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Amazing Diamonds and their Stories
diamond mines, source of some of the most celebrated gems
in history, go back thousands of years. Total output: an estimated
10 million carats. Total weight: a mere 2.5 tons.
The Florentine, weighing 137.27 carats, is cut for the Duke
of Burgundy in the late 15th century. Lost in battle, it ends
up in the hands of the Medici family in Florence. In the 18th
century, it appears in the Habsburg crown in Austria. Whereabouts
Cullinan I, at 530.20 carats, was cut from the largest diamond
ever found (3106 carats). Known also as the Star of Africa,
it adorns the sceptre of King Edward VII of England. The Tower
of London is its current home.
The famous Hope Diamond, though only 44.50 carats, has an
intriguing history belying its size. Supposedly part of a
much larger stone acquired by Louis XIV of France in 1668,
it is stolen during the French Revolution and disappears.
Henry Philip Hope buys it in 1830 and the Sultan of Turkey
purchases it nearly a century later. Jewelers Pierre Cartier
and Harry Winston own it at one time or another. It is now
in the Smithsonian.
Koh-I-Noor belonged to an Indian Raj. Then larger than its
present 108.92 carats, it is bought by the Shah of Persia
in l739. He calls it by its modern name, meaning "Mountain
of Light." It is is given to Queen Victoria of England,
re-cut for the crown of Queen Mary and then set in the crown
of Queen Elizabeth. Kept in the Tower of London.
Dresden, a 41-carat apple-green diamond, adorned Saxony's
crown jewels in the mid-18th century. Pear-shaped and the
largest of its color, it is confiscated by Russia at the end
of WWII and returned in 1947. On display in the Dresden Historical
The Colorado, plucked from a mine in Colorado and the largest
diamond ever cut in the U.S., weighed 17.86 carats when sold
to a collector. Still in private hands.
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The Romance of Pearls:
A Symbol of Cleopatra's Passion... The Obsession of Elizabeth
The magical luster of pearls has fascinated women and men alike
for thousands of years. Pearls conjure up visions of South Sea
islands. They inspired the creation of The Pearl Fishers, one
of opera's greatest masterpieces.
pearls were first discovered is unknown. Bits of irritating
debris, perhaps a grain of sand, causes oysters to transform
them, layer by layer, into objects of great beauty, prized throughout
know pearl divers risk their lives to bring these treasures
to the surface. The Middle East, India and China are thought
to be among the earliest civilizations recognizing the attraction
of pearls. The finest of all pearls come from the Persian Gulf.
Chinese believed pearls poured from the mouth of their rain
god. The Romans used pearls in love potions. Caesar may have
invaded Britain for pearls.
to legend, Cleopatra toasted Anthony with a pearl dissolved
in wine. Elizabeth I of England reportedly had an insatiable
appetite for pearls. Through the ages, pearls have been used
in medicines and to adorn crowns, gowns and even religious temples.
The birth of a pearl is one of nature's wonders.
Mystique of Pearls: Stories of Beauty And the Bizarre
oyster harvested in the coastal waters of Sri Lanka contained
an incredible 87 pearls.
the Duke of Buckingham went to Paris to bring back the bride
of English king Charles I, he wore satin decorated with pearls
worth LL20,000, a staggering sum for the time. Pearls
were so popular during the Elizabethan era that the queen herself
was forced to buy fake pearls at the then-unheard-of price of
a penny apiece.
The Pearl of Asia, the largest known pearl, is the size and
shape of a small egg plant.
In Babylonian times, pearls were thought to be endowed with
the powers of the fountain of youth.
According to Greek myth, when the god of love Aphrodite was
born from the sea, she turned drops of water into pearls. So
prized were pearls during the Renaissance that many countries
forbade anyone but nobility to wear them.
The most expensive pearls: A strand of Australian South Sea
pearls sold at auction in l993 for a record $2.25 million.
Frederick Kunz, who devised a gauge to measure the size and
weight of pearls, estimated that 100,000 oysters fished from
the Arabian Gulf were needed to create a matched natural pearl
In 1917, Pierre Cartier acquired his Fifth Avenue mansion for
two strands of pearls then worth a million dollars.
One in two cultivated oysters survives to bear pearls and only
one in five of the survivors gives birth to a pearl that has
the quality to become a jewel.
It takes 10,000 cultured pearls to produce a single, closely
Perhaps one in a million oysters will produce a flawless pearl!
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Gold & Platinum
gold, it's been said there would be no jewelry. For thousands
of years, men have fought, sailed oceans, braved jungles and moved
mountains for gold. Every great civilization has left a legacy
of gold jewelry that unfailingly dazzles the modern eye.
soft for tools or weapons, gold was thought to be the metal of
the sun, coveted for its natural beauty and worshiped for its
mystical powers. Today, gold is cherished not just as a rare precious
metal. Its physical properties are unrivaled for creating fine
an ounce of gold into 50 miles of fine wire. Hammer an ounce into
a square, 100 feet wide. It resists tarnish and rust. It is immune
to corrosion, oxidation and acids. Gold's value comes from both
its beauty and scarcity. All of the gold mined in the past 6,000
years would fit into a cube 60 feet tall.
Karats are a measure of the percentage of fine
gold to accessory metals contained in gold jewelry. Gold is mixed
(alloyed) for strength. Metal stamped 24K, meaning 24-karat gold,
is considered pure gold and too soft be used for jewelry. More
common 18K gold contains 75% pure gold. Jewelry marked 14K appears
the most widely. Anything under 10K cannot be labeled or sold
as gold, although 9K is very popular in Europe.
gold, capturing the metal's classic natural color, is by far the
favorite. Copper and silver are the alloys used most with yellow
gold. For the fashion-conscious, white gold is hot and trendy.
Copper, zinc and palladium, or nickel alone, alloy with white
value of gold jewelry is based on several factors: fineness or
karat count, weight in grams and the workmanship reflected in
The Royal Metal- Platinum
ancient Egypt to pre-Columbian South America, platinum plays a
leading role in the creation of exquisitely fine jewelry. Not
until the 18th century does it begin to appear in the jewelry
of Western Europe. It becomes the metal of royalty.
ranks among the rarest of metals. Ten tons of ore yield one ounce
of platinum. For every 15-to-20 ounces of gold extracted, only
a single ounce of palladium is mined. Mountains of rock must be
crushed to meet world demand and the refining process takes nearly
gold, which doesn't work well in its purest form, platinum is
used in jewelry at 90%-to-95% purity. Platinum of this fineness
is stamped 900Pt, 950 Plat or just Plat. Even in this pure state,
platinum contains five other metals -- iridium, osmium, palladium,
rhodium and ruthenium. Like gold, it is tarnish- and rust-resistant.
There has recently been an effort to sell .58 Plat., to reduce
cost, but it has been widely rejected.
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