Refers to a man’s watch chain, single or double width, which was popularised by Prince Albert.
The gem alexandrite was discovered in Russia in April of 1834, and named for the reigning tsar, Alexander II (1818-1881). A rare and special stone, it changes colours in different types of light, from reddish-purple to bluish-green–rather appropriately, the colours of Imperial Russian–making it one of the most valuable gemstones in the world.
An organic material made of fossilized tree resin, Mohs hardness of 2.
Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz with a hardness of 7 Mohs.
Because of its wine-like colour, early Greek legends associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine and it was believed that wearing amethyst prevented drunkenness. Other legends reflected the belief that amethyst kept its wearer clear-headed and quick-witted in battle and in business affairs.
A natural unenhanced fine amethyst of an intense rich purple is one to be truly admired. The most valuable amethysts are prized for their depth of continual colour, a velvety richness of purple with a hint of blue. The colour of amethyst can vary from lilac, pale purple, lavender, through to deep mauve and pinky purple. Vividly coloured amethysts have come from the old mines of Siberia, Brazil and Ceylon.
Natural amethyst has been held in high regard and has been seen as a symbol of power over the centuries, featured in both Crown Jewels and Bishop’s Stirrup rings during the Medieval period. The symbolism of colours in Christian jewellery of that time was highly significant- amethyst’s purple colour symbolised penitence and is the liturgical colour for the seasons of Lent and Advent.
Any item judged to have been made at least 100 years ago.
The gemstone aquamarine is associated with trust, harmony, friendship and good feelings in general. A bluey green transparent variety of beryl, the name is meant to suggest the colour of seawater. 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale. Aqua in ancient times was credited with aiding sleep, protecting sailors and counteracting the effects of poison.
The Art Deco period is a stylistic movement that spanned from the 1920s to 30s and is characterised by strong lines and bold geometric forms. Taking its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels that was held in Paris in 1925, the Art Deco movement marked a daring move away from the delicate garland styles of the Edwardian and Belle Époque periods. In the wake of the devastation wreaked by the Great War, a forward-looking society emerged that was keen to distance itself from the traditions of the past. It was a prosperous age, defined by a new-found freedom of expression, of emancipation, of Jazz.
Technological innovations were vital to the formation of this new style, which was directly influenced by the ground-breaking forms of the aeroplane and the skyscraper. An eclectic style, the Art Deco movement drew inspiration from many sources. Archaeological discoveries awakened an interest in Ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, whilst African and East-Asian art also influenced designers. First appearing in jewellery in the early 1900s, by the 1920s platinum had replaced gold as the metal of choice and was used in conjunction with diamonds to achieve an ‘icy’ aesthetic. In keeping with the geometric nature of the wider Art Deco movement, square cuts, such as the asscher, emerald, baguette and step-cut, grew in prominence during this period. Unusual combinations of gemstones were highly prized, with turquoise, onyx, coral and lapis-lazuli juxtaposed with diamonds to create bold, colourful pieces.
ART MODERN/ RETRO
An extension and modification of Art Deco into the 1940’s & 50’s.
Characterised by unusual combinations of precious and semi-precious gemstones, the use of materials such as citrine, rock crystal and onyx in the Post-War period was initially borne out of necessity rather than desire. The disruption caused by the Second World War meant that stocks of diamonds and other precious gemstones were severely limited and consequently jewellers were driven to be more experimental in their choice of materials. For instance, famed American jewellery designer, Seaman Schepps produced a range of cutting-edge designs in rock crystal during the 1940s and again in the 1960s, whilst the French house, René Boivin carved rings and bangles entirely out of this material. Iridescent gemstones such as labradorite and moonstone were particularly popular during this period, notably appearing in the revolutionary designs of Cartier protégé Dinh Van in the 1970s.
Whilst Cubism was a definite influence in the pre-war Art Deco movement, Modernist jewellers abandoned its rigid lines and strict linearity in favour of rounded, asymmetric shapes which reflected the biomorphic forms of contemporary sculptural works by the likes of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The natural world was also a source of inspiration, particularly for Anglo-Italian designer Andrew Grima, who produced textured, organic forms in which crystals took priority over faceted gemstones. It was also during this period that artists such as Man Ray, Salvador Dali and Georges Braque began to delve in to the world of jewellery, in a move that would reconcile fine art with the applied art of jewellery design. In turn, this would lead to a revival of individual craftsmanship and the re-emergence of the artisan jeweller during the 1950s and 60s.
In the wake of the Second World War a vastly changed society emerged, one which was fast-paced and defiantly opposed to many of the traditional aspects of pre-war life. Individuality was prized, thereby granting jewellers the creative freedom to experiment with shape, form and texture. Technological advancements and the dawn of space exploration led to futuristic designs appearing in jewellery and across the wider decorative arts, further reinforcing the vogue for unusual gemstone combinations and unconventional forms.
The Art Nouveau period (1890 to 1910).
During this movement designers rebelled against the norm and created daring pieces inspired by nature and the sensuousness of the human form. Unusual creations emerged depicting dragonflies and moths in flight, sprays of flowers, branches and vines adorned with leaves and erotic female figures all paying homage to naturalism. Goldsmiths decorated these pieces with an array of gemstones including natural pearl, moonstone, opal, sapphire and diamonds further enhancing them with bright vivid enamels.
The signature theme running throughout the Art Nouveau movement was the free flowing line. These melodious lines are seen in the weaving of plant stems, the arcs of wings, a woman’s flowing hair and in feminine curves.
ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENT
The Arts and Crafts Movement first occurred in Britain during the latter part of the nineteenth-century, in direct response to the wave of mass-produced jewellery that had taken hold during the 1880s and 90s. Guilds and art schools helped to promote the Arts and Crafts ideology, which advocated exceptional workmanship and strength of design above the wealth of materials used. Brightly coloured enamels and hardstones such as lapis lazuli, turquoise and onyx, were the preferred means of the decoration for artisans working in this style.
The impact of the Arts and Crafts Movement could be felt across Europe, Scandinavia and the United States. In Germany, jewellers worked in the ‘Jugendstil’ (Youth Style), which combined the exquisite craftsmanship and symbolism of the Arts and Crafts Movement with the geometric forms of the Art Deco. Notable designers to have worked in this style include Charles Horner of Halifax, Georg Jensen, Sybil Dunlop and Omar Ramsden.
The Asscher Brothers were famous for their expertise in diamond cutting and in 1903 Abraham Asscher was given the honour of cleaving the largest rough diamond found at that time with a weight of 997 carats, named The Excelsior. In 1907 the Cullinan diamond, with a weight of 3106 carats was found. Joseph Asscher was asked to cleave this rough diamond into three parts by King Edward VII – famously the diamond would not cleave on the first strike and the blade broke. On the second attempt it is thought that Joseph fainted after striking the diamond. The cleaved stones went on to be set into the Crown Jewels of Great Britain.
After the Second World War, the Asscher Diamond Company was severely damaged – it was seized by the Nazi’s and the majority of employees were victims of the Holocaust. The existing family members decided to rebuild the company in Amsterdam and in 1980 it was given a Royal title status. The Royal Asscher Diamond Company has since enhanced the original asscher cut, which had been closely imitated by other companies since its patent expired during the World War. The new enhanced cut is now trademarked and patented, and is even inscribed with the Royal Asscher logo. The company is still owned by the Asscher family and is internationally renowned for its diamond expertise and of course the famous Asscher cut.
The Asscher cut was designed by Joseph Asscher in 1902. The cutting style is characterized by its square outline, parallel lines and fifty eight facets. At the time of its creation the Asschers were the leading family in the Amsterdam diamond industry and so, consequently, the world.
The Asscher Diamond Company was founded by Joseph’s grandfather, Joseph Isaac Asscher, in 1854. Very quickly the company rose to prominence, as evidenced by commissions to cut some of the world’s most famous diamonds. This included the Excelsior diamond in 1903 (at 997 carats the largest diamond ever discovered at that time), shortly thereafter trumped by the Cullinan diamond (3106 carats) which the Asschers cut for King Edward VII in 1907, now part of the British Crown Jewels.
Ever innovative, the Asscher cut was the first diamond cut ever to be patented, the history of which adds to both its beauty and rarity. The company held the exclusive rights to produce this cut until World War II. Shortly after the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam in 1940 the Asscher Diamond Company’s assets were seized and the company dissolved. As a result the patent for the cut expired, and other companies began to utilize this cutting style, though not necessarily according to the specific proportions of the Asscher patent.Thus an original pre-war Asscher cut, due to both its scarcity and elegance of proportion, remains to this day one of the most sought after and, consequently, rarest of antique diamond cuts. Simultaneously classic and modern, an original Asscher cut diamond is truly an object of timeless beauty.
In 1875, in the Swiss village of Le Brassus, two young men Jules-Louis Audemars and Edward-Auguste Piguet, decided to unite their skills in order to design and produce watches with complex mechanisms. Their determination, imagination and discipline were soon to earn them noteworthy success. Today, Audemars Piguet remains the oldest Manufacturer of Haute Horlogerie never to have left the hands of its founding families.
1892 in a world première Audemars Piguet develops and completes the first minute repeater wristwatch.
1899 A “Grande Complication” pocket-watch emerges from the Audemars Piguet work-shops.
1915 Audemars Piguet sets a world record that remains unmatched to this day, by creating the smallest five-minute repeater movement of all time.
Audemars Piguet continues to set world records and remains a brand dedicated to craftsmanship, attention to detail and quality.