Panowicz Blog

  • (Inter)Stellar Gemstones!

    March 2, 2018 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    Gemstones are beautiful. Everyone knows that! They are flowers of the mineral world, treasures from deep within the Earth.

    Most of the time.

    There are some gems that are a special breed of stellar minerals. Interstellar minerals that is!

    That’s right, there are some amazing gemstones that come from the stars above, or have been found on other planets. These gems aren’t just rare, durable and beautiful; they are (literally) out of this world!

     

    Opal

    Opal is comprised of a silica gel substance, usually with a small percentage of water present. The silica forms microscopic spheres that stack upon each other to form opal.

    Opal deposits are usually found in cracks and fissures; places where the silica was allowed to seep long ago. Usually, the “gel” is a byproduct of an acidic water-based compound. We know of our opals here on Earth, but what about on Mars?

    In 2007, the Mars rover Spirit discovered many deposits of a silica-based rock that looked an awful lot like opals. NASA confirmed it was silica by using false color imaging and the spectrometer, which collects approximately 544 colors (wavelengths) of reflected light to detect minerals on the surface. The minerals are most prominent on outcroppings and in cliff basins in one section of the planet.

    These were a surprising and important find on our neighboring red planet because it proves there was, at least at one time, water on the surface.

    Perhaps someday they will be able to obtain a sample of this Martian Opal and take a closer look. Will it look like our opals or will it stun us with a different kind of beauty?

    For now, they often call it Opaline Silica and eagerly study what they can of this Martian feature as it might hold clues to Mars many ages ago.

     

    Peridot

    Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral olivine with the chemical formula (Mg, Fe)2SiO– magnesium, iron, silicon, and oxygen. It’s the birthstone of August and is famous for its almost shockingly energetic green color.

    On Earth, this gem is found in igneous rocks. Not on Earth, you might see it on a meteorite!

     

    The gems have been on pallasite, and around, meteorite impact craters.

    The interesting thing to note is that peridot can’t handle super high temperatures, so the outer “shell” of meteorite must have protected it and burned off instead, as it entered the atmosphere.

    It is also been observed as interstellar dust. This “dust” is seen in the tails of comets, the disks around young stars, and at the sites of impact craters.

    This evidence suggests that the mineral olivine quite possibly was present at the creation of many planets. Perhaps even our own.

    Usually, the peridot found on meteorites is small and pale in color, due to the extreme conditions from once it came. GIA laboratories ran a series of tests on the “space” versions of peridot and found key differences in the chemical makeup of the stones, meaning they can always tell if it’s an Earth grown peridot or a visitor from the stars.

    The gemstone is often called the stone of sun, maybe that’s a little more literal than we thought.

     

    Quartz and Feldspar

    Quartz and feldspar are two of the most common minerals found on Earth, and makeup not only gemstones such as amethyst, citrine, chalcedony, and moonstone (among others,) but also sand, marble, ceramics, and plastics.

    Quartz and feldspar are massive groups of minerals, and since it’s abundant on Earth, we fully expect to see it elsewhere in the universe!

     

    But what might we see if we find these rocks far, far away?

    Will we find a bright blue quartz, naturally colored?

    A giant moonstone spire that stands taller than a skyscraper?

    An entire planet of nothing but crystal?

    No one is sure but the possibilities are endless!

    The presence of these minerals tells us that other worlds may not be as different as our own, despite appearance. They were all formed in the same universe, after all.

     

    diamonds“Diamonds”

    Many types of “diamonds,” or something kind of like them, have been found. Some of these minerals are made of carbon but form in a different crystal structure. Since the crystal structure is unique to diamonds and is partially responsible for how tough and durable diamonds are, these stones have a key difference.

    Others are small pieces, considered dust. There’s even some that form flat-like sheets, instead of how they form here on Earth.

    There’s a bit of a debate if any of these can truly be called “diamonds,” but either way, they are unlike the gems we have here on Earth.

     

    Glass

    Multiple forms of glass have been found at impact craters, but the interesting thing about them is that they are often colored. We tend to think of glass as clear, transparent, but the majority of “natural” glass formed by impacts is green! Some of this is called Moldavite.

    Discoveries are happening daily about the world beyond our own, and who knows what’s next.

    Perhaps someday in the near, or distant, future, we’ll be talking to clients about setting “space” stones into rings, and working on marketing some rare mineral from a million light years away.

    With the variety of minerals on Earth alone, the sky’s not even the limit on what we could discover!

    Here’s to the rare, durable and beautiful gemstones that make our planet special.

    And, apparently, other planets, too.

     

    This article has been recognized and published in the American Gem Society's website blog and in their "Brilliance" e-newsletter.  Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin is the author of all articles featured on the Panowicz Jewelers website blog.

    https://americangemsocietyblog.org/2017/09/01/intersteller-gemstones/


  • 2018 Pantone Color of the Year: Ultraviolet

    January 8, 2018 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    Is it blue? Is it purple? Is it violet?

    Yes, and no, to all of the above!

    Ultraviolet is this year’s Pantone color of the year. A cousin of a hue often called indigo, it is a mysterious shade of bluish-purple design, named after the color range just beyond visible light.

    Pantone says they chose ultraviolet as it represents individuality, creativity and an emphasis of things yet to come. Indeed, the color invokes such images, with it’s subtle yet striking duality.

    On a painter’s color wheel, violet is the color next to purple. It leans to its’ neighbor blue, while true purple hues lean towards red.

    By now, a few gemstones have probably already come to mind when setting eyes on this color.

    Amethyst, still the most popular purple gemstone, fits into this color nicely. Even though it often leans towards the warmer purple, rather than cooler violet, tones, it complements ultraviolet nicely.

    Amethyst has been a popular gem for ages. Often linked with wisdom, creativity and the divine, it embodies the color of the year.

    Another popular and alluring gem, tanzanite, is another top candidate for an ultraviolet gemstone. This beauty nails the color to perfection. Tanzanite, as a newer gem to the market, has less of a lore-based history then most, but it is still considered to be a powerful gemstone of light and life. It is said to be another stone of divine power.

    More gemstones that show off this year’s color would be iolite, and the corresponding purplish sapphires and spinels.

    All these stones offer insights into thought and perception.

    The color of ultraviolet hovers just outside our realm, intriguing us with possibilities. The name might seem otherworldly, from a fantasy or sci-fi story, and while there are such elements to it, the color violet is actually very grounded.

    Historically, the color has been with us from time in memorial.

    It is one of the first colors recorded as being used in ancient cave drawings. The pigments that made these were derived from bugs or plants, crushed and mixed.

    In Rome, emperors would wear purple or violet togas, while in the Middle Ages, the color was reserved for bishops and professors.

    In Chinese art, the color was used to represent the harmony of the universe, since it was made up of the colors of Yin and Yang (red and blue).

    During the Renaissance, the color showed up in artworks portraying angels, the Virgin Mary and other saintly and divine figures. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the color was a large part of the wealthy’s attire and considered a very desirable shade.

    As we move to more modern times, purple and violet are still seen often, considered by many to be less boring then blue, but more pleasing then red. This makes it a color of peacefulness.

    Despite its’ prominence, purple and violet dyes and pigments were extremely difficult and costly to make. Lesser quality versions could be made easily using the same bugs and plants the ancients did, but the color would fade over time. Especially in sunlight or if exposed to water.

    This made the color one of royalty and extravagance.

    The hue of violet is associated with the Crown Chakra, a focal point located just above the head. This Charka is said to elevate thinking, and transforming of the divine.

    The gemstones that call this hue their own mimic the color throughout history, with an emphasis on the celestial, ingenuity, the unseen and thought.

    Luckily for us, this color, and these gemstones, are not as hard to obtain as in times long past. Combined with other colors like blue, purple, red and even orange, it makes a striking display of true individuality.

    Or, just pick one of each gemstone that shows off this hue, so you have one for every day of the week!

    Colors do more then motivate fashion and art, they make us feel. Colors engage and inspire us. What will ultraviolet encourage you to do in the New Year?

    Will you see possibilities? Will you think outside the box? Will you do something new?

    Welcome to 2018.

    Welcome, to ultraviolet.


  • 101 Facts About Diamonds

    July 1, 2017 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    1 – Diamonds are the hardest mineral on the planet

    2 – Diamonds are made from carbon

    3 – Diamonds can contain traces of boron and/or nitrogen

    4 – Diamonds are not just the hardest mineral, they are 58 times harder than anything on the planet

    5 – Diamonds are rare; the average ratio is 1 diamond to 1 million tons of host rock

    6 – Diamonds are the choice celebration item for 60th and 75th anniversaries

    7 – Diamonds form approximately 100 miles below the Earth’s surface

    8 – Diamond’s crystal lattice is made of “covalent bonds”, the tightest formation bonding possible

    9 – Diamonds come in almost any color, from colorless to yellows, blues, reds, purples, green, browns and more

    10 – Diamond is the birthstone for April

    11 – Diamond, as a name for this mineral, comes from the Greek word “Adamas” meaning “unbreakable” or “Invincible”

    12 – Diamond growth occurs over a period of 1 billion to 3.3 billion years

    13 – Diamonds arrive at the surface through channels in the Earth known as “cratons”

    14 – Diamond is the chosen gemstone to represent the Zodiac sign Aries, the Ram

    15 – Diamond popularity rose in the 19th century

    16 – Diamonds have been known in India for 3,000 years, but some evidence suggests it is closer to 6,000 years

    17 – Diamonds so small they are microscopic (called micrometer or nanometer diamonds,) have been found at the sits of meteorite impacts

    18 – Diamonds (industrial grade) are used in the medical field as scalpel blades

    19 – Diamonds (industrial grade) are used in electronics

    20 – Diamond dust is used as abrasives for multiple industries

    21 – Diamond engagement rings became mainstream in the 1930’s

    22 – Diamonds were first given as an engagement ring in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy

    23 – Diamonds have inspired many quotes, such as Roman naturalist Pliny, who is quoted as having said; “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.”

    24 – Diamonds can be small or large, with the largest recorded find was named “Cullinan”, and weighed 3106 carats, the equivalent of 1.33 pounds.

    25 – Diamond lore from the Middle Ages is rich, and one surviving text says that the gems are; “Divine splendor on Earth…”

    26 – Diamonds have always been an important stone in India, and there was an old belief that each diamond was said to have a different “flavor”. Some sweet, some salty, etc.

    27 – Diamonds in the Hindi religion were the bones of the Demi-god Vala, who was destroyed and dismembered by his fellow deities. The bones fell to Earth and fractured when they landed, leaving rough diamonds behind.

    28 – Diamonds were considered a powerful mystic’s stone capable of protecting not only the wearer, but also homes where they were placed

    29 – Diamonds were thought to keep nightmares and specters away

    30 – Diamonds are thought by some to prevent insanity

    31 – Diamonds were a traveling companion of Marco Polo, who claimed they were a talisman of protection

    32 – Diamonds are a powerful healing gem, said by some to draw poisons out of the body

    33 – Diamonds have been part of stories somewhere between reality and fiction, including the claim that powdered diamond crystals were placed in wine as part of royal assassination plots

    34 – Diamonds seen in dreams is said to signify victory over your enemies

    35 – Diamond energizes the seventh Chakra, in modern New Age mythology

    36 – Diamonds can even be mined from the ocean floor, off the coast of Namibia

    37 – Diamonds were ranked the 17th most popular stone in Medieval times

    38 – Diamonds found in impact craters of meteorite crash sites show evidence of being carried by the meteorites instead of created by the impact

    39 – Diamonds are traditionally seen as a round brilliant cut, but can be, and is, cut in many “fancy’ shapes

    40 – Diamonds that are blue have varying amounts of Boron in them

    41 – Diamonds that are green have almost always been irradiated. This can be human induced or natural from the Earth

    42 – Diamonds that are red are of the rarest color, and command the highest price

    43 – Diamonds are inert to most chemicals

    44 – Diamonds are still the most popular gemstone for engagement rings

    45 – Diamonds are mined in Brazil, Canada, Australia, Russia, India and Africa

    46 – Diamonds mined in Russia can only be mined approximately three months out of the year due to harsh terrain and extreme weather

    47 – Diamond has the 4th highest refractive index of all gemstones

    48 – Diamond shapes are always beautiful, but the top shape is still the classic round brilliant

    49 – Diamond fancy shapes show that the princess cut is still the top, though cushion and oval are close behind in recent years

    50 – Diamond is the State Gemstone of Arkansas

    51 – Diamonds can be burned, though the flames must reach a temperature of approximately 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit (or 700 degrees Celsius)

    52 – Diamonds that are a perfect octahedron shape with exceptional clarity in their rough form are called “glassies”

    53 – Diamond has such unique characteristics that it can take on a high polish, more so then most minerals

    54 – Diamond has fourteen different names in traditional Hinduism, including words that mean fire, sun, lightning and weapon

    55 – Diamond has been the subject of many texts, including the oldest dated printed book, called “Diamond Sutra” found in a cavern in China, dating AD 868. The book actually describes more of a metaphysical topic then the actual gem

    56 – Diamonds are sawed with other diamonds, as it is the hardest material on the planet

    57 – Diamond cutting can take upwards of eight hours total, for a well-cut stone

    58 – Diamonds are highly attracted to grease and oil. In fact, mines use sheets coated with grease to catch small rough diamond crystals and separate them from other minerals

    59 – Diamonds cut in the round brilliant pattern have 57 facets (58 if the culet is also faceted)

    60 – Diamonds form in the cubic crystal structure

    61 – Diamonds are found in the USA, though not mined as a large scale operation. States that have diamond mines are Arkansas, Colorado and Wyoming

    62 – Diamond mines vary from large, open pit mines, to underground shafts, to small scale rivers and lake beds

    63 – Diamonds were mined long before the “boom” of Africa, but that discovery made them famous and popular

    64 – The founder of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was Cecil Rhodes

    65 – Diamond production was anything but steady when they first hit the worldwide market. De Beers was the first company to guide production from mine to market

    66 – Diamonds were discovered in Africa in 1866

    67 – Diamonds are sometimes used in dental tools

    68 – Diamond production and distribution is closely monitored, and the five major companies are DeBeers, ALROSA, Rio Tinto, Dominion Diamond and Petra Diamonds

    69 – Diamonds in pinks and browns are commonly from Australia

    70 – “Diamond is forever" is a phrase that was coined by DeBeers as part of a marketing campaign in the 1940's

    71 – Diamonds were supposedly named by Roman magician Damigerson, from the Latin form of "Adamus"

    72 – Diamonds were highly prized in India and used in their caste system, with certain people owning certain colors of the gem based on their stations and jobs

    73 – Diamonds were often said to make women "unhappy" by ancient cultures, or worse, cause them discomfort. Agn'es Sorel, Mistress of Charles VI, was the first woman in recorded history to wear diamonds on display in jewelry

    73 – Diamonds were said to dim when worn by someone guilty of a crime, or unfaithfulness

    74 – Diamonds were said in many legends to all come from a single valley. This valley was so deep, you couldn't see the bottom. Each legend has a different location for the valley, and also a different method, and hazard, of plucking the gems from it

    75 – Diamonds, like most gems, have been linked to everything from names to days of the week. A text by G.F Kunz even lists it as the gemstone for noon (time of day)

    76 – Diamonds are “carried” to the surface by the minerals Kimberlite and Lamproite

    77 – Diamonds in ancient India were thought to come from the rivers Penner, Krishna and Godavari

    78 – Diamonds that are large and flawless are sometimes called Paragons

    79 – Diamonds are primarily graded by The Four C’s, a grading chart that is only used for diamonds

    80 – Diamond Four C’s stand for; Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat Weight

    81 – Diamonds that are flat, twinned octahedral shaped crystals are called Macles

    82 – Diamonds, despite the popular misconception, are not formed from compressed coal

    83 – Diamonds are hard, and can also resist pressures up to 600 gigapascals (or, 6 million atmospheres)

    84 – Diamonds used to fund war efforts in other countries brought about “The Kimberly Process” in 2002. The process is a set of regulations that require countries exporting diamonds to provide proof that the money from the sale of said diamonds is not funding terrorist activities

    85 – Diamonds can be made synthetically, in a laboratory. These synthetic diamonds have the same physical and chemical properties of a natural diamond, though the process to create them varies from nature’s mix

    86 – Diamonds are often sold at auction. The record setting “Pink Star” is the most expensive ever sold, (so far) and sold in April 2017 for 71.2 million dollars.

    87 – Diamonds are cut into many shapes and sizes. The smallest diamond ever cut weighed only 0.0003ct. It supposedly cannot be seen with the naked eye.

    88 – Diamonds return a lot of flashing colors to your eyes. These flashes are referred to as “fire”

    89 – Diamonds are part of many crown jewels, with the most notable being the Koh-i-Noor, found in India. It is part of the British Crown Jewels

    90 – Diamonds come in many colors, with red being one of the rarest. The largest red diamond is the Moussaieff, and weighs 5.11ct

    91 – Diamonds sometimes display fluorescence, a reaction to UV light. It causes the diamond to “glow” a different color, usually blue.

    92 – Diamonds can also Phosphoresces; this is a phenomena where the fluorescence lasts for a time after the light source has been removed. This is a very rare trait for a diamond to have

    93 – Diamonds are occasionally used in the audio business to enhance sound

    94 – Diamonds made the headlines in 2011 when a few celebrities reported having “diamond and ruby facials” done. The effects and benefits of such a thing are debatable

    95 – Diamonds, due to the extreme hardness, could not be cut by antique cultures. However, they were able to polish the natural crystal faces of the rough, leading to unique shapes but failing to unlock the true beauty of a faceted diamond

    96 – Diamonds can have many different types of inclusions within the stone; small fissures, growth patterns, clouds of tiny crystals grouped together and even other gemstone crystals

    97 – Diamond mines produce much, but only about 30% of the world-wide volume is gem quality, worthy to be set into jewelry

    98 – Diamonds are famous, or infamous. The “Hope” diamond is said to be cursed by some, due to one of its’ owner’s unfortunate life upon purchasing the diamond

    99 – Diamonds found in the USA are usually small and average. The finest ever found was named the “Uncle Sam”

    100 – Diamonds that are black are often irradiated to make them more stable

    101 – Diamonds are something that EVERYONE should own!


  • The Pantone color of the year is…..

    March 19, 2017 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    greeneryThe Pantone color of the year is…..(drum roll please,) Greenery!

    It has been some time since a green hue has been chosen as the color of the year, and this version--a bright shade with just a hint of yellow--is a refreshing color indeed!

    Pantone says it was chosen as a symbolic color of new beginnings and renewal, a calming hue to soothe and relax, and a call to reconnect with the world around us.Indeed, Greenery reminds us of nature, and few things calm like plants and animals.

    The color will be coming to the forefront of all things fashionable this year; clothes, interior décor and of course, jewelry.

    Gems that embody this color are reviving peridot, versatile tourmaline, vibrant tsavorite garnet and of course, comforting emerald.In fact, emeralds have been a symbol of renewal and growth for ages, as well as wealth and status.

    Alternately, peridot is considered the gem of the sun, while garnets and tourmalines have many meanings and supposed health benefits.

    Certainly all gems that match this sublime “Greenery” represent nature at its finest.

    The color green, at its scientific core, is a color between blue and yellow, a mixture of those two opposing colors, if you will.  The name, “Green”, is thought to be derived from Middle English or possibly Germanic roots, meaning, most likely, “grass” or “roots”.

    In many cultures and languages, green and blue often have similar names associated with the color, making it a great transition from last year’s color of the year, Serenity (a soft blue).

    Science has proven that green is restful on the eyes, balancing to emotions and also helps combat fatigue.

    Green is surprisingly hard to “copy” from nature’s mix to create pigments and dyes, including food coloring.  Older methods included finely powdered malachite, another gemstone, to create stains.

    Historically, green has an interesting history; in more arid locations, the color was one of hope for things to come and rebirth.  The Egyptians used the color often, even going so far as to characterize some of their deities with green skin.

    The Greeks weren’t overly fond of the color, and rarely used it in artistic purists.  The Romans, however, linked the color to their goddess Venus, who was the goddess of love and nature, thus making the color more romantic.

    During the Renaissance, where clothing colors denoted social status and occupation, green tones were worn primarily by merchants and bankers. It was a featured clothing color in many famous paintings of the era, including Mona Lisa, who wears a shade of darker, muted green.

    greenery 2

    The Masonic orders use green to symbolize immortality of all that is divine and true. Since the natural aspect of the color is unchanging, it is considered an immutable color.

    In terms of jewelry, green was a popular color in both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras. In the former, it was used for accents of sweeping, nature inspired designs that dominated the movement.

    In the latter it was often used as a striking aside to other colors, using the bolder, darker hues of the color rather than the light and airy versions.

    As we look to a brand new year, the color may seem like an odd choice…until the plants bloom once more. As spring hits, sooner rather than later, green becomes the prominent color we see. It is a surprisingly balanced color, managing to be both soft and bold. It is a romantic color, when you think about it, and invokes emotions when seen.

    We all need a connection to nature in some form, and Greenery gives us that connection with our most obvious sense; sight.

    And when it is seen, it is felt.

    To see green colors is to feel them, and to wear a gemstone that holds such a deep tie to the world around us grounds us, makes us feel.

    Wearing green jewelry is sure to help you feel at peace throughout your day. Who doesn’t need to feel relaxed during hectic and overfull days?

    Embrace a green gemstone, make it your own and begin to enjoy this year’s color; Greenery!

     

    This article has been recognized and published in the American Gem Society's website blog and in their "Brilliance" e-newsletter.  Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin is the author of all articles featured on the Panowicz Jewelers website blog.


  • A Brief History of Gems (Part II)

    August 15, 2016 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    history (PII)Everyone knows of the diamond, the most famous of gemstones. A movie star, if you will.

    But it didn’t always hold that title; no, Ruby once commanded the highest price, being revered as the “King of Gems” by many.

    People said that gems came from the gods; Vedic texts tell of the destruction of Vala, the demon god, at the hand of the demigods. They dismembered his body and cast it to Earth. Each part of his body is said to be a gemstone. The blood, ruby, his teeth, pearls, and so on.

    Every stone has a tale to tell, both true and perhaps not, if one has the time to hear it.

    As we continue our tour through time, let us skip ahead a little further to discover another facet of gems.

    Although diamond engagement rings became mainstream in the 1930s’, the concept of giving a band in celebration of marriage was borne in ancient Egypt. They believed in the symbolism of a circle as it has no beginning and no end, represented eternity.

    The first ring recorded to have been given as an engagement ring with a diamond was in the year 1477. The ring was given to Mary of Burgundy by a Duke of Austria. It was a simply solitaire style ring, with a single diamond set atop a band of gold. The very image of classic engagement jewelry.

    In the last part of the 1800s’ and the beginning of the 1900s’, the first synthetic gemstone was created. Flame Fusion synthetic ruby. The French chemist Auguste Verneuil successfully created a manmade ruby not for jewelry purposes, but to help with ongoing research into light and lasers.

    Although the trend caught on and, for a short period of time synthetic rubies commanded a higher price than natural and replaced them in many jewelry pieces.

    The reason for the synthetic gem is still in use today; flame fusion rubies are used in red colored lasers in many applications.

    In fact, many gemstones are used for non-jewelry purposes.

    Synthetic white sapphire is a part of every barcode reader. Diamond dust is used as an abrasion in many trades and processes. Diamond tipped scalpels are seen in many medical fields.

    Nearly every piece of technology in the world contains some component of quartz, synthetic or otherwise.


  • A Brief History of Gems (Part I)

    July 25, 2016 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    gems in historyLike all things, the history of gemstones begins when time itself does; the story of gems is tied to the history of the world they come from.

    But to save some times, let’s skip ahead a bit, shall we?

    The year is somewhere back in the 4.4 billion range from today, give or take a few decades. The oldest known gemstone sample is a zircon, dating back about 4.4 billion years. Considering that it is believed Earth formed 4.56 billion years ago, this tiny crystal is the first record of the Earth’s crust.

    It likely formed from cooling magma, when rocks were just beginning to take shape.

    Zircon, a natural gemstone not to be confused with its modern, synthetic cousin, the cubic zirconia, is of great interest to scientists because of its formation time period.

    Skip a little further ahead.

    A time when dinosaurs walked pathways instead of cars driving on roads. A time of giant, fearsome beasts. A time before…well, time.

    Found in prehistoric burial sites are crude necklaces, bracelets and weapons made of stone, and some of these basic minerals, are gemstones. Gems like jasper and agate were fashioned into amulets.

    Ancient weapons made of volcanic glass hardened into a midnight black gem known as obsidian have been found. Despite the bitter nature of this natural glass, the edges on the weapons are deadly sharp.

    obsidianTime marches on, and gems continue to appear throughout history. Ancient Egypt was famous for amazing jewels, as far back as the start of their culture. They were the first to appreciate the vivid colors that these natural wonders could create. Gems like azure lapis, sky-blue turquoise, blood orange carnelian and forest green malachite.

    They didn’t just use the gems as pretty trinkets, either; they ground them down into fine powders and discovered how to mix amazing pigments for art and cosmetics.

    The Romans were the first to widely place gems in furniture or statues instead of using them mostly for jewelry.

    Pliny the Elder wrote extensive papers and books on natural products, including gemstones. He was born in 23 AD and has one of the most accurate accounts of gemstones at the time. He wrote amazing tales of gemstone origins, magical powers, and more.

    Moving through time we see gemstones being traded and bartered, being used for jewelry to adorn royalty and tiles to plaster the walls of palaces.

    egyptian-jewelleryCountless legends come from supposed histories of these “flowers of the mineral world.”

    It is said that Cleopatra’s favorite gemstone was an emerald, even though many of her collection we now know to be peridot.

    The story goes that the original Ten Commandments were written on slabs of pure sapphire, proving that only God Himself could have written them, since the mineral would have been too hard to cut into with the tools of the day.


  • A Symbol of Love & Promises

    June 8, 2016 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    Engagement rings.

    Everyone knows about them; symbols of love and devotion, tangible promises and shiny baubles, all wrapped up in a ring.

    But where did the tradition come from?

    Engagement rings are not a new concept.

    The first records of such a thing date back to ancient Egypt, where it became common for royalty to give betrothal gifts. The Egyptians loved jewelry, and so it was often recorded that certain items were exchanged.

    The gifts were anything from collared necklaces, bangle bracelets, head dressings, arm bands, and yes, rings.

    There was a common theme, however; they were always a circle and they were always gold.

    The Egyptians believe that circles or round objects were symbols of eternity, or the cycle of life and death. It was a powerful shape in their mythology, and they chose the circle for betrothal gifts to symbolize the commitment and infinity. They believed that, even after death, as you moved to the afterlife, the bonds remained. Thus, the jewelry had to reflect it.

    The color gold was considered a royal and holy color, and naturally the substance gold was used widely and highly prized. The betrothal gifts were always gold to show wealth and power.

    The Romans and Greeks also occasionally gave engagement rings, also bands of gold, as promise jewelry. They also arguably started the tradition of wearing the ring on the left ‘ring finger’. It was believed that the vein in that finger traveled directly to the heart, thus making the band as close to one’s heart as it could possibly get.

    The idea was romantic, and was mentioned in much literature. It continues today as a popular saying and belief, adding to the allure and emotion of wearing a ring.

    But what about diamonds?

    The first documented diamond engagement ring was in 1477, when the duke of Austria proposed to Mary of Burgundy in Vienna.

    The ring was a simple gold setting with a diamond in the center, and began the trend of setting gemstones into the engagement rings. It also became the model for the ever classic solitaire ring!

    Although diamond engagement rings were a concept, the idea didn’t become a tradition until De Beers, the diamond enterprise at the time, began a massive campaign in the late 1930’s to add to the already romantic occasion. Their efforts made the diamond the premier stone for an engagement occasion.

    There’s just something about a diamond that draws us in….

    A certain element to it that captures the heart and mind, and somehow conveys emotions and memories without words.

    Is it the sparkle? The fiery flashes contained in an icy prism?

    Is it the durability? The knowledge that your diamond will last a life time and beyond?

    Is it the familiarity? After all, it’s made of carbon, and so are humans.

    The history of engagements dates back before time itself, and the ring almost as much so as the promise. It’s more than a piece of jewelry, more than a memory or a promise or an emotion.

    It’s all that and more, a symbol of love in the form of a never ending circle that binds the finger as it binds two people.


  • Art Deco: Striking, Bold & Dramatic

    April 25, 2016 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    Jewelry trends change over time, influenced by the factors that make up life. Designs wax and wane in popularity often cycling through many times as resurgences.

    There is a strong emphasis in modern jewelry designs of this period reminiscent of the Art Deco movement. Angles, striking and sharp. Colors, bold and dramatic. Shapes, odd and thought provoking.

    Art Deco is steeped in international history, and to learn more about the modern trends, we’ll have to step back in time…

    It was the Roaring Twenties.

    A time of economic prosperity and technological advancement, a time of jazz and a celebration of life.

    The shadow of war has passed and the world is recovering and growing.

    The place is Paris, the most romantic city in the world.

    This is the era that Art Deco was borne from.

    ==========================

    In 1925 the ‘International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts’ took place in Paris, France, and marked the start of the Art Deco movement. The movement would continue up until the start of the Second World War, but would have a resurgence in popularity in the 1960’s and again in the 1980’s, thanks to a book published on the subject in 1968, and then to the rise of graphic design in the late 80’s.

    Where most design movements rose out of political or religious intentions or stresses, Art Deco was simply artistic.

    The movement inspired clothing, architecture, art and of course, jewelry.

    Unlike its predecessor, Art Nouveau, with its more whimsical, light designs, Art Deco was all about linear lines, interesting shapes and a modern flair.

    Inspiration for Art Deco came from advancing technologies and living life to the fullest. The world was speeding up and this contributed to the modern feel of the movement. During this time period many famous archaeological finds took place, including excavation of king Tut’s tomb. Ancient influences, especially from Aztec and Egyptian cultures, can be seen in many Art Deco pieces and the contrast between the geometrical shapes and ancient motifs creates a fanciful and unusual style.

    Platinum was “discovered” during this period as well, and was used in many Art Deco pieces along with the finest of gems including blue sapphires, bright emeralds and stunning rubies. Diamonds were also widely seen, set as both focal points and accents. Many opaque stones were popular as well; Carnelian, lapis, turquoise and black onyx.

    Gemstones were cut into interesting shapes such as trapezoids and octagons, elongated rectangles and squares, sometimes with rounded corners. The cutting of these stones was often done wasting quite a bit of rough, but that just showed the lavish nature of the era.

    Also glass, and the, at the time, new plastics were also very popular substances to use in jewelry and art, as well as non-precious metals like titanium and aluminum.

    The jewelry was large, and was made to draw attention. Straight lines, cubes and chevrons, along with structured curves, all mixed together to create a jumbled, yet beautiful style.

    Necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, brooches and earrings were all made in the style of Art Deco with an emphasis on being bold.

    Art Deco is an expression of functionality, elegance and a passion for life.

    =================

    Just like in the past, the current atmosphere in the USA is one of hopeful growth; the economy is recovering slowly from a recent recession. The tinges of the last war are fading from memory. The world is advancing at a fast pace, with emerging technologies and ideas.

    The similarities of past and present are surprising, lending a hand to the new geometric shapes emerging from top designers.

    A revival of Art Deco is in the air, with the classic looks from the past mingling with a new take on the movement. There’s never been a better time to add a striking and unique piece of wearable art to your collection!


  • Soft Shades of Pink & Blue

    March 5, 2016 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    The Pantone color of the year turned out to be a twin: Rose Quartz and Serenity, soft shades of pink and blue.

    These gentle hues invoke a sense of rest and tranquility, soothing colors to bring about peace in our hectic lives.

    Just as the name of “Rose Quartz” suggests, a great gemstone match to that color is the pastel rose quartz. A gem that has always been associated with love and bringing a sense of calm to the wearer.

    Another option to match this color would be Morganite, a stone named after the banker and gem enthusiast, J.P. Morgan. This stone ranging from peachy delights to more subtle blush colors is said to be a stone of wisdom and insight, especially in concerns of the heart.

    For your blues, gems like sapphire and iolite are good options.

    The delicate ‘cornflower’ blue sapphires are soft to the eye, usually light in tone and blue with hints of purple. Since these gems come in pastel shades and bolder tones, they make a perfect match to each other and any outfit. Sapphires are a stone of purity, reflecting the serenity of the chosen colors of the year.

    Iolite is a little known gem of indigo, sometimes even called “water sapphire”. It is another jewel that brings about a sense of calm, and is said to be a stone of understanding and love.

    Pantone’s colors of the year are a blend of easy to look at colors with hidden meaning of love, purity and quietness.

    These harmonious colors work perfectly together, or apart, and make a striking statement despite their softness. The gems that match them are equally as subtle, lending a calming breath of fresh air to those who wear them.

    Not to mention they are simply divine!

    You don’t want to miss out on owning a pastel shaded creation, do you? Now’s the perfect time to find your perfect match of pastel!

    Serenity or Rose Quartz. Two colors where you simply can’t go wrong.


  • Garnets - Warm, Strong & Mysterious

    January 2, 2016 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin; Staff Gemologist
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    january birthstone - garnetHappy birthday  January babies!

    Born the first month of the year - you start if off with a celebration of life. Ignore the dreary weather with a warm garnet as your birthstone!

    A somewhat under-appreciated jewel, garnets hold a mystery and allure all their own. A group of closely related species, the garnet family of gems is vast and varied.

    --- Everything from classic Pyrope and Almandite; the traditional reds, from dark to light, sometimes slightly brownish, to Rhodolite, a shy little stone with flirty edges of purple added to red.
    --- Then there’s members like cool Tsavorite, the vivid to minty green rebel striking out and being different.
    --- Demantoid, the fun-loving gem in yellowish-green colors with fire like a diamond.
    --- Don’t forget Spessartite, the flashy and robust gem of bright orange.
    --- And Hessanite, a softer, ‘honey’ color, often hiding amid the rest of the group.
    --- In fact, Garnets come in every shade but blues!

    Throughout history, garnets have been known as stones of warmth, strength and mystery. The most common color, a deep red, was popular in many cultures and used in a variety of items—not just jewelry.

    It was the most popular stone for adornment and inlays in the late ‘Antique Roman’ period, and a strand of garnet beads was found in an Egyptian tomb dating back some 5,000 years.

    It was said to be a stone of valor, that wearing it as an amulet gave someone strength and enhanced bravery. It was also connected with love due to the color, and no surprise, it was associated with the element of fire.

    There is a legend that Noah didn’t use lanterns in the Ark, he hung garnets. They were said to glow due to their inner fire and throughout the entire voyage of the ark, stayed lit.

    In more modern times, garnets are associated with Capricorn, the zodiac sign, and are believed to help with strengthening both emotions and the physical.

    In a more science based outlook garnets are used as abrasives in many fields.

    Garnets are one of the few gems that can boast fully natural color; no treatments are done to enhance or alter them.

    Depending upon the type of the garnet, they can be found in many locations around the globe. They usually form in a cubic structure, like squares piled on top of one another. 

    Garnets are anything but plain or ordinary, and with a wide range of colors to choose from, there’s a member of the family that’s right for everyone. It shines on after years and carries with it ancient history.

    It’s a pretty bauble and a treasured talisman. No matter how melancholy the weather may be this time of year, you can rest assure that a garnet will brighten up your day!


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