The announcement late last year about what color Pantone is making its 2018 color of the year - Ultra Violet was exciting for antique jewelry lovers. Purple in the form of amethysts, and colored topaz, or paste was popular in the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Purple is a romantic, sentimental color that holds other meanings in jewelry as well. The color itself signifies nobility, and grandeur. When worn it also can denote creativity, devotion and independence. It is not an accident that at the turn of the 20th Century Suffragettes chose purple and green as their Sisterhood colors. Purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green for hope. Suffragette jewelry is collectible these days and many enamel flowers, and pins are found using those colors.
These days, Anna Wintour seems to lead the fashion standard with her stacked colored Georgian rivieres that she is photographed wearing regularly. However, before Anna, those fashion forward ladies of the 1840s and later collected these necklaces. Earlier necklaces of this style were collet set oval stones with closed backs. Sometimes foil in the closed back would further enhance the color of the stone.
These stones would have been amethyst, topaz, aquamarine, chrysoberyl, garnet and even paste. Diamonds also were mounted in rivieres like this, but obviously the most noble were the only ones with access to such extravagance. In the later part of the 1800s these rivieres were made without closing them in. Stones were more easily cut due to changes in technology and therefore more colorful stones were used as they were uniform in color and bright. Amethysts fit the bill perfectly!
The suite above is from the collection of SJ Phillips in London. It is the absolute bees knees as far as I am concerned. The largest amethyst riviere I have ever seen along with its original earrings, pin and ring. These amethysts are rich in color and vibrant. They are classified as Siberian Amethyst from the Ural Mountains and prized stones at that time and today.
Amethysts from that area are rich blue purple that could rival a sapphire of similar hue. In the 1650s some Court Russians valued an amethyst the same as a diamond! This suite is a spectacular collection of stones, and above and beyond that it is gorgeous jewelry.
At Keyamour, we love to buy antique jewelry with amethyst, as the color is flattering and usually the price point is affordable. Look out for some new Victorian earrings we just purchased with amethysts.