Your address will show here +12 34 56 78

Speaker: Amanda Triossi


This talk will introduce the readers to the stylistic development of the necklace – from its origins to recent times.

Through this overview the readers will not only appreciate the extraordinary stylistic development of the necklace, which is linked largely to the changes of fashion, but also will appreciate all aspects that determine the value of a particular jewelled ornament.



Necklaces are like rings, items that have always been worn. The very early necklaces date back to 70.000 B.C., and women have always worn them.


In ancient Egypt there were spectacular pieces with broad colours rendered with polychrome beads. In Greek times (circa 330 B.C.), there were fringe necklaces. We have creations in the Roman world, in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance down to the 17th and the 18th century. It is a jewel which popularity never fades in time despite the changes in styles, shapes and materials.


The 18th century

In the 18th century, necklaces tend to be worn close around the neck as chokers, not to interfere with the elaborate decoration on the bodice. They tend to be entirely paved with gemstones. The more lavish examples are set with diamonds, which is a great novelty at that time, following the discovery of diamond mines in Brazil. Unfortunately, very few of them survive, and the examples that have come to our days are in the same shape and form, but are set with less precious gems – such as garnets. Same as diamonds, garnets paved the entire surface of the jewel, very tightly set – a typical feature of the 18th century.


Another characteristic of necklaces in the 18th century is that they have no clasp. Instead, necklaces are secured to the back of the neck by a big ribbon bow. Late 18th century necklaces look more geometric. Clear stones are set in close setting (i.e., in a gold foil so that no part of the stone below the girdle is exposed to light, n.d.r.), and they are usually backed in silver, while coloured stones are backed in gold. Gold and silver are the typical metals of and way of mounting a necklace in the 18th century.


The beginning of the 19th century

In the 19th century, in the period post the French Revolution, around 1800, women’s fashion requires to look as classical as possible. Women are wearing white muslin clothes to try and emulate ancient statues as closely as possible. With such a classical look, necklaces are worn on the base of the neck. A typical design presents rigorous oval elements that are very flat, linear and connected by chains, quite often evoking classical themes.


One example is shell cameo necklaces, the cameos decorated with classical themes taken from ancient mythology, to complement this “neo-classical” look. Another decorative art applied to necklaces in this period is the micro mosaic, typical of the souvenir jewels. These necklaces present micro mosaic ovals depicting, for example, views of Rome – quite common at the time. However, in the highest echelons of society, at court, and in particular in the circle of the Napoleonic Court, there is a great abundance of precious gemstones, arranged in the same way as the humbler cameos necklaces – same design, same oval elements and same chains connecting these ovals. The same style is applied to different levels of preciousness.


The Restoration

During the Restoration period, everything classical, related to the Napoleonic era, is scrapped, going back to more nostalgic pre-Napoleonic look. It is fashionable, in the 1820s into 1830s, to wear dresses with very exaggerated sleeves, counterbalanced by long earrings and important necklaces. It is no longer the plain, simple, classical look, but quite an elaborate one.


What is typical of these pieces of the 1820s and 30s is the gold work, which in jewellery is known as “cannetille”. “Cannetille” is a term which defines a type of embroidery – a kind of filigree that looks like embroidery. The jewels of this period are light, lacy and delicate, although showy and very ornate. Definitely that simplicity of the early 19th century is completely “passée”.


The 1840s – 1850s

In the 1840s and 50s the big word is naturalism. And with naturalism, you have one of the most typical examples of necklaces, in the shape of serpents biting their tails.


Precursor of the Bulgari ones by far, one of the most typical examples is the serpent necklace paved with turquoise. In the 19th century, turquoise stands for “forget me not”, and the colour of the Forget Me Not flower is, precisely, turquoise. Therefore, the stone itself means “don’t forget me”. With the snake biting its tail being the symbol of eternity, this necklace is actually a love jewel. The message of these serpents is not at all about evil, but it is a love message: “Don’t forget me. Love me forever”. As the symbolism of forms and stones is deeper, wearers in the 19th century are much more aware of this particular message.


The 1860s and the 1870s

The necklace remains at the base of the neck, but what changes are the motifs and the materials. In the 1860s and 70s there comes to be a craze for archaeological revival jewellery and women go to wear ancient-looking jewellery. Archaeological revival necklaces were copies of genuine ancient pieces. Jewellers like Castellani try to reproduce not only the design but also the materials, and the techniques. Sometimes, these necklaces are close replicas. Some other times they are pastiches: they look like antique in style but are an invention of the late 19th century jewellers, as no such necklace would ever have been created in ancient times.

Materials become unusual: from little shells to tiger claws, for example: this was a consequence of improved travel, of tourism, and people going travelling and acquiring souvenir jewellery in exotic locations and bringing them back to Europe.


The 1880s

Jewellery reverts to more traditional materials, and mainly to diamonds, as a direct consequence of new mine discoveries in South Africa, in 1867-68. Necklaces are worn in great profusion, and there is the comeback of the choker. However, this time the choker is never worn alone, but always together with another necklace underneath.


Quite often the necklaces are convertible, and can be worn either at the base of the neck, under the choker, or as tiara through their frames. The story goes that this trend started with Alexandra, The Princess of Wales, who set this fashion to conceal a scar that she had on her neck.


Between the 19th and the early 20th century

Chokers, mainly set with diamonds, continue to be worn also in the early 20th century, together with an abundance of other necklaces. The difference of a 19th century choker compared to a 20th century one is that, in the 1880s, they would have been with diamonds mounted in silver and gold. Instead, in the 20th century, diamonds are mounted in platinum, which makes them light and lacy.


Furthermore, chokers present one of the typical motifs that make them so recognisable: the Garland motif, which defines the period known in jewellery history books today as the Garland Style – one of the elements inspiring the Garland style being the decorations in ormolu that can be found in furniture typical of the Louis XVI style and which presents garland-style ormolu decorations – thus leading the way to the international spread of this style in jewellery.


The 1920s

In the 1920s chokers are replaced by long necklaces, which become the must-have jewel because they enhance the vertical line of the 1920s dress, which calls for long necklaces.  Sometimes some rare examples also have exotic motifs. This is the period of the Egyptian revival jewels and Egyptian motifs feature very prominently, specially following the sensational discovery, in November 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamun. These Egyptian-styled sautoirs would feature for example faux hieroglyphs, and the Egyptian inspiration is very visible, making them another IT-jewel.


The 1930s

Into the 1930s the necklace becomes short again and is worn at the base of the neck. The necklaces of this period are characterised by geometric motifs and are very precious, with great abundance of diamonds. A typical feature of necklaces of the 1930s is that they are convertible, with detachable parts that can be worn as clips, as ear clips and even as a tiara.


The 1940s

In 1940s, the changes in the manufacture of the necklaces are linked to the material used: yellow gold. The 1940s is the decade of the Second World War, and materials are scarce. Platinum is requisitioned for the armament industry, and the supply of gemstones is interrupted. These “war jewels” are still fantastic pieces, but compared to the ones of the 1930s, they are intrinsically less valuable.


The 1950s

With the 1950s, after the Second World War, there is the comeback of opulence and of important diamond necklaces of high intrinsic value. The necklaces of the 1950s are fluid in design, they are characterized by asymmetrical motifs and, often, by diamond baguettes mounted in channel settings which would end with a cascade of fancy-cut diamonds.


For less formal looks, in the 1950s gold is still a fashionable option. In the 1950s jewellers start competing with the haute couture world, trying to create jewels that seem to be made of precious fabric. Wearing these gold jewels is like having lace, or a scarf in gold mesh, around the neck. An iconic jewel of this period is the Zip Necklace, by Van Cleeef & Arpels, created for the Duchess of Windsor – with a functioning zip, the jewel transforms into a bracelet, and it is recognised as one of the maison’s signature pieces since then.


The 1960s

The 1960s is the period of the miniskirts. It is a period of transgression, where everyone in every field was trying to break the rules of the past and being innovative. In fine jewellery, we still have traditional materials, but the design is unconventional.


The gold texture becomes rough, gemstones are set uncut. This gives the jewels a very organic look. Even those designers that are choosing more traditional materials are conveying this abstract design in their creations, a roughness that is typical of the 1960s, and in break with jewellery tradition.


The 1970s

In the 1970s a change in fashion brings in a maxi and deconstructed look, with strong references to ethnicity. All this is reflected in the jewellery of the period, with the necklaces that turn, once again, to the sautoir, presenting ethnic elements like the tassel, which refers to the Indian culture, or the Buddha, which goes back to Asia, together with vividly coloured gemstones. The sautoir necklace is then a common reference in both the 1920s and the 1970s, with the difference that, in the 1970s, diamonds and/or coloured stones would be mounted in yellow gold instead of in white gold or platinum.


The 1980s

This decade is characterised by another tremendous change in fashion: from the maxi, ethnic deconstructed look of the 1970s, to more rigid and very tailored dresses.

These call for equally tight necklaces, very structured and colourful collars – Bulgari and Marina B leading the way.


The whole idea, in this period, is to be bold, and one perfect example in this sense is by Marina B, who set one of her collars with the famous Jonker diamond – at the time the 4th largest diamond found, a D Flawless of over 13 carats. Bold but casual, too, as it is not uncommon to accessorize casual looks with very important jewels.


From the 1990s into the Future

Each and every period in history is a reaction to what comes before. The 1990s react to the boldness of the 1980s with a defined sense of understatement and minimalism. Minimalism becomes the keyword of the period. Jewels become almost invisible, hardly to be seen – one example being necklaces with one single little diamond on a nylon string.


Looking forward to the future: it is fascinating to see how the necklace has changed in terms of shape, largely a result of change in fashion. What the future has in stall has yet to be established, but clearly the development for necklaces, and jewels in general, will be as exciting and as interesting as it has been for the last 72,000 years.






Speakers: Richa Goyal Sikri, Dharmendra Tank, David Nassi, David Bennett, Tony Brooke

Long read


When it comes to diamonds, unless you are tracking a diamond from mine to market, it’s impossible to tell where it’s from. Thanks to geological events that occurred millions of years ago, the characteristics of the stones make them unique. Which is why we, in addition to colour, clarity and all the other aspects that add to the value of precious stones, also look at origin.


And as the flow of gemstones from historic sources like Burma, Kashmir, Ceylon and Colombia has been reducing over the past decades, a new source has become quite prominent as far as mined gemstones are concerned, and that is the African continent. One of the challenges is that, even though the vast majority of mined gemstones come from Africa, when we look at auctions or at public pricing that is available to consumers, we still see African gemstones with the price tag lower than those from historic origins.


The discussion is then about the various sides related to the origin-based values and origin-based value perceptions, to historic discoveries and the impact that they have had on the marketplace.



Today it is estimated that in terms of quantity, approximately 40 to 50% of mined emeralds are coming from Zambia and that all the Zambian emeralds formed 500 million years ago. They were discovered in the late 70s, and the first official auction by the Zambian government happened in 1982.


At that time emerald grading was not as it is today. Lower grades were not that much in demand and were not getting that much of value. Today, we are seeing that groups like Gemfields and Grizzly, with their new technology, are able to create their goods in a better way. Therefore, thanks to time and technology, they have been processing, chipping, washing the goods and grading in a much better way, and we are getting a better selection and a bigger variety across the board.


Rubies & Provenance

Africa today is the primary source for mined rubies. It is estimated that 80% of mined rubies come from Mozambique, primarily from the Gemfields mine. More actors are joining in, such as Fura Gems, who have started auctioning goods in the last year, together with a third contender, Gem Rock, who is going to enter the ruby auction market soon.


Africa, as a source, has been traditionally looked down on by the industry, particularly for rubies, as these have to be Burmese. Now that this supply is down, African rubies – Mozambique, Madagascar and Tanzanian rubies – are in the ascendancy. Therefore, it could be advisable to try to cut back on this desire for pure provenance. The focus should be the value of the stone itself, how beautiful that particular stone is, and that should be the basis of the pricing structure.


Gems & origin-based premiums

Auction houses play a vital role in shaping value perceptions because it’s probably the only place where a consumer can see pricing and sales data published. Price levels are also confirmed by the gemmological certificates, which specify the gem’s origin.


However, with coloured stones it is not so easy. The first issue is that origin is still sometimes subject to conjecture: a gem can sometimes offer to clients two certificates stating two different origins, and this generates mistrust.


Historically, in the early ‘70s, gemmological certificates were unknown in the auction world.

Precious gems prices would be set by looking at previous sales, which would create a precedent. It was not until mid to late ’90s that gemmological certificates at auction came in.


Rubies & Spinels

Spinel in industry circles was once known as “the dealer stone” because it was primarily appreciated by people who were in the industry, and this was despite the fact that spinel has a history as rich as that of a ruby. Some may even say that spinels have been responsible for the lore and the brand that ruby has today, because many historic stones that were mistaken for rubies were actually spinels (the most famous, the “Black Prince Ruby”, is a 170-carat spinel set in the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom, n.d.r.).


Since the discovery of spinels in 2007, there has been a consistent supply of top quality, very bright, vivid spinels. Now that consumers can see that there is value in this stone, that there is history, and there is supply, they can start to acquire it and the collection becomes more important. And with the dwindling supply and quality to that supply, prices have gone remarkably up – from $5,000 a carat to $50,000 a carat today. At the same time, size is decreasing, so while it was easy to find a 100-carat stone back in 2007/8, today to find a very clean 20-carat stone is quite difficult.


Emeralds & pricing

The largest emerald mine in the world is in Zambia today. Being a publicly listed company, Gemfields publish all their auction sales revenue data in detail on their website. By looking at data that has been published since they started the auction, in 13 years, the price for the high-quality rough emeralds coming from their mine has increased in 13 years, going from $5 per carat to $150 per carat.


For the African material, we have seen a potential growth over a period of time and a ratio of increase of 300% for the rough. On the cut goods, the ratio is even higher, especially when it comes to finer stones. This happens partly because some stones are coming to auction and now clients are more aware of them, they have started appreciating them. Potentially, there is no limit to the price level cut emeralds can reach.

Gems certificates: yay or nay?

Clients are gravitating towards origin labels when it comes to coloured stones. The reason might be that there is some customer confusion and those who may not necessarily have the in-depth knowledge related to cut, clarity, character, treatments, would hang on to something that they recognise. Words like Burma, Ceylon, Kashmir evoke something in their imagination. But by doing this, clients could risk buying certificates, more than stones.


This is particularly true with coloured stones, for which the colour becomes a much more subtle matter. The differences between two vivid blue diamonds, or orangy pinks, or vivid pinks, are subtleties that can generate massive differences in price.


Market demand

From a dealer’s perspective, considering the auction houses as a price indicator could be unfair because, historically, they were only offering Kashmir, Sri Lankan, Burmese stones. These stones were attractive, while African stones are not perceived at the same level as those from Kashmir, Sri Lanka or Burma, and they do not have price precedents.


One element that is probably going to reverse this will be the jewellery maisons using African gems for their jewels – such as Cartier, who is starting using Mozambique rubies.


The demand for rubies on the market is huge, and unfortunately the Burmese stones are becoming unavailable. So mining companies like Gembridge are now actively promoting Mozambique’s rubies on their platforms, and over the coming years, Mozambique rubies will finally be seen being used by the major jewellery houses and in 10, 15, 20 years from now, the secondary market will start to appreciate a 5-carat, loop-clean, Mozambique ruby whereas at the moment it does not.


The cross-pollination of gems

Gems cross-pollination happens when gems go from a lesser known, or new, deposit, to a better-established market. This phenomenon has been going on for centuries. In the 1700s diamonds were discovered in Brazil. And at that time, the primary source of diamonds was India. So the main market being Europe, all the European diamond merchants were sitting on stocks of Golconda diamonds and when this deposit was found in Brazil, they were nervous that this new discovery was going to bring down the value of the Indian Golconda diamonds that they were sitting on. So they started a campaign, saying that all these diamonds from Brazil were of an inferior quality, that they were not as good as the ones coming from India.


On the other hand, the Portuguese, who were colonial masters in Brazil, and also in Goa, which was the main trading hub for diamonds at that time, exported the diamonds from Brazil to Goa, and sold those Brazilian diamonds to those same European merchants as Golconda diamonds. This is something that we have seen happening with many discoveries from the African continent, for example with Nigerian and Mozambique tourmalines taken to Brazil and sold as Paraiba tourmalines, or Mozambique rubies cut in the Burmese style and sold in Burma as Burmese or (the most famous one in the industry) beautiful velvety blue sapphires from Madagascar sold with certificates as Ceylon and some maybe even as Kashmir sapphires.


The question of what type of gemstones tend to carry this region-based price premiums in the market is quite relevant because, first of all, it does not qualify for every type of category and value to carry that premium, and secondly because there are only certain types of labs that even have the equipment to certify origin. There are some spectacular stones that don’t sell, or that haven’t sold because they have a Gübelin certificate and an SSEF certificate both saying it is a no-heat sapphire, but one certificate says it is Kashmir and the other one that it is Madagascar and the stone remains unsold, which can appear quite absurd. This shows that it all comes down to the opinion of the gemmologist – which is not science, but it is the interpretation of an individual.


Buying gemstones: practical advice

The main advice then, when buying a gem, is to choose quality above anything else – and to choose a gem we love.


Most people, when they buy a gem, do it by using their eyes. Therefore, one ends up buying a stone he/she is perfectly happy with, because it looks exactly what he/she wanted it to look like. Even considering potential treatments. This aspect goes back to consumer/client education. There should be no problem for anybody to buy a lovely three-carat heat-treated Sri Lankan sapphire, or a treated three-carat Madagascan sapphire as long as they know what it is.


And if the seller explained to the clients that a three-carat Madagascan sapphire can be purchased for $2000 a carat and that it can be compared to a three-carat, non-heat treated stone, also from Madagascar, that is going to cost three times as much – if all this could be explained clearly, correctly, coherently across the market, then understanding would be there. Trade and consumer education on gem origin, colour treatments and the associated value will be of great benefit for the whole industry.