Informed by the great jewelry traditions of the past and showcasing some of the finest gemstones on the planet, Stephen Silver’s collection of high jewelry is the product of a remarkable life journey. Each piece is created with an uncompromising standard of handcraftsmanship and a knowledge of technique gleaned from decades of handling masterpieces from the historically great houses. Likewise, Stephen Silver’s talents in gemology have given him access to world-class stones over the course of his career, many of which he has improved. These rare gems are the centerpieces of a thoughtfully designed high jewelry collection that will not only become treasured possessions, but that will provide lasting value for years to come.
The Ceylon Sapphire Bracelet
While its 13 perfectly matched sapphires may have been unearthed in the modern era, the quality of this striking bracelet reflects the craftsmanship of the great jewelry masterpieces. This is evident the minute you pick it up. The bracelet undulates to the touch like fabric, and despite the obvious weight of the upper sapphires, it sits comfortably upright on the wrist, the result of meticulous tensioning by the jeweler.
As with all pieces like this, it is the quality of the stones that set it apart. These sapphires, totaling 97 carats in all, are among the finest the mines of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) have ever produced with a rich, deep hue that rivals top stones from the other highly regarded mining areas on earth. Just as impressively, this collection of stones has been matched for color and identically cut with a subtle graduation. It is worth noting that the stones’ Sri Lankan origins, including a cursory low-heat treatment commonly given at the time they were mined, makes this bracelet a far greater value for the price than a comparable piece made of Kashmir sapphires—if such a piece could ever be assembled.
The Columbian Cabochon Emerald Drops
When Stephen Silver got his hands on a fine, 62 carat piece of gem-quality Colombian emerald rough, the first thing he did was to saw it in half. The conventional move, of course, would be to cut the largest faceted gem possible from the rough, but with his deep grounding in jewelry history, had other ideas. The two halves were tumbled into a pair of smooth and splendid cabochon cushions (51.70 carats in total). A subtle faceting was applied to one side to add an element of sparkle. The cabochons are now a pair of highly unusual and highly striking drop earrings set off by diamonds.
“Jewelers were so much more esoteric and artistic with colored stones in the Art Deco era,” he explains. “I wanted to bring a little of that creativity into these earrings. I’m quite proud of them.”
Georgian Kashmir Sapphire Earrings
The centerpiece of these magnificent earrings are very likely the largest pair of matched Kashmir sapphires in the world. Totaling over 33 carats, the pair was purchased with a pair of Georgian period (1714 – 1837) earrings that had become dated in design. While the exact provenance of these sapphires is unknown, they would have been highly prized in the era, most likely part of a royal collection.
To create a suitable ensemble for this highly unique pair, Stephen Silver adapted his favorite color scheme of blue, white and pink. He suspend the sapphires with two matched pear-shaped Fancy Intense Purple-Pink diamonds and a further matched pair of extremely high-quality oval white diamonds. To make this final set, a diamond had to be specially cut to perfectly match an existing oval—a very unusual request in diamond cutting circles.
“Often our decisions are based on artistic vision rather than efficiency and cost,” says Stephen Silver. “But these are the unique statements that separate high jewelry from merely expensive jewelry.”
The Master Ruby Ring
Oddly, Stephen Silver prefaces every discussion of this 6.56 carat Burma Ruby
ring by mentioning his reluctance to sell it. His attachment to the stone is understandable: for the last thirty years he has owned it, this Burma ruby—with the most highly prized “pigeon’s blood” color—has been the jeweler’s “master stone” by which he judges all other rubies. And to date, no stone he has seen surpasses this particular ruby’s color and clarity.
“If you talk to the old Chinese or Thai cutters, this is what they would describe as the original definition of “pigeon’s blood,” Stephen Silver explains. “Today the term is applied to darker stones, sometimes with secondary hues. This stone has none of that.”
Stephen Silver’s master ruby has been fashioned into a perfectly symmetrical emerald cut: a highly unusual form for a ruby, but one that highlights its unblemished crystal and its utterly pure hue.
The Transition Era Emerald and Diamond Suite
With a multitude of outstanding qualities, this late Edwardian diamond and emerald suite of necklace and earrings is a fine example of highly collectible antique jewelry. Stylistically, it is unique. Manufactured during or around the First World War, it displays the looping shapes of prevalent Edwardian style, yet the bezel setting and geometric forms of what would become the Art Deco movement are also evident.
This design has been executed at a superlative quality level in every area. Construction is completely handmade and finished to the highest standards—a worthy housing for a set of truly world-class emeralds. These stones are “Old Mine Muzo,” the most highly prized type of Colombian emerald known for a pure green hue without darker or blue subtones. The stones are also remarkably free of inclusions and oils and exceptionally well matched. Perhaps most remarkable, the suite is almost completely free of wear. Its condition indicates that it was worn no more than a handful of times in its over 100-year lifespan.
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