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Location: Lummi Island, Washington
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Two Exquisite, Antique, Nineteenth Century Cabochon Cut Hand Faceted Genuine Natural Scottish Smoky Quartz Oval Semi-Precious Gemstones.
CLASSIFICATION: Cabochon Cut Scottish Smoky Quartz.
ORIGIN: Mount Cairngorm, Scotland. Handcut in or near Yekaterinburg, Russia. 19th Century.
SIZE: Length: 10mm. Width: 8mm. Thickness: 4mm.
WEIGHT: 5.45 carats (the pair).
NOTES: Upon request we can set your gemstones as a ring, pendant, or as earrings (click here for more information).
DETAIL: Smoky quartz from Mount Cairngorm, Scotland, known as "cairngorm", and since ancient times has been a favorite ornamental gemstone. Smoky quartz was very popular with the ancient Romans, who often used the stone for carving intaglio seals. Much of the smoky quartz in the classical Mediterranean World came from the Swiss Alps. Fragments of smoky quartz vases have been uncovered in the excavations of ancient Babylonian Ur. Cairngorm is also the national gemstone of Scotland and has been considered a sacred stone for millennia, a belief dating back to the Druids. The Celtic population of the British called smoky quartz they mined in the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish highlands “morion”, and the yellow-brown to gray-brown crystals mined there “cairngorm” . For centuries Smoky Quartz has also been commonly set into the pommel of the Scottish dirk, or “black dagger”, a long dagger with a straight blade that is a prerequisite of Highland costume.
Here are two richly colored, antique, hand faceted, very uncommon semi-precious gemstones from Victorian-era Scotland, specifically Mount Cairngorm. Very popular in 18th and 19th century Victorian Scotland, these gemstones are known either as “Smoky” or “Cairngorm” Quartz. Generally “crystal” clear, the smoky tone is caused by the natural radiation emanating from granite stone the quartz is exposed to while buried in the earth. These are two very handsome gemstones, completely transparent, with beautiful sparkle and luster. They are exceptionally clean, water clear, and possess gorgeous smoky brown color. These particular gemstones were hand cut and faceted into somewhat coarse cabochons, an old fashioned cut reflecting their heritage, by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia.
Under magnification the gemstones show the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. These characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today's cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-faceted gemstones Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones that approach flawlessness in a perfect finish, the cut and finish of handcrafted gemstones such as these are the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago.
These gemstones have great luster and sparkle, and to the eye are completely transparent, but one cannot say with absolute certainty that they are absolutely flawless. True, the blemishes they possess are not visible to the naked eye, and the gemstones can be characterized at a minimum, to use trade jargon, as "eye clean". To the eye they are indeed flawless; however magnified many times over as they are here, you might be able to pick out one or two slight blemishes within the gemstones, barely perceptible even at such high magnification. Of course the same may said about almost any natural gemstone. An absolutely flawless gemstone simply is not the rule in nature. Most absolutely flawless gemstones will upon close examination be revealed to be synthetic. You might also notice under magnification occasional irregularities in the cut and finish.
Naturally these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even theoretically possible, let alone commonly practiced, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today. Keep in mind that two centuries ago mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth's surface, were simply inaccessible then.
For these reasons antique gemstones must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones routinely mined from deep beneath the earth's surface today were simply not accessible two centuries ago, or at least, only rarely so. But for most, the unique nature and character of these antique gemstones more than makes up for the blemishes found within the gemstones, as well as the cutting irregularities common to handcrafted gemstones, all of which are by and large are only visible under magnification.
HISTORY OF SMOKY QUARTZ: Smoky quartz from Mount Cairngorm, Scotland, known as "cairngorm", has since ancient times has been a favorite ornamental gemstone. It is the national gemstone of Scotland and has been considered a sacred stone there for millennia, a belief dating back to the Druids. The Celtic population of the British called smoky quartz they mined in the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish highlands “morion”, and the yellow-brown to gray-brown crystals mined there “cairngorm” Beginning in the seventeenth century, craftsmen of Scottish weapons began to incorporate smoky quartz or citrines from the Cairngorm Mountains into shoulder brooches, kilt pins and dirk pommels. Smoky quartz was and is a favorite ornamental stone set into the pommel of the Scottish dirk, or “black dagger”, a long dagger with a straight blade that is a prerequisite of Highland costume, having first appeared in the eighteenth century as a military accoutrement.
A man’s “sgian dubh” (literally “black dagger” but also known as a “sock knife”) was invariably carried in a place of concealment, very often under his armpit. However when calling on another household Highland protocol called for men to deposit their weapons (claymore or broadsword, dirk, pistols, etc.) at the front door. Nonetheless even when visiting friends it was not safe to be entirely unarmed, and so Highlanders kept their dirk close at hand. But out of courtesy to his host the proper Highland gentleman would remove it from under his armpit and put it somewhere where his host could see it, usually in his stocking, which incidentally also made it even quicker to access if needed. Even the Scottish royal scepter features a cairngorm stone. It is made of silver gilt and topped by a 2½ inch sphere of Scottish smoky quartz and a Scottish pearl. It was a gift in 1494 A.D. from Pope Alexander VI to King James IV, as a symbol of papal support for Scotland, a “special daughter” of the Holy See. Together with a royal crown and sword, the three items form the Scottish “honors”, first used together at the coronation Mary, Queen of Scots at Stirling Castle in 1543. They were last used at the coronation of King Charles II at Scone Palace, the ancient crowning place of the kings of Scotland, on January 1, 1651, the last coronation to ever take place in Scotland.
Other ancient cultures have used smoky quartz, and the Cairngorm Mountains were not the only source of smoky quartz in the ancient world. Much of the smoky quartz in the classical Mediterranean World came from the Swiss Alps. Fragments of smoky quartz vases have been uncovered in the excavations of ancient Babylonian Ur. Smoky quartz was popular in ancient times with the Romans, who used the stone for carving intaglio seals. In the Middle Ages the most important deposit of smoky quartz was in Upper Silesia (now Poland). According to legend, a crystal ball of smoky quartz was the scrying or diving tool used by the renowned Dr. John Dee (1527-1608), alchemist, mathematician, astrologer, magician, and court diviner to Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603). In Medieval Europe smoky quartz gemstones were often engraved with the image of a man in armor holding a bow and arrow. The stone supposedly guarded the wearer and the place where it was situated. According to some historical references, smoky quartz was made into “sunglasses” in 12th century Medieval China, so that judges could use the smoky quartz glasses to hide their facial expressions when they interrogated witnesses. Later smoky quartz gained popularity as a material from whence snuff bottles were carved.
Historically smoky quartz was often used shamanistic rituals, particularly in North American Indian ceremonies where smoky quartz was often found at the top of ritual wands used by some Indian cultures. It was particularly prized by the Cherokees. In fact throughout the history of the ancient world gemstones were believed capable of curing illness, possessed of valuable metaphysical properties, and to provide protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world smoky quartz was recognized as a gemstone which possessed healing properties, and was also used by shamans to bring rain. Smoky quartz when worn as a talisman was also believed to protect the wearer from negative forces, surrounding the wearer with a barrier of protective energy. In the ancient world smoky quartz was often associated with the Greco-Roman Goddess Hecate, the goddess of magic, witchcraft, and necromancy (the summoning of the spirit of a deceased person).
Modern practitioners sometimes refer to smoky quartz as "the dream stone," as it is thought to enhance dreams, meditation, and channeling abilities. Smoky quartz is regarded as calming, soothing, comforting and stabilizing, with the power to restore balance and harmony, transform negative emotions to more positive energies, and to improve clarity of thought. Modern practitioners use smoky quartz to treat stress, depression, nightmares, fear, panic, depression, and pessimism. It is believed to help dispose of “psychic waste”, and to foster the courage to make changes and break bad habits, especially old beliefs and emotions that prevent one from experiencing life fully. On the physical side, smoky quartz is regarded as a powerful healer, used to help remove toxins from the body and aid the proper functioning of the kidneys (relieving fluid retention), adrenals, and pancreas. It is also used to help balance sexual energies, as well as help increase fertility. Worn as an amulet, smoky quartz is said to keep the mind clear, banish confusion, clear ambivalence, fortify resolve, help the wearer consciously focus on spiritual growth, and heighten the wearer’s understanding of nature and the environment. Contemporary spiritualists claim that smoky quartz Smokey Quartz is a very powerful scrying stone, revealing visions of dragons, strange astral realms and ancient secrets.
Domestic shipping (insured first class mail) is included in the price shown. Domestic shipping also includes USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site). Canadian shipments are an extra $15.99 for Insured Air Mail; International shipments are an extra $19.99 for Air Mail (and generally are NOT tracked; trackable shipments are EXTRA). ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per item so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers.
We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. If you intend to pay via PayPal, please be aware that PayPal Protection Policies REQUIRE insured, trackable shipments, which is INCLUDED in our price. International tracking is at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs).
We travel to Russia each year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset.
Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today.
Our interest in the fabulous history of Russian gemstones and the fabulous jewelry of the Czar’s led to further education and contacts in India, Ceylon, and Siam, other ancient centers of gemstone production and finishing. We have a number of “helpers” (family members, friends, and colleagues) in Russia and in India who act as eyes and ears for us year-round, and in reciprocity we donate a portion of our revenues to support educational institutions in Russia and India. Occasionally while in Russia, India, Siam, and Ceylon we will also find such good buys on unique contemporary gemstones and jewelry that we will purchase a few pieces to offer to our customers here in America. These are always offered clearly labeled as contemporary, and not antiques – just to avoid confusion. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."table.transapptable table.transapptable td TRANSLATE Arabic Chinese French German Greek Indonesian Italian Hindi Japanese Korean Swedish Portuguese Russian Spanish
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