Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Treasures of the British Museum I

Cross pendant. Gold with a closed back and set with a central pearl surmounted by a garnet and an emerald, flanked by hessonite garnets, a sapphire, and a zircon with a ruby, a chrysoberyl cat's eye, an amethyst and a zircon below. Date 1800 (circa)

Gimmel-ring; gold; enamelled; bezel, set with ruby and emerald, in form of quatrefoil flower with pendant leaves decorated with blue, black and white scrolls; inner faces of bezel decorated with scrolls; shoulders moulded in form of scrolls; inscription on inner surfaces revealed when ring opened. Date 16thC, Germany.
Pendant in the form of an animal head. Made of wood and covered with turquoise and malachite mosaic held in place with pine resin adhesive. The eyes are made from pyrite and white and yellow striped conch (Strombus) shell. The open mouth is encrusted with gemstones (garnet, beryl, emerald, spinel, zircon) and lined with sharks teeth. The pearls, gemstones and teeth are all held in place with beeswax. Culture/period Mixtec; Aztec


Two-colour gold comb-mount in the form of a leafy twig surmounted by a bird, with a ruby eye and ring in its beak, on a trembler spring. The branch is set with gemstones whose initials spell 'dearest', ie. diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire and turquoise. There is a hair compartment in the reverse of the bird. Date 1830 (circa) England.
Intaglio of rock crystal: massive, oval, convex on one side, flat on the other. On the flat surface is engraved the Crucifixion between the Virgin and St John; Christ has the cruciferous nimbus and wears a loin-cloth, his head is inclined; cross is plain, without titulus, serpent coiled round its foot; Virgin and St John stand bending forward, raising their mantles to their faces in attitudes of grief; above cross are two medallions containing busts of the sun and moon holding torches, former radiate and wearing chlamys, latter as female figure in mantle with head surmounted by crescent; in modern metal mount; each side of crystal with cylindrical drill-hole. Culture/period : Carolingian Date 846-869 (?)

Gold memento-mori fede-ring. This large ring, either intended as a thumb-ring or to be worn over a glove on the finger, is made of gold, enamelled and set with gemstones. The bezel is in the form of a book, placed horizontally, the upper cover being set with four table-cut gemstones in plain gold collets: a diamond (lower right), a ruby (upper right), an emerald (lower left) and a sapphire, or blue spinel (upper left); in high relief between the gemstones, in the centre, is a white-enamelled skull with a green-enamelled toad above and another below, and two snakes issuing from the skull to left and right. Date 1526-1575





Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Cool Smithsonian Stuff

Uncut diamond crystal from Arkansas.

Liddicoatite with a zoned green and pink interior from Antsirabe, Madagascar.

Elbaite candelabra (Tourmaline family)

Beryl with Quartz - Blue beryl crystal on microcline.
Pear-cut ametrine from Brazil



Calcite with Pyrite - From Brush Creek mine, Reynolds County, Missouri. Calcite is a ubiquitous gangue mineral in Mississippi Valley type lead zinc deposits. This mine was closed in 2001 after 22 years of operation.
Octagonal-cut amethyst

A round brilliant-cut citrine.

Clinohumite is a magnesium silicate commonly found as tiny indistinct grains. However, large euhedral crystals are sought after by collectors and can be cut into beautiful gemstones.



http://www.mnh.si.edu/

Sunday, 15 December 2013

World's most expensive Diamonds

The Chloe Diamond is a brilliant-cut diamond, weighing 84.37 carats, bought by Georges Marciano, the founder of clothing company Guess Inc. Marciano named the stone “the Chloe Diamond” after his then 12-year-old daughter.

The diamond sold for $16.2 Million at Sotheby's Geneva in 2007.
In November 2012, Christie's sold the cushion-shaped, colourless, 76.02-carat Archduke Joseph Diamond for $21.5 million.
A 14.23 carat diamond, named The Perfect Pink, sold for $23,165,968 in November 2010 to an anonymous buyer after an intense bidding war with four others.

Christie's says only 18 diamonds bigger than 10 carats and showing a distinct pure pink colour have ever gone on the block in 244 years of auction history.
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond is a cushion-cut fancy deep grayish blue diamond weighing 35.56 carats. It sold at auction in December 2008 for $24.3m

The diamond originates from the Indian kingdom of Golkonda. It's rumored that King Philip IV of Spain purchased the jewel and included it in the dowry of his teenage daughter, Margaret Teresa, in 1664.
On 15 May 2013 Christie’s auctioned the "Winston Legacy" in Geneva for $ 26.7m. A pear-shaped perfect diamond weighing 101.73 carats, this sensational gemstone is not only one of the largest pear-shaped diamonds known to date, it is also one of the world’s most perfect diamonds: a D colour, Type IIA Flawless gem.

The rough stone weighed 236 carats when it was extracted from the Jwaneng mine (DeBeers) in Botswana and required 21 months to polish.
The Orange - Christie’s Geneva sold the largest fancy vivid orange diamond ever offered at auction, weighing 14.82 carats, for a record $35.5m or $2.4 million per carat.

The sale set a world record price per carat for any diamond sold at auction, as well as a world record price for an orange diamond. It is the 4rd most expensive diamond ever sold at auction. Christie's said: “Time and again, a stone will appear on the market that is truly a miracle of nature. The 14.82-carat orange diamond is one such a stone, a rare gem, which will perhaps only be seen once in a lifetime.
The Princie Pink is a cushion-cut 34.65 carats and is one of the finest and largest of its kind.

The stone can be traced back to the ancient diamond mines of India. The diamond was sold at auction in 1960 where it brought a price of 46,000 pounds sterling (approximately $69,588 in today's currency).

The stone sold for $ 39m in April, 2013.

The Graff Pink is a vivid pink, round-cornered rectangular step-cut diamond weighing 24.78 carats, set between shield-shaped diamond shoulders, in platinum.

It sold on November 10, 2010 for $ 46.2m



The 59.6-carat Pink Star diamond lived up to its hype by selling for a world record price of approximately $83.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale Wednesday.

When introducing the internally flawless fancy pink vivid diamond, David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division in Europe and the Middle East, called it “one of the most remarkable gems to ever appear at auction.”
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Sotheby's David Bennett says the diamond belongs in "the ranks of the earth's greatest natural treasures." He said "it was very rare to have vivid pink diamonds weighing only five carats, this 59.60 carat stone is simply off any scale." It is over twice the size of the 24.78-carat "Graff Pink" diamond that set the world auction record for $46.2m.

The gem, which was mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, has received the highest possible colour and clarity rating from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). It weighed 132.5 carats in the rough, and was cut and polished over a period of two years by Steinmetz Diamonds.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

World's most expensive coins

1343 Edward III florin - The Edward III double florin, known as a double leopard and with a face value of six shillings, was circulated from December 1343 until July 1344. It is only the third known surviving coin, with two others found in the River Tyne in 1857.

The coin sold for nearly £460,000 in 2010.
1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagle was a complicated design produced by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and proved too difficult for the U.S. Mint to make in commercial quantities, which led to the modification of the design.

Rather than remove anything of Saint-Gaudens’ design, Charles Barber, the Mint’s chief engraver, chose to strike the words “In God We Trust” from the coin. Congress exploded, and though the coin went through production, it’s now incredibly rare. 1907 Saint-Gaudens double eagle sold in 2002, for $6.6 million
The 1787 Brasher Doubloon. Ephraim Brasher was a talented goldsmith who petitioned New York State to mint a new set of coins in copper in 1787. But the state legislature didn’t want Brasher’s work, and didn’t want copper coins.

Brasher ignored the state’s decision and went ahead minting coins anyway, mostly in bronze—but a precious few in 22-carat gold. One of these was a doubloon bought by a Wall Street investment firm for $7.4 million in 2011.
The 1933 Double Eagle was pressed but never publicly released. Franklin D. Roosevelt barred anyone from owning gold in 1933 in an attempt to end the banking crisis wracking the U.S. at the time. At least twenty slipped through. The coins circulated among collectors for several years before the Secret Service became aware of their existence.

During the first year of the investigation seven coins were seized or voluntarily turned in to the Secret Service and were subsequently destroyed at the mint; an eighth coin was recovered the following year and met the same fate. A tenth coin was recovered and destroyed in 1952. After a legal challenge a coin was sold at auction for $7,590,020.00
The 1794/5 Flowing hair silver/copper dollar was the first dollar coin issued by the U.S. Federal Government. In 1794 and 1795 this 10 percent copper, 90 percent silver dollar was minted by the newly-founded U.S. Federal Mint, and its famous bust of Liberty with flowing tresses. In January 2013, a 1794 dollar was sold for $10 million.



Friday, 15 November 2013

The Marange diamond fields, Zimbabwe

The "Marange" is the name of a vast diamond field in eastern Zimbabwe. It is about the size of the German capital Berlin and in its depths huge deposits of diamonds lie waiting to be discovered. Many experts believe it to be the largest diamond field in the world. This year alone, the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) expects to extract diamonds weighing some 17 million carats.

In terms of carats produced, the Marange field is the largest diamond producing project in the world.
Now Zimbabwe can again sell its precious stones to buyers in Europe. In September the European Union (EU) lifted sanctions imposed on the ZMDC for its alleged involvement in acts contrary to to democracy in the southern African nation.

The embargo on Zimbabwe's national mining corporation was imposed by the EU in the wake of brutal attacks by security forces against members of the opposition after the 2008 presidential election.
Five years later, the EU's foreign ministers have now said the embargo can be lifted – even though election observers from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) expressed severe doubts about the credibility of parliamentary elections held in Zimbabwe in July this year.
The EU has also spoken of democratic deficits in Zimbabwe but the bloc's foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann says there have also been some small improvements.

The EU wants to encourage Zimbabwe to undertake economic reforms so that the population as a whole also benefits from the trade in diamonds. So far, ordinary Zimbabweans have seen little of the revenue. The country's economy is in a poor state and many people do not have enough to eat. The UN World Food Program estimates that 2.2 million Zimbabweans will rely on international food aid in the coming months.


http://www.dw.de/zimbabwean-diamonds-set-to-return-to-the-european-market/a-17198729
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