Sardonyx and Peridot – the August Birthstones

Wear a sardonyx or for thee,
No conjugal felicity;
The August-born without this stone,
`Tis said, must live unloved and lone.

(conjugal relates to marriage or the relationship between husband and wife and felicity means happiness)

Okay so I think it is safe to say that this is an awful birthstone poem and I do frown upon it!  I really do not know what the “unknown author” was trying to get at when he or she wrote it, or what Tiffany & Co. were thinking when decided to include it in their 1870′s pamphlet with all the other sweet birthstone poems!  I suspect that my dislike for the poem is the reason as to why I haven’t been able to locate a piece of Sardonyx jewellery for this post –  which in turn is the reason for this August birthstone-blog post being a belated one.  Fortunately August has two birthstones and I have indeed found a lovely piece of Peridot today to share with you:

Peridot and gold necklace

Peridot and gold necklace

Peridot

Above is a picture of a gold and peridot necklace featuring one out of two different birthstones for August: the Peridot.  You might remember that we have already made the acquaintance of this beautiful gemstone in a previous post: The dazzling gemstone Peridot.  Just to refresh our memories; the peridot is associated with love, truth, faithfulness and loyalty.  Furthermore it is thought to hold magical powers as well as healing properties.  How lovely to have a piece of jewellery that protects against nightmares, brings you power, influence, and a wonderful year! (1)

Peridot and gold necklace

Peridot and gold necklace

Sardonyx

Sardonyx, the other birthstone of August, is a form of onyx and features bands of reddish brown and white.  It is believed to enhance willpower, integrity, stamina and vigor in crystal healing and it is also thought to be a stone of strength and protection.  The ancient Greeks and Romans loved their sardonyx and had them engraved with images of heroes that would bring them courage and victory in battles.

The banding makes the gemstone suitable for cameos, as the dark section is often left as the background and the white part of the stone is left as the image.  Sardonyx can be found in many different locations, including the US, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and Uruguay – with the most popular stones comig from India.

I promise to take a photo of a Sardonyx as soon as I come across one, but until then you can check out these Google searches for Sardonyx and Sardonyx Cameo to get an idea of what the stone looks like.

Happy belated birthday all your lovely August children!

Peridot and gold earrings

Peridot and gold earrings

Sources:

(1) American Gem Society

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Antique Pearl Necklace Clasps vs Centre Motifs

 

Rows of antique pearl necklaces at Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

Rows of antique pearl necklaces at Richard Ogden, in the Burlington Arcade

So I was working in the antique shop the other day – namely counting diamonds on a brooch – and having lost count a million or so times, I decided to take a little break and started aimlessly wandering around the shop instead.  I ended up – like so many times – by the pearl necklaces…  ahh sigh of happiness, they are just so beautiful!  The middle one in the photo above we have already familiarised ourselves with in the previous post Victorian Pearl Necklace with a Diamond Clasp, but I loved them all and started looking closer at them:

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp, Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

Pearl necklace with a diamond brooch clasp

This little beauty above is another example of a pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as the clasp; in other words it also has a very clever mechanism at the back which turns it into a brooch that you can wear separately.

Pearl necklace with a diamond and sapphire centre motif

The centre motif features a beautiful sapphire surrounded by eight diamonds

… and then there was this necklace with two rows of pearls and a centre motif featuring a sapphire.

This necklace is from around the 1920′s and I am obviously learning all these ways of determining the age of the pieces, and something that is very helpful is determining what metal has been used in the design – this one is set in platinum.  Platinum gained popularity in jewellery making in the beginning of the 20th century as it was such a beautiful and strong metal.  The use of platinum in anything other than military applications was however prohibited during the second World War, as it was declared a strategic material.  After the war it gained popularity again because of its properties: its strength allowed jewellery makers to create very fine yet durable designs.

Pearl necklace with a diamond and sapphire centre motif

A closer look at this beautiful antique pearls necklace with a centre motif featuring a sapphire and eight diamonds

The difference between this necklace and the first one in the post, is that the part with the sapphire and diamonds in this necklace is not used as a clasp – it is purely there for decorative reasons.  As a result it is referred to as the centre motif, and it looks a little something like this when worn:

Pearl necklace with a diamond and sapphire centre motif

Oh go on then, I will model the necklace to show you what it looks like on!  (yep, without doubt the best part about working in an antique jewellery shop!!)  

So there we have it – the difference between a clasp and a centre motif in antique jewellery (and of course also in modern jewellery, but I haven’t seen too many of these designs around in contemporary pieces – but if you have then please feel free to share with us below!)  Have a lovely weekend my dear!

All of the necklaces above can be found at Richard Ogden in the Burlington Arcade.

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A trip to The Jolly Farmers pub in Surrey

Hello my dear, I hope you had a wonderful bank holiday weekend – even though parts of it did take place in the rain!  I had a great time and on Sunday I visited this lovely pub in the Surrey countryside – and I knew as soon as I walked in that I would just have to share it with you!

It is called the Jolly Farmers and you will find it just outside the charming town of Reigate:

Oh how I love it when they turn these beautiful old buildings into something as cosy as a pub, where you can spend a lazy afternoon in the company of your loved ones.  It also gives me the perfect excuse to write about it, since the building is ever so antique and fits the image of the blog perfectly:

The Jolly Farmers Reigate

Let’s pop inside!

You can see the timber frame inside the building in the photo above.  It really is one of my favourite features in old English houses, and you might remember that we looked at a few more of those in the blog post A tennis tournament and an English garden tea party.  When we step inside we are able to continue admiring this lovely old architecture:

The Jolly Farmers Reigate

Such a warm and welcoming atmosphere

The Jolly Farmers Reigate

The bar and deli at the Jolly Farmers

Before my visit I read about the deli on their website (you can find it here: the Jolly Farmers Deli) and I was very much looking forward to checking it out!  They have all these mouthwatering local products for sale and the best part is that so many of them can be found on the restaurant menu, so you can test drive them before stocking up on your favourites!

The Deli at the Jolly Farmers Reigate

The Deli at the Jolly Farmers Reigate

The Deli at the Jolly Farmers Reigate

The most lovely selection of jams, honey – home made and locally produced, “alongside a few of life’s essentials”

The Deli at the Jolly Farmers Reigate

very innovative displays – not to mention the sweet packaging…

The Jolly Farmers Reigate

The restaurant section with paintings on the wall that are for sale if you fall in love with any of them! 

We had a lovely lunch in the pub and I can warmly recommend the fish ‘n chips – even though it took me forever to decide as everything looked amazing.  I loved the fact that they had home-made elderflower and raspberry drinks on the menu – as well as home-made milkshakes, yum!  It is so nice to know that all this thought and effort has going into creating such an alluring menu, which then lives up to your expectations!

The walls of the restaurant section feature some fabulous paintings by a local artist, and they are all up for grabs with price tags and “sold to”-signs on them.  At the back of the restaurant there is a big terrace with a dining area, which I am sure has been very popular during the summer!

The Jolly Farmers Reigate

… no surprise there once you try the food!

I was also very pleased to see that all of their hard work has paid off in the form of various awards, like the one above.  I am so looking forward to visiting again, as there were a couple of dishes on the menu that I just can’t wait to try…

The Jolly Farmers, Reigate Road, Buckland, Surrey, RH3 7BG

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Victorian Pearl Necklace with a Diamond Clasp

“You can’t ever go wrong with pearls. Perhaps pearls are a girl’s best friend after all.” 

- Ki Hackney

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp, Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp at Richard Ogden

Oh dear oh dear, yesterday was such a dream-day in the antique shop!  I was able to look closer at this Mid-Victorian pearl necklaces with a diamond clasp, and some of you will recognise the photo above from Instagram yesterday.

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp, Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp

What I just love about Victorian jewellery is that the pieces are so often two-in-one, with the most clever little functions that you never would have expected.  With this necklace the secret is that the diamond clasp, which the ladies would wear so beautifully to the side, is detachable!  Since mass-productions hadn’t been invented yet, everything was handmade and very well thought through, and people didn’t own hundreds and hundreds of pieces of jewellery, so if a piece could double as two it would have been a very welcome addition to someone’s jewellery collection.

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp, Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

A close up of the diamond brooch which also functions as the clasp here

This pearl necklace is circa 1870 and again I am just so taken by the amazing condition of it, even after 150 years!  The pearls are so beautiful and the clasp is intact.  If you look a little closer at the centre diamond in the photo above, you will see that it is an old diamond because there is a teeny tiny “hole” in the middle of the stone.  It looks like a round dot, can you see it?  This is such a typical characteristic of an old diamond which I just love, as it brings an air of history and romance.

This “dot” in the middle of the diamond is there because the bottom point of the diamond has been polished flat, instead of pointy – (you get pointy in modern diamonds).  Hundreds of years ago the diamond cutters didn’t have the same advanced technology as we do today when it came to polishing diamonds, so instead of risk losing a piece of the diamond by trying to make a pointy culet, they reverted to making them flat.  So when you look into the stone from above the flat culet at the bottom will look like a little dot in the middle of the stone!

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp, Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

The design at the back of the brooch

Here is the back of the clasp, which you can see is very well designed with all diamonds in place and a complicated mechanism to detach it from the necklace.

Mid-Victorian pearl necklace with a diamond brooch as a clasp, Richard Ogden, Burlington Arcade

The clasp can be turned into a brooch thanks to the mechanics on the back

We are going to look at the difference in Clasps and Brooch Centre Motifs in the next post, because I thought that they were the same thing, but this beautiful sapphire and pearl necklace decided to prove me wrong:

Pearl necklace with a diamond and sapphire centre motif

Pearl necklace with a diamond and sapphire centre motif

 

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Afternoon Tea – the Colonnade Hotel

We are back to one of my favourite blog post-series here on Decades of Elegance: Afternoon Tea!  This time we are visiting The Colonnade Hotel by Warwick Avenue, Little Venice:

The Colonnade Hotel, Warwick Avenue, Little Venice, London

The beautifully arranged hotel garden  

The Colonnade Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel based in a beautiful part of London called Little Venice.  You will find Little Venice just north of Paddington and the river that runs through the area is in fact the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meeting up – and creating such a picturesque place.  I very much enjoyed the short walk down Warrington Crescent to the hotel from Warwick Avenue underground station, as I passed these beautiful Victorian houses so peacefully resting in the shades from the tall trees lining the street.  A set of stairs takes you down to the restaurant, which is nice and bright as the daylight comes in through the glass ceiling:

The Colonnade Hotel, Warwick Avenue, Little Venice, London

The staircase leading down to the hotel restaurant 

Now first of all, I didn’t have my camera, so we will have to make do with photos from my iPhone.  Please note that everything is 20 times more beautiful in real life than in these pictures!

We started out with a glass of bubbly each, which is obviously always a fabulous start to any tea party.  Now, I must confess that we didn’t make it very easy for the restaurant, as one of us was allergic to mayonnaise and mustard, and another one was gluten intolerant – and then there was of course my allergy to shellfish, but I am delighted to say that this didn’t create any problems, and they did a wonderful job coming up with suitable sandwiches and cakes for all of us.

Afternoon Tea at the Colonnade Hotel, Little Venice, London

Amazing selection of cakes, sandwiches and of course scones…

In the photo above you can see an afternoon tea-stand to the left.  My cakes, scone and sandwiches are at the back of the stand, and the gluten free delicacies at the front.  The scone had been substituted with a bunch of grapes for my friend who is gluten intolerant, and that is the only thing that I think they could have done differently.  I am pretty sure that you can make gluten free scones, so that might be an alternative for the future, but my friend was very happy with the cakes and sandwiches that she was served.

Afternoon Tea at the Colonnade Hotel, Little Venice, London

Afternoon Tea at the Colonnade Hotel, Little Venice, London

In the photo above here you can see my other two friends’ cakes and scones, and the restaurant did a great job sorting out mayo- and mustard-free sandwiches.

Afternoon Tea at the Colonnade Hotel, Little Venice, London

Tea, anyone?

We ordered a pot of tea each and since we spent almost three hours there, our teas obviously went cold towards the end, as they always do.  However, the waitresses were very quick and helpful and brought in new tea pots with fresh, hot tea, and we were able to continue enjoying the rest of our cakes.  Three of us had English Breakfast and one of us went for Green Tea and it was all delicious, although we would have loved to see a few more choices, like Jasmine Tea, which is such a lovely accompaniment to scones – and maybe some more exotic choices as well.

Afternoon Tea at the Colonnade Hotel, Little Venice, London

A chocolate éclair from heaven…

Here is a close up of the cakes, and guys honestly, those chocolate éclairs are to die for – they just melted in my mouth!  Definitely my favourite part.  The other ladies were swept off their feet by the carrot cake and the other cakes went down a treat as well.

I was being a veteran-afternoon tea’er, as I didn’t eat all my sandwiches and was therefore able to enjoy a whole scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam (sooo good!) – but one of the other ladies was heartbroken as she just couldn’t finish her scone since she had already had all her sandwiches!  So just a word of warning – pace yourself, or have the scones before the sweets, if you adore scones!

Afternoon Tea at the Colonnade Hotel, Little Venice, London

The perfect strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream to accompany our scones…

We had the most delicious strawberry jam, so I was very pleased since I have recently been to two different Afternoon Teas where they had run out of strawberry jam.  Instead they served black forest berry jam or raspberry jam, which really takes away from the experience, but here everything was just perfect!

Two of my friends wanted to give this Afternoon Tea 4,5 Decades of Elegance rings, whereas another one of the ladies and I would like to give it 4.  The Afternoon Tea is £32 but we found an offer and much less than that, which I thought was very reasonable.  I personally would have liked for the interior to be a bit warmer and more Afternoon Tea’ish – the place is beautiful for a restaurant, but it could do with a bit more kitsch or luxury for the tea, to enhance the experience.  They could also add a few more tea choices to the list.  However, they did an amazing job catering for all of needs and the range of cakes was great – and delicious… I will be dreaming about that chocolate éclair for a long time…. mm-mm-mmm!

Unfortunately I am unable to create a 1/2 ring below, but we will give the Colonnade Hotel 4,5 Decades of Elegance rings:

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A Georgian Diamond Cluster Ring

Last week I had such interesting days in the antique shop, as I got to look closer at a number of diamond rings and try to figure out what era they came from and what the specific characteristics showed their age and style.  One of the rings was this Georgian diamond cluster ring:

Georgian Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden in Burlington Arcade

Georgian Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden 

The ring is circa 1800-1810 with old cut diamonds in a silver cut down foiled setting.  It is mounted in gold and you can just see the beautiful floral chasing down the shank.  The diamond weight is estimated to 2 carats and it is an English piece – price £6500.  You can find it here on the Richard Ogden-website.

The Georgian period was named after the four successive kings George I, George II, George III and George IV, whose rule ruled stretched across most of the 18th and part of the 19th century.  It is quite unusual to find Georgian jewellery today, as precious metals like gold and silver were rather rare at the time, and people very happily took apart existing pieces and created new ones that reflected modern trends.  When you do get your hands on some Georgian jewellery, which will always be handmade, you will see that the craftsmanship is just exquisite! (1)

Georgian Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden in Burlington Arcade

Georgian Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden

As we can see in the ring above (the first photo shows this the clearest) floral motifs were very popular during this time.  It was also customary to set the diamonds in closed settings and the interior of the ring would be crafted in gold in order to protect the skin from being tarnished.

The most common diamond cuts used in Georgian designs were rose-cuts and table-cuts (we will take a closer look at these  in a later post) and the jeweller would often add a reflecting foil at the back of the diamonds to reflect the light and enhance the beauty of the gemstone.  This would create the fire that came out so beautifully in candlelight: candles obviously being the most common way of lighting a home.

Platinum was not yet discovered, so most jewellery was set in silver or gold, and you get quite a lot of Georgian jewellery with the stone set in silver, as the silver colour was thought to bring out the properties of the diamond better than yellow gold. (2)  The rest of the mount and shank (the mount is the part of the ring that the gemstone is set in, and the shank is the part that wraps around your finger) were often made of yellow gold.  Silver is a rather soft metal, so a lot of rings and other pieces of jewellery that were bashed around a lot did not survive until this day unfortunately – but earrings were of course handled more carefully, so keep an eye out for those to see how special the design is!

 

Sources:

(1) Lang Antiques & Estate Jewelry

(2) Platt Boutique Jewelry

 

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Acrostic Jewellery – the Secret Language of Gemstones

Good morning my dear!  Today I am posting on a Saturday because of various IT challenges yesterday, but I am hoping that we should be all up and running now – thank you for your patience!

So yesterday I had a look at the most romantic style of jewellery in the antique shop: Acrostic Jewellery.  We have to jump back over a hundred years in time to understand this style of jewellery, so imagine that you are living in the Victorian times:

A gentleman wants to woo a woman, but the rules are very strict as to how the couple is allowed to spend time together.  Her parents must grant him permission to visit and the parents will of course be present when he sees their daughter.  People are able to express their feelings in letters, but there is always the risk of someone intercepting the correspondence, so you might not want to be too open writing down your feelings and innermost thoughts..!  The couple can attend dinner and parties and dance with each other, but only under the watchful eye of her parents – and eventually the two are able to spend some time together, but always in the company of a chaperone.  So these clever Victorians became experts in expressing their hearts’ desires using symbolic gestures, which is where Acrostic Jewellery comes in.

Dearest and Regards Jewellery Locket Victorian

Dearest and Regards Jewellery from Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden

In Acrostic Jewellery gemstones were used to spell out words that expressed one’s feelings, often in rings, brooches and lockets.  The first letter of each gemstone would spell out a words, so in the photo above you can see two different words in the two lockets.

The locket to the left contains the following gemstones: Diamond, Emerald, Amethyst, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire and Topaz - forming the word DEAREST.

The locket to the right contains: Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond.  The word REGARD may not seem super romantic to us today, but it was often used in the sentences: “with my regards” or “I highly regard you”, and was a lovely word expressing a person’s feelings.

A few other words would be spelled out with the following gemstones:

Fluorite, Ruby, Indicolite, Emerald, Nephrite and Diamond

Amethyst, Diamond, Opal, Ruby, Emerald

Acrostic jewellery is believed to have its origins in France in the 18th century, where it is thought to have been invented by Empress Josephine and Marie Antoinette’s jeweller Jean-Baptiste Mellerio.  Popular French words would be Souvenir (remembrance) and Amitié (friendship). (1)

I absolutely love the idea of having a piece of jewellery that spells out a secret message like this and I suppose that my name would call for Indicolite, Iolite, Diamond and Amethyst.  Do you have a name that could be spelled out like this using gemstones?

Sources:

Jewellery Making Daily

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A 1940s Swedish Diamond Bracelet

Oh I just had to share this little story with you from my workday in Burlington Arcade last week: in the Richard Ogden-shop we also have the beautiful collection from Moira Jewels on display, and so I was browsing Moira’s website, trying to find a photo of a glorious piece of jewellery to add to Instagram.  Out of all the hundreds of stunning pieces on the website I immediately fell in love with this one:

Diamond bracelet circa 1940 in Sweden

A 1940s diamond bracelet from Moira Jewels at Richard Ogden

It is a diamond bracelet mounted in platinum, with round brilliant-cut diamonds and alternating flowers with diamond borders, set with eight-cut and round brilliant-cut diamonds.  My colleagues however thought it was very funny, as apparently I had managed to pick out the one piece of jewellery that was Swedish!  Such a coincidence indeed, and I suppose that we are all influenced by our origin whether we know it or not.  This beautiful piece with its elegant lines and striking design is thought to have been made in Sweden in the 1940s.

During the 40′s lots of materials were in fact heavily rationed because of the war, and ladies’ outfits were sober in style, very much influenced by the military gear that the gents would wear.  These streamlined outfits however found their opposites in the jewellery worn, as our beautiful ladies of the time would go for rather imaginative and decorative pieces!  I find it so fascinating to see how the social situation influenced people’s style and I think that a blog post on 1940s fashion will be in place soon!

Have a lovely Wednesday dear!

2 thoughts on “A 1940s Swedish Diamond Bracelet

    • I know what you mean – I am just learning to see the subtle differences between antique and modern jewellery, and this is a perfect example of that old school craftsmanship where the design is just flawless! x

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1960s glamour from Vintage Shrewd

There are a few women in history whose sense of style influenced the whole world around them to the degree that when we today see a specific style of outfit, our thoughts are immediately drawn to that person.  Well, I immediately thought of a beautiful lady on Saturday, when I popped by Vintage Shrewd and saw this beautiful wool skirt and matching suit jacket.  Yep, Jackie O was my first thought:

Chanel-style 1960's dress and  suit jacket

Chanel-style 1960′s dress and suit jacket at Vintage Shrewd

Jacqueline Bouvier was a mere 24 years old when she married John F. Kennedy, yet she already presented a sophisticated style and taste.  She had a love for classic, tailored suits and ladylike dresses in strong, solid colours and very much influenced the style of the ladies in the sixties.

This dress and jacket are indeed from the 60s, and this what I just love about vintage shops: you find the most stunning pieces for no money at all, as this little combo is yours for just £75 ..!  I also that the high street chains are just getting ridiculously expensive now (a dress for £150 – it is so not reasonable!) so all the more reason to turn to vintage, where you can get pieces that will last another few decades for a fraction of the price!

Chanel-style 1960's dress and  suit jacket

A close up of this beautiful, soft pink suit jacket

Can you imagine wearing this with a fabulous handbag and some heels to work?  I didn’t buy it as I had to hurry to another appointment, but I am really having second thoughts about it.  It would be the perfect outfit for a day at work in the antique shop!

Vintage Shrewd, vintage clothing shop in Dorking, Surrey

Some more treasures in the Shrewd-window…

Vintage Shrewd, vintage clothing shop in Dorking, Surrey

and a few more pieces in a heavenly blue-colour scheme

And above are two more sneak peeks into the current Shrewd collection… as the days are suddenly getting a bit chillier these autumny-coloured ensembles looked very appealing to me!

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A Star Ruby Romance

I came across a Star Ruby in the shop the other day and it was so beautiful that immediately started my research to be able to show you what it looks like:

Purple Star Sapphire and Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden

A star ruby and diamond cluster ring at Richard Ogden in Burlington Arcade

A Star Ruby is a type of ruby that shows a star-like phenomenon known as asterism.  The word “Asterism” is derived from the Greek word “aster”, which means star, so asterism is often referred to as “star” or “star-effect”.  The six-rayed star pattern that you can see in the gemstone is caused by needle-like inclusions that cross each other’s paths when they follow the underlying crystal structure.  Star rubies tend to be cut in cabochon style – like a dome – so that the centre of the star resides at the top of the dome.

Purple Star Sapphire and Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden

You can see the star ruby to the top right here, and I took this photo so that you can see what it looks like when the star isn’t centred 

The placement of the star in the gemstone depends on the angle that you view it from, and in the photo above you can see an example of the star not being centred (the ring to the top right).  Out of every 100 mined corundom (rubies and sapphires) only three will show this star pattern – and only one out of these three will have a good star and good colour!  What really confused me with this particular star ruby was the colour, as I thought that it was a star sapphire (assuming that rubies are red sapphires and any other colour would be a sapphire!).  However, we get pinkish-red, purplish-red or purplish-brown rubies, and the one here is obviously a purplish-red one.

Purple Star Sapphire and Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden

Purple Star Ruby and Diamond Cluster Ring at Richard Ogden

This beautiful star ruby is surrounded by diamonds in a classic Cluster Ring-setting and if you love it lots and lots you can buy it at Richard Ogden in Burlington Arcade for £4200 – and you can see it on their website here.

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