Beverly R Blog

The craftsmanship found in the imaginative arrangement of precious stones, metals, and natural materials, found in antique jewelry has had a universal appeal since earliest times. Antique jewelry has been worn for many reasons apart from just enhancing natural beauty. It has been worn as status symbols, as religious talismans, for memorial of loved ones, displays of affection to name just a few.

In this blog on antique jewelry, instead of looking at the different types of vintage jewelry, we are going to look at the four main precious gemstones used in antique jewelry. They are of course: diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald.

In the history throughout the years of antique jewelry, of the precious gems, rubies were regarded as objects of superstition, because being red they are the color of blood. For antique jewelers emeralds because of their green color have been treated wearily, and  blue Sapphire, in antique jewelry they believed could either bring bad or good luck, but the wearer would not know which until they had been worn.

But let us start by looking what through history has been the most valuable gemstone used in both antique, vintage and contemporary jewelry; the diamond.

Diamonds are pure carbon crystals, it is the hardest substance known to man, its main color is white, although it does occur very rarely in other colors, and these properties enabled the makers of antique jewelry to produce fascinating and exciting designs.

Diamonds though the most expensive, are also the most common of the precious gemstones used in antique jewelry, as in many cultures the diamond was the emblem of love and fearlessness. This is why traditionally throughout the ages, diamonds have been used in antique engagement rings, because along with their natural brilliance and adamantine luster, they stand out, and go with any outfit or any other pieces of jewelry the wearer might have. At Beverley R Antique Jewelry, we have the largest collection of original Victorian, Edwardian & Art Deco antique engagement rings in Chicago from the time period, as opposed to those who carry just the style reproductions or inspired copies of the antique rings. A small selection of these antique engagement rings, and other pieces of antique jewelry can be seen on our website, with many more to be found in the store.

Next the Ruby, which is probably the rarest of the four main precious gemstones, and is red in color. In antique jewelry from many cultures rubies have always had superstition attached to them, because they are the color of blood. In the antique jewelry from the Far East, where they were mainly found were considered to protect the wearer from evil forces and illness.

The finest rubies are considered to come from the mines in the Mogok area of Burma. The stones from this area used in antique jewelry are of a beautiful bright red color, which is often referred to as 'pigeon's blood' red. Pictured below are some of the pieces of antique ruby jewelry that can be found at Beverley R.

Emeralds are green in color, and they belong to the gem species called Beryl, which also includes the gemstone aquamarine. In antique jewelry there was a certain superstition  attached among some, because of their green color, and even now in contemporary jewelry some still consider them as unlucky. Although emeralds are a hard stone, they are brittle, because their atomic structure has a fracture property, and are notorious in that they always show inclusion. For those of you wanting to purchase a piece of emerald antique jewelry, be very suspicious of a completely inclusion free stone, as this is extremely rare in natural gemstones, but much more common in synthetic emerald that have been used in reproduction of antique jewelry. For myself when purchasing antique emerald jewelry, always want it to be as 'clean' or inclusion free as possible, but I always like to see something, as it tells be it is a natural stone.

The finest Emeralds are considered to come from the Muzo mines in Colombia, and are a lush blue/green color. Again pictured below are some Emerald pieces of Antique jewelry to be found at Beverley R.

Lastly Sapphires, which belong to the Corundum family, as do rubies. Sapphires are best known for their blue color, but in fact occur in almost every color possible, more than any other gemstone, if memory serve me correctly it is either 61 or 63 different colors.

Blue Sapphires, however were particularly popular in western antique jewelry. Of all the precious gems, even the finest color of Sapphires can be found in larger sizes, with stones in excess of 60 carats, appearing in different pieces of antique jewelry. Sapphires can also be found in many parts of the world, but the finest are considered to come from Kashmir, and then Burma. It is interesting to note that in antique engagement rings, after diamond, sapphire was the most popular gemstone used, as the blue color along with being vary pretty, also goes with a lot of other colors.

Pictured below is a selection of Sapphire antique, vintage and Art Deco pieces that can be found at Beverley R Antique Jewelry in Chicago.

1/ Art Deco Emerald cut diamond 2.86 cts. 'G' color Vs clarity set in platinum circa. 1920


2/ Victorian 5 Stone Ruby 'Half Hoop' ring in 18kt. gold, circa. 1890


3/ Art Deco'/1940's Emerald & Diamond cluster in Platinum and Gold circa. 1935/40


4/ Art Deco Platinum Sapphire and Diamond ring, circa. 1930