August 2016


Peridot, Diamond and Gold Five Strand Bracelet handcrafted by German jewelry artist Eva Steinberg. Available from Szor Collections


Lovely Lily Pads: Peridot Inclusions

Like many gemologists I am often more enamored with what is inside a stone than any other aspect of a gemstone. A good inclusion can make my day! Peridot just happens to have one of my all time favorite inclusions, lily pads.

Lily pads are reflective, disk-shaped inclusions resembling a lily pad shape. The inclusion is the result of a stress fracture. At the center of the formation there is often a crystal of another mineral or a void. These voided spaces can also be negative crystals (the space left by a crystal that is no longer there).

Lily pads can occur when the gemstone is heated in the ground or when heat-treated by man, and they are present in peridot from all mining sources in the world. Lily pad inclusions are never seen in synthetic or any other natural material that might be used to imitate peridot, so these inclusions can help in the separation of peridot from other materials. 

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peridot tiara

Archduchess Isabella's Peridot and Diamond tiara


The tiara dates from the 1820s fabricated by Kochert, court jeweler to the Habsburg family of Austria. It is believed that the tiara was originally been made for Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg (1797-1829), wife of Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen. But the tiara is more strongly tied to Princess Isabella of Croÿ (1856-1931), who married Archduke Friedrich, grandson of Henrietta and Charles and a successor to the Duke of Teschen title. Archduchess Isabella is the first person we have depicted wearing the parure (set).
The tiara is part of a parure which includes a set of earrings, a large brooch (or devant de corsage), and a necklace; the necklace includes seven drops which can be removed and mounted upright on the tiara. The parure is composed of large peridots in a deep olive color surrounded by a scrolling foliate diamond frame.

Joan Rivers, wearing the necklace and earrings at the 2004 Golden Globes   

Joan Rivers, wearing the necklace and earrings at the 2004 Golden Globes


The parure has been through a few sales since Archduchess Isabella's time. In 1936 after the death of her husband, Archduke Friedrich, it was sold for the first time; in 1937, the set was sold to Count Johannes Coudenhove-Kalergi (1893-1965) and his wife Countess Lilly. The jewels ended up in the United States, after passing to their daughter, Marina. The jewels stayed tucked away in a bank safety deposit box until her death in 2000 when her estate appraisers discovered that the jewels from her mother turned out to be so exquisite and to have royal provenance which was verified by Sotheby's.

The jewels were auctioned by Sotheby's in 2001 where they sold for approximately $400,000 by the Fred Leighton jewelry firm. The jewelry firm lent the necklace and earrings out to comedian Joan Rivers for the 2004 Golden Globes where they were photographed. At some point, Lily Safra had posession of part of the set. We know this because the earrings and brooch were placed on auction in May 2012 when a selection of jewels from her collection were sold by Christie's for charity. The whereabouts of the necklace and tiara are not know to the public today. 

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Vintage bakelite with round orange spessartite garnet set in 18k yellow gold bezels. Available from Barneys

Designer Spotlight: Mark Davis

Founded in 1999, Mark Davis is an ultra-niche designer and manufacturer of "hypercrafted" luxury goods. Mark’s expert use and adaptation of alternative materials is one reason that his jewelry is so special. By applying the exacting techniques of the haute joaillerie to materials not traditionally considered “fine,” Mark has created collections remarkable for their freshness and exceptional distinctiveness. 

While each collection has its distinct characteristics, all share important attributes. Quality is paramount in every respect: Mark works in close collaboration with his team of highly skilled artisans to realize his designs and to maintain exceptionally high standards not often offered today. A tremendous amount of manual labor—using both ancient jewelers’ techniques and modern manufacturing methods—is invested in every Mark Davis piece. Every item is meticulously handmade in their New York City studio. Nothing is mass-produced, and most pieces are one of a kind. Those created in multiples are available only in limited quantities.


"Sugarloaf" ring of laminated, hand-carved, vintage bakelite "scraps" mounted in 18 karat gold.

Invented by Leo Baekeland in New York in 1907, Bakelite was the first completely synthetic plastic material. It contained no petroleum or plant-derived ingredients. The development of Bakelite changed the course of mankind and the planet. Unfortunately, all the changes have not been good. Some of the properties that made Bakelite so remarkable 100 years ago have come to haunt us today. Bakelite does not melt and cannot be recycled like most petroleum plastics. Its once-desirable durability becomes a liability when it enters the waste stream.

The vintage Bakelite used in Mark's products is an example of recycling in its purest form. They repurpose material that cannot be recycled, preventing it from entering the waste stream in the first place. By treating it like a precious material, has essentially elevated its status to highly desirable as well as beautiful.

Mark Davis bakelite jewels depends on exacting techniques of working the bakelite that are similar to those employed for natural ivory, but without ivory’s associated ecological devastation. In addition, the bakelite offers a range of colors and patterns that are unique and remarkable in their own right. Thermosetting resins cannot be melted and reformed. They must be reformed by hand with labor-intensive techniques. Every piece is individually subjected to a combination of sawing, carving, filing, sanding and polishing. All work is done by hand in their New York City workshop.

Vintage bakelite bangles with 18 karat gold wire inlay and amethysts.

Bangles created from vintage bakelite with 18 karat gold wire inlay and peridot.

Mark Davis chooses to use the term “bakelite” with a lowercase “b” as a blanket term to identify a wide range of vintage thermosetting resins. These include Bakelite, Catalin, Prystal, Beetle, Galalith and others. All of the bakelite they use are vintage material which they have searched the world for. They cannibalize material from wherever they find it, including old clocks, jukeboxes, game pieces, lamps and billiard balls.


Wooden bangles inlaid with vintage bakelite and set with colored gemstones mounted in 18 karat gold.

The woods used in Mark Davis jewelry are selected for their natural beauty, durability, and sustainability. The wood that is used is from managed resources or naturally fallen trees, as well as wood reclaimed from architectural demolition. All woods are presented in their natural colors: no dye, stain, or paint are uses on them. Depending on the physical characteristics of the type of wood used, the pieces are finished with a natural wax or a more durable lacquer.


Hand-carved vintage bakelite "sugarloaf" ring mounted in 18 karat gold.

Mark Davis has choosen to use only recycled eighteen karat gold and platinum in our jewelry. All of the precious metals come from suppliers that are as committed to environmental stewardship as Mark Davis is.


Even THEIR earring backs are hand-made. They do not use commercially produced stamped backs. 

"By its very nature, our jewelry is the most eco-friendly fine jewelry in the world. That is not an exaggeration. With only very few exceptions, our fine jewelry is, on average, created from 80 percent post-consumer recycled materials. In some instances, that number rises to more than 95 percent...
We have corporate policies in place that ensure an aggressive reduction in the amount of disposable consumables used in both our administrative and production operations every year. We also financially support environmental organizations that are working to remediate and prevent environmental damage to the world we all live in.
The precious metals used in our products, as in almost all jewelry produced today, are recycled. We purchase our gold, platinum and silver from suppliers who have received independent, third-party certification confirming that the metals are indeed recycled. Additionally, our suppliers have received independent, third-party certification of their refining processes and systems. If not properly and responsibly executed, the reclamation and refining of precious metals can be almost as harmful to the environment as the production of newly mined ore. By working with suppliers who are regularly subjected to rigorous auditing and testing, of both their products and processes, we can confidently assure our customers that the precious metals in our products are eco-friendly."


Born in Manhattan, Mark spent his formative years in Malaysia. An aesthete since childhood, he was expelled from the International School of Kuala Lumpur for refusing to wear a uniform he considered ugly. His expulsion notwithstanding, Mark returned to New York to attend Parsons School of Design, the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York University.

An internship in Christie’s jewelry department followed by a job with an estate jeweler in Manhattan afforded Mark the opportunity to handle a tremendous number of fine and exceptional jewels. These experiences were instrumental in teaching him both about the importance of fine craftsmanship and the value in working for himself.

Mark began designing and producing his first line of jewelry in 1999, and the fashion press quickly took notice of his distinctive aesthetic. Just months after they were created, his first pieces appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, W and Elle.

Fascinated since childhood by all things mechanical, and convinced that exceptional production methods are as important as fine design, Mark built a complete in-house production facility, where he conceives, designs and produces his jewelry along with a team of skilled artisans who work under his close direction.

Mark’s aesthetic is frequently described as “future classic.” Even when the materials used are vintage, his jewelry has a distinctively contemporary feel that is current without being trendy. His continual development of new designs and concepts offers clients an ever-expanding selection to discover, enjoy and collect.

Visit the Mark Davis website for more information. 

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