Tourmaline was first brought to Europe by Dutch traders who sold it for it's pyro-electric properties. These early traders discovered that when heated, tourmaline develops an electrical charge, so it was peddled for it's ability to draw ashes from a smoked pipe. In fact, tourmaline was called asschentrekker
in Old Dutch which translates to "ash puller". Handy utility aside, tourmaline occurs in many colors and has been popularly used in jewelry since at least the mid-Victorian period. This lovely 18k yellow gold vintage ring is set with a fancy cut oval tourmaline that features a smooth convex crown and faceted pavilion.
RETRO (1935 - 1945)
World War II marked the shift from Art Deco to retro, as yet another war (and the subsequent materials rations) dictated what was available on the jewelry market. Platinum was reserved for military use, so jewelers began relying heavily on gold and experimenting with colored alloys and different finishes. Retro jewelry designs are marked by asymmetry, motifs borrowed from industrial design, and exaggerated scale.
Thanks to a hugely successful advertising campaign begun in the 1940s and funded by De Beers, the phrase “a diamond is forever” was coined and diamond rings were touted as the ONLY acceptable type of engagement ring. Carefully worded ads instructed men on how to choose a stone, and what to spend (“two months salary!”). The Gemological Institute of America developed the so-called “4Cs” of diamond grading, which was a scientific system for measuring the color, clarity, cut and carat weight of every single diamond.
The costume jewelry industry, having only been established a few decades before, began to flourish. Centered in Providence, Rhode Island, and surrounding New England towns, companies like Trifari, Monet, Hobe, and Vendome prospered as consumers gobbled up inexpensive machine-made jewels.