The Egyptian royalty, both men and women, loved gold jewellery and colourful gems. They ordered explorers to search for new gemstones all over the world and deliver them to the royal court to be cut and polished. The island of Zabargad (Snake Island) in the Red Sea was often shrouded in mist, eluding the navigators as if it had disappeared into the depths of the sea. In ancient times it was therefore called Topazos, meaning ‘to seek’. Stories and myths added to the mystery of this snake infested island.
Finally an Egyptian explorer managed to reach Zabargad where he found an extraordinary lime-green stone on the beach. Stunned by its beauty, he brought the gem, later called a peridot, to the Egyptian Queen Berenice.
Berenice must have fallen head over heels for this fascinating stone. Even by candle light the beautiful green colour shone as bright as during the day, in contrast with the other green gem, the emerald, which turns dark with artificial light. We imagined she combined the warm green peridot with an intense purple amethyst. Besides being the perfect contrasting colour for lime-green, purple was exclusively reserved for royalty. Not only was Tyrian purple dye costly to make for textiles, the gem amethyst was also expensive. It was once considered one of the “big five” gems alongside the diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. The peridot became very coveted: Cleopatra’s “emeralds” were most likely peridots.
Our collection is inspired by a Roman necklace dating form the first century, now in the British Museum. Set in the warm hues of yellow gold, the Secret of Berenice is a truly royal collection—chic, elegant and breathtakingly beautiful.