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Antique Eighteenth Century Genuine Natural Russian One and One-Half Carat Yellow Oval Cut Tourmaline Cabochon.
CLASSIFICATION: Tourmaline Oval Cabochon.
ORIGIN: The Ural Mountains, Russia. 18th Century.
SIZE: Length: 8mm. Width: 6mm. Depth: 3mm. All measurements approximate.
WEIGHT: 1.57 carats.
NOTES: Upon request we can set your gemstones as a ring, pendant, or as earrings (click here for more information).
Tourmaline occurred in many of the ancient mines that yielded precious gemstones in the ancient Roman world 2,000 years ago, however it was mistaken for (and thus called) emerald or topaz. Tourmaline was correctly identified and described in the ancient world by Theophrastus of Ancient Greece (student and successor of Plato and Aristotle) in 314 B.C. The name “tourmaline” came from the Celanese word "turmali," which means "mixed". Bright rainbow collections of gemstone varieties were called "turmali" parcels. In ancient mythology, tourmaline was found in all colors because it traveled along a rainbow and gathered all the rainbow's colors.
Here’s a beautiful, pastel yellow tourmaline gemstone from Siberia, the Ural Mountains of Russia. Brightly and delicately hued, this gemstone was hand crafted and faceted by an 18th 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. This lustrous semi-precious gemstone possesses a light and bright, almost “citrus” character. Though by contemporary standards it would not be considered a high-quality gemstone, by eighteenth century standards it is a very nice gemstone, quite typical of antique, handcrafted Siberian tourmaline of the era. Despite its shortcomings, it is nonetheless very beautiful.
The gemstone is clearly not even remotely near flawless. It possesses quite a lot of colorless crystalline material scattered through the gemstone, principally in the form of widely dispersed particles. These crystalline blemishes are not obnoxious, but of course if you hold the gemstone close to your eye and examine it intently, or certainly in these 500% photo enlargements (or a 10x jeweler’s loupe), they are fairly prominent. To the cursory glance of the casual admirer, it simply appears to be a attractively hued pastel yellow tourmaline, not at all unattractive. Much favored by European Renaissance and Victorian Royalty, tourmaline tends to be characterized by the presence of small colorless inclusions which causes the gemstone to lean toward translucency in most specimens. Nonetheless tourmaline was held in such high regard by the (last) Empress of China, Tz'u Hsi, that she purchased bought almost a ton of it from a mine in California, and was eventually laid to rest (eternally) on a carved tourmaline pillow.
So while you scrutinize the images so as to examine the blemishes this handcrafted gemstone possesses, keep in mind that the images we are sharing here are 500% photo enlargements, so the blemishes the gemstone possesses are going to seem huge and prominent. Again, even though by today’s standards it would not be considered a good quality tourmaline, it is nonetheless quite characteristic of the gemstones of eighteenth century Russia. Even today there is substantially more demand than supply for tourmaline, and it is thus oftentimes can be quite costly and difficult to procure. However the Southern Ural Mountains of (Siberia) Russia have been producing quality tourmaline for centuries. Once set into a pendant or a ring, these blemishes which even now are not obnoxious, and in fact easy to overlook by the casual admirer, will become even less noticeable once the gemstone is in a mounting.
Under magnification the gemstone shows 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. But 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-tumbled gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones, the cut and finish of a gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago.
This gemstone has great luster and color, and to the eye is more or less transparent, but again, obviously, it is not without blemish. Magnified 400% or 500%, as it is here, you can see many minor blemishes (principally colorless crystalline material as previously described) within the gemstone, as well as occasional irregularities in the cut and polish. But these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even possible then, let alone in practice, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today. Keep in mind 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 miniscule blemishes and cutting/finishing imperfections which are inherent in antique, hand-cut gemstones, and which are by and large, are only visible under high magnification.
HISTORY: Tourmaline's name comes from the Dutch traders who purchased gemstones from the Celanese (i.e., Ceylon or Sri Lanka). The word "turmali," meant "mixed", and the bright rainbow collections of gemstone varieties which the Dutch purchased were called "turmali" parcels. Tourmaline has been used as gem material for more than 2,000 years. Since tourmaline occurred in many of the ancient mines that yielded other precious stones, tourmaline was most likely known by the ancient Romans, but called other names such as emerald or topaz. In fact, through the sixteenth or seventeenth century, red and pink tourmaline were thought to be ruby. However one accurate reference to tourmaline in ancient history was by Theophrastus of Ancient Greece (student and successor of Plato and Aristotle) who in 314 B.C. accurately described tourmaline as becoming electromagnetically charged when it heated, noting that it would collect dust particles, straw and pieces of wood. In fact tourmaline can also become electromagnetically charged simply by rubbing it against one’s clothing, and the charge can remain for hours. There is also historical evidence which suggests that tourmaline was exported from Ceylon to ancient Israel as early as the time of King Solomon, and may have adorned the crown of the Queen of Sheba.
In the medieval world, alchemists believed tourmaline to be related to the philosopher’s stone, and as such could grant enlightenment, give power over spiritual affairs, reconcile opposites and change base metals to gold. Tourmaline was also used by medieval shamans who regarded it a “receptive stone,” which means it was soothing, calming, inward, and magnetic, and thus promoted meditation, spirituality, wisdom and mystical powers. During the Middle Ages tourmaline was also thought to heal physical and mental disorders as well as prevent death. Ancient mystical ceremonies in India included the use of the gem as a tool to bring insight and help in the discovery of that which is good, and to make known who or what was the cause of troubles or evil deeds. As well, various aboriginal tribes such as the American Indians, Australian Aborigines, and various African tribes, believed tourmaline to be a talisman which could protect against all dangers.
Tourmaline occurs in more colors and combinations of colors than any other gemstone variety. In fact an ancient legend says that tourmaline is found in all colors because it traveled along a rainbow and gathered all the rainbow's colors. Green or "chrome" tourmaline was "rediscovered" in the seventeenth century. This striking green gemstone is colored by the mineral chromium; hence the name "chrome" tourmaline. German miners in Brazil exported green tourmalines to bedazzled seventeenth century Europe, calling them "Brazilian emeralds". Within a few decades tourmaline was also rediscovered in the country of Tanzania on the African continent. In the eighteenth century, it was eventually realized that the "Brazilian emeralds" had unusual electromagnetic qualities, and were not emeralds at all.
Pink tourmaline was held in such high regard in Ancient China that Empress Tz'u Hsi, the last Empress of China, who loved pink tourmaline, bought almost a ton of it from the Himalaya Mine in California, and was eventually laid to rest (eternally) on a carved tourmaline pillow. In fact the Chinese have engraved and carved figures and snuff bottles from tourmaline for many centuries, and ancient examples are displayed in museums around the world. Many stones in the Russian Crown jewels from the 17th Century once thought to be rubies and emeralds are actually tourmalines. Chrome tourmalines are relatively uncommon gemstones, costly, and in scarce supply. They were considered the rarest variety of tourmaline until in 1989 very small quantities of even rarer Paraiba neon blue-green was discovered in Brazil, which sells for as much as $20,000 per carat. The most popular color is peach (or pink) tourmaline, and one of the most famous mines in the world, played out and closed in 1913, was in California.
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. The ancient world regarded tourmaline helpful to artists, authors, actors and those in creative fields, enhancing their creative powers. Tourmaline was believed to possess many medicinal properties, including its ability to to cleanse, maintain, and stimulate the energy centers of the body. It was also reported in an 18th century Dutch medical journal that tourmaline wrapped in silk and placed against the cheek of a feverish child would induce sleep. Tourmaline is still regarded as an aid for keeping the digestive system healthy as well as strengthening teeth and bones. It is also recommended for adrenal disorders, heart disease, arthritis, and used to treat stress and trauma.
In regards to its metaphysical properties, tourmaline was believed to attract inspiration, to diminish fear, and encourage self confidence, enthusiasm, constructive thinking, and to assist the wearer avoid bad luck and negativity. It was regarded as conducive to promoting peaceful communication between the conscious and unconscious minds, allowing psychic awareness to blossom. Tourmaline was regarded as a stone of reconciliation, a stone that fostered compassion and cool headedness, radiated the energy that attracted money, healing and friendship, and was used for “grounding” purposes, to stabilize, and reaffirm one’s “roots”. Pink tourmaline in particular was believed to be of great value to people that had difficulty dealing with fear, who had panic attacks or who were in need of something to help them heal their inner chaos and dread. It was regarded as a heart protector as well as an aphrodisiac, and was believed to provide reassurance that it was safe to love and therefore instilled confidence.
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 $14.99 for Insured Air Mail; International shipments are an extra $18.99 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).
Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world – but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology.
I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the “business” of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I 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. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly – even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."