The Ideal token of love
Wednesday, February 11th, 2004
on behalf of Alistir Wood Tait Antique and Fine Jewellery
A pair of unique Scottish love tokens – engagement rings set with rare indigenous gemstones – have been created by one of Scotland’s leading jewellers to ensure a truly memorable way to mark Valentine’s Day.
February 14th is traditionally one of the most romantic dates in the calendar and the distinct and elegant Scottish rings would complete any marriage proposal.
The pieces – one set with a rare Scottish sapphire, the other with a Scottish ‘Elie ruby’ – have been designed by antique and fine jewellery specialist Alistir Wood Tait, of Rose Street, Edinburgh,
Alistir said: “Every engagement ring is special, but by using these rare Scottish stones we believe in each case we have created something exceptional and distinctive.
“These rings are not only unique they are also emphatically, yet subtly, Scottish. Stones so beautiful are absolutely perfect for anyone hoping to make the ultimate statement of love.”
Alistir, who is also a highly-respected gemmologist, is an expert in the precious and semi-precious stones and metals which can be found in Scotland and has collected many himself. He says many people are amazed to learn Scotland has a proud tradition of producing superb quality gemstones, albeit in small quantities.
Among the rarest are sapphires, which come from just one locality on the Isle of Harris, which has been protected since it was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1990.
Those used in jewellery are normally 0.1 to 0.5 carats and Alistir has an excellent supply of stones which predate the protection order which now prevents the midnight blue stones being removed from the dyke at Cnoc a’Chapuill on the Isle of Harris, in the Outer Hebrides.
The ring he has designed is set with a flawless 0.94 carat Scottish sapphire with a diamond nestling at either side. It is on sale for £3150, superb value since Scottish sapphires cost up to £3,300 per carat.
He added: “Scottish sapphires are even more special as they are not heat treated or enhanced in any other way, whereas sapphires found outside Scotland often have to be heat treated to bring out their dark blue colour.
“The fact that they have become protected means that they are no longer readily available. The stones I have obtained have been collected within the past 10 years and will be used to produce one-off design pieces.”
‘Elie rubies’ are another fine example of the precious stones which are only found in Scotland. The “rubies” are actually Scottish garnets from the seashore at Elie, Fife, nicknamed Ruby Bay.
The ring Alistir designed has a 0.52 carat stone set in 18 carat gold and contains a diamond at either side to provide a classic three-stone ring. An unusual Celtic style band has been created to further enhance the beauty of this gem.
Alistir said: “What is unique about ‘Elie Rubies’ is that they are coloured by chromium to give them their vivid red colour whereas most garnets are coloured by iron which results in them being purple.
“They are best found after the harsh winter water has gone and are replaced by spring tides which turn the gravel over to reveal the glistening gems.”
Inevitably diamonds are usually thought of the as the stones of romance and Alistir has what is known by jewellers as the “perfect diamond” – considered as the ideal stone when it comes to the four C’s of cut, clarity, colour and carat.
In this case, the stone is a perfect round brilliant cut, perfect D-flawless clarity, perfectly white in colour and the perfect one-carat size. But perfection doesn’t come cheap and Alistir concedes the £16,000 price tag means it is not within everybody’s range.
“Stones like this don’t come along every day and are always viewed as a little bit special by anyone who handles diamonds professionally.
“In this case the sheer elegance and simplicity of the stone and its setting make it perfect as an engagement ring. Any woman presented with this couldn’t fail to be moved.”
However, Alistir does have three smaller diamonds which he recently acquired from the International Gemmological Institute. The gems are internally flawless and D-flawless clarity which gives them their outstanding fire and brilliance.
He added: “As yet I am unsure what to do with these dazzling gems, but as we have our own design team we shall probably produce three different rings set in our unique Scottish gold which could be used as an engagement ring or to mark a special occasion.”