Tuesday, 19 May 2015

History of Jewellery - Part X

In the 1930s it was popular to re-cut stones and to create three dimensional sculptural mounts. Perhaps like this one? Or this breathtaking ring?

Brilliant cut diamonds were popular at this time, which means a round stone with 57-58 facets. This allowed light in through the top and to bounce back up through the 'table' (the flat part on the top of the diamond). The Old European style is marked by the presence of a 'culet': a small flat circle at the bottom (the 58th facet, if present). The European style prevailed up until the 1930s. The Brilliant cut wastes a lot of diamond material and only became acceptable with the discovery of the large diamond mines in South Africa.

We were told a story of the splitting of the Cullinan diamond - one of the largest mined to that time - by Joseph Asscher, one of the Asscher brothers of Amsterdam. It is said that he split the diamond with one blow and then fainted.  The name Asscher is also associated with a square or 'emerald cut' shaped diamond. 

One famous Asscher cut diamond was called the Krupp diamond before it belonged to Liz Taylor, after which it was known as the Elizabeth Taylor diamond. It was 33 carots and sold for $8.8 million in 2011. 

We were told a story that had Liz Taylor at a society lunch also attended by Princess Margaret. The latter was known to have remarked that Liz Taylor's jewellery was 'vulgar'. It may have been the even larger Taylor Burton diamond (68 carots) in question, but the story goes that Liz was always encouraging people to 'try on' her jewels and so Princess Margaret did. Apparently Liz saw that her ring was being admired by the Princess and she remarked, 'Not so vulgar now, is it dear?'  

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