Amethyst & Turquoise:
13th March 2020
Turquoise and amethyst are the perfect example of stones’ combination in which opposites attract.
The two gems harmoniously match by balancing each other, thanks to their contrasting transparency, cuts, color intensity and saturation. In this couple, amethyst brings the sparkles and turquoise adds vitality and energy. One soothes while the other stimulates the eye. This amazing association has been favored by jewelers of highly recognized Maisons such as Cartier and Bulgari.
What is an amethyst?
Despite being a rather affordable stone, amethyst is considered to be the most valuable variety in the Quartz family. It is popular for its purple or violet color with a light red or blue hue, which is due to irradiation. Most of the time, it has a high transparency with a clean internal body as it is extremely common to find flawless amethysts without any inclusion. If heated at high temperatures, the amethyst will be affected by a color change and become a citrine with a different iron oxidation.
It is a relatively resistant gem, reaching 7 on Mohs’ scale, graded after diamond, corundum and emerald. Regarding its extraction, this fine stone is mostly found in Russia, Africa and South America with major sources in Uruguay and Brazil. Their natural formation creates beautiful crystal structures and fascinating geodes.
Amethyst is February’s birthstone and is said to prevent from intoxication and protect its wearer from evil thoughts. It is related to the Greek origin’s name: Amethystos, meaning sober. We discovered that this stone was already used in jewelry back in 3000 BC, during the Ancient Egyptian Era. It was often featuring engravings with writings, symbols and drawings. Nowadays, the purple gem is mostly seen as an oval cut stone, or as beads and cabochons, but it can also appear with any kind of cut.
Oval Cut & Rough Amethyst Stones
What is a turquoise?
Turquoise is an opaque and porous stone that presents a vivid blue to green color. It has an average resistance to scratches with a 5.5 grade on Mohs’ scale which is why it needs to be carefully worn. It is composed of aluminum phosphate and hydrated copper, and is mainly found in Afghanistan, US, China and Mexico. The blue stone often presents dark veins coming from the mother stone (or host stone), which refers to a matrix turquoise, and can sometimes create incredible patterns (same case than matrix opal).
Turquoise is December’s birthstone and its name comes from the French “Turkish stone”, as the gem was first introduced in France by Turkish suppliers during the XIIIth century. Similarly to amethyst, turquoise has also been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs from 4000 BC. Today, it is still an ornamental stone and also adorns high jewels under the forms of beads, inlays and cabochons.
Cabochon Cut & Rough
In 1915, Cartier unveiled this splendid art deco pendant representing a colorful vase of flowers. The center pear cut amethyst is highlighted by 6 cabochon cut turquoises and by several rows of diamonds. This elegant necklace belonged to the Duchess of Marlborough and appeared at Christie’s auctions sales in 1978, then at Sotheby’s in 2018, sold for 162.5k CHF.
However, it is in the mid XXth that the real trend for this striking gems’ combination starts. Cartier, a creative pioneer, introduced it in 1947 with a majestic bib necklace composed of an important central heart shape cabochon amethyst. It is emphasized by 27 emerald cut amethysts alternated with turquoise beads’ clusters and diamonds. The 3 gemstones’ rows are set on a yellow gold mounting, closing at the back with a clasp presenting an additional oval cut amethyst. Together with a bracelet, this outstanding piece was a special order for the Duchess of Windsor, and appeared later on at Sotheby’s auctions in 1987. Today, despite its 70 years old, this masterpiece still looks incredibly modern.
Cartier Creations, Legends on pictures.
Between the 1950-70s’, Cartier created many jewels declining the turquoise and amethyst association under various forms: Birds and floral brooches were particularly popular. Fauna & Flora is a major theme in Cartier creativity. Lightness, refinement and details are keys to these designs. The gems were mostly set on yellow gold which adds color and energy to the jewels.
Birds, Flowers, Turtles and other jewels by Cartier, 1950-60s'.
During the same period, several jewellers followed the movement. Van Cleef & Arpels and Bulgari also bet on nature-inspired jewels. Verdura opted for a white gold mounting to soften the creations. Sterlé associated both gold colors to match the two gemstones.
We can notice that the amethyst often plays the role of center stone while turquoise appears as an embellishment and counterbalancing gem.
Brooches were particularly privileged at the time which also supported representative creativity.