When people bring in beautiful things to sell!

This was part of an inheritance which was destined to languish in a drawer until our client brought it in to us and brightened up a very English rainy summer day.

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It’s mid 20th Century, and boasts a rather beautiful Opal of 3.3 carats surrounded by almost 1 carat of Diamonds.

Needless to say it is now (after some TLC) a very exciting addition to our collection! It looks so beautiful on I’m sure it won’t be here long, but at least we get to look at and appreciate it while it’s here.

That’s the other fab thing about having a shop!

 


Sapphires are one of my favourite gems. It started with a birthday present my husband bought me – a large yellow sapphire solitaire ring – which was something of a revelation as like a lot of people I wasn’t really aware that Sapphires came in other colours! I asked our gemologist about it and he was so enthusiastic and passionate about the subject I think some of that enthusiasm rubbed off on me. 

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When we think of sapphires I think most of us picture a vibrant blue gem, similar to the stone set in Princess Diana’s (now the Duchess of Cambridge’s) engagement ring. That rich, lustrous royal blue which catches the eye even without diamond embellishments. And we’ve all seen the dark blue, almost black stone which is usually used in commercial jewellery but how many people are aware of a third, fourth or even a fifth option? 

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Sapphires come in many colours; pink, green, yellow, purple, orange – the list is endless. And whilst the occasional Pink Sapphire seems to have made its way into High Street Jewellers in recent years, we still don’t we see them as often as their Blue counterparts. Maybe it’s down to tradition, maybe fashion, or maybe it’s just cynical marketing? Either way it’s a real shame as the colour variation can be spectacular! 

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I added a green sapphire to my collection a while back, and we’ve had pink, purple, orange and even white examples in the shop, but my overall favourite is the Padparadscha which can only be found in Sri Lanka, and like it’s namesake (padparadscha means Lotus Blossom) it is a gorgeous pinky/orange colour. 

There is still a real drive for individualism and uniqueness in jewellery, despite the current climate which has us all counting our pennies. And I think as so many of us develop emotional attachments to our jewellery we don’t necessarily want to invest in “disposable” fashion pieces. The price variation in Sapphires is huge, depending on colour choice and whether you favour natural or man made gems, meaning you can enjoy the prestige of actual gems (instead of glass or paste fashion stones) for not much more money. Sapphires are a fabulous way to introduce some of your own personality into your jewellery using precious gems without necessarily breaking the bank!

Many antique pieces circa 1910 will be set with “Created” Sapphires as this was around the time when the process was invented. At the time, it was the height of technological achievement and the stones were highly prized! Now, they command far smaller prices and little gold gypsy rings set with Faux Sapphires can be found for under £100.

It’s also becoming more common to see Sapphires set in Silver (keeping the cost affordable) but gold doesn’t have to mean expensive if you try to source Second Hand and have an eye for a bargain!

I’ll certainly be keeping mine peeled!


It’s another rainy day and we just bought some more scrap gold. Both a fairly common occurrence nowadays, but this was unusual as the lady decided to keep one of the band rings when we identified the date stamp and she realised it was probably her grandmother’s! It got me thinking about the importance of the little stamps inside the band. They are quite important to my family, not only as they play a big part in our work but also as my paternal grandfather, Laurence Bonner made dozens of the stamps over the years in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. He was a steel letter cutter and would diligently sit in his workshop, hunched over a desk with a magnifying glass, reverse carving the punches used for hallmarks out of steel plates. 

Since the incredible increase in gold price, people are far more knowledgeable when it comes to their own gold and how to identify different carats and metals. And for the first time we are also seeing a real interest in hallmarks as more people have become aware of their use in charting the history of certain pieces. In the UK a full hallmark will not only give you the name of the manufacturer and the purity of the metal, but also the town it was made in and the date.

In light of this I thought you might be interested in a quick breakdown of the origin of the British hallmark!

1300 – Hallmarking first introduced into the UK. At this point the gold and silver standard marks were the same; depicting the Leopard’s head which is the mark of London.
1363 – Makers marks became required, initially in form of a rebus or initials.
1378 – Town marks also required. Traditionally Birmingham has the anchor, Sheffield a crown, London the leopards head and a three towered castle for Edinburgh. Later additions included Dublin’s crowned harp and Chester’s three wheatsheaves.
1477 – 18 Carat replaces 19.5 Carat as Standard Gold
1478 – Date letters also required in England. Each town has it’s own cycle of letters and styles to indicate the year of assay. 
1575 – 22 Carat Replaces 18 Carat as Standard Gold 
1798 – 18 carat reintroduced in addition to 22 Carat
1854 – 9, 12 & 15 Carat introduced 
1932 – 15 and 12 carat discontinued, replaced by 14 carat.

Platinum was originally used by European Court Jewellers in the mid 1800’s. Before this time scientists were unable to isolate the metal and produce it in it’s pure form. 
Until the late 1800’s it remained too expensive for commercial use and only the wealthy could afford platinum settings. Until the late Edwardian period, it’s colour remained largely out of favour for anything other than settings as yellow gold was so fashionable. However by the early 1900’s trends were changing and the “new look” was being embraced. It remained the metal of choice for those who could afford it through the 20’s and 30’s until the effects of the War made it far too costly to produce, and with demand for jewellery falling it all but disappeared from jewellers windows for several years.
There was no legal requirement for marking Platinum until 1975, which set a single standard for platinum of 950. Earlier Platinum pieces may be stamped PLAT by the manufacturer.
Palladium has grown in popularity over recent years and the legal requirement for marking was introduced in the UK in 2010.

So next time you’re rifling through your jewellery box debating whether to scrap that ring your aunt gave you, have a quick look for any marks inside – you might just be holding an heirloom!