Candlelight Viewing and Gemstones
inDecember 14, 2011 - 11:48am
Flip a switch, and the room is filled with bright light. We take it for granted. It's not even magical to us. So very ordinary. We only think about electrical lighting when we have to change a light bulb. We don't even consider the quality of the light. Our nights are filled with bright white light, whether fluorescent or incandescent, we do not care.
Not so long ago, (if you think of 130 years as not so long ago) the world looked very different at night. Colors appeared different. Candlelight imparts a golden or yellowish tone. Objects illuminated by candle cast long shadows. The corners of the room look mysterious. People look different too. Candlelight is very forgiving. Women love candles for the soft lighting effect as for the romance and scent of the wax.
Illumination by candle had great affect on artistic creations. Paintings, sculpture, architecture, even fashion was all designed to be viewed by the flickering light of candles. Some fabrics such as satin and velvet look best in a subdued golden light. So do certain gem stones. An eighteenth century lady dressed for a ball in satin silks, and she chose large pearls or faceted gems such as amethyst, garnet, topaz, and diamonds - if she could afford them – it was not until the 19th century that the large African and Brazilian deposits were found, making diamonds affordable for the common affluent, not just the aristocratic.
Garnets were a particularly favored gem. Faceted garnet exhibits a subtle fire in candlelight that is flattering to many. The rich red burgundy of garnet went well with Victorian velvets. Garnet does not look so special in daylight, nor in fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent light dulls many gemstones, and takes all the romance out of velvet and satin.
Pearls truly glowed against the skin when worn by candlelight. Ancient Romans valued pearls above all other gems – imagine a Roman villa illuminated by torchlight with hedonistic Romans wearing their pearl jewelry, reclining while being served exotic dishes (such as roasted door mice with oysters). Only pearl earrings would show so well by torchlight. Faceting of gems as we know it would not appear until the 12th century. The ancient Romans were rather limited in jewelry alternatives. Gold ornaments were also popular with the ancients, as gold gleams beautifully by firelight.
Back to the flip switch. When choosing evening jewelry, today's woman is likely to choose man made crystals. Nothing, not even diamond, sparkles under electric lighting like aurora borealis Swarovski crystals. No wonder Swarovski crystals are so favored by many of today's brides. How fitting that a man made gem looks best shown by man made light.
So, exactly when did candles, as a light source, begin their obsolescence? The incandescent electric light bulb was first patented by two Canadian men, James Woodward and Matthew Evans - July 24, 1874. It was filed as the "Woodward and Evans Light". In the course of his own invention research, Thomas Edison purchased the patent from Woodward and Matthews. The rest, as they say, is history.
Gaylynn Sneed 2011