It seems fitting that Hancocks London’s Jewel of the Month for February is a piece featuring amethysts, the birthstone associated with this month.
The magnificent Victorian gold and amethyst riviere necklace with five pear shape drops dates from the 1870s.
The necklace is made in 15ct yellow gold and set with 18 graduated oval faceted amethysts in scalloped collets joined by chain links. The central five gems graduate in size, each suspending a pear shaped amethyst from a knife bar setting, with a concealed clasp to the reverse.
Guy Burton of Hancocks London says: “The necklace is made in 15ct gold which was a British gold standard used between 1854 and 1932. 15ct is stronger than 18ct so would have held the stones very securely but it still retains a lovely rich colour.
“All the stones in the necklace – 340ct in total – would have been cut by hand and the necklace itself hand-made, each pinched collet created to exactly fit each individual stone. The graduation and matching of the stones has been beautifully done. It’s a remarkable piece.
“We are certain that it would have caught people’s eyes when it was first worn in the 1870s, most likely with a ball gown given the evening dresses of this period often had scooped necks and a large piece like this would have filled the décolletage area nicely.
“It’s in excellent condition and a real collectors’ item and we’re delighted to offer this to our clients around the world.”
Amethyst was once considered to be as valuable as ruby and emerald; it regularly adorned jewellery worn by royalty and religious figures.
Guy Burton says: “Amethyst is the best known and best loved member of the Quartz family and its purple colour varies from the palest blush mauve to the deepest most regal purple. Significant sources include Brazil, Bolivia, Russia and Zambia. It frequently occurs in large sizes and crystals can weigh hundreds sometimes thousands of carats. Russia was the primary source of early stones and they were hugely expensive. Once the large Brazilian deposits were discovered in the 19th century, the gem became more widely available, this necklace is c.1870 and we think the most likely source of these particular stones was Brazil but we don’t know for certain.
“The Ancient Greeks believed wearing an amethyst would guard against drunkenness and the gemstone was popular with the Egyptians as
a stone for carving intaglios. It is also believed that St Valentine wore an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid, thereafter the stone became associated with love and lovers. It was also held to attract wisdom, enhance religious fervour, suppress evil and attract good fortune. In today’s challenging times, the question is who wouldn’t want one?!”