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There is something magical about the fall and precious Opal seems to be the best gemstone to reflect it. Opal is the modern birthstone for October and a gemstone gift for an 18th anniversary. It’s name is probably derived from the Sanskrit “upala”, meaning “valuable stone” and there is a theory that it comes from the Greek word “opallios”, meaning “to see a change of color.”

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Amethyst is making a rightful return to the forefront of jewelry.

Is purple a Valentine’s Day color? Maybe not, but it is the color of romance and passion and this year we can’t get enough of all shades of purple.  The gemstone of the February is Amethyst, - variety of quartz which is transparent and light to dark purple in color. And although amethyst is found on almost every continent the dark transparent and clean stones are relatively rare and always in demand. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence. 

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Colombian emeralds are enjoying an all-time high, and this trend to continue in 2014.

The emerald world as we know it today is primarily dependent on the production of gemstones from three sources: Brazil, Colombia and Zambia. Until very recently each country played a fairly static role in terms of market preference. Colombian emeralds dominated the high end, Zambian gems occupied the middle, and Brazilian stones were considered to be more commercial. While this positioning is still pretty much intact, there are always exceptions and some Zambian and Brazilian stones may rival even the best stones from Colombia.

Most emeralds are already included and fractured throughout and dealers  and cutters select the best and cleanest stones for faceting. There are  of course differences between individual stones, but there is no  important mining area that produces emeralds more stable or less included than stones from other deposits. This means that visible inclusions in emeralds are common and expected and emeralds are judged with a greater emphasis on color and transparency and included stones are accepted. While emeralds without eye-visible inclusions do exist, these stones are extraordinarily rare. Some inclusions in emerald are referred to as jardin, (meaning garden in both French and Spanish) and may consist of networks of tiny liquid filled inclusions and minute fissures that permeate the gem evoking the appearance of a lush garden. These inclusions also impart the emerald with a distinctive sometimes hazy appearance because they diffuse and spread light through the gemstone.

It was an ordinary jewelry photo shot of extraordinary Tahitian and Akoya pearl jewelry, when local ferret, known under the name of Tourmaline, sneaked in the set during the session break. He crawled to the stand, attracted by glowing pearls and other gemstones. The intentions were, clearly, a new acquisition. Perhaps he should of have a snack first, since whatever his plan was, it didn’t work, as he failed asleep in the middle of the treasure hunt. 

Whether natural or cultured, freshwater or saltwater - spherical or round pearls are the most difficult shapes to find and to cultivate. Harder to find, but easier to match and ideal for strands, round pearls are regarded as the most valuable in terms of shape. If the pearls are not round, they will still be judged on their symmetry. Deviations from the ideal will normally lessen the prices of pearls but if they are of exceptional color and luster they will still be very attractive and command corresponding valuations. Some people want rounds and others don’t care and some baroque pearls are exceptional and highly prized for their superlative colors and luster. Rules have exceptions and historically, some of the most valuable single pearls have not been round but drop shaped.

Which Garnet? Take a closer look at some of the most iconic garnets.

Garnet is not just the name of a low priced red gemstone assigned as the January birthstone and and associated with the 2nd anniversary of marriage. In fact, Garnet is not a single mineral, but a family of at least six related and cross-mixed varieties available in almost every color of the spectrum and in a price range for every budget.

Colorful Garnet Family: Almandite, Blue Garnet, Demantoid, Hessonite, Malaia Garnet, Mali Garnet, Pyrope, Rhodolite, Spessartite, Tsavorite.

 

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Natural zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia, a laboratory-grown diamond simulant. However, it is important to note that natural zircon and cubic zirconia are related in name only.  Zircon is a naturally occurring gemstonewhile cubic zirconia (CZ) is a low cost synthesized material.

The wide variety of colors of Zircon includes warm autumnal earth tones such as yellowish and reddish brown. Red and green zircons have market value as collectors’ stones There are also colorless zircons and most popular, blue zircon, almost always the result of heat treatment, comes in a range that includes very slightly greenish blue, greenish blue, and very strongly greenish blue.

Chrysoprase is sometimes referred to as “Australian Jade” due to its resemblance to Burmese imperial jadeite. The best chrysoprase is said to come from the Marlborough area of Queensland, but these translucent blueish green stones from the Yerilla deposit in Western Australia are exceptional.

The deposit is located some 100 miles north of Kalgoorlie and has been mined sporadically since 1995. The chrysoprase at Yerilla occurs in swarms of green throughout an ironstone caprock. It is found as ellipitcal pods from a few centimetres in length to longer seams of up to one meter in long. Veins of white to grey chalcedony and bright green chrysoprase along with nodules of white magnesite are intertwined in gem bearing layers. Antigorite, quartz, and magnesite specimens are also present.

Purely abstract in shape, this lot of natural (not cultured) pearls is destined to be a collector’s item, or set as the centerpiece in a very unique and truly high fashion statement jewelry. Quality natural baroque pearls are very rare and if we count all the pearls we went through to compose this lot, it would be in the thousands. Each pearl has its own unique skin color which is a result of complex interactions between the environment and host organism, but only the ones with a thick nacre and certain irregular shape will reveal an outstanding luster and a flow of iridescent shades so alive, that it should be called “Angel Fire”.

Gaius Plinius Secundus, a Roman naturalist and natural philosopher, described opal as: there is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald - all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendour rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulphur or of fire quickened by oil.

The traditional view is that the best alexandrite, shifts from emerald green to ruby red, but this hardly ever occurs. Most alexandrite gemstones seem to show a good green in daylight or a beautiful red under incandescent light but few stones look good under every kind of light. Good quality alexandrite is teal, emerald, or blue-green under natural daylight or fluorescent lighting that ideally changes to purple-red or red under regular incandescent light. Often a slightly grey, blue/violet/purple is seen.

Alexandrite is a trichroic gemstone which may absorb and reflect light differently in each of its three optical directions. However, it is not the trichroism that is responsible for the remarkable color change, like in this Brazilian alexandrite trillion weighing  0.55 carat. The color change phenomena is a result of the presence of chromium +3 ions and the way they are absorbed and reflected. In rubies the chromium absorption band is around 550 nanometers and in emeralds, the band is around 600nm. In alexandrite, where the band is at 580nm and right between ruby red and green emerald, the stone is balanced between them. When the light is balanced (daylight), the stone will be green but when the light source is reddish (incandescent), the stone appears red.