Panowicz Blog

  • Panowicz Jewelers Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week with Donations to Local Classroom Projects

    May 6, 2021 - ADDED BY Nathan peters
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    Panowicz Jewelers fulfills two local teacher donation requests for classroom projects totaling $2,600 in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. In partnership with Frederique Constant, the Swiss watch manufacturer, the classroom projects were fully funded.

    With the many changes that took place this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Panowicz Jewelers seeks to support and recognize the efforts our local teachers do in educating the next generation. “Youth and education are two areas Panowicz Jewelers will always support,” said Leslie Panowicz, general manager. “We are grateful to be selected by Frederique Constant to fully fund projects in our community.”

    Frederique Constant pledged $20,000 to support the local schools and communities where retail partners reside. As one of 10 nationwide retailers selected, Panowicz Jewelers chose which classroom projects to fund in Thurston County.

    Each Frederique Constant watch purchased at Panowicz Jewelers between now and May 31 will come with a $50 gift card that can be used to support a teacher request of your choice on DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, enables teachers to request donations for projects, programs or resources that are not included in their regular budget. Founded in 2000, the nonprofit has since helped fund 1.9 million classroom project requests ranging from butterfly cocoons to robotic kits, new books for classrooms, and much more.

    “Our mission is to make it easy for anyone to help a teacher in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education,” said Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose. “We are so grateful to have such a dedicated partner in Frederique Constant and to be able to rely on their continued support to reach classrooms on a national scale.”

    “Frederique Constant is honored to be an ongoing partner of DonorsChoose, and as a brand founded on the principle of living your passion, we are very proud to help give back and show our appreciation to the hard-working teachers who are dedicated to educating their students remotely during this unprecedented time,” said Carla Wilke, chief marketing officer of Citizen Watch America.

  • It's 2021 - Time for Pantone's color(s) of the year!

    January 5, 2021 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    Most likely, everyone is looking forward to 2021 and the start of a new year.

    The last year wasn’t quite what anyone was expecting, and as it closes, we must remember to look forward.

    With that in mind, Pantone has chosen two colors this year; Ultimate Gray (17-5104) and Illuminating (13-0647).



    Pantone's two colors of the year








    While perhaps unexpected colors that aren’t usually at the top of anyone’s favorite color lists, bold yet familiar is an important outlook for every step forward!

    Indeed, Pantone had that in mind, stating that the colors are ‘practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic’.

    Stability, optimism, warmth and energy is what most need now, so they are fitting colors for a brand-new year.

    Ultimate Gray is a surprising choice, considering gray is perhaps bland and dare we even say boring? However, gray is also a complement color, able to enhance other colors alongside it, match every other shade, and be either warm or cool toned when needed.

    It’s also a color that everyone is familiar with; the word ‘gray’ (or, grey,) first came into use as far back as 700 AD, and has been associated with industry and business for many decades.

    Surprisingly, for such a drab color, gray was, and is essential in art.

    Many artists during the Renaissance used gray lines as the base for oil paintings, and since it went well with all skin tones, it was used as a background color often.




    Diamond "slices" by Sethi Couture showcasing a range of gray tones



    Neutral, familiar and modest, gray is a sharp contrast to the other color of 2021; Illuminating.

    Yellow is a well-known color too, and this particular shade of Illuminating is bright and cheery, reminiscent of daffodils, ducklings, and bananas.

    Yellow in fashion isn’t as common as other colors, given that it clashes with other hues. That’s why Ultimate Gray is the perfect companion!

    An ancient color, the first use of yellow in art is from the Cave of Lascaux, in France. There you will find a yellow horse drawing, painted with yellow ochre, dating back some 17,300 years.

    Ochre in yellows was common for artwork, and a favorite of the Egyptians. They often painted gods with golden skin, and female mortal figures with lighter, paler shades of yellow. Gold was an important color to them, symbolizing eternity and strength.



    Sunny citrine gemstone in a yellow gold ring, by Stanton Color.



    It is said that Vincent van Gogh loved the color yellow, and was quoted as saying it was the color of sunshine.

    While the last year was perhaps not the grand start to a new decade, Illuminating reminds us to look to the things that are beautiful, bright and colorful.

    While many fashion and decorating trends will utilize these two colors, as always, natural gemstones are already a step ahead. Plenty of jewels offer a complementing hue, and some downright embody the two colors.

    Diamond comes to mind, and not just for the perfect coloring. Diamonds are strong, resilient and last forever. They remind us to shine under pressure.

    With an abundance of natural inclusions, some diamonds can appear grayish, but maintain a strong surface luster. These are marketed under many names, and no two will even be alike.

    Other diamonds, colored by nitrogen, will be yellow. These range from light and pale, to intense and vivid. Treatments can enhance these colors, and since they are still diamonds, they remain bright and fiery!

    Some pearls can also be gray, and as a familiar and classic gemstone, it’s the perfect choice for Ultimate Gray.

    Sunny gems like citrine and lemon quartz are great for that Illuminating vibe. Citrine is said by many to be a positive stone when worn. It’s considered a warm stone, and said to invite the imagination. It is also known as the merchant’s stone. Old legends speak of increased wealth to merchants that held the stone during transactions, and increased protection when traveling.



    Citrine and yellow gold ring and earrings, by Stanton Color



    More yellow hued gemstones to consider are yellow beryl (Heliodor) and yellow sapphire.

    Heliodor is the yellow member of the beryl family, and is named after the Greek god of the sun, Helios.

    As such, this gemstone is another that is closely related to warmth, energy and life. Some also claim it increases confidence and the desire to learn.

    Yellow sapphire, although it can range in color tones, can reach the same vibrant shade as Illuminating. Since sapphires are durable as well as colorful, this gem is a great combination for everyday wear.



    Loose yellow sapphire stones



    The new year is upon us with great anticipation.

    Pantone’s colors reflect the need for familiarity and happiness, which are hoped for now more than ever.

    Stepping forward, we must focus on the sunshine in life, no matter how small.

    And make sure to share a little of that light, too.

    Happy New Year! Happy 2021!



    This article by our Staff Gemologist was also recently featured on the American Gem Society's blog:

  • Art Nouveau Era Jewelry

    October 12, 2020 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    New Art” is the meaning of “Art Nouveau”.

    An artistic era, or, a movement if you prefer.

    It swept through the world, gaining popularity mainly between 1890-1910. Art Nouveau was a period of transition in the fine arts, moving from the old and into the new.

    Art Nouveau acquired distinctly localized styles as its geographic influence increased, leading to many regional differences among the movement. However, some general characteristics are indicative of the form.

    Nature and curved lines heavily inspired this art; begin with a simple, natural shape and make it come alive. Art Nouveau challenged the mind and the heart, invoked imagination and free-thinking.

    Prior to this, many art forms were rigid and structured, focusing on geometrics and liner designs. Art Nouveau instead moved to flowing, unique and natural elements.

    A whimsical style, soft and light in a way that previous arts had lacked, it had something of a spirit to it.

    One previously overlooked.

    Although all the fine arts have stories to tell during the Art Nouveau movement, jewelry especially gained a new life.

    Jewelers allowed their creations to come alive.

    Ring by Masriera showcasing 'plique-à-jour' enameling techiques 










    They used new metals and gemstones in their creations, moving away from the diamond dominated market and into more subtle motifs like enameling, opals and Japanese metal working techniques. People began to appreciate the idea behind jewelry, the concept of a design, rather than simply the precious materials used to create it.

    Colors moved from bold tones and monochromatic to more pastels and bright colors. Glass and gemstones previously ignored were now used alongside more known materials like diamonds.


    An example of a Lavalier style necklace









    The surge of new and exciting ideas flowed with the times and gave way to arched lines, brilliant scenes of nature and wearable pieces of the finest art.

    Jewelers were no longer simply craftsmen. They were artists.

  • Edwardian Era Jewelry

    September 24, 2020 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    Albert Einstein, the Wright brothers, the Titanic.

    What do these have in common?

    They were part of the Edwardian era. A time period usually said to encompass the reign of King Edward VII, though possibly all the way until the start of the First World War

    It was a time of extremes in terms of politics and social stresses, though it was also highly refined and elegant.

    The jewelry of the era was intricate and feminine, understated with filigree and millwork. The fashions of clothes were reflected in the additional baubles worn by the elite; lace, bows and tassels.

    Drop earrings showcasing delicate metal work in the style of bows.








    Rather than focus on the design of each piece of jewelry, the materials were prized. A heavy emphasis on diamonds in nearly every piece urged cutters to be bolder with their techniques, to unleash the true brilliance of the gem.

    Other gems in softer colors, such as aquamarines, amethysts and sapphires were also popular. Pearls held a special place in many pieces, rivalling diamonds in some sectors of the market.

    Only the finest metals and metalworking was implemented on jewelry. Flower motifs and other delicate patterns were popular, adding to the airy feeling of the pieces.

    Attention to detail was prioritized in each and every piece, showcased by the handwrought metalwork. Rings with designs on the underside and sides of the piece can be found often among this era of jewelry.


    An example of filigree metal work (Picture from wikipedia)







    Necklaces of differing lengths emerged as a trend setting statement, ranging from the “opera” length (up to 36” inches) to collar style or chokers.

    Many famous pieces of jewelry were created during this time, and Edwardian Era jewelry holds a charm to it that entices your eyes. It is simple yet intricate, and captures your attention with beauty.

  • Victorian Era Jewelry

    September 2, 2020 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    Queen Victoria loved jewelry. It’s a historical fact.

    The so-called “Victorian Era”, named after the queen, is commonly considered to be the period between 1837-1901.

    Queen Victoria in different clothing and jewelry throughout her life








    This was an era of growth and strength, shaped by politics and by industrial revolution. The power and innovation in the air is reflected in the jewelry of the day in the most artistic way.

    Queen Victoria inspired and requested much jewelry, even designing some pieces herself. This interest propelled the market into the forefront of art forms at the time.

    Pieces like cameos became a staple, beautifully carved from shell, carnelian, agate and even lava rocks.

    Charm bracelets rose in popularity during this time, likely from Queen Victoria’s own bracelet comprised of charms she had specially commissioned to give as gifts to loved ones.

    With the world learning better and faster ways to produce items, chains and settings were easily crafted, sometimes mass produced, and made it more affordable for anyone to own a piece of jewelry. Victorian era jewelry often has intricate or unusual chains attached to the items as metalworking was boosted during the era.


    Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, died. The death shook the queen, and the world.

    For the rest of her life, Victoria chose to wear mourning clothes of black, and her jewelry began to reflect the emotional time.

    The world followed her trend and soon Victorian jewelry became a little heavier, a little darker. Materials like jet, a fossilized wood colored pitch black, became the most popular item to include in jewelry.


    Typical Victorian mourning brooch, made from Jet (image right). Source: Wikipedia Commons







    The entire era made jewelry into something more than simple decoration. It taught us to treasure these objects as tangible memories; charms to remember, cameos to capture time itself, designs to tug your senses.

    Queen Victoria loved jewelry, not only for its beauty but for its legacy as well.

  • What's in a name?

    April 3, 2020 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    They say; “A rose by any other name would not be as sweet.” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet)

    A romantic notion, and possibly true.

    But what about the names of the flowers of the mineral world?

    Would a ruby be as stunning if it were called something else? Would we find sapphire as alluring by another name? Would mysterious opal lose its’ intrigue under a different name?

    Many minerals are named after those who discovered them, or sometimes after the locations where they are found, and even sometimes because of their chemical composition.

    A name is as important as the gem themselves, so let’s look at a few favorite gemstones with whimsical tales to go with their perfect names.



    The definitive red gemstone, ruby’s name comes from that very fact. The modern name “ruby” is derived from the Latin word “ruber”, which means red.

    Prior to the Latin language, cultures had different names for this stunning gemstone. Possibly the oldest being “ratnanayaka”, a Sanskrit word meaning ‘king or leader (of) precious stones’. This is where ruby’s nickname of “The King of Gems” was born.

    Rubies were also grouped under the ‘carbuncle’ group of gemstones by Romans and Greeks. This group actually referred to any red stone, including garnets, rubies and spinels. The Roman word was “carbunculus”.

    There is no denying that ‘ruby’ is a much sweeter name then ‘carbuncle’ and much easier on the tongue then ‘ratnanayaka’.




    Blue hued sapphire appears to be destined to have that name. Latin, Greek and Hebrew names for this gem are all very similar. The modern name could come from any one of them.

    In Latin, it was called; “sapphirus”, in Greek it was known as “sappheiros” and finally in Hebrew they called it “sappir”.

    With so many similarities, its’ possible there was an older culture that gave the name and these were the resulting changes, but no one is certain. Some suggest that it could be the Sanskrit name “sanipriya”, which literally means; ‘dear to the planet Saturn’.

    This would make sense, as many writings attribute sapphire to the planet Saturn.

    Whatever the origin of the name sapphire, it was obviously the perfect name for this amazing blue stone.


    Emerald’s current name hails far from its original identity.

    The oldest recorded reference to what is believed to be emerald, listed the green beauty under the name of “smaragdoz”. This is a Persian word that would later be shifted to “smaragdus” in Latin.

    From there, it was then changed again to versions closer to our modern name, such as “esmeraude” and “emeraude”.

    The current spelling and pronunciation were first seen in sixteenth century manuscripts.

    Regardless of original name, the word ‘emerald’ is as constant as the shimmering stone itself, and not likely to change anytime soon.



    Truly a gem unlike any others, opal’s modern name is easily recognizable in its older forms as well, and accurate describes it.

    Greeks referred to it as “opalios”, which is believed to come from Sanskrit; “upala”. It means ‘precious stone’.

    With its somewhat magical appearance, it’s no surprise it was granted a name that cemented that fact. There is no denying that opals are precious, no matter what they are called.

    There is also evidence to suggest that “yarkastein”, a stone in Norse myth, might have been based upon real life opals, due to descriptions.





    Not all gemstones get their name from the ancients. Some are more recently named, like our next entry.

    George Frederick Kunz was an American mineralogist (1856-1932) and a noted gem enthusiast. He had an extensive collection of gemstones, and donated some from his private collections to museums.  Self-taught, he wrote a number of papers on minerals and gemstones.

    In 1902, he became notable for discovering a new type of the mineral spodumene. This gem-variety was a lightly toned pink-purple version and was named in his honor; Kunzite.



    Another, similarly named gemstone is Morgnaite. This lovely blush-colored member of the Beryl family is named after the banker, J.P Morgan.

    It was discovered in 1910 in Madagascar, and the mineralogist G.F Kunz (see above) purposed the name “Morganite” in honor of J.P.

    They were friends, and J.P Morgan was a gem collector himself as well as a donor to multiple museums and the arts.


    The name stuck, and the gemstones popularity continues to rise due to its’ charming pastel colors.



    No naming list would be complete without mentioning the rare and phenomenal Alexandrite.

    A special member of the chrysoberyl mineral family, this variety was discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1830. It stunned everyone by displaying a special trait; color-change.

    In different light sources, a fine Alexandrite will change colors between red (warm light) to green (cool light). While some gems show a more vivid change, every Alexandrite has to display the color change to be called by this name.

    Russians took to the gem right away, not only because of its’ beauty, but because it showed the two colors of the Russian flag; green and red.

    It was named in honor of the Czar, Alexander the II (1818-1881), and of course named their country’s national gemstone.

    Today, Alexandrites can also be found in Brazil and Sri Lanka, but nothing will ever change the one in a billion chance of the color mimicry of its’ home country’s flag.


    Gemstones all tell fascinating stories, and every day their lore expands, as does our love of these flowers of the mineral world.

  • Pantone's Color of the 2020

    December 10, 2019 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    Are you ready for 2020?

    This isn’t just a New Year. It’s a new decade.

    And a very futuristic sounding one!

    The Pantone Institute of Color is ready to look to the future, and recently announced their color of the year for 2020.

    Classic Blue (19-4052) is a primary color which Pantone says is reminiscent of the sky at dusk.

    The hue is deserving of the title ‘classic’ as it is a shade of blue that is the quintessential blue color, unmarred by undercurrents of violet or green. It is a little lighter than navy, but not as saturated as cobalt.

    Blue is a favorite color of many people, and has always been associated with feelings of calm and serenity. It is also a color of loyalty, intellect and thoughtfulness.


    The sky and the ocean, the truest embodiments of blue we see in the natural world, remind us that possibilities are endless, and to slow down and enjoy life.

    Pantone seems to agree, stating that this is a stable, dependable hue. A foundation for stepping into a new year.

    Blue pigments and dyes can be difficult to create, leading to patience and time-tested methods to produce the finest of colors.

    In many ancient cultures, blue coloring for clothes and paint was made using crushed gemstones such as lapis lazuli and azurite. Due to the nature of materials needed, and the skill in which it took to craft these pigments, blue was often a color reserved for those of high status.

    As for gemstones, the first stone to come to mind with this steady blue hue would be sapphire. The purest example of a sapphire, with just the right amount of darkness to make it rich in color.

    Sapphires are deserving of the title ‘classic’ as well, having been the premier blue gemstone since antiquity. Symbolically, sapphires are said to be a stone of truth, faithfulness and sincerity, reflecting the principals of Pantone’s color for 2020 very well.


    Other gemstones that echo this stable color would be indicolite tourmaline, another gem that is said to promote peace and mental awareness.


    Lapis lazuli and London blue topaz, although darker, are complimentary colors sharing similar traits.

    Classic Blue pairs well with yellow and white metals, leading to a fine example of the two-tone trends already seen in the jewelry industry. The blue color is definitive enough to lead to many design choices, and could be accented by warm or other cool tone gemstones.

    The possibilities of this color in fashion are endless, as are the possibilities in this new decade we step into.

    Blue is a color that calms and stimulates the mind. This appealing shade furthers this notion by providing a standard hue that everyone can relish.

    It is bold without being overpowering, subtle without being lost, and enhances other colors without overshadowing them.

    Classic Blue is sure to cause a bit of nostalgia in some, and hopefully a splash of new ideas and creative endeavors in all.


    2020 is right around the corner.

    The start of a new decade.

    The start of the future.

    Take a deep breath, grasp that Classic Blue vibe and step into your tomorrow.


    Happy New Year!

  • Living Coral - Pantone's Color of the Year 2019

    January 3, 2019 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
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    Pantone’s color of 2019 has been announced as Living Coral!

    This bold, energetic and dynamic color is sure to liven things up for the new year!

    Pantone calls Living Coral “sociable and spirited” and says that it is a nurturing color.

    This blended hue of orange and pink creates a bright spot in our everyday lives. Cheerful and shocking, it lends itself well to all aspects of fashion, décor and graphic design.

    While coral is a vibrant color, it’s compliment color of teal is equally so.

    The first known written use of the word “coral” to describe a color was in 1513, and the use of “coral pink” was in 1892. Since then, the term “coral” for color, has been used to described reds, oranges, and pinks, as well as mixed colors from those components.

    The color appears in fashion as well as the natural world. Flowers and of course, the namesake of the color, come to mind instantly.

    Coral colored roses are said to mean enthusiasm, while other flowers like peonies and dahlias, along with more tropical plants, boast matching tones.

    Gemstones, of course, are no different.

    Rhodochrosite and Padparadscha Sapphire match Living Color almost perfectly, with their lively blend of just the right amount of pink and orange.

    Other gemstones to consider are other sapphire colors, hues of topaz and spinel, as well as certain garnets.


    Rhodochrosite embodies the feeling of Living Coral with its color and the belief that it is a powerful stone for opening your heart once more. It is said to heal emotional wounds and be a guide for finding love.

    Padparadscha is a high energy stone with an exotic look. The name comes from the Sanskrit word for “lotus”. And indeed, some lotus blossoms exhibit Living Coral excellently!



    The mix of emotional colors like orange and pink strikes a cord and radiates energy. It’s a striking duality of pink, a soft hue, and orange, a daring hue. The combination is calming yet inspirational.

    Living Coral reminds us that the world around us is alive, filled with wonder and magic, if we only take a few moments to look. The color dives deep into our hearts, beckoning an appreciation for life’s moments and worthwhile memories.

    According to Pantone, they chose this color for that very reason. In a world so immersed in technology, we all seek connections.


    Living Coral is a delight to the eyes and a light to the heart.

    What connections do you plan on making this new year?

    Happy New Year!

  • Spinel: The Coolest Gem You’ve (probably,) Never Heard Of

    July 31, 2018 - ADDED BY Isabelle Corvin
    1 comment

    An age-old case of mistaken identity masks the beauty of this stunning gemstone.

    Spinel is an oxide mineral that crystalizes in the cubic structure and has quite the mixed-up history.

    It is also the newest birthstone to be added to birthstone lists! August babies now have a choice between vivid peridot and alluring spinel.

    The word “spinel” comes from the Latin word Spinella, which means “little thorn” or “arrow shaped”. Spinel gems come in a wide range of colors and saturations, though perhaps the most infamous is the red variety.

    Red spinel was always grouped together with rubies, and sometimes garnets, in ancient cultures, since the rough (and even polished and cut,) crystals look so similar. In the modern age the gems can be separated, but much of spinel’s history is tied up in the lore of rubies.

    The oldest known spinel dates back to 100 BC, and was found in Kabul, Afghanistan, inside a Buddhist temple. Red and blue spinels were also being used in crafting by the Romans.

    The most famous spinel is also the most famous example of mistaken identity in all of gemological history.

    A “ruby” known as the Black Prince’s Ruby is our culprit. It is a red gem set in the Imperial State Crown of the British crown jewels. The gemstone is uncut, but polished, and weighs approximately 170 carats. The gem has never been removed from its original setting, so the weight is only estimated.


    This amazing gemstone, however, is no ruby.


    It is, in fact, a spinel.


    The Black Prince was the son of Edward III, and reportedly received the gem from Don Pedro the Cruel, King of Castille as a reward. Legend has it the spinel was one of the gems worn by Henry V on his helmet, and that it deflected a fatal blow and saved his life during the Battle of Agincourt.

    Whether true or not, the gem was thought to be ruby for many years, until technology and knowledge of gems improved enough to separate gems on more than mere color.

    This royal stone is not the only spinel in disguise; Empress Catherine II of Russia had a crown that bore an estimated 400 carat spinel in it. Queen Victoria likewise had a very dark red spinel called the Timur Ruby.

    It doesn’t help matters when spinel and ruby often form together in the Earth!

    In 1783 Mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle finally separated spinel from ruby, realizing that the two minerals were completely different.

    Further confusion arises with spinel’s true nature even now.

    Many pieces of inexpensive birthstone jewelry have an imitation of the true birthstone; something that looks like, but isn’t, the real thing. The majority of these are made with synthetic spinel, grown in a laboratory rather the ground, but boasting the same chemical make-up.

    The natural gem is lovely, but many only know of its’ synthetic counterparts.

    Each color of spinel is thought to provide different benefits to the wearer, from protection to enhancing creativity and kindness, to better cognitive abilities. Colorless spinel is rare, and no current mines exist that produce it.

    The most common colors seen in jewelry are red and blue, with the hues ranging from highly saturated to perfectly pastel.

    Other popular colors are yellows, purples and pinks, although the gem comes in every color. Black spinel is found in many pieces, and once again, is often confused for other black gems like hematite, black diamond and black onyx.

    The spinel is a gem of mystery and intrigue due to its’ rather unconventional past. But that doesn’t damper its’ beauty or dull its’ shine! The spinel is an enduring gemstone, and deserves a peek if you haven’t seen it before.

    The gem is mined in many locations, including Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (formerly Bruma) Brazil, Sweden, Pakistan and Russia, among others. It can even be found in the USA.


    Additionally, small crystals have been found on meteorites, a trait spinel shares with the other August birthstone, peridot.

    For a gemstone many have never heard of, it might be the most famous of all.

    It is the hidden star of the show, silently shining on as the world ignores it or mistakes it for another stone altogether.

    But spinel is worth a first, and second, glance. With spectacular colors, excellent durability and an amusing history, it’s the perfect addition to anyone’s gem and jewelry collection.


    Spinel truly deserves the title of The Coolest Gem You’ve (probably) Never Heard Of.

  • (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 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 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.



    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.



    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.

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