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BAGUETTE

The baguette cut, from the French for ‘long rod’, is typically a slender rectangular cut with parallel facets. Baguette cuts with their unusual arrangement of facets work the light in a very different way from round stones, rejecting the traditional ‘sparkle’ associated with diamonds and instead glinting with bright flashes when catching the light.

This cut of diamond was first developed in the 1920s when there was a changing trend towards geometric crisp straight lines – typical of the Art Deco era.

Baguette cuts can be seen occasionally as an eye-catching central focal point in a piece of jewellery, however most often are used as highlights, flanking a central gemstone.

BANGLE

A bracelet which is not flexible.

BAROQUE

An irregular shape more common than spherical (normally referring to pearls) may be natural or cultured.

BASE METAL

Any non-precious metal.

BEAD SETTING

A type of setting in which small beads or grains of metal are placed at intervals around the perimeter of a gemstone in order to secure it to the mount.

BELPERRON

Born in the town of Sainte-Claude in Eastern France, Suzanne Belperron was one of the most influential jewellery designers of the twentieth-century. Recognising her talent at an early age, Suzanne’s mother enrolled her in the School of Fine Arts at Besançon where she studied ‘Watch-making and Jewelry Decoration’, receiving an award in the school’s 1918 competition for her design of a pendant watch.

In 1919, the young designer moved to Paris and soon found a job at the Boivin atelier, where her flair for design was immediately recognised by Jeanne Boivin. In 1924, at a mere twenty-three years old, Suzanne became co-director of the Maison Rene Boivin. During the 1930s, she resigned from this position and took up a post as the exclusive designer to Maison Bernard Herz. Herz, who was of Jewish-origin, was captured by the Nazis in 1942 and was sent to an internment camp where he died the following year. Because of her association with Herz, Belperron was frequently questioned by the Gestapo, which prompted her to join the French Resistance. Once the war had reached its conclusion, Belperron went in to partnership with Jean Herz (son of Bernard) to form a company known as ‘Jean Herz-Suzanne Belperron SARL’ which continued until the 1970s.

Jewels by Suzanne Belperron are highly sought-after by collectors, and are characterised by highly innovative, rounded, sculptural forms, and frequently feature carved hardstones, such as rock crystal and onyx. Belperron did not sign her jewels, insisting that her unique style was her signature. Notoriously exclusive, she operated by appointment only and studied the lifestyle and appearance of the individual so that she could create a piece entirely tailored to them. 

BEZEL

The central section of a ring upon which the gemstones or other main ornaments are placed.

BOIVIN

A French jewellery house founded in 1890, most famous for its bold creations of the 1930’s and 40’s. While the firm was named for its founder, René Boivin, it was Boivin’s wife and her entourage of female designers who produced its most famous creations.

When Boivin died during World War I, his wife Jeanne took over the business. Over the next two decades, Jeanne hired a series of female designers including Suzanne Belperron, who worked at Boivin from 1921 until 1931; Juliette Moutard, who designed for the firm from 1931 until the mid-seventies; and her daughter Germaine who began designing in 1938.

Boivin’s clients included artists, intellectuals, and socialites like Sigmund Freud, Edgar Degas, as well as film stars and royal figures. For this reason, Boivin fancied itself the ‘jeweller of the intelligentsia’. The firm presented its work at select exhibitions, including the 1937 World Fair in Paris and the 1947 French Institute of Decorative Arts Show. Since it never advertised and refused to occupy a ground floor location with window-displays, the public was rarely exposed to its name or work.

In 1991 the firm was sold to Asprey.

BOODLE AND DUNTHORNE

Founded in 1798 in Liverpool. Boodles remains steadfast to its original principles of designing and crafting jewellery themselves and has been owned by the Wainwright family since 1880.

BOUCHERON

The House of Boucheron was founded by Frédéric Boucheron in 1858, with his first salon at the Palais Royal.  The firm quickly became one of the premier French jewellers and gained deserved international acclaim, having exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, the 1889 and 1900 Paris Expositions Universelles, the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago, and the 1925 Exposition des Art Décoratifs in Paris. Moving to the current headquarters at 26 Place Vendome in Paris in 1893, Boucheron has been and continues to be patronised by numerous royals and stars of stage and screen, including among others, Queen Elizabeth, Tsar Nicholas II, Sarah Bernhardt, Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Nicole Kidman and Cameron Diaz.

BRILLIANT CUT

A diamond or coloured gemstone cut within the last 50 years to display maximum brilliance with minimal crystal weight loss.

BRIOLETTE

An oval or teardrop shaped stone covered with small triangular facets.

BROOCH

An ornamental piece of jewellery fitted to reverse with a pin and clasp allowing it to be attached to clothing. 

Brooches have come a long way from their origins in the ancient world where they were used in a functional capacity to fasten or secure articles of clothing. The practical uses of brooches ceased during the middle ages when brooches transitioned into ornaments used purely for adornment and decoration.

Brooches can be found in an array of designs featuring precious metals, gemstones of every kind, fine enamelling, engraving and carving. Due to their versatile nature brooches can and have been worn on hats, scarves, overcoats, ball gowns, sashes, belts and even as pendants.

BUCCELLATI

The house of Buccellati is famous for its textural gold jewellery and exquisite silver objects. According to the family, the Buccellati’s first steps into the jewellery trade were in 1750 when Contardo Buccellati worked as a goldsmith in Milan. In 1903, Mario Buccellati revived the family tradition, apprenticing at Milan’s prestigious Beltrami & Beltrami. In 1919, Buccellati took over the firm, changing its name to Buccellati. International fame came quickly. Exhibiting at the Madrid Exposition in 1920, Mario Buccellati caught the public’s attention when he hurled an expensive compact out of a window when a woman asked for a discount, shouting, “I am not a tradesman”! The next day, hundreds of curious spectators turned up to look at his booth, curious to see the unknown jeweller’s pieces. It was a complete sellout. Buccellati was then invited to exhibit his work at a solo show; the Spanish aristocracy came in force, including the royal family who became lifelong clients. Celebrated Italian Poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called him “The Prince of Goldsmiths” and ordered pieces by the hundreds. As his sons came of age, all but one entered the business: Frederico, Gianmaria, Luca, and Lorenzo. New stores were opened in Rome (1925) and Florence (1929). In 1951, Buccellati became first Italian jewellery designer with a location on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In 1967, when Mario Buccellati died, the brothers split the business.

The main design accomplishments of the Buccellati clan span four decades: from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The most distinctive aspect of the firm’s pieces is their rich textural quality. As one jewellery historian put it, “every bit of surface is worked and finished, whether visible or not”. Use of mixed metals (silver and gold, platinum and gold) is also typical. The pieces are bold and instantly recognizable as Buccellati.

BULGARI

Bulgari are a famous Italian jewellery house founded by Sotirio Bulgari in 1884. He opened his first shop in Rome on the Via Sistina and then moved in 1905 to Via dei Condotti. In 1932, the business was suceeded by his sons Giorgio and Constantino, who largely created the distinctive Bulgari style, heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance combined with Greek and Roman classicism. They expanded internationally in the 1970s, first opening in New York, then on to Paris, Geneva and Monte Carlo. It was at this time that they began making watches.

Bulgari are best known for their bold designs, with bright, high quality gemstones, geometric shapes and archaeological influence. They were one of Elizabeth Taylor’s favourite jewellers.

BURMESE

A country in South East Asia (now known as Myanmar) known historically as an important source of many gemstones of exceptional quality, including top quality rubies and sapphires, jadeite and spinel.

European traders first came to Burma as early as the 15th century seeking exotic spices. The abundance of gemstones, particularly sapphires and rubies, however also caught their eye.

Mogok Valley, the ‘Valley of Gems’ in Upper Burma is famed for its abundance of gemstones. This area is about 4,000km above sea level. Unsurprisingly, the terrain is inhospitable, with snow covered high mountain ranges and little or no road access. The unstable political climate also adds to the danger and difficulty in reaching these gemstones, explaining one element of their rarity.

RUBIES: Burma is the source of the world’s finest rubies. Known for their pink-red through to a deeper blood red colour, the stones have a pure and highly saturated colour. The presence of the trace element chromium in their chemical makeup, allows these rubies to fluoresce in natural daylight, giving them the added allure of glowing from within. The Mogok region in Burma is the world’s only known source of the most sought-after ‘Pigeon’s Blood’ rubies. The colour is probably best described as a vivid velvety blood red with hints of blue undertones – extremely rare and strikingly beautiful.

SAPPHIRES: While the vast majority of stones mined in Burma are rubies, fewer than 10% are sapphires. These sapphires are celebrated for their intense, highly saturated, rich colour and exceptional quality. The term ‘Royal Blue’, is reserved for sapphires of a pure and saturated blue hue and is usually associated with the finest of Burmese sapphires.

JADE: The only important and most highly prized source of the finest jade is Upper Burma, known for its rich, emerald green colour along with high translucency. Revered to such a degree by the Emperors of China that the highest quality jade was solely reserved for the top echelons of society until the fall of the Qing dynasty. Also known as ‘the stone of heaven’ and ‘imperial jade’, this stone has become the most culturally important gemstone in the East. Today the annual auctions of Burmese jade boulders brings specialists and enthusiasts from around the world.

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