By: Beth Bernstein
There are not many women I have met that can resist an emerald jewel. The optimistic color of the green gems suggesting renewal and rebirth with meanings from hope to prosperity. It is a stone that dates back for centuries and was worn by nobility and owned by Hollywood royalty. It can range from a vibrant shade of green to one that’s more subdued and it has had myriad famous tales to tell. Recently after writing the last blog for Muzo, I started hankering to know the personal stories of leaders and experts in the jewelry industry, from press and retailers to antique dealers and jewelry historians/authors. And while I was interviewing this group of women, I remembered an experience I had on Instagram in 2016. I was playing around with my own jewelry and started to mix modern and antique emerald jewels—one handmade bracelet that I strung around and through my fingers and even some Georgian paste rings that were created to look like the real thing. It was one of my most popular posts still to date, with over 2000 likes. There is a reason that emeralds enchant and delight.
Here the women I interviewed talk about the memories and moments that signify the emeralds that have enticed them and/or enlivened their jewelry collections:
Elizabeth Doyle/co-owner of Antique/Vintage Jewelry Shop Doyle & Doyle and expert in antique and Vintage jewelry.
“I was at home looking through an auction catalog and I saw two beautiful Art Deco bracelets with emerald accents. I commented on how they matched my ring perfectly which has emerald side stones. To my surprise, my husband called the auction house and arranged to bid on the first one which was more delicate for every day and thought I would be comfortable wearing it more often. But he was outbid. When the second went up, he definitely wanted it. He ended up winning that bracelet. I was shocked when I finally saw it that he took my comment seriously and that he managed to bid and win the bracelet. He had never participated in an auction before. He was right that I thought it was a bit too large to wear regularly, but I was super excited to put it on and wear it to the event we had that night. When we got home, I could not get the bracelet off. The safety catch was so secure it would not open. I ended up wearing the bracelet absolutely everywhere for over a week. So, the bracelet managed to force its way into being an everyday bracelet.”
Laura Freedman/Owner of Broken English and mix master of how to style antique and modern jewels
“The Emerald stone by nature, is known for representing spirituality, loyalty, protection and wisdom. It is a conveyer of hope and love. Emeralds are one of my favorite stones. The color variations and the intensity of each stone leaves room for everyone to find the exact match, specific to each person's taste. I have always dreamed of finding the perfect emerald cocktail ring—one that will commemorate one of life's big moments. It is something that I have always wanted to add to my collection. Shay has always been one of my go-to lines for simple stone silhouettes. Their emeralds never disappoint. This ring makes me happy. It is simple and elegant and hits all the marks for what I look for in a piece. The stone speaks for itself, and the gold setting complements it without overpowering the natural beauty of the emerald. In doing this article I think I just found my ring!”
Lauren Levinson/ Curator of Jewelry/Chief Style Officer at Mayfair Rocks (Lauren who is also a fashion-guru has also been photographed on the streets during Paris Haute Couture week)
“For one of my birthdays my husband surprised me with a stunning pair of emerald earrings. He had worked secretly with my sister Kristen Farrell on them.
Fortunately for me my sister was ready for this request! It pays to have a goldsmith artist designer in the family. She had already made a phenomenal emerald ring for him to give me the year before for an anniversary and knew the earrings would be next, so she had started looking for a set of Cabochon emeralds to use for the handmade diamond set mountings before he had even called her. They are one of my favorite jewels due to the significance and two people who I love so much who were involved in creating the earrings”
Jennifer Gandia—co-owner with her sister of Greenwich St. Jewelers situated in the financial district and owned by her father and mother for 40 years took over the store through many changes.
“Sometime in the 80s my father, a master jeweler, made our mother an emerald ring that she adored. Sure, she had other jewelry, but that ring was the only one we all coveted. My sister and I used to sneak into her jewelry box to try it on, both of us marveling at the bright green hue, so utterly enchanted that we'd fight over who was going to get it eventually. I'd always say, "well, I'm the oldest so I'll get it first" and my sister would get so frustrated. That ring has taken on legendary status in our family, so we created our own version that we call the 'Grand'. Inspired by our mother's ring, it's a three-stone design with a luscious, square emerald flanked by two trapezoid-cut diamonds in warm, rich yellow gold. Our mother has no plans to give up her ring anytime soon, so we've had to satisfy ourselves with sharing the 'Grand', which is now one of our most-popular styles in the shop. It's undeniable—emeralds are irresistible, and we love sharing their magical allure with our clients.”
Tanya Dukes has been recognized as a leading expert and writer in the fine jewelry category and her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Knot, The Jewellery Editor, Bal Harbour Magazine, and Robbreport.com.
"Let me start by admitting I, unfortunately, don't own this ring. At least not yet. It's certainly one of my grails, though. Designer Loren Nicole made it entirely by hand; she looks to ancient inspirations, in this case, Roman band rings, and reinvents them in an exceedingly modern way. I love the contrast between the electric green of the Muzo emerald and the deep color of the 22K gold. It makes the stone seem to glow even more. The design and materials are timeless and simple but so regal, too."
Sonia Esther Soltani is the editor in chief of Rapaport monthly print magazine and the Jewelry Connoisseur by Rapaport online blog. She also oversees social media and news on Diamonds.net and hosts a podcast on antique and vintage jewelry. She has particular interest in responsibly sourced jewels and innovative design.
“I became engaged twice. I married the second fiancé. Both times I received a diamond solitaire. One of my best friends is an enthusiastic jewelry collector. My “Gem Twin” knew I dreamed of an emerald engagement ring and was upset I was never asked for what I wanted, so she gifted me this beautiful emerald ring, with the message ‘because you are not getting engaged a third time.’ To me it symbolizes female friendship and my wonderful friend’s thoughtfulness and generosity.”
Joanna Hardy is a jewelry historian, regular specialist at The Antiques Road Show and has written five books including Cheapside Hoard, Emerald, Ruby and the upcoming Sapphire (October 2021 pub date, Thames and Hudson). She also lectures and writes as a journalist for different publications.
In 2019, Dreweatts auction house was selling jewelry that had been made by a woman, Natalia Josca and her passion captivated me. She was born in Italy in 1933 (died 2007) and met her husband in the late 1950s. He was a foreign correspondent (he was dispatched to cover the assignation of John F Kennedy) and together they traveled the world. Natalia became fascinated by the power of jewelry from different cultures and started to collect all types of pieces, from antiquities to tribal and was always intrigued as to how they were made. Then at the age of 54 she decided to study and learn how to make jewelry. Her pieces were inspired by ancient goldsmithing techniques, from granulation to weaving in 22K gold. I was attracted to this emerald bead necklace for the composition, the ancient ‘feel' of the carved emeralds and for the craftsmanship. I am not religious, but whenever I wear it, I feel I am connecting to a woman who shared my passion for jewelry, cultures, travel and gemstones. She did not identify with being Italian, instead she said, ‘I feel I am a citizen of the world’, and that sentiment was certainly reflected in her jewelry.
“From The Book I wrote Cheapside Hoard, which included this Emerald Pocket Watch, circa 1500s. Every time I see this emerald pocket watch it never ceases to amaze me; it is the execution of an outstanding technical achievement to enable an emerald crystal to house a watch movement. It also fascinates me to think of how that thought first evolved, and so long ago, when cutting gemstones and watch movements were both in their relative technical infancy. The depth of color of the emerald has not been lost and when the emerald lid is covering the watch face you can still read the time. The person who may have commissioned this watch was clearly successful and wanted to demonstrate their importance; they were also likely fortunate enough to not be governed by the drudges of time!”
“And now for my story. I have always been enamored by snake rings and the Romantic period of the Victorian era when sentimentality in jewelry told the story of love, secret meetings, and feelings that weren’t allowed to be expressed verbally—therefore the emotions were symbolized through the gift of a jewel. So, you can imagine when I found a snake ring with a Colombian emerald center that it immediately made me think of Queen Victoria’s engagement ring. I had to have it. I purchased it within 10 minutes after a good louping. The emerald was the prize of the ring –it was pear shaped and larger than any other of the ruby or diamond snake rings I already owned. The purchase was unexpected as was finding the ring so I paid it off as quickly as I could. Then brought it to my jeweler to ensure that the setting was tight around the stone. Five years later, I was at an antique show in Miami giving tours to attendees through seven centuries of jewelry which the show hires me to do and I was wearing the ring. Dealers who saw it wanted to buy it off my finger. Women on the tour couldn’t stop asking me about it. Then, when the tour ended, we had a Q&A lunch in which everyone was able to ask me questions. One dealer and one journalist were sitting close (both who admired the ring for as long as I owned it) and as I was talking and using my hands to express myself which I traditionally do, they asked in unison, “What happened to your ring?” I looked down at my hand to find that the ring was still there, but the emerald was gone. The show sent out a search party to every place I walked and every booth I stopped in during the tour, but it was never found. My insurance company gave me two choices—they would pay for the entire ring if I sent the setting to them or the stone to be recut if I received an estimate. I opted for a recut stone. It would depreciate the value of the antique but at least I would still have the ring and I am now hoping that I can have the ring reset with a Muzo emerald which would create my happy ending or new beginning, depending on how you look at it.”