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Victorian Demantoid Garnet & Diamond Salamander Brooch

Victorian Demantoid Garnet & Diamond Salamander Brooch



DATE: Victorian, c.1870

The salamander has, for centuries, been a symbol of immortality and rebirth - connotations akin to the phoenix. It was thought to be able to withstand burning in flames, and so was perceived to be a magical creature - Pliny the Elder wrote of them: "A salamander is so cold that it puts out fire on contact." In Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the firemen wear a insignia salamander on their coats and trucks, a clear nod to this past mythology. They can also regrow their legs...

This is really a rather remarkable Victorian salamander brooch, set with Russian demantoid garnets and old mine cut diamonds. With ruby eyes, a half open mouth, and distinctive splayed toes, it's exceptionally well made. Crafted in 15 karat gold with silver settings, it dates from the mid Victorian period, circa 1870.

Demantoid garnets (aka green garnets or Uralian emerald) weren't discovered until 1868, when miners in the Russian Ural Mountains found an alluvial deposit ~110km from Ekaterinburg. Wikipedia cites that the "miners were stunned by the highly refractive nature of the gem material," which is another way of saying they're unbelievably bright and vibrant. Like, unlike any other green gemstone the miners had seen. The stones take their name from the French for diamond "demant" on account of their phenomenal brilliance and fire (their dispersion/fire is actually higher than that of diamond), and they remain prized and highly sought after to this day. So what you're looking at in this brooch are, technically, diamonds and diamond-like garnets.


Demantoid Garnet, Old Mine Cut Diamond & Ruby


Length: 5.0cm

Width: 1.7cm




No marks present, tests as 15k gold and silver




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