Our fascination with jewellery and gemstones and their ability to excite, intrigue and bring joy to the people who own and wear them is the fundamental driving force behind what we do. Coupled to this, however, is a deep love of gemstones of all kinds, a wonder at the sheer variety of these most incredible gifts from nature and an enchantment with their timeless beauty and allure. We wanted to share some of that wonder with you.
It is an allure that has existed for humans ever since the first person, thousands of years ago, stooped to pick up a colourful, glimmering, special stone that caught their eye and entranced them enough to want to keep hold of it, to cherish it, to treasure it. Perhaps gems have ancient meanings and a different fascination and importance to earlier people that are now forever lost in the mists. Perhaps, like for us, they have always held value, adornments to signify wealth or status, or simply celebrated for their aesthetic elegance.
What we believe at Edith & Kiveen is that gemstones exist at the very place where science meets magic, where pure chemistry and geological composition meet mysticism and enduring mythology. Both sides of the coin are equally valid, the natural and the theurgical. We know that gemstones are naturally formed, crystalline shaped creations that originate from deep within the earth’s core, hued over huge timeframes. We know also that over the centuries, many cultures have contributed to the legend, lore and mysticism that surround the various gemstones and crystals we are familiar with today.
But what we know above all is that, like us, each one is uniquely different, in both appearance and in the potential virtues or energies they may ultimately possess. Perhaps it is their nature as uniquely beautiful fragments of colour that seems alive and eternal that defines our collective and enduring fascination with them. These magical gems are gifts of Mother Nature and have inspired philosophers, mystics, lovers, explorers, rulers, spiritualists and healers the world over for time immemorial. They inspire us at Edith & Kiveen to create beautiful and unique jewellery that speaks to and for you, that hold in their creation personal stories both never and yet to be told, and which can surprise, delight, amaze and enthrall.
We all have distinct memories of favourite bedtime stories, of magical storybooks filled with words and images of adventure, fairytales, legends, romance and discovery, shaping our dreams and firing our imaginations. At Edith & Kiveen our fascination with gemstones has always provided all of the bedtime stories we have ever needed, because the history of gemstones is rich with its own tales of grand swashbuckling escapades and legendary chronicles of fortune, love and honour, and its mythology full of enchanting fables, folk tales and mystery. And what better imagery to spark an imagination, in children and adults alike, than the infinite colour, lustre and splendor of these magnificent creations.
We’ve hinted at some of our favourite legends and gemstone stories here for your exploration, some of which have inspired pieces in our current “Aurora” collection, and some which have simply kept us marveled and hooked on the world of gemstones for as long as we can remember.
Our gem stories
Tears of a God
Amethyst is a wonderful gemstone, reflecting the colour of royalty with its purple hues, and indeed highly prized in royal collections from ancient Egypt to the modern day. Yet the true allure of amethyst lies not in its dazzling range of beautiful purple, but in its mythology. The stone is a type of quartz but was died purple by the tears of wine shed by Dionysus, Bacchus himself. The God of intoxication and revelry wept wine at the sight of a pure crystalline quartz statue of a young maiden whom he’d accidentally cursed in a fit of anger following an insult from a mortal. Drenching the statue in tears of red wine, the quartz was dyed purple for eternity and the gem amethyst was created. As the name comes literally from the Greek word for sober, we like to suppose that Dionysus was himself abstemious for some time as he reflected on his cruel, but for us hugely rewarding, fit of pique.
A world’s first
Wrongly named in the Middle Ages after its apparent source, Turkey, turquoise is in fact an abundant gemstone that is almost as old as civilization itself. Possibly the first gemstone ever mined, as far back as 6000 BC in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, the incorrect attribution stems from the passage of turquoise through Turkey and into Europe from its actual mining locations in Persia (modern Iran) and again Egypt. But it was also a prized stone in the Americas, and in ancient Mexico was reserved for the Gods alone. There are too many myths and beliefs attached to this most beautiful of stones to recount them all, a stone so defined by its colour as to be a standalone description of its own hue, and a word we reach for when we want to describe magical light blue, touched with greys and greens. What is clear is that from its very earliest discoveries, the magic of this stone has been recognized and famed, and we know why every time we lay eyes on it.
When silent stones can speak
Gemstones have been used throughout history to signify all sorts of coded messages, from the wearer’s status to the presence of magical forces. But in our consideration no code is as resonant, or as important, as that given to Green Tourmaline, White Diamond and Violet Pink Tourmaline when combined in jewellery. The initials of these stones’ colours – G.W.V – stood, and stand, for Give Women Votes, a code placed on them by the Suffragette movement of the early twentieth century to identify fellow believers in a world where many believed women should not have the vote. Pieces were not always commissioned in this combination, with other similarly coloured stones used as replacements according to the wishes and means of the owner, but the code remains true, and pieces of pinky violet with green and a hint of lustrous white will always carry these momentous and significant undertones. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which drove the campaign for equal voting rights had adopted these same colours in 1908 with violet chosen for dignity, white for purity and green for hope, establishing the code itself. The acronym GWV may be something of a popular mythical stretch, but what is clear is that this combination of coloured gemstones spoke volumes for their wearers in a time when the right to have a voice itself was tried by many to be silenced. For that we’re always happy to lend our own support, loudly and proudly.
It is not often that a stone captures us with its magical nature in a way that forces us to choose between competing beliefs. Yet labradorite is one such stone. Grey to smoky black, the colours are stunning, but it is the belief in the source of these colours that mystifies and bewitches us. For the Inuit of the Canadian landmass, the unique iridescence is a result of the Northern Lights becoming trapped in the rocks of the Labrador coast, freed by the strike from a brave warrior’s spear, but with traces left imprisoned to give a unique sheen and special gleam to the rocks. Or perhaps you would rather the belief that the labradorite rocks are the result of an angel’s wings touching the rocks in Labrador and blessing them forever with a heavenly glow. Or perhaps it is just a little bit of both. All we know is that this stone, so popular in eighteenth century Europe, will always shine amongst our very favourites.
Jewel in the crown
The British monarchy hold perhaps the most famous jewellery collection in the world, The Crown Jewels, kept under lock and key at the Tower of London, a historical nod in itself to the myths, legends and adventures that they hold. It has always struck us as fascinating, however, that one of the most famous pieces in the collection is itself the subject of common misrepresentation. The Black Prince’s “Ruby”, a 170ct. monster of a jewel which is mounted in the front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain, is, in fact, an imposter and not a ruby at all. In fact it is a spinel, but not any old spinel. It is one of the finest examples of a Badakhshan spinel in existence. Spinels have historically been mistaken for rubies, but are in fact an entirely different stone. Commonly found in shades of red but also in beautiful pastel shades, outstanding shades of pink, purple, orange and blue, plus every combination in between, makes them some of the most desirable stones in the world. Indeed, fine red spinel is more rare than ruby but less valuable perhaps as some kind of delayed revenge for its ersatz fame. For us, however, it remains deserving of all of the fame it garners – a beautiful gemstone, a deserved glittering jewel in the crown.
All in a name
Rubies may well be the most prized gemstone there is, surpassing even the best quality colourless diamonds in esteem and value. Yet, in truth, rubies don’t really exist. Well, they exist, but not as a standalone gemstone, because rubies are in fact simply the red hued sapphire, a stunning stone itself that comes in a variety of shades including the commonly prized blue sapphire. So, the ruby is merely also a corundum (the mineral name for sapphires) blessed with elements of chromium that provides its red colour. The question may still exist of when a pink sapphire becomes a ruby, but what is clear is that rubies remain the most precious of all gemstones, the so called “lord of gems” with its inextinguishable red glow as everlasting as its fame and covetousness.
While we love the myths and legends attached to gemstones and the stories that individual stones have told throughout history, we haven’t delved deeply here into the chemistry of gemstones. But the fact is that the chemistry of gemstones is every bit as fascinating and captivating as the folklore that is tied to them. As chemical studies have become more refined, and the mineral compounds of the earth better understood, numerous long-standing mysteries have been unraveled and explanations propounded. Mining advances and discoveries have also challenged and exploded the rarity or not of certain gems, adding yet further dimensions to their fame. So for example, in the middle ages aquamarines were treasured more highly than emeralds, perhaps due to relative scarcity, perhaps due to mystical properties attributed to them. What we understand now, however, is that both stones are in fact types of beryl, a compound mineral family that also includes less precious stones such as morganite, heliodor and goshenite. What is wonderful, perhaps unlike any other study where science has challenged less rational explanation, is that the tide of scientific expertise has done nothing to dampen the sheer majesty and mystery and allure of gemstones. Perhaps that, in itself, is the essence of their magic.