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19thC Antique ½ct Multi-Color Siberian Andalusite Medieval France Gem of Heaven #57999

Cost: $ 159.99


RARE Exceptionally Good Quality Half Carat Antique Nineteenth Century Genuine Natural Handcrafted Russian Multi-Color Faceted Oval Cut Andalusite Semi-Precious Gemstone.  Contemporary High Quality Sterling Silver Ring (Size 7 – Resizing Available).

CLASSIFICATION:  Faceted Andalusite Oval.

ORIGIN:  Chelyabinsk Oblast, South Ural Mountains, Siberia, Russia, 19th Century.

SIZE:  Length:  6mm.  Width:  4mm.  Thickness (Depth):  3mm.  All measurements approximate.

WEIGHT:  Approximately 0.52 carats.

NOTE:  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: 
One variety of andalusite was known in the ancient world as “lapis crucifer”, or “chiastolite”.  These gemstones, translucent to near-transparent, contain inclusions of graphite which almost always are in the form of a cross when the gemstone is cut into cross-sections (like a log or sushi roll cut into slices).  Though particularly popular as a religious amulet, the “lapis crucifer” gemstone was also popular with the general population of Medieval and Renaissance Europe as well.  In Brittany (France) these crystals were worn as a talisman.  Local folklore held that the gemstones had dropped from the heavens.  If a “lapis crucifer” talisman was worn suspended from the neck, it was thought to cure almost any kind of fever, and the divine symbol it bore served to drive away evil spirits from the vicinity of the wearer.

Here’s an extraordinary, transparent multi-color gemstone grade andalusite from the Ural Mountains of Southern Siberia (Russia).  Like alexandrite, andalusite is a relatively rare gemstone which is best known for displaying multiple colors ranging from yellow and orange through red and green.  In this particular specimen the balance of colors is remarkable in that the gemstone shows both green and orange as you roll it between your fingers.  As the light plays over the gemstone, the facets change individually from green to orange and then to gold.  It’s a mesmerizing effect!  The gemstone also has a relatively high refractive index, accounting for its intense brilliance and sparkle.

This particular 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.  To the unaided eye the gemstone is clean and without blemish.  However that is not to suggest that it is flawless, as it is not.  If you examine these photo enlargements very intently, you’ll see that there is a small seam composed of colorless crystalline material near one end of the gemstone (near the “waist”).  It is not really visible from the front side of the gemstone as it is hidden by the peripheral faceting (known as the gemstone’s “crown”).  However if you examine the gemstone from the underside, then it is easier to spot this blemish (though it is still not at all prominent).  However unless you have the gemstone set underside up, the small blemish is not something you can see with the unaided eye.  Even in these photo enlargements it is very difficult to discern this blemish from the front side of the 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, the cut and finish of a gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago.  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.

This gemstone has great luster and sparkle, and to the eye is completely transparent, but it is not absolutely flawless.  True, the blemishes it possesses are virtually invisible to the naked eye (at least from the front side of the gemstone), and the gemstone can be characterized, to use trade jargon, as "near eye clean".  To the view of the casual admirer the gemstone is seemingly without blemish.  However magnified as it is here in these photo enlargements, particularly from the back side of the gemstone, you should be able to see a short, thin seam composed of colorless crystalline material toward one end of the gemstone.   Of course much the same may said about almost any natural gemstone.  An absolutely flawless gemstone simply is not the rule in nature.  Most absolutely flawless gemstones will upon close examination be revealed to be synthetic, as perfect gemstones are the realm of laboratory-produced gemstones, not Mother Nature.  You might also notice under magnification occasional irregularities in the cut and finish.  Of course, 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.

Keep in mind 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.  For these reasons 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 miniscule blemishes and cutting imperfections which are inherent in antique, hand-cut gemstones, and which are by and large, are only visible under high magnification.

ANDALUSITE HISTORY:  Andalusite from southern Spain was first described in literature in 1789.  It’s likely that it was known in antiquity, but probably confused with another gemstone such as tourmaline, yellow topaz, or perhaps even citrine.  When you consider the number of countries which were part of the Classical Mediterranean, in which andalusite has been discovered, it seems inevitable that it was used at some point in antiquity.  Deposits of andalusite (albeit many of them small) have been discovered in Finland, Norway, Sweden, England, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Arabia (United Arab Emirates), Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Siam (Thailand), China, Mongolia, and India.  However today, only a handful of countries produce gemstone quality andalusite, including Spain, Russia, Ceylon, Australia, Brazil, and Canada.  Despite the number of localities where andaluste has been discovered, very few of the deposits have produced gemstone quality material.  Transparent andalusite of gemstone quality is very rare.

Faceted andalusite gemstones give a play of red, green, and yellow colors that seems almost iridescent (the shimmering play of colors seen with peacock feathers, black opal, black abalone mother-of-pearl, or for instance the sheen of gasoline floating atop a puddle of water).  The mixture of colors is the result of unusually strong pleochroism, which means that when viewed from one side the gemstone exhibits one color, while from another side the color appears differently.  In fact andalusite is one of the few gemstones which is “tricotic”, meaning three different colors are observable from different angles of view.  Because of this andalusite has sometimes been referred to as "poor man's alexandrite" because it offers color play similar to alexandrite, but generally costs considerably less.  However whereas alexandrite actually changes color in response to different lighting sources, the multiple colors of andalusite are visible under all lighting conditions, not merely when the light source has been changed.  Two other gemstones are part of the same “family” as andalusite, those being silimanite (generally cut as a cat’s-eye cabochon) and kyanite, which is a vibrant blue and also very rare in transparent, gemstone-quality material.

However andalusite has been gaining popularity on its own merits, not merely as an alexandrite substitute.  The attraction of andalusite comes from its play of colors if one changes the viewing angle.  A similar effect is gained when the light comes from different directions.  Andalusite shows shades of yellow, brown, green and reddish brown depending on the orientation of the crystal.  Those gemstones cut along the long axis such as an oval, marquis or emerald cut tend to show one color near the center and a second, usually darker color near the ends.  Square and round cuts usually blend the colors into a mosaic.  Though no record of the use of transparent andalusite gemstones exists from antiquity (at least recognizable references clearly and specifically identifying andalusite as andalusite), one particular variety of andalusite was in fact known in the ancient world as “lapis crucifer”, or “chiastolite”.  These gemstones, translucent to near-transparent, contain inclusions of graphite which almost always are in the form of a cross when the gemstone is cut into cross-sections (like a log or sushi roll cut into slices).  In Medieval and Renaissance Europe these gemstones were worn by Catholics as an amulet to protect against the “evil eye”.  This was in reference to the ancient belief that some evil sorcerers or witches had the ability to transmit evil with just a glance.  Certain items of personal adornment (amulets, talismans, etc.) were thought to protect the wearer from the "evil eye" by the proviso of an always watchful open eye.

Though particularly popular as a religious amulet, the “lapis crucifer” gemstone was also popular with the general population of Medieval and Renaissance Europe as well.  In Brittany (France) these crystals were worn as a talisman.  Local folklore held that the gemstones had dropped from the heavens.  It was believed that if the gemstone was worn so as to touch the skin, it would staunch the flow of blood. It was also thought to increase the secretion of milk.  If a “lapis crucifer” talisman was worn suspended from the neck, it was thought to cure almost any kind of fever, and the divine symbol it bore served to drive away evil spirits from the vicinity of the wearer.

Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and to provide 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.  Under what name andalusite crystals (other than “lapis crucifer”) may have been known in the ancient world is indeterminable.  Andalusite was likely misidentified as tourmaline or yellow topaz, perhaps even citrine/smoky quartz.  Though one type of andalusite, “lapis crucifer”, was well-known in Medieval Europe, history is silent as to how transparent andalusite crystals may have been used for healing or for mystic or shamanic purposes.  However it is possible that the beliefs which modern practitioners hold pertaining to andalusite crystals may reflect ancient beliefs.  It is common for such beliefs to be carried forward in folklore. 

Present-day practitioners believe that andalusite is beneficial in the treatment of eye problems, water retention and calcium and/or iodine deficiencies.  It is also said to be useful for those suffering from AIDS.  On the metaphysical plane, andalusite is often referred to as “the seeing stone” as it works to “see” the various sides of a person's character, or the various sides of a problem.  Thus it is believed to enable the wearer to calmly and objectively analyze their personality and character, or view two sides of a situation or problem.  Andalusite is also said to bring balance to one’s life and to enhance memory, mental clarity and intellect, and to stimulate problem solving abilities.  Mystics and shamans believe that andalusite can also be used when trying to communicate with the spirit world, and as a talisman is useful to protect the wearer, and to encourage moderation and balance in life.

 

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