10 More Fun, Fascinating Jewellery Facts!
1 A ruby is not actually a ruby ...
Hey, that doesn't make sense! But it is kind of true - rubies don't technically exist as separate gemstones. Rubies are actually sapphires that just happen to be red, but we don't care; ruby sounds heaps nicer (and a lot less confusing) than pinky-red sapphire!
Image: A very pretty 'red sapphire' ring.
2 In the middle ages amethyst was considered an antidote to poison.
Gemstones have long been thought to contain magical mystical powers, and in the medieval period of plotting, intrigue and foul play poisoning of one's enemy was rife. Of course it could just have been down to poor hygiene practices of the time, but those wealthy enough to have enemies weren't taking any chances! Gemstones were often worn as protection, or ground down and added to food and drink. Amethyst was thought to be particularly effective in thwarting such evil intentions. 3 Citrine can protect from snakebites.
Citrine, a yellow-orange precious gemstone, is another mineral thought to be bestowed with mystical powers. In the middle ages pilgrims and travellers would carry citrine to protect from snakebites but there were many other beneficial advantages to this little treasure too. Citrine can also spare the wearer from plague, pox and even evil spells cast against them. It's not surprising that citrine was considered to be a magical talisman: natural citrine is rare and most commercial citrine is actually heat-treated – poison neutralising – amethyst! Image Attribution: By Renato Augusto Martins (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, edited under license. 4 The Marquise Cut was named for Louis XV's Lover!
If you've ever wondered how that pointy-ended oval cut gemstone shape got its name we've got the answer. In the eighteenth century King Louis XV of France (1710-1774) fell in love with the married Marchioness Madame de Pompadour. As he couldn't marry her himself (he, too, was already married), he commissioned his jeweller to create a new diamond cut in her honour that resembled the shape of her pouting mouth. The result was the 58 facet cut Marquise diamond (Marquise being the male form of Marchioness). Over time, the shape has also been called the boat cut, navette, and eye cut. 5 Amber floats in water.
Amber is the fossilised resin of trees that lived over 35 million years ago, and it's a fascinating organic gem, but how can you tell if your amber is the real deal? Not surprisingly the earth's continents have shifted a little over the millennia and much of that ancient forest is now buried deep beneath the oceans, but amber has been found washed up along the shores of many northern European countries. The reason for that is that genuine amber floats in salt water, and over time as the sea bed moves the amber is released to float to the surface, so if you want to tell if your amber is real simply drop it into a bowl of saltwater. Image: This prehistoric dragonfly will make a lovely Amber Inclusion in approximately 35 million years! Image Attribution: By Wikipedia Loves Art participant "The_Wookies" [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons 6 The Beatles were right...
... There are diamonds in the sky! Scientists have discovered a star that is almost entirely pure diamond. The dwarf star is the collapsed remains of a much bigger star and weighs in at ten billion trillion trillion carats - now that's some rock! The bad news is that it's going to take around 2 million years to reach it, so for now we'll stick to admiring it from afar.
By the way, the planet's nickname is Lucy!
7 Cleopatra's costly cosmetics ...
When Cleopatra came to power in the first century Egypt was a place of great glamour and beauty, and jewels were used everywhere - even in cosmetics. To enhance her beauty Cleopatra would grind gemstones and minerals and form them into a paste to be used as eyeshadow. Her favourite colours were blue with gold flecks from ground Lapis Lazuli, and green formed from Malachite and Peridot.
Image: Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 movie, Cleopatra.
8 Why bracelets are called bracelets.
The origin of most jewellery names is obvious, like a lace chain that is worn around the neck, and rings worn in the ear, but what about bracelets – how did they get their name? Well the word bracelet comes from the latin word for arm; brachium, which in Middle English became bracen, which in turn became brace and somehow softened its C-sound. With the addition of 'let', meaning little, we get bracelet, which is a 'little thing of the arm'!
Embrace your love of bracelets with the range available here.
9 Victorians had a passion for live jewellery.
Gross but true; live insects have been worn as jewellery for thousands of years, and still are in some cultures. Egyptians wore live scarab beetles to protect them in battle (as seen in the movie The Mummy), and the trend for living jewellery enjoyed a revival in Victorian times. Most adult beetles don't need to feed so with a few gems glued to them they made wonderful wiggling brooches when pinned to clothes on a cute chain leash. Living insect jewellery even made a catwalk comeback as recently as 2006. Hmmm, not to everyone's taste!
Image: These little fellows once adorned the gowns of fine Victorian ladies at many a fancy gala event. (via Wikimedia Commons).
10 Did you know that Opals bring wisdom and good fortune?
The opal has a troubled history, falling in and out of favour and swinging from good luck talisman to cursed bad luck charm, but in ancient times Romans, Greeks and Arabians all believed that Opals were blessed with good fortune. In fact Arabians believed that opals were pieces of heaven that fell from the sky on the back of a lightning bolt, and the Greeks and Romans thought the Opal endowed the wearer with powers of foresight and clarity.
Next week: "Gemology: D is for ..." More than just diamonds, discover other beautiful gemstones beginning with D.