Briolettes have always been associated with royalty and the nobility. A briolette is an enchanting gemstone cut with elongated facets. It has been very popular since Victorian era owing to its pear-shaped cut. It is worn with strings and hence has drills through it. One of the most popular briolette to grace a royal was the Smithsonian, which weighed a whopping 275 carat. It was gifted to Marie Louise, the consort of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1811. Since then, it has always been associated with royal display of asceticism, sophistication and beauty.
Briolette derives its name from French word, brignolette meaning “Puny Dried Plum”. Though it looks simple in its appearance, briolette requires extensive cuts and faceting. Any pear shape is not a briolette. Its shape can range from elongated tear to a triangular dew drop. Pear-shaped briolettes are more popular forms as they can’t be manipulated once cut.
Briolette cuts give a fanciful opportunity to gemstone buyers. The popular colours like canary yellow, citrus green, rosy pink, cognacs and champagne hue look brilliant when rocks are cut in briolette facets. Every briolette is unique in its stance and can be easily set apart from the ordinary cuts.
During the 18th and 19th century, briolette stones were cut exclusively in India and New York. The skills required to gain precision stones were limited to Indian craftsmen. It remained a traditional cut and new cutting techniques began to flood the stone market with easier, uncomplicated designs. By end of 18th century, the briolette stone popularity was sky high.
Popular briolette from history that were cut into the shape to satisfy royalty and aristocracy are listed below:
- India Briolette: This 91 carat gemstone is one of the most mesmeric items of collection. It is huge and brilliant in its posture.
- Eleanor of Aquitaine, once owned by King Richard the Lionhearted, took the briolette diamond with him to the Crusades.
- Smithsonian briolette set over the Inquisition necklace majestically flaunts emerald and diamonds over its 16 barrel shaped set-piece. It was exhibited in 1949 as part of “The Court of Jewels” by famous gemstone collector Harry Winston.
Fiery and graceful: Briolette exudes brilliance
Diamond, emerald, lapis lazuli, carnelian, labradorite, rutile quartz, chalcedony, tourmaline, moonstone and onyx are some of the popular gemstones that are cut in briolette. The drop-shaped stone is given a triangular or diamond facet all round its surface. It has a circular cross-section throughout the stone. It is preferred cut for light coloured gemstones with eloquent irradiance. Estate jewellery and antiquated gemstones from Edwardian and Art Deco eras were given elaborate diamond briolette cuts with symmetrical facets.
Re-emergence of Briolette
The love for briolette grew prominence with Art Deco aficionados who took these gemstones to new heights. The bigger rocks were invariably cut into briolette. Even today, briolette gemstone is cut using hands and traditional smoothening tools. Ear-rings, necklaces, pendants and tiaras employ this exquisite piece of gem craftsmanship.