Tag Archives: jewels

Cursed Jewelry!

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Zounds!  We once (daringly) took a look at the world’s most notoriously cursed diamonds.  As the creepiest month of the year is upon us yet again, it’s time to broaden our spooky horizons and investigate some more infamously bedeviled jewelry items.  Behold, the conclusive list of cursed gems, jinxed gold and other ghostly rocks.

The Delhi Purple Sapphire 

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Everything about this dastardly stone is shrouded in mystery and conflicting lore…including it’s name.  It isn’t really a sapphire, rather it’s a piece of super high grade amethyst masquerading as the violent violet/precious cerulean gem.  Legend has it that the allegedly sacred stone was one of the many pieces that were pilfered from the Temple of Indra in Cawnpore, India.  The ransacking of this holy place occurred during the Indian Mutiny (one of many) in 1857.  Much like all of the sacrosanct artifacts that Indiana Jones was seeking, this gem turned evil after it was removed from it’s temple – and became determined to exact revenge on all of the successive heathens who would ever come in contact with it.  The first person to feel the wrath of the Delhi Purple was Colonel W. Ferris, the very man who transported it to England.  Soon after completing the voyage, he lost his entire fortune.  Having hardly a quid to his name, he passed the vile stone down to his son.  And guess what?  This unfortunate heir went bankrupt shortly after as well.  After a family friend, who was holding the stone for a spell, just up and flung himself off a bridge, the Ferris clan knew they had to be rid of it.

The next person to be plagued by the gem was Edward Heron-Allen, a thriving scribe at the time who bought the nefarious stone on a whim.  After a series of unfortunate events, Heron-Allen made the oh-so-generous gesture of trying to give it away to several of his pals.  Each one of these chums would give the stone back to him (probably cursing Heron-Allen under their breath) after their luck turned to excrement.  One example: a singer who, after only possessing the stone for a short while, completely lost her voice and would never to able to utter a single note again.  ‘Not-So-Fast’ Eddie then took the accursed rock and heaved it into the gloomy Regent’s Canal and watched it sink to the murky depths, finally relived to be rid of it.  …Or so he thought.  Nay, a few months later a jeweler, who knew the memorable stone belonged to Heron-Allen, came upon the jewel and sought out its rightful owner.  He gave it to him with a smile (likely expecting a reward), only to watch Edward’s face turn ghost-white.

Heron-Allen would then get the bright idea to send it to the Natural History Museum of London.  He did not want it displayed, rather kept hidden away, until three years after his death (guess he thought harm could still come to him after he was dead for two years?)  The stone’s dark power seems to be subsiding somewhat, as people who have been charged with transporting it have not died or befallen horrible fates as of late, other than a couple of intense snowstorms and debilitating flus.  In a somewhat ironic turn, the last person to move the stone was bequeathed with a horrible stone of his own during its stewardship: a kidney stone.

The Lydian Hoard

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The nomenclature of this treasure collection just doesn’t conjure up pleasant thoughts, does it?  A conglomeration of golden pieces, ranging from wearable jewelry to pots, plates, pans and other forms of regal cutlery, this heavy load of loot once belonged to King Croesus.  He reigned over Lydia from 560 to 547 BC (Lydia is the western portion of modern day Turkey).  His epic rule came to an abrupt end when a Persian King, Cyrus the Great, dethroned him (certainly Croesus didn’t think he was all that great).  It is uncertain if the curse on this gold began right after Croesus was so unceremoniously check-mated, as its whereabouts were largely unknown for roughly the next 2,500 years.  In 1965, Villagers who were poking about in the ground of Güre (a small town in the Uşak section of Turkey) stumbled upon the tomb of an anonymous Lydian Princess.  After yanking it open, they were delighted to find a shimmering expanse of golden goodies.  They probably weren’t too delighted once an ensuing havoc and ubiquitous madness were unleashed.  There were 150 prized relics extracted from the tomb, and each and every person who took part in the purloining of the gold would fall victim to a terrible fate.  Disease, famine and death spread through the village like a rapacious and conscious wildfire.  Whether the malevolent forces contained in the gold were avenging the death of Croesus or the unidentified, entombed Princess is unsure, but one thing is for certain; don’t buy any discount golden dinner-wear while visiting Turkey.

Black Prince’s Ruby

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Yet again, another doom spreading gem with an incorrectly assigned title; it’s a spinel, not a ruby.  Weighing in at 170 carats, it’s hard to miss this precious stone (which is a good thing, because it wants to kill you).  Much like its deep red hue, the gem’s past is quite bloody in tone.  Its first appearance in the record books came thanks to Spanish King Pedro of Castile (known to his buddies as “Pedro the Cruel”), when he murdered the original guardian of the stone in 1367.  Severely needing the help of Edward, the Prince of Whales, Mr. Cruel gave the Brit the dazzling crimson stone as payment.  Edward was known as the Black Prince because he wore all-black-everything armor.  The stone’s curse was unleashed at this point, as ole Pedro would die at the hands of his own brother not long after (apparently a real dysfunctional Cain/Abel relationship there).  Nevertheless, Eddie the Black transported the gem to England and it became a part of the royal crown jewels.  It mysteriously survived the epic shakedown that Charles I’s empire underwent at the power hungry hands of Oliver Cromwell.  Charles the First would lose his crown, his whole head actually, yet the gem curiously lived on.  A man – coincidentally named Colonel James Blood – would attempt to snatch the stone from the London Tower, only to meet his own bloody fate…  (well, he supposedly survived, but barely.)

La Peregrina Pearl

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Pearls look so pure and innocent, don’t they?  One would never suspect that they could be responsible for the utter devastation of an entire royal family.  Well, that seemingly is the case with the La Peregrina Pearl.  Translated from Spanish to “The Pilgrim,” this massive creme colored orb has left a wake of shattered dreams and tainted memories in its past (much like many a pilgrim).  When Phillip II of Spain was set to marry the Queen of England, one Mary Tudor, in 1554, everything was going as smoothly as, ahem, a pearl.  In fact, the whole world seemed as if it were their oyster – that is, until Phillip gave the recently discovered pearl to his betrothed as a wedding present.  Phillip suddenly changed his newlywed mind about Mary (she now repulsed him), and he set sail for what was only supposed to be a 3 hour tour…  He was scarcely seen again by his once beloved, and she died a few years later.  Keeping the evil bulb in his possession, Phillip would marry two more unlucky dames, who would befall similarly horrific ends.  These women were both meant to be brides to Phillip’s heir, Carlos, but the poor boy was stricken with insurmountable mental and physical issues.  Phillip’s clan was known as the “Spanish Hapsburgs,” and by the time the 18th century had rolled around, they were completely wiped out by voracious maladies.  History attributes this to excessive inbreeding amongst said royalty (kissin’ cousins syndrome), but many believe the family’s downfall to have been spurred on by the poisonous pearl.  This prized artifact would eventually be given to Elizabeth Taylor as a wedding present, and we all know how her marriages ended… Perhaps, as the pearl was formed, in the mouth of a mollusk under the inky sea, some dismal energy became trapped inside; ensconced in numerous coats of invertebrate mucus.  We’ll never truly know for sure…but probably best to avoid purchasing any gigantic vintage pearls on eBay.

At the end of the day, all some people want is a beautiful gem to call their very own…just be careful what you wish for.

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-Joe Leone 

Famous Diamonds: the B-List

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Most people are familiar with the Hope Diamond, the Taylor-Burton and the Tiffany Diamond.  Each of these top billed stones have widely known tales that accompany their easily recognizable names.  This is primarily a result of their massive sizes, distinguished cuts and stunning interior qualities (or just really good publicists).  There are, however, a whole legion of just-under-the-radar diamonds with dynamic yarns to tell.  Here are a few of the more memorable stones to grace the international gem stage and dazzle us with their brilliance.  …Only from the slighter cheaper seats.

Deepdene Diamond – one would assume that this monstrous stone (weighing in at 104.88 carats) would have garnered a little more positive press over the years.  However, its reputation is tainted with more infamy than fame.  A wealthy couple by the name of the Boks were the first people to possess the diamond; they eventually sold it off to diamond jeweler juggernaut Harry Winston.  As with many massive gems, it changed hands a few more times, galavanting through various regions of Europe and eventually landing in Germany.  It then went up for auction at the esteemed Christie’s house and was relinquished to the highest Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-yellow-stonebidder: Van Cleef & Arpels.  Imagine their chagrin when, after having the diamond evaluated and tested, it was revealed that it underwent irradiation (the ‘fake tanning’ of the diamond world).  Indeed, it’s lovely yellow hue was fabricated.  VC&A got a refund on the canary stone and now it resides…somewhere.  Yes, that’s right; it’s missing.  The issue of “How do you lose a 104 carat anything?” may be the most pressing question yet regarding this mysterious gem, which makes this list primarily for its ‘fake bake’ qualities.

Eureka Diamond – much like being the first person to comment on an Instagram pic or tweet about something that Millennials find noteworthy, this gem is known simply because it was the first diamond discovered in South Africa.  Achieving pioneer status in a country now synonymous with diamonds has got to be worth something, right?  The stone is not that huge; it’s a 10.73 ct, ‘smoky cut.’  The diamond made its first public appearance in 1867 at the world renowned Paris Exhibition.  Prior to that it had been sitting in the desk drawer of Erasmus Jacobs, the young gentleman who found this thing in the dirt and presumably decried “Eureka!”

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The Grand Duke of Tuscany – aside from having the name of an Italian nobleman, this diamond is not necessarily that regal in nature and comes with quite the politically polarized past.  Once quantified at a whopping 137.27 carats, it seems odd (yet again) that it would eventually disappear into thin air.  The original legend associated with this stone is that it belonged to the famed Medici family; Ferdinando II de’ Medici, to be Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-Grand-Duke-of-Tuscanyspecific, who held the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany (a rather modest moniker).  It would eventually make its way to Austria during the 19th century.  As the Austrian empire crumbled at the tail end of World War I, the diamond was smuggled into the conveniently neutral Switzerland by the fleeing Imperial family.  Sometime during 1918 the precious yellow/green stone was purloined and has yet to turn up again.  Conjecture that it now resides in either South Africa or the USA is simply that.  Odds are in favor that it was cut up into a bunch of more diminutive stones, to avoid detection; a fancy yellow diamond engagement ring in your possession just may be a descendant of this once lusted after gemstone (…but most likely not, don’t be insane).

The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond – brown diamonds have seen an ebb and flow in popularity since their initial discovery.  This florally named stone is no exception, and with a beautiful pear cut (at the hands of noted New Yawk City cutters S&M Kaufman) and hefty 104 carat weight, it only stands to reason that it’s a genuine B-Lister because its brown hue is just not all that desirable.  This lovely dirt/excrement colored stone is stashed away somewhere in a private collection, its certain whereabouts unknown.

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Hortensia Diamond – deriving its nomenclature from the dashing Dutch queen who donned the stone, Hortense de Beauharnais, this diamond has been in royal hands for the better part of its natural life.  In the possession of Marie Antoinette for a spell, it was removed from her around the time things were falling apart in France …when she just seemed to lose her head.  A random dude named Depeyron pilfered the pretty pink gem Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-pink-heart-stoneand was about to undergo a similar fate when he blurted out where it was stashed before they freed his face from the rest of his body.  Later, the lilliputian despot Napoleon would favor the diamond and wear it attached to his cute little outfits.  The stone, when compared to others of note, is relatively small; 20 carats – but is still talked about because of its involvement in many historic milestones.  It’s also got a huge crack in it, further securing its second-rate fame status.

The Incomparable Diamond – having a name like this, you’d think this gold toned Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-golden-stonediamond would be more widely known.  It really isn’t an ironic or exaggerated tag either, as it held the title of 4th biggest uncut diamond for a significant while.  In the mid-1980’s, with Reaganomics and Devo surging, the stone was cut down to a triangular/oval shape, retaining a still staggering weight of 407.48 carats.  This golden goose egg then experienced a PR blunder that would forever tarnish its previously brilliant reputation.  In 2002, it strangely debuted on eBay.  It’s listed reserve price of 15 million quid would go unmet, permanently cementing this colossal and unfortunately undesired diamond into the B-List.

Nizam Diamond – here’s another diamond that had great potential to become one of the world’s most recognizable, but lost status because it, well, became lost.  At one point this was India’s pride and joy, with uniquely cut irregular facets and a thunderous 277 carat measurement.  The notoriously nifty Nizam family held the diamond for generations, but during the tumultuous wartime of the 1830’s, the gorgeous stone pulled a Keyser Soze and vanished forever.

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via wikipedia.org
via wikipedia.org

The Ocean Dream – sometimes size does matter.  This diamond should have experienced a lot more fame due to it being truly one of a kind.  It is the only naturally occurring Blue-Green diamond ever discovered anywhere in the galaxy (*Mars results still pending).  Radiation from the earth’s core, which cooked this guy for millions of earth-years, are the root of its world renown color.  The only problem?  It weighs in at 5.51 Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-blue-green-stonescarats; hardly a weight class anyone cares about – thus turning the Ocean Dream into a publicity nightmare.  While aesthetically inspiring, it seems it may also have been carelessly named, as its moisture invoking title, if you really think about it, sounds a bit naughty.

Rob Red Diamond – fancy vivid red diamonds are the rarest diamonds that exist; so why isn’t the fanciest, most vivid, reddest diamond ever discovered the most famous?  One simple answer; the Rob Red was born to a similar fate as the Ocean Dream – it’s tiny.  In fact, it’s about one-tenth the size of the Dream, measured at 0.59 carats.  Hardly a blip on the radar of the gem appreciating public, who ravenously crave ginormous stones, this diamond is quite highly regarded in the somewhat insular world of diamond professionals.  There it is viewed as a true and natural work of art (bottom line; unless you’re a gemologist or jeweler, this Red is Robbed of fame).

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Spirit of de Grisogono Diamond – why in the Savior’s name is this diamond not on the A-list?  It’s the largest black diamond ever produced; originally mined in South Africa with a weight of 587 carats, and finally cut down in Switzerland to 312.24 ct.  This singularly splendorous gemstone needs to immediately get the recognition it so sorely deserves.  Please Snapchat your congressperson.

via pinterest.com
via pinterest.com

The Lesser Star of AfricaCullinan II ) – well it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this diamond is a B-Lister; just its name alone condemned it to a lifetime of mediocrity.  Known as the ‘sister stone’ to the Star of Africa (that has to be demeaning), this 317.40 ct stunner would have been an actual star in its own right if it didn’t have to play Jan Brady to the substantially larger Cullinan 1 (530.20 ct).  Family dynamics can be rough.

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Tereschenko Diamond – this comely Cold War relic was most likely relegated to B-list classification due to its communist roots.  Belonging to the Russian Tereschenko clan, this 42.92 carat fancy blue stone was just rolling around loose until 1915, when Cartier delicately placed it into a necklace for the family.  Too bad the Russian Revolution was Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-blue-stone-necklacejust around the corner, and none of the pretty Tereschenko comrades got a chance to wear the new sparkling cerulean jewelry.  It was spirited out of Russia, to prevent it from becoming stolen, and sold to an unnamed collector.  It randomly resurfaced in 1984 at a Christie’s auction and sold to hotshot Saudi collector Robert Mouawad (a big name in diamond hoarding) for 4.5 million rubles, er, dollars.  That’s the last anyone has heard of the Tereschenko.  До свидания (goodbye) fame!

-Joe Leone

Recent (and Insane) Jewelry & Cash Heists

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This has been quite a year in the world of high stakes jewelry heists.  All over the globe, from right here in NYC’s Diamond District to the luxury boutiques of London to Thai airports to Mom ‘n Pop Shops in the Midwest, jewel thieves have been striking with reckless abandon.  The caliber of gem pilferers have ranged from highly successful and calculating posses, like the infamous Pink Panthers, to renegade solo stealers, like a particular femme fatale who has been on quite the tear as of late – and is currently wanted in several US states.

What has lead to this dramatic increase in dangerous, violent and unfortunately lucrative jewel crimes?  Are these new age criminals utilizing technology to figure out the security patterns of jewelry stores with deadly precision, and seeing this as a way to make ‘easy money?’  Have international economic woes contributed to people seeking innovative and coincidentally illegal methods for obtaining cash?  Is it somehow Trump’s fault??  Not ruling out any of these options, it really is hard to say with any certain degree of accuracy what is the true root cause.  One thing is for sure; many of these elite larcenies have been hair-raising, to say the least.  Here we take a look at some of the more jaw-dropping-ly fascinating tales of jewel and dough poaching that have occurred over the last few years.

Diamonds of Anarchy 

London’s Brent Cross Mall, 2012.  A fairly standard autumn morning in homogenized British shopping.  Then…half a dozen masked (helmeted) motorcycle men (presumably from Hades) rode INTO a jewelry store on the second floor of the shopping complex and proceeded to wreak havoc.  They smashed the jewelry containers with bats and axes and grabbed whatever they could carry in their avaricious mitts.  Riding two to a bike, the loot snatchers jumped back on their partners’ backs and blazed out of there to freedom.  After all was said and stolen, 3.1 million dollars in Rolex and Cartier watches, along with sundry loose diamonds and gems (and even a few sale items) were gone forever.  All the police were able to turn up in the ensuing investigation were the motorcycles themselves, which had been stolen and were left abandoned in a golf course not far from the mall.  The motorcycle gang, or “club” as Jax Teller would say, remain at large to this day.

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Couldn’t Belieb their Own Eyes 

In May of 2013, a truly pop-tastic heist occurred.  Technically, no jewelry was stolen, but the amount of plundered cash (half a mil) is enough to raise an eyebrow or two.  More importantly, is the venue where this caper went down: FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Thousands of adoring fans were rocking out to arguably one of the greatest musical talents of our time – heck, of EVER.  That’s right; the Bieb.  While the concert raged on, and many a tween girl wept with hormonally confused ecstasy, a cadre of supplemental security guards (hired just for this epic event) were chainsawing or exploding or god-only-knows-what-ing a two foot concrete floor which gave way to where all the cash from the night’s revelry was stored.  The thieves then high tailed it out of there before the final, haunting refrain of “If I Was Your Boyfriend” was even sung.

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Cannes Not Believe this Happened 

When one thinks of the city of Cannes, nestled on the coast of the French Riviera, images of film festival opulence and extravagant vacations come to mind.  A lone dude in a “baseball cap and scarf” toting a handgun who is somehow able to steal 136 million dollars in gems, watches and baguettes from the extra fancy Carlton International Hotel is probably not what you would picture.  However, that is precisely what went down in 2013 at the famed location.  The reason all these valuables were just hanging around the hotel was because Lev Avnerovich Leviev, an Israelite with billions of shekels to his name, had them on display there, in a “private salon.”  Too bad the paltry guards assigned to watch said watches and jewels were not trained to deal with an actual robbery (also, they had no guns themselves).  So, the solitary fellow strolled over with his pistol, politely asked for the goods and said “au revoir.”  Ironic twist: this hotel is where Hitchcock’s 1955 hit “To Catch a Thief” was filmed.

…This thief has not been caught.

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Putting Seniors to Work 

This past May, London’s premier jewelry district, Hatton Garden (a name befitting a location out of “Great Expectations”) felt a little bit of a squeeze.  One of the area’s  “safest” safety deposit vaults was expertly invaded and drained of 300 million dollars worth of jewels and pounds.  Aside from the staggeringly high amount of quid that was snatched, what makes this case so intriguing is the age of the robbers.  The youngest man, out of the nine suspects, was 48, and the most senior was 76.  They tunneled their way into the vault, carving out a perfectly cylindrical hole just wide enough to fit presumably the thinnest member of the elder gang.  Ultimately, all nine of the thieves were apprehended, which confirms the theory that older people may have the wisdom to pull off a heist of this magnitude, but probably aren’t that particularly great at running away from the police.

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One Bold Babe

The Eastern Seaboard has very recently fallen prey to one daring and dazzling dame.  The unidentified woman has hit three states thus far: South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (appears this larcenous lady has an affinity for beachy locales).  In all of the accounts, she has allegedly overpowered all the workers, zip-tied ‘em up and made off with thousands of dollars in jewels.  The FBI has stepped in and vows to take immediate action (but if anything can be learned from watching the ‘X-Files,’ it’s that the FBI is not always adept at getting to the truth…even if it really is out there).  Surveillance footage of the woman depicts a tough and attractive individual (possibly similar to Gina Gershon’s character in the film “Bound”), but the police sketch of her makes her look like Carmen San Diego.

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via CNN.com
via CNN.com

Each day it seems at least one jewelry store is hit, somewhere on this vast planet of ours.  No one can say what exactly motivates these enterprising thieves (aside from the obvious: money), or if they will slow down any time soon.  All we can do is hope that no one is injured in any way in these robberies, that the victims are fully insured…and that the stories continue to be this juicy.

-Joe Leone    

Comely Jewelry Terms

(starting with “C”)

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Here it is: Part III of our super informative and fun collection of fancy jewelry phrases.

Cabochon – (sounds like “Cabbage Shawn”) – stemming from the French word for “knob,” what this connotes is a gem that is ‘domed’ (not “doomed”), meaning the top is rounded and silky smooth.  Like a wondrously sleek egg, a cabochon formed stone holds unlimited potential, with nary a facet to hold it back.

Cairngorm – is a brownish citrine quartz that hails from the Cairngorm Mountains in the land of haggis and Ewan McGregor fans.  Found throughout history in typical Scottish jewelry, like kilt buckles, naturally.  You can take their land, but you can never take their Cairngorm.

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Calibré – yes, this is a highly popular font style, but it also refers to gemstones that are cut in a very deliberate way to fit into a particular mounting design.  For instance, if you wanted a Pikachu shaped engagement ring, you would need several calibré yellow diamonds to complete the elegant piece.

Cameo – in addition to being the type of appearance you make at less than desirable friends’ birthday parties, cameos are lovely and intricately carved works of art.  Dating back to the ancient times, before Instagram, cameos were used to depict scenes or selfies, by carving into gemstones or various other precious materials.  The technical term for jewelry with this type of design is “glyptograph,” but that just sounds like one of those excessively expensive calculators.

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Cannetille – What was the most desirable jewelry design style during 1827?  Well, cannetille. Obvi.  This is a highly sophisticated way of structuring settings, so that complicated and baroque patterns can be achieved (similar to filigreed).  Some such patterns include: curls, webs, snakes, floral shapes, seashell motifs, squiggly things and momma’s spaghetti and meatballs.

Carbuncle – no, this is not an avuncular person that loves ingesting carbohydrates.  This is a type of garnet, with a rich purple, red red wine color.  Highly sought after during the Victorian era, carbuncle themed jewelry goes best with mauve hued Gothic Princess Ball Gowns – so if you have one of those, march into a jewelry shop and demand to know “Dude, where’s my carbuncle?”

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Cartouche – is a fashion of framework that encircles a primary jewel.  Often features elaborate and labyrinthine patterns (like the cannetille style!) and glorious glyphs.  Tip: If someone tries to impress you with a beautifully byzantine piece of jewelry, simply retort “Car-touché.”

Cat’s Eye (aka “Chatoyancy”) – is one of the coolest jewel-based things known to humanity.  It’s the mystical effect that light has on certain gems, whereby it reflects out and produces a vertical slit that eerily resembles a feline’s contracted pupil.  In order for this to occur, the gem must be cut and polished “en cabochon.”  Hence, if you’re crazy cat-lady aunt loses one of her furry beloveds, a thoughtful present would be two rings that exhibit Chatoyancy – that she can stare at and pet.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-jewelry-cat's-eyeCave Pearls – these guys almost didn’t make the list, because they are hardly ever used in jewelry – but they are ultra fancy nonetheless.  The term refers to “pearls” that form in underground limestone caves.  Water flowing over them naturally polishes the stones to a lovely luster, but they are so porous that they could crumble upon a firm squeeze.  Would make a great center stone for an engagement ring being given to someone who is highly unstable.

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Champlevé – is as sultry as it sounds.  Translated from the French “raised field,” this is an enameling process where a surface area (metal, bone, Play-Doh) is dug or etched into to form a design, which is then covered in a nice, thick layer of enamel.  Then the material is often thinned out from the other side, so light can somewhat penetrate through, like a très fancy Lite Brite.

Chatham – is a super scientific method of creating synthetic gemstones utilizing a smoldering medley of mixed minerals and molten materials – and, it’s an exotic archipelago off the coast of New Zealand – AND, a super boring town in upstate New York.

Chenier – not as glamorous as it sounds, but definitely a very useful item in jewelry construction.  It refers to the ‘hollow tubing’ that is employed in hinges, such as the ones found in bracelets, watches, secret lockets and Gramma’s antique “snuff box.”  Like a bird’s brittle bones, chenier is essential for some jewelry to truly take flight.

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Chiaroscuro – finally, a non-French term!  This phrase, in the geological sense, refers to the reciprocity of light and dark areas in gemstones.  It is derived from the Italian word “chiaro,” which means “clear,” and “oscuro,” which means “dark” or “Momma Mia, you burn-a the pasta sauce!”

Chute – this is a pearl necklace where every one of the pearls featured is of the identical size (except the little baby ones near the clasp – which prompts people to exclaim “Isn’t that chute?” upon seeing them).

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Châtelaine – has very intriguing origins.  The 1600’s saw the first popular inception of a chatelaine – which means “Lady of the Castle” in, oui, you guessed it, French.  It was simply a hook that attached to one’s belt, which housed the entire key collection for said castle (making the Lady of the Castle look like a janitor).  Over time, it evolved into a jewelry piece that held several chains, each with a different adornment hanging from it.  Like a modern day, functional charm bracelet, you could attach all sorts of ostentatious/useful items, like combs, looking glassses, writing tools, watches, vials of arsenic for the lurking and lascivious, and other such fun trinkets.

Clawed Collet – no, no Collet.  This is a type of ring mounting, where the main jewel is bezel set amongst a vast array of prongs, that serve to hold the stone securely in place.  Like a cougar clutching a valuable stone (either an actual cougar or the euphemism-kind).

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Commesso – an elaborate form of cameo, where finely cut gems meld with enameled gold, producing a three-dimensional and dynamic jewelry piece (different from a regular cameo which is just cut from a solitary chunk of stone or other material…how droll).  When finished assembling such delicate and beatific pieces, jewelers often shout “Commesso and get it!”

Croix a la Jeanette – this is a lovely pendant which was at the height of fashion during the mid 1800’s.  It’s a heart with a little crucifix hanging from it, and was quite possibly named for Janet Jackson (Ms. Jackson…if you’re nasty).

-Joe Leone 

Delightful Jewelry Terms

Terms starting with “D”

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Daguerreotype – combining science, fashion and technology, the daguerreotype is second only to the diamond encrusted Apple Watch in  the coolest inventions in the world of jewelry history category.  Developed in 1839 by French photographer/innovator/dawg, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, it’s a sort of photograph that would appear on a copper plate, after it was subject to host of potentially lethal chemicals.  Anything for fashion, dahling.

Damascene – is a method used to decorate a metal surface with gold or silver wire inlay in order to create a “scene,” or depiction of an event.  Initially popular in Asia, the Mid-East and eventually Europe, this style of artistry is credited with inspiring the first person to ever use the phrase “…You’re making a scene.”

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Decade Ring – should obviously be given as a present to someone every 17 years.  Thought to have been developed during the 1400’s, the decade ring has ten protrusions jutting out along the band.  These were used to keep track of the ten prayers Christians were supposed to say (like rosary beads), but also doubled as excellent bowling pin counters as well.

Demantoid – Sadly, no: this is not a demented demon humanoid.  This is a gemstone that had quite the time finding its own identity.  Initially mistook for peridot and a host of other greenish sparklers upon its discovery, it was eventually deemed demantoid (which means “diamond-like” or “Shines bright, but only like a diamond.”)

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Diaperwork – …now that doesn’t sound that fancy at all… This term is applied to a style of patterning where interlocking shapes are repeated over and over in an alternating manner (to oversimplify it).  This can achieve an intricately beautiful effect, and, it should be noted, will never not sound funny.

Diaphaneity – refers to the way that light passes through an object.  A degree of scientific complications only rivaled by the amount to syllables in this word, there are three basic forms of diaphaneity; opacity, translucency and transparency (this last one isn’t a reference to a parent that has elected to switch genders).

Dichroism – is a doubly daring and dazzling dance of light!  When light refracts out of a gemstone in two different shades (when viewed at varying angles), this is the phenomena of dichroism.  It’s like getting a ‘2 for1’ special at the disco ball store.

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Difficulta – is exactly what it sounds like; hard.  It’s a fairly esoteric term applied to the action undertaken by artists who attempt to create new forms, but the execution of said forms is increasingly difficult to achieve.  A lot of Renaissance artists strove to master this, but its popularity died down as people became lazier with each generation.  A modern Renaissance of this kind is taking place in the fast-paced and illegal world of Graffiti Art.

Dog Collar (Collier de Chien) – answers the age old question in the jewelry world of “Who let the dogs out?”  This type of close fitting necklace became all the rage during the Edwardian period, as Queen Alexandra was always seen wearing a one that featured multiple strands of pearls (allegedly because she had a gnarly scar on her neck – possibly from a vampire attack?)

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Doublet – is the name given to a tricky little, partially fabricated gemstone made up of two components.  Typically, the top (crown) will be an authentic stone (of a lower quality), which is then slapped on top of a brilliant, synthetic bottom (pavilion), thus producing a wondrous (yet falsely achieved) sparkle.  Doublets are the Wonder Bra of the jewel world.

Doublé d’or – this just denotes a piece of jewelry that is “gold plated,” but since it is in French it sounds fancy and not tawdry, like it truly is.  “Plating” is essentially the technique of painting an alloyed gold substance on to a plain ole, base metal, thereby deceiving the onlooker into thinking that you are indeed a fancy-pants.

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Druse – when you view the inside of a large crystal or geode and see a jagged layer of smaller crystals jutting out all over the place, this is said to be druse.  Druse can make for an interesting accent to a jewelry piece, or as a really sharp and painful loofah replacement, in a pinch.

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Dull Lustre – while this is clearly an oxymoron, it is a very specific term that describes the type of ‘partial shine’ given off by ivory.  It’s no coincidence that if one purchases newly acquired ivory jewelry, which is derived from endangered animals, they are themselves are a ‘dullard.’

-Joe Leone