A Glimpse Into The Gems And Jewellery World – AndraIvanov.com

Gemstones

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR ENGAGEMENT RINGS

 

How to choose an engagement ring? 

When it comes to choosing an engagement ring, the online and conventional market offer a wide variety of options that can be overwhelming for most of you gentlemen. Through this post, I decided to give you a hand and show you the ultimate guide on how to select the perfect engagement ring.

There are five parts in the process of choosing an engagement ring

 BUDGET  

GEMSTONE

 SETTING  

 

METAL

 

 

SIZE

BUDGET

Engagement rings can cost from a few hundred pounds to millions of pounds. The price depends mainly on the type, size and quality of the gemstone and the kind of the metal and setting you to choose. All these variables have a huge influence on the final engagement ring price. The best way to do it is to have an individual budget in your mind and the jewellery consultant you chose, to offer you the best alternative for your money. Always stick to your budget! There would be pretty unusual gemstones out there and more if you chose to purchase the ring from reputable online stores.

GEMSTONES

The diamond is with no doubt the most loved and accepted gem by the majority of people for an engagement ring. Many ad campaigns say that a diamond is forever and in fact, it is. It is one of the hardest gemstones on the surface of the world and can resist a lot of chemical and physical impacts.

As you well know and you can read on different websites this gemstone is chosen depending on four properties

Colour Grade of colour of the diamond (from bright white to tinted
Clarity Number of inclusions of lack of them
Cut The style and quality of cut
Carat weight The weight of the gemstone

 

Clarity on diamonds (quantity and quality of imperfections and flaws onto a stone): there are five broad categories that laboratories take in count when they analyse the clarity of a diamond

 (F)/ Internal flawless (IF) Show no inclusions under 10x magnification
Very very slightly included (VVS1-VVS2) Contain minute inclusions under 10x magnification.
Very slightly included (VS1-VS2) Contain minor inclusions under 10x magnification.
Slightly included (SI1-SI2) Contain noticeable inclusions under 10x magnification.
Included (I1-I2-I3) Contain obvious inclusions under 10x magnification which can be seen easily face-up with the unaided eye.

Colour (second variable with a great difference in price between one tone and another)

D Exceptional white +. Face up and face down colourless
E-F Exceptional white/ Rare white+. Face up and face down colourless
G Rare white. Face up and face down colourless
H White. Face up colourless and face down slightly tinted
I-J Slightly tinted white. Face up slightly tinted and face down obviously tinted
K-L Tinted white. Face up slightly tinted and face down obviously tinted
M-Z Tinted colour. Face up obviously tinted and face down obviously tinted
Fancy Fancy colour (yellow, blue, pink, green, red, white, black)

 

 

Cut of a diamond

The most popular and expensive of all different types of cut existent on the market is the round brilliant (The dream of many women).

It is also the most expensive.

Why?

Due to the amount of work and yield that is lost when cutting (to achieve the perfect proportions that gives it the brilliance and fire much desired). For diamonds bellow ten carats, the round brilliant is much preferred. For colourless diamonds above ten carats, Fancy shapes are elected. The rings are much more comfortable and easy to wear.

The second must desired design after the round brilliant cut, is a similar cut, slightly modified called Oval cut. I would recommend this design to someone who wants something more unique and different to the popular round brilliant.

The Princess cut is the most popular price wise and a great substitute to the round brilliant. It’s a comfortable design suitable for most settings but slightly cheaper than a round brilliant.

The Emerald cut is a particular cut that it was first applied to the gemstone called emerald. Due to its popularity is applied to other gemstones like diamonds for example.

Marquise cut is a shape similar to the American football ball.Funnily enough, the shapes come from the Marquises of Pompadour mouth shape.   The king of France Louis XIV ordered to have a diamond faceted after what he considered to be the perfect shape. This particular cut, due to its elongated shape can make the finger of the person that is wearing it appear slimmer and longer.Other fancy cuts are Cushion, Heart Pear and Radiant.

Diamond with a bigger table like emerald, pear and marquise give you the appearance of a larger diamond.

The last property to look at is Carat weight.

Carat is the weight measurement for a diamond.

A 1-carat diamond can look bigger or smaller depending on the way is cut (proportions), the shape of the gemstone and the setting.

The best thing to focus on is how the actually diamond looks like on setting.

Please remember CARAT refers to the weight, not dimensions.

It is possible to have a one-carat diamond and 0.90 carat diamond of very similar dimensions due to the way they are cut.

When people buy a diamond, they are always worried about the 4Cs (Carat or weight, Clarity, Colour and Cut) but what is important to know is that you have a 5th C called Certificate

A certificate is the Id documentation of a diamond and all you need to know when you purchase a stone:

  • What is the carat weight
  • Colour,
  • Clarity
  • Cut of the diamond
  • Quality of cut

There are five types of cut: Poor, Fair, Good, Very good and Excellent. An Excellent cut is much more expensive and upgrades a diamond. Why is an excellent cut so important? –It makes a diamond to sparkle much more.

  • Polish
  • Symmetry
  • All the measurements of the diamond and the fluorescence.

There are around five well-known laboratories (the most reliable from high to low order) that are grading diamonds and coloured gemstones:

GIA (Gemological Institute of America)- the most trusted and well know various gemmologists grade laboratory.The diamonds so you can get the most accurate certificate. All their graded diamonds are laser marked on the girdle

AGS (American Gem Society)- it’s the second most reliable after GIA and has a great reputation.

HDR (High Diamond Council) – this laboratory is a well-known European institution based in Antwerp and also very accurate with the diamonds they grade.

IGI (International Gemological Institute) and EGL (European Gemological Institute) are the less recommended labs to their less strict way of certification over diamonds. There is a lot comments over the internet about their less strict politics on grading clarity and colour. For example, what can be an SI2, G colour for GIA, it can be an SI1, E colour for IGI or EGL. This situation can be great for a diamond retailer because he can charge you more for it but it can be an unpleasant situation if you want to sell it after.

All diamonds graded by all these five laboratories are proved to be natural unless the certificate says something different. Also laboratory-graded diamond can reveal if a diamond was treated or not.

I`ve talked a lot about engagement rings with diamond gemstone, and I hope that you understood everything, but about other gemstones?

 What gemstone is an alternative to diamond?

Over the last years, there has been an increased demand on coloured gemstone used for engagement rings.

Precious gems are in high demand.

Together with the diamond, the sapphire, ruby and emerald form the big four. Sapphires and rubies are varieties of the corundum family and are the second hardest gemstones after diamonds.

They are a 9 of hardness on the Mosh scale (diamonds has a 10) so are quite resistant to scratches and other physical and chemical impacts, which make them suitable to be worn every day.

As a matter of fact, if you are looking for a more affordable variety of gemstone that can be a simulant for a diamond when you choose an engagement ring, colourless sapphire is the perfect solution.

The blue sapphire received by the Duchess of Cambridge or the ruby received by the Hollywood star Eva Longoria pushed these precious gemstone to be desired by many other women and to want them as protagonists of their engagement rings.

The popularity of the deep green Colombian emerald made it a much-desired option for all kind of jewellery including an engagement ring.

The only downside to it is the vulnerability of the stone itself.

With hardness 7,5 on the Mosh scale emeralds are not too resistant to impacts or daily activities, they brittle and scratches quite easily so an extra amount of attention if it is needed.

SETTINGS

When you choose a particular engagement ring setting think about her style and personality (the way she dresses; is she traditional or more adventurous?) Does she like neutral colour simple cuts for her clothes or more vibrant tones and very feminine outfits? Does she wear any jewellery on a daily basis? What kind is it, chunky or minimalist jewellery?

The answers to all these questions can give you an idea about what kind of ring she would wear.

You have to bear in mind that she will have to wear it for the rest of her life and has to reflect her personality and taste.

Another important factor is her environment and lifestyle.

Thus the average weight of a diamond for an engagement ring is around 1-carat women that are working in a high-profile job, or the major cities tend to prefer bigger sizes.

If she travels a lot and works through situations that can put her at risk, maybe a smaller, more modest size is a better option for her.

Does she work in an environment where she has to use a lot her hands (chef, landscape architect, graphic designer, etc.) maybe a bigger size would be uncomfortable and she should have to remove it all the time? For those of you for the smaller budget, I would suggest choosing an average size of 0.50ct, with a good colour like G and at least a very good symmetry. For bigger diamonds, over one carat, clarity would be more important so that I would go for a minimum VS1, F colour and triple “ x” (EXCELLENT cut, EXCELLENT polish and EXCELLENT symmetry )

 

Prong setting

The gemstone (diamonds or other precious and semi-precious) or gemstones are held in place by 4 or 6 (similar to Tiffany’s one) little metal claws called prongs. In 1886, Tiffany & Co. scientifically developed a specific solitaire six-prong setting to maximise the light return on the diamond and trademarked it.

They can be all kind of shapes:

  • pointed
  • rounded
  • flat
  • V-shaped (used for fancy shapes to protect the stone) also depending on the cut of the gemstone.

The main benefit of the V-shaped type of setting is the simplicity and the fact that allows the stone to be seen and sparkle, especially when is a four prong setting because allows the light to pass through, especially in diamonds.

The only disadvantage with this type of setting (especially if they are high-set) is that can catch on clothing or other materials, so it’s recommended to have the prong inspected every few years to ensure that they didn’t become loosened.

 The most common and traditional prong setting is the Solitaire Ring.

This type of setting is mainly focused on one stone raised up and features a plain band or pave diamonds on the shoulders of the ring.

Some of my clients say that a four prongs setting is less safe than six prongs.

I can tell them that both of them are perfectly fine with solitaire ring prong setting.

The three stones engagement ring is also a more traditional alternative to the solitaire.

The three stones set together symbolise the past, present and future of the couple. Either you choose a larger main stone with two smaller gemstones on both side or either three stones at the same size.

The most common cuts used for this type of engagement rings are round brilliant and princess cut. When we talk about gemstones, people prefer different gems, either the central stone a diamond and the other two sapphires, rubies or emeralds, just diamonds or just other precious or semi-precious gemstones.

 

The cathedral setting is an elegant display that imitates the elegance and grace of a cathedral using arches to frame the diamond or any other gemstone.

It’s a good setting to protect the stone, particularly if the arch extends to the stone’s table or girdle, especially is it a soft one like opal, lapis, tourmaline, quartz. Offers a maximum impact on a smaller budget because of the arches of the design that add height, protection and distinction. Arches can create the illusion that the gemstones size is larger than in reality.

At the same time, cathedral settings have a few disadvantages.

  • It ‘s hard to clean: dirt and oil build up in small niches and crevices.
  • High arches may snag more easily on clothing, furniture, or other objects.
  • The ring or the item snagged can be damaged. It is not the ideal design option for larger gemstones.

Halo engagement ring, a very delicate, elegant and feminine setting

Halo setting adds a circle of invisible-set, channel-set or prong-set diamonds around the main gemstone from the centre.

The gemstone from the middle can be any shape, round brilliant cut diamond, princess cut, radiant, oval, marquise, heart-shaped and pear-shaped.

Other step cuts including emerald don’t work as well because the surrounded stones are more sparkling than the centre one that can appear flat and dull.

 

This setting is one of the most popular when you want to create an illusion and give the appearance of a bigger diamond size. Choose an excellent clarity and colour stone in the centre. The small diamonds around can have a less good quality but will bring out the main stone.

The pave diamonds, in a circle surrounding the centre gemstone, risk becoming loose over time. Also is a setting that can help to accumulate dirt, so its safe to give it a thorough cleanse from time to time.

 

 

 

 

Cluster setting engagement ring

A cluster setting means that small size stones are set tightly together to give the illusion of a larger diamond.

It can either contain a larger centre stone or cluster together stones of equal size. For this particular setting, you can choose either diamonds or other precious or semi-precious gemstones.

Bezel setting

A bezel setting is the second most popular ring after the prong setting.

It protects the gem much better, has a contemporaneous, clean look to it and gives more movement freedom.

A metal rim surrounds the diamond or other gemstones by the girdle.

This setting can create the illusion of a bigger gem if you choose a white metal setting and a colourless diamond or a yellow gold metal and a yellow diamond.

You have the option of a full bezel, which encircles the whole stone or a partial bezel, which leaves the sides open.

Ideal for ladies involved in physical activities, this setting, is believed by some not to allow as much light into the diamond because of so much metal surrounding it; other argue the contrary.

Also, the price of a bezel-set ring is higher due to the amount of work and metal involved.

Tension setting

The metal band that secures the diamond or other precious stone in place defines the tension setting.

The gemstone appears suspended between the two sides of the shank that are pushing into the sides of the gem.

Lasers are used to calibrate the exact dimensions of the diamond.

Due to precise measurements, it is not recommended to have the ring resized. There are less expensive and complicated variations to make that add an extra dose of security with a prong or bezel setting employed on the side or underneath the diamond to anchor the gem firmly in place.

Flush setting

 

A flush setting sets the gem into a drilled hole in the band of the ring. The metal is hammered around the diamond to hold it in place. This setting is not recommended for harder stones like diamonds or rubies and sapphires due to the jeweller must knock on this piece of metal to hold the stone in place.

 

 

This particular setting is popular among men’s wedding bands as the gemstones are fixed securely in the band of the ring.

Bar setting

Bar setting is a more secure variation of the traditional channel setting.

Diamonds or other gemstones are secured in place between two vertical metal walls either side of the gem.

The bar setting is quite similar to the channel settings.

The difference between them is the fact the first setting leaves the gemstone visible on the two sides whereas the channel settings enclose the stone on all sides.

Chanel setting

Diamonds or gemstones are secured in place between vertical metal walls, creating a smooth channel that locks each diamond safely into individual sits in the band, keeping it from being knocked out of place.

It’s a contemporary setting where the stones are settled side by side with no metal in between. This setting is used especially for wedding bands or smaller gems and no centre stone. They are expensive because of the metal and amount of work required.

Pave setting

Pave diamond or other gemstones are set low and very close together (paving) using tiny prongs (beads) from the surrounding metal to hold the gems in place. Designs that use very small diamonds are known as “micro-pave”.

The surface will look encrusted with stones and will give a brilliant effect.

It is a unique design that creates a smooth surface, comfortable to wear and can offer a vintage look. Due to its small measurements, it’s necessary for the diamond to be well set, so you don’t carry the risk of them falling out.

Shank/Split-Shank

The band of the ring or the part that encircles your finger is called a shank. Most shanks have round shape, but there are also square shaped-shanks or other different forms.The shank that splits into two separate shanks is called a split-shank.

Antique / Vintage/ Art Nouveau

There are three distinct time periods of jewellery fashion, such Edwardian, and Victorian or Art Deco.

Due to lack of the nowadays technology and the cutting tools, many diamonds set in these rings are European cut.

For more up to date vintage designs adapted to modern society, many designers use metal filigree (tiny metal beads cemented together), milgrains (little balls of metal decorating the sides of the band and the crown of the ring) and floral patterns.

METAL OF THE SETTING 

We spoke about budget, gemstone, setting, now is time to choose also the metal of the setting.

When it comes to choosing an engagement ring many people ask themselves a few questions (except what I`ve already written about):

  • What is exactly white gold and platinum and what is the difference between them?
  • What is rose gold?
  • Can I combine yellow and white gold in the setting design of a single ring?
  • Do I have other options regarding colours when I choose a metal for the setting of an engagement ring?

The first step is to know what your future fiancé prefer.

  • Does she prefer cooler tones? Platinum and white gold are the options
  • Does she prefer warm tones? Yellow and rose gold are the best way to go.
  • If she’s the undeceive type; you can opt for a setting that combines the two and will allow her to compliment her ring to her real jewellery. A yellow gold band can be easily coupled with a white head setting (holds the gemstone in place) like platinum or white gold, so it accentuates the diamond’s fire and brilliance.

 Platinum

When we talk about colours of different metal and most durable white metal with a frosty lustre used for engagement rings settings and is considered the most precious of all jewellery metals.

It’s the rarest from all metals, and its colour boosts the brilliance and fire of a diamond.

It is also hypoallergenic due to the lack of nickel in it so is an excellent choice for ladies with sensitive skin.

On the contrary than other metals, platinum looks better with wearing over the years (no need of re-plating), and surface scratches are considered to make it more desirable. The metal can be quickly returned to its original state if you prefer by polishing.

Due to its scarcity and properties, this metal is the most expensive and prices are considered to be 25-30% higher than the same setting in gold.

GOLD METAL 

It’s the most attractive option for metal setting in engagement rings.

Gold is measured in karats. A karat is divided into 24 parts. 24K gold (24 parts out of 24 are gold) gold is the purest form of gold but is considered to be too soft to be used in jewellery in Europe and is much more preferred in an Arab and Asian market.

In Europe and West, gold is mixed with other metals such silver, nickel, copper and zinc to be strengthened and more durable.

18K gold is 18 parts (75%) gold and six parts other metal.

14K gold is 14 parts (around 58%) gold and 11 parts other metal

9K gold is nine parts (37.5%) gold and 15 parts other metal.

 White Gold

It’s the most attractive option for metal setting in engagement rings together with yellow gold and rose gold. White gold is a shiny, silver-coloured metal that shows off gemstones like diamond and is durable through time. It’s the best option if you prefer a more sophisticated design because it is easier to work with it. White gold is plated with rhodium (a platinum group metal) to have that white bright silvery finish. Over the years need to be re-plated to keep a good colour and also needs re-polishing because can become scratched when worn on a daily basis. Due to the presence of nickel, it might not be suitable for metal allergy suffers.

Yellow gold

It’s a warmer tone that doesn’t corrode and loses colour over time, so it preserves its beauty. It’s an excellent investment because gold prices are always stable. Can scratch if worn on a daily basis and also due to the presence of Nickel can be unsuitable for metal allergy suffers. Gold metal it’s much easier to work with and more suitable for intricate designs. The percentage of alloys causes the shade and colour of the gold. An 18K tends to be more rich and saturated, and a 14K may appear a paler yellow.

Rose gold

To create the warm, pink hue yellow gold is combined with copper alloy. Can scratch if worn on a daily basis. The percentage of alloys causes the shade and colour of the gold. An 18K tends to be more rich and saturated, and a 14K may appear a paler rose. Due to the presence of nickel can be unsuitable for metal allergic ladies.

The last but not the least, SIZE

How do I find out her size so I can buy her the engagement ring?

Ring sizes usually go from F to Z. The average ring sizes are K, M, P.

Usually, you can have them resized unless it is a very unusual model or a unique vintage ring. The easiest way to find out her size is to slip away with one of her rings or by printing out a ring sizing guide and compare it with a ring already has.

These five attributes ultimately define the process of choosing THE ring.I hope you found this guide helpful and will answer at least some of your questions regarding engagement rings and the purchase process.

*All pictures are from pinterest.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is A Pearl? Fascinating Key Facts About This Organic Gemstone

Once believed to be tears of gods, pearls have long been a symbol of prestige and distinction. They were often used to represent status. Queen Elizabeth I, for example, used portraiture as a form of propaganda to promote her image as the Virgin Queen. In these portraits, she ensured she wore pearls in abundance, as a symbol of her purity and chastity and as an assertion of the richness of her kingdom. Even today many well-known and distinguished people, such as Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Jacky Kennedy and Coco Chanel, used and use pearls as an adornment because they create an image of elegance and refinement.

What is a pearl?

 

A pearl is a gem of organic material made up of 90% calcium carbonate. It is created as part of a mollusc’s response to the presence of an irritating impurity in its body, where nacre is built up in layers concentrically arranged around the irritant. They have a hardness of 3 on the Mohs scale and are sensitive to dryness, humidity, intense direct light, perfumes or any other acids, and so are less durable than many other gems. Saltwater pearls come from oysters (species Pinctada) and freshwater pearls from mussels (species Unio), and both come in many different shapes: baroque, round, button, oval, pear and egg. Very few pearls are perfect spheres.

necklace-pearls

 

(more…)

Interesting facts about fancy coloured diamonds

It is well known that Diamond is the hardest stone on earth, due to the close packing of the carbon atoms and the regularity in the crystal structure (for more on this read my post on Diamonds). These same qualities gave it unique optical and physical properties: remarkable transparency, an adamantine lustre, strong refraction (brilliance) and dispersion of the light (fire) all the things that make a diamond so particular and magical. Consequently, when most people think about diamonds, the majority will have in mind a beautiful, crisp white transparent gemstone with a strong lustre and brilliance. That said, although most of these gems are colourless or white ( the term is known by most people), one in 10,000 diamonds will be coloured.

Due to different reasons that I will explain below, diamonds come in a range of colours:

  • yellow
  • brown (the most common)
  • red (the rarest)
  • pink
  • blue
  • green

The paucity of the supply of gem-quality coloured diamonds and the increased interest and demand for them makes them incredibly valuable.fancy-coloured

What are ‘fancy diamonds’ and what gives them colour?

Often, what give a diamond a particular colour are the changes to its atomic structure.

Let’s start with the most common ones: yellow and brown.

A hint of yellow in a diamond is due to the presence of nitrogen atoms, either as single atoms or as groups of aggregates. If the diamond has individual particles, it’s known as a type Ib, commonly called a Canary diamond due to its famous Canary yellow colour. Although originally this term was just used for this type of diamond, nowadays it is utilised for all fancy yellows. When the presence of nitrogen atoms is in groups, then the diamond is a type Ia. The presence of a yellow tinge is evident in diamond graded H to Z and all the intense tinted yellows.

fancy-yellow-diamonds

 

The cause of colour in brown diamonds (the most common diamond colour in nature and the earliest found in Roman rings) is due to a phenomenon called “plastic deformation”, where the crystal structure is affected, and the regularity of the lattice is disturbed. Most large brown diamonds originate from South Africa, but a number also come from the Argyle mine in Australia. Realising how valuable and trendy coloured diamonds have become, jewellers have begun marketing these gemstone as “champagne ”or “cognac” – even “chocolate”. Plastic deformation is also the primary cause for the formation of pink and red diamonds.

Blue diamonds are as desirable as they are rare. The main cause of colour in this type of fancy diamond is the presence of the chemical element Boron. One atom of boron per 1 million atoms of carbon can have a significant influence and will determine the colour of this precious gemstone.

A rare colour of all fancy coloured diamonds is the green diamond. A green colour in diamond occurs when a diamond’s crystal structure is damaged by millions of years of exposure to a radioactive source. Irradiation is common in diamond crystals found in alluvial deposits in Brazil, India and Central Africa, reflecting the greater amount of uranium compounds existent in sedimentary rocks found in these locations. he best example of a green diamond is the famous 40.70-carat Dresden Green. This beautiful diamond derives its name from the capital of Saxony where it has been on display for more than two hundred years. The earliest known reference to its existence occurs in the Post Boy, a London newssheet of 25-27 October 1722. It is believed to be from India or Brazil.

dresden-green-diamond

 

 

What are the prices for fancy diamonds?

Only recently, Sotheby’s and Christies both sold two beautiful coloured diamonds in Geneva for astronomical prices:

The Blue Moon of Josephine

On November 2015, Sotheby’s sold a 12.03 carat blue cushion-cut diamond at auction for a record-setting price of $48.4 million. GIA rated it as a flawless, fancy vivid diamond, and it set the world record for the highest price per carat ever paid for a coloured gemstone.

The Sweet Josephine

On the previous day to the Sotheby’s auction, Christie’s sold a 16.08 carat pink diamond for $28.5 million, also a record price that exceeded the estimate of $23-28 million. This fancy vivid pink diamond, owned by an American family for 15 years, is the largest cushion-cut ever sold and is one of only three fancy pink Diamonds over ten carats that has been sold in the last 250 years.

A businessman from Hong Kong bought both of these fancy diamonds for his eight-year-old daughter, Josephine. Lucky girl!

Other famous coloured diamonds include:

The 0.95 carat purple-red that Christies auctioned in 1987 for $1 million dollars in New York. It is believed to have originated from Brazil.The 45.52 carat Hope Diamond, a beautiful blue diamond discovered in India.The Wittelsbach diamond, a dark-blue 35.50-carat, which, after a few royal owners, landed in the hands of the famous jeweller Laurence Graff.The Blue Heart, a rare 30.62-carat heart-shaped blue diamond that was donated by its last owner Marjorie Merriweather to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington where it remains on display today. She previously bought this stunning piece from Harry Winston who had it mounted in a ring.

*all images are from pinterest.com

Everything You Have To Know About White Diamonds

An extraordinary amount of information has been written about diamonds. I don’t think there is a single person in this world who has not heard about this precious gemstone. It is a gemstone with a lot of history that has been a companion to many people throughout their lives – who isn’t familiar with the mythical engagement ring? The word “diamond” derives from the Greek word “adamas”, meaning “the unconquerable”.

What is a diamond?

A diamond is a crystallised form of carbon that has been formed under great heat (around 1150°C) and pressure (45-60 Kilobars) deep down in the mantle of the Earth (135-180 km). The host rocks for diamonds are kimberlite and lamproite (Australian rock).

The volcanic activity of the last 1200 million years made the ejection of these gemstones to the proximity of the surface possible, but it is believed that diamonds are anywhere between 990 and 4,250 million years old.

In a few cases, water swept up some of the material and transported it to hundreds or even thousands of kilometres from the original place where the eruption occurred.

diamond-picture

 

History and localities

It is believed that the earliest source of diamonds was India, where they were found amongst the gravel in ancient river beds.

The original discovery of diamonds was made by the Dravidians of the Indus Valley civilisation, between 2500-1700 BC.

Man’s first recorded knowledge of diamonds appears in the Sanskrit text “Arthasastra” (Science of Material Grain), which was written shortly after 321 BC.

The diamond is described as the unique of all gemstones due to its incredible hardness and optical properties.

Even in ancient times, this gemstone was used in jewellery and industry, and it was believed to have magical powers.

Hindus believed that by swallowing the powder of the highest quality diamonds, they would gain great energy, strength, beauty, happiness and a long life.

In another publication written around the 14th century, it was stated that only rough diamonds would retain the magical powers. Jean Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689), a French jeweller, relayed a lot of information about diamonds and diamond mining that he gathered during his trips to India and Borneo over the course of 30 years. In “The first voyage of Jean Baptiste Tavernier”, for example, he recounts that Borneo was paying its tribute to the Chinese emperor in diamonds. Africa, too, came to the attention of diamond hunters, although somewhat later in 1866.

This happened when the child of a poor farmer found the now famous 21 carat Eureka diamond, and when a few years later the 83.5 carat Star of South Africa was found the diamond rush in Africa began.

Just around the time that diamond production began to decline in India, a new locality, Minas Gerias in Tejuco, Brazil, was discovered. Similarly, the Ural Mountains in Russia, were discovered to produce diamonds, and they are now the main source of diamonds in the country.

Colour and clarity in diamonds

Unlike other gemstones, most diamonds are valued for their lack of colour.

However, the majority of diamonds mined are brown or yellow, with only a few displaying a complete lack of colour.

Many diamonds are treated to enhance or remove their colour, with the purest diamonds generally being a type IIa.

Diamonds are graded by comparing them with a set of master stones (usually a set of diamonds or cubic zirconia with colours from D to tinted). The most well-known and trusted laboratory is at present the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). Their system of alphabetical grading starts with “D” (for the finest “white” or colourless stones) and finishes with “Z” colour. After this, a diamond would be sufficiently yellow to start being considered as a “fancy diamond”.

Colour is the first of the four “C’s” that determines the price of a diamond. For example, an internally flawless 5 carat E colour diamond will cost approximately 70% of the price of a D colour diamond of a similar purity, an “F” colour 50% and an “L” colour 17%.

The second “C” that determines the price of a diamond is “clarity” – namely impurities, or the absence of impurities in a stone. Diamonds with no flaws or inclusions are graded “F”(flawless) or IF (internally flawless). Those with minute inclusions are graded VVS1 or 2, with larger inclusions VS1 or 2, and those with inclusions visible to the naked eye SI1 or 2. These inclusions will still be extremely small. Beyond visible inclusions, stones are usually graded as imperfect, as their brilliance can be affected.

Cut and carat in diamonds

The other two “C’s” that influence the price of a diamond are Cut and Carat (weight). The most well known and popular cut among diamond engagement rings is the round brilliant cut. A round brilliant cut diamond exhibits the best optical properties due to its perfect proportions, and, in diamonds of less than ten carats, fancy cuts may often be worth less than round brilliant cuts. In larger diamonds over 20 carats, many people prefer step cuts, pear-shaped, or oval-shaped diamonds. New technology (laser manipulation) has also allowed manufacturers to perfect cutting so there is the minimum amount of waste, allowing a greater amount of the original gemstone to be used.

diamond type of cut

 

Trading

The Diamond Trading Company (the rough diamond distribution arm of De Beers) mines in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania, and sells approximately 40% of the world’s supply of diamonds to its clients, “Sightholders”, 10 times per year.

The rest of the producers sell to their own suppliers. Each manufacturer who buys rough stones specialises in a particular shape and size. Nowadays, to develop more work opportunities, the places where the diamonds are mined have also cutting and polishing centres. Besides the well-known centres in the US, Belgium, Israel, China and India, new ones have prospered in South Africa, Thailand, Canada, and Russia.

How to take care about your diamond?

Diamond is the hardest natural material in the world, but it is not the toughest. A sharp shock or direct hit in certain directions in the crystal structure can cleave (part) a diamond. This was originally the method of cutting diamonds, as well as testing them, and I couldn’t imagine how many were wasted in this way, however, even though we no longer cut diamonds in this way, this feature is important to remember. A rare, but not unheard-of occurrence, is when the diamond in an engagement ring is knocked hard, in one case against the door of a car, and the resulting shock fractures the diamond. This is incredibly unlucky, as the diamond does have to be hit in exactly the right place and way, but it does happen.

Diamonds are also oleophilic. This means that they love grease. Your diamond may quickly look a bit dull because any cream or oil stays on the surface of the gemstone. The best way to clean it is by using a soft brush and water with soap. After rinsing, make sure to dry it with a soft cloth.

diamonds-3

 

 

Which are the best simulants for diamonds?

The best simulants for diamonds include:

  • Natural white sapphire
  • White topaz
  • Quartz
  • White beryl
  • White zircon
  • Cubic zirconia
  • Synthetic spinel

*All images are from pinterest.com

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GARNET , THE BEST RUBY SIMULANT

For many of us, even though we love the red colour of a ruby, it is often too expensive for our budgets. Fortunately, there are some gemstones that can simulate this precious stone, one of the most affordable of which is Garnet.

This January birthstone is an abundant species that surprisingly comes in many colours of the rainbow. Although it is associated with hues of red, garnets can actually range in colour, spanning blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, brown, black – even colourless. What produces colours in garnet are trace chemical elements (iron, chromium, vanadium, titanium and manganese) or defects in the crystal structure. Garnets with a pure form, such as grossular and pyrope that do not contain metals in their formulae are colourless.

Some of the garnet’s properties include ferromagnetism, where it reacts to magnets due to the iron in its composition (particularly true of almandine, almandine-pyrope, spessartine and andradite), and its ability to generate electricity when is rubbed or heated.

With a hardness of 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale garnet has a few varieties that are suitable for jewellery including:

Pyrope & Almandine

With prices that can vary between $1-$100 per carat, pyrope garnet and almandine garnet are the most common varieties of this gemstone. Bear in mind that these prices are affected by hue, saturation of colour, clarity and dimensions. A gemstone of 1 carat is much less valuable per carat than one of 5 carats. Blood red (due to iron and chromium impurities), dark red and pinkish red are associated with both pyrope and almandine varieties. Pyrope has a Mohs hardness of 7¼ and is usually faceted as brilliant and mixed cuts, and almandine has a Mohs hardness of 7½ and is usually faceted as mixed and cabochon cuts.

 

Almandine garnet is the oldest garnet. Although dense, almandine is brittle, and facet edges chip easily (take particular care if you wear a ring that has this gemstone). “Almandine” is named after a small town in Turkey, Alabanda, a source of this type of garnet and a cutting centre which the Roman naturalist and writer Pliny the Elder mentioned in his works. Other places where is it mined in great quantities are India, Australia and Sri Lanka, to name a few.

almandine-garnet-ring

 

 

 

Pyrope garnet is a magnesium aluminium silicate that started being mined in the Bohemian fields (Czech Republic) in the 16th century. At that point, it wasn’t so highly valued because the market was saturated with cheaply made Bohemian jewellery. The word “pyrope” comes from the Greek “pyropos” meaning “fire”. When pyrope garnet is cut and faceted, there is a change of colour, with the darker tone converting into a lighter red. Faceted stones rely on internally reflected light, which produces a more intense hue. The mid-tonal ranges of colours are the most popular. The localities where it can be found are in the USA (Arizona), South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar, Scotland, Argentina, Switzerland and Tanzania. For every 2 tonnes of garnet mined only one gemstone will be over five carats.

pyrope-garnet

 

 

Spessartine garnet

 

In contrast to almandine, spessartine garnet is the most recent type of garnet to be discovered. With a Mohs hardness of 7, the ideal stone is bright orange due to iron impurities, but an increase of these impurities in the chemical composition causes the gem to become a darker orange to red. It is rare to find gem-quality stones, and they are usually faceted as brilliant, step and cabochon cut. Spessartine is named after the Spessart district of Bavaria, Germany, and there is no history of this gemstone before the 19th century.

spessartine-garnet

 

 

Grossular garnet

Grossular garnet is the most varicoloured of all the garnets. In its pure state, grossular is colourless, and it is various impurities that cause the vast varieties of colours that can be found. The name derives from the botanical name of the gooseberry, R. grossularia, in reference to the ones found in Siberia, which were green. The most beautiful and attractive grossular garnets are the orange-brown- hessonite and the stunning green- tsavorite.

Hessonite garnets are coloured by manganese and iron impurities, have a Mohs hardness of 7¼, and are usually faceted as brilliant and mixed cuts. In contrast, green grossular garnet/tsavorite has a Mohs hardness of 7, and is usually faceted as brilliant cuts and beads.

Tsavorite is also one of most expensive varieties of garnet due to its rarity and incredibly beautiful green colour, which is very similar to that of Emerald. It was first discovered in Tanzania in 1967, and deposits were also found in Kenya soon after, in 1970. In fact, Tsavorite is named after Tsavo National Park, in Kenya.

tsavorite-garnet-jewellery

 

Demantoid (Andradite Garnet group)

 

Demantoid garnet (Calcium aluminium silicate) is a beautiful yellowish-green gemstone of a Mohs hardness of 6½, which, after cutting and polishing, will have a similar brilliance to that of a diamond. It was first mined in the Ural Mountains in Russia, and the legendary Russian jeweller Carl Faberge was famously hugely passionate about this gemstone and used it often in his masterpieces. Nowadays, this beautiful green garnet can also be found in Namibia, and it is thanks to these deposits that it is not as scarce as it once was, although the gemstones found are small in size. The open-pit Dragon Mine from Namibia has an annual production of between 5000-10000 carats. Demantoid is usually faceted as brilliant and mixed cuts.

demantoid-garnet

 

 

 

Historical facts about garnet

Garnet was rarely used by ancient cultures. The oldest object that exists is in the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is a cylindrical seal, made of grossular garnet, which belonged to the royal scribe of the Sumerian King (21st century BC) of the city of UR in Mesopotamia (now southern Iraq).

It was with the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great that garnet began to be more widely used. The geographical change facilitated an exchange of cultures between the Greek, Asian and African worlds, and was the starting point of an international trade of emeralds, sapphires, rubies, topaz, diamonds and garnets.

In his book on “Natural History” Pliny the Elder noted that is hard to differentiate between the different types of garnet, and that the colour and the shine was said to improve by soaking the stone in vinegar for 14 days.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, during the so-called “Dark Ages” this gemstone became very popular and a new trend called “garnet cloisonné” (numerous small cells containing polished garnet, glass and enamel inlays that were separated by thin strips of metal) emerged. Extraordinary garnet-rich cloisonné has been found in 4th-century graves in Simleu Silvaniei and Pietrosa Romania.

At one point during the 17th century, the price of garnets could equal that of rubies, although after approximately 50 years they dropped in value. In the 18th century garnet intaglios came into vogue, and The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg exhibits some pieces that belonged to Catherine the Great.

 

The demand for garnets began to rise again during the late 19th century as it became more popular in Victorian jewellery.

victorian-jewellery-garnet

 

 

*Other interesting historical snippets abound

A bestiary called “The Hortus Sanitatis” relates an unusual test for authenticating garnet in which a person, lubricated with honey, had to lie naked next to a wasps’ nest wearing the garnet that was to be tested. If wasps or flies approached the person, then the gemstone was deemed to be a fake. In “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones”, George Kunz indicated that some tribes in Asia were using garnets as bullets (these blood-coloured stones would inflict a more deadly wound to their enemies), and that, somewhat contrastingly, garnet was believed to stop headaches if it was put on the head.

As you can see, garnet is a vast family with many options suitable for jewellery. Hardness is often a decisive factor when we want to make or buy a piece of jewellery, and most of the garnet varieties are fairly hard. It is always worth remembering, though, that a ring, which is more exposed to knocks or accidents, should always have gemstones that are harder, whereas earrings and necklaces are less likely to be damaged, and therefore are more subject to taste and optical properties (colour and lustre) than to physical ones.

*all images are from pinterest.com

WHAT IS AN OPAL GEMSTONE ?

An Opal is a gemstone that is chemically composed of silica and water. Its name derives from the Latin word “Opalus”, meaning “to see a change of colour”, and it is easy to see why it was so named, as opals display brilliant flashes of colour in varying degrees. This gemstone has a hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale.

 

Opals were greatly favoured gems during Roman times. Sometime around 77 BC, Pliny the Elder, in his treatise ‘Natural History’, not only credited it with being the most highly prized and valuable of all the stones, but also said:

“For in the opal you shall see the burning fire of the ruby, the glorious purple of amethyst, the green sea of the Emerald and all glittering together, mixed after an incredible manner.”

Up until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, opal was regarded as a stone of good fortune. After that, most probably for commercial reasons, opals were considered to be unlucky. That said, this beautiful mesmerising gemstone is still considered to be the October birthstone.

OPAL 1

 

 

Where can you find Opal?

Although Opal can be found in a variety of places, since the 1980s Australia has dominated global opal production, accounting for around 95% of the global output. The first Opal blocks in Australia were found by chance on a cattle station called Tarravilla in 1849, and the first Opal digging started in 1890 at a place called White Cliff, mining Opal rocks. Opal of differing qualities occurs in many other countries, including Zambia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, the USA, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Canada and New Zealand, to name a few.

How does opal form?

Although we are not entirely certain, the most widely held theory is that is opal is created by silica-laden fluids moving through layers of sub-surface strata, under hydraulic pressures caused by tectonic processes, at temperatures of more than 100°C. When these fluids cool down they harden and become opal.

Another theory is that rich aerobic soil bacteria and microbes conserve the opal by making the creation of acids and enzymes that form opal easier.

What types of opals are available on the market?

Precious opal, the most valuable and rare of which is the black opal. Its body colours can vary from dark grey to jet-black, and this is the generic term is given to any opal that has a dark body colour when viewed from above. An example of a black opal is the 25 carat Millennium, which had a “Harlequin” pattern, and was sold several years ago by R. W. Wise, Goldsmiths.

Light Opal has a body colour of cream to white, and a brilliant light gem can be very precious. Although it is a beautiful gem, the black opal is ten times more expensive.

Boulder opals are opals which form naturally within the host rock, the most expensive of which are those with a dark body tone. An example is the 2600 carat boulder opal known as “Galaxy”.

Translucent opals are usually known as water opals, although one exception is found in Mexico, which produces some translucent orange gems known as “fire opals”. These have a greater intensity of one colour rather than flashes of multiple colours.

How are the prices established and what determine their values?

In general, the richer and more pronounced the colours, the more valuable the opal, especially if the colours are displayed against a dark grey or black background as in a case of “black opal”. High-quality black opal prices can rival those of diamonds.

The colours are created as a result of diffracted light, and the dominant colour can significantly increase or decrease the value of an opal. Red and orange are the most highly prized, and a perfect combination would be a strong red play-of-colour on a dark body-toned black opal. In terms of value, after red and orange comes yellow, green, blue, indigo and finally violet.

Brilliance and body tone can also affect price. The degree of brightness or brilliance can make an opal more attractive because it will emphasise the colours that it displays, while an opal’s body tone is qualified by different levels of darkness. The most valuable one is N1 (the darkest), and the least valuable N9 (the lightest).

Finally, the fascinating patterns of a highly displayed diffracted colour can also increase the value of an opal. This is especially so of particular patterns such as a

“Harlequin”, which are unique and so have an enormous impact on price. “Pinfire” and other smaller models are not so desirable.

Other facts about opals

Due to its low hardness opals are usually cut as cabochons or flat ovals. Opal is very susceptible to changes in temperatures, and heat should be avoided, including photographic and display lights. Some less scrupulous dealers will sell the gemstone immersed in oil to disguise any cracking or crazing that may have occurred in the opal.

Opal doublets and triplets are opal composites formed by attaching a natural piece of opal to another material, and should be advertised as such. Opals can also be “treated” or enhanced by heating and soaking the stone in an oil or sugar solution and then burning it off or applying acid; this will make the opal appear darker.

It is also very common to find synthetic opal on the market, however a trained gemmologist should be able to tell the difference, the most important of which is the way the colours splashes are spaced. On a synthetic opal these will be very evenly spread out with clearly defined edges, and this phenomenon is often described as being like “lizard skin”. They are usually made from plastic, glass or latex.

*all images are from pinterest.com

All You Need To Know About Sapphires- interesting facts with reference to this precious blue gemstone

For many people, sapphires are the most beautiful gemstones in the world, and they are extremely popular among those passionate about jewellery. Although sapphires may not be as valuable as Burmese pigeon blood rubies or fancy coloured diamonds, these blue gemstones are still extraordinarily highly regarded and sought after.

 

Sapphire is a variety of the Corundum species that occurs in every colour except for red (red corundum is known as Ruby), although its purest form, colourless (white) gem quality corundum is exceedingly rare. It is the second hardest mineral on Earth after Diamond, rated 9 on Mohs scale (the measurement scale of mineral hardness).

the-tutti-frutti-necklace-by-cartier

 

         Tutti Frutti Necklace by Cartier

The word Sapphire comes from the Persian word “safir“, derived from the Greek word for blue. In antiquity, the word sapphire was used to describe a number of blue gemstones, but in the early 19th century this changed and it was assigned to the variety of corundum that we know today. Now, when the word “sapphire” is used on its own it implies a blue sapphire, with other colours being used as a prefix, such as “green” or “orange” sapphire. Coloured sapphires are often referred to as “fancy” sapphires. Most natural sapphire is somewhat pale in colour and only a very small percentage exhibits a bright, vivid colour. Consequently, the majority of these gemstones are heat-treated to enhance the colour.

 

 

sapphire

 

 

How do you recognise a sapphire?

Sapphire exhibits an attractive bright vitreous lustre, and can occur in transparent to opaque forms. The most valuable ones are the transparent sapphires with an even, saturated colour throughout the gemstone.

One of the most common characteristics of a sapphire is the presence of rutile needle-like inclusions which are often called ‘silk’. In some cases, fine silk throughout the stone can enhance the value of some sapphires. The most famous sapphires from the Kashmir region in India have a velvety vivid cornflower blue which is caused by this feature. When in a regular orientation these inclusions also cause the asterism effect in star sapphires. Too much silk, however, will weaken the colour.

Other typical characteristics of sapphire are “zoning”, where the colour appears to be concentrated in parallel bands, and zircon inclusions, particularly in some of the sapphires from Kashmir, Burma and Sri Lanka. Zircon is often found with these blue gemstones in gem gravels, and, as it is mildly radioactive, it tends to destroy the crystal lattice structure of the host material, creating the distinctive “ halo” inclusion.

Where can you find sapphires?

Some of the most common places to find sapphires are Kashmir (India), Myanmar (Burma), Thailand (Siam), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Pailin (Cambodia), USA (Montana), Australia and, since 1998, Ilakaka (Madagascar). Blue is the best known and most prized of the sapphire colours, and of these the most highly demanded are the ones from Kashmir, Sri Lanka and Burma, which traditionally have a deep, intense and velvety blue. Unfortunately, since 1920, there haven’t been any significant discoveries in these mines, and Sri Lankan and Madagascan sapphires are the most common on today’s market and range from light to dark blue.

Sri Lankan sapphires are considered to be among the best in the world. A range of coloured sapphires can be found here, including the rare pinky-orange Padparadscha, and approximately 90 % of the world’s star sapphires also come from this island. Mining methods are relatively primitive, and when gravel is extracted from current riverbeds it is done with hand-made scrapers. Thailand is another major sapphire source; these sapphires tend to be very dark in colour and often resemble a blue spinel. Thailand has become the primary processing and trading centre for most coloured stones, including sapphires.

The darkest coloured sapphires tend to be Australian, and they are consequently the least valuables. Heat treatment is nearly always used for the Australian sapphires to lighten the colour.

A particularly rare, fine, deep blue and distinctively pure sapphire is found in Pailin, Cambodia, and it is well known amongst gem traders for its superior quality. Finally, in the 19th century, a pale electric-blue sapphire was discovered in Montana (USA) and used in jewellery before First World War.

How do you cut a rough crystal of sapphire?

Sapphires are cut in different shapes, with the round and oval cut being the most common. However, you can also find fancy shapes such as heart, pear, and emerald cuts. Cabochons are the standard cut for included, translucent to opaque stones or for star sapphires.

What treatments can be applied to sapphires?

Nowadays most sapphires are heat treated for a few hours to temperatures of around 1700-1800° Celsius to improve their clarity and colour before being cut. Natural, unheated stones are extremely rare and will command enormous prices. Star sapphires can also be diffusion treated to improve the quality of the star and, for coloured sapphires; beryllium treatment can be used to produce beautiful orange and red colours. All these treatments have to be fully disclosed before purchase.

How many types of sapphires can you find?

Blue sapphire: the best blue colours are the rare and fine “Kashmir Blue” from India, and the Cornflower Blue described as an intense, velvety-blue.

Fancy sapphires: any corundum that is not red or blue; these can come in any other colour of the spectrum. Padparadscha is an extremely rare sapphire, with an intense orange-pink that is found in Sri Lanka.

Colour change sapphire: sapphire that exhibits a different colour depending on whether it is viewed in natural or artificial light.

 

Star Sapphire: a form of sapphire that displays asterism (a six-rayed star) due to the presence of regularly orientated needle-like inclusions

the-star-of-asia-sapphire

 

Star of Asia :329-carat sapphire

Famous sapphires

 

* With a weight of 536 carats, the Star of India is the largest star sapphire in the world. Discovered in Sri Lanka, this beautiful sapphire was donated by the financier J.P Morgan to the American Museum of Natural History.

 

the-star-of-india-sapphire

 

* The Rockefeller sapphire, purchased in 1934 by John D. Rockefeller from an Indian maharajah, is a blue rectangular step-cut sapphire of 62.02 carats currently mounted in a diamond ring. In 2011, Christies sold it for $3,031,000.

 

* The Logan Sapphire is the largest blue faceted sapphire in history, at present displayed in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The 423 carat cushion-cut stone from Sri Lanka is set in a brooch surrounded by 16 carats worth of diamonds

the-logan-sapphire

 

 

 

* The engagement ring of the Duchess of Cambridge has as its centre stone a beautiful sapphire that is said to be valued at around $500.000.

duches-of-cambridge sapphire engagement ring

 

 

How do you care for your sapphire?

You can clean your sapphire using a soft cloth or brush and warm soapy water. Be sure to rinse it well to remove soapy residues. Don’t expose your gemstone to extreme temperatures, as sapphires can change colour when subjected to extreme heat. Be careful how you store these gems, as although this gemstone is quite durable as well as hard it can be scratched by a diamond or can be damaged if you engage in an intense physical activity. When removing jewellery, please don’t pull from the stone because you can weaken the setting.

Interesting facts about sapphires

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and is also associated with Thursdays. It symbolises sincerity, truth and faithfulness, and was to have curative properties and to protect against evil spells. The ancients regarded star sapphires as powerful talismans for protecting travellers.

Of the 30-40 most popular coloured gemstones, rubies and sapphires represent 50% of the total world sales.

Whereas the colour of some topaz, morganite, tanzanite and amethyst may fade over time and due to exposure to light, the colour of a natural sapphire or ruby will be as bright and vivid 50 million years from now

In some areas of rural Sri Lanka, heat treatment is still done in a traditional way using a blowpipe. By blowing it twice per second, the temperature can rise to above 1400°C.hu

If a sapphire appears black in room light at night then is poor quality.

*All images are from pinterest.com

Facts about Amethyst and other gemstones from the Quartz family

 

Of all the minerals on Earth, Quartz is the most common, but its high lustre and hardness makes it ideal for pieces of jewellery. The most well known gemstones from the quartz family are amethyst and citrine, both of which are a variety of crystalline quartz. Other popular forms of quartz include Rose Quartz and the polycrystalline varieties such as Chalcedony, Agate and Jasper

chalcedony

Amethyst: the purple gemstone

 

 Amethyst is one of my favourite semi-precious gemstones and the official birthstone for February. This beautiful gem ranges in colour from dark purple to lilac or mauve. The cause of colour is its chemistry, particularly impurities of iron and aluminium. It can be transparent, translucent or opaque depending on the quality and has a vitreous (glass-like) lustre. Often, higher quality stones will be given a mixed cut, whilst lower quality will be turned into cabochons and beads. Although it is a fairly hard stone – it is a 7 on the Mosh scale – it can be scratched, so it is important to take extra care when wearing an amethyst ring or bracelet. This gem also has particular inclusions that can help to prove that is natural. “Tiger-stripes” or “fingerprints” (liquid filled fissure within the gemstone) and colour zoning are two standard inclusions in amethyst.

amethyst 3

 

 

The word ‘amethyst’ originates from the Greek “amethystos” which means “not intoxicated or drunk” as it was believed to protect its owner from inebriation. Now, I’m not saying that if you wear an amethyst you can drink as much as you want and still drive a car, absolutely not. I just think that the belief was that it helped you to intake alcohol better.

 It is believed that apart from protecting its owner from drunkenness amethyst has all kind of powers. It promotes calm, balance and meditation. It has a gentle energy that encourages a peaceful attitude and helps with lucid dreaming. Also, it protects travellers. I’m not a great believer in it, but I found this fascinating, so I thought to give it a try.

 Up until the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this coloured gemstone was included in the list of the most valuable stones together with ruby, sapphire, diamond and emerald, with the finest examples traditionally coming from Siberia. They were gorgeous stones, with a vibrant, deeply saturated purple colour, and this exceptional quality made them hugely popular during the mid-nineteenth century amongst royalty and members of the church, where they became a gemstone of great historical importance and an insignia of power. In fact, the British Crown Jewels have amethysts among their pieces and Catherine the Great was rumoured to be particularly enamoured of it. Nowadays, due to the discovery of a large deposit in Brazil, it has somewhat lost its value, but it nevertheless remains an extremely popular gemstone, and it is very hard not to spot this beauty in all sorts of jewellery.

  • Taking care of your Amethyst:

 

Although Amethyst is a fairly hard and stable gemstone, you need to follow a few simple rules to keep your jewellery looking fabulous. Certain types of amethyst will react to sunlight, so do not keep your jewellery directly next to a window where the sun’s rays may cause the colour to fade. Amethyst will also react to strong heat, so store your jewellery and gemstones well away from any direct heat sources which may result in discolouration. Don’t keep it next to other stones such as rubies, sapphires or diamonds, as these materials are harder and may scratch the softer quartz. When doing housework make sure you wear gloves or remove your jewellery, as strong chemicals can damage or otherwise affect your gemstone’s beauty. Clean your jewellery with a soft cloth and warm soapy water – make sure you rinse it afterwards to avoid leaving soapy deposits on your jewellery!

amethyst jewellery 1

 

 

 Citrine

 

Citrine is a beautiful gemstone of a yellow to a red-orange colour. Another variety of crystalline quartz, it is slightly less abundant in nature, and is sometimes also produced by heating poor quality amethyst. The most beautiful colours are the saturated yellow to reddish-orange tones, and indeed the name “citrine” comes from the French, “citrin” meaning yellow. This beautiful yellow gemstone is the birthday gem for November.

 
citrine

 

Other crystalline Quartzes

Another variety of crystalline quartz that is quite popular in jewellery is rose quartz. This gemstone, coloured by titanium, it is always a light to medium pink. The most well-known deposit was discovered in Madagascar.

 Polycrystalline Quartzes

 

Chrysoprase, a bright apple-green translucent chalcedony, from the quartz family, was a much-loved gemstone by Frederick the Great of Prussia, and it can be seen today decorating many buildings in Prague, including the Chapel of St Wenceslas.

chrysoprase

 

 

  • Other notes of interest

Quartz is also produced synthetically and used on large scale in the electronic industry. Quartz can be worn by men and women, and can be cut into any shape and size. Brilliant cuts are used to maximise the colours and beads and cabochons are used for poor quality material. A better cut and polish increases its value. It’s always better to buy coloured gemstones by size and not carat due to differences in density. For example, one carat of a diamond can look smaller than one carat of a coloured gemstone.

 *all images are from pinterest.com

 

 

THE MUST HAVE COLOURED GEMSTONE, 5 FACST ABOUT PARAIBA TOURMALINE

Over the last few years I’ve been seeing a tremendous excitement on social media and all over the internet caused by a beautiful electric turquoise-green gemstone known as Paraiba tourmaline.

 

By definition, Paraiba is an elbaite tourmaline that is coloured by copper. As a gemstone, elbaite is a popular member of the tourmaline group because of the variety and depth of its colours and the quality of crystals.

paraiba tourmaline 1

 

  • Who discovered Paraiba tourmaline?

In 1989, a miner called Heitor Dimas Barbosa found this unusual blue-green gemstone, in the Mina da Batalha, the state of Paraiba, Brazil, after a few years of digging. After Barbosa’s discovery, similar tourmalines were found in Rio Grande Do Norte state, just north of Paraiba state. Today, these mines are practically exhausted, in terms of significant discoveries, and mostly only produce small stones.

  • Where can you find Paraiba tourmaline?

Brazil is the most famous locality for mining tourmalines, and this beautiful gemstone comes in practically all colours of the rainbow. Paraiba tourmaline owes its superb colour to copper and manganese. The interplay between these two chemical elements creates a variety of splendid colours: turquoise to sky blue, sapphire blue, bluish violet, purple and emerald green. The most highly demanded colour of all is the neon blue.

In 2001, some similar copper-bearing blue-green tourmaline was discovered in Nigeria, although without the same colour saturation. In 2005, a third discovery was made in Mozambique. These stones were of a very similar colour and saturation to the Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil, but had a much more complex chemical composition, with varying amounts of copper, lead, magnesium, and bismuth. In fact, the Mozambique tourmaline is clearer and comes in larger rough crystals than the Brazilian one, which is smaller and more heavily included.

The Brazilian tourmaline ranges colours from yellowish aqua to strong neon blue, whereas the African Paraiba tourmalines can be larger in size and more uniform in colour than their Brazilian counterpart. These have the widest range of colour from teal,fuchsia, deep violet, aqua, mint green and blue.

A high concentration of copper in its chemical composition gives to this gemstone the radiant hues of blue and electric turquoise and a concentration of manganese results in violet and red Paraiba tourmalines. The red colour of Paraiba tourmaline can be eliminated through a heating process. Any untreated gemstone is worth more than theirs treated counterparts.

The extraordinary vividness of this gemstone is not revealed properly until the stone is not cut. Faceted, they scintillate an unusual brightness and fire.

After the latest discoveries, there was a debate in the gemstone community about whether or not the term “Paraiba” should only be used for Brazilian varieties of this particular tourmaline, and in 2006 the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee agreed that “Paraiba” should refer to a type of tourmaline regardless of geographical locality.

In just a few decades, Paraiba tourmalines have become premium stones with prices from $5000 to $60000 per carat, more expensive in some cases than some diamonds. To put their rarity into perspective, there is one Paraiba tourmaline mined for every thousand diamonds, and it is also very rare to find a Paraiba tourmaline with a weight of three carats. This is despite the fact that it is just one of several tourmalines available on the gem market, with the tourmaline family including Rubellite, Indicolite, Pink Tourmaline, Green Tourmaline, and multi-coloured or Watermelon Tourmaline.

  • What makes Paraiba tourmaline so attractive?

What makes the Paraiba tourmaline so appealing is its unique neon glow, which is due to the small amounts of copper I mention above. It is also sometimes referred to as Cuprian Tourmaline. These gemstones are mined almost entirely by hand with manual tools such as wedges and sledgehammers. In Brazil and Africa, the mines themselves are hand excavated, and interconnected tunnels are dug up to sixty meters deep. Rough Paraiba tourmaline is found in small cracks of rock that can be pencil-thin. What makes these gemstones so expensive is both the difficulty in mining them and their rarity.

  • How can you distinguish a Paraiba tourmaline?

To help distinguish a Paraiba tourmaline there are certain significant properties are shown by this gemstone, including its remarkable dichroism and doubling (visible with a 10x loupe). The deepest colour always appears along the main axis, which is of key importance to cutters when they first begin cutting this crystal.

Tourmaline crystals are prismatic and may be three-, six-, or nine-sided. The faces of the triangular prism are often convex, resulting in a rounded triangular cross section. Further tests can be done using tools such as a spectrometer, a refractometer and EDXRF machine to help identify it accurately.

Tourmaline crystals are often cut into a long rectangular shape to minimise weight loss, but Paraiba tourmalines can be found cut into fancy shapes such as marquise, emeralds, trillions – even hearts.

Heat treatments can enhance the colour of some tourmalines; some dark green stones can me made deep emerald green.

  • How do I clean a Paraiba tourmaline?

Paraiba Tourmaline attracts dust quite quickly, so needs frequent cleaning. It’s better to avoid ultrasonic and steam cleaners, and is important to use caution when using heat when altering colour because may affect the fractures of the stone.

Stunning Paraiba tourmalines in set jewellery

A majestic and flawless Paraiba tourmaline of 191.87 carats set in a necklace created by Kaufmann de Suisse was presented at the Jewellery Arabia 2015 show. This stone was placed on the list of extremely rare and precious stones along with “the Logan Sapphire”, “the Golden Jubilee” and “the Alan Caplan Ruby”.

necklace paraiba

 

The Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba is the highlight of this beautiful piece of jewellery, and is set together with multi-coloured precious and semi-precious stones and a 10.70 carat fancy coloured yellow diamond.

Other jewellery houses that have taken advantage of this stone’s popularity include Chopard, who created an enormous 41.57 carats oval-shaped tourmaline ring, with the lagoon-like gem encircled by a reef of pear shaped and round diamonds, and

chopard paraiba

 

Chaumet, who used an African Paraiba set alongside drops of tourmaline, large square-cut Aquamarines and splashes of diamonds to create a fabulous piece of jewellery.

chaumet paraiba

 

*all images are from pinterest.com

ALL YOU HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT PINK DIAMONDS

When you think of a diamond it’s likely your mind will immediately associate it with words such as “elegance”, “luxury”, “femininity”, and “status” – and, most probably, “engagement ring”. Most women are attracted to the fire and brilliance of this gemstone and, as it is so often said, a diamond is a girl’s best friend.

Diamonds come in different colours and are cut in all sorts of shapes – from the most common, the Round Brilliant, to fancy shapes such as the Princess cut, Heart cut, Pear cut, even Asscher cut. Lately, even if colourless diamonds remain the top choice, natural coloured diamonds are increasingly in demand. Their rarity and beautiful colours have allowed them to be converted into fascinating pieces of jewellery throughout history, and natural fancy pink diamonds are no exception.

Pink diamonds can also be extremely expensive, and have been known to sell for more than $1 million a carat.In the last century alone, there have been several pink diamonds of note. In 1947, Queen Elizabeth II received a 54-carat intense pink diamond for her wedding to the Duke of Edinburgh. Cartier later mounted this stone into a brooch, and the Queen still remains one of the biggest collectors of fancy diamonds today. Slightly later, in 1958, one of the largest pink diamonds in the world was worn by the former Empress of Iran, Farah, as a key piece in a tiara. Named the Noor-al-Ain (Light of the Eye), the 60 carat stone was set together with another 324 brilliant cut pink, colourless and yellow diamonds.

More recently, in November 2010 the jeweller Laurence Graff paid $46.3 million for a 24.78-carat fancy vivid pink at Sotheby’s Geneva.

Finally, in November 2015, a Hong Kong billionaire purchased a 16.08 carat (3.216 g) pink diamond at a Christie’s auction, for a record $28.5 million, and renamed it the “Sweet Josephine” Diamond.

Pink diamond 1

 

 

In 1987 Christie’s sold a red, flawless, 0.95-carat stone for the astronomical price of $880,000.

What is the cause of the pink colour?

The Argyle mine (Australia), which produces most of the world’s pink diamonds, appears to contain two types. The first, a light pink diamond with an even colour distribution and no flaws, is called type IIa. The reason for their colour is still unknown. The second type, usually smaller in size, is known as type Ia. These stones have a more uneven colour distribution, and they owe their colour to a combination of intense pressure and heat and, crucially, a distortion in the crystal lattice of the gemstone. Pink diamonds come in shades that can range from pastel rose to purple reds.

Pink diamond pic 3

 

 

Where can you find pink diamonds?

Pink diamonds are only known to have been discovered in a few mines around the world.India was the reliable source until the discovery of Brazilian deposits in 1720’s, and river deposits near the now called town Diamantina became known as an infrequent but notable source of pink and other fancy-cloured diamonds. The Mwadui mine in Tanzania, Africa, is a source of pink diamonds, and famously produced the Williamson diamond. However, no single mine has produced a steady supply of pink diamonds until the discovery of the Argyle mine in Australia in 1970.

The Argyle mine from North West Australia provides over 90% of the world’s supply of pink diamonds. With 35 million carats mined per year approximately, the Australian mine is responsible for roughly one-third of the total global production annually. Over 800 million carats of rough diamond have been produced since the mine opened in 1983, yet regardless of this impressive volume, just a small percentage of Argyle diamonds can be classified as gem quality or jewellery grade. Those that are gem quality are cut and polished at the source and then are sold to an international customer base comprising of traders, jewellery manufacturers, jewellery designers and luxury retailers. The 60 very best stones are sold through the annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender.

Here is a table of comparable production statistics

• 50% industrial grade

• 45% near-gem quality

• 5% gem quality

Of the 5%:

• 80% Brown Diamonds

• 16% Yellow Diamonds

• 2% White Diamonds

• 2% Grey Diamonds

• Less than 1% Pink Diamonds

Some specialists believe that the reason for these percentages is due to a short period of formation – at least for diamonds. The Australian Argyle pipe is approximately 1.5 billion years old, and the volcanic rock where the pipe has formed is around 1.1 billion years old. The difference (400 million years) is the time in which these diamonds formed and this, for a diamond, is not very long. This may also explain why there is a large quantity but it in small sizes.

Is it predicted that the Argyle Mine might cease production in as little as two, maybe three year’s time.

How is a pink diamond priced?

Prices on colourless diamonds depend on the 4 C’s – colour, clarity, cut and carat. However, fancy colour diamonds are priced slightly differently, although the 4 Cs will, of course, be considered. These are a few of the extra factors that help determine price:

– The hue of the diamond (its dominant colour)

– The tone of the diamond (the brightness or darkness of the colour; if there are any secondary colours)

– The saturation of the colour (usually described as Light, Fancy, Intense, Deep or Vivid)

– Desirability and Rarity

Secondary tones in a diamond can be a significant value changer in diamonds and can occasionally increase as well as decrease the price. For example, a purplish-pink diamond can actually be more valuable than just a pink due to its rarity.

Diamond prices are also exponential. All other things being equal, certain “ideal numbers”, such as 1 carat or 2 carats, have a slight premium to them, and there is a bigger jump in the price between 0.9 and 1 carat than there is between 0.8 and 0.9 carats. Similarly, a 2 carat diamond will cost more than just double the price of a 1 carat diamond, as larger stones are rarer. Whilst this is true of all diamonds, prices for the highest grades of fancy colour diamonds have increased in value by an average of between 10%-15% per year.

What shapes are most popular in pink diamonds?

Coloured diamonds are more often cut into fancy shapes such as Cushion, Pear or Oval to amplify their colour. When cutting these gemstones colour and beauty is the top priority. For colourless diamonds, the most common cut is the Round Brilliant, where a cutter will aim to enhance the fire and the brilliance and hide the inclusions. Consequently, clarity is of fundamental importance to colourless diamonds, but, for pink diamonds, a grade of SI (slightly included) is still known as an “eye clean”.

Pink diamonds 2

 

How can you distinguish between them?

Every year approximately 40 to 60 of the Argyle mine’s finest pink diamonds, ranging in price from $100,000 to $1 million per carat, are presented at an exclusive pink tender. The tender is an invitation-only event held by mine owner Rio Tinto, and attracts the most prominent names in the diamond industry. To date, only eight polished Argyle pink diamonds larger than three carats have been offered at this tender since the mine opened in 1979.

To finish, a few interesting facts about pink diamonds

Only 107 Fancy Intense pink diamonds exist on the market worldwide, and of these only 12 are suitable for an engagement ring. Of the 12 Fancy vivid pink diamonds on the market, only 3 are appropriate for a ring, and finally, of the 85 Fancy deep pink diamonds that can be found on the market only 7 are suitable for a ring.

*all images are from pinterest.com

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