Tag Archive | citrine

Call it what you will

We’re all used to the majority of gems being called by their name:
Diamond is diamond;

Opal is opal;

Turquoise is turquoise;

Even in it’s many different colours Topaz is still Topaz.

Emerald is emerald…well actually it’s Beryl…as is Morganite, Aquamarine, Heliodore and Goshenite!  What distinguishes each of these is the colour that the gem comes in (green, pink, pale blue, yellow and colourless respectively).

Ruby, well that’s actually a form of Corundum, called Ruby only when it is red, when it is pinky orange it is called Padparadscha.  All other colours of Corundum are called sapphires so you can find all kinds of sapphires, such as the green one below.

 

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Green sapphire

 

Tourmaline comes in a variety of colours and several of these have particular names too.  When it is red/pink it is Rubellite, green is Verdelite, blue is the fabulous Indicolite and colourless is Achroite.

Tanzanite is a form of zoisite, Morganite is a Beryl and they were both named by Tiffany and Co.

Amazonite is a type of Feldspar, as is Labradorite.  Incidentally Feldspar is the most prolific mineral in the Earth’s continental crust and can be found on Mars!  This is a good example of two types of mineral which are chemically related but clearly very different.

Quartz (the second most abundant mineral behind Feldspar) has another wide variation in colour, and many names or nicknames to go with it.  From the yellow citrine, to stunning purple amethyst (and of course the incredible ametrine is therefore part of this family).

Another variation is green quartz, sometimes referred to as green amethyst although if we were going to be strict about it that’s not it’s real name!  So we are going to go with the official Prasiolite, and here’s an example:

 

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However the quartz pseudonyms don’t stop there, even more strangely Chalcedony (see ring below), Agate, Onyx, Jasper, Tigers Eye, Aventurine and Carnelian are all types of quartz that you might not guess from the name!

 

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Blue Chalcedony

 

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Smokey Quartz

 

Of course the feminine pink of rose quartz to the stunning brown hues of smokey quartz (ring above) and the fascinating Rutilated Quartz are also, more obviously part of the family.

Another slight confusion may arise when considering the names of gems in that often the gem quality variation of a type of mineral has a different name to the non-gem form, Csarite/Diaspore, Peridot/Olivine and Iolite/Cordierite by way of example.

 

Call them what you will, they’re all beautiful to us!

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Cameos

We’ve all seen cameos (or similar) on the high street, and they’re thought of as pretty old fashioned now, but the original cameo is a real work of art so we thought you should know a bit about it!

The art of carving and engraving gemstones is called the glyphic art, a glyph being a channel or groove.  There are actually two types of ‘cameo,’ where designs are incised into the stone they are called intaglio, where the image appears in relief this is a cameo.

The earliest gemstone carving was in intaglio, and the design is carved in the negative below the flattened or domed surface of the gemstone.  This allowed the gem to be pressed into clay or sealing wax where it would leave a mirror image of the design in relief.  Engraved signet stones can be traced back to the Sumerian period in Mesopotamia and even to around 5000 BC in some parts of Asia.

 

2nd - 3rd Century Roman Gold Intaglio Ring - copyright of Trustees of the British Museum

2nd – 3rd Century Roman Gold Intaglio Ring – copyright of Trustees of the British Museum

 

In cameos the design is created by cutting away around the image and leaving the image in relief, and this type of carving did not begin until the late Hellenistic Greek period, when gemstone carving came to be appreciated for its artistic and ornamental value, rather than for the functional aspect of an intaglio seal.

Traditionally cameos feature a white figure on a dark background.  Greek cameos were often made of banded agate or sardonyx carved with the coloured layers of the stone running horizontal to the visible upper plane.  This meant that up to four levels of carving, each in a different colour, could be seen, such as in the cameo below.

 

The coloured layers are visible in this cameo carving

The coloured layers are visible in this cameo carving

 

In addition to agate or sardonyx practically all stones have been used for engraving.  Rare and expensive rubies, sapphires and emeralds have been fashioned into cameos in the past, although they are usually only small simple designs due to the hardness of these gems which make them difficult to carve.  Usually these rare and precious gems will feature in a Roman ring or occasionally in a simple 18th century gold setting.  In the late 19th century citrine and amethyst began to appear as carved gems in brooches, and then opals which are sometimes found in both rings and brooches.  Organic materials such as coral, ivory and jet became extensively used in the 18th and 19th centuries which were much cheaper and more widely available, although shell carving in jewellery has been around since the 16th century.

 

c. 1850 Diana at the hunt

c. 1850 Diana at the hunt

By the end of the 19th century the fashion for cameos had dwindled, there are 20th century cameos often set in nine carat gold or silver with marcasite highlights, more recently, in the 1930s to 1950s, glass, plastic and composite were used to produce cheaper varieties of cameo.  The lack of interest in the cameo means it is not a highly marketable piece and the modern day versions of these stunning carvings lack the charm and detail of earlier pieces, often on the mass production market.  However there are some good buys to be had both of vintage originals, and more unusual takes on the cameo idea, such at these resin brooches from the Maria Allen Boutique. and these cameo inspired rings by Hart and Bloom.

 

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Goldsmiths’ Fair – 2014

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For over 30 years the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall in the heart of London has been showcasing the very best in British design and craftsmanship in the precious metals.  The annual ‘Goldmiths’ Fair’ this year continues the tradition, but with a new approach to the concept and with many new  and exciting exhibitors.  The fair allows the public to purchase pieces direct from the designer-makers over the two week period – in perfect time for Christmas!  The event contains the latest collections from 170 leading designer-makers, each exhibiting for one week, selected by an expert judging panel assembled by the Goldsmiths Company.

The new look fair, feels fresher and more spacious, the clean lines of the white stands clearly define the individual spaces without looking cluttered and tight, the exhibitors are happy to talk about their pieces and to allow you to take a closer look & try things on!

 

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There are plenty of new exhibitors this year, including Clara Breen who’s colourful pieces caught my eye, Clara incorporates paper into her beautifully crafted pieces, including these ‘Fossil’ Earrings with removable part; Oxidised silver, vermeil, citrine and paper. (week one, stand 15)

 

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Other tempting week one exhibitors include Shivani Patel, Melissa Rigby, new exhibitors Amy Keeper  and Tanja Ufer.

 

A new feature of the fair this year has been Goldsmiths’ Fair Revels ‘Zaha Hadid Selects.’  For the first time the fair has invited an iconic figure from the design world to make a selection of her favourite pieces from the 170 exhibitors. The internationally renowned architect has selected 21 pieces of jewellery and silver which have been displayed together at the start of the fair. Her selection is bold and diverse and all are testimonies to cutting edge design and techniques – here are a couple of my favourites from her selection:

 

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Tom Rucker’s Ring GEO. AEGEANA – This artist goldsmith uses state of the art laser welding technology in conjunction with master goldsmith skills to create his unique pieces, skills which are supremely in evidence in this stunning ring, the intricate laser welding of the wire work and the rich combinations of colour, texture and materials makes this ring a work of art and craft. (week one, stand 78)

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Ute Decker’s – ‘In Praise o Shadows’ Earrings – reminiscent of folded pieces of paper these minimalist but tactile earrings are striking and substantial in size but look effortlessly wearable and have a pleasing fluidity to their overall sculptural appearance. (week one, stand 4)

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It’s all change in week two, and I’m looking forward to checking out the work of  Ornella Iannuzzi (week two stand 72) whose distinctive pieces include this stunning ring:

 

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“A l’Ere Glaciaire”

Also Chris Boland, and Charmian Harris who have both used a variety of interesting gemstones in their bold pieces.

‘Monolith rings’

‘Monolith rings’ by Chris Boland

 

Opal bracelet set with 22ct gold & diamonds by Chairman Harris

Opal bracelet set with 22ct gold & diamonds by Charmian Harris

 

As you can imagine with 170 exhibitors there are far too many dazzling pieces to mention here and as this is a jewellery blog I haven’t even began to feature the many outstanding pieces of silversmithing work on show at the fair as well, definitely worth a look if you manage to visit!

Dates for the Fair 2014

Week one Monday 22 September 2014 – Sunday 28 September
Week two Tuesday 30 September – Sunday 5 October
Closed on Monday 29 September for the change-over.

11am – 6.30pm daily
Thursdays open 8.30pm

 

The Goldsmiths’ Company are also offering a series of breakfast talks over the course of the fair – these feature experts from the jewellery world speaking about their area of specialty, there are some really exciting talks scheduled (for example this morning was Edward Johnson – the London Director of the GIA!) but these are booking up quickly so if you’re interested do have a look at the website for booking details.