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  • The Difference Between Synthetic & Simulant

    Throughout history you will find details and stories of gemstones thought to be one thing turning out to be quite the other, famous historical dupes and accidental misidentification. The world of gemmology is fascinating, linked inextricably to the jewellery trade where at the retail point the consumer must place their confidence in the jeweller. So undoubtably, there are words and phrases that appear, often misused that mislead and also cause confusion both within the trade and to the public. This is usually not deliberate, gemmology being quite a complicated and scientific area that even has the most experienced of trades scratching their heads. Synthetic gemstones Diving right into the ever mystifying word 'synthetic' and what the true definition of this is . Having studied with Gem-A, we use and take their definitions as the standard and who we look to when explaining and guiding our customers. The Gemmological association of Great Britain defines 'synthetic' as the following ; " To be called synthetic, an artificial gemstone must have a natural mineral counterpart of the same composition and structure." -The Gemmological Association Of Great Britain ( Foundation In Gemmology ) 2008 In gemmology terms this is telling us that a 'synthetic ruby' for example ( a lab grown gemstone ), has the exact same chemical composition as a 'natural ruby' . There is no difference at the atomic level and chemical make up of a ruby that has been grown in a lab to one that has been mined from the Earth's crust. Image Source : Charlie Luxe Vintage 2022- The left is an antique enamel greek key pattern pendant with a single paste ruby ( glass ) to the centre, the right image depicts a Victorian flower crown ring with a central synthetic ruby gemstone surrounded by a halo of pearls. This is a really important distinction, the mention of identical chemical composition. You now know that when purchasing an item of jewellery with the gemstone described as 'synthetic', these gemstones should be the real deal but grown in a lab, and not an imitation. If the understanding is that a synthetic gemstone differs only from a natural gemstone in it's origin, which is reflected in the inclusions found within, sometimes the colour or appearance, and of course the pricing- what is a simulated gemstone? Imitation and Simulated gemstones Confusingly, a simulated gemstone can use natural, synthetic (lab grown), and even artificial materials to achieve the outcome of imitating the desired gemstone. So for clarity and clear understanding Gem-A's definition of a simulated gemstone is as follows ; " Natural or artificial materials that are used to imitate the effect, colour and appearance of other gem materials without possessing their chemical and physical properties." -The Gemmological Association Of Great Britain ( Foundation In Gemmology ) 2008 Image Source ; Stock images, To the left is a truncated step cut red quartz gemstone imitating ruby, to the right is a round brilliant cut red glass gemstone imitating a ruby A good example to demonstrate what this means in real terms, is the use of glass that has been coloured red to imitate a ruby ( a paste ruby ) , or a natural quartz gemstone that has then been dyed red to give the appearance of a ruby, but is lacking the chemical composition that a ruby possesses. The chemical composition is really important, it is what differentiates similarly coloured gemstones from each other, and it is also used to tell you that a synthetic gemstone is still the gemstone described. The chemical composition denotes the atomic structure and this is what gives you the different qualities of that gemstone such as lustre ( hardness, shinyness ), the inclusions seen within and the gemstone's toughness ; A glass ruby is no match for the real thing, less able to withstand scratching and hard knocks. Image Source: Charlie Luxe Vintage sold archives. From left to right- A real natural opal gemstone, An opal doublet where a real slice of opal has been glued to a an artificial plastic matrix base, and a constructed opal gemstone consisting of slices of real opal glued to an artificial plastic matrix. Within this category also exists composite materials and reconstructed materials. Something which you will have definitely been acquainted with, think of opal triplets and doublets where a thin slice of real opal is glued to or in-between other materials. The outcome of this construction is to achieve that look of a gorgeous real opal cabochon, without the price tag. Examples One of my favourite examples to help with my understanding between synthetic, imitation and simulant is " the Black Prince's Ruby" . The reason why this is such a great example is because it is one of the most famous dupes in history. Image Source: Wikipedia, an image of the Black Prince's 'Ruby'. The spinel sits at the front of the Imperial crown. The 'ruby' gifted to Edward of woodstock in the 14th century has turned out to in fact be a red spinel. Weighing in at a whopping 170 carats, it was not until 1783 when spinels gained their own definitive name different from a ruby because of their chemical composition. Image Source : Both from wikipedia, on the left sits a red spinel gemstone and on the right sits a red ruby gemstone. Both are unfashioned and in their crystal habit. Spinel's come in a huge range of colours both their natural and synthetic grown counterparts, they are quite notorious for deception and mistaken gemstone identity. Part of the problem lies with the geological occurence, because spinels grow in the same conditions as rubies. As we can see with this example, while the gemstones might look very similar, they are not because they differ chemically. Conclusion Just from a very small snippet of the gemmology world, you can see already the overlap between and why this causes so much confusion. The term synthetic with no prior gem knowledge absolutely suggests a gemstone that isn't 'real', and is pretending to be something else. What we actually discover when we take the time to explain the distinction is that we can help our customers to understand and empower them to be educated when buying jewellery, armed with the knowledge that a synthetic ruby is still a ruby.

  • How to Style the 'Key To The Secret Garden'

    This treasured 'Key To The Secret Garden' reminds us of a bejewelled key that slips into the lock of a gothic iron gate to a secret garden, shut and hidden. Its royal blue enamel decor bordered with a beautiful white halo makes this key such an alluring gem. We have put together this guide on easy ways to style pieces similar to this, to show how it can be a seamless addition to your jewellery collection. Short Chain Necklace A classic way to style a watch key is by pairing it with a shorter chain. A shorter chain will allow the key to float gracefully against the chest, partnered with a vintage style blouse with a lower cut will help to beautifully frame your jewels. Keeping things simple and understated will keep the focus on the delightful jewel making it perfect for stylish day-to-day wear. Here we have paired it with our Vintage 9ct Gold Figaro Chain, however any shorter length gold chain will be perfect for the job! Longer Length Chain Wearing the key pendant on a longer chain is a great way to play into the historical references of an antique piece of jewellery. Watch keys would sometimes be worn on a longer chain so that they were easily accessed for use, and we so love this idea for its modern day wear. It could be great worn with a plain t-shirt to give it the perfect backdrop. Again, keeping it simple helps the wearability of this pendant. We have styled it with this Vintage 8ct Gold Longer Length Box Chain , at 27" it is a fabulous length for using to add more layers into your necklace stacking. Layered More is less! Sometimes there is the need for minimalism, but why not try mixing your pendant with other chains and charms to create your own unique stack of jewels. Here, we have added a Victorian 15ct Gold Tasselled Trailing Charm and have mixed up the metals by including a Vintage 9ct Rose Gold Rolo Chain with a buttery 1920s 15ct Gold Rollerball Chain. Colour Co-ordination Have a look through your jewellery collection and see what other pieces could pair well. Try colour matching like we have here, styling other blue jewels together to create a gorgeous tonal look. We have chosen a Art Deco Sapphire ring with a Turquoise Floral Gemstone beauty to bring a range of shades into the mix. Take a look at a colour wheel to see what colours compliment each other. Blue is complimentary to orange and yellow hues, so the addition of bright buttery yellow gold helps to make the colours pop against each other. And it doesn't have to stay within jewellery, this could also be done with clothes already in your wardrobe, we think the deep royal blue enamel of this watch key would pair sublimely with a pair of indigo jeans. There really are no rules when it comes to jewellery wearing, we've put together just a few easy ways to wear our Antique Key, we'd love to know how you would wear it, let us know in the comments!

  • A Guide to Georgian Jewels

    The Georgian Era of 1714 – 1837 saw major changes which shaped the society and landscape of Britain. The era is known for being equal parts luxury and poverty, with the birth of industrialisation in the 1770’s developing new technologies and new jobs, which provided new levels of lavish whilst pushing the poor into further poverty with terrible working and living conditions. Society was shaped into a world of luxe and wealth due to the vast fortunes of those involved in the Industrial Revolution. Gone were the social rankings determined by birth, as wealthy and well-educated men led their families up the social ladder. Ladies had the freedom to travel and visit friends, with the expectation that they would be well versed in literature, art, music, and politics. Fashionable balls were laid on all over the country thanks to the invention of the steam train, making them the perfect place to show off a new set of evening jewels. Image source; The British Library. Lavish balls were held up and down Britain for the wealthy to attend. It was a great opportunity to meet future partners, dancing demanding dances with the balls known to last from dusk til dawn. Key Georgian Styles & Influences Georgian jewellery can be instantly recognisable due to a few features. Jewels would be hand-made by skilled artisans, gemstones and metalwork sometimes appear to look less neat compared to more recent eras. Styles were dramatic and ornate, with delicate and intricate techniques such as repousse and cannetille heavily forming the styles of jewellery from this era. Historical events all over Europe in France, Germany and Italy also had an influence Georgian jewellery style, whilst artists such as J.M.W Turner and John Constable led the Romantic movement, visualising the beauty of nature through their paintings. Authors like Jane Austin and Samuel Johnson further pushed the Romanticism era. With the advancements in societal and industrial life, how jewellery was made and where it was worn also had a significant impact on the style of jewellery. Image source ; The Royal Academy. 'The Leaping Horse' , 1825 John Constable. "Constable paid great attention to weather and he described this painting as ‘a lovely subject, of the canal kind, lively – & soothing – calm and exhilarating, fresh – & blowing.’" Day-to-Night The Georgian era was a time for social living, embracing country house living in the day and elegant salon life at night. This of course allowed the need for the wealthy to have a vast array of jewels and clothes to bring distinction between day and night. Daytime jewellery consisted of gold chains featuring watches, agate, or coral. Brooches and pins were used to fasten shawls, rings were kept dainty and often featured a coloured gemstone, sometimes a ring was worn on every finger. Bracelets were worn in pairs, but by the end of the 1820’s half a dozen were being worn. Earring styles began lightweight, evolving into drop styles which could be conveniently split to transform into an earring top that could be separated from its drop to suit the time of day. Image source; 'Georgian Jewellery' by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings, 2007. An excellent book we love to reference when researching about jewels from the Georgian era. On the right is a great example of how the day-to-night earrings transform from one style into another. Night jewellery was as you can image very different to the day jewels. Diamonds featured heavily to dazzle at evening parties. The invention of foil backed gemstones helped to enhance coloured gems in a candlelit room. Diamonds, gemstones, and pearls were always cohesive of the evenings theme and wearers outfit, an essential for every woman in attendance. Necklaces cascaded down necklines filled with gems, whilst brooches equally heavily featured gemstones. They would often be motifs of floral influence, playing into the Romanticism style. Rings were larger with clusters of diamond and gemstone combinations, paired with the day-to-night earrings. Repousse This was a common metal work technique involving hammering metals into intricate designs and patterns, giving highly detailed shapes and patterns, often floral, to jewellery styles. Image source; Collectors Weekly. Georgian Pink Topaz Repousse Necklace Cannetille In around 1790, cannetille came into style in England, and then much later in France in 1815. The style consists of extremely exquisite gold wire work, flourishing as a popular style until the 1830’s. Gold wire was worked to make it look woven, featuring motifs such as scrolls, tendrils and rosettes. Image source; Wikimedia. Early 19th century cannetille work brooch with an oval mixed-cut citrine in a foiled closed back setting, within a scroll and burr cannetille surround. Foil Backed Foil backing gemstones was introduced as a method to brighten and intensify the colours of diamonds and gemstones. Sometimes even being used to enhance poorly cut gemstones or non-precious stones. A reflective foil would be placed underneath closed-set stones to increase the refraction of light, producing a magical lustre and shimmer. It is important to note that over time these foils will have faded or tarnished and must be kept away from water. Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage. Georgian 15ct Gold Foiled Amethyst Gemstone Earrings. "By foiling the reverse, Georgian jeweller's were able to acheive what we achieve today with perfectly symmetrically cut gemstones. The foiling technique improves the optical performance of the stone, and creates a fabulous effect when peering into the stone." Cameos and Intaglios Cameos and Intaglios are a form of carving designs into hardstones such as agate, onyx or lapis. Cameos tend to be large and dramatic, being carved to stand out in relief from its background, whereas intaglios are sunken by being carved into the surface, they also would be smaller in size and more understated. Both styles originated from Italy, often including a carved portrait of a loved one or featuring a mythological or religious motif. Image source; Pinterest. A Rare Georgian Onyx Intaglio Roman Soldier Ring Mourning Jewellery The custom to wear jewels to commemorate a death started hundreds of years before the Georgian era, but because of the publication of the book ‘Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality’ by Edward Young, a revival of mourning jewellery began in England, and then spread to the rest of Europe and America. Memorial rings were by far the most common type of mourning jewellery, being handed to anyone who could afford one. Image source; Charlie Luxe Vintage. Georgian Pendant. The Georgian era was a period that has gone down in history as a time for industrialisation and romanticism which in turn has had a huge impact on the development on all future jewellery styles. There are still plenty of Georgian treasures buried away to be rediscovered, however most of it has ended up in private collections or converted into new jewels. We love to hunt for Georgian jewels as the allure of their history and age always entices us. We'd love to know what you love the most about Georgian jewellery!

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  • Layaway | Charlie Luxe Vintage | Curated Antique Jewellery

    LAYAWAY Layaway plans are available for all items over £250.00 with a 20% deposit to be paid immediately to secure. Items are removed from the website on receiving the deposit. The layaway deposit and any payments made on account of the plan are none refundable should the purchaser fail to complete their plan, or wish to cancel. Swaps are also not considered. We can offer layaway plans that range between 1-3 months maximum. Returns on layaway purchases are not available unless the item arrives damaged or grossly misdescribed. If you would like to take out a plan on one of our pieces, please get in touch via email info@charliesvintagecharms.com.

  • January Sale | Charlie Luxe Vintage | Curated Antique Jewellery

    SALE Quick View Vintage 9ct Gold Duo Colour Engraved Band Stacker Ring Regular Price £165.00 Sale Price £130.00 Quick View Early Victorian Sterling Silver & 9ct Gold Paste Conversion Bracelet Regular Price £260.00 Sale Price £165.00 Quick View Vintage 9ct White Gold Diamond Marquise Charm Regular Price £150.00 Sale Price £100.00 Quick View 1970's Style 9ct Gold Blue John Statement Ring Regular Price £265.00 Sale Price £165.00 Quick View Victorian 9ct Gold 2.62ct Amethyst Heart Necklace Regular Price £380.00 Sale Price £280.00 Quick View Vintage 9ct Gold Capricorn Charm Regular Price £100.00 Sale Price £80.00

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