Rapaport Magazine by Phyllis Schiller October 2014
A new exhibition and sale of antique rings highlights the enduring appeal of this most personal form of adornment.
Rings are one of the most intimate types of jewelry, prevalent in nearly every culture from antiquity to the present day, explains Dr. Sandra Hindman, founder of Les Enluminures, a gallery specializing in manuscripts and miniatures from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and antique jewelry from the Early Christian and Byzantine eras through the Baroque period. Worn by men, women and children, rings are, Hindman says, “among the most personal forms of art to have survived through the ages.”
Throughout history, rings have been symbols of power, promises of love, mementos of lost loved ones and celebrations of life, as well as an exquisite means of “bodily beautification.” In fact, Hindman points out, “The ring is one of only a few forms of jewelry we gaze at on our bodies without looking in a mirror. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the vocabulary for describing a ring also distinguishes parts of the human body: the ‘head,’ or bezel or setting; the ‘shank,’ or hoop or band; the ‘foot,’ or bottom of the hoop or band and the ‘shoulders,’ that part of the ring between the hoop and the bezel.”
A new exhibition at Les Enluminures New York gallery this fall, “Cycle of Life: Rings from the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection,” presents 40 museum-quality rings that run the gamut from Hellenistic to nineteenth-century examples. The exhibition, says Hindman, offers a unique opportunity to see many impressive rings. “There are a few museums with important collections of rings — the Victoria and Albert, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum — but it is very, very rare to see them out of a museum.”
A CONNOISSEUR’S COLLECTION
Benjamin Zucker, a third-generation gem dealer, began acquiring this stellar collection in 1970, at the age of 29, when he purchased a gold, enamel and filigree seventeenth-century Jewish marriage ring. It was the start of what was to become, says Hindman, “one of the best collections of Jewish wedding rings in private hands.” But Zucker did not confine his acquisitions to one category. Over the past 40 years, he amassed a historically important collection “unique in its breadth, the quality of the stones and the provenance of the rings,” which have belonged to some of the most important collectors of the past century, including Dame Joan Evans, Ernest Guilhou, Ralph Harari and Melvin Gutman.
With the discerning eye of an experienced dealer in diamonds and precious stones, Hindman adds, Zucker chose rings adorned with diamonds and precious gems of the finest quality. For example, “he has a representative tart mold ring, a type that exists in many examples,” Hindman points out. But his ring “has a very rare and beautiful green sapphire in it instead of, as more normal, a blue sapphire or even a garnet.” The variety of diamond-set rings in the exhibit includes a range of stones, from an uncut diamond from the third to fourth century and table-cut, point-cut and rose-cut diamonds from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries to eighteenth-century brilliant-cut diamonds.
One of the star attractions featured in the Les Enluminures exhibition is a rough-cut 1.75-carat diamond set with a double pyramid in a high openwork bezel, shown bottom right. The ring, which dates back to Rome, third to fourth century A.D., was once part of the fabled nineteenth-century de Clercq collection of Roman and Byzantine jewelry and previously on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Only a handful of Roman diamond rings are still known to exist. According to Zucker, “Diamonds, like paintings, are unique works of art and the Roman ring is truly unique as a diary of untouched beauty of the Indian earth, a tour de force from the hand of the Roman jewelry sculptor and a miracle of survival. When the ring was published by De Beers Diamond Information Center, it stated, ‘The story of the diamond ring begins here.’”
The rings chosen for the exhibition have all been previously on display in museums both in the U.S. and abroad, including the Walters Art Museum in Maryland, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Encompassing, as the name of the exhibition expresses, “the cycles of life”— birth, love, marriage and death — the examples range from friendship rings dating back to Roman times to wedding rings of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Jewish marriage rings from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries and memento mori remembrance rings.
Included in the exhibition are such standouts as a Medieval gold ring set with a tenth-century sapphire inscribed in Arabic; a diamond, pigeon-blood red Burmese ruby and enamel gimmel ring from Germany, dated 1631, shown top right, which features an ornate double bezel, and a perpetual calendar ring in gold and black enamel from England, circa 1830.
A RAREFIED MARKET
Prices for the rings exhibited range from about $15,000 to the low seven figures. According to Hindman, prices for rings of this caliber have increased in recent years “quite a lot.” The rarity quotient and the fact that, she says, “there is virtually no auction market” for them have kept prices elevated.
“I think it is impossible to amass a collection like this today, because rings of these provenances — Guilhou, Rothschild, Harari, Flannery, Gutman — rarely come up for sale, being mostly in museums now. So, this exhibition represents an exceptional and unique opportunity to view such a group still intact. The accompanying exhibition catalog, written by a team of international scholars, pays tribute to the collection with the highest level of scholarship and dazzling photography of the rings.”
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Step into the mesmerizing world of natural Pink diamonds, synonymous of elegance and sophistication. These exquisite gems have stolen the spotlight in the realm of fine jewelry, captivating the hearts of fashion enthusiasts around the globe.
In this article, we’ll explore the enchanting features of Fancy Pink diamonds, uncovering their origins, possible tones, and the growing fascination around them. As we delve into their unique characteristics, you’ll learn how they compare to other popular pink gemstones, revealing the distinct advantages that set them apart.
The Origin Of Their Mesmerising Hues
Fancy Pink diamonds are the result of a remarkable geological process that lasted millions of years. During their formation process, atomic traces of minerals such as hydrogen, nitrogen, or boron were introduced into their crystalline structure, resulting in impressive hues.
However, another scientific theory states that the pink hue comes from a deformation in the crystal lattice of the stone, a phenomenon caused by extreme pressure.
Whichever the cause, thanks to our Earth’s natural transformations, today we get to enjoy the exceptional shades of Pink diamonds.
From delicate pastel tones reminiscent of blooming cherry blossoms to intense, vivid shades that command attention, natural Pink diamonds offer a diverse palette of hues that ignite the imagination.
Rarity And A Growing Fascination
The allure of these unique stones lies not only in their enchanting beauty but also in their rarity.
As luxury enthusiasts and jewelry connoisseurs seek to come in possession of the most exclusive and coveted pieces, the interest surrounding fancy pink diamonds continues to grow. With the recent closure of the renowned Argyle mine in Australia, a significant source of Pink diamonds, their scarcity has skyrocketed.
Pink Diamond’s Unparalleled Properties
The refractive index of a diamond is approximately 2.42. This high refractive index is one of the factors that contribute to the exceptional brilliance and sparkle that diamonds are renowned for. The high refractive index allows diamonds to bend and reflect light in a way that creates maximum dispersion and brilliance, resulting in their captivating play of light and fire. It is this unique optical property that sets diamonds apart from other gemstones and contributes to their timeless allure and desirability.
Diamonds are renowned for their exceptional hardness, ranking 10 on the Mohs scale, which is the highest possible rating. This remarkable property makes diamonds highly resistant to scratching and abrasion, ensuring their longevity and durability even with daily wear.
The hardness of a diamond contributes significantly to its value. Diamonds are prized for their ability to withstand the rigors of everyday use without losing their beauty or succumbing to damage. This durability ensures that diamond jewelry, such as engagement rings and heavily worn pieces, can be cherished forever and passed down through generations.
What About Other Pink Gemstones?
This pink gemstone is often used in jewelry for its vibrant color. Pink tourmaline can be found in various parts of the world, including Brazil, Afghanistan, Mozambique, and the United States. Each location may produce unique variations in color and quality, making it more complicated for the regular customer to understand how to measure and compare characteristics.
Tourmaline ranks 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs' scale of hardness, making it moderately durable, but relatively softer compared to Pink diamonds. With a refractive index between 1.624 and 1.644, pink tourmaline exhibits a good amount of brilliance and light dispersion.
This mineral showcases a soft, delicate pink hue that does not typically offer much sparkle. There are multiple levels of transparency available, from very translucent to milky opaque or smoky with yellow or brown undertones.
Scoring a 7 on the Mohs scale, pink quartz is relatively durable and suitable for some types of jewelry. However, it is still important to protect it from impact, and best suitable for earrings and low-wear pieces.
The intensity of its color depends on the place of origin and the combination of trace elements present within its crystal structure.
With a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, pink sapphires are very durable and resistant, making them suitable for all kinds of jewelry pieces. However, they are more prone to scratches than diamonds.
Kunzite is quite affordable because it’s relatively unknown although it can be found in many places like Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, and the USA.
Like most color stones, kunzite can be undergo irradiation or heat treatments to enhance its color. Exposure to heat and bright light can cause color in both natural and treated kunzite to fade over time.
Most morganite deposits are found in Brazil, but the highest quality specimens come from Madagascar. Typically, morganite enjoys a high transparency with minimal inclusions resulting in clear, polished stones.
Scoring a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, Morganite is safe and durable enough for jewelry.
Your Best Choice: Pink Diamonds
There are multiple options to choose from to create a jewel with pink gemstones. However, they all fall short when compared to the durability and brilliance of natural Pink diamonds. With sources becoming more scarce while demand continues grows, Pink diamonds keep appreciating in value making them a better financial choice when compared to other gemstones which tend to loose value in the resale marker. Pink diamonds present multiple advantages for their investment potential and as a valuable asset to be passed on for generations.
When purchasing color gemstones, it’s important the buyer requests a professional laboratory report that discloses any enhancements to make an informed decision. Unfortunately for most consumers, it’s hard to find full-detailed information on a finished jewelry piece and it requires additional effort and inquiries to confirm the quality of a gemstone.
Langerman Diamonds has over 50 years of expertise in sourcing and trading natural color diamonds. Explore our online inventory and contact us to learn more about the purchasing process.