Right - installment 2 (of 2 - I'm running out of stuff!). Get scrolling equipment at the ready, 'cos this is going to be even longer. No model photos either, since sensibly DF is sleeping, at 3.30am.
Let's start from an observation that is not going to make me popular with gem dealers: to make great jewellery, you don't need that much in terms of gem content.
As shown by these earclips by B...
...or this brooch by G.
On the other hand, even superbly textured gold, modelled by masters (and make no mistakes, those two ARE masters) can be boring without a little sparkle. So, sensibly, the masters have put in little sparklies.
Completely at the other extreme are diamond studs
2 x 1.something cts / F+ / SI (all my own very professional grading). The interesting story behind those two is that they were set on my maternal grandma's engagement ring (circa 1935). When my DF turned 30, my mother decided to have them re-set as studs, and gifted them to her. Here they are individually
I love the stones, and the story. At some point I'll have them re-set in platinum - or perhaps I'll invest in getting some jackets made (pink? yellow? blue? - what do you think, ladies?).
If you find only white boring, how about black & white? This diamonds and onyx bracelet dates from about 1925, it has about 10 ctw of old cut diamonds in colours varying from H to J - apologies for the quality of the photo, but the 500 pixel maximum really hits large pieces hard...
... so I took a little detail photo...
The incredible thing about this bracelet is how little metal there is: total weight is about 24 grams, less than 1 oz - take away 2 grams for the diamonds and 1 for the onyx, and you are left with very little platinum (to be precise, about 1 cubic centimetre in all, for something that is 18 cm long and 2 wide). As it is apparent from this side view
Then again, they seemed to make a point of using as little metal as possible in the Deco period: look at this...
...which really should be looked at like this...
... or together with its mate. Both of them first seen in a posh boutique in Paris (makers' mark so difficult to read, I'd need a microscope - and then some) circa 1935.
They give a completely new meaning to the word "ear rings
", don't you think? To appreciate them fully, though, you've got to see them worn. Next shot tomorrow morning...
This is a piece of jewellery that turns the scales at just under 10 grams. For both! From which you need to take out the stones, at about 9 ctw (just short of 2 grams). And to think that on fleaBay you get sellers trumpeting about the amount of metal in their pieces. Of course, if selling things for scrap is your most likely option, then weight counts
The other interesting point about Deco jewellery is that it changed so much in character within 10 years. look at these:
so typical of early 20's jewellery, even though they are set with older diamonds, probably recycled from a Victorian piece
The larger stones are about 50 points, and despite the extremely sub-optimal cut they sparkle like there's no tomorrow.
Just in case you think Deco is all about white, here's some colour
a wonderful (even if I say so) C sautoir dating from circa 1920 in its original box. Before scrolling further, guess what the beads are made of...
... and you probably guessed emerald. Wrong. It's jade. And for a Western piece it's pretty good quality jade.
The metalwork is extremely simple: a diamond-set clasp and a clip to shorten the sautoir, in true flapper style. Bad photo, but look at how closely set these little diamonds are. And see how much DBL pieces are similar: despite everything, some craftsmen still care about producing excellent work today.
From light and airy Deco to the somewhat heavier style of what could be late '60s V (again, blasted makers' marks are unreadable). These coral, diamond and gold earclips turn the scales at over 17 grams - each! But the angel skin coral beads have such a nice tint...
... plus they can be removed, leaving a lighter "daywear" clip. Still somewhat blingy, considering the larger stone is over 50 points...
However, I'm assured they are comfortable all day long, even with the beads.
Since we are on pink - that by now you will have figured out is one of our favourite colours - take a look at this:
6 carats of Brazilian pink topaz, unheated (or at least I hope so!). Add 0.75 ctw of G/VS fancy cuts diamonds, a few grams of platinum, some hours of OMC's own design and a friendly jeweller, and here is the result
Very wearable - and one of DF's favourites. There is something special about choosing your own stones that - no matter how good "ready made" pieces are - makes some things unique.
Not that you can't find some excellent "ready made" designs - look at this cocktail ring from the late '30s with invisibly set sapphires...
... and its astounding three-dimensional shape.
Despite appearances, it doesn't look big once it's worn. Or how about this bracelet/watch from G from the 1940s?
Or would you prefer this platinum, diamonds and cabochon sapphires bangle from the 1950s?
At the end of the day, though, if we are speaking of jewellery design, I think there is nothing to beat the 1930s. And this is why I got this - the only piece of "jewellery" that DF will never wear.
A small (1 1/2" x 1" x 1/4") platinum travel clock by M, encrusted with little diamonds set in geometric patterns and a pair of half-circle cabochon sapphires
The ends of the case - set with sugar-loaf calibré sapphires - are spring-loaded buttons that when pressed open the two doors, letting the face out and blocking the doors open. When pressed again, the face falls down inside the case and the doors can close.
Neat, or what? It's just a shame it has no alarm, or I'd use it all the time!
Still, sometimes simpler designs can work just as effectively:
A large (17 mm) South Seas pearl, with two very unusually cut diamonds set in platinum, accompanied by a seed pearl and "diamond box" platinum chain by T. Detail of the pendant
and further detail of the double-pointed baguette (or is there another name?) and kite-cut diamonds. Both L-M in colour and VS+
Finally, on the subject of design, a little test: What do you think this is, and when do you think it was made?
No points for guessing "a yellow gold ring". Score 1 point if you guessed "sapphires and blue-grey chalcedony" (one of the favourite materials of S B, one of the great jewellery designers of the 20th century - not that the piece is by her, but one extra point if you thought of her). Score 10 points if you guessed Aspreys, late 1990s (1997 to be precise). It's a complete throwback to V designs of the late 1960s. Unusual, and again - despite appearances - not bulky at all.
Now, since we started with quizzes, we may as well end with one. What is this?
Looks like a diamond brooch with a sugar loaf sapphire, set in platinum, circa 1940. When seen from the back...
...the extraordinary quality of workmanship is even more apparent. There is virtually no casting, even on the pavé parts - it's all fabricated out of platinum wires and strips, patiently measured and soldered together. These guys had loads of time (and fun) making it. There isn't a single straight line apart from the prongs.
But wait a minute, what is this?
Another one? With three large(ish) longish EC diamonds (1.1 / 0.95 / 0.95 ct, F / VS - I think)
Or do they go together side by side?
Actually, you can do all that, and more. It's a 1940s necklace by M, with two detachable clips. About 20 ctw diamonds, here in all its glory (and $&*^!@ 500 pixels!)
Is that a good finale? I hope so, 'cos the safe is empty!
Hope you enjoyed the tour. I enjoyed enormously preparing it, cleaning the pieces, photographing them, thinking about what to say and how to string together a (semi)coherent story.
David, do you need an assistant?
Now, good night!