What makes a piece a classic?
A classic piece of jewelry is one whose design endures, sustaining its elegance of form despite the eddies of trends that swirl around it. Classics contain the highest quality ingredients and are never overdone. To buy a classic is to buy a lasting treasure to be admired and cherished for generations to come.
Why buy an antique diamond?
Antique diamonds have many qualities, including their natural rarity, that make them highly desirable. Each antique diamond was handcut by a single, highly-skilled artisan devoting the very greatest care to detail. Many were cut before electricity was available and are masterpieces of visual allure created with the simplest of tools. Often called 'candlelight' cuts, the proportions of the Old Mine and Old European cuts lend themselves to a more colorful, pinfire sparkle than the Round Brilliant. And as if their beauty weren't enough, one of the most important qualities of antique diamonds is that they are completely conflict free. They were already glittering by gaslight in an Art Deco pendant before the conflict areas were even being mined. A great many of them were alluvial, discovered in riverbeds after they had been washed away from their deposit site by rain, wind and time. These diamonds have a unique and gentle history that makes them irreplaceable, and as their rarity continues to grow, so too do they appreciate in value.
On Building a Legacy. . .
'To acquire and love a special piece of jewelry starts an important personal legacy to be remembered and that is as precious as the piece itself.' Peter Bruckner. Collecting antique and estate jewelry builds a legacy. You have the opportunity to benefit from our ability to collect stunning pieces produced over the last 200 years. We offer the best representations in excellent condition of different characteristic time periods. As you choose pieces that speak to you, you create a signature, something that will now be identified with you and can be passed down through generations.
Jewelry Period Timeline and Key Points
Late Georgian Period 1790-1830
- High karat gold overlaid with silver to enhance diamonds or paste (high lead-content glass cut to simulate diamonds or colored stones)
- Most colored stones, pastes and many diamonds were in closed mounts with metallic foils behind to enhance color and/or sparkle
- The old mine cut and rose cut were the most popular diamond cuts. The cushion cut was popular for colored stones.
- Memorial jewelry was popular in both the Georgian and Victorian periods. Enameled dates, names and mottoes along with locks of hair or symbols such as the orobus (a serpent with its tail in its mount) were often used in memorial pieces.
- Empress Josephine's influence prompted a revival of cameos and intaglios.
- Portrait miniatures were common in jewelry
- Berlin iron work became popular after its patriotic use by the Germans as a substitute for gold given to finance the war against Napoleon.
Victorian Period 1830-1901
Romantic Period 1830-1860
- Sentimental, naturalistic subjects.
- Cannetille: lacy French gold work
- Feminine color combinations such as pearl and turquoise or pink tourmaline
- 9, 12, and 15 karat gold introduced in England in 1854
- Colored golds such as rose and green were used extensively.
- Revival of Gothic and Medieval styles
- Serpent jewelry was popularized by Queen Victorian.
- Acrostics such as REGARD (ruby, emerald, garnet, amethyst and diamond) and rebuses (pictograph carved into a gemstone).
High Victorian Period 1860-1885
- Archeological or revivalist styles such as Etruscan, Pompeian, Egyptian and Roman.
- Fine applied wirework and granulation was often 'bloomed' or antiqued.
- Symbolism such as the meaning of specific flowers and the positions (open, half-open, etc.) of fans was integral to the Victorians and often depicted in their jewelry.
- After Queen Victoria and Albert bought Balmoral Castle in 1848, Scotthish pebble jewelry became common.
- Japanese elements incorporating sakudo and shibuichi (alloys of bronze/gold and silver/gold) became popular with the opening up of Japan by Commodore Perry in 1854.
- Memorial jewelry continued to be of high importance especially after the death of Prince Albert in 1861.
- Roman micro mosaics (tiny glass tessare laid into grout to form incredibly detailed pictures and Florentine mosaics or pietra dura (slices of colored hardstone laid into slate or other ground in floral and figural subjects) joined cameos and intaglios in popularity.
Late Victorian Period 1885-1901
- Introduction of many mainstream jewelry styles still in production today including the Tiffany setting introduced in 1886.
- Technical progress and mechanization encouraged lower quality mass produced jewelry.
- Jewelry became smaller, more delicate and less ostentatious.
- Tiaras and hair ornaments were popularized.
- Necklace styles included garlands, festoons and starbursts.
Arts and Crafts Style 1860 onward
- Epitomized by the avante garde's movement away from traditional and mechanical production.
- Utilization of non-precious metals and materials including silver and brass, enamel, horn, frosted glass and heavily included stones in handmade, or machine-made to simulate handmade, jewelry.
Art Nouveau Style 1890-1920
- Delicate and sinuous lines delineating or interpreting forms such as women with flowing hair, stylized flowers (particularly the poppy) and exotic insects like the dragonfly.
- Continuation of the Japanese influence along with the use of non-precious and organic materials and techniques like plique a jour enamel (similar to stain glass).
Edwardian Period 1901-1910
- Edwardian Style lasted from approximately 1890 to 1920.
- Inspired by Alexandra of Denmark the wife of Queen Victoria's son Edward.
- Electric lighting with its bright whiteness popularized diamond jewelry.
- Stones in demand included green demantoid garnets, black opals, Montana sapphires in addition to softly colored tourmalines, amethysts and natural pearls.
- 1914 marked the development of the modern brilliant cut diamond.
- Lavaliere and sautoir necklace styles were highly popular.
- Suffragette jewelry utilizing green, white and violet for 'Give Women Votes' flourished.
Art Deco Style 1920-1935
- Typified by the jewels of the Duchess of Windsor.
- Platinum used extensively to make ornate filigree diamond jewelry.
- Geometric shapes, sharp contrasts, Egyptian, Oriental and architectural motifs.
- Vast array of variety from white and black diamonds set in platinum with black onyx or black enamel to the abandoned colors of tutti-fruitti jewels simulating baskets of flowers.
- Favored gemstones included intensely colored rubies and emeralds, jadeite, rock crystal, chrysoprase, and coral.
- Baguettes, carved stones, cabochons, circles, half-circles, pave, and bead-set stones were used extensively.
Retro Style 1940-1950
- Aspects of Art Deco style combine with elements of the machine age such as screws and moving staircases.
- Fabric motifs including bows, drapes, knots, mesh and tassels.
- Cocktail jewelry incorporating whimsical floral, figural and animal subjects.
- Strongly colored golds (especially pink gold) textured or laid in overlapping scales.
- Large and gold sapphires, rubies, turquoise, coral and citrines complimented the severe lines of wartime and post-war fashions.