Treasures for body and mind

21 February, 2012


Larkspur and Hawk's jewels are crafted with foiled colorless topaz- clear topaz backed by colored metal foil encased with silver across the stones' backs.  This gemstone treatment dates as far back as 2000 BC and was common until the late 1800s.  Great gemstone discoveries in the New World and Africa and new styles of stone cutting changed expectations so that jewels were to have naturally matching stones blazing with their own light.
Larkspur and Hawk's Celeste One Drop Earrings are made with white topaz and 22 kt washed sterling silver-  the back encloses the foil.  When viewed sideways, the purple of the foil reflects through the clear stone. They are available at Larkspur and Hawk. 

Here are Larkspur and Hawk's Celeste One Drop earring made with 22 kt washed sterling and amethysts.  The description does not say if their foiling is purple or white.  The amethysts are more expensive and do not shine as brightly.  

Precious stones' beauty depends on their interaction with light.  Foiling enhances the light  reflected from within a stone.  Before brilliant cuts optimized internal reflection, before clear stones were relatively common, skilled jewelers and craftsmen coaxed more light from their stones by covering the stones' backs with highly reflective foils.  By carefully coloring foils, jewelers and craftsmen whitened yellower stones and matched colored stones of different shades.  Without foiling, jewels were less beautiful, so foiling was legitimate and desirable.

Pink topaz and chyrsoberyl, 18 kt, cannetille gold cross, made in the 1830s, available from  
Expect some antique jewelry to be foiled, especially from the Georgian and Victorian era. Victorian garnet jewelry was often foiled (or backed with gold) so that the stones had a fiery glow.
Victorian Bohemian garnet earrings, sold by The Three Graces, The Three Graces.
By the end of the 1800s, better stones were available, and the practice of foiling was used primarily to unethically disguise stones of lesser value.  Buyers should beware of buying stones that are set in closed backs, even antiques.  If purchasing antique jewelry with closed backs, ask about foiling or other treatments.  Modern foiled jewelry disclosed as such is legitimate and can make beautiful, affordable jewelry.       


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