We're spending a few days showcasing some accessories "for the Natural Man"—cufflinks in the subtle, low-key shades of brown, rust, cream, black and white. You'll find them (and many others) for sale on the LEO Design website.
This pair of goldstone cufflinks is as "flashy" as we will get this week. In truth, "goldstone" is not a stone at all; it is a glass carrying suspended copper crystals which create a sparkling, metallic optical effect. For centuries, goldstone was believed to have been invented in Venice by the Miotti family of glassmakers. In the 1600's, the Venetian Doge granted the family an exclusive license to produce goldstone. More recently, a Persian amulet (dating from the 12th or 13th century) has been discovered, showing that goldstone had been produced elsewhere and earlier.
To make goldstone, silica and copper are melted-down to the molten state, then allowed to cool slowly (without air) which allows the copper to crystalize while the glass is still liquified. After the entire batch is cooled and workable, it is broken-up to locate the best (most glittering) parts of the goldstone (usually at the heart of the batch). Goldstone is also called "Aventurine Glass" from the Italian word "avventurina" (which implies "by chance"). Interestingly, the word Aventurescence refers to the optical illusion of sparkling or glittering.
Once the best portions of the goldstone batch are located, the pieces can be cut, carved and polished—like any other gemstone. Here a pair of oval goldstone disks are polished and set into beaded "golden" cufflinks, made around 1910. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
More "Cufflinks for the Natural Man" tomorrow and in days to come.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248