Saturday, March 26, 2011

Diamond: April's Birthstone

How lucky is the lady born in April? With diamonds as her birthstone, why would she want anything else? After all, as Marilyn Monroe so breathlessly sang in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ... 

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
Diamonds ... Diamonds
I don't mean rhinestones
But diamonds are a girl's best friend
Diamond Solitaire 14K Gold Engagement Rings ($695 to $995 each)
Diamonds have been treasured for their brilliance and beauty for many centuries. When diamonds became a part of our lives is unclear but where they entered is completely certain -- in India. An old Indian text from the 4th century BC notes that diamonds were known, traded and even taxed in India at that time. The Romans treasured diamonds and examples of Roman diamond jewelry can be found in several museums.

The European love of diamonds was subdued after the fall of the Roman Empire, as Christianity took a dim view of the Roman's superstitions about diamonds. Contrary to the European situation, the gem maintained  its popularity in the Indian and Islamic world, reappearing in Europe in the 14th century.
Two gold rings with old diamonds that were re-set in the 1940s. Left: Old European cut diamonds ($2295). Right: Old table cut diamonds ($975).
Early diamonds were simply polished crystals, but when the diamond industry revived in Europe, the process of cutting and polishing diamonds was established. (FYI: Indian artisans not only polished diamond crystals, but had learned to cleave, cut and polish diamonds early on.) The history of diamond cuts is an interesting one. The brilliant cut which we are all familiar with today, did not emerge until the 19th century. The earliest cuts were the pyramid and table cuts. Today we also hear much of "old mine cut" and "old European cut" diamonds used in 19th century jewelry.
Victorian Jewelry with center Diamonds. Gold-filled Locket ($95) and 14K Gold Pin with Enamel Decoration ($165)
Old mine cut diamonds in enamel pansies. These were re-set in 14K gold in early the 1940s into these gorgeous pieces ($2950 each)
Diamonds have also produced many unique and whimsical sayings through the years: 

• Diamonds never leave you ... men do. (Shirley Bassey)
• I don't exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor. (Joan Rivers) • I have always felt a gift diamond shines so much better than one you buy for yourself! (Mae West)
• I never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back. (Zsa Zsa Gabor)
Art Nouveau-style 14K Gold Rings. Left is a wedding set with a large fresh water pearl ($295). Right is a floral designed ring ($695)
Over the years, famous diamonds have been given names. Some of the most well-known gems are the Blue Hope diamond (which is in the Smithsonian), the Taylor-Burton diamond (a gift from Richard Burton to his lover Elizabeth Taylor) and the great Star of Africa diamond (the largest cut diamond in the world).
Taylor-Burton Diamond
Hope Diamond
Great Star of Africa Diamond
While here at Vintages, we do not have any of these great, famous stones, we do have several wonderful pieces of diamond jewelry. The gallery below features jewelry that have diamonds without other gems in the setting. However, we have a number of lovely pieces that feature diamonds with gems such as blue topaz, rubies, emeralds, garnets and more. Check out our online selection, and stop in the shop to see more.
Platinum and Diamond Bracelet ($1995)
14K Gold Brooch with Diamonds and Carved Rock Crystal ($695)
Multi-colored Gold Cross with center Diamond ($245)
18K White Gold Ring with Diamonds and center Turquoise Cabochon ($1295)
Online References:History of Diamonds Famous Diamonds Historical Diamond Cuts

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Little Bird Told Me ...

A little bird told me ... it's the start of Spring (almost) and the birds are as happy as we are. So we thought it appropriate to have birds as our March Featured Product.

bird |bərd| • noun • a warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings and a beak, and (typically) by being able to fly. 

Birds seem to have fascinated man right from the start. Maybe it is their ability to fly. Or their beautiful plumage, especially of the males in mating season.  Or could it be that they are soooooo cute!

And birds have found a place in many of our favorite colloquialisms:
birds of a feather flock together
a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush 
the birds and the bees
kill two birds with one stone
a little bird told me

We recently came across these fantastic folk art birds made of reclaimed wood, tin and such.  These are made just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and clearly come from the imagination and hand of an artistic person.
Folk art birds ($59.95 each)

Feathery bird ornaments are a happy sight all year 'round. These little white ones are just a sample of the colors and styles that we have available.
Ornamental birds (from $8.95 each)

Hand crafted wreath with bird on nest (from $29.95)

We have paper birds (decorative paper, tags, die cuts, notebooks), bird figurines, bird ribbon (check out the new wide birds on burlap!), paperweights, wall hangings, and more. And don't forget bird jewelry! Here's a small gallery of our offerings.

Decorative papers (starting at $4.50 per sheet)

Bird tags, labels and sticky notes (from $14.95 each)

Bird dish ($35.95), Bird nest vase ($13.95), Hand-made bird box ($17.95), Folk art bird on the line ($59.95)

Folk art metal sandpipers ($64.95 & $84.95)

Bird paperweight ($44.95)

Burlap bird wired ribbon 4" wide ($4.95 per yard)

Folk art Party Chicks wooden wall plaque ($49.95)

Birds, birdhouses and beach accents.
Audubon bird prints ($18.00 each)

Rustic bird nests and houses on branch ($7.95 each)

Tiny bird cages ($9.95 each); "Love" bird ($7.95 each)
Coro Bird of Paradise Duette Double Clip Brooch from 1940s ($245)
Girl with Basket and Bird (One only - inquire)

Aquamarine & Bloodstone: March's Birthstones

March is one of the months where the traditional and modern birthstones are different. The modern birthstone for March is aquamarine, that beautiful sea-blue gemstone which is a member of the beryl family (as is emerald).  Aquamarine, named for the Latin phrase water of the sea, shows off lovely shades of blue, from sky-blue to sea-blue. It is a versatile stone and is cut into many shapes and used in a wide variety of jewelry. This is a gorgeous gemstone for that lucky March baby.
Beautiful Modernist Aquamarine ring set in 14K gold ($195)

Bloodstone, the traditional birthstone of March, is a dark green chalcedony with  specks of red jasper. (Chalcedony is a crystalline form of quartz.) Bloodstone, which is also known as heliotrope, got its name from the belief that it was a stone from below the cross of Christ, whose blood dropped upon it. Bloodstone is said to help with physical endurance and strength, so is often considered a man's gemstone as a result. It is often mixed with other forms of agate or quartz in necklaces, and is used with Scottish agate in traditional Scottish jewelry. 
Edwardian Sterling Silver horn-shaped earrings from Birmingham, England (1905), with Bloodstone caps (SOLD)

Stone bead necklace, with a variety of agate and quartz beads, including bloodstone ($65)

We only have these few pieces of jewelry (above) with these stones here at Vintages, but I have included some archival photos to give you a feel for the beauty of these two birthstones. 
Fantasy dragonfly pendant with aquamarine stone

Over-the-top Art Deco pendant with diamonds & aquamarines

Large aquamarine stone surrounded by diamonds

Victorian watch fob with a bloodstone center

Traditional Scottish jewelry

Arts & Crafts ring with a bloodstone set in gold
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