The Blue Christmas Tree
Zircon & Diamond Necklace
From Cross’s Clipper Ship Trade Wind Collection
The City of Portland once had an all blue Christmas tree in Monument Square. It was a three story tall evergreen with hundreds of big blue lights. I thought it was the most beautiful Christmas tree I’d ever seen. Not everyone agreed. There were letters to the editor that this tree with its monochromatic presence in the middle of our city was a violation of the Christmas spirit, that Christmas trees were supposed to be multi-colored.
My perceived sense of exquisite beauty of that tree and the controversy that the color blue seemed to generate has stayed with me. I found the solid blue color set against city lights and a black night sky to be mystical, mysterious, somehow speaking to events in the holy land two thousand years ago with far greater purity than a circus of color.
This is zircon, which is a natural gem with a brilliant blue color. When I first saw this gem mounted it took me back 40 years to Portland, Maine and our blue Christmas tree. Blue is America’s favorite color. zircon has a high refractive index which makes it sparkle like a diamond. In addition to zircon’s other worldly blue color and its gemological properties which give it the potential for a great show of brilliance, this gem was cut by Phillip Youngman – the world’s finest colored gemstone cutter. Youngman has cut some of the most beautiful gemstones the world has ever seen. For many years we were one of two leading jewelers in the world acquiring the majority of his creations.
Phillip Youngman has retired from active, regular gem cutting. Occasionally a gem of his will appear on the market. This blue zircon is one of those gems. Its color, its brilliance looks like the lights on Portland’s blue Christmas tree of so many years ago.
Once chosen, spend some time with this gem under evening lights. Watch the blue flashes play through the interior. Watch the blue twinkle across the surface. And keep a lookout for any all-blue Christmas trees in the years to come. They are rare but they do exist.
About the Trade Wind Collection:
Where does inspiration come from? Where do the creative sparks for design begin? For Cross’ new Trade Wind Jewelry Collection, we find ourselves drawn into the story of Captain John Henry Drew, from Gardiner, Maine. Born in 1834, he grew up the son of a Ship’s Carver, and went to sea at the age of 15, eventually becoming Captain of a series of clipper ships, and traveling from New York to China and back home, when that voyage took more than seventeen months.
Instead of carving or knotting or other hobbies that were characteristic of sailors, this mostly self-educated man read books, memorized details from newspapers, and wrote about his journey—his literal and his inner journey. His hand-written and personally illustrated journals tell us of his longing for Maine, for his family, and for “making something of himself”. He is very much like you and me, and it makes his story that much more compelling. He savors apples from home, as tasting better than apples from anywhere else. He imagines the scene he might see looking in the window at home, where his family sits, and he chastises himself for not getting more done at home when he was there.
The jewelry in our Trade Wind Collection is made by his great-great-great grandson, Keith. This young man went to sea as well, at age 18. As part of his service to the US Navy, his travels took him to many of the same places his great-great-great grandfather’s clipper ships visited. Keith also had a hobby unconventional for sailors— he had a fascination for gems and he studied gemology. He studied so that when his service was completed, he could become a jeweler. As Keith traveled the world, he collected exquisite gems, and after leaving the service and returning home, he mastered the art of fine jewelry making.
It is now decades later. We met Keith for the first time in March, 2014. We were impressed with his jewelry, and as we talked further, discovered he had a clipper ship sea captain ancestor and became intrigued with the parallels of his journey in life with that of his sea captain forebear.
The parallels in the two stories are expressed in the jewelry itself—the exotic colors, the flow of the designs, the attention to detail which is something passed down in this family—whether it is to protect the ship, its cargo and its crew, or to create a design that will last and protect its valuable gems, giving the wearer the same pleasure we experience when a ship at full sail goes by. You can’t help but stop and exclaim, “Isn’t that beautiful?”
We were hooked by this story, and by the jewelry. We think you will be too. In fact, we’re posting pages from Captain Drew’s journals from the Voyage of the Franklin in 1868. Take a few minutes to join in the journey, and think of those you love most, and rejoice if they are right there with you.
Read the Captain’s Journal Entries
Keith’s Gem Expedition Dispatches