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Antique 19thC ½ct+ Spinel England’s Black Prince “Ruby” British Crown Jewels Gem #52205

Cost: $ 169.99


Antique Handcrafted Genuine Natural Russian Two-Third Carat Faceted Vibrant, Intense Ruby Red Semi-Precious Spinel Gemstone Oval. Contemporary High Quality Sterling Silver Ring (Size 7 – Resizing Available).

CLASSIFICATION: Faceted Lavender-Pink Spinel Oval.

ORIGIN: Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. 19th Century.

SIZE: Length: 7mm. Width: 5mm. Depth: 2mm. All measurements approximate.

WEIGHT: 0.66 carats.

NOTES: Resizing is available. 14kt solid gold setting is also available.


NOTE: If you would like only the gemstone, and not the setting, we can dismount the gemstone and offer you the gemstone without the setting. Just let us know, and yes, we’ll discount the price by the cost of the setting.

DETAIL:
Often mistaken for ruby or sapphire in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, many of the so-called "rubies" and “sapphires” in Europe's crown jewels are actually spinel. One of history’s most famous gemstones is a spinel known as the Black Prince's “Ruby”, a magnificent 170-carat red spinel that currently adorns the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels. Long believed to be a ruby, this gem was once owned by the Arabian Emirs, who were the rulers of Granada (present-day Spain). In the 14th century, Pedro the Cruel, the king of Castile, under the pretext of negotiations, drew into ambush the Emir Abu Said and ruthlessly murdered him and took the gemstone. The gemstone was given to England’s Edward the Black Prince, heir to the British throne, in return for military service putting down an insurrection raised against Pedro the Cruel. King Henry V then wore the gemstone on his battle helmet during the battle of Azincourt in 1415 A.D. King Richard III of England, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, wore the same helmet during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 A.D., where he was killed.

This very intensely colored and brilliant gemstone shares this heritage.  Mined here in Chelyabinsk Oblast (county), Russia, the gemstone was hand crafted and faceted by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia.  The result is an exquisite and incredibly rich bright red colored gemstone with brilliant flashes.  It truly has all the flash and brilliance of a ruby or padparadsha sapphire.  In fact though much more flashy than all but the highest quality rubies, it is probably going to be most often mistaken for ruby should you be the lucky winner of this amazing gemstone.  Spinel, like the rubies and sapphires it is so often mistaken for, is noted for being a rather ?dirty? gemstone, much like emeralds and tourmaline as well.  However this specimen is no worse than eye clean, and even in these 500% photo enlargements, it is difficult to discern any significant blemishes.  To the naked eye it is without flaw, richly hued, and alive with sparkles. 

This gorgeous and delicately colored brilliant gemstone shares this heritage. Mined in Chelyabinsk Oblast (county), Russia, the gemstone was hand crafted and faceted by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia. The result is an exquisite and incredibly rich bright red colored gemstone with brilliant flashes.  It truly has all the flash and brilliance of a ruby or padparadsha sapphire.  In fact though much more flashy than all but the highest quality rubies, it is probably going to be most often mistaken for ruby should you be the lucky winner of this amazing gemstone.  The setting is of contemporary origin. It is a high quality setting manufactured by one of the USA’s leading semi-custom mount producers. It is constructed of solid sterling silver. We do have the ability to have the ring sent out for resizing if requested. Additionally, if preferred, the mounting is also available in 14kt solid gold.

Spinel, like the rubies and sapphires it is so often mistaken for, is noted for being a rather “dirty” gemstone, much like emeralds and tourmaline as well. True to form, as you can see in these 500% photo enlargements, this specimen has a few minor blemishes which although you cannot see with the naked eye (except with very close scrutiny), you can clearly see them here in these enlargements. These blemishes are principally composed of nearly colorless crystalline material. Though they might seem very apparent in these 500% enlargements, in hand these minute blemishes are not even noticed by the cursory inspection by an appreciative casual viewer. It takes very close scrutiny to pick out these slight blemishes without the aid of a jeweler’s loupe. And to see them with the naked eye, you have to scrutinize the gemstone very carefully, and know exactly where to look. To the naked eye of the casual viewer, the gemstone is without flaw, delicately hued, and alive with sparkles. Though by 21st century standards this would be considered merely a medium-grade spinel, the gemstone is quite typical of the gemstones produced during the 19th century.

Good quality spinel is in extremely short supply, especially eye-clean specimens, and can be very costly. This is at the present time one of only a handful of specimens we have to offer. Even at the source in Chelyabinsk, Russia, it is a quite uncommon and fairly scarce gemstone. Under magnification the gemstone shows the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. These characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today's cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-faceted gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones that approach flawlessness in a perfect finish, the cut and finish of a handcrafted gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago.
 
This gemstone has great luster and sparkle, and to the eye transparent and unblemished, but to close scrutiny it is not entirely flawless. True, the blemishes it possesses are near invisible to the naked eye, and the gemstone could be characterized, to use trade jargon, as "near eye clean". Magnified 400% or 500%, as it is here, you can see minor blemishes composed principally of colorless crystalline material within the gemstone and occasional irregularities in the finish. But these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even possible then, let alone in practice, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today. Two centuries ago mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth's surface, were simply inaccessible then. This is why antique gemstones must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones routinely mined from deep beneath the earth's surface today were simply not accessible two centuries ago, or at least, only rarely so. However for most, the unique nature and character of antique gemstones such as this more than makes up for minor blemishes both within the gemstone as well as in the finish, which by and large of course, are only visible under high magnification.

HISTORY OF SPINEL: The name “spinel” is probably derived from the Latin word “spinella”, itself derived from the Greek work meaning “spark”, probably in reference to the bright red or orange color of some crystals. Mariners as early as the 11th century knew spinel as “lodestone”, which literally means “way stone”. Due to the unique magnetic properties of spinel, it literally “found the way” for ancient mariners as it was used to magnetize the compasses which they used to guide their ship's course at sea. This also saw the beginning of the art of cartography, as seaman began to plot the courses of their voyages and create the earliest maps of the world. One early known use of spinel was from about 100 B.C. in a Buddhist tomb in Afghanistan. There are also references to spinel in ancient Sanskrit texts, which referred to spinel as “the daughter of ruby”. Spinel was also extensively was used in jewelry by the Romans.
 
Spinel comes in a wide variety of beautiful colors and is especially prized for its red, blue, pink, and purple varieties. The red variety has oftentimes been mistaken for ruby, and many of the so-called “rubies” in Europe’s crown jewels are actually spinel. The most famous is the Black Prince's “Ruby”, a magnificent 170-carat red spinel that currently adorns the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels. Long believed to be a ruby, this gem was once owned by the Arabian Emirs, who were the rulers of Granada (present-day Spain). In the 14th century, Pedro the Cruel, the king of Castile, under the pretext of negotiations, drew into ambush the Emir Abu Said and ruthlessly murdered him and took the gemstone. The gemstone was given to England’s Edward the Black Prince, heir to the British throne, in return for military service putting down an insurrection raised against Pedro the Cruel. King Henry V then wore the gemstone on his battle helmet during the battle of Azincourt in 1415 A.D. King Richard III of England, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, wore the same helmet during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 A.D., where he was killed.

The Timur Ruby is a 352-carat red spinel named after Tamerlain, the Tartar conqueror who came to possess the gemstone as a result of his plunder of Delhi, and ordered that his name be carved upon it. The gemstone eventually returned to India, where it was incorporated into the famous “Peacock Throne”, which was subsequently brought back to Persia in 1739 by the conqueror Nader Shah. When Nader Shah was assassinated in 1747, the Peacock Throne itself disappeared from historical records (presumably disassembled), though the magnificent spinel which was its centerpiece survived. Now owned by Queen Elizabeth, the gemstone has the names of some of the Mughal emperors who previously owned it engraved on its face. Another noteworthy faceted red spinel of more than 400 carats belonged to Empress Catherine II of Russia, and is now part of the Russian Treasure in the Kremlin. Nicholas Spafary, the Russian envoy to China, bought this gemstone for Tsar Alexis I of Russia. He purchased it from a high-ranking Chinese official and secretly took it out, as in China it was forbidden to sell “rubies” to the foreigners, as they must only belong to the Emperor.

The Samarian Spinel is the world’s largest spinel weighing 500 carats, and is part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, displayed at the Museum of the Treasury of National Iranian Jewels. According to legend the gemstone once adorned the Biblical Golden Calf, mentioned in Exodus 32. The Hebrews escaping from Egypt in the 13th century B.C. asked Aaron, the brother of Moses to fashion a golden calf, an idol that was then worshipped by the ancient Hebrews. Moses later came down from the Sinai carrying with him the tablets containing the ten commandments, and upon seeing his people worshipping the golden calf, ordered its destruction. However, the worship of the Golden Calf continued up to the 10th century B.C. till the age of Jeroboam I, King of Israel. 

In the ancient world red spinel was also known as a “Balas Ruby”, and was mined in Northwest Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and traded throughout China and Europe. Although history does not document the mining of spinel in Afghanistan until about 750 A.D., it is likely the source for the spinel of the Romans and the rest of the classical Mediterranean. Marco Polo mentioned the famous “Badakhshan” mine which produced this gemstone, describing the gemstone as “Balas Ruby”. The name for Badakhshan in the ancient world was “Balascia”, from which the name “Balas Ruby” was born. Though spinel is presently less expensive than ruby, it is many times more rare. And despite all of the confusion in Europe over what was spinel and what was ruby, in Burma where both gemstones have been mined for many centuries, spinel was recognized as a separate gem species as early as 1587 A.D.
 
However in Europe, confusion lasted for many centuries after that, red spinel still referred to as “Balas Ruby” or “Oriental Ruby” for several more centuries. As well, blue, pink, and purple spinel was oftentimes mistaken for sapphire. In Chelyabinsk, Russia, the origin of this gemstone, spinel has been produced continuously from a nearby deposit since 1843 A.D. Now treasured for its own sake, spinel is a favorite of gem dealers and gem collectors due to its brilliance, hardness and wide range of spectacular colors. Red and orange spinel owes its color to chromium, violet to manganese, and to iron or cobalt for the very rare blue variety of spinel. In addition to Burma and Russia, spinel has historically also been produced in Ceylon, and has recently been discovered in Tanzania (home of tanzanite).

Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness and providing protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world spinel was associated with love, was worn as a protective talisman, and was said to help the wearer resolve contentious issues, to put their ego aside, and become devoted to another person. Spinel also was believed to encourage passion and is said to increase the duration of the wearer’s life, and was also said effective in relieving sadness.
 
 

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5/13/2014 12:00:00 AM
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