Last updateTue, 19 Jun 2018 9pm

The Story Behind the Stone: Heavenly Stars

Savvy collectors often turn heavenward for inspiration with their jewelry collections:

Inspiration - the motivational word for designers and jewelers means looking outward or upward for clues to creating a new collection. That's not such a recent device, and actually heavenly bodies of the stellar kind have been the source of motivation for designers for quite some time.



Faceted natural amethyst set into an ornate two colored 18k gold floral motif Halley's comet brooch. English in origin. Circa 1836-40. Courtesy of The Three Graces; www.georgianjewelry.com.

Scarce Halley's comet brooch of a micro mosaic set into gold with a scene of the 1st C. Roman Coliseum. Circa 1836-40. The micro mosaic is Italian in origin, the brooch is English. Courtesy of The Three Graces; www.georgianjewelry.com.

Halley's Comet is the most famous of what is referred to as periodic comets <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_comet> and actually can be seen every 75 years or so. It is clearly visible to the naked eye and because of its timing, can return within a human lifetime. It was observed by astronomers since at least 240 BC, but it was not recognized as a periodic comet until the eighteenth century when so noted by Edmond Halley <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmond_Halley>, after whom the comet is now named. It is next due to appear in mid-2061. Stick around.

Take a look at Halley's Comet pins. If you don't know what you're looking at, you could bypass several sparkling antique jewelry pieces that hold a fascinating history. According to Lisa Stockhammer, president of The Three Graces, "The passing of Halley's Comet in 1836 captivated the imagination particularly of the English people and thus jewelers of the day translated this celestial event into fine gems and precious metals in petite brooches."

Halley's Comet pins or brooches were at first distinguished by a gemstone embellished with radiant-like or pointed star-like decoration surrounding the jewel. It had a tail, representing the long trail seen behind the path of the comet in the nighttime sky. Later on, these wildly popular pins actually became more stylized, with shorter tails, often straight or just plain nubs. In whatever incarnation they were devised, they were quite a fashion must-have.

Today, savvy collectors may stumble upon one at a flea market, or other such opportunistic jewelry buys. But for many collectors with an eye for specialties, and for jewelry historians, these still light up the skies.


Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She's a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.