Coloured Gemstones

Coloured Gemstones

Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald and their Colourful Siblings

668 Objects
Antique Jewellery with Coloured Gemstones

he classic triad of gems – the red ruby, the green emerald and the sapphire with its range of colour variations – were a true sensation at any point in history. Other gemstones have experienced preferences that have fluctuated over time. In the years around 1830, for example, many rings, pendant and necklaces densely set with turquoise were created in Great Britain. The bright sky blue of this stone became a veritable fad that was soon to disappear again. At the same time, Alexandrite was discovered in Russia and named after the successor to the throne, later Tsar Alexander II. The iridescent stone changes its colour between red-violet and green depending on light and was until that time unknown. It’s still considered to be one of the most precious stones today.

Due to its own impressive wealth of colour, Alexandrite is often set as a solitaire. Other gemstones reveal their most beautiful light only when combined with different stones. In the 18th century, the fashion of the Giardinetti ring offered a range of possibilities for this. Small bouquets of shining flowers decorated the fingers of the ladies in Rococo Europe. In this composition, the emeralds represent the leaves and the rubies and sapphires portray the colourful flowers along with a variety of other stones.

In the 19th century, gemstones often bore specific messages. For jewellery gifted as a sign of friendship, gemstones were arranged next to one another so that short words could be read from the first letters of the stones’ names. Popular examples are “amitié”, “adore” or “dearest” (Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire and Tourmalines). 

At the turn of the last century, the champions of women’s suffrage chose jewellery with gemstones to represent their ideals, too. Green, white and violet were not meant to express hope, purity and dignity anymore, but their own most pressing demand: “Give Women Vote”. In this way, jewellery made of amethyst, peridot and diamond of this time continues to remind us of the suffragettes’ lively struggle for equality.