Friday, 24 June 2016

The Burgess Shale Formation

The Burgess Shale Formation is located in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. It is one of the world's most celebrated fossil fields and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is famous for the exceptional preservation of the soft parts of its fossils.

At 508 million years (Middle Cambrian) old, it is one of the earliest fossil beds containing soft-part imprints.
Burgess Shale contains the best record we have of Cambrian animal fossils. It reveals creatures originating from the Cambrian explosion, an evolutionary burst of animal origins dating 545 to 525 million years ago.
During this period, life was restricted to the world's oceans. The land was barren, uninhabited, and subject to mudslides which periodically rolled into the seas and buried marine organisms.

At Burgess, sediment was deposited in a deep-water basin adjacent to an enormous algal reef with a vertical escarpment several hundred meters high.

The Burgess Shale fossils have been called the world’s most significant fossil discovery because of their great age, their diversity and the detail of their preservation.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Spider by Faberge

Faberge Spider Brooch? So you were watching Pawn Stars and couldn't believe it when a woman came in with a platinum and diamond encrusted Faberge spider brooch looking for $2,000 and ended up getting a whooping $15k? How much is an authentic Faberge spider brooch going for these days?

A black widow Faberge brooch could very easily be worth $80,000-$150,000 or more at auction, if it were real.
The Faberge company, officially "The House of Faberge", has spoken out about the possible Faberge spider brooch. In an email sent to “Time”, Tatiana Zherebkina, spokeswoman for the company, called the reports of a new Faberge spider brooch “untrue and unfounded,” claiming the eight-legged brooch does “not fit into the luxury jeweler’s creative vision.”

The Faberge company, however, does not have complete records on the company.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Seven Stones of the Russian Diamond Fund

The Kremlin's Diamond Depository dates back to the reign of Peter I, who decreed for the most valuable treasures to become property of the Russian state, not only of the Royal Family. From then on, precious regalia, insignia and secular jewelry belonging to several generations of Russian rulers would be stored in the Diamond Room in St. Petersburg.

When WWI broke out, the collection was moved to Moscow and placed in the Armory basement, where it would stay for nearly 8 years. The Diamond Depository was established in 1922.

In 1967, when the Soviet state was celebrating its 50th anniversary the treasures were placed on public display.
A deep Red Spinel weighing 398.72 carats adorns the famous Great Imperial Crown. Made by court jeweler Jeremie Pauzie, the crown was created for the coronation of Catherine the Great in 1762.
The Orlov Diamond is on the Imperial gold scepter. The Orlov weighs 189.62 carats.

Most agree that the stone was found at the famous Golconda deposits in India in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. It was probably part of a larger crystal that split off along the plane of the cleavage. The weight of this larger crystal was thought to be about 400 carats.
The Shah Diamond was originally called the "Prince's Stone" or "Solitaire of Hosrev-Mirza".

The Shah diamond weighs 88.70 carats. The diamond has a light yellowish-brown tint. Legend has it that the stone hung on a silk cord over the throne of the rulers of India.
The Table Portrait Diamond known as the "Tafelstein", is considered to be the largest specimen of table diamond in the world. The 25-carat stone is 4 x 2.9 cm and 2.5 mm deep. The Portrait Diamond Bracelet is of neo-gothic form, made in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, and bears a miniature watercolour portrait of Emperor Alexander I. It is painted on ivory from a portrait by the English painter George Dawe.

The Maria Alexandrovna Sapphire Brooch. The deep-blue Ceylonese Sapphire weighs 260.37 carats and is set in a high mount of gold filigree decorated with diamonds.
The Columbian Emerald weighing 136.25 carats.

Large and pure oval chrysolite from the island of Zaberget in the Red Sea. The name "chrysolite" comes from the Greek word meaning "gold stone". It weighs 192.60 carats. Chrysolites have been known and valued since antiquity.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

"Indiana Bones" - Paul Koudounaris, Heavenly Bodies

Hand of a jeweled skeleton clutching the pommel of sword in Gutenzell
In late 2013 a relic hunter dubbed 'Indiana Bones' lifted the lid on a macabre collection of 400-year-old jewel-encrusted skeletons unearthed in churches across Europe. Paul Koudounaris hunted down and photographed dozens of skeletons in some of the world's most secretive religious establishments. The skeletons are said to be the remains of early Christian martyrs.
Thousands of skeletons were dug up from Roman catacombs in the 16th century and installed in towns around Germany, Austria and Switzerland on the orders of the Vatican.

They were sent to Catholic churches and religious houses to replace the relics destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s.

After they were found in the Roman catacombs the Vatican authorities would sign certificates identifying them as martyrs then they put the bones in boxes and sent them northwards.

The skeletons would then be dressed and decorated in jewels, gold and silver, mostly by nuns. They had to be handled by those who had taken a sacred vow to the church - these were believed to be martyrs and they couldn't have just anyone handling them.