Ring – Victorian Ruby & Diamond Three-Stone
An antique Victorian ring principally featuring a cushion-shape brilliant-cut diamond, complimented with two mixed-cut oval rubies. All set in a yellow gold-coloured sculpted setting with light chasing to each shoulder¹. Circa 1870-1900.
Assessment of the Diamond.
Cut: cushion-shape brilliant².
Measuring: 6.79mm x 6.79mm x 4.55mm.
Weight (stone weighed unset): 1.52cts.
Assessment of the Rubies³.
Averages stated where applicable.
Cut: oval mixed-cut⁴.
Origin and nature: natural untreated rubies from Sri Lanka⁵.
One measuring: 6.42mm x 5.41mm x 2.23mm.
One measuring: 6.27mm x 5.08mm x 2.77mm.
Calculated total weight: 1.36cts.
Colour: moderate purplish red (7.5RP.10/4).
Details of the Setting.
Unhallmarked: tested and valued as 18ct gold.
Finger size: M.
¹. The quintessential late Victorian jewellery design is the half hoop. A type of setting decoration seen on rings and bangles, where approximately one quarter to one-third of the circumference is styled with sculpted volute spirals, reminiscent of ionic conical elements seen in Ancient Greek and later Roman architectural. This artful setting was sculpted by specialised ring carvers, before being handed over to a setter to seat the diamonds, and/or coloured gemstones. The stones were carefully selected to harmoniously graduate in size presenting a completely gem-set face-up appearance.
². This facet design usually employs four-fold symmetry with brilliant-cut facet design, with a squarish and rectangular outlines, clearly rounded corners and usually slightly rounded sides. A typical example has 58 facets; 33 facets on the crown across upper halves, mains and upper stars, and 25 on the pavilion across mains and lower halves, much like a modern brilliant-cut today. This facet design was first used in the mid seventeenth century by French royal court cutters as Herbert Tillander explains, “17th-century tastes created a sudden admiration of and demand for an entirely new arrangement of facets-numerous small ones round an octagonal table, all sparkling as if they were full of light rays, some white, others in all the colours of the rainbow.” The shape was less important than the fashioning. “Cushion shapes were introduced more and more when old table cuts were re-fashioned. Many table cuts had blunt or missing corners which had to be disposed off without reducing the size of the gem. The easiest way to do this was to round the corners off” (Herbert Tillander, ‘Diamond Cuts in Historic Jewellery, 1381-1910’, 1994). Due the inevitable variance in cutting, each cushion brilliant has noticeably different scintillation, sparkle, fire and animation. Some stones a slow gentle transition in brilliance from one facet to the next, others are rapid, some have animation stacked into the corners, or the centre, and so on. This difference means that every antique cushion shaped diamond has a distinct personality and character.
³. Ruby (from the Latin ‘ruber’, meaning ‘red’) is the name given to chromium bearing corundum, which is the same mineral which gives rise to sapphires. It is composed of the gas oxygen and the light metal aluminium. Ruby has a long historical connection with all cavillations that encountered this marvellous gem. “The legend and lore of Ruby and Sapphire are quaint, like that of most gems. The lucky owner of a fine Ruby was said to be assured of a life lived in peace and concord with all men; neither his land nor his rank could be taken from him, and his house and garden could be saved from damaged by tempests. According to the Judaeo-Christian view, Ruby, the natal stone of July, is the most precious of the twelve stones God created when he created all creatures, and this Lord of Gems was placed on Aaron's neck by gods command. The high esteem placed on Ruby is further indicated by the names applied to it in Sanskrit. These were ‘ratnaraj’, which may be translated as king of precious stones, and ‘ratnanayaka’, leader of precious stones. The Hindu peoples describe the glowing hues of the ruby as an inextinguishable fire which burned within the stone. Ruby was said to preserve the health of the wearer, for it removed evil thoughts. Although associated with passion it was also thought to control amorous desires and reconcile disputes. The colour of ruby is due to a trace chromic oxide, which enters the crystal structure by a small-scale replacement of some of the aluminium atoms. This is known as isomorphous replacement. The amount, about 1 to 3%, determines the depth of colour, but the presence of iron in the ferric state also modifies the tint. The finest rubies will be strongly fluorescent red. Such stones often contain extremely fine particles which serve to scatter the light on to all the facets” (Robert Webster, ‘Gems. Their Sources, Descriptions and Identification’, fifth edition, 1994). “With ruby, the intensity of the red colour is the primary factor in determining the value. The ideal stone displays an intense, rich crimson without being too light or too dark. The finest rubies display colour similar to that of a red traffic light. There is a tendency for the market to favour stones of the intense red-red colour. Certainly, the highest prices are paid for these. But do not overlook the slightly less intense shades. Such gems have a brightness missing in there more saturate brethren and often look better in the low lighting that one typically wears fine jewellery. Like a beautiful person, rubies come in many shapes, the preference for each which is a matter of personal taste” (Richard Hughes, ‘Ruby & Sapphire, A Collector’s Guide’, 2013).
⁴. A ‘mixed-cut’ a combination of two cutting styles in one gemstone, with the eponymous use being a brilliant-cut crown with a step-cut pavilion and this facet design is be used on any elliptical outline (rounds, ovals, cushions etc.). The brilliant-cut crown typically consists of eight kite-shaped main facets, joined to the girdle by ‘girdle breaks’ (triangular facets, either singularly or in pairs for each main facet) and a further set of eight star-facets (also triangular) which join the table to the main facets. Thus, totalling either 24 to 32 facets plus the table. The facet layout and design allow for a blend of good colour saturation and sparkle; flashes of white angular light with some scintillation and fire (provided the materials has this optical property). A step-cut pavilion consists of three or more tiers of mostly unequal quadrilateral facets converging at a keel or culet, and use an uneven number of triangular lower girdle facets joining the girdle. Proportions and angles usually follow the shape of the rough which will produce the maximum weight recovery, so there is rarely any uniformity or systematic principals governing the face design other than this one economic consideration. It is unknown when this method of fashioning became customary, suffice to say that it is has since become one of the most commercially predominant cutting styles of coloured gemstones.
⁵. “One of the most eloquent witnesses of the continental drift carrying Madagascar and many small islands into, and India as well as Sri Lanka across the Tethys Sea (Indian Ocean), is presented by the inclusions in the corundums found in the adjacent countries. The internal mineral associations of the corundum is from the countries east and west of the Indian Ocean correspond with each other to a large extent. Yet several of these deposits also boast of their own locality specific mineral inclusions as well, which allows the location of the corundum is to be determined in some instances. The great majority of rubies from sources around the Indian Ocean crystallised in so-called ‘exotic metamorphites’. The rubies from Sri Lanka and the East African gem belt, which extends from Ethiopia through Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi to Mozambique, also encompassing Zambia and Zimbabwe, originate from the most variegated environments -volcanic, acidic meta-sediments, rare metamorphites – often in association with pegmatites, or basic metamorphites and even volcanites – which produced corundums of various characteristics. The discovery of numerous gem deposits in East Africa disclose the fact that the prevailing geological conditions on Sri Lanka are closely interrelated to those on other continents – especially in East Africa and on Madagascar. These deposits are situated around Rathnapura (Sri Lanka), in the Mangari District (Kenya), the various deposits in Tanzania (the Umba Valley). Their guest assemblies comprise apatite, biotite, epidote, garnet, ilmenite, phlogopite, plagioclase, pyrite, rutile, sillimanite, spinel, tourmaline, xenotime, and zircon” (E.J. Gűbelin and J.I. Koivula, ‘Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones. Volume 3’, 2008).