NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for November 2004
Past Times __________________________________________________________________ We at Ruby Lane, would like to wish all those who celebrate __________________________________________________________________ The Art Deco period began with the end of the Art Nouveau period Alexandrite is the birthstone for June, sharing with the __________________________________________________________________ We are one of the largest Internet sites for collectors, with an
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,
Fine Art, and Artisans
Welcome to Past Times!
IN THIS ISSUE:
o Happy Thanksgiving From Ruby Lane!
o Bakelite: Collecting the Real Thing By Linda Grossman of
Evelynne's Oldies But Goodies
o Beautiful Alexandrite by Donald Ryan of Lee Ryan Antiques
and Estate Jewelry
Thanksgiving (we realize our non-U.S. readers do not) a very
happy Turkey Day celebration. It's a time to enjoy with family
GROSSMAN OF EVELYNNE'S OLDIES BUT GOODIES
in approximately 1909 and continued through the early 1940's.
The most accessible and collectible jewelry of the Deco era was
"plastic." The word "plastic" and "jewelry" do not seem to go
together for many people, but they do if you are an avid
collector of Deco jewelry - in Bakelite – the colorful fun
jewelry that is so fashionable to wear. This is the ultimate in
costume jewelry – it is worn completely for effect, to enhance
the "costume." Rather than being spurned as it was for many
years, it is worn today in the spirit of colorful fun for which
it was intended. In addition, when searching for Bakelite
jewelry, one can find some real examples of great design work in
the harder-to-find pieces that have made their happy way to the
Bakelite, a Phenolic Resin, was cast into tubes, rods and carved
sheets by machinists and was invented by Dr. Leo Bakeland, for
which he obtained a patent on July 13, 1907. The demand for it
and its uses in household items, games, toys, electrical
insulators and of course jewelry, made this product an instant
success. It was intended for the masses. Most Bakelite
production ceased in 1942.
Bakelite jewelry was sold in the 30's and early 40's in US
department stores such as Sears, Saks, B. Altmans and Bonwit
Tellers. Notable designers such as Van Cleef and Arpel, Channel
and Lalique even designed items using the material. These were
the times of the depression and the bright and durable Bakelite
items were an instant hit with all – with a wonderful array of
colors. The Queen may not have worn Bakelite at the time, but
in a recent TV program, the Royal Yacht Britannia had
furnishings that had Bakelite trim.
While "copying" is the best form of flattery, we are dismayed
that there is a "cottage industry" that has been created with
the production of "fakelite" – jewelry that is manufactured in
different parts of the world, giving the appearance of being
Bakelite. On close examination, to the trained eye, these items
are not vintage Bakelite. We are also aware that these items
have been "treated" in such as way that they may pass the
"Bakelite test" (true Bakelite when run under very hot water
will yield a strong smell and most pieces, when rubbed with 409
household cleaner will turn a q-tip yellowish). If one is
searching for and collecting vintage Bakelite, be wary of these
"Fakelite" reproductions that are in the market today and we
recommend that true authentic vintage Bakelite be purchased only
from a reputable, experienced dealer. Don't be afraid to ask
questions of any vintage Bakelite dealer regarding an item and
enjoy the thrill of collecting vintage Bakelite!
We invite you to visit Linda's shop, Evelynne's Oldies But
ANTIQUES AND ESTATE JEWELRY
lustrous pearl. But what a birthstone! Costing upwards of
several hundreds of dollars per carat for a mediocre specimen to
$20,000 per carat (or more) for an outstanding one, it's not
surprising most people are unfamiliar with this intriguing
Discovered in Russia in 1830 on Czar Alexander's birthday, and
possessing Russia's colors (red and green), it seemed natural
(and prudent) to name it after the czar. Tiffany's was really
responsible for popularizing alexandrite in this country and
important world capitals. Buying much of the mines' production,
they ensured themselves of an ample supply for scores of years.
What makes this gemstone so desirable and expensive? First--its
hardness is between that of topaz and sapphire, making it ideal
for rings; by far the most popular form of jewelry. Second--it
has a high luster, allowing it to reflect considerable light.
Third--it is truly rare, especially in larger sizes. But its
most desirable property is its ability to appear red in
incandescent light and green (or blue-green) in daylight. Many
people describe this phenomenon as "emerald by day, ruby by
night." Quite apt, once you've seen a high quality specimen
change color. The percentage of color change, along with
internal clarity and size, is the most important determinant of
price. Most high priced alexandrite has a color change
percentage of around 85-95%. By way of illustration, we
purchased a piece of estate jewelry several years ago containing
a 1.05 carat Brazilian alexandrite. The woman who owned it paid
almost $9,000 for the stone alone from one of the larger jewelry
stores in the area. Its color change is about 85%, giving you an
idea of how change of color influences price.
You won't find many jewelry stores with examples of alexandrite
jewelry. However, jewelers can special order loose stones for
genuinely interested customers. I can understand their
reluctance to satisfy the desire of the "just curious," since
shipping back and forth can cost $50.00 or so.
The Russian mines have been exhausted for years, but every so
often a small amount of stones will find their way to the
marketplace. Whether these are recently mined or old reserve
from the Kremlin vaults is known only by the Russians. Brazil,
Tanzania, and Sri Lanka also have deposits of alexandrite. These
open up and shut down depending on local agreements and
disputes, political considerations, and weather conditions.
However, the supplies of gem rough from these mines are never
enough to supply collector and jeweler demand.
"Antiques, Don speaking; may I help you?" "Yes. I have an old
alexandrite ring that my grandmother wore and I'd like to sell
it." "Sure. Bring it in and we'll evaluate it." Well, that sets
the stage for many a disappointment. What grandmother bought was
not true alexandrite, but a particular type of synthetic
sapphire erroneously called alexandrite. Popular during the
1950's, it was often set in silver and brought back from visits
to Mexico. The immediate giveaway is its change of color from
reddish to purple. We have even seen stones set in 18K gold,
leading the owner to the conclusion that it must be true
alexandrite. There are standard gemological tests that can be
performed on stones to prove their identity, but that still
doesn't satisfy everyone. They just know it's "real" alexandrite
because Grandma (or Mom, or Aunt Sally, or their next door
neighbor) said so. Many of them vow to go to someone "who knows
what they're doing." C'est la vie! As opposed to imitation
alexandrite there is a synthetic variety available to those who
love alexandrite's properties, but can't afford its high price,
It is chemically, optically and physically the same as the
natural stone at a fraction of the price. Russia and Japan are
major producers, exporting throughout the world. It is quite
difficult to distinguish between the natural and synthetic
varieties, often requiring specialized gemological equipment.
Any jeweler can obtain a synthetic example for a customer, but
be aware that several hundred dollars for a carat size stone is
normal. However, that sure beats ten thousand dollars for a
comparably beautiful natural stone.
We invite you to visit Don's Shop, Lee Ryan Antiques and Estate
active community of hundreds of shops from all over the world
offering antiques, fine art, arts & crafts, and collectibles.
Ruby Lane displays quality inventory in over 2,000 categories.
Visit us at www.rubylane.com
We at Ruby Lane, would like to wish all those who celebrate
The Art Deco period began with the end of the Art Nouveau period
Alexandrite is the birthstone for June, sharing with the
We are one of the largest Internet sites for collectors, with an
Subscribe Now to our Newsletters
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