- ROYAL GEMS in Constantin Wild’s treasure chamber
Basel, March 2019: Magnificent gems such as turquoise aquamarines, intense green demantoids and radiant topazes have long fascinated the royal families and continue to do so today. Some precious stones are just as famous as their renowned owners. “The histories of the individual gemstones are every bit as gripping as those of their prominent companions”, says gemstone expert Constantin Wild. “Apart from the material value, there is also an emotional value which is passed on down from generation to generation.” At Baselworld 2019, Constantin Wild will be showing royal treasures from his current premium collection.
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Aquamarine | The oceans of the world in a gemstone on the ring finger of Duchess Meghan Markle
It is the water of the oceans, in Latin aqua marina, that this blue gemstone has to thank for its name. The aquamarine displays not only a delicate water blue, but almost the whole colour range of the sea, from a subtle blue via greenish-blue shades to an intense, almost dark blue. According to the saga, the aquamarine comes from the treasure chest of the mermaids and has, since ancient times, been regarded as the lucky stone of the mariners. Just as the oceans encompass the globe, the aquamarine is at home in all the continents.
The aquamarine promises a felicitous marriage and is said to make its wearer happy, and rich into the bargain – an ideal gemstone, not only for lovers. That is probably how Prince Harry will have seen it when he made his wife Meghan a wedding present of an exquisite aquamarine ring as proof of his love. By the way, that item of jewellery once belonged to Princess Diana. Lady Di is known to have worn a large ring during her stay in Sydney, an emerald-cut aquamarine flanked by small solitaire diamonds and set in yellow gold. Who knows, perhaps the ring will also adorn the finger of Duchess Meghan when the time comes for their offspring to be baptised …
Mermaids’ treasure: the aquamarine symbolises a happy marriage.
Demantoid | Favourite stone of Russian tsars and the star jeweller Carl Fabergé
With its intense sparkle and unique interplay of colour, fire and brilliance, the impressive demantoid is the star among the green garnets. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful, rarest and most highly valued coloured gemstones – and the favourite stone of the Russian tsars. The origin of its name is a hidden clue to its value. ‘Demantoid’ is derived from the old German word for ‘diamond’. Russian demantoids have a special secret: their unmistakable needle-like besolite inclusions, found only in Siberian specimens, are known as ‘horsetails’.
Discovered in the Urals in the 19th century, this lush green gemstone rapidly advanced to become the favourite of renowned jewellers. Fascinated by its tremendous brilliance, Carl Fabergé, star jeweller at the Russian court, loved to incorporate these noble stones in his creations. And so it is that these fine stones embellish certain collector’s objects which are among the most popular in the world: the imperial Easter eggs for the family of the tsar.
After the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century, the demantoid disappeared from the world market for some ninety years. In the 1980s Constantin Wild set out on the trail of this Russian rarity. Thanks to his good contacts, he was able to make an important contribution to the rediscovery of the demantoid by international jewellers and their celebration of it as a glamorous newcomer.
Stone of the tsars and star among the green garnets – the demantoid.
Paraiba tourmaline | Magnificent colour intensity popular with celebrities
The colour range of the paraiba tourmalines, coveted worldwide, runs from an intense sea green to a lush turquoise. The intensity of its colour makes this extravagant stone particularly valuable. “For many customers, the paraiba tourmaline is their introduction to the fascinating world of coloured gemstones”, explains Wild. And the stone is popular with celebrities too: Hollywood actress Julianne Moore, for example, wore a ring studded with paraiba tourmalines and diamonds at the 2017 Golden Globes.
This rare treasure was discovered in Brazil, in the Federal State of Paraíba – and then later on in Nigeria and Mozambique. These coveted stones are contemporary witnesses of the continental drift. Some 300 million years ago, the countries now known as Brazil, Nigeria and Mozambique were all part of the super-continent of Gondwana. That’s why Africa’s paraiba tourmalines are just as fine and elegant as their Brazilian counterparts, the mines for which have long since been exhausted. Constantin Wild’s treasure chest contains some of the world’s most beautiful specimens.
Unique magnificence of colour from sea green to neon blue – the paraiba tourmaline.
Red spinel | Refinement in the English Imperial State Crown
“This ruby is a spinel!” About 150 years ago, this exclamation was the cause of much excitement, and it led to recognition of the spinel as a mineral in its own right. Until then, the ruby had often been confused with the spinel. Indeed, many rubies made famous by history are in fact spinels; for example the “Black Prince’s Ruby” in the English Imperial State Crown, which was made in silver in 1838 for the coronation of the young Queen Victoria. As early as the 14th century, that red spinel was given to Edward of Woodstock, known as the ‘Black Prince’, as a gift. According to history, the gemstone is said to have graced the battlefield on more than one occasion; it adorned the helmet worn by King Henry V of England during his wars against France.
In Germany too, the red spinel enjoyed great popularity early on. Pear-shaped spinels, for example, adorn the golden hoop crown of the Wittelsbachs of Bavaria. By the way, the spinel has traces of iron, chromium and titanium to thank for its incorruptible colour. Its hues range from a cool carmine to a warm golden red. Shocking pink and extremely rare red varieties are very highly coveted indeed. “For me, radiant red spinels are the better rubies. These breathtaking rarities have a particularly clear sparkle”, enthuses Constantin Wild.
Passion in red and royal charm – the red spinel.
Pink topaz | Showpiece of Marie-Antoinette’s collection
Extremely beautiful and ever rarer, the topaz has been known for at least 2000 years. For a long time, the imperial topaz was for connoisseurs only. In recent years, a renaissance of this precious stone has been in the offing. As topazes mostly come in blue, brown and green tones, pink and reddish-gold hues have always been regarded as particularly expressive and valuable. The French monarchy used these noble stones in their court jewellery. Marie-Antoinette, for example, daughter of the Austrian empress Maria-Theresia, is said to have been the owner of a particularly magnificent specimen in 1770. Tradition has it that she possessed a topaz which had a deep pink tone and weighed a good 18 carats.
The jewellery collection of Princess Marie of Württemberg (1857-1882) also contained some magnificent jewels studded with valuable stones of this kind – a diamond diadem adorned with large pink topazes, accompanied by a matching necklace, bracelets, ear jewellery and a large brooch.
Noblesse oblige: expressive topaz in sparkling colours.
Tourmaline | favourite stone of Empress Tz’u-hsi, the most influential personality in the Qing dynasty
The tourmaline has an ancient Egyptian legend to thank for its nickname ‘gemstone of the rainbow’. According to that legend, the stone had to cross a rainbow on its long journey up from the bowels of the Earth and in doing so assumed all its colours. And indeed, the colour spectrum of the tourmaline has over 50 nuances to offer. At the end of the 19th century, some 90 tonnes of pink tourmaline were discovered in California. Tz’u-hsi, the last empress of China, adored the stone and bought up almost the entire stock. She is regarded as history’s most famous wife and the most influential personality in the later Qing dynasty. For almost half a century, she guided the fortunes of the Chinese Empire. The empress’ enthusiasm for the pink tourmaline still holds sway today: the tourmaline is among the most highly esteemed stones in China.
European royal families also still hold the tourmaline in high regard today: King Harald of Sweden, for example, gave his wife Queen Sonja an unusual golden tiara for her 60th birthday. As the centrepiece is set in diamonds, the royal wearer can exchange it at will – for a green tourmaline or an orange topaz.
‘Gemstone of the rainbow’ with over 50 colour nuances – the tourmaline.
About Constantin Wild
Constantin Wild offers selected coloured gemstones at the very highest level of quality. The manufacturing facility that bears his name was founded in 1847. Today’s proprietor runs it in the fourth generation, representing the tenth generation of a family rooted in Idar-Oberstein and the gemstone industry. His hand-picked portfolio enjoys a worldwide reputation. The treasure chamber contains some of the most spectacular beauties on this Earth: paraiba tourmalines, rare imperial topazes, sapphires in various colours, green demantoids and other much coveted rarities this trained gemmologist has collected from all over the world. The colourful stones are refined in the company’s own modern cutting shop to show off their beauty to the full. Before these valuable precious stones leave the facility in Idar, the gemstone lover scrutinises each one personally.
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