Fabergé

Fabergé, (Peter) Carl
(1846-1920)

The Russian renowned for his artistic and imaginative creations in gold, enamelling, and gemstones, and best known for his jewelled eggs made from 1884 as Easter gifts from the Tsar to the Tsarina.

He was born in St Petersburg, studied at several European centres, and then joined the jewelry firm that his father Gustav (1814-81) had started in 1842. Upon his father’s retirement in 1870 he took over and soon, with his brother Agathon, enlarged the business. Later he was joined by his sons Eugène and Alexander.

He achieved international recognition after the Paris Exposition of 1900, and thereafter made articles for the Russian court, for Edward VII, and for other European royalty. Branches were opened in London and elsewhere, and the business grew to employ over 500 craftsmen.

Fabergé himself, although he probably designed some of the work, was not a goldsmith or enameller, but excelled in supervising the creation of the pieces as to which he required the most meticulous craftsmanship and controlled the selection of the types of stones, enamelling, and settings. Each type of work was executed in specialized workshop, and many of the pieces were signed with the marks of the individual workmasters, including, for the Easter eggs, Michael Perchin and later Henrik Wigström, and, for jewelry, Alfred Thielemann and later August Holmström.

The articles were mainly objects of vertu, such as carved animals and jewelled flowers in vases, as well as useful objects, e.g. frames, boxes, clocks, etc., but he also produced a small amount of jewelry, mainly conventional pieces (e.g. tie pins, cuff-links) reputed for the precision of their settings. He specialized in the varied use of enamels, such as work in plique à jour enamel and tour à guillocher, articles of metal of different colours, and a great variety of gemstones (often rose-cut diamonds and coloured stones cut en cabochon).

Many pieces were made in art nouveau style. The factory closed after the Revolution of 1918 and Fabergé escaped to Switzerland.

Enamel

Enamel Jewelry

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A pigment of a vitreous nature composed usually of powdered potash and silica, bound with oil, coloured with metallic oxides, and applied to porcelain, gold, silver, copper, glass, etc., as a surface decoration by low-temperature firing. Enamels are usually mixed with a flux to facilitate melting at a low temperature. They often sink deeply into the glaze of artificial porcelain, but are not absorbed into the feldspathic glazes of true porcelain or into the surface of gold, silver, copper or glass, and so remain on the surface of these, easily palpable to the finger-tips. The French term is émail, the Italian smalto, and the German schmeltz.

Empire Jewelry (1798-1815)

Empire Jewelry

Empire Jewelry

The revolution initiated a return to the classics and the Greek Cameo. This was probably stimulated by Napoleon himself who had on his foreign travels collected an impressive collection of these. Another trend inspired by the Napoleon wars was the creation of a certain type of jewel. The so-called ‘Fer de Berlin’ or ‘Berlin iron’.

Through the Greeks the Roman influence came to be felt as a matter of course. This manifested itself in jewellery in the form of mosaics. Mosaics can be divided into two distinct groups. The Pietra Dura and the Glass mosaics. Pietra Dura is a technique whereby flakes or chips of colored marble are pressed into a combination in hot wax. The Glass Mosaic was made by pressing pieces of glass, sometimes prejoined to form a picture, into the wax. These are fairly easy to date accurately. The fashion for these items started around 1830 and lasted up to around 1880. The earlier ones were for the most part made of monochrome (single colour) glass toward the 1880 however we find instances of glass being used in multi-layers. The artisan would no longer need to set pieces of glass together to create a pillar rather he could buy a complete pillar, shadow and all, and place it in his picture.To make life even easier, even a river, for instance, no longer needed to be made of more pieces of glass, for the artist could buy.

Emerald

Colombian emerald engagement ring

Colombian emerald engagement ring

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Emerald, a variety of beryl, and one of the rarest and most valuable of the Precious Stones. It is green, ranging from pale to dark, the most valuable being very dark ‘velvety green’; the colour is derived from the presence of traces of chromium.

Flawless stones are extremely rare, and most specimens contain inclusions, called the Jardin (French for “garden”) of the emerald.

It is not affected by changes of light, as is a sapphire. Other, inferior, stones that are similar in appearance are green corundum, green tourmaline, demantoid, diopside, chrysolite, and hiddenite.

Emeralds in ancient times

The word “emerald” was derived from French “esmeraude” which in turn goes back via Latin to the Greek root “smaragdos“, meaning simply “green gemstone”. The ancient Incas and Aztecs, in South America where the best emeralds are still found today, worshipped them as a holy stone. However, probably the most ancient occurrences which were known are located near the Red Sea where mines were already exploited by Egyptian Pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C.. The mines gained fame under he name of “Cleopatra’s Mines”, but were already exhausted when they were rediscovered.

Emeralds were used in abundance by the Indians in Columbia before the Spaniards arrived c. 1538. The finest, dark green, were found in the Muzo Mine in Columbia by the Spaniards c. 1587, and these, known as old mine emeralds, were used as rounded pebbles called ‘Chibcha stones’, many of which were shipped to India and Persia; the next finest emeralds, of yellow-green colour, were from the El Chivor Mine (closed in 1625 but reopened in 1920). Other important sources have been India, the Ural Mountains of Russia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from 1955 (there called ‘Sandawana emeralds’ and being usually under one carat, but of good colour and free of inclusion), Zambia (from 1974), and Brazil (the stones having open veins that were filled with oil to improve the colour until the oil evaporated). In antiquity they were merely polished and drilled as beads or notched to be suspended (as still done in India and the Near East). In the West the stone is usually step cut in rectangular shape; but some are cut en cabochon (especially those that are chatoyant) or as brilliant.

Emeralds: color and clarity

What is surprising with emeralds is that, in spite of the beauty of the green they feature, inclusions are allowed, and nevertheless, in top qualities fine emerald are even more valuable than diamonds.

Large emeralds with no inclusions and of the better color are so rare that if you had one it’d be more expensive than a diamond. Therefore most emeralds will have inclusions – traces of an active history of origin characterising the gemstone. Fine inclusions, after all, do not diminish the value; on the contrary. An emerald of deep, vivid green with inclusions will be valued higher than an inclusion-free stone of paler color. Almost endearingly, experts call the many crystal inclusions or fissures which are so typical for this gemstone a “jardin”. The tender green plant-like structures in the emerald garden are considered as identifying characteristics of a naturally grown emerald.

Big and famous emeralds

Many centuries ago in the Veda, the ancient sacred writings of Hinduism, there was written down information on the valuable green gemstones and their healing power: “emeralds promise good luck”, or “The emerald enhances your well-being”. It does not come as a surprise, then, that the treasure chests of Indian Maharajas and Maharanis contained most wonderful emeralds.

One of the largest emeralds in the world is the “Mogul Emerald“. It goes back to the year 1695, weighs 217.80 carats and is about 10 cm high. One side is inscribed with prayers, on the other side there are engraved opulent flower ornaments. The legendary emerald was auctioned off at Christie’s of London for 2.2 million US dollars to an anonymous buyer.

Emeralds have been coveted ever since ancient times. Some of the most famous emeralds can therefore be admired in museums and collections. For example, The New York Museum of Natural History not only shows a cup from pure emerald which was owned by Emperor Jehingar, but also a Colombian emerald crystal weighing 632 carats. The collection owned by the Bank of Bogota contains no less than five valuable emerald crystals weighing between 220 and 1796 carats. Also in the Irani State Treasure there are guarded some wonderful emeralds, among them the tiara of ex-Empress Farah.

Emerald’s reported healing properties:

  • guards against poison and venomous bites
  • cures epilepsy
  • induces fertility and prevents abortions
  • heals and relaxes the eyes
  • helps with stomach disorders, such as dysentery
  • induces sleep
  • aids in leprosy wounds.

Emerald’s reported power properties:

  • protection against demoniacal possession
  • increase brain powers
  • provide clairvoyance
  • mental clarity
  • strengthen love and fidelity

(Not that we necessarily promote or believe the above power and/or health claims, but we think they make for interesting conversation. We also would like to emphasize that buying a precious stone for any of such reasons is one’s own responsibility and Adin can not be held accountable if the obtained result is not as desired.)

Synthetic emeralds and other emerald imitations

Synthetic emeralds have been produced since 1930 (in antiquity 1946), as well as imitations in glass, which include flaws and inclusions but which are distinguishable by lack of dichroism. A deceptive practice to improve the appearance of an emerald of poor colour is painting its back and mounting it in a closed setting for concealment.

Embossing

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A technique of producing relief decoration by raising the surface of thin metal from the reverse to form the design. The technique is the same as in repoussé work, but the term is sometimes strictly applied to work done by mechanical means, such as the use of metal or stone dies (called ’embossing dies’) as distinguished from repoussé work that is done by hand by use of punches and hammers. The process is usually applied to flat metal, but it is sometimes used to decorate hollow ware by means of a snarling iron that impresses the design from the interior.

Edwardian jewelry

edwardian jewelry

edwardian jewelry

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Articles of jewelry popularly worn in England during the reign of Edward VII, 1901-10. They included articles lavishly decorated with gemstones, especially diamonds in very fine spindly settings, such as necklaces, collars, tiaras, and pendent earrings.

Elegant designs with the fineness of line and lacey aspects are distinctive in Edwardian pieces reacting gracefully against the very geometrical forms of Art Deco that was strongly influenced by Cubism. However, because both Edwardian and Art Deco styles were contemporaries of each other, we sometimes notice pieces that carry both influences.

See our Edwardian jewelry

Eagle

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The eagle and its symbolism

eagle symbolism in jewelry

eagle symbolism in jewelry

The eagle symbolized strength, courage, farsightedness and immortality. It is considered to be the king of the air and the messenger of the highest Gods. Mythologically, it is connected by the Greeks with the God Zeus, by the Romans with Jupiter, by the Germanic tribes with Odin and by Christians with God.

Iranian Empires (Persia) are among the first who used eagle as a standard. To the pagans, the eagle was an emblem of Jupiter, the god of the sky. The eagle and lion of Inishowen were used as Celtic drudic holy symbols. In 102 B.C. the Roman Consul Gaius Marius decreed that the eagle would be the symbol of the Senate and People of Rome. It is said that when the Second Temple of Jerusalem was being expanded and renovated in 20 B.C., Herod the Great offended the people by mounting a Roman golden eagle over the gate. When Herod died some years later, his opponents tore down the eagle. It is believed that the Prophet Muhammad’s first standard or flag in 7th century A.D. was a plain flag with no insignia on it to contradict the national standard of the opposing pagan Quraish tribe, Al-Uqaab, that had a black eagle on white background, the sacred Eagle that carried pagan prayers from Earth to the Sky.

Central Asian Turkish Shamans carried a wooden stick pole with seven or nine horizontal sticks forming stairs to an Eagle put on the top of the stick during their rituals. The eagle was regarded, for example, as a holy bird, a protective spirit, and the guardian of heaven. It was also a symbol of potency and fertility. Eagles on tombstones reflected the Shamanistic belief that the souls of the dead rose up to Heaven in the form of birds or were accompanied and protected by the eagle while traveling in the underworld and the sky. Eagle also was believed to be a carrier of prayers to the sky. The Altaic figures carved into rocks suggest that the eagle also was a sign of grandeur and magnificence among the Turks.

The Turkish shamanistic religious heritage of Asian roots survived to some extent after their acceptance of Islam and migration westwards. The metaphorical meaning of the name of Tougrul Beig (993-1063 A.D.) who founded the Seljuk State as its foremost commander was “Eagle”. The spirit of the Türkmen is accepted as ‘horse’ in the fifth and as “eagle” in the third period.

In medieval and modern heraldry eagles are often said to indicate that the armiger (person bearing the arms) was courageous, a man of action and judicious. Where an eagle’s wings were spread (“displayed”) it was said to indicate the bearer’s role as a protector. When mythological beasts are used, such as a griffin (part eagle, part lion) they indicate that the bearer of the arms possessed a combination of those animals’ qualities.

See our: jewelry with eagle motifs.