The joy of working with jewellery is that there is so much to learn and so much to really get passionate about. I have to admit though that it's the random facts, myths and old wives tails that tend to fascinate me the most. So with that in mind, in our latest blog entry I have put together some interesting snippets and random facts I have picked up over the years.
- The earliest recorded exchange of wedding rings was in 2,200BC in Egypt but it the marriage of Maximilian the 1st to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 that popularised the giving of rings.
- Engagement rings were declared necessary for marriage by Pope Nicholas I in 860 A.D.
- The world’s most expensive engagement ring was given to Mariah Carey by James Packer. Designer, Wildredo Rosado, wanted to create a ring that could that not be measured up to & definitely succeeded. This engagement ring features a massive emerald cut diamond accented by 2 tapered baguette diamonds & cost an incredible $10 million.
- Staying with Mariah Carey, that fabulous engagement ring didn’t prove to lucky. By October 2016 the couple had split up & the ring was sold to an American based jeweller for $2.1 million. Now that is serious depreciation in value.
At The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie’s in 2011, the 33 carat Elizabeth Taylor Diamond sold for $8.8 million. It set a record price per carat for a colorless diamond of $265,697 per carat. It is certainly worth more today.
- Many years ago people believed that opals were pieces of heaven that dropped to earth after a thunderstorm which is quite apt really, considering opals can be as much as 30% water.
Opals were highly valued and one of the most popular gemstones in Europe up until the 18th century. This all changed when Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel called Anne of Geierstein. In this novel, the fire of an opal, owned by the protagonist, was quenched when touched by holy water, Shortly after, the lady in question died. Following the publication of this book there was a huge decrease in the popularity of opals as they were now considered an unlucky gemstone. This myth continues today with a surprising amount of people believing opals are associated with bad luck and misfortune.
In some cultures people would swallow pearls whole to relieve sickness with Cleopatra being a famous user of this method but the largest pearl ever found might take a bit of swallowing as it weighs a whopping 14 pounds.
- While most of us know that diamonds are one of the hardest substances in nature (although recent research has proved otherwise), we have actually created synthetic nanomaterials that are much harder. Also although diamonds are hard, they are not strong, if you hit one with a hammer it would shatter.
- Although we do not produce it any longer, the UK used to produce 12 and 15 carat gold as well as 9 carat which we still have today. These differing carat weights became legal in 1854 for the simple reason that gold before this date was considered a symbol of wealth with 22carat and 18carat. However the jewellery industry wanted to expand their market and started to produce 9, 12 and 15 carat so that the working/middle class could also buy jewellery as well. However in 1936 the government decided to scrap so many different purities of gold and just keep 9 carat as this was the most popular.
- The most expensive piece of jewellery ever created for a film was Nicole Kidman’s necklace in Moulin Rouge. The necklace — designed by Stefano Canturi — is estimated to be worth over 1 million Pounds and is made up of 1,308 diamonds weighing a massive 134 carats.
- The 'Satine Necklace' was once put up for sale through Christie’s in New York but just hours before the auction, the designer,Canturi, told a Christie's employee he just couldn't part with the piece and kept it as part of his personal collection.
The ancient Chinese loved silver much more than gold, using the metal to craft beautiful pieces studded with blue kingfisher feathers and various blue gemstones. But their main obsession was with jade, which they loved for its alleged human qualities: hardness, durability and beauty
While we are on the subject of jade, one of the most famous pieces of jade jewellery consists of of 27 graduated jadeite beads featuring an 18 carat gold clasp set with rubies & diamonds. The necklace itself is an exceptional piece of jewelry due to the fact that such high quality jade usually can not yield beads more than 10mm in diameter due to the scarcity of jadeite boulders. With each bead of the necklace measuring over 15mm in diameter and all beads carved from the same boulder.
American socialite and heiress Barbara Hutton, was gifted the necklace by her father as a wedding gift for her marriage to Georgian Prince Alexis Mdivani in 1933. This piece is now owned by Cartier who paid a whopping 27 million dollars when it was sold at auction, the Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite necklace is a true rarity.
I hope you enjoyed these little bits of trivia, why not check out our other blog post Hidden Sybolism - The Crescent Moon in Jewellery
Updated January 2022