February 21 2010
Much as I adore jewels and gems, I’ve always fought shy of gemology, thinking it too cold and calculating, scientific and mathematical, even, dare I say it, anorak-ish. Instead I’ve picked up fragments of information, teaching myself as I’ve gone along. So when I was invited to a gemology morning, organised by the enterprising jewellery boutique Astley Clarke, I thought it could be the ideal way to flesh out my knowledge in a cosy, easy-going atmosphere. Or at least, to feel the fear and do it anyway.
The informal seminar, the first in a series to be offered to clients, in groups a maximum of 20 people, is given by Eric Emms, Hatton Garden gemologist with some 30 years’ experience, who manages to entertain and educate at the same time. I liked the way he mixed emotion, myth and magic into the facts about mining, sources, and dwindling resources, cutting and polishing, valuations, the characteristics and qualities of different gemstones, using the huge array of coloured gems that have become the signature of Astley Clarke collections.
Enjoyably, and without the use of tables of numbers or refractive indices, the seminar – held in Astley Clarke’s London headquarters (pictured) – helped me consolidate my understanding of the different families of gems, their colour nuances, optical effects and varying brilliance. I loved learning about the inner lives of gems, the way light behaves in a stone, and perhaps most of all I came to appreciate the individuality of colour in gemstones; that their beauty and value are subjective, personal, and that understanding them is an art.
The next Astley Clarke gemology morning is on March 25.