Part of the great traditions of jewellery, opening rings fell out of favour for some time, mainly because they are incredibly difficult to make really well. Fortunately we have some of the finest craftsmen in the world in our workshop to make even the most complicated and exotic designs.
They allow for such a wealth of different techniques and interesting variations and we use all the skills there are to make miniature masterpieces. Many of these creations genuinely amaze even the most experienced jewellery collectors.
Is, essentially, naturally formed glass… but what a dramatic formation. It is thrown up by the eruption of a volcano and the sudden cooling of the lava. It is given further character by those inclusions it picks up in its short metamorphosis. This means that desert sand to give it a rust colour or Cristobalite can give it a snowflake mottle rather than just its usual darting black colour.
It has been used for tens of thousands of years to make sharp tools and blades; as it still is today. It is found pretty much wherever there are volcanoes.
Description: Obsidian can be found in locations which have experienced rhyolitic eruptions. Acigöl town and the G.llü Dag volcano were the most important sources in central Anatolia.
Hardness: 5 – 6 on Mohs Scale
Opal is formed of tiny spheres of silica and the colours seen in any particular example depend upon the size and arrangement of these spheres. They have a relatively high water content, up to 5% which means they are susceptible to dehydration and should not be kept in hot or dry conditions. The Greeks thought Opal gave powers of foresight and prophecy and the Romans believed them to be a symbol of purity and hope.
Queen Victoria was a huge fan and not only wore them herself but gave them as gifts to each of her daughters for their weddings. The vast majority of gem quality opal is now mined in Australia; the town of Coober Pedy is a world famous source and Lightning Ridge is famed for its black Opals.
A relatively new source is the northeastern Wollo Province in Ethiopia, which became a major producer with the 2008 discovery of a large amount of white opal with a strong play of colour. The striking, bright orange-red stones that are mined in Mexico are also popular and are known as Fire Opal.
Description: Precious opals are prized for their vivid, iridescent, rainbow colour flashes which play out against either a dark or light background, Australia is the best known source.
Hardness: 5.5 – 6.5 on Mohs Scale
Unlike the transparent varieties of Quartz such as amethyst and citrine, Onyx belongs to the group of translucent to opaque stones referred to as polycrystalline. It has been used since antiquity, both for jewellery and as an ornamental gemstone for carvings and statues.
Many cultures have put faith in its protective properties and have worn it in battle, to shield them from the evil eye and even during labour to ensure a safe delivery. Black gems have fallen in and out of fashion over the years, high points include the later half of the 19th Century when Queen Victoria, mourning the loss of her husband Prince Albert, wore a lot of black jewellery, making it very popular.
The following century, during the 20s and 30s it was in vogue once more with the monochromatic look popular during the Art Deco period.
Description: Onyx is the black sheep of the Quartz family, it is an opaque gem that can be cut or carved and polished to a high shine and can be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Madagascar.
Hardness: 7 on Mohs Scale