The Italian firm, Buccellati, is known for its beautiful handcrafted items designed in gold and silver and in platinum and gold. They used their unique engraving skills which included designs that imitated linen, parallel engraving which creates a sheen appearance, engraving that criss crosses and designs based on nature-animal, leaves and flowers. Their most delicate texture engraving is called modellato, which “consists of reproducing several designs chiseled in three dimensions on a minuscule scale”, usually used as decorations on boarders.
In the mid eighteenth, century Contargo Buccellati worked as a goldsmith in Milan. In 1909, at the age of 12, Mario Buccellati apprenticed with the highly respected firm, Beltrami & Beltrami, in Milan.
In 1919, Buccellati took over the firm and renamed it Buccellati. Because of his unique handcrafted items such as Buccellati watches and rings, Buccellati became international known.
Later, four of his five sons entered the business-Frederico, Gianmaria, Luca and Lorenzo. They opened new stores in Rome (1925) and Florence (1929). In 1951, he was the first Italian craftsman to open a store in New York on Fifth Avenue.
In 1967, Mario Buccellati died and his four sons split the business. His sons, Lorenzo and Frederico, took over the stores in Italy. Luca and Gianmaria assumed responsibility for the stores in the United States and expanded into Hong Kong in 1970, Monte Carlo in 1976 and Paris in 1979.
The third generation of Buccellati now owns the company and they have grown internationally.
Van Cleef & Arpels, most well-known for their inspired designs, their revolutionary gem setting procedure known as the Mystery Setting and perfumes, was founded in 1906.
Esther Arpels, daughter of a precious stones dealer, Soloman Arpels, married Alfred Van Cleef in 1886. Alfred Van Cleef and his brother-in-law, Charles, founded a jewelry business, trademarked the name and opened their first boutique at 22 place Vendome in 1906. Esther’s brothers, Saloma, Jules and Louis Arpels joined the firm. Alfred Van Cleef died in 1938. From 1909 to 1939 Van Cleef and Arpels flourished, opening boutiques in “holiday resorts” such as Nice and Monte Carlo.
In 1942, the Arpels family immigrated to the United States and opened their first boutique in New York on 5th Avenue. They became the first French Jewelers to open boutiques in China and Japan. The vibrant city of Hong Kong is considered the heart of Van Cleef & Arpels today. This family owned business was acquired by Compagnie Financiere Richeman S. A., in 1999.
Van Cleef & Arpels is known as being a French jeweler that takes ideas of American culture and nature to make their inspired designs. They use whimsical fantasy and luxury style fashion and use their incredible craftsmanship to create French high (quality) jewelry.
Some of the designs they are known for are the Zip necklace in 1950 which opens and closes with a zip, the Alhambra necklace in 1968, the Couture collection in 2004, the Feerie (Fairy) perfume in 2008 and the Papillions (Butterfly) collection in 2010 to name a few.
They registered a patent in 1990 for the setting technique called the Mystery setting, stones that are set on very fine gold and platinum net.
Among the most ardent clients of Van Cleef & Apels are Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts and Sofia Coppola.
The first jewelry store for frontier Chicago and Elijah Peacock opened on February 9, 1937. It was considered a credible sign that Chicago was moving from “semi-savage conditions to civilization and refinement”. This revered Chicago jeweler was known not only for the making and repairing of watches but for its limited jewelry selection which included J. D. Peacock engagement rings as well.
Charles learned the trade from his father Elijah. He later took over the business when his father retired after the fire of 1871. The vault was all that remained of the store after the fire. Charles renamed the firm J. D. Peacock. The company moved several times before finding its current location at 101 South State Street.
In the early 1900’s, Chicago was known for its Arts and Crafts style jewelry. The Arts and Crafts movement (1890-1914) was known for ignoring the “opulence associated with industrialism in favor of the simplicity of good craftsmanship and design”. The cost of labor made their designs available only to the wealthy.
J. D. Peacock is still considered one of Chicago’s most prestigious jewelry stores and “is the oldest Chicago business still in existence today”.
Vacheron Constantin is considered by watch connoisseurs around the world as being the “best of the best” in time pieces along with other premier brands such as Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet. It employs 400 people world-wide in Geneva and Vallee de Jouz. It has 15 boutiques and sells in 80 countries. Previous clients have been Napolean Bonaparte, Pope Pius XI, the Duke of Windsor and President Harry Truman.
The oldest watch manufacturer in the world, Vacheron and Constantin was founded in 1755 in Geneva, Switzerland by Jean-Marc Vacheron, a gifted craftsman who created the first complication and designed the first engine-turned dials.
In 1785, son Abraham Vacheron took over the business and survived the French Revolution. Later, grandson to the original owner, Jaques-Barthelemy Vacheron became the principal in the company and led the way by exporting his timepieces to France and Italy.
The business grew to a point where Vacheron could not handle it alone and he took on a partner-Francois Constantin, and changed the name to Vacheron & Constantin. They opened new markets which included North America.
In 1839, Georges-Auguste Leschot joined the firm offering his watch-making skills to include using Calibers as standardized watch movements.
In 1854, Constantin died and later came Vacheron’s death in 1863. Over time, a number of different principals took over the company.
In 1877, the official name became Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve. In 1880, Vacheron & Constantin started using the logo of the Maltese Cross as it continues to today.
In 1906, their first boutique opened. During the Great Depression, the company had difficult times and Charles Constantin became the head of the company in 1936.
During World War II, Georges Ketter took over to help with the decreased sales.
In 1970, the “&” was dropped from Vacheron & Constantin.
In 1979, the Kallista model was introduced to the market. Its original price was $5 million dollars although, today, it is valued at over $11 million dollars. The Kallistra model has 118 emerald-cut diamonds and it took 6000 to make the watch and “20 months for jewelers to enrich the watch”.
In 1987, Jacques Ketterer died and the new owner took over Vacheron Constantin.
In 2003, Vacheron Constantin created and produced the sports line, “Overseas” which included watches for women.
In 2004, Vacheron Constantin’s new world headquarters opened in Geneva.
Since then, the company changed hands again and created the most complicated watch called the “Tour de L’lle”. This watch has 834 parts and 16 horological complications.
Most people think of Tiffany as being jewelry or Tiffany Studios lamps. When talking about the stunning stained glass lamps and windows, you would be thinking of Louis Comfort Tiffany who created and produced these items in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Louis Comfort Tiffany was born to an affluent family in New York on February 18, 1848. He was known to have created these beautiful pieces of art for presidents and royalty such as Queen Victoria, the queen of England.
At the age of 18, he studied art under George Inness, an American landscape artist. Between 1865 and 1872, Tiffany traveled to Europe four times. He studied Islamic architecture, Romanesque, Moorish art and Japanese ceramics.
At the age of 24, after returning from Europe, he studied glass and mosaics and conducted experiments with hot glass exposed to fumes and metallic oxides. He began his pottery observations and experimentation at the age of 50. Over many years, the Tiffany Studio produced many stained glass lamps and windows among other pieces of art. He was one of the first to create electrical “home illumination” stained glass lamps for commercial use. Tiffany wanted to be able to supply his stained glass electrical lamps to everyone at any economic level and he did sometimes at the expense of company profits. He made most of his lamps between 1895 and 1920.
Art Nouveau is known for its sensuous curving and flowing designs with organic forms such flowers, leaves, dragonflies, butterflies, peacocks and spiders with webs. Tiffany incorporated this style into his lamps. He also produced stained glass lamps with the geometric lines of the Art Deco period.
His stained glass lamps and other pieces of art were prized and appreciated all over the world as they are today through reproductions. His career lasted 50 years and he is known to have worked with L. C. Tiffany & Association Artists, the Tiffany Glass Company, Tiffany Studios, Tiffany Furnaces and L. C. Tiffany Furnaces. He died at the age of 85 on January 17, 1933.
Tiffany was founded on September 18, 1837 with a partner John B. Young. The name of the company at that time was Tiffany & Young. In 1841, partner J.L. Ellis joined the firm with the company name changing once again to Tiffany, Young and Ellis. Tiffany became the sole owner in 1850 and Tiffany & Company, Inc. came into being in 1868.
Charles Tiffany was born on February 15, 1812. His first work experience started when he helped his father successfully operate a country store. It stocked Chinese items, fans, stationery, umbrellas, fans, pottery and desks. Later they carried jewelry and silver.
In 1886, the first six pronged setting for diamond solitaires was introduced and became known as the “Tiffany setting”.
Tiffany has had a long world-wide reputation of producing interesting, unique and highly desirable diamond and gemstone jewelry and silver pieces. Paulding Farnum, in 1889, was one of his first well-known designers followed by Jean Schlumberger. Both received world-wide acclaim as designers of classic jewelry.
Gideon F. T. Reed of Lincoln Reed & Company, a well-known jewelry firm, became a partner and operated the Tiffany store in Paris under the name of Tiffany, Reed & Company.
Louis Comfort Tiffany joined his father and took over the jewelry workshops in 1902 at his father’s death. At that point, every piece of jewelry sold had the name of the firm and a registration number inscribed into the metal. This detail gave all the particulars about the item, including the date sold, by whom and the full description of the item including the weight, color and clarity if it contained a diamond.
Well over 75% of the jewelry sold on the first floor of Tiffany’s in 1902 and for some years later. Jewelry was made on the seventh floor and sold in the Fifth Ave. location in New York City.
In 1980, Tiffany’s was sold to Avon who later sold it to a consortium of businesses. The company went public in 1987. Tiffany perfume, wool and silk scarves, neckties, handbags, evening purses, wallets and briefcases were added to the company’s inventory that same year.
The company went through troubling times with the recession in 1990-1991, but in 1994 sales rose. The net sales rose to 682.8 million with US sales amounting to 45%, international sales to 41% and direct marketing sales to 14%.
By 1996-2001, Tiffany increased their number of stores. By 2001-2004, Tiffany opened Temple St. Clair, a new retail concept selling trendy jewelry items from $500 to $35,000 and Iridesse, which focused on pearls selling items from $50 to $50,000.
All gold is yellow gold. The mixture of other alloys turns yellow gold to white, rose or green gold.
Pure gold, 24 karat, is too soft to use for jewelry. It is for that reason that other alloys are mixed with it to make it stronger.
White Gold Alloys
Nickel or palladium is the alloy used when mixed with gold that turns the yellow gold to white gold. Some people find that they are allergic to the nickel. If allergic, the location under the ring or bracelet, for instance, will turn a black color or raised blisters will appear. Taking the jewelry off over a short period of time will cause the black to disappear and allow the blisters to heal. Because of allergic reactions, it is a good idea to wear platinum instead if it fits in your budget. Platinum comes out of the ground as a pure white metal and no one is allergic to it.
Rose and Pink Alloys
Copper is the alloy used to turn yellow gold to rose or pink gold. The more copper used, the more intense the rose color it becomes.
Green Gold Alloys
Silver added to yellow gold will turn to green gold.
The synthetic rubies and sapphires, so prevalant in the 1920’s have a long history of creation.
In 1880, ruby and sapphire was discovered but in 1801, Robert Hare invented the oxyhydrogen gas blowpipe and the thought of producing synthetic ruby and sapphire was in the beginning phase of thought.
In 1817, Guy-Lassac realized that heating ammonium alum would produce aluminum oxide and the actual process of synthesizing corundum started.
In 1837, experiments began to synthesize corundum with Gauding and Fremy. They had no success and Fremy gave up in 1870.
In 1873, Auguste Verneuil with Fremy as his assistant at the time, in Paris at the Museum of Natural History, began to work together to synthesize corundum.
In 1876, after many experiments, ruby synthesis was understood and repeatable although it was not understood how sapphire, called, “bug juice” synthesis took place. The blue corundum color that was created was not a fine blue color and the process could not be repeated.
In 1886, Verneuil, a gem expert and Fremy worked together with Jannettez while they were still at the Paris Museum of Natural History. Verneuil came to realize that fusing powdered alumina and chromium with the oxygen hydrogen torch made synthetic corundum.
At some point between 1886 and 1892, Verneuil discovered flame fusion. Later he realized that using different elements would create other synthetic gemstones.
In 1894, Fremy died. In 1902, Vernueil came to realize that fusing powdered alumina and chromium with the oxygen hydrogen torch at 2000 degrees Celsius made small particles of synthetic ruby.
In 1902, he announces that he is capable of creating synthetic ruby in a large enough size to use in jewelry.
In 1909, Vernueil realized that synthetic sapphires could be created with the addition of iron and titanium and in 1911, he and his employer, the Heller Company, were given two patents for this discovery.
In 1940, Union Carbide used this same method to create the “Linde Star” sapphire.
In 1959, Carroll Chatham, after many years of experimentation discovered the flux melt procedure to produce culture grown rubies, different than synthetic rubies.
In 1968, there is still question in the mineralogy world as to the chemistry of blue sapphire.
Between 1980-1993, several companies grew rubies using the flux grow method and later the float zone method for synthetic corundum.
Sam: Should I purchase an antique engagement ring or a reproduction?
If you are looking to purchase an antique looking engagement ring, why not buy the real thing. Nothing matches the delicate workmanship and one of a kind designs.
The most popular diamond engagement rings come from the Victorian era, the Art Nouveau period, the Edwardian period and the Art Deco time period. Actual antique diamond engagement rings from these times will be delicate. And, of course, you will be getting a period piece of one of a kind jewelry. You will not see any duplicates.
Finding a diamond engagement ring from the Victorian Era (1837-1901), can be more difficult to find than other time periods, but when you do they will primarily be made of gold with floral designs, fine scroll work and animal themes.
The Art Nouveau period (1890-1905) produced 14 karat or 18 karat diamond engagement rings with flowing, curvy lines and organic designs such as birds, butterflies, and flowers like poppies, orchids or irises.
Edwardian engagement rings (1901-1914) will be designed primarily in platinum with filigree, bows, honeycomb patterns, the look of flower garland or scalloped edges. Colored gemstones such as synthetic sapphires, natural rubies or emeralds were sometimes used to accent the jewelry design.
The Art Deco period (1920-1935) primarily produced diamond engagement rings in 18 karat or platinum. You can find your ring designed with diamond flecked filigree, which looks like lace work or possibly flowers. During this time period, gemstones such as synthetic sapphires were primarily used, but you can find engagement rings accented with rubies or emeralds as well. Diamond engagement rings during this period and the Edwardian time period can easily be found without any gemstone accents, if that is your preference.
With reproduction engagement rings, you are getting a piece of jewelry that has been made over and over again. It is not one of a kind as in the older time periods. Another thing to take into consideration is the clunky heavy look. You will not find the delicate workmanship of times gone by in new reproduction rings. And finally the new reproduction engagement rings are made by manufacturers that add their price on to the price of the ring. With vintage engagement, rings there is no middle man.
If you are asking for my opinion, the answer would be to purchase the actual vintage ring. You are getting a delicate one of a kind period piece of jewelry without all the tacked on prices of manufacturers. You will find vintage engagement rings at estate jewelry stores such as Gesner Estate Jewelry.
The History of birthstones is believed to have gone back to the book of Exodus with the Breastplate of Aaron. It was a garment with twelve gemstones sewn into it that represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The gemstones were set in three rows of three gemstones. At that time the gemstones were “sardius, topaz and carbuncle; emerald, sapphire and diamond; ligure, agate and amethyst; beryl, onyx and jasper.
The connection between the Breastplate of Aaron and the twelve stones of the zodiac were written about by Favius Josephus (1st century A.D) and St. Jerome (5th century A.D.). It was believed that wearing the gemstone of your zodiac would bring good luck to the wearer and that the stone had special powers.
Scholars from the 18th century in Poland came up with the modern ideas of a birthstone for each month. The most well-known list of monthly birthstones came into being in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers in the United States.
Since 1912, the monthly birthstones have remained the same until 2002 when tanzanite was added as the birthstone for December. December also has three birthstones designated for this month.
The current list of monthly gemstones is as follows:
January Garnet (dark red)
February Amethyst (purple)
March Aquamarine (pastel blue)
May Emerald (green)
June Pearl or Alexandrite (the color changing stone)
July Ruby (red)
August Peridot (light green)
September Sapphire (blue)
October Opal or pink tourmaline
November Citrine (yellow orange), yellow topaz
December Blue zircon, blue topaz, turquoise or tanzanite (bluish