Princess Eugenie’s Precious Colored Bridal Jewelry
Rare Colored Gemstones Taking Centre Stage at Her Wedding and Engagement
You probably were aware that Princess Eugenie (Fergie’s daughter) got married not so long ago. Besides her original flowing wedding dress showing off the beauty of a scar on her back - most striking was her colorful jewelry.
She not only chose unique colored stone pieces for her wedding day - vivid emeralds. Also her engagement was celebrated in color, with an extremely rare pink-orange padparadscha sapphire. Something that seems unusual for today’s ‘all-white-and-diamond’ bridal norm but in fact only shows a long royal tradition of wanting to stand out with special stones during their major life events.
Beauty is the most important attribute a gemstone must possess. But what is beauty?
We can measure with gemological standards all day long and give you an answer - with which you may then totally disagree. At the end of the day, it is something only the individual eye, imagination and soul can determine.
Rarity is the second most important feature, making something beautiful even more enticing. It transforms a gem from the mainstream into the collectable. The highly covetable. Only a rare stone is collected by connoisseurs and has also been embraced throughout history by royalty and those in power.
Bowing to its history and perseverance, to the idea that anything of beauty takes time, sacrifices and a process of transformation, cutting and polishing, until a stone’s full beauty reveals itself. Similar to the story of life’s transformation itself.
Knowing this, the choice of Princess Eugenie for color stones may not be so surprising after all, but only exemplary of a tradition which insiders have adopted and followed for centuries.
Let’s dive in for more details on these special colored gemstones.
An Engagement in Padparadscha Sapphire
Princess Eugenie’s fiancé made a special choice for a unique, high-quality gemstone in a pink-orange color that suits her hair and skin tone to perfection.
Along with padparadschas' stunning color, comes its rarity which only adds to the stone’s appeal.
After people have seen the stone, it often becomes their favorite leading to an even greater interest for a stone which is already so rare.
The stunning padparadscha sapphire on her finger appears to be roughly around 3 to 4 carat, with 10 brilliant cut diamonds and 2 pear shaped diamonds set around it creating a classic designed ring - but with a rare centre stone sparkling in a color most people have never seen.
The padparadscha sapphire variety belongs to the corundum species, as blue sapphire and ruby, and therefore has an excellent durability - hardness 9 on Mohs scale - and beautiful sparkle.
Perfect for an engagement ring that will be worn daily.
Where does this stone come from?
For over a hundred years, reference has been made to an extremely rare sapphire which was first discovered in Sri Lanka, in the mesmerizing color of a lotus flower which most people have never seen before. The stone’s color is caused by a combination of iron and chromium trace elements.
The name “padparadscha” comes from the Sinhalese word of lotus flower and is the most valuable sapphire variety - after top blue sapphires.
An intriguing mix of orange and pink, the stone is often subject of a heated discussion as to what establishes the “true padparadscha” hue. How pink or how orange should the stone be and are certain colors too dark in tone to qualify for the covetable term “padparadscha”?
What complicates matters is that traders often push gemology labs to state the name ‘padparadscha’ on a gem certificate for a stone that doesn’t actually fall within the true padparadscha range as they know the jump in price a stone with that title will get…
But how to pin down its color?
It’s neither pink or orange but according to the GIA (the Gemological Institute of America):
“this color range should be limited to light to medium tones of pinkish orange to orange-pink hues”.
As stated on the website of the GIA:
“GIA has studied the history of the term and its modern use and indicates on sapphire identification reports when a sapphire, in our opinion, meets the criteria for being described as padparadscha”.
This still shows the subjectivity of the term but that is inherent to the color stone trade and color grading.
What matters most is for the color grading to be carried out by gemologists from an international lab who have knowledge, experience and expertise and also an eye for beauty - rather than being driven by commercial intentions. That way, we can at least trust the certificate when it states ‘padparadscha sapphire’.
A Wedding in Alluring Emeralds
Also on her wedding day, Princess Eugenie opted for rare colored gemstones, this time a stunning emerald tiara and emerald earrings matching the color of her eyes.
The diamond and emerald headpiece was her ‘something borrowed’, on loan from her grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The dazzling Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara was made by the French jewelry house of Boucheron in 1919 for Dame Margaret Greville, a famous society hostess and philanthropist. Upon her death in 1942, she left her jewels to the Queen Mother which then passed on to the current Queen.
The tiara has a stunning centre emerald of 93.70 carats, according to The Telegraph, 6 additional emeralds on either side and is adorned with glittering rose-cut pave diamonds set in platinum.
The 'kokoshnik' tiara style was first worn at Russia’s Imperial Court in the early 19th century.
Diamonds are a recent trend.
While today the diamond is seen as the King of Gems and practically worn by everyone, up until the discovery of the South African diamond deposits in the 19th century, diamonds were worn by royalty only - during that time diamonds actually still were rare!
This shows that the diamond trend is a relatively recent mainstream one and no wonder this couple chose to sidestep the norm 😉
Emeralds also seem a natural choice as these stones have enchanted since the earliest emeralds mines in Cleopatra’s Egypt (from 332BC - 495AD):
Cleopatra was under the spell of their intense green hues, the ancient Greeks and Romans believed them to possess magical powers, as did the Mughal emperors who carved prayers, flower patterns and poems onto them.
The most renowned emeralds are considered to be the Colombian ones, famed for their slightly yellowish green hues. A beautiful blue-green emerald is mined in Zambia.
Other mining localities are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mozambique, Canada, Russia and India.
Emerald is a green variety of the gem family beryl that contains chromium and vanadium which are seldom found together in nature and which are responsible for its luscious hue.
Emeralds’ unique green can vary from yellow-green to blue-green, dark or light green with a liveliness shining from within that in India it was believed the stone contained fireflies inside.
Interestingly, gemstone lovers tend to fall for this stone over and over again despite emerald’s weaknesses, willing to pay a fortune for a stone that has been worshipped for thousands of years by those in power.
The stone actually has a poor toughness, is brittle and tends to be filled with a ‘garden of inclusions’ that can come in the form of liquid cavities with pyrite crystals and gas bubbles floating within or hollow rain-like tubes, mica plates - creating emerald’s “jardin” - and so they must be treated with care.
For that reason, they are mostly cut into rounded shapes or in the traditional “emerald cut” whereby the corners are cut off in an octagon shape to protect the stone from chipping too easily.
On top of that, a widely accepted practice in the emerald trade is to oil emeralds to improve their clarity and general toughness. This oil tends to dry up often though leaving emeralds with white dry cracks…
Perhaps it’s emerald’s sensual color that reminds of new springs and warm summers, its illustrious past or perhaps it is precisely emerald’s imperfection that seasons its beauty and makes it even more interesting. You decide.
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