Gemmologist Corner

Opal is unique amongst the gemstones, many of which are crystalline.  Opals are made up of many tiny spheres of silica attached to water and formed in a lattice arrangement with space in between them. It is this arrangement that causes light to bend or refract and split into its component parts much like you see in a rainbow. The ‘fire’ or flash of colours in an opal is lots of tiny little rainbows all mixed up together. The size of the spheres which vary, determine the colour that you see; from red to blue, green, yellow / orange etc.  The display of colour in Opals has always fascinated me and the unusual effects such as this play of colour are one of my favourite things about gemmology and gemstones.

The stronger the play of colour the more desirable the stone. The colours displayed affect the value and desirability; the more red reflected the more desirable, while green and blue are more common so less so.

Lot 158

The colour of the ‘body’ of the opal is important too with ‘black’ opals (having a dark green, grey or black tone) being more desirable than ‘white’ opal which has a lighter body colour.  There is also ‘water’ opal which has a clear body and ‘fire’ opal which has a deep orange body colour with or without a play of colour. Fire opal comes from Mexico whereas Australia is probably the most famous source of other types of opal occurring in crack and fissures in the ground.

Lot 399

Opal was a symbol of fidelity and assurance among the ancients but unfortunately suffered a bad reputation in the 18th and 19th centuries as bringing misfortune and back luck, thankfully this superstition has faded as this stone really is a delight and wonder of nature.

It is a relatively soft stone so must be treated with care, it is also porous so must never be submerged in water for long so do not wear it in the bath or washing up. There are many imitations on the market also so make sure to buy your opal from a reputable source.

Lot 008

Opal is often found paired with garnet in Victorian jewellery much like lot 8 in our forthcoming sale.  It is also commonly found in a cluster with diamonds which complement the stone beautifully; lot 158 is a fine example of this, a less expansive example can be found in lot 402 and a very pretty and unusual vintage ring in lot 42.  Lot 185 is a very sweet bar brooch with a lively opal in it and lot 399, the pearls sport a fine opal and diamond clasp.

Lot 185


Another mineral showing a ‘play’ of colour that is my all-time favourite rock is ‘Labradorite’, named after the region of Canada, it is mined, Labrador.  It too has a shimmery reflection of colour that changes as you move it in the light.  It displays predominately green, blue and grey colours and has an ethereal quality, in this case the splitting of light comes from layers of mineral material rather than spheres.  It is most often used in beads or ornamental material, we have a number of lots of gemstone beads in this sale which include labradorite; 277, 278 & 286

Good things come in threes

Three Stone Engagement Rings:

If you are looking for something that is not a diamond solitaire engagement ring, but you still want something with a traditional feel, a three stone ring could be the perfect choice for you. This classic design is more than just beautiful, and three stones have become a popular engagement ring choice in recent years. When the three stone engagement ring design was first spearheaded by DeBeers, they put forth the symbolism of ‘past, present and future’. The bigger stone in the middle represents the present and the two stones on either side are the past and future. The three stones can also symbolise friendship, love, and fidelity. Of course, each engagement ring is interpreted and representative of their owner more than anything else.

Lot 260

Three Stone Diamond Engagement Ring Shopping Tips:

If you have decided to go with a diamond three stone, the main thing to note is that the three diamonds should work harmoniously together. If one stone stands out because it is slightly yellow, the entire ring might look off-putting. All three diamonds should have equal significance:

  • Choose all three stones from the same colour grade unless you are looking for a contrast in the stones.
  • Do not worry as much about the clarity grade but instead look to see if the stones have any visible inclusions. Make sure they look clear to your eye

Little Tokens of Affection

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, our thoughts are turning to sweet trinkets to celebrate whoever has been keeping your morale boosted in these last, most tricky of months.

This month’s auction has a wonderful selection of small yet sentimental pieces; created to be woven into any existing jewellery wardrobe, these are jewels made for wearing every day.

These little tokens that will accompany every adventure are almost at one with the skin; fine chains glint around the neck and dainty bracelets pair seamlessly with existing bangles or a watch. Neat little rings stack beautifully or choose earring studs so delicate they never need to be taken off.

Delicate strands dotted with diamonds come in many lengths and shades of gold – we love them worn alone, doubled up, or even used as an extravagant chain for a special pendant, lots 35 – 38.

These cluster earrings, lot 20 are a nice twist on the classic diamond stud, while infinity seems the perfect message to send to the one you love, lot 255. Serpents, long symbols of love and eternity (Queen Victoria wore one as her engagement ring) seem apt as a Valentine’s gift; this ring, lot 185 is diamond studded with decadent ruby eyes. Speaking of apt, hearts also hit the spot nicely at this time of year, whether dainty lot 280, with a powerful byzantine feel lot 288 or minimalist, lot 256. Finally, rubies make the perfect representation of love and passion – whether set as a delicate stacking ring lots 51, 78 & 257 or a fine line bracelet lots 129 & 297 – we cannot think of a better way to share the love.

Snake Jewellery at O’Reilly’s

Snakes or serpents are one of the oldest motifs used in jewellery throughout history. Dating back to as early as Ancient Egyptian times when snakes were viewed as a symbol of the unchanging, cyclical nature of life, while the Ancient Romans chose to view snakes as being symbolic of everlasting love.

Snake jewellery enjoyed a huger resurgence in Victorian times when Prince Albert proposed to Queen Victoria with a ring in the form of a snake. This created a huge desire for snake jewellery which peaked in the 1840’s. Because of the regal connection and the connection to romance the Victorians viewed snakes as representations of everlasting love and perfection.

Over the centuries, people have continued to be fascinated by snake imagery, perhaps because it has been seen as being symbolic of opposite dual expressions – for example, both rebirth or renewal with the shedding of its skin and poison with its deadly venom.

Snakes make perfect motifs in jewellery design terms as they easily wind around the finger, wrist or neck making them timeless and ever popular.

Antique snake and serpent jewellery is still highly sought after today because of its enduring appeal and entertaining designs. Today we still see snake inspired jewellery being worn by stars and socialites on the red carpet around the world.

Lot 25; A VICTORIAN BLUE ENAMEL SNAKE NECKLACE AND BRACELET SUITE, the snake head set with pearls, diamonds and ruby eyes, enamel decoration to head and body, gold snake link necklace, with matching bracelet, in fitted antique leather case €7000 – 8000

Lot 185; A VINTAGE DIAMOND SET SNAKE RING, set with brilliant cut diamonds, ruby eyes, 18ct yellow gold mount with engraved scales, size M – N – €800 – 1200

Lot 185

Artist Pick of the Month: Steve Browning

Transport yourself to the breath-taking canals of Venice, Italy with this beautiful oil painting by Steve Browning, lot 646 in our December auction. Browning studied at the Leicester School of Art and Design and has exhibited in London, the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, and the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts in Belfast. His first solo show was held in the Leinster Gallery in 2007.

The artist paints on location, en plein air, and won prizes at the Dublin Plein Air Festival in 2018 and 2019:

“I always look for interesting composition and light to painting. That’s why I enjoy painting in Italy so much. Every corner of Venice has the potential to become a wonderful painting. The fantastic changing light of Italy and the pastel colours of the buildings make it impossible not to be inspired to paint” (Steve Browning, The Trinity Gallery).

Georg Jensen- Danish Silversmith

The principle philosophy of Georg Jensen was to create innovative designs that are both beautiful and functional. Jensen, born in 1866 in Raadvad, Denmark, just north of Copenhagen, was a Danish silversmith and designer.

Jensen trained as a goldsmith, his apprenticeship with Guldsmed Andersen ending in 1884. From this, he went on to study sculpture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, graduating in 1892. Jensen found instant success selling his work in Copenhagen. He worked in ceramics until 1902, when he joined master silversmith and desinger,  Mogens Ballin. From the moment he opened his silversmith in 1904, Georg Jensen set a tone for his company that would chart its course for decades to come.

Jensen’s innovative craftsmanship and Scandinavian design sensibility would become its hallmarks. His obituary in the New York Herald Tribune in 1935 saluted him as, ‘the greatest silversmith of the last 300 years’ and his legacy as a deign innovator lives on today.

Jensen made his first piece of jewellery in 1899, a silver and silver gilt ‘Adam and Eve’ belt buckle. O’Reilly’s are pleased to offer this Jensen brooch, depicting a bird in foliage, Lot 555, in our December auction.

Promise rings

Lot 107, an early 20th Century diamond bracelet.

A marriage proposal can be daunting enough without the pressure of choosing The Ring too! There are lots of reasons to wait and choose the ring as a couple – but it’s nice to still want the proposal to be a surprise and it is lovely to have a token to present at the big moment to commemorate the occasion – and to seal the deal! Whatever jewel is used will remain special for years to come, which is why we love the idea of picking something precious that can continue to be worn long after the final engagement ring is selected. Below, a are a few of our favourites – whether you’re proposing to her, or him.

Eternity rings

A slim diamond band is ideal for use as a token ring. With a hint of understated sparkle, it is a lovely placeholder for something bigger to come! What’s more, it will look wonderful worn in a stack with the final set of rings, or even on the opposite hand as a beautiful way to remember the day by. Our top tip if choosing one of these as a surprise is to pick one with stones just half the way around – that way they can be sized if the fit isn’t totally perfect, as those fully set with diamonds can’t be. Lot 507 above from our December auction is a beautiful example of a half eternity ring, set with brilliant cut diamonds.

Lot 426, a diamond bracelet by Cartier

Diamond bracelets

These are an unexpected but surprisingly practical choice! Forever timeless and elegant, depending on the size of the stones, this is another option that could be incorporated into an everyday jewellery wardrobe – but would also be a lovely touch saved and worn on the wedding day and for other special occasions.

Lot 353, a diamond line bracelet
Lot 528, a vintage gold Omega wristwatch.


A classic timepiece never goes amiss, and they make a particularly great gift when it comes to proposing to men! We love the idea of engraving the reverse of the case with a special message or date.

Lot 527, a 1950’s vintage Rolex wristwatch.

Art Deco Gems

After the devastation of World War 1 the hedonistic Art Deco era blew in to cheer everyone up, the modernistic designs with their clean lines and symmetry replaced the flowing designs of the previous Art Nouveau era. The geometric shapes embraced advances in innovation and machinery and made sense from the chaos of the war – torn period.

We have two beautiful Art Deco jewels which perfectly express and incapsulate the Art Deco style:

Lot 240 are a pair of Art deco Onyx and diamond cufflinks, the faceted onyx stones are edged by milligrain set diamonds giving the illusion of a cube, set in platinum. This is the geometric form at its finest. The contrast between the black and the white is an important factor in the design of the era, the use of platinum allows the stones to be held in place using the minimal amount of metal which gives a fine, light aspect to the setting.

Lot 450 is an Art Deco Onyx and diamond pendant, which opens become a pair of Opera glasses, again in this piece the emphasis is on clean lines and symmetry with delicately set diamonds accenting the black onyx piece.

This jewellery is timeless and never goes out of fashion, it is regularly imitated today, and genuine pieces are becoming harder to find. Either of these pieces would be a beautiful addition to any jewellery collection

How to Wear Diamonds Every Day – From the Office to Casual Attire

Diamonds are not just for dressing up, you can wear your favourite stones every day

Lot 62, a diamond bow brooch

Historically diamonds and high – end jewellery would have been worn with formal attire, but nowadays there are many simple designs that can be worn informally. This idea became popular in the 1970’s when there was a desire for low-key luxury and high-end jewellers began making hard wearing simple jewellery that could be worn from the Disco to the Tennis Court.

Lot 68, diamond line bracelet

An example is the clean design of the diamond line bracelet, the design has been popular since the 1920’s, but became very famous when the term ‘Tennis Bracelet’ was coined in the late 70’s. Top tennis player Chris Everett was playing an exceptionally long rally in the US open when her diamond bracelet broke and flew off her arm, play was stopped and only resumed once the bracelet was found., Wearing diamonds while she played tennis fitted in with the overall fashion mood of the time of wearing diamonds casually. This timeless design is still very popular and can be worn every day or on a special occasion.

Lots 26, 27 and 28, diamond line bracelets

During the same period Elsa Peretti launched her toss it on and wear with everything Diamonds – by – the -Yard necklace at Tiffany, another simple clean design that can be worn with a t – shirt or white shirt in the office. Cartier’s designer Aldo Cipullo who created the Love and Juste un Clou bracelets during the period, said “It was the marking of a transition to something totally different which nobody was doing.” These designs are reminiscent of hardware with their screw motifs.

Lots 32, 33 and 34 from our November auction

The diamond eternity ring is another example of a very simple low – key design that can be worn every day, simply wear one on its own or stack for more bling.

Lot 100, a diamond eternity ring

Buy the best your budget will allow and wear frequently, diamonds shouldn’t just be about formality, jewellery is meant to be worn …

The Cartier Love Bird

Cartier have used the symbol of the bird throughout its history, however their iconic styles of whimsical birds, animals and flora which are so symbolic of Cartier fine jewellery today only began to emerge in the 1930’s when Jeanne Toussaint took over as head designer, under her guidance they began to move away from abstract Deco designs and into more figurative colourful and bold designs.

Most famous is the caged bird that Cartier introduced in 1940, a symbol of resistance against the Nazi occupation, and the version that appeared in Cartier’s windows days after Paris was liberated: the bird poised for flight, cage door open.

The ‘Lovebird’ brooch has been referenced as far back as the late 1900’s and various versions have been produced throughout the 20th Century, it has since been discontinued, the last known retail listing was in 1995 and cost $72,500.

We are offering an exquisite pavé diamond and onyx version in our November auction; Lot 201, estimated to sell between €18,000 – 22,000

Embracing the Bug Jewellery Trend

Bugs are probably the last thing you think of when imagining high fashion. If so it may surprise you to learn that insects have had a significant impact on the fashion world for centuries, and particularly on jewellery.

Lot 188 from out November auction, a beautiful 20th Century French brooch depicting a stylised dragonfly.

Bug jewellery can be traced back to Ancient Greece, with writing by both Aristophanes and Herodotus referencing the men of Athens wearing golden crickets in their hair. In ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle was viewed as a symbol of rebirth. The iconic beetle appeared in many art forms, including jewellery.

Lot 268, an Egyptian style collar with a row of gold scarab beetles.

Fast forward to the Victorian era, when Europeans began putting their own spin on insect-inspired baubles, stemming from the era’s fascination with natural history (Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ arriving in 1859). Designers at the time showcased their craftsmanship with intricate jewellery pieces in the form of honeybees, butterflies, and dragonflies. This style embodied the relationship between the approaching industrial age and the natural world.

Lot 187, a Victorian bug brooch

It was not only insect motifs that were used by Victorian jewellers, as the trend was pushed to its limits with live insect jewellery! Some Victorian women wore live beetles encrusted with gemstones, kept in tiny gold cages, and attached to their clothes or lapels with a pin. It was also common to see earrings, necklaces and bracelets made with the shells or wings of beetles during this time.

Lot 210, a colourful gem set dragonfly brooch

From bees to dragonflies, insect brooches are a whimsical way to wear jewellery.  We have a great selection of luxe bug brooches this month to add a playful and colour to any outfit.

Lot 59, a diamond set bee brooch by Boucheron of Paris

Artist Pick- Elizabeth Brophy

Elizabeth Brophy was born in New South Wales Australia in 1926. She studied art at the Easy Sydney Technical College and in 1971, she won the coveted P & O Ship Company Art Award. The prize was a year-long, all expenses paid trip for two to Europe which allowed her to visit Ireland for the first time, as well as France, Spain and Portugal. Elizabeth lived and exhibited in Portugal until 1993 when she returned to Ireland and settled in Co. Wicklow, where she currently resides.

Lot 492, “Gathering Shells”

Brophy is Ireland’s leading impressionist painter and one of the fastest selling living artists in the country. Her work is represented in many public and private collections in the USA, Portugal, Spain, France, England and Ireland.

Lot 494, Untitled

The House of Chaumet: The Art of Parisian Jewellery since 1780.

Chaumet has been the synonym for quintessential Parisian elegance and design for over 240 years. The history of Chaumet has been entwined with the history of France since its founding in 1780. Most notably, Chaumet became the official jeweller to Empress Josephine, the first wife of Emperor Napoleon I. Crafted in the heart of famous Place Vendôme in Paris, the jewellery and watchmaking creations pay tribute to Chaumet’s unique style and elegance that has remained relevant in every era and won the hearts of an impressive array of prestigious clients.

Lot 322 in our October sale, a pair of gold Chaumet ear clips, demonstrate the exquisite craftsmanship and unparalleled quality of this sophisticated French brand.

Checking Out the History of Lorgnettes

Lorgnette is derived from the French word ‘lorgner’, which means ‘to eye furtively’ or ‘to ogle’. In more contemporary language we might say ‘to check someone out’. Invented in England by George Adams in 1770, lorgnettes became the must-have accessory for ladies during the 1800’s at the theatre and opera. They were used to keep an eye on the action, both on and off stage.  Until the 17th century, optical aids were primarily used by men. However, with the invention of the lorgnette, women became much more involved in the world of eyeglasses. The truth is, lorgnettes were more of a fashion accessory than to improve vision. An 18th century version known as the ‘jealousy’ lorgnette had a small mirror mounted on them which allowed the user to see who was behind her!

Lot 293 from our October is a beautiful Art Deco diamond and onyx pendant, with a concealed lorgnette on the reverse.

Spotlight on a Designer – House of Bulgari

O’Reilly’s have the pleasure of offering four stunning pieces of Bulgari jewellery this month including  two vintage Bulgari Pieces dating back to the 1960s. The vintage gold cuff and neckpiece are indictive of the innovative volume and simple shapes that the House of Bulgari used at this time to break away from the traditional French style jewellery that previously dominated.

Lot 320, a vintage gold neckpiece.

Founded in 1884 by Sotirios Boulgaris, a silversmith and Greek Immigrant, the House of Bulgari started out very modestly in Naples selling silver items on a street stall. Eventually he moved to Rome where he opened his first shop selling jewellery and silver around 1900. The iconic 10 via de Condetti shop was opened in 1905 by his two sons where it still stands today.

Lot 321, a vintage gold cuff bracelet.

Although they made fine jewellery from the 1920’s, the iconic Bulgari style did not develop until the 50s and 60s when the next generation took over. They began to use bold combinations of colourful cabochon stones, daring volume and smooth simple shapes offering an exotic and exciting new choice in style of jewellery. This brave look was soon recognised as the Bulgari style. The matching suite of necklace and cuff bracelet offered for sale (lots 320 & 321 seen above) are indicative of this bold style. The Dolce Vita years in the 1950’s were the most popular time for Bulgari, they were revolutionary in their combination of colour, shape and style, Andy Warhol was known to visit the shop when in Rome because he considered the jewels to be contemporary art. Fans of Bulgari are Elizabeth Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, Sophia Loren and Naomi Campbell to name but a few

Elizabeth Taylor sporting a Serpenti snake watch

Bulgari is proud of its origins and this is expressed through their iconic designs; The Serpenti is drawn from the serpent of Roman mythology, the Bulgari Bulgari and Monete collections were inspired by ancient Roman coins, and the four-petal flower motif of the Fiorever line is supposed to be a Roman symbol for happiness and joy. The B. Zero1 is arguably the most emblematic, having been inspired by the imposing shapes of the historic Colosseum, we are delighted to offer an 18ct yellow gold example (lot 178) in our forthcoming sale.

Lot 178, B. Zero 1 gold ring.

One of my favourites, The Tubogas motif, was inspired by the shape of the gas carrier pipes in use from the 1920s onwards. This technique, developed during the second half of the nineteenth century, was revived by Bulgari in the 1970s, becoming one of the firm’s trademarks.

We have a very fine example of a Tubogas bangle, lot 371 above, for sale in our October auction. The gold bangle is set with topaz, tourmaline and amethyst cabochon stones.

The Tiffany Setting

The iconic Tiffany setting has endured more than 130 years since its inception by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1886. A true design masterpiece, the setting is the world’s most recognisable engagement ring, the six-prongs lift a round shaped diamond above a slender gold band putting the diamond on a pedestal and letting it shine. This chic and beneficial engineering was a departure from other engagement rings of the period that held a stone close to the band, the unadorned metal was another breakaway from the ornate engraving and embellishments that decorated engagement rings of the time. Mr. Tiffany didn’t want anything distracting from the diamond’s beauty.  Light could pass between the ring prongs and through the diamond, heightening its brilliance and allowing the diamond to virtually disappear and float above the band, resulting in a ring so beautiful it has been a symbol of the world’s greatest love stories.

Lot 289 in our October 21st Auction is a classic Tiffany setting engagement ring, 1.27 ct, F colour, VS2, it comes together with Tiffany certificate, box, bag and cleaning kit.

Choosing the Perfect Bridal Set.

So you have a beautiful engagement ring – and now you need a stunning wedding band to go with it. First up, an important note: be mindful of metals. Gold should match with gold and platinum with platinum. This is because platinum is a much tougher metal and would eat into the much softer gold if worn in a stack where they would be rubbing off each other every day. This can lead to the risk of stones falling out when softer prongs get worn down by the tougher metal.

If looking at a diamond-set band, first and foremost, bear in mind that it is nearly impossible to resize full eternity rings. So if you are unsure of your size, we would recommend choosing something half or even three quarters set with diamonds – these can usually be altered by two-three sizes up or down without compromising the setting of the existing stones.

Or maybe it’s not diamonds; maybe you’re taking the bold and wonderful move of incorporating colour into your stack? Rubies are dazzling – and hardwearing. Sapphires are the same, and it can be a lovely way to incorporate something blue into your wedding ring –a beautiful rich shade of blue is sure to pop against any diamond engagement ring.

Once you’ve decided on your gems, it’s nice to take note of the engagement ring setting the band will be matched with, particularly if your ring has diamond details on its own band  – prong-set shoulders, for example, look great with a prong set eternity band – whereas something bead set should be matched with the same. Contemporary settings can look brilliant with the clean lines of channel-set bands; antique and vintage styles look beautiful with the more delicate feel of a pavé band.

Trying on is key to ensure the perfect fit so please don’t hesitate to make an appointment to visit one of our viewings. We continue to have a huge range of wedding rings in our auctions and, as always, any of the experienced staff at O’Reilly’s will happily be on hand to offer advice and guidance should you need it.

Engage yourself with diamonds at O’Reilly’s

The word diamond comes from the Greek ‘Adamas’ meaning indestructible and is the hardest of all natural substances.

Romantic in history and symbolic of love, our fascination with diamonds appears to date back as early as the fourth century BC when they were mined in the ancient diamond fields of India. At that time, they were adorned by only the extreme wealthiest in society, eventually, with the trade of spices, etc they made their way westwards to Europe and were popularised among the wealthy elite from the 1400’s. The modern story of diamonds really only starts with the discovery of the South African deposits in 1866 and by 1900 de Beers controlled 90% of the world’s diamond markets and with the development of modern and efficient mining techniques diamonds became more widely available, by the late 20th Century as just about anybody could own one.

Due to their durability, ability to take a high polish and their symbolism diamonds have been popular in engagement rings since the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, although betrothal rings themselves have thought to have been around since Roman times. The solitaire is the design most associated with engagement, popularised by Tiffany who came up with the design for the modern solitaire ring in the late 19th Century, simple and classic, this clawed design allowed light to flow through the diamond and showing it off to its best, this design has changed little over the years and remains the most sought after at auction. In 1947 de Beers came up with the slogan ‘Diamonds are Forever’, this marketing along with the popularity of displaying diamonds in Hollywood from the 1930s (think Marylin Monroe ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’) helped romanticize diamonds as a symbol of the depth of a man’s commitment to the woman he loves in practically all corners of the world.

Diamonds cuts have progressed from the simple table cut to the rose cut to the old mine and European cuts to the modern brilliant cut which is  the most popular today with its 58 facets engineered to reflect as much light as possible back to the viewer. Other popular modern cuts are the emerald cut or princess cut with their clean lines which give a contemporary look, the marquise cut is very elegant giving length to the finger, my personal favourite are the older cuts, they are chunkier, hand cut stones which are unique in character; the old mine cut with its slightly ‘cushion’ shape and the old European cut which is more circular.

The quality of a diamond is as important as the cut, colour and clarity being the most important aspects which affect price with quality of cut to a lesser extent. Colour ranges from completely colourless ‘D’ through to ‘M’ with a strong tint of yellow, with mid – range ‘H’ and ‘I’ colours remaining popular colours at auction as they are affordable with an almost imperceptible colour tint, clarity ranges from ‘Internally flawless’ to ‘included’ with VS (very slightly included) – SI1 (slightly included) being affordable and acceptable compromises.

As always, we have a selection of solitaire and other diamond rings at O’Reilly’s this month;

Lot 401; A DIAMOND SOLITAIRE RING, the princess cut diamond mounted in platinum. Together with GIA certificate stating the diamond to weigh 1.51 ct, H colour, SI1 clarity, size N

Lot 377; A DIAMOND SOLITAIRE RING, the brilliant cut diamond mounted in white gold. Estimated; weight of diamond; 4.36 ct, colour and clarity; J – K, VS1, size Q.

Lot 376; A DIAMOND THREE STONE RING, the brilliant cut diamonds mounted in 18ct white gold. Estimated; weight of diamonds; 4.98 ct, colour and clarity; I – J, VS2, size N

Lot 181; A DIAMOND SOLITAIRE RING, the marquise cut diamond mounted in white gold. Estimated; weight of diamond; 1.08 ct, colour and clarity; F/G, VS/SI

Lot 173; A DIAMOND SOLITAIRE RING, the brilliant cut diamond mounted in gold. Estimated; weight of diamond; 3.22 ct, colour and clarity; J, VS

Lot 266; A DIAMOND SOLITAIRE RING, the old marquise cut diamond mounted in white metal. Together with GIA certificate stating the diamond to be; 2.30 ct, D colour, VS2 clarity

Couple Style

We know weddings are not going quite to anyone’s original plan at the moment. But we believe in putting our best foot forward and bridal couples will agree that it is all about stepping out in style – whatever the plan is for the big day. There is no doubt that there will still be a ceremony, maybe even a bite to eat – and definitely pictures. Jewellery is the finishing touch to a perfectly put together look – and choosing beautiful pieces that will be worn time and again long after the I-dos are a beautiful and sentimental way to mark a new chapter in a lifetime of love. There is so much focus from the waist up – whether it’s the exchange of the rings, raising a toast or sitting down to dinner – this is where the sparkle should be.

For her, a dramatic pair of drop earrings can add glamour and fun while an intricate diamond pendant will always be elegant. Bracelets can be a lovely finishing touch although an important consideration should be given to the style when paired with the fabric of the dress. As arms brush against sides more than is possibly realised, a situation should be avoided where a bracelet could potentially catch and snag the delicate fabric of a bridal gown. In the same vein, a brooch is probably not ideal pinned through an important dress – but it can look ideal as a hair ornament, holding a veil in place or sewn neatly by a hairstylist into the side of an updo.

For him, a beautiful set of cufflinks never goes amiss; gold is a perennial classic, but we love the bold touch of colour brought by some onyx inlay too, especially when the dress code calls for black tie. And we will never not champion the lapel pin; add red carpet glamour with a subtle diamond bar brooch or go for something whimsical and fun – this sword pin, with beautiful enamel work, seed pearls and a ruby is a real treasure.

Coin Collecting

Coins were first minted around 600 BC by the Lydians, who were part of the Greek Empire in modern-day Turkey. The Greeks and later the Romans, Celts and other tribes and empires minted coins in copper, silver and gold. They proved to be an invaluable enabler of trade and a store of wealth right up to the present day.

In Ireland, the first coins were minted by the Viking King Sitric in Dublin in 996 AD. These were silver pennies and they were used to trade with other Viking towns. These early Irish silver pennies have been found in the Isle of Man, throughout Britain and as far away as St Petersburg

Up to the twentieth century the value of silver and gold coins was closely tied to the underlying value of the silver and gold they were minted from. However, there was often a small percentage of the value of the coins that went to the government or other issuers of the coins.

Coin collectors (called numismatists) have studied and collected coins from Roman times and it is still a very popular hobby worldwide. Whilst there are wealthy numismatists that collect gold coins, there are many non-collectors who have other reasons for buying them.

The price of gold has climbed from around $1,200 per troy ounce (31.1 grams) in 2019 to nearly $2,000 in late 2020. This has attracted individuals who see gold as an alternative to leaving their savings in a bank or putting their money into property or shares.

Gold Coins

Gold can be purchased in many forms, but gold coins issued by governments have many advantages over gold bars or bonds:

  • They have a guaranteed weight and purity and are immediately recognised worldwide. This allows their gold value to be quickly calculated in terms of US dollars and any local currency. They are also very portable, easy to handle, to trade and to hide! They are often works of art in their own right and iconic designs would include the American $20 Double Eagle 1 troy ounce (31.1 gram) gold coin designed by the Irish born Saint-Gaudens. The English full and half Gold Sovereigns have featured St George slaying the dragon by the Italian coin engraver Pistrucci, for over 200 years.
  • The full gold sovereign circulated in Ireland up to 1914, with a face value of £1 or 20 shillings. They are 22 carats and contain nearly a quarter of a troy ounce of pure gold (and the half sovereign half of that).
  • Apart from forming part of the gold reserves of central banks and as a store of personal wealth, they make ideal presents, wedding gifts and as valuable keepsakes for special occasions such as the birth of a child.

At O’Reilly’s forthcoming monthly auction commencing on Wednesday 23rd September we have 20 lots of American gold coins made up of the $20 Double Eagle, $10 Eagle and $5 Half Eagle. We also have a further 20 lots including plenty of gold sovereigns, half sovereigns and the no-nonsense South African Krugerrand coins with 1 troy ounce of gold. They are all attractively priced, so this is now your chance!

Columbian Emeralds at O’Reillys

Columbia is synonymous with the precious gemstone emerald and they are thought to have been mined there as far back as 1000 BC. The ancients considered them a symbol of fertility and immortality, when the Spanish invaded they took the stones back to Europe where they were jewels of royalty. Today, anyone can own an emerald and the rich Columbian deposits show no sign of depleting and are still being mined.

Columbian emeralds are particularly famous for their highly prized bluish green colour and historically have been the most sought after and valuable emeralds on the planet. Emeralds are cherished for their vibrant green colour which results from the presence of Chromium and Vanadium as impurities in the mineral Beryl. The presence of Iron gives the revered bluish tint seen in high quality Columbian emeralds, other examples of gemstones of the Beryl family are Aquamarine and Red Beryl.

As well as colour, other important factors in the value and desirability are tone and saturation; a medium-dark tone and a vivid saturation being favourable. Inclusions and internal fractures are common in emeralds and they are often oiled to mask them, this is an acceptable practice, but it should be noted that hot water and chemicals should not be used to clean them, and rough treatment should be avoided.

We have a number of Certified Columbian emeralds in our upcoming sale;

Lot 176; A three stone emerald and diamond ring, 2.13 ct emerald, diamonds 0.76 ct €8000 – 10,000

Lot 178; A single stone emerald ring, 2.82 ct emerald €9000 – 12,000

Lot 180; A three stone emerald and diamond ring, 2.01 ct emerald, diamonds 2.72 ct €12,000 – 15,000

Or for the smaller budget

Lot 232; A three stone emerald and diamond ring, emerald 0.64 ct, diamonds 0.54 ct €2800 – 3500

Pink Sapphires

Most people think of blue when sapphires are mentioned but sapphires come in a wide range of colours, including green, yellow orange and pink. Pink sapphires have been gaining popularity as they exude femininity and come in a wide range of beautiful shades. They are considered rare but are less expensive than diamonds and second to them in their degree of hardness- making them an excellent choice for everyday wear. Most pink sapphires come from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Madagascar. The shade of the stone is determined by the amount of the mineral ‘corundum’ in the gem and the darker pink hues contain more of the mineral.

Artist Spotlight

Naomi Brosnan is a contemporary Irish artist. This piece, titled “Purity of Release”, is a beautifully expressive oil painting. Naomi trained at the Crawford College of Art and Design in Cork and has exhibited her work in galleries across Ireland. She has a background in printing and drawing but her main interest lies mainly in painting.

LOT 494
NAOMI BROSNAN, (IRISH CONTEMPORARY), Purity of Release”, oil on canvas, signed and dated ’06, details verso, c. 32 x 24”
€600 – €800

The Iconic Cartier Love Bracelet:

Cartier’s Love bracelet is one of the most popular and recognizable pieces of jewellery ever designed… being one of the most Googled pieces of jewellery in the world! Here are some fascinating facts about the iconic piece…

  • The bracelet was designed in the shape of an oval so it can fit as closely as possible to a loved one’s wrist.
  • Designed by Aldo Cipullo, who is often credited with revolutionizing the manner of wearing jewellery. Jewellery during the time the Love bracelet was created was chosen specifically to match an outfit, but the bracelet was designed to coordinate any outfit and suit any occasion- day or night!
  • It is rumoured that Cartier once had a policy prohibiting customers from buying Love bracelets for themselves- they could only be purchased by a couple.
  • When the bracelet was first launched, Cartier gifted them to some of the most famous couples of the 20th century including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
  • According to a recent Vogue article, some hospitals in New York City stock Love bracelet screwdrivers in case they need to remove the piece from patients during an emergency.
Lot 70

How to care for your Love bracelet:

You can carry out the cleaning yourself: brush the bracelet delicately with a very soft toothbrush in lukewarm soapy water. Next, carefully rinse the bracelet in lukewarm water and wipe it with a soft cloth.

The Cartier Ballon Bleu:

Designed to appeal to both men and women, the Ballon Bleu is a modern and elegant watch. Despite a short history, only being released in 2006, this timepiece has quickly become one of the world’s most well-known watches. The name comes from the two most prominent details of the watch: the blue synthetic sapphire ‘cabochon’ that is mounted in the crown, and the spherical ‘balloon’ shape of the case.

Lot 19