How Has Roman Jewelry Influenced The Jewelry Industry Today?
Brief History of Roman Jewelry
Jewelry has been a part of human history for thousands of years. The history of jewelry is a long one, with many different cultures and eras. The history of jewelry can be traced back to almost 2,000 BC in the Near East, where beads were made from shell and stone. It is likely jewelry has been around as long as humans have been on this planet, but it was the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans that brought jewelry to the level of beauty and artistry that we appreciate to this day. They each developed their own unique skills and techniques that many goldsmiths still utilize in modern jewelry.
The Romans made a lasting impact on the art of jewelry and goldsmithing. Ancient Rome to the Renaissance, jewelry has been worn to signify wealth, status, and beauty. The ancient Romans were among the first civilizations to popularize jewelry, creating intricate pieces with a variety of materials including gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, rubies, and pearls. Throughout the centuries, the materials used to make jewelry have evolved, but the same appreciation for its craftsmanship has remained.
The Romans created jewelry for both practical and decorative purposes. They made pendants to hang from the neck or waist, bracelets, rings, and earrings with a variety of precious stones set into them. Jewelry was also made for purely aesthetic reasons, with decorative threads and ribbons woven into the pieces and small beads or pearls attached.
The Romans Impact on Modern Jewelry
Today, jewelry continues to be a popular accessory, a reminder of its long and illustrious history. Jewelry is a symbol of luxury and sophistication and is used to express individual style and personality. A wide range of materials are now used to create jewelry, from high end metals to semi-precious and precious gemstones. Jewelry is also a great way to commemorate special occasions and milestones, whether it’s a wedding, a birthday, or an anniversary.
Hammered Oval Bezel Ring with Blue Sapphire by J Briggs
Jewelry has come a long way since Ancient Rome. While the modern pieces may not be quite as intricate as those of the past, they still hold the same appreciation for craftsmanship and beauty. Jewelry is a timeless accessory and will no doubt continue to be a popular item for years to come.
- “Jewellery in Ancient Rome.” The British Museum, www.britishmuseum.org/learn/educational_resources/art_and_design/jewellery_in_ancient_rome
- “Jewelry Through the Ages.” International Gem Society, www.gemsociety.org/article/jewelry-through-the-ages/
- “Jewelry of Ancient Rome.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, www.ancient.eu/article/904/jewelry-of-ancient-rome/
- “Jewelry Through the Ages.” National Jeweler, www.nationaljeweler.com/fashion/jewelry-styles/jewelry-through-the-ages
Intro to Lab Grown Diamonds
J Briggs & Co offers Lab Grown Diamonds as an alternative to the traditional mined diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are 100% real diamonds that have every single characteristic to traditional diamonds and look identical to the human eye. They are grown by recreating the pressure and conditions that mined diamonds undergo beneath the earth’s crust and can be grown in almost any shape, color and size.
“In a survey among 1,000+ American consumers, aged 21-40 years, across all income ranges, nearly 70% of consumers said they would consider a lab grown diamond for the center stone in an engagement ring if they were shopping or shopping with someone for an engagement ring. That represents an increase of 13% in only one year when 57% said the same.” (Source)
Following are a few of the most common questions our clients have when considering purchasing a lab-grown diamond:
Q- Can people tell that it is lab-grown just by looking at it?
A- As touched on above, the answer is no. Only specialized equipment can identify lab vs mined by detecting minor trace elements that are found in lab-grown diamonds. In addition, all large lab-grown diamonds are required by law to have a laser inscription on the girdle identifying it as a lab diamond. However, the inscription is not visible to the naked eye and magnification is required to see the inscription.
Q- Can lab-grown diamonds be certified?
A- Yes. They are certified by various laboratories just like mined diamonds. The Gemological Institute of America, highly trusted and most prominent certifier of mined diamonds, also certifies lab grown diamonds.
Q- Can my jewelry with lab-grown diamonds be insured?
A- Yes. Lab-grown diamonds are certified in the same manner as mined diamonds and can be insured according to the market value.
Q -Will a lab-grown diamond hold its value the same as mined diamonds?
A- This is unknown. Lab-grown diamonds have been around for a long time, but are just now becoming more popular. There is no way of knowing what this new market will do in the future. Most respond that they are not buying it to sell it later anyhow, rather they plan to have it forever!
What are Lab Grown Diamonds and their Environmental Impact?
Lab-grown diamonds have been gaining popularity in recent years as a more ethical and sustainable alternative to mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are chemically, physically, and optically identical to mined diamonds, but they are created in a laboratory setting rather than mined from the earth. Lab-grown diamonds are created using two different methods: high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). HPHT diamonds are created by replicating the conditions found in the earth’s mantle, where diamonds are formed naturally. CVD diamonds are created by using a plasma reactor to deposit a thin layer of carbon atoms onto a diamond seed. Lab-grown diamonds offer several advantages over mined diamonds. They are more affordable, as they are not subject to the same supply and demand fluctuations as mined diamonds. Many believe they are also more ethical, as they do not require the same environmental destruction or labor exploitation associated with mining. Additionally, lab-grown diamonds are more sustainable, as they do not require the same energy and resources as mined diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are becoming increasingly popular for engagement rings and other jewelry. They offer the same beauty and quality as mined diamonds, but at a fraction of the cost. Buyers feel they are also a great way to show commitment to ethical and sustainable practices. Whether you’re looking for an engagement ring or just a special piece of jewelry, lab-grown diamonds are an excellent choice. They offer the same beauty and quality as mined diamonds, but with the added benefits of affordability, ethics, and sustainability.
Thanks for reading,
Jennifer Briggs Jenkins
Graduate Gemologist ~ Gemological Institute of America
J Briggs & Co.
To learn more about Lab Grown diamonds take a look at the GIA’s (Gemological Institute of Americas) article here.
August Birthstone: Peridot
So your birthstone is peridot. “Pear-a-doe”? “Pear-a-dot?” Actually, both are correct—but I digress. More importantly, what exactly is this gorgeous apple-green stone? Often associated with light, this stone was referred to as the “gem of the sun” by the ancient Egyptians. What better stone to represent the sunny summer days of August?
The word peridot comes from the Arabic “faridat,” which means “gem”. In fact, some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection might actually have been peridot.
Most peridot is formed deep inside the earth and delivered to the surface by volcanoes. It is naturally mined all over the world, from Alaska to Australia. A much rarer form of this stone—unlikely to be seen in a retail jewelry store—actually came crashing to the earth via meteorites.
Often confused with other similarly-colored stones such as Emerald or Topaz, Peridot is rather fragile with only a 6.5 rating on the Mohs hardness scale. As such, it is not a great choice for rings or bracelets (Green Apple Diamonds are a suitable replacement.) However, it does make for an exquisite pendant or set of earrings, with the larger stones having more color saturation. Peridot’s elegant and unique color has little compromise, and has created the life-force in some of my favorite mother’s jewelry pieces.
Interested in a custom piece featuring your birthstone or that of a loved one? I’d love to sit down and discuss your vision. Call or email J. Briggs & Co. today to set up an appointment. —Jen
It’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to enjoy a full season of festivities, parties, and gift-giving. Why not make things easier on yourself by gifting your loved ones with classic jewelry? You really can’t go wrong with jewelry – and with customizable options from J. Briggs & Co., like choosing which precious metal to use, that Christmas or Hanukkah bauble becomes extra special. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a little something for yourself while you’re at it.
Gifts for Christmas
When picking out Christmas jewelry as a gift, make sure to choose pieces that are sentimental and can be worn year-round. A cross pendant, for example, is a classic shape that can hold a great deal of meaning when given as a Christmas gift. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if the cross is composed of several pear-shaped diamonds. When selecting a J. Briggs & Co. pendant and customizable chain, pick the platinum chain for Christmas. Might as well go all-out.
Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/pearcross-pd.htm
For the stylish man in your life (or a younger brother you wish would dress better), custom cufflinks are the perfect Christmas gift or stocking stuffer. If he’s a sports fan, these baseball-inspired cufflinks with precision cut diamonds have just the right balance of bling, masculinity, and that “typical guy” factor.
Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/bball-cl.htm
Gifts for Hanukkah
With eight days to fill with presents, Hanukkah jewelry gifts are a surefire way to shake things up a bit; and deep blue sapphires will definitely stand out from the rest. Add in a hint of ice – aka diamonds – and you’ve got a game winning combination. A beautifully crafted pendant with diamonds and sapphires makes an elegant statement, yet it’s still simple enough for everyday wear.
Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/sfapod-pd.htm
A large cocktail ring is super classy when holding a martini glass, but fashionistas can also create their own unique look with stackable rings. And in this case, we’re not referring to those throwaway stackable rings made of plastic or nickel. This Hanukkah, wrap up a stunning sapphire eternity band (or several) for a memorable gift. Whether they’re worn stacked or solo, a sapphire and diamond band is an exquisite addition to any lady’s jewelry wardrobe.
Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/shrdsapdia-rg.htm
For Your Own Stocking
Holiday shopping is exhausting – go ahead and reward yourself with some shiny new Christmas jewelry. Christmas-themed jewelry can be so kitschy, but incorporating a subtle holiday motif into your jewelry collection is charming. Instead of the normal tennis bracelet, treat yourself to a glitzy HopeStar diamond bracelet that mimics the look of snowflakes with eye-catching sparkle. It’s the ultimate accessory for any holiday party or special occasion.
Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/hstar715-brc.htm
If a barrage of diamonds isn’t your thing (don’t worry, we won’t judge), try a strand of multicolored pearls peppered with diamond HopeStars. Worn with the perfect little black dress, this necklace is a total showstopper. Rather than the cliché red and green combo, a pastel array of South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater pearls add a splash of color that you can wear during Christmas, Hanukkah and beyond. Sure, you could give these pearls away as a gift – but we recommend stashing them away for yourself.
Take a look: http://www.jbriggsandco.com/product-p/hstar41-pls.htm
If you’re looking for something extra special this holiday season, contact us to see if we can create something custom for you.
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Gemstones for Everyday Wear
J. Briggs & Co.
The saying “diamonds are forever” has its basis in fact. Among the sturdiest of gemstones, diamonds stand up to punishment better than many other stones. In fact, diamonds rate a score of 10 on the Mohs gemstone hardness scale, the highest rating of any gem. That’s one of the reasons that diamonds are the timeless, popular choice for all types of jewelry, from engagement rings to diamond studs.
But hardness is not the only measure of a gemstone. Toughness is also a factor to consider when deciding whether to wear your gemstone out to a certain occasion or during everyday activities. While hardness refers to a gem’s resistance to scratching, it doesn’t necessarily describe its durability. A gem’s toughness relates to its resistance to cleaving, chipping, or wearing. Some gems simply crack or wear down more easily than others.
In addition to hardness and toughness, it’s important to consider the piece of jewelry in which a gemstone is set. Rings see the most abuse of any jewelry because we use our hands so much and the gems end up being exposed to more bumps and bruises. Other pieces, like earrings and pendants, are less likely to come into contact with other surfaces, keeping the stones within them safer than those in a ring.
When considering gemstones that are most suitable for rings, a Mohs hardness rating of 7 or higher is generally deemed suitable for mounting in a ring setting, but toughness does come into play. For example, while emeralds rate an 8 on the Mohs scale, they are prone to fracturing easily. Certain types of settings can prove protective to vulnerable gems, so choosing the right setting in which to mount your gemstone is a conversation to have with your jeweler when designing a ring.
Gemstones that don’t rate high in hardness and toughness can still be mounted in rings, but should be worn occasionally and with greater care than a ring would normally see in everyday wear. After all, a ring sees very different action during a night out on the town than it does while cooking or cleaning at home.
It’s important to know the specifics of your gemstones. Some, like pearls, can be susceptible to chemicals because they are porous. Others, like peridot and aquamarine, shouldn’t be exposed to acids. Opals are very susceptible to damage being low on both hardness and toughness. To better understand your gemstones, their wearability, and how to care for them, consult your jeweler (or certified gemologist). If you’re designing a new piece, your jewelry designer can help you take into account the features of the gemstone you are mounting and work with its unique features to design a setting and piece that is the most protective.
Diamonds are both hard and tough (plus they go with just about everything!), making them ideal for wearing on most occasions. And you might not realize that diamonds come in more than one color, but that’s a topic for a future blog! Below is a short list for your reference. If you have questions about the suitability of your gemstones for everyday wear or if you’re looking to set a stone in the an appropriate setting to get the most use from it, contact designer and certified gemologist J.Briggs to set up a consultation.
What do you think of when you hear the word GOLD? A vault of ingots at Fort Knox? Lost treasures from forgotten empires? Or maybe you have the same thing on your mind that I do … fabulous jewelry! I thought we could expand on our last blog about White Gold vs Platinum, and explore metal alloys a little deeper. Did you know that when it comes to gold jewelry, there are more options than the traditional yellow and white gold familiar to most people?
Gold alloys come in a variety of stunning colors that can really make a piece of jewelry stand out from the crowd. In addition to yellow gold, most people have heard of white gold, but the options don’t stop there. Gold can also be rose, red, or pink, green, blue, purple, and even black.
What is the difference among these various hues? Let’s start with an explanation of “pure,” or 24K gold. Pure gold has no other metals mixed into it. Other gold classes, such as 10K (41.7% gold), 14k (58.5%) or 18K (75%) gold contain a smaller percentage of gold that is combined with other metals such as silver or copper. These types of gold are technically alloys because other metals are mixed into the pure gold. The higher the karat, the richer the gold tone. For people with sensitive skin, sometimes the other metals can cause skin irritation. Higher karat gold (18k & 22k) and Platinum (90-95%) are the most hypoallergenic metal for jewelry- but you already know all about Platinum from our last post!
So let’s start with our pure gold and mix in some different types of metal to make things more interesting.
White Gold: While some people prefer to have their gemstones set in platinum, white gold is a great alternative for those who prefer a silver hue to their gold jewelry. White gold can be mixed with manganese, nickel, or palladium to achieve its signature color. Standard white gold is a combination of 14K gold and a mix of copper, nickel, and zinc. White gold is often plated in rhodium to increase its shine. It is often necessary to re-plate after a year or two of wear to bring back the bright white color.
Green Gold: Also called electrum, green gold is a naturally-occurring alloy containing both gold and silver. Depending on the ratio of gold to silver, the hue can be subtle or deeper.
Red Golds: For gold to take on a pink, rose, or red hue, it is mixed with copper. The greater the amount of copper present in the alloy, the deeper the shade of red.
The following colors are less commonly seen than yellow, white, green, and red, but can still be used in jewelry.
Purple Gold: Purple gold is created by combining gold with aluminum. This alloy is too brittle to us in the traditional sense, but can be cut to look like a gemstone.
Blue Gold: A combination of gold and the metal indium or gallium gives gold a subtle, bluish tone. Indium or gallium is present in larger amounts than gold in this alloy.
Black Gold: Mixing gold with cobalt allows the surface to be oxidized resulting in black gold.
Purple, blue, and black golds can also be created using surface treatments to achieve the desired hue.
It’s important to note that not all gold alloys are appropriate for the same types of jewelry. Some are more malleable, some more brittle. Black, purple, and blue gold pose challenges while white, rose, green and yellow gold can certainly be crafted into traditional jewelry. It’s also worth mentioning that the color variations tend to be subtle.
It can be fun to play around with the different colors of gold when designing a piece of jewelry. Using more than one type of gold within a piece can create a visually arresting alternative to standard yellow or white gold. At J. Briggs, we are happy to explore the different gold varieties with you to achieve exactly the effect you desire.
Confused when deciding between white gold and platinum for your precious stones or diamonds? You aren’t alone. We’ve created a “cheat sheet” for helping you make the perfect decision for your jewels.
-is NOT a white metal – started its life as a yellowy, orangey, sometimes greenish gold and was coaxed into whiteness by alloying it with whiter metals.
-will require rhodium plating, then re-plating once a year on average. (Some alloys show more yellow than others.) The final step in finishing white gold jewelry is to “rhodium plate,” it, creating the white color. Ironically, rhodium is in the platinum family.
-can sometimes cause a skin reaction with its alloys, most commonly, due to nickel. A different alloy can be chosen, such as palladium or cobalt.
-will stay shiny for a long time before re-polishing.
-is able to scratch if wearer is hard on it, but overall maintains shine a lot longer than platinum.
Note: 24k gold (100% gold) is too soft to be used for jewelry. 14k/18K are the strongest choices for everyday wear.
-is 30 times more rare and 60% heavier than gold, giving it a luxurious feel to some.
-is strong, but can absolutely scratch when banged.
-will develop a dulled finish after time, due to small dents it takes.
-is hypoallergenic (unlike gold) because it is normally not alloyed with more than 10% other metals.
-will need more frequent polishing than white gold.
-is ideal for hand engraved detailing.
-will cost more than gold due to:
- High density – causes the extra weight and less thinning over time than gold
- Rarity – not as readily available as gold
- Purity – 90-95% pure platinum vs. 58% in 14k gold
- Tools – platinum demands separate tools, can be harder to work with and needs a higher temperature gas for soldering work
- Experience level the jeweler needs to have
What’s great about both?
-They are valuable and weighty metals – silver is not.
-Neither metal corrodes, rusts or tarnishes, and both are great for making jewelry.
-They are tried and true: 99.99% of all wedding rings are made from gold and platinum.
-Many alternative metals can’t be altered by more than 1-2 sizes and that work needs to be done in a machine shop vs. by a normal jeweler, because soldering can’t be done. Some metals aren’t able to be sized at all. Gold and platinum metals can be sized and worked on as many times as needed, as your fingers will likely change in size over the years.
-Both can withstand everyday wear, however intricate platinum jewelry has proven to endure the test of time much better than gold.
What about prongs, settings & wedding bands?
-Both are often used, and both have considerations you should be aware of when selecting prongs.
-Because it is a malleable metal (due to its purity), platinum tends to be more bendable than white gold. Small platinum prongs may become flatter when hit, but are less likely to break or wear down.
-With a white gold prong, the stronger, stiffer metal alloys will remain firm if directly hit. But if the hit is severe, the metal cracks as opposed to bending. If the hit is hard enough, it completely breaks off. Or a base crack could cause problems down the road.
How do I choose one over the other?
-The amount of detail in your design should be a factor.
-Work with an experienced jeweler who is knowledgeable in the slight differences between white gold and platinum.
-Is a long lasting, high shine important to you, or is your taste suited to accepting a more matte finish?
-Make sure to disclose your hobbies, recreational activities, lifestyle, etc. to your jeweler.