light. After the Russian supply of alexandrites dwindled, so did interest in the stone – until the discovery of alexandrite in Brazil in 1987. Despite this current source, alexandrites are scarce.

Moonstone is said to have been named by a natural historian who thought the gem looked like the shifting of the moon’s phases. Tiny layers of the feldspar create the effect in moonstone. It is found in India, Australia, Madagascar and the United States. It’s said to aid in balancing energies and rendering tranquility, thus making it useful in the treatment of insomnia. It is also fondly referred to as the “traveler’s stone” due to the belief that its properties help keep adventurers’ safe during the evening.

 

July: Ruby

Platinum and 18K gold Art Nouveau-style cocktail earrings with 4.75ctw old, European-cut diamonds and 1.50ctw near-flawless Burma rubies. Sold for $13,500, GWS Auctions Inc., July 29, 2017. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and GWS Auctions Inc.

The power of this gemstone, as believed by ancient civilizations, is to keep evil at bay. The luxurious red color of the ruby comes from the element chromium. The same element provides this gemstone with the appearance of an inner glow, but it also leaves it more susceptible to cracks. The most common regions where rubies exist include Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, India and East Africa. It is also second only to the diamond in terms of hardness, according to the Mohs scale, which ranks it as a 9. The ruby is said to heighten awareness, increase energy, and encourage love and strength. Throughout history, leaders of various cultures believed in the power of rubies, including Chinese noblemen. Ancient Hindus seeking status as emperors in rebirth would offer rubies to the god Krishna.

 

August: Peridot and Sardonyx

The peridot was described by early Egyptians as the “gem of the sun.” They also believed it could protect people from nighttime dangers. A deposit containing peridot was discovered in Pakistan in the 1990s, but more than 80% of the global supply of peridot is located in a deposit in Arizona on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Peridot is a variation of the mineral Olivine, and the amount of iron within the gemstone determines the depth of green color.

Sardonyx is a combination of sard and onyx minerals. Depending on the level of oxide within the composition, the color of the sard can be yellowish red or reddish brown, while onyx presents as white. India has produced the finest examples of this gemstone, which is said to render courage, clear communication skills, and genuine happiness.

Tip: A popular type of cut is cabochon, and in addition to its use with large, individual gemstones, it is also carved into cameos and brooches.

 

September: Sapphire

Harry Winston 18K gold necklace featuring an approximately 24ct rectangular-cut sapphire surrounded by diamonds on a multi-strand of cultured pearls. Sold for $110,000, John Moran Auctioneers, May 21, 2013. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.

Most commonly seen in blue, sapphires can actually come in a variety of colors, depending on the elements that are present in their composition. In the gemological world, sapphires that are not blue are referred to as “fancies.” Like the ruby, it measures 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, which opens the door for sapphires to also be incorporated into the production of watches and electronic instruments. In ancient times, it was believed that sapphires could help avoid poisoning.

Tip: Clarity among sapphires is usually greater than that of rubies, often due to the presence of rutile (a form of titanium dioxide). While this might lower the value of other gemstones, in some form of sapphires it increases value.

 

October: Opal and Tourmaline

Necklace composed of 25 oval, bluish-green tumble polished indicolite tourmaline beads, 418.0ctw, interspaced with diamond and 18K gold rondelles. Sold for $5,000, Clars Auction Gallery, Nov. 15, 2015. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Clars Auction Gallery

Both of October’s gemstones are revered for the way they transform in varying degrees of light, and symbolize faithfulness and courage. In fact, the word opal has its origins in the Greek term opallios, which means “to see a change in color.” It wasn’t until the 1960s that the scientific community was able to explain the reason for the change, which is due to intricate silica spheres diffracting light. The climate and geography in Australia are said to be the most conducive to the creation of opal.

Tourmaline also presents in a variety of colors, and according to legend, this is due to its passing through a rainbow during its journey from creation below the Earth’s surface to the top.

Tip: One of the most sought-after types of tourmaline is the rubellite, which appears in varying degrees of red and pink. Dark-toned tourmaline often appears black in color, and they typically sell for less than more brightly colored variations.

 

November: Topaz and Citrine

Once believed to be only yellow in color, topaz is colorless, and depending on impurities, can take on various colors, including the most popular variation – imperial topaz – which is orange with hints of pink hues. Another storied variation of this gemstone is the blue topaz, which is said to rarely appear naturally. Citrine also ranges in color from yellow to brownish orange and is a variety of quartz. The yellow hues are the result of the iron within the gemstone’s quartz crystals. Most of citrine today is mined in Brazil, but Bolivia and Russia also mine citrine, as do the U.S. states of Colorado, North Carolina, and California. Citrine has also been called a “healing quartz,” with reports that the gemstone fosters optimism and helps cultivate prosperity.

 

December: Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise

David Webb earrings with pear and oval-shape turquoise cabochons enhanced by full-cut, baguette-cut and marquise-cut diamonds. Sold for $36,000, Heritage Auctions, April 3, 2017. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers.com Archive and Heritage Auctions

As the name suggests, tanzanite hails from Tanzania. It is a variation of the mineral zoisite first discovered in 1967, making it another of the more modern birthstones. While shades of blue ranging from pale to ultramarine are the most common color of tanzanite, depending on the cut of the stone, additional colors may evidence themselves. Zircon is sometimes erroneously confused with the synthetic but unrelated cubic zirconia, simply because of the similarity in names. Since the Middle Ages zircon’s qualities have been linked to peaceful sleep and prosperity.

Turquoise varies in color from powder blue to robin’s egg blue with a hint of green. The name turquoise originated in 13th-century France and the phrase pierre turquois, which means “Turkish stone.” Most prevalent in arid regions, five U.S. states are the sources for most of the turquoise on the market today. It is said that the turquoise was used to adorn ceremonial masks and equipment used in battle because of its ability to bring power and protection to those wearing it.

 

6 Fine Jewelry Pieces Waiting For You

Quality and beauty form a gleaming partnership in this week’s auction of fine jewelry and gemstones. The 67-lot selection comprises a mix of loose gemstones and jewelry – antique through contemporary – with that unmistakable look of superiority that can only come through astute connoisseurship.

Pendants are among the most versatile of jewelry items. They’re equally at home when suspended from a long, sleek chain or added to a charm bracelet. An irresistible example is this late 1940s 14K yellow gold pendant with four cabochon-cut lapis lazuli stones in a setting that recalls Faberge’s fine work. With a total weight of 6.8 dwt, the pendant is expected to attract a winning bid of $300-$350.

Mid-century 14K yellow gold and cabochon lapis charm pendant, .585 gold, 6.8 dwt total weight, est. $300-$350

 

Another eye-catcher is a 14K yellow gold, diamond and ruby-encrusted lobster slide pendant. The fancy crustacean is fully articulated, a testament to the workmanship that went into its design. Even the antennae are mounted on springs, allowing them to move. There are 12 full-cut diamonds in each claw, 10 full-cut diamonds in the tail section, as well as two full-cut diamonds under the eyes and 12 in the thorax carapace. The cabochon rubies serve as its eyes, and 4 more adorn the antennae. Additionally, there are 48 pave-set diamonds and 34 channel-set rubies. Truly, this is a modern masterpiece that should easily reach or surpass its $825-$925 estimate.

14K yellow gold, diamond and ruby lobster slide pendant, est. $825-$925

 

There’s no mistaking a fine tanzanite, with its blue/violet coloration. Offered in this collection is a 4.02-carat loose tanzanite gemstone that has been certified by a reputable European laboratory. Faceted to show off its rich hues, the stone is the perfect size to set in a ring.

4.02-carat tanzanite stone, 22.75 x 8.54 x 638mm, est. $650-$750

 

This 14K yellow gold brooch and drop-earrings suite, set with pearls and natural sapphires is stunning. The total sapphire is weight is .36 carats, and the AAA Akoya pearls are 5mm in diameter. This ultra-chic offering is estimated at $750-$850.

Ladies 14K yellow gold brooch and drop earring set with Akoya pearls and .36ct natural sapphires, est. $750-$850

 

Simplicity is the keyword defining this pair of gentleman’s mid-century 14K white gold and diamond cufflinks. Each cufflink is styled as a flat oval and accented with a central diamond. Total diamond weight: .14 carats. Quietly elegant and suitable for daywear or evening attire, this pair of cufflinks is expected to attract bids in the $500-$550 range.

Pair of mid-century gentleman’s 14K white gold with diamonds cufflinks, .14ct total weight diamonds, in New York jeweler’s case, est. $500-$550

 

Diamonds will always be a girl’s best friend, especially when set in a 14K gold antique ring of timeless design. This piece fits that description, and features a .80-carat G/VSI diamond. This stunning sparkler is a size 4-3/4 and is estimated at $2,700-$3,000.

Ladies antique 14K yellow gold ring with .80-carat, G/VS1 diamond, size 4-3/4, est. $2,700-$3,000

Seiko Watches: Always One Step Ahead

There are many “firsts” in the history of the Seiko Watch Corp. As impressive as that may sound, what is even more remarkable is that those firsts contribute to the current innovation of a company now in its 137th year of operation.

An example of an early Laurel model wristwatch from Seiko, the first of its kind in Japan. One reason for its popularity was its design, suitable for wear by men and women. The Seiko Museum image

One can’t help but wonder what founder Kintaro Hattori might think about the company and creations manufactured by the business he started as a simple clock repair shop in 1881 in Tokyo. Given that a Hattori (Shinji Hattori – a great grandson) remains at the helm of the global company, it’s a good possibility Kintaro would be pleased with how his little watch business has evolved. As of April 2017, Shinji Hattori became chairman of Seiko Watch Corp., while also retaining his role as CEO. Shuji Takahashi moved into the role of president of Seiko, while also serving as president, chief operating officer and chief marketing officer.

Seiko Fact: The company built its first pocket watch in 1895, and in 1913 Seiko brought forth the first Japanese wristwatch, named The Laurel.

Seiko is a business that produces timepieces found on the wrists of explorers journeying to staggering heights atop moutain peaks, to the depths of the world’s oceans, and to both poles. Modern-day adventurers such as Mitsuro Ohba, who is known for his solo treks on foot crossing the Arctic Circle and Antarctica, have worn Seiko watches. Explorers of land and sea aren’t the only ones who have opted to go with a Seiko.

Vintage quartz Seiko pocket watch, a three-register chronograph, 14K gold chain, sold for $1,037 during a July 2017 auction. Hampton Estates Auction image

Seiko watches have made their way into outer space as well. One of the most talked about space adventures involving a Seiko watch was Richard Garriott’s 2008 trip to the International Space Station. It wasn’t just any seiko watch that accompanied Garriott, it was the Seiko Spring Drive Spacewatch, made especially for the mission. It also wasn’t the first time a Garriott wore a Seiko watch in space. Richard Garriott says his decision to venture into space was also about following in his father’s footsteps. In 1973, Owen Garriott traveled aboard Skylab as a NASA astronaut, and again in 1983. During these flights, he too wore Seiko watches.

Stainless steel automatic men’s Seiko wristwatch, circa 1970s, mineral glass on the face, with generic steel bracelet, sold for $605 during an auction in March of 2017. Jasper52 image

Adventurers are not the only history-makers to turn to Seiko watches for timekeeping. The late U.S. Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf was also a Seiko wearer. In his New York Times death announcement, the military leader is pictured wearing a Seiko watch on one wrist and a Rolex on the other.

The general explained his practice of wearing two watches in a December 1998 letter to Antiquorum auction house, which accompanied the Seiko Quartz Divers 150 Watch he donated for a charity auction. His note read: “To Whom It May Concern: This letter certifies that the Seiko Quartz Divers 150 Watch, Serial #469576, was owned and worn by me while I was the Commander in Chief of Allied Forces during the Persian Gulf War. I always wore two watches during the war. The one on my left arm was set on Saudi Arabian time and the Seiko on my right arm was set on Eastern Standard Time. That way I could quickly glance at my watches and instantly know the time in both Saudi Arabia and Washington, D.C. Sincerely, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, General, U.S. Army, Retired.” The watch sold for $11,000 at auction in 1999.

Seiko’s ‘First’ First: In 1969 Seiko unveiled the Seiko Astron (Seiko Quartz-Astron 353SQ), which was the world’s first quartz watch. This was a game-changing innovation. It offered an alternative to the mechanical movement used to keep time for nearly a thousand years.

In addition to having a commanding presence in explorations and military movements, the Seiko watch brand has long been associated with sporting events including several past Olympics and World Cup soccer competitions. Seiko watches also make their appearance on the red carpet from time to time, having been on the wrist of actresses including Kristen Stewart and technological icons such as the late Steve Jobs.

Seiko Quartz wristwatch with a white face, black metal bezel, Arabic numeral dials, black leather band, circa 1980s, consigned by Steve Jobs’ longtime house manager, sold for $42,500 at Heritage Auctions in February 2016. Heritage Auctions image

That was a Seiko timepiece on Jobs’ wrist as he held the original Macintosh computer in his lap, in the photo that graced the cover of the October 17, 2011 issue of Time magazine following his death. The photo was take in 1984, and Jobs wore that same watch for decades to come as he and his team at Apple helped define technology in the 21st century.

Global Firsts from Seiko: Having generated great success with its quart watch, Seiko unveiled the first LCD quartz watch with a digital display in 1973, followed by the first multifunctional digital watch in 1975. The 1980s saw more innovation in Seiko’s TV watch, the first analog quartz watch with chronograph, and the first watch to feature computer functions.

For a company whose name is said to mean “success, exquisite, force and truth” in Japanese, it seems Seiko Watch Corp. lives up to its name. However, remaining a relevant and innovative company has meant paving paths into the unseen while staying committed to providing durable and accessible watches and remaining a step ahead in quality and invention.

 

Fresh Waves of Viking Jewelry

Jumping on the recent trend in auctions, authentic Viking Age jewelry along with medieval and Byzantine pieces have been curated in this week’s unique jewelry auction. Rings, amulets, pendants, and bracelets that hold symbolic meaning in their shapes, often embodying the great strength of Viking warriors who bore them, are being offered in this collection. Professionally refurbished and ready for wear, these pieces of gilt bronze jewelry are enriched with history as well as beauty.

To the Vikings, who were expert seafarers and navigators, the constellations signified mystery and power. A dazzler in the collection is a Viking lunar pendant from the ninth or 10th century, fashioned as the crescent moon.

Ancient Viking lunar pendant circa A.D. 900-1000, gilt bronze, nearly 1/2 in. high, fashioned as the crescent moon. Estimate: $135-$150. Jasper52 image

 

Another lunar pendant in the auction is an elongated crescent with terminals representing Sol and Mani (sun and moon) connected by a wave motif representing the sea. Lunar pendants were often worn as pectorals as well as suspended from belts and clothing.

Ancient Viking lunar pendant, circa A.D. 800-900, gilt bronze, 1 1/2 in. wide, elongated crescent with terminals representing the sun and moon, connected by a wave motif representing the sea. Estimate: $200-$225. Jasper52 image

 

Another highlight in this collection is a 10th century Viking C-form bracelet decorated with a continuous diamond motif.

Tenth-century Viking bracelet, gilt bronze, hand cut with continuous diamond motif. Estimate: $300-$300. Jasper52 image

 

Ancient Romans were also seafarers and understood the bond between dolphins and sailors, and many tales of dolphin rescues and assistance have been recorded. A second-century Roman pendant being offered represents a bottle-nosed dolphin. At least one fibula (decorative garment pin) with the body of a dolphin very similar to this is known. This example may well have been worn en suite with a matching fibula.

Roman dolphin pendant, second century, gilt bronze, 2 1/8 in. long. Estimate: $600-$700. Jasper52 image

 

Another rare Roman piece is a key ring, A.D. 300-500. Its narrow flat band was made with an intricately toothed key projection. These rings were used to open jewelry boxes, the ownership of which was prestigious. As a result, many were made for show only and worn where no such box existed.

Roman key ring, A.D. 300-500, gilt bronze, size 10 1/4. Estimate: $230-$260. Jasper52 image

 

Representing medieval times is a Spanish pendant that would have been worn by a woman. An inch in diameter, the delicately pierced radial splay of globes on stalks, finely chased and polished, surround a raised bezel with original clear glass or stone mount.

Woman’s pendant, Spanish, circa 1450, gilt bronze, 1 in. diameter, finely chased and polished, surround a raised bezel with original clear glass or stone mount. Estimate: $250-$275. Jasper52 image

 

This collection is filled with unique treasures, sure to strike any fancy. Take a look at the full catalog and discover your own treasure.

 

 

Finding Hidden History in Viking Jewelry

Collectors look for estate jewelry, those vintage treasures that have often been handed down from one generation of a family to another. But for jewelry truly steeped in history and heartiness, one need look no further than this collection of Viking, Byzantine and medieval jewelry.

This collection consists of 72 lots of jewelry – warriors’ rings, sorcerers’ amulets, Byzantine pilgrims’ crosses and French ladies’ pendants – all professionally refurbished and ready for modern wear.

Many of the items hold symbolic meaning in their shapes, often embodying the great strength of Viking warriors who bore them. A fine example is a Viking warrior’s heart ring, circa 850-100 AD. For Vikings, the heart stood for bravery, fortitude, loyalty, integrity, all attributes of the warrior.

Viking warrior’s heart ring, A.D. 850-1000, gilt bronze, size 9 3/4. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

This next warrior’s ring is in the classic coil form decorated with hand detailed chevrons. It is from the 10th or 11th century.

Fine ancient Viking warrior’s gilt bronze ring, 10th-11th century, classic coil form. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

Small pendants in the shape of a duck’s foot have been found in the graves of Vikings believed to have been sorcerers. One such silvered bronze amulet is offered in the sale.

Viking sorcerer’s amulet, 9th-10th century, silvered bronze, just under 1in high, shaped as a duck’s foot. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

A Viking bracelet of gilt bronze in this collection has an acorn form terminals and an intricately modeled medial crest. It dates to the 10th century.

Rare ancient Viking bracelet, 10th century, gilt bronze, 2 1/4 inches inside width. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

Also from the 10th century is a women’s gilt bronze bracelet in a broad oval C form with centralized X flanked by twin medial ridges.

Viking women’s bracelet, gilt bronze, 10th century, just under 2 5/8 inches inside width. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

A striking Medieval gilt bronze ring that features a stone set in a raised bezel dates to the 13th-15th century.

Medieval gilt bronze ring with central clear stone on raised bezel, 13th-15th century, size 8 1/4. Estimate: $300-$400. Jasper52 image

 

View the full catalog of jewelry and step into a treasure trove of unique pieces.

6 Jewelry Pieces Embodying Viking Strength

This collection of jewelry is like taking a peek inside the jewelry box of a Viking. It’s filled with rings, amulets, pendants, and bracelets that all hold symbolic meaning in their shapes, and embody the strength of the Viking warriors who bore their name. Let’s take a look inside this jewelry box of treasure…

A viking warrior’s ring is the perfect accessory for a man or woman who is ready to take on the world. This first large ring has been professionally conserved and refurbished, originally from the 10th century.

Viking warrior’s ring, 10th century, gilt bronze, size 13 1/4, professionally conserved and refurbished with the gold overlay restored. Estimate: $600-$700. Jasper52 image

 

The next warrior’s ring features a heart-shape bezel. For Vikings, the heart stood for bravery, fortitude, loyalty and integrity – all attributes of the warrior.

Viking warrior’s heart ring, gilt bronze, A.D. 850-1000, size 10 1/4, professionally conserved and refurbished with the gold overlay restored. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

 

A traditional Viking jewelry form is the coil ring, but few survive due to their fragility. The gilt bronze piece in this auction is size 10 and consists of a slightly rounded face spiral of there full turns.

Viking coil ring, gilt bronze, A.D. 850-1,000, size 10, professionally conserved with the gold overlay restored. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

 

As expert navigators, the Vikings viewed the constellations as signifying both mystery and power. Lunar pendants were worn as pectorals as well as suspended from belts, other clothing and horse harnesses. One such pendant is fashioned as a narrow crescent moon with double tips flanking a central column, a common motif with astrological significance.

Viking lunar pendant, gilt bronze, circa A.D. 900-1000, professionally refurbished with the gold overlay restored for contemporary wear. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

 

Another pendant in this collection is in the shape of a heart and adorned with stylized foliage.

Viking heart pendant, gilt bronze, 9th-10th century, 1 1/4in high, professionally refurbished with the gold overlay restored. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

 

And what about some wrist jewelry? This intricately decorated gilt bronze bracelet dates back to the 10th century.

Viking bracelet, gilt bronze band, 10th century, just under 1/2in width at the center and tapering slightly to the ends, professionally refurbished with the gold restored. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

 

Discover more unique items from this treasure chest of jewelry in this week’s Viking Jewelry auction. Register to bid today!

6 Jewelry Pieces You Will Swoon Over

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this weekend’s Jasper52 jewelry auction features modern and vintage pieces that mingle beautifully making up a diverse collection. Tiffany, Cartier and Van Cleef are just a few of the famous names offered, boasting classic designs as well as modern interpretations.

Tiffany & Co. platinum diamond and sapphire bypass ring featuring a GIA-graded 1.78 carat old European cut diamond and a round cut sapphire with an estimated weight of 2.10cts, size 5 1/2. Estimate: $16,000-$20,000. Jasper52 image

 

The 120-lot auction saves the best items for last, concluding with a Tiffany & Co. platinum diamond and sapphire bypass ring (above), estimated at $16,000-$20,000, and a pair of Van Cleef & Arpel 18K gold diamond and mother of pearl earrings (below), estimated to bring $20,000-$25,000.

Van Cleef & Arpel 18K cabochon mother of pearl diamond earrings with .80cts of round brilliant cut diamonds. Estimate: $20,000-$25,000. Jasper52 image

 

Vintage Tiffany & Co. in the sale also includes a pendant with a pair of natural pearls and 44 old European cut diamonds. The Art Deco necklace, which is not Tiffany, measures 19.5 inches long. This diamond and pearl necklace is accompanied by a retail appraisal performed by a graduate gemologist as well as a GIA report for the natural pearls. This lovely item (below) carries a $7,000-$10,000 estimate.

Tiffany & Co. natural pearl and diamond pendant with 44 Old European cut diamonds and a pair of GIA-graded natural pearls, late 1800s. Estimate: $7,000-$10,000. Jasper52 image

 

From Boucheron, Paris, an 18K gold ring (below) featuring an oval diamond flanked by 20 round billion cut diamonds has an $8,000-$12,000.

Boucheron, Paris, diamond ring with 0.55-carat oval diamond and 20 round brilliant cut diamonds, size 6.25. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Jasper52 image

 

An enameled 18K gold tiger bracelet (below) by Frascarolo adds a touch of whimsy to the sale. The big cat’s eyes are rubies.

Frascarolo tiger bangle bracelet, 18K yellow gold, 7-inch circumference. Estimate: $15,000-$20,000. Jasper52 image

 

On the contemporary side is a SimonG 18 gold diamond row bracelet (below) of white and rose gold with 1.48 ctw diamonds.

SimonG 18K gold diamond row bracelet, 1.48ctw. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Jasper51 image

 

This sale offers a variety of fine jewelry for buyers looking for either elegant simplicity or for eye-catching intensity. View the full catalog and register to bid here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Fabergé Pendant Eggs

Fabergé’s miniature pendant eggs are an exceedingly enjoyable area to collect. In what other area can you purchase a Fabergé egg that you can also wear everyday?

Perhaps no country is better known for its Easter eggs than Russia. From the jeweled creations of Fabergé to humble woodcarvings, the holiday could not be celebrated without the decoration and exchange of numerous eggs. With the tradition dating back to the 15th century, by the 1890s wealthy families presented each other with precious miniature eggs each year. Eggs could be decorated with symbols of the season, family professions, or love tokens. Strung on gold necklaces, a lady might have multiple necklaces by her later years.

Jeweled pendant eggs can range from affordable to quite expensive, so where should a novice collector begin? Read on for 5 key tips to beginning your Fabergé pendant egg collection.

1. It’s important to begin with an established and trustworthy seller who is willing to guarantee authenticity.

Fabergé gold-mounted carved purpurine miniature pendant egg, St Petersburg, circa 1908-1917. Lot 109. Estimate: $8,500-12,000

Fabergé gold-mounted carved purpurine miniature pendant egg, St Petersburg, circa 1908-1917

2. Consider the materials you prefer: the translucent guilloché enamels for which Fabergé is famed or a more unusual material like the matte purpurine, a rare and unusual glass that is so opaque it resembles a carved hardstone. Do you want an egg with an elephant or clover, symbols of good luck, or perhaps your birthstone? Eggs are available in every style and color, and designs can be surprisingly modern.

A Fabergé amethyst and gilded silver miniature pendant Easter egg, St. Petersburg, circa 1898-1908. Lot 98. Estimate: $4,000-6,000

A Fabergé amethyst and gilded silver miniature pendant Easter egg, St. Petersburg, circa 1898-1908

3. Examine the egg or photos of the egg carefully. It should show some signs of wear. When strung together on a necklace, the eggs often bumped into one another and tiny chips or bumps can appear on enamel surfaces. Large areas of loss and repair negatively impact price while an important provenance will increase it. The Red Cross egg (featured below) has a small area of discoloration that is fairly common with enameled eggs, and the estimate reflects the tiny bit of wear as well as the desirability of the subject matter.

A Fabergé gold and guilloché enamel miniature pendant Easter egg, workmaster Andrei Adler, St Petersburg, circa 1900. Lot 105. Estimate: $2,500-4,500

A Fabergé gold and guilloché enamel miniature pendant Easter egg, workmaster Andrei Adler, St Petersburg, circa 1900

4. Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with Russian hallmarks. Pendant eggs are mostly constructed on a frame of gold and are marked on the bale, the small suspension ring from which they can be attached to a necklace or bracelet. The bale is a small space for the relatively large maker’s marks and hallmarks, especially if we compare them to the diminutive marks used in France! Russian jewelers stamped items with the numbers 56 (equivalent to 14K) or 72 (equivalent to 18K).

Detail of the 56 mark (equivalent to 14K). Lot 109.

Detail of the 56 mark (equivalent to 14K)

5. If your budget doesn’t extend to a Fabergé pendant Easter egg, consider buying a Russian pendant Easter egg. Prices are significantly cheaper and the pendants can be just as lovely, if a bit less complex.

A Russian gem-set gold pendant egg, circa 1900. Lot 107. Estimate: $1,500-2,500

A Russian gem-set gold pendant egg, circa 1900

This week’s Fine & Decorative Arts Auction features beautiful Fabergé style pendant eggs. Take a look here!


Written by Karen Kettering, Vice President at John Atzbach Antiques in Redmond, Washington.

Viking Jewelry: Your Perfect Halloween Accessory

Vikings and ancient Scandinavian culture and lore have attracted increased interest in recent years. This awareness has led to a fascination with the skillful metalwork of Vikings, both in regard to weaponry and jewelry. Discoveries of the divergent representation of masterful Viking metalwork continue to occur in the UK and other western European countries.

While silver appears to have been the Vikings’ metal of choice, a few gold and bronze objects are featured in an upcoming sale on Jasper52, just in time for halloween. A few highlights below:

A Viking man’s ring in gold overlay has already attracted early bidding. The size 11 3/4 ring dates to A.D. 850-1000 and is expected to sell for up to $200.

Large Viking man's ring, gold overlay, size 11 3/4, A.D. 850-1000. Estimate: $165-$200

Large Viking man’s ring, gold overlay, size 11 3/4, A.D. 850-1000. Estimate: $165-$200

Examples of Viking mythology and their religion can also be seen in ancient jewelry. For example, a pendant shaped in the form of a duck’s foot is thought to have belonged to a 10th century Viking sorcerer. This bronze and silver overlay pendant is estimated to sell for $250-$300.

Viking sorcerer’s pendant, bronze with silver overlay 10th century, 1 inch. Estimate: $200-$250

Viking sorcerer’s pendant, bronze with silver overlay 10th century, 1 inch. Estimate: $200-$250

Vikings metalsmiths were skilled in first creating weapons, armor and tools, but also excelled in making jewelry that has stood the test of time. Those skills are also evident in elaborate jewelry designs that include hearts, crescents and earrings. 

The heart had special meaning for Viking warriors as a male symbol for bravery, fortitude, loyalty and integrity, and it embodied the Viking spirit.

The heart symbol embodied the Viking spirit. Viking heart pendant, gold overlay, A.D. 850-1050. Estimate: $250-$300

Viking heart pendant, gold overlay, A.D. 850-1050. Estimate: $250-$300

Not loving the Viking look? The scope of this auction extends beyond the reach of just the Vikings. For example, a silvered bronze Jerusalem cross pendant, likely worn by a Crusader, is expected to sell for $200-$300. The pendant is actually five crosses in one, which represent the five wounds of Christ. These crosses originated with Godfrey of Bouillon, a Frankish knight known as Baron of the Holy Sepulcher and the Crusader King, ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem following a victorious siege in the First Crusade.

Crusader’s cross pendant, Byzantine pilgrim’s reliquary cross, silvered bronze, A.D. 1000-1200, 1 inch. Estimate: $200-$300

Crusader’s cross pendant, Byzantine pilgrim’s reliquary cross, silvered bronze, A.D. 1000-1200, 1 inch. Estimate: $200-$300

So, will you be dressing up as a viking this halloween season?

Fine Jewelry Auction Sets Stage for Premier Designers’ Gems

David Yurman, Georg Jensen, William Spratling, Cartier and Tiffany are a few of the famous names represented in this weekend’s upcoming fine jewelry auction.

Sparkling with fine creations by illustrious designers, this collection offers a kaleidoscope of exquisite pieces, including vintage and estate jewelry. Trends evolve, but diamonds, silver and gold never go out of style. Here are a few of our favorite things… from this collection:

Diamond and sapphire earrings, 1.5 ctw. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000

Diamond and sapphire earrings, 1.5 ctw. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000

Topping the list is a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings in 18K white and yellow gold. The diamonds in these flower-shape earrings have a total carat weight of approximately 1.5 to 2.0 carats (est. $6,000-$8,000).

Seven pieces designed by sculptor David Yurman are entered in the auction, including an 18K gold X crossover diamond ring. The size 7 ring features Yurman’s signature cable detail and pave diamonds (0.04 ctw).

David Yurman 18K gold X crossover diamond ring. Estimate: $900-$1,000. Jasper52 image

David Yurman 18K gold X crossover diamond ring. Estimate: $900-$1,000

A classic example of Mexican silver is a 1930s River of Life cuff bracelet designed by William Spratling, which is estimated at $1,750-$2,000.

 

William Spratling ‘River of Life’ cuff bracelet, 980 silver. Estimate: $1,750-$2,000. Jasper52 image

William Spratling ‘River of Life’ cuff bracelet, 980 silver. Estimate: $1,750-$2,000

Two postwar Georg Jensen lots will be sold: a 1 1/2-inch sterling silver No. 20 brooch and a pair of sterling silver No. 66 “Bird” earrings by Kristian Mohl-Hansen.

 

Georg Jensen sterling silver ‘Bird’ earrings by Kristian Mohl-Hansen, with screw back clasps, 1-inch diameter. Estimate: $500-$600. Jasper52 image

Georg Jensen sterling silver ‘Bird’ earrings by Kristian Mohl-Hansen, with screw-back clasps, 1-inch diameter. Estimate: $500-$600

This 18K white gold and diamond “C” heart ring by Cartier has an estimated value of $4,500-$6,000.

 

Cartier 18K white gold diamond ‘C’ heart ring, sized 5.25. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000.

Cartier 18K white gold diamond ‘C’ heart ring, size 5.25. Estimate: $4,500-$6,000.

Just “a little something” from Tiffany’s, the pair of 14K yellow gold full links shown below carry a $200-$300 estimate.

Tiffany & Co 14K yellow gold cuff links, 11.3 grams. Estimate: $200-$300. Jasper52 image

Tiffany & Co 14K yellow gold cuff links, 11.3 grams. Estimate: $200-$300

Also within this unique assortment of more than 100 lots are a Victorian gold conch brooch and a Navajo green turquoise necklace. And the best part? All bidding start at just $1.