19thc Antique 1¼ct Multi-color Siberian Andalusite Orthodox Russian Monk Rosary
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19thc Antique 1¼ct Multi-color Siberian Andalusite Orthodox Russian Monk Rosary:
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Two RARE Exceptionally Good Quality Half Carat Antique Nineteenth Century Genuine Natural Handcrafted Russian Multi-Color Faceted Oval Cut Andalusite Semi-Precious Gemstones. Mounted into contemporary high quality sterling silver studs.
CLASSIFICATION: Faceted Andalusite Ovals.
ORIGIN: Chelyabinsk Oblast, South Ural Mountains, Siberia, Russia, 19th Century.
SIZE: Length: 5 1/2mm. Width: 4 1/2mm. Thickness (Depth): 3mm. All measurements approximate.
WEIGHT: Approximately 1.17 carats (combined weight).
NOTE: These earring settings are also available in solid 14kt gold. Other setting styles (euro clicks, lever backs, kidney wires, fancy studs, ball/stud dangles, fancy stud/dangles, etc.) are available upon request, both in sterling silver, as well as 14kt solid gold and in 14kt gold fill. Write us for pictures.
NOTE: If you would like only the gemstones, and not the settings, we can dismount the gemstones and offer you the gemstones without the settings. Just let us know, and yes, we’ll discount the price by the cost of the settings.
DETAIL: Russian literary sources claim that orthodox monks have been carving andalusite into rosary beads for centuries, and that Russian monks used to provide rings cut from andalusite to the Knights Templar of Malta. Talismans of andalusite were also worn by Russian warriors and soldiers with the belief that it instilled bravery. Travelers in Russia wore amulets of andalusite for protection, and both alchemists and philosophers used the stone as an amulet as well. Russian mystics believed that andaulsite aided in necromancy, the ability in séances to contact spirits from the “other side”. Wearing an andalusite talisman on the forehead was believed to be particularly effective. One variety of andalusite was known in the ancient world as “lapis crucifer”, or “chiastolite”. These gemstones, translucent to near-transparent, contain inclusions of graphite which almost always are in the form of a cross when the gemstone is cut into cross-sections (like a log or sushi roll cut into slices). Though particularly popular as a religious amulet, the “lapis crucifer” gemstone was also popular with the general population of Medieval and Renaissance Europe as well.
Celebrating this cultural inheritance here are two extraordinary, transparent multi-color gemstone grade andalusites from the Ural Mountains of Southern Siberia (Russia). Like alexandrite, andalusite is a relatively rare gemstone which is best known for displaying multiple colors ranging from yellow and orange through red and green. In these particular specimens the body of the gemstones is a beautiful golden-green color, with remarkably vibrant and intense, almost “neon” sparkles/highlights of orange and gold! The gemstones also have a relatively high refractive index, accounting for their intense brilliance and sparkle. These particular gemstones were hand crafted and faceted 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. As you can see in these photo enlargements, the gemstones are absolutely clean to the unaided eye. Even in these photo enlargements it is exceedingly difficult to discern what blemishes that the gemstones might possess, if any. They may be described as “eye clean” without qualification.
The earring settings are of contemporary origin. They are high quality settings manufactured by one of the USA’s leading semi-custom mount producers. They are constructed of sterling silver; they are not cheap, silver electroplated earrings. It is genuine sterling silver, designed to last a lifetime. It's a first-class piece of jewelry throughout. There are many other setting styles available (euro clicks, lever backs, kidney wires, ball/stud dangles) which, in sterling silver, could be substituted for either no or nominal extra cost. Please write us, ask, we can send you photos of the various alternative earring styles available. We can also reset the gemstones into 14kt solid gold or 14kt gold fill upon request.
As might be expected under magnification the gemstones show the unmistakable, hallmark characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone aficionados, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of such gemstones. These characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, many believe that such antique hand-crafted gemstones possess much greater character and appeal than today's mass-produced, laser-cut gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones that approach flawlessness in a perfect finish, the cut and finish of handcrafted gemstones like these is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago.
Handcrafted though they may be these gemstones possess wonderful 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 to use trade jargon the gemstones can be characterized as "eye clean". To the eye they are indeed flawless. However magnified as they are here in the accompanying photo enlargements 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 antique gemstone of natural origin. 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 expected of antique hand-finished gemstones of natural origin.
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. 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. It is precisely 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. However 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 (if at all) are only visible under magnification.
Naturally these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques prevalent did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so common 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. However for most, the unique nature and character of antique gemstones such as this more than makes up for a slightly irregular finish and minute blemishes, characteristics which by and large, are only visible under magnification.
ANDALUSITE HISTORY: Andalusite from southern Spain was first described in literature in 1789. It’s likely that it was known in antiquity, but probably confused with another gemstone such as tourmaline, yellow topaz, or perhaps even citrine. When you consider the number of countries which were part of the Classical Mediterranean in which andalusite has been discovered, it seems inevitable that it was used at some point in antiquity. Deposits of andalusite (albeit many of them small) have been discovered in Finland, Norway, Sweden, England, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Arabia (United Arab Emirates), Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Siam (Thailand), China, Mongolia, and India.
However today, only a handful of countries produce gemstone quality andalusite, including Spain, Russia, Ceylon, Australia, Brazil, and Canada. Despite the number of localities where andaluste has been discovered, very few of the deposits have produced gemstone quality material. Transparent andalusite of gemstone quality is very rare. Faceted andalusite gemstones give a play of red, green, and yellow colors that seems almost iridescent (the shimmering play of colors seen with peacock feathers, black opal, black abalone mother-of-pearl, or for instance the sheen of gasoline floating atop a puddle of water). The mixture of colors is the result of unusually strong pleochroism, which means that when viewed from one side the gemstone exhibits one color, while from another side the color appears differently. In fact andalusite is one of the few gemstones which is “tricotic”, meaning three different colors are observable from different angles of view.
Because of this andalusite has sometimes been referred to as "poor man's alexandrite" because it offers color play similar to alexandrite, but generally costs considerably less. However whereas alexandrite actually changes color in response to different lighting sources, the multiple colors of andalusite are visible under all lighting conditions, not merely when the light source has been changed. Two other gemstones are part of the same “family” as andalusite, those being silimanite (generally cut as a cat’s-eye cabochon) and kyanite, which is a vibrant blue and also very rare in transparent, gemstone-quality material. However andalusite has been gaining popularity on its own merits, not merely as an alexandrite substitute. The attraction of andalusite comes from its play of colors if one changes the viewing angle. A similar effect is gained when the light comes from different directions.
Andalusite shows shades of yellow, brown, green and reddish brown depending on the orientation of the crystal. Those gemstones cut along the long axis such as an oval, marquis or emerald cut tend to show one color near the center and a second, usually darker color near the ends. Square and round cuts usually blend the colors into a mosaic. Though no record of the use of transparent andalusite gemstones exists from antiquity (at least recognizable references clearly and specifically identifying andalusite as andalusite), one particular variety of andalusite was in fact known in the ancient world as “lapis crucifer”, or “chiastolite”. These gemstones, translucent to near-transparent, contain inclusions of graphite which almost always are in the form of a cross when the gemstone is cut into cross-sections (like a log or sushi roll cut into slices).
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe these gemstones were worn by Catholics as an amulet to protect against the “evil eye”. This was in reference to the ancient belief that some evil sorcerers or witches had the ability to transmit evil with just a glance. Certain items of personal adornment (amulets, talismans, etc.) were thought to protect the wearer from the "evil eye" by the proviso of an always watchful open eye. Though particularly popular as a religious amulet, the “lapis crucifer” gemstone was also popular with the general population of Medieval and Renaissance Europe as well. In Brittany (France) these crystals were worn as a talisman. Local folklore held that the gemstones had dropped from the heavens.
It was believed that if the gemstone was worn so as to touch the skin, it would staunch the flow of blood. It was also thought to increase the secretion of milk. If a “lapis crucifer” talisman was worn suspended from the neck, it was thought to cure almost any kind of fever, and the divine symbol it bore served to drive away evil spirits from the vicinity of the wearer. Russian literary sources claim that orthodox monks have been carving andalusite into rosary beads for centuries, and that Russian monks used to provide rings cut from andalusite to the Knights Templar of Malta. Talismans of andalusite were also worn by Russian warriors and soldiers with the belief that it instilled bravery.
Travelers in Russia wore amulets of andalusite for protection, and both alchemists and philosophers used the stone as an amulet as well. Russian mystics believed that andaulsite aided in necromancy, the ability in séances to contact spirits from the “other side”. Wearing an andalusite talisman on the forehead was believed to be particularly effective. 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. Under what name andalusite crystals (other than “lapis crucifer”) may have been known in the ancient world is indeterminable. Andalusite was likely misidentified as tourmaline or yellow topaz, perhaps even citrine/smoky quartz. Though one type of andalusite, “lapis crucifer”, was well-known in Medieval Europe, history is silent as to how transparent andalusite crystals may have been used for healing or for mystic or shamanic purposes, except in Russian history.
As described above, Russian mystics, alchemists, and philosophers all believed that andalusite had mystical powers. Russian history also documents that wearing an andalusite amulet was believed to benefit those suffering from heart and lung diseases, as well as nervous disorders, and was believed to bring harmony into the life of the wearer. However Western European history is silent as to the uses of andalusite crystals, excepting the variety known as “lapis crucifer” (chiastolite). However it is possible that the beliefs which modern practitioners hold pertaining to andalusite crystals may reflect ancient beliefs. It is common for such beliefs to be carried forward in folklore. In Western Europe and America present-day practitioners believe that andalusite is beneficial in the treatment of eye problems, water retention and calcium and/or iodine deficiencies. It is also said to be useful for those suffering from AIDS.
On the metaphysical plane, andalusite is often referred to as “the seeing stone” as it works to “see” the various sides of a person's character, or the various sides of a problem. Thus it is believed to enable the wearer to calmly and objectively analyze their personality and character, or view two sides of a situation or problem. Andalusite is also said to bring balance to one’s life and to enhance memory, mental clarity and intellect, and to stimulate problem solving abilities. Mystics and shamans believe that andalusite can also be used when trying to communicate with the spirit world, and as a talisman is useful to protect the wearer, and to encourage moderation and balance in life.
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 $11.99 for Insured Air Mail; International shipments are an extra $11.99 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."