02/02/2024 General News
Despite the fact that some view it as a cynical, commercial opportunity to sell us cards, roses, teddy bears and so on, Valentine’s remains one of the most popular special days of the year. Along with New year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is by far the most common occasion on which to propose.
This year February comes with an added romantic bonus: Leap Year’s Day (29th February). It was in the 5th century when St Patrick decreed that on this one day every four years women were allowed to propose to their men, rather than waiting for the chap to do the business. This is something of an outdated concept in these days of equality, but even so there will be a definite uptick in the number getting engaged this month.
Of course, for many people diamonds are the only stone in the game when it comes to an engagement ring. It was De Beers who came up with the line ‘A Diamond is Forever’ in a 1947 advertising campaign, a line recognised in 1997 by Ad Age as the greatest advertising slogan of the 20th century.
On a more practical note, diamonds are indeed an ideal choice for a piece of jewellery which has to be durable, and which is likely to be exposed to all sorts of chemical, thermal and physical shocks during a lifetime of being worn.
But practical matters are not at the forefront of jewellery buyers at this time of year (and arguably not at any time of year). In the saleroom, we definitely notice a swing towards the romantic in February, and one of the trends which remains as strong as ever is the demand for heart-shaped stones.
You may think that such cuts are ‘artificial’, but any gemstone is inherently artificial, in that it has been cut and fashioned to bring out the best in terms of brilliance and fire (the coloured light which is reflected from within). No ring is made with a stone which has simply been lifted from the ground and wiped clean with a cloth!
So a heart-shaped cut is every bit as authentic as any other shape. It is also nothing new; the Victorians were very big on symbolism, and heart-shaped gemstones were very popular in the 19th century. But their history goes back even further: it is thought that Mary, Queen of Scots gave a heart-shaped diamond ring to her cousin Queen Elizabeth in 1562.
They have proved popular in modern times as well. Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor the heart-shaped Taj Mahal diamond on her 40th birthday, and even more recently, Lady Gaga formerly showed off a heart-shaped engagement ring from fiancé Taylor Kinney.
Unlike so many other things, they have never gone out of fashion; today a piece with a heart-shaped stone will command a significant premium, partly because the process involved in creating it makes it inherently rare.
Creating a diamond heart presents one of the most challenging tasks for the cutter. A modern diamond heart will have 59 expertly sculpted facets, and only a very skilled cutter can create a flawless heart-shaped diamond.
When it comes to the saleroom, romance is definitely alive and well. More and more buyers are attracted to this way of buying jewellery, both for the value it can offer in comparison to the High Street, but also for the backstory which imbues each piece with its own romanticism.
We may not be decorating our Aylsham salerooms with roses this month, but that doesn’t mean that a passion for beautiful jewellery won’t be very much in evidence.