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There is something about the redness of most rubies that really attracts attention. But, not all rubies are a rich red some of them are rather pink in colour. Flawless rubies which are the most desirable are rare and most sort after. The best rubies actually cost more than do diamonds of the same size and are exceeded in value only by emeralds.

Genuine rubies have tiny irregular inclusions. Synthetic rubies come with perfectly rounded bubbles in them and can be further identified by having striae in them rather than curved lines. Some so-called rubies are in fact red Spinel! Sometimes these not-rubies are known as “Balas Ruby or Ruby Spinel.”

Many colours of sapphires

Sapphires are available in a variety of colouring but never in red. They can be yellow, green, white, pink, purple, brown and black. The most popular however range from pale cornflower blue to a deep velvety-looking blue. Sapphires that are not blue are often referred to by jewellers as “fancy sapphires.” Some sapphires tend to change their colour in artificial lighting from that seen in daylight.

Other names given to sapphires can be “Oriental Topaz” for the yellow variety and “Oriental Amethyst” for purple stones. Sometimes, the sapphire colouring is altered by a heat treatment that dulls the colour or by irradiation that tends to fade with time.  Synthetic sapphires were developed for cheaper jewellery back in 1910. The term Brazilian sapphire is actually a misnomer for a blue variety of Tourmaline that is found in Brazil.

The richness of emeralds

An emerald is a variety of Beryl and considered as one of the most valuable of the precious stones. The green colour ranges from pale to dark with the most costly being the very dark warm velvety green colour. Flawless stones are very rare and most emeralds contain inclusions. Unlike sapphires, emeralds maintain their colour and are not affected by a change of light.

Amethyst

Amethysts are a variety of quartz and are transparent and crystalline. The usual colouring range from a deep purple, reddish mauve, to a pale blue-violet. Sometimes, the hues come mingled in a stone and some can even show a tinge of yellow. Amethysts are often set pear-shaped in pendants and as pierced beads for necklaces and earrings. Amethysts that are banded with inclusions of agate or milky quartz are known as amethyst quartz.

 

Russian jewellery began to form its own individual styling back in the 10th century. Although it was greatly influenced by the Byzantine era, at that stage it began to form a definite character of its own. Metal had been in use for many centuries and about now Russian jewellers began adding filigree work to various items.  Embossing and chasing were used for decorating the pieces as well as cloisonne enamelling, niello, and granulated gold.

The jewellery made included articles of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, buckles for belts, and filigree buttons. Some of them had pagan motifs and in others, there were found Oriental and Norse influences.

Kiev acknowledged as jewellery centre

From the 11th till the 14th century Kiev thrived as a manufacturing city for fine jewellery making. This was particularly evident with high-quality cloisonne enamelware made for necklaces and pendants, which often contained religious motifs.

Later, Novgorod overtook Kiev and during the 15th century, it was moved to Moscow. The range began to expand to include jewelled covers for secular books and gold and silver covers for icons.

With the passing of time and the start of the 18th century Russian jewellery began to appear with beautiful gemstones. Some of the items made containing several different coloured gems to be incorporated into an individual piece.

Lavish Jewels for the Royal Court

Catherine the Great introduced extravagant Western-styled pieces of handmade jewellery for wearing at the Royal Court. For her coronation in 1762, she wore a spectacular oval brilliant diamond weighing 51 carats, given to her by Grigori Potemkin.  Later it became known as the Eugenie diamond or Potemkin diamond. This was due to Napoleon lll buying and setting it in a necklace as a wedding gift for his bride, Empress Eugenie. Hence the two names for it.

Faberge eggs

Russian jewellery reached its peak with the artistic intricate work produced by Carl Faberge. His imaginative creations in gold, enamelling, and gemstones, became world-renowned. He is best remembered for his fantastic array of jewelled eggs made for the Tsar to give the Tsarina as Easter gifts.

He accomplished receiving international recognition at the Paris Exposition in 1900. This assured his making jewellery not only for the Russian Court, but also for Edward Vll, and various other members of Royalty. He specialized in the various use of enamels and metals of different colours in Art Nouveau style.