Ring – Ruby & Diamond Five-Stone
A five-stone ring featuring two fancy¹-cut diamonds and three rubies² in a white-gold claw setting and undersetting, joined with a yellow gold ring shank. Circa 2011.
Assessment of the Rubies.
Averages stated where applicable.
Cut: square scissor-cut³.
Total weight (stones weighed prior to setting): 0.62cts.
Colour: vivid red (2.5R.16/5).
Assessment of the Diamonds.
Averages stated where applicable.
Total weight (stones weighed prior to setting): 0.37cts.
Details of the Setting.
Hallmarked: 18ct gold, Birmingham.
Sponsor’s mark: ‘HM’ (Hockley Mint⁵, Warstone Lane Birmingham).
Finger size: N.1/2.
¹. In the modern era the majority of diamonds are fashioned into round brilliants. However, some rough stones have natural outlines which allow the possibility for the cutter, and ultimately the owner, for unique opportunities. “Fancy cuts have fired the imagination of designers in jewellery; particularly in Paris. Women have been quick to realise that one of these shapes on the finger will attract more attention than all the other round ones. Though the secrets of fancy cuts have always been jealously guarded by diamond cutters, in modern diamond cutting, there is a great awareness of fancy cuts by progressive manufacturers as the potential of these cuts is discovered. The outlines or shapes are difficult to standardise as individual tastes might differ, but here again the natural rough shape would dominate the proportions of the finished shape. However, certain angles and proportions of facets must be maintained to recover the full brilliance, scintillation, and beauty of all fancy cuts” (Basil Watermeyer, ‘Diamond Cutting. A Complete Guide to Diamond Processing’,1984). As described, unlike the round there is no standardised set of tolerances for fancy shapes, however there is still symmetry and balance which must be critically observed, for example a harmonious outline, a ratio of length to width, and proportion of shape. “There are no set rules for the measurements or angles of these facets. You are completely in the domain of the fancy cut. What was previously mechanical (in rounds) now becomes artistry. Your ability to make it look concentric and beautiful is the hallmark of the fine craftsman skill. This is why a fancy cutter is always in demand. He is generally a cutter’s cutter, for only 10% of the diamond cutters cut these exotic shapes. From the standpoint of employment, a proficient cutter is always in demand” (Leonard Ludel, ‘How to Cut a Diamond. A Diamond Cutter’s Handbook’, 1985). Technical expertise and passion go hand in hand in diamond cutting. These highly skilled workmen and women are required to blend a purely manual process with an artistic aesthetic consideration. “In a sense, each time a diamond can be compared to a hugely valuable puzzle waiting to be solved – but of course there may be a great variety of possible solutions. Often a large diamond will have the initial cuts made by a highly precise computer guided laser. Coldly calculated algorithms may help eliminate unknown's, but it is the experience of seasoned gemmologists that will make the final decision-often after weeks or even months of careful consideration, and time spent contemplating a particular stone and its possibilities. For then it is up to a human hand to coax the best from each stone because polishing a diamond is a craft that requires the senses. Facet by facet, turn by turn, the cutter presses the stone against the spinning diamond coated disc, guided by his eye and years of practice. The slightest pressure from the fingertips on the diamond at the wheel guides the master polisher, who marries science and craft to coax out a gem’s ideal brilliance” (Maria Doulton, ‘Miracles’, in ‘Graff’, 2015).
². 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).
³. The scissor-cut was first observed as a facet design when French royal court lapidaries were tasked with modernising table-cut diamonds in the 16th century. As described, “first the square table cut must be transformed into a step cut. Then a series of triangular faces is applied all round. A second series of similar facets completes the design. There are now four sets of four triangular facets, each set meeting at an apex. (The design) gradually vanished in favour of the brilliant cut into which most (large) scissors had been fashioned by 1700 or so. It is logical to assume that the scissor cut originally developed from pyramidal cuts with trihedral faceting; the apexes of these obsolete Gothic cuts were replaced by large facets, very much in the way in which French cuts were developed from spheroid crystals. The lower relief faceting of the scissor cut could not improve on the light effects of a table cut (diamond), so the design was soon abandoned. But it was gradually adopted for coloured gems such as beryls, quartzes etc, whose lower refracting power favoured such faceting” (Herbert Tillander, ‘Diamond Cuts in Historic Jewellery, 1381-1910’, 1994). The contemporary scissor-cut facet design is used with high quality vivid rubies and sapphires, and generally in small calibrated sizes. Although the cost of cutting such stones is naturally higher due to rarer rough material and skilled craftsmanship, the precise and sharp look of these stones allow designers the opportunity to create finely detailed modern jewels.
⁴. A princess-cut diamond is a mixed-cut facet design used for diamonds, typically square, or a slightly rectangular outline. Although not patented or standardised, they are several commonly encountered facet designs used for princess-cuts, all of which share the common features of a stepped scissor-cut crown, and a pointed culet. “Developed in the 1970s the princess-cut is relatively new among the fancy shapes. Its most distinction feature is that it preserves the natural square of the octahedral crystal. This natural shape would be lost if the rough were polished as a round” (Yasukazu Suwa and Andrew Coxon, ‘Diamonds, Rough to Romance’, 2009). “Like the radiant, it is a combination of a brilliant and step cut, so that it is cut as a square or truncated carré, depending on the basic shape of the rough material. If the cube surface of the octahedron is maintained, a square cut with sharp edges is formed. In general, the princess cut has a very good fire and a high degree of brilliance, which explains why it has gained wide acceptance on the diamond market” (Verena Pagel-Theisen, ‘Diamond Grading ABC The Manual’, ninth edition, 2001).
⁵. Hockley Mint is a British firm established in 1953 in Birmingham’s Jewellery quarter, and is one of Europe’s largest in-house makers of wedding rings, engagement rings, cast components, findings and precision engineered jewellery parts. They are advocates of responsible mining and manufacturing and work in collaboration with organisations such as Fair Trade, to create a fully transparent supply chain, which helps to ensure a fair and safe conditions for all workers in their supply chain.