By WendyB The New Republic magazine celebrated its 100th birthday with a big dinner in Washington, D.C., last night and MrB and I were invited. Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker and, during the cocktail hour, Bill popped up few feet away from us where he was immediately besieged by hand-shakers and photo-takers. As the party organizers […] >> READ MORE <<
Spinel – this largely underrated gemstone has slowly been making a name for itself over the last few years by showing off its most beautiful shades of red, pink, purple and blue and shaking off its unfortunate past.
Misunderstood for centuries, it wasn’t until technical advances in gem identification in the 19th Century, that Spinel was truly recognised as a gem in its own right, totally distinct from the rubies it was commonly mistaken for. Historically referred to as Balas Rubies, many of these stones are now known to be Spinel. One of the most famous examples can be found in our own Crown Jewels, the 170ct centrepiece of the Imperial State Crown long referred to as the ‘Black Prince’s Ruby’ is in fact an irregular shaped, smooth polished Spinel.
Earrings in white gold & copper, conch pearls, spinels,
and ring in silver, white gold, grey purple spinel, spinels both by Hemmerle
The ancient mines of Badakhshan, on the famous Silk Road trade route between Asia and Europe are credited with the historical supply of these beautiful gems. Said to have been discovered around the 7th century AD when an earthquake bought them to light, these mines produced spectacular large crystals that were highly prized and sought after.
An Edwardian Spinel Diamond Ring available on 1st Dibs
Today you have a wide range of choice for Spinel hunting from the lush green paddy fields of Burma, where mining and trading is often a family affair to the wide open plains of Tanzania. Maybe a trek into the misty mountains of Vietnam takes your fancy. None are easily accessible however, but then what did you expect!
An Imperial Mughal Spinel necklace sold by Christies in 2011
The Mughal rulers of India are well known for their love and appreciation of fine gems and Spinels were one of their favourites. An exceptional necklace recently sold by Christie’s (above) featured eleven such stones, weighing a total of 1,131.59cts. It was not uncommon for Emperors to engrave their names on particularly valuable gems and one of these Spinels shows the names of three successive rulers. As the stone passed down the generations from father to son, each added their name as it came into their possession.
Two rings from Louis Vuitton Voyage dans le Temps collection featuring a 8.66ct
blue spinel from Vietnam and a red spinel from Tanzania.
A recent and somewhat unlikely champion of the Spinel is Louis Vuitton who used it as one of the stars of its 2013 high jewellery collection (above). Artist jewellers who revel in the more unusual coloured >> READ MORE <<
By WendyB Thanks to NME for reminding me that Nirvana recorded its MTV Unplugged special in New York on Nov. 18, 1993 — 21 years ago today. As I’ve said before, I was there, sitting next to Kate Moss in the front, due to my friend Frank, who was shooting the still photography for show. You can […] >> READ MORE <<