Wednesday Wonders: Lovely and Rare

Welcome to Wednesday Wonders, yet another chance for us to peek into the UMFA’s seldom seen collection of fine jewelry. And today shall not disappoint!

So far in this series we’ve glimpsed several incredible pieces, and got a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how these fascinating works of art are cared for. Today we’re highlighting just a few pieces in the UMFA’s collection that are particularly rare, or particularly lovely.

Lady's Star Sapphire Ring.  Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

Lady’s Star Sapphire Ring. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

The star sapphire stone in the star sapphire ring [pictured above]  is one of the more unusual pieces in the collection. A star sapphire is a type of sapphire that exhibits a star-like phenomenon known as asterism, which occurs when a reflective area of a gem fractures light into the shape of a star. At 32 carats, the stone has no imperfections and when looking directly at it, one can see the reflection of light that creates the “star” of the stone.

A sapphire is a member of the corundum family–a red corundum is commonly known as a ruby, while all other varieties (and there are many!) are called sapphires.

But wait! There’s more!

The UMFA also has a very lovely set of earrings, a ring, a bracelet, brooch and necklace made out of Australian black opals, white gold, and diamonds [set to follow].

Ring Opal and Diamonds; Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

Opal and diamond ring; Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

While not necessarily rare, opals are particularly interesting, visually speaking, and it should be noted that this set contains close to 102 carats of opal.

Opal and diamond necklace; Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

Opal and diamond necklace; Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

While there are several non-precious varieties of opal (milk, resin, wood), precious opals such as fire and black are capable of expressing in their sheen every color in the visible spectrum. This is due to their internal structure of silica spheres some 150 to 300 nanometers in diameter, which create hexagonal or cubic threads and lattice.

Opal and diamond brooch; Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

Opal and diamond brooch; Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles

An opal is a hydrated, amorphous (meaning non-crystalline) form of silica. It occurs at a relatively low temperature in the fissures of almost any kind of rock, being most commonly found with limonite, sandstone, rhyolite, marl, and basalt. It’s the national gemstone of Australia, and well-earned: Australia produced 97% of the world’s supply!

Opal and Diamond Bracelet. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

Opal and Diamond Bracelet. Bequest of Dolores Dore (Mrs. George S.) Eccles.

If that hasn’t satiated your opal craving, check this out: an opal that seems to contain the ocean! 

Keep checking back for more Wednesday Wonders, and, of course, for exciting information about the goings-on at the UMFA!

Advertisements

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: