Tag Archives: history

The Jewelry Insider

August 23, 2008

With the enormous success of the Beijing Olympics, gold has been on everyone’s minds these days. We thought you might like to know a little bit more about this precious metal we humans have been so obsessed with through the ages.

Gold has been one of mankind’s most revered substances since the beginning of time. Throughout history, great civilizations have built up treasuries of this precious metal, reserving golden objects for their most important rituals and ascribing miraculous powers to it.

The ancient Egyptians equated gold with the sun, the giver of life, and reserved its use for pharaohs only. The Etruscans created meticulously hand-made objects using fine granules and threads of gold, a technique still practiced today. The Chinese saw gold as the yang of the sun (with silver representing the moon’s ying). To this day, Chinese and Indian brides wear jewelry of no less than 24-karat gold on their wedding day to ensure a lifetime of good luck and happiness. Meanwhile, the Incas called gold the “sweat of the sun”. In some cultures, gold is even eaten to cure such ailments as arthritis, ulcers and tuberculosis.

One sign of gold’s lasting value: it has been used as a currency for more than 5,000 years. It is perceived as permanent wealth as opposed to paper currency and is bought in large quantities during times of crisis.

But perhaps the most alluring use of the sun-colored metal has always been in jewelry. In fact, three-quarters of the world’s gold mined each year is used to make jewelry. The metal’s permanence has made it a symbol of enduring love and heritage, and pieces are passed down from generation to generation. It is the recommended jewelry gift for couples celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

The factors that have driven gold’s everlasting, universal appeal are numerous:

  • Gold is extremely rare – It is estimated that all the gold ever mined would fit underneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It takes several tons of ore to produce just one ounce of gold.
  • Gold is beautiful – Jewelers throughout history have preferred gold to all other metals for its warm golden color. The metal also takes well to alloying with other metals, which has allowed metalsmiths to create a rainbow of shades. For instance, mixing gold with copper creates rose gold; mixing gold with silver creates green gold; and mixing it with palladium produces white gold.
  • Gold is durable – The sheer amount of gold jewelry, coins and artifacts from ancient cultures on display in the world’s museums is a testament to the metal’s enduring beauty. It is extremely heavy, with one cubic foot weighing half a ton. Although pure gold is relatively soft, it becomes exceptionally strong when alloyed with other metals. Because of its indestructibility, gold is used by the electronics industry to create 10 billion tiny electrical contacts each year.
  • Gold is pure – Because of this purity, it is not affected by air, heat or moisture and is resistant to tarnish. These properties have helped make gold bullion such a valuable commodity.
  • Gold is extremely malleable – Gold is so easy to work with that a single ounce can be drawn out into an unbroken strand approximately 60 miles long. It can be melted or shaped to create any design.

Now you can wow them all at the next cocktail party with your keen insight and encyclopedic knowledge of one of our favorite obsessions. Or just wow them with some stunning designs.

The Jewelry Insider

August 5, 2008

What one word do you most associate with Victorian-ruled England? How about “hi-tech”? Well, that’s what the curators of the new jewelry gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London want you to imagine. The main concept behind the gallery is to illustrate the history of jewelry making in a new, multimedia-friendly environment. William and Judith Bollinger’s gift of $14 million has surely made that dream a sparkling reality for jewelry lovers.

Designed by Eva Jiricna, the gallery’s updated look is sleek, modern and crystal-clear with its two floors connected by a glass spiral staircase. Ancient pieces are juxtaposed with 140 modern and contemporary creations in order to demonstrate the evolution of the craft of jewelry in an open and inviting space.

Once inside, you can view such wonders as the Art Nouveau ‘Thistles’ corsage by Lalique next to a medieval sapphire ring created in the 13th Century. Along with the baubles, computers display even more information about the pieces and their history, making what was once a very “observe at arm’s length” experience a hands-on, public- friendly one.

And while jewelry lovers can purchase a lovely book on the collection in the museum’s gift shop, admiring the gems on the page doesn’t really do the exhibit justice. Nothing beats peering up close into the dark green facets of a Napoleonic Nilot & Fils emerald and diamond necklace and becoming one with your inner Victorian. Take a jaunt across the pond and see this one-of-a-kind exhibit for yourself!