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I'm back, a decade later, with another (possible) cat's eye chrysoberyl Victorian stickpin

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Hello, jewelry friends.

A decade ago, I bought a mysterious $11 Victorian stickpin on eBay, which the generous and knowledgeable Rich Sherwood identified as (spoiler alert!) a nice chrysoberyl cat's eye. It was set in 18K gold, and I had a jeweler snip off the stem, bend it into a band, and attach it to the pin head, converting the pin into a ring. I love it and wear almost every day. Here's the thread about it:
Chrysoberyl cat's eye thread from 2009

Ten years went by. Continents drifted, civilizations rose and fell, new freckles and wrinkles appeared on my hands.

Then, a few weeks ago, I won an eBay auction for another Victorian stickpin. The seller, a UK jeweler, described it as a chrysoberyl cat's eye set in a 9ct gold head with a steel pin. The setting looks 19th century--I would guess around 1880s. I believe the seller that the head is 9ct (9K); not sure about the pin, which is silver-colored, doesn't attract a magnet, and shows signs of having once been gilded.

This cat's eye stone is very similar to my first pin/ring in color, a touch yellower. It's way, WAY bigger--10 x 14mm, with a high dome. The measurements are exact: it's not approximately 10 x 14, it's PRECISELY 10 x 14. It appears almost opaque to me. It has a straight, sharp eye in sunlight and spotlight, and a wide, fibrous white stripe in diffuse light. The inclusions that give it its eye are coarser than in my first chrysoberyl cat's eye. Unlike the first one, the new one doesn't do milk and honey. It has no surface scratches, despite being obviously very old (over a century) and despite lots of wear to the setting. And fascinatingly, under a blacklight the first chrysoberyl cat's eye has a definite red/pink fluorescence, while the new one has a mottled chartreuse-y yellow fluorescence that's just as strong. The fluorescence is not as pronounced as in my diamonds with strong blue fluorescence, but it's much stronger than the diamonds with faint blue fluorescence.

What do you think?
1. Is this also a chrysoberyl cat's eye? If not, what is it?
2. Should I make it into a ring, preserving the head and adding a band?
3. If I make it a ring, set it north-south or east-west? (I have shortish, widish fingers).

The new pin, front, back, and profile:

IMG_4351.jpg
IMG_4420.jpg
IMG_4354.jpg

In direct sunlight, with my ring. See how the ring shows milk-and-honey, but the new pin doesn't?
IMG_4371.jpg

Facing front in sunlight:

IMG_4387.jpg

The best photo I managed to take that more or less shows the fluorescence. In real life that chrysoberyl cat's eye ring is redder and brighter. One of the melee diamonds in my diamond ring setting apparently has SB or VSB fluorescence.


IMG_4475.jpg

A few photos of the new pin's surface that I took with a microscope. These show the fibers touching the surface (those are not scratches):

Photo on 11-11-19 at 2.47 PM.jpg Photo on 11-11-19 at 3.01 PM.jpg

Photo on 11-11-19 at 2.52 PM #2.jpg

Photo on 11-11-19 at 2.49 PM #2.jpg
 

Attachments

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Nobody has an opinion--not even Rich? Are you all mad at me for disappearing for so long?

I'm especially curious about the fluorescence, which I thought was supposed to be rare in chrysoberyl. The little one that lights up red is definitely a chrysoberyl (Rich said so), so why is it lighting up red? And what's with the big new thing? Not a chrysoberyl after all?
 

GliderPoss

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
2,179
I don't know exactly what it is but it's absolutely lovely. What about making it into a pendant to wear with your ring?
 

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Thank you, GliderPoss! I don't wear pendants much, so if I don't make it into a ring I will probably leave it as a pin.
 

Nick_G

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 7, 2018
Messages
83
Fingers crossed it's another chrysoberyl! I read that 10-year old thread and that was quite an amazing find for $11!

As for fluorescence, yes some chrysoberyl does fluoresce red or pink if it contains traces of chromium and there isn't too much iron to quench it. I have an alexandrite mineral specimen that fluoresces deep red in long wave UV, and a green gemmy partial crystal that also shows reddish fluorescence under the same source. The green in the latter also looks a lot livelier in daylight.
 

PreRaphaelite

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Feb 2, 2015
Messages
1,533
I don’t know what it is, other than drop-dead gorgeous, but my vote is to convert to a stack ring with your first cats eye treasure!

If the seller was CJ Antiques (‘nalfie’) you can believe every word. Meanwhile, congratulations! You must be so excited! It’s beautiful.
 

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Thank you, Nick & Pre-Raphaelite.

Pre-Raph, I love nalfie too and have bought some lovely things from them, but this was a different seller. I don't doubt their honesty, just posssssssibly their accuracy, since it can be hard to identify less common stones.

If it's something softer than a chrysoberyl, I probably want to leave it as a pin so I don't get it all scratched up by wearing it on my finger. I'm also concerned about whether a jeweler can safely attach a ring to the setting without removing the stone, and that might depend on what it actually IS.

So far I've asked the opinions of:
-a dealer at a gem show, who said chrysoberyl and definitely not tiger's eye
-three antique jewelry dealers at a local market, two of whom said chrysoberyl and one said onyx
-and a guy at a pawn shop, who said tiger's eye.
I wish I could get at the back so I could try a scratch test, but the setting has a closed back.

Hm!
 

TheGarnetGirl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 13, 2018
Messages
742
I read that thread years ago as a lurker and loved that story! Its one of my favorite on PS! & Its hilarious and wonderful that you've positioned yourself in such a similar scenario!

My best guesses in no particular order are:

1. Cats eye Scapolite
2. Lower quality cats eye chrysoberyl
3. Bluish golden green tigers eye which is natural and also sometimes called "Hawks eye". (The fibrous coarse hairs look very very similar to that of my hawks eye cabochons and the coloring is spot on.)

For me personally I would set it as a ring if it were cats eye chryso or tigers eye as I love both of those gemstones but unless its a very translucent cat eye scapolite, I tend to draw away from cat eye scapolite.

The dotted bezel is awesome though and if it turned out to be scapolite I would turn it into a little charm for a necklace!

Just my 2cents ;)2
 
Last edited:

moneymeister

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 20, 2009
Messages
1,343
I also wonder about cat's eye jade.
 

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Thank you, GarnetGirl. It's not a COMPLETE coincidence that I find myself in this quandary again--after I scored big with the chrysoberyl cat's eye ten years ago, I buy cat's eye stickpins whenever I encounter very cheap or very attractive ones, hoping to strike gold again. As a result, I have a nice collection of Victorian tiger's eye pins. ;-)

I don't think it's scapolite or it would have at least a few scratches to show for its century and a quarter set in a stickpin; the metal is worn enough that a soft stone should be too. But it could very well be hawk's eye. If it is, I probably should leave it as a pin. Hm.

Moneymeister, interesting. I'd never even heard of cat's eye jade!
 

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Wow, that's cool! I doubt my pin is cat's eye jade, since that seems rare and the color's pretty different. I'm leaning toward hawk's eye now.

I think I've decided to leave the pin as a mysterious Victorian stickpin, since I seem to be wearing it that way a lot, it's safer for the stone not to get knocked around on my finger, and I already have lots of rings. Besides, DH likes it as a pin, and it's fairly rare for him to actually express a preference about my jewelry.

There are lots of gemologists in my big city, but I can't figure out how to identify one who would be able and willing to ID the stone for a reasonable fee. Last time I tried a decade ago, the ones I talked to were either not convincing or would have charged way more than I spent on this pin. But yeah, I agree that asking folks to give opinions based on photos is pretty silly.
 

diamondseeker2006

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 11, 2006
Messages
55,115
@glitterata Wow, it's been SO long since I have seen you here! Somehow I saw you posted from a list of latest posts or something on another page. These days I mostly stay in Rocky Talky or Show Me the Bling, so I miss posts like this in other parts of the forum. I remember loving your grandmothers' antique diamonds/rings long before the whole forum converted over to OECs and other antique diamonds! You were the forerunner, for sure! If you haven't been around much in the last 10 years, you'd be shocked at the number of people who either switched to old cuts or added an old cut diamond to their collections! Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and it's really nice to see you here again!
 

glitterata

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 17, 2002
Messages
3,569
Awww, thank you, DiamondSeeker! It's lovely to see you again too, and your gorgeous avatar! I'm flattered that you remembered my grandmothers' diamonds.

I had to go cold turkey from PS because I was spending WAY too much time and money. And if I'm not careful I may have to vanish again for the same reason.

I did notice that way more people are appreciating and wearing old cuts now, not just a tiny few of us. I was ahead of the curve on setting expensive stones like diamonds in silver, too. And gray spinels--those seem pretty popular these days. Back when I bought my first few, even the few people who had heard of spinels looked down their noses at gray ones, and you could get lovely big ones for the cost of a sandwich. (Well, okay, several sandwiches.) On the other hand, I'm only just catching up on faceted chrysoberyls (though obviously I was ahead of the PS curve on chrysoberyl cat's eyes--and maybe I still am).

Other changes I've noticed, besides the popularity of old cuts:
-Manmade diamonds have come a long, long way since last time I paid attention.
-Current gold prices are shocking! I have a bunch of loose stones I bought a decade ago that I would like to finally set and wear. I think I'll be setting more of them in silver.
-Out in the world I see a lot of industrial-quality "salt-and-pepper" diamonds being sold for what seem to me like high prices to people who find them charmingly rustic, but PSers don't seem to like them much.
-My hands look way older in photos. I'm trying to think of them as wiser.
 
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