Ten Fun, Fascinating (and just plain weird) Jewellery Facts!
If you love a bit of random jewellery trivia we've got a treat for you! These ten weird and wonderful jewellery facts will shock, surprise and enlighten you, from movie jewellery trivia to scientific facts and eyebrow-raising "Who'd-have-thunk-its"! If you know any weird or wonderful jewellery trivia facts let us know in the comments.
1 A woman lost her engagement ring for 16 years, then found it growing on a carrot in her garden...
It's true! Swedish woman Lena Påhlsson last saw the white gold band, set with seven small diamonds, in her kitchen when she removed it to do some Christmas baking back in 1995. When she went to put it back on it had disappeared. Since then the family had searched extensively, even taking up the kitchen floor during renovations in the hope of finding it, but it remained lost. Then, in 2011, Lena was pulling up some carrots in her garden when she spotted the ring wrapped snugly around the crown of a tiny carrot that she was about to discard. It's believed the ring fell into the sink amongst the vegetable peelings and was either added to the compost heap – or fed to the sheep! You can read more about the incredible story here. 2 The blue sapphire necklace in the movie Titanic, Heart of the Ocean, was there on the real deal. Well, kind of ...
The 1997 movie Titanic may have romanticised somewhat on the story of Jack and Rose and the Heart of the Ocean, but there's no doubt that a real love story involving a blue sapphire necklace, now nicknamed 'The Love of the Sea', did exist! 19-year-old Kate Phillips and her fiancé, 40-year-old Henry Morley, were eloping to start a new life together as man and wife in San Francisco. The story is quite scandalous as Henry was leaving his existing wife and 12-year-old daughter behind in England, and the love-struck couple were travelling under the assumed names of Mr and Mrs Marshall. Before embarking on their journey Henry had gifted Kate a sapphire and diamond necklace, and when the Titanic struck the iceberg Kate made it into a lifeboat with no other possessions than her trunk key and her beloved sapphire necklace. Henry died that night and Kate spent several months living in New York, where she discovered she was pregnant and returned to her family in England. Image, The Heart of The Ocean from the movie Titanic. Attribution: By Zachgriff11 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
3 So .... Is it a jewel, or a toy?
The word jewel comes from the old French jouel, which, back in the twelfth century, meant plaything. It's probably due to the fact that only the wealthy could afford precious gems and so euphemistically - and somewhat rather arrogantly - referred to them as toys. You might have also heard jewels referred to as baubles, and guess what? bauble is also an old French word for toy! 4 All the gold on earth arrived in meteorites.
It's true, all the gold you're wearing came from outer space! It's believed that any precious metals originally around earth when it formed were dragged into the earth's core by all the molten iron, and that all the gold now being mined arrived in a massive meteor shower 4.5 billion years ago, AFTER the earth's crust had formed. Rock that cosmic bling you good thing! 5 24karat gold is soft enough to be moulded by hand.
Sticking with the gold theme (why not!), did you know that pure gold is so soft you can (almost) mould it with your hands? We're not quite talking modelling clay – you won't be able to squish it into a cube or roll it into a snail – but warm a small thin strip of pure gold between your palms for a while and you can certainly bend and twist it! It's softness is the reason it can be pressed thin enough to form gold leaf, and also the reason you don't come across 24k gold jewellery very often. It's usually alloyed with another metal to make it more durable. 6 In ancient Egypt gold was considered to be "The Flesh of The Gods".
Gold, in ancient Egypt, was believed to hold mystical properties; it doesn't tarnish or break down, and shimmers like Ra, the Sun God, and for that reason it was thought to be "The Flesh of The Gods". Kings would surround themselves in gold to show their closeness to godliness, and thousands of tons of gold has been buried with the Pharaohs. Brings a whole new level to those couture 'gold leaf' dining experiences! This image shows the golden funeral mask of Tutankhamun, who died around 1323 BCE.
7 Even Cavemen Wore Jewellery!
Eagle claws, polished and drilled with holes for stringing on sinew, have been found at a Neanderthal excavation site in Croatia. The eight claws were probably worn for symbolic or religious purposes, and they date from around 130,000 years ago! Modern humans arrived in Europe 80,000 years later, and they also wore jewellery of bones, teeth and shells strung on sinew. Image Attribution: Charles R. Knight [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 8 There is an 'ointment jar' in Vienna carved from a single large emerald.
Yes, emeralds can grow pretty big! 'The Emerald Unguentarium', an emerald vessel used for 'unguents' (or ointments), weighs in at a whopping 2,860 carats, equivalent to 572 grams! It was carved in 1641 for Emperor Ferdinand III from a single Colombian emerald that probably originally weighed more than 3000 carats (600 grams). The shape is irregular to preserve as much of the precious gem as possible, but it does have the frivolous enhancement of four leaves carved into its surface, and gold decoration around the lid. It's currently on display in the Imperial Treasury in Vienna. Image attribution: Andrew Bossi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons 9 All the Platinum in the world would fit in an average sized living room.
Platinum is known as 'rich mans' gold' for a very good reason - it's far more precious and hard to come by! Ten tons of ore must be mined to yield just ONE OUNCE of platinum, in a process that takes around six months. So little platinum has been mined that the entire amount would barely fill an average sized living room. No wonder it's so expensive!
10 Nicole Kidman's Necklace in Moulin Rouge was the most expensive ever produced for a movie.
The 'Satine Necklace' was designed by Sydney jeweller Stefano Canturi for Nicole Kidman to wear as Satine in the 2001 movie, Moulin Rouge. Fabulously styled, the stunning bib necklace was made up of 1,308 genuine diamonds weighing around 134 carats (27 grams) set in pure platinum and finished with a 2.5 carat sapphire clasp. It was put up for auction in 2001 where it was expected to make well over $1,000,000, but was withdrawn from sale at the last moment. It is now estimated to be worth around $3,000,000!
Image sourced from playbuzz.com
If you've seen the movie and know the scene where the priceless necklace was ripped from Satine's neck by a jealous lover, don't worry - a 'stunt double' of cheap foil backed crystals and a magnetic clasp was made specifically for that scene. Can you imagine slamming a million dollars worth of diamonds to the ground?! Horror!
If you've enjoyed these random facts take a look at our related articles for heaps more weird and wonderful jewellery facts!
Next week: "Gemology, B is for ...". Continuing our look into the 200+ different kinds of gemstone in the world, we bring you the colourful world of gems beginning with B.