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Jewelry Quotes: Passages from Classic Literature about Gems & Jewels
08 / 29

 

GEM QUOTES

 

 

Courtesy of Sotheby’s

 

Even those of us who write about jewelry on a regular basis sometimes lack the words to describe the beauty of the gems and jewels sitting right in front of us. When I find a quote or a passage so vividly written that I can actually visualize the piece, I save it. The only downside is that I usually end up wanting something I can’t have.

 

If you too love a good literary jewelry reference, read on, but at your own risk!

 

OPALS

 

Pliny The Elder:

There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald – all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendor rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulphur or of fire quickened by oil.

 

PEARLS

 

20,000 Leagues UnderThe Sea, Jules Verne:

“My worthy Ned,” I answered, “to the poet, a pearl is a tear of the sea; to the Orientals, it is a drop of dew solidified; to the ladies, it is a jewel of an oblong shape, of a brilliancy of mother-of-pearl substance, which they wear on their fingers, their necks, or their ears; for the chemist it is a mixture of phosphate and carbonate of lime, with a little gelatine…

 

DIAMONDS

 

My Antonia, Willa Cather:

I used to imagine that the nobles’ of whom Antonia was always talking probably looked very much like Christian Harling, wore caped overcoats like his, and just such a glittering diamond upon the little finger.

 

The Diamond As Big as the Ritz, And Other Stories, F. Scott FitZgerald:

“That’s nothing.” Percy had leaned forward and dropped his voice to a low whisper. “That’s nothing at all. My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.”

 

EVERYTHING

 

The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde:

On one occasion he took up the study of jewels, and appeared at a costume ball as Anne de Joyeuse, Admiral of France, in a dress covered with five hundred and sixty pearls. This taste enthralled him for years, and, indeed, may be said never to have left him. He would often spend a whole day settling and resettling in their cases the various stones that he had collected, such as the olive-green chrysoberyl that turns red by lamplight, the cymophane with its wirelike line of silver, the pistachio-coloured peridot, rose-pink and wine-yellow topazes, carbuncles of fiery scarlet with tremulous, four-rayed stars, flame-red cinnamon-stones, orange and violet spinels, and amethysts with their alternate layers of ruby and sapphire. He loved the red gold of the sunstone, and the moonstone’s pearly whiteness, and the broken rainbow of the milky opal. He procured from Amsterdam three emeralds of extraordinary size and richness of colour, and had a turquoise de la vieille roche that was the envy of all the connoisseurs.