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Chinese Silver Tourmaline Bracelet

One of the joys of collecting jewelry from the other side of the globe is the difference in style and techniques. The second pleasure for me is coming across stones not usually seen in our North American pieces.

0034This bracelet, c1910, has at center a 19c tourmaline carving of two fat birds sitting on a branch feasting on fruit. The filigree setting has been custom made to fit this stone and the delicate silver work reminds me of the finest Italian lace.

4I once showed a bracelet like this to a friend, an appraiser, who also makes custom jewelry…he turned it over, looked at the construction and said "300 hours to make this…how do you put a value on that?"

0002 Tourmaline, unlike jade, is not native to China. My gemstone reference says that the Dutch brought the first tourmaline to Europe from Ceylon in 1703. Other trade routes would have brought this stone from Ceylon to China.

We know that tourmaline was highly valued by the Chinese. It is one of the six stones that only the Imperial family was permitted to use in their court necklaces.

I like to think that chubby birds enjoying their feast is a subtle symbol of marital bliss.

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