Corundum is an allochromatic mineral that we know by its two highly prized varieties, sapphire and ruby. "Allochromatic" means that in it's purest form it is colorless, but the introduction of trace elements (also known as impurities) will cause it to take on just about any color in the rainbow. Sapphire can be yellow, orange, violet, pink, etc. The only color sapphire can NOT be is red - when corundum is red we call it "ruby". The impurity that gives both the ruby and the sapphire their respective red and pink hues is chromium. Prior to the 20th century, pink was thought of as light red and the pink sapphire would have still been classified as a ruby, just a lighter one. Sometimes gender was used to explain the difference in color, so a pink corundum would have been called a "female ruby" and a red corundum, a "male ruby". This Victorian cluster ring is fashioned in 14k yellow gold and features a .33ct pink sapphire set within an oval frame of old mine cut diamonds.
VICTORIAN (1837 - 1901)
The Western world was thoroughly transformed during Queen Victoria’s epically long reign. New technology, urbanization, and industrialization created a middle class flush with disposable income, and for the first time, jewelry was mass-produced to sell to everyone.
The Victorians were avid consumers and novelty-seekers, especially when it came to fashion, and numerous fads came and went throughout the 19th century. In jewelry, whatever fashion choices Queen V. made reverberated throughout the kingdom. The Romantic period reflected the queen’s legendary love for her husband, Albert. Jewelry from this period featured joyful designs like flowers, hearts, and birds, all which often had symbolic meaning. The queen’s betrothal ring was made in the shape of a snake, which stood for love, fidelity, and eternity. The exuberant tone shifted after Prince Albert passed away in 1861, marking the beginning of the Grand Period. Black jewelry became de rigeur as the Queen and her subjects entered “mourning,” which at the time represented not just an emotional state, as we conceive of it today, but a specific manner of conduct and dress. She wore the color black for the remainder of her life, and we see lots of black onyx, enamel, jet, and gutta percha in the jewelry from this time. Finally, during the late Victorian period, which transitioned along with a rapidly changing world into the “Aesthetic Movemement”, there was a return to organic and whimsical motifs: serpents, crescent moons, animals, and Japonaisserie designed for the more liberated “Gibson Girl”.
During the second half of the 19th century, America entered the global jewelry market, with Tiffany and Co. leading the way. Lapidaries continued to perfect their techniques, and the old European cut emerged toward the end of the Victorian period. The discovery of rich diamond mines in South Africa made the colorless stones more accessible than ever before.