Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Caring for your jewellery

Jewellery Storage
All jewellery should be stored individually - storing more than one piece of
jewellery in a container or pouch is destructive, as the pieces will scratch
and abrade each other. Diamonds can scratch any other gemstone; and rubies
and sapphires can scratch other softer gemstones, such as emeralds, opals,
and pearls. The shiny lustre of gold surfaces can be scratched by constant
abrading with other gold or gemstones. It is recommended that each piece be
wrapped or packaged individually before being placed in a common container.

Cleaning
Jewellery can get discoloured and dirty - clean your jewellery through a
jeweller or ask an expert to recommend cleaning for that particular type of
jewellery. Cleaning methods will differ according to the type of jewellery
and the stones it contains.

Care of Diamonds and Gemstones
Take care of your jewellery - don't wear it when you are doing housework or
other activities which might damage the piece.

Gems and precious metals are gifts of nature which need special care. Even
though a gem may be millions of years old, once mined and worn, it is
exposed to conditions and chemicals that can damage it. The harder the gem,
the less vulnerable it is to potential damage. Hardness is based on a
gem-trade standard called the Mohs Scale, developed in the early 19th
century. A diamond, for example, is the hardest gem known to man, one of the
reasons why "it is forever."

Diamonds and other gemstones, in spite of their hardness, can be damaged,
chipped or even shattered if struck against a hard surface with sufficient
force. So naturally, rings should be removed when working around machinery
or during other work that might damage them, including working with harsh
chemicals. It is also advisable to have the mounting checked once a year to
make sure it has not become loose. This service is provided gratis by most
jewellers.

Pearls - Always store your pearls separately from other jewellery. Ideally,
pearls should be stored in a pearl box, pearl pouch, or a soft cloth.
Perfumes and body powders can be detrimental to pearls: the alcohol in
perfumes and the talc in powders can abrade the delicate nacre of pearls,
diminishing their lustre. It is not recommended to wear your pearls in the
shower or in swimming pools as certain chemicals can be too harsh on the
pearls.

Gold, silver, and platinum are only Mohs 2-1/2 to 4, which means that they
require special care when wearing, storing, or cleaning.

To preserve your jewellery
1. Don't wear fine jewellery when doing housework or gardening.
2. Store each piece separately.
3. Check for loose stones frequently by gently tapping the piece with your
finger near your ear. Get pearls restrung every two years or annually with
frequent use.
4. Clean fine jewellery often to maintain its sparkle and beauty.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gemstones, the Significance of Colour

Our response to colour is actually much more complex than most people
realise. It's a mixture of instinct, cultural conditioning and the
result of personal experiences and associations. We can see
instinctive responses in nature, warning colours like red, orange and
acid green are associated with being poisonous and animals have
evolved to avoid those colours (as other animals have evolved to mimic
those warning colours as self-protection. Associations of colours
naturally come from our environment too, the blue of the sky, the gold
of the sun, the green of grass, the red of blood and orange of fire,
all produce memories and emotions. However, the memories and emotions
about fire colours for example would be very different for someone who
associates them with a log fire on an winter evening and someone who
has had the isfortune to be caught in a house or car fire. Often
negative memories mean a "gut response" to a colour; the person might
not even be aware on a conscious level why they just "don't like" a
colour. These individual responses are one of the reasons why you
should wear colours and jewellery that you are drawn to, rather than
wearing things that you are "told" are right for you. You can't feel
confident and relaxed in clothes that you don't feel comfortable in.

One of the biggest cultural differences in the symbolism of colour is
with black and white. In the West white is the colour of purity,
innocence and marriage, in the Eastern traditions white is the colour
of mourning and grief, while black is the colour of funerals and death
in the West.

The power of colour to enhance or detract from our appearance is very
marked, if you have ever experienced having a personal colour analysis
session you can't have failed to be amazed how with some colours
draped round your neck you look old, wan and even lopsided! Yet with
others, you look younger, prettier and more vibrant. Basically, what
colour analysis does is to examine your natural skin tone and classify
it as "cool" fair complexion with a cool bluey undertone or "warm"
where your skin tones are peachy to golden yellow. This dual
classification is then subdivided once more according to how intense
your other colouring (eyes/hair) is. Of the two cool skin tones the
darker colouring is termed "Winter", she has dark, black or steel grey
hair and looks best in clear, bright, true primary colours. The
"Summer" person has ash blonde to mid brown hair, they look best in
clear cool, subtle shades. The two warm skin tone classifications are
"Spring" and Autumn". Autumn people have dark brown hair with reddish
lights, they look best in warm, earth like tones which work with the
natural glow of the skin. Spring people have lighter hair, normally
blonde or red and look best in the lighter, warm colours. Although
this may seem a very prescriptive way to choose outfits it doesn't in
fact mean you can't wear any colours, it's just the shades you need to
be careful of.

I'm going now to look at the colours of gemstones and detail some of
the associations with stones of particular colours.

Blue Gemstones
Blue Agate, Lapis Lazuli, Tanzanite, Sapphire, Topaz, Chalcedony,
Iolite, Sodalite, Azurite, Blue Tourmaline, Spinel, Aquamarine, Blue
Goldstone and Blue Moonstone are all blue stones. Blue is said to
induce calm, peace, creativity and serenity in the wearer. It is also
linked to clarity of mental thought, inspiration and helps with
meditation.

Yellow Gemstones
Amber, Citrine, Carnelian, Sapphire, Garnet, Tigers Eye, Topaz, Beryl,
Jasper and Tourmaline all have yellow forms. Yellow stones are said to
draw attention to the wearer and build self esteem and confidence.
Like the sun they illuminate, warm and cheer the wearer.

Orange Gemstones
Coral, Chalcedony, Zircon, Citrine, Sardonyx, Sapphire, Garnet, Fire
Opal, Amber, Sunstone, Carnelian, Topaz, and Agate all have orange
forms. As with yellow stones, the flamboyance of orange draws
attention to the wearer, it is linked with creativity, energy and
sexual ttractiveness. It's a "notice me"! "Pay attention" colour to
wear.

Red Gemstones
Garnet, Ruby, Poppy Jasper, Sponge Coral, Sapphire, Red Jasper, Beryl,
Tourmaline, Alexandrite and Spinel all have red forms. Red is
associated with excitement, energy and passion. It's bold, fiery and
linked with courage. A red gemstone is probably the most popular
choice for jewellery because of it's boldness and eye catching quality
(red and orange are the colours that we see first at a distance).

Green Gemstones
Tsavorite Garnet, Opal, Sapphire, Malachite, Serpentine, Jade,
Peridot, Gaspeite, Tourmaline, Emerald, Jadeite, Jasper, Zircon,
Beryl, Adventurine,Topaz and Alexandrite all have Green forms. Green
because of its vegetative associations is linked with fertility and
wealth, it is also said to the be most relaxing colour of all to look
at and hence to be soothing and calming to wear.

Violet
Flourite, Amethyst, Charoite, Suglite, Jasper, Tanzanite, Garnet,
Sapphire, Topaz, Agate, Chalcedony, Tourmaline and Spinel all have
purple/violet forms. Purple has been associated for centuries with
royalty, power and wealth, more recently it has been liked with
spirituality, creativity and insight.

Black
Onyx, Agate, Snowflake Obsidian, Jet, Black Spinel, Black Pearl,
Haematite. Black or the absence of colour/light has many symbolisms,
the colour of mourning and grief, the colour of high fashion and chic,
sexy dressing. In jewellery, black stones are said to protect the
emotions of the wearer from being displayed, allowing the wearer to
remain mysterious.

Aqua/Turquoise Stones
Aquamarine, Topaz, Turquoise, Amazonite, Opal, Tourmaline, Apatite.
The colour of water or of the sea these stones are loved for their
associations with the coolness and cleanliness of pure water.
Blue/green stones are said to promote feelings of tranquility and help
with meditation as well as inspiring creativity in the wearer.

Pink
Beryl, Kunzite, Sapphire, Rubellite Garnet, Pink Jasper, Tourmaline,
Rose Quartz, Topaz, Pink Pearls, Strawberry Quartz, Champagne Quartz.
Pink has many of the same qualities as red, only as you would expect,
they are gentler and more muted. Said to help with feelings of anger
and isolation. Pink represents friendship, love and trust.

White/Clear Stones
Diamond, Sapphire, Opal, Moonstone, Topaz, Pearls, Beryl, Zircon.
White and clear stones represent purity and truth and are often used
as protective stones. Associated with the moon and femininity they are
often given to celebrate loving landmarks in peoples lives such as
engagements, weddings and anniversaries.

Brown Stones
Amber, Agate, Smoky Quartz, Topaz, Sapphire, Diamond, Tourmaline,
Zircon. Brown is the colour of the earth and the simple truths in
life. Brown stones are said to promote wisdom, health, gravitas and
stability in the wearer.

To summarise then, colour is a very powerful tool to use in projecting
yourself to other people. It is also helpful in creating a desired
mood or feeling through its personal associations. Use it with care!!

Jewelry from 3000 BC Egypt to the 21st Century

Egypt The use of gold jewelry can be dated back to Egypt 3000 BC. Gold
was the preferred metal for jewelry making during ancient times. It
was rare, it was easy to work with, and it never tarnished.
Magnificent bracelets, pendants, necklaces, rings, armlets, earrings,
collars, and head ornaments were all produced in ancient Egypt, the
land of the Pharaohs.

In 1922 Howard Carter's excavations led to the discovery of
Tutankhamun's tomb and many gold artifacts, all showing the art work
of ancient Egypt. Greece In ancient Greece, gold beads in the shape of
shells, flowers and beetles were very common. In Northern Greece
beautiful necklaces and earrings have been excavated from burial.

By 300 BC the Greeks were using gems such as emeralds, garnets,
amethysts and pearls. They also created colored glass stones and
enamel stones. Carved agate cameos and gold filigree work were widely
made. Italy The Italian Etruscans produced granulated textured gold
work. They made very large, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. They
were also known for producing hollow gold pendants that were filled
with perfume. Even today the Italians are still known for the quality
gold jewelry.

Rome The Romans used 18 and 24 carat gold for their coins. Coinage
gold was readily available so it was popular with craftsmen for
decorative jewelry. Over 2000 years ago the Romans were using
sapphires, emeralds, garnets, and amber in their jewelry. Europe
During the 13th century the Medieval Sumptuary Laws were enacted which
put a cap on luxurious jewelry and clothing. The town folk of France,
banned from wearing girdles made from pearls or any other gemstone.
They were also banged from wearing gold or silver. Similar laws
existed in England banning artisans from wearing gold and silver.

These laws show how fine jewelry had spread beyond nobility to the
town folk. Real and Fake Gems and Pearls For as long as mankind has
existed gems and jewels have been used as token of ones love for
another. While many pieces of jewelry existed adorned with fine gems
and made from precious metals, there was also some very good fake
jewelry. True gemstones and pearls originated in the east and they
were bought mainly by the Italians. The Italian merchants then sold
the jewelry to the Europeans. High quality glass imitations were often
used and sold with the intent to deceive.

These high quality glass stones were often used in the Royal funeral
robes and in children's jewelry. Valued more than gemstones, were the
flawless, round, natural white pearls. South India provided some of
the finest pearls. The Italians were able to make quality imitation
glass gems and pearls that could only be identified by a gemologist.
There is historical proof that recipes for false pearls existed as far
back as 1300.

White powdered glass was mixed with albumen and snail slime to produce
imitation pearls. Earrings and Dress Jewelry During the 17th century
woman always wore earrings, whether they were dressed or undressed. It
was very acceptable to wear faux pearls and paste gem earrings during
the day saving fine diamond jewelry and gem jewelry for evening
attire.

Dress ornamentation decreased in size. Sleeves or skirts were often
decorated with matching brooches. During the 16th it was very
fashionable to wear large quantities of pearls. Both jewelry to
clothing accessories were adorned with pearls.

During the 17th century Jaquin of Paris patented a method of making
fake pearls. Hollow blown glass balls were coated with varnish mixed
with iridescent ground fish scales. The hollow balls were then filled
with wax to strengthen them. This discovery made Paris the main
producer of faux pearls for well over 200 years. Paste is a compound
of glass containing white lead oxide and potash. Paste jewelry was
very common in the later part of the 17th century.

The highest quality and most long lasting paste jewelry was produced
after 1734 by Georges Strass. Paris lead the production of faux gems
[paste] and faux pearls. Just about any kind of fake gem could be
made, including fake opals. After 1760 the production of fake jewelery
spread to London and to Birmingham. During the industrial revolution
steel was produced in large quantities so it was easily available.

It was ues for setting marcasite and jasper ware cameos. Glass and
Wedgwood porcelain paste cameos were made in English factories and
were also very popular.

The fashion from this era also included ornate shoe buckles of paste,
steel and tin, elaborate paste jewel buttons, as well as semi precious
for day wear. Empire Jewelry In 1804 Napoleon emerged as Emperor of
France, resulting in a revival of jewelry and fashion as a new court
of pomp. 'Joailliers' worked fine jewelry and 'bijoutiers' used less
precious materials. The members of the new French imperial family had
the former French royal family gems re-set into the latest
neo-classical style. The new trends soon found their way to Europe,
particularly England. The main influence for design was the Greek and
Roman.

Parures and Cameos Parures were a matching suite of coordinating
precious gems which could include a necklace, a comb, a tiara, a
diadem, a bandeau, a pair of bracelets, pins, rings, drop earrings or
and cluster stud earrings and possibly a belt clasp. A full parure
consisted of a minimum of four pieces. A demi parure consisted of
three or less pieces. Both Josephine and Napoleon's second wife had
magnificent parures. Once Napoleon's cameo decorated coronation crown
was seen, cameos became the rage. Cameos were carved from hard stone,
conch shells and even from Wedgwood porcelain.

Victorian Jewelry In 1837 when Queen Victoria came to the throne
jewelry was romantic and nationalistic. It focused on European folk
art, which later influenced the Arts and Crafts Movement. Until mid
century most western jewelry came from Europe, with some jewelry being
produced in North America and Australia.

Mass production of mid Victorian jewelry in Birmingham, Germany and
Providence, Rhode Island resulted in lower jewelry standards.
Victorian women rebelled when they saw some the poor quality of much
of this machine made jewelry. Woman rebelled by wearing no jewelry at
all, or buying from the emerging artist craftsman. Some jewelers like
Tiffany recognized a niche market and began to make fine jewelry of a
very high standard, opening shops in main European cities.

Mourning Jewelry During the Victorian era mourning jewelry was very
fashionable. The initial months of mourning were unadorned by jewelry
of any kind. As the mourning rituals increased, mourning jewelry
developed as a fashion item.

Queen Victorian wore a great deal of jet mourning jewelry after Prince
Albert's death. Jet from Whitby, North of England was set into
mourning pieces. All types of material that were black were used and
almost all included a lock of the dead loved one's hair. Hair was also
plaited, braided or twisted very tightly until it became hard and
thread like.

Arts and Crafts Jewelry During the 1870s the Arts and Crafts movement
evolved as a reaction to mass produced shoddy goods and inferior
machine made products which were a result of the industrial
revolution. William Morris and John Ruskin were both leaders of the
arts and crafts movement in England. They promoted simple Arts and
Crafts of designs based on floral, primitive or Celtic forms worked as
wallpapers, furniture and jewelry. The polished stones used in Arts
and Crafts jewelry gave a medieval, simpler, gentler, tooled hand made
look and feel to items.

Art Nouveau The Art Nouveau followed the arts and crafts movement
resulting in a new jewelry look. The movement began in Paris and its
influence went throughout the Western world. Art nouveau jewelry had
curves, sinuous organic lines of romantic and imaginary dreaminess.

It was very ethereal turning into winged bird and flower forms.
French, René Lalique was the master goldsmith of the era of Art
Nouveau producing exquisite one off pieces. Today, the Art Nouveau
style is still admired, sought after, and copied.

Pearls Various combinations of pearl necklaces come in and out of
fashion with regularity so pearls too are a must. Today pearls are
still a wardrobe essential. Both faux pearls and cultured pearls are
very affordable today. Since the opening of trade with China in the
1990s, many pearls are imported from China dropping the price to about
1/3 of what it was prior to China entering the market.

The Japanese have suffered disease in their pearl beds as well as
facing competition and are finding it hard to compete with China's
prices. Pearl necklaces and pearl earrings can lift a complexion and
bring light and radiance to the face taking years off a woman whatever
her age. They have been a wardrobe staple for centuries, and a wedding
attire tradition.

Cultured pearls have become very affordable, and faux pearls are very
cheap and the quality can be excellent. Currently Pearls are a very
"hot" fashion statement and with the modern twist of being interspaced
on gold wire or floating on special synthetic cord they are essential
to the millennium look. Cocktail Jewelry During the 1920s Lalique mass
produced and designed high quality glass jewelry. Fake, or costume
jewellery was sometimes then called cocktail jewelry. Costume or
Cocktail jewelry was greatly influenced by designers such as Coco
Chanel, and Elsa Shiparelli as well as a host of other designers.

These two designers were particularly known for encouraging clients to
mix their fine jewelry and costume jewelry. Both designers offered
imagination and fun and both often sported fabulous fakes. In the late
1930s Napier of the USA was at the forefront of manufacturing fake
cocktail jewelry offer glamour and escapism. Today, Napier still
produces excellent contemporary costume pieces.

Hollywood Influence By the 1940s and 1950s American culture was very
dominant in Europe. The influence of movie films and the prominence of
film stars set the fashion stage for womens make-up, hair and
wardrobe. People wanted copies of outfits and jewelry worn by the
actresses. Women believed that the glamour of Hollywood would rub off
on them if they dressed and looked like the glamorous Hollywood
actresses.

During the Second World War metals were rationed, halting the
production of fine jewelry. Quality costume jewelry picked up the now
defunct fine jewelry market. Costume jewelry flourished becoming an
acceptable alternative to fine jewelry.

1980's Television Influences Jewelry During the 1980s with the
evolution of glitzy television soaps such as Dynasty and Dallas,
costume jewelry once again became a "hot" fashion statement. With over
250 million viewers, it didn't take long for costume jewelry to be
reborn. Glitz and sparkle by day was not only acceptable, it became
the norm. Earrings grew to an unbelievable size, as did other pieces
of jewelry. By the 1990s this sparkly dazzling jewelry phenomena was
dead, replace with tiny real diamond studs or a fine stud pearls. 21st
Century Jewelry For the 21st century women believe a mix is good. Fine
jewelry combined with costume jewelry are wardrobe essentials. The
sophisticated women of this century know what they want from their
jewelry and how to wear it to make their fashion statement.

They recognize that costume jewelry can liven up their wardrobe. The
types and quality of costume jewelry has grown enormously. Today one
can purchase what is classified as fine costume jewelry which is
usually plated at least seven times with 10 22 ct gold. Swarovski
crystal set in gold are common accessories, and cubic zirconium, man's
imitation diamond, can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of real
diamonds allowing every women to add diamond styled jewelry to their
wardrobe.

Ciro, Adrian Buckley, Butler and Wilson, Swarovski Crystal Jewelry
Napier, Joan Rivers, Joan Collins, Christian Dior, California Crystal,
Property of A Lady and of course Kenneth J Lane to name just a few
continue to produce high quality fashion jewelry for today's women.
Costume jewelry can take you from the board room to a night out of
dining and dancing to your most intimate evening. It can make you look
your best for your wedding, or a day at the beach. You can make Your
Fashion Statement! With costume jewelry.

How to buy art jewelry you will actually wear?

In the past you have done it. You have bought something you would
never wear. It may have been cloths, shoes, or jewelry but it is
always disappointing. Choices can be so overwhelming that you buy
something that seems like a good idea at the time but than you get
home and you wonder why you bought it. Art jewelry comes in many
styles. Murano glass jewelry, semi precious stone jewelry (including
amber and Larimar), shell jewelry, and sterling silver, are just a few
of the types available. Sometimes choosing just one piece or even a
few pieces can be overwhelming so here are a few guidelines that can
help.

1. Consider the size.

When you are walking in a cute downtown and you see a great piece of
art jewelry in the window you may just have to go into the shop. You
try it on and it looks great but than you start second guessing
yourself. Is it to big or to small? Try on the piece (or hold it up if
it is earrings). If the piece looks good on you it is not to big. Same
goes if you think it is to small. If you are shopping online you can
answer this question by reading the measurements of the piece. Get out
a ruler and a piece of paper and make the shape of the piece on the
paper using the size measurements given. Cut out the shape and than
you can hold it up. If the website does not give measurements you may
not want the piece unless you are not picky about size. Keep in mind
that just because something appears large or small on your screen does
not mean it looks that size at every monitor setting. It can be very
disappointing when that large amber pendant is the size of a dime or
that small delicate bracelet is 2 inches wide.

2. Consider the color.

If the art jewelry piece is metal or it is set in metal think about
what color it is. If it is silver and all your other jewelry is gold
you may not wear it and the reverse is also true. If it is a necklace
but you own no matching earrings ask yourself how often you will wear
the necklace with mismatching earrings. Mixing metals may not bother
you but be truthful with yourself. If you have never liked this look
before you probably will not start to. However if it is a piece that
you plan on wearing without other jewelry it may not matter as much.
So think about if you would wear the piece alone or with other jewelry
and consider what jewelry you could wear with it. Also if the main
part of the piece contains no metal (like several Murano glass
pendants) ask if the piece is available without the chain or on a
different chain. Other options for pendants can also be to put them on
different ribbons, cotton cords, or leather cords. Besides jewelry you
will need to consider what clothing to wear with the piece. Besides
the metal consider colors in the stone, glass, wood, or other
materials when you think about what clothing to wear with the piece.
Many people try to match colors in clothing exactly to their jewelry.
This can be a great look but it is not the only look. You can wear
lots of art jewelry pieces with black or white. Also you can wear art
jewelry with coordinating colors. Blue earrings might look great with
a purple sweater. Or pale green might look great with brown. Also
shades of a color are ok. If your sweater is dark blue it is okay to
wear a pale blue (like larimar) even if it is not an exact match.
Wearing different tones of the same color can often add interest to a
monotone outfit. If you are shopping online there are other
considerations to consider. Often colors can look different on
monitors than in real life. Also sometimes natural stones can have
variations within the same color. The description accompanying the
piece will often give a better idea to a true color than the picture.
If the picture looks red on your monitor but the description says it
is orange consider if you would like it in orange. Another thing to do
would be to check the web retailer's return policy. If you can return
it because you are dissatisfied with the jewelry for any reason you
could send it back if the color is different than expected. Just make
sure to pay attention to the number of days you have to return
something.

3. Consider if it is practical for your lifestyle.

Considering if a piece will work with your lifestyle is often a large
determining factor in how often you will wear a piece. Necklaces that
go around the front of the neck and than drape down your back are
wonderful for backless dresses. If you have a formal event coming up
these can be quite beautiful. If you have not been to a formal event
for many years it may be less practical. There are other less dramatic
examples of to consider like long earrings for mothers with babies who
like to pull on them. With earrings you should also consider weight.
Lots of times larger earrings can be surprisingly light so it is
always worth picking up a pair of earrings to see how heavy they are.
Again if you are shopping online this is a great thing to call the
store and ask or to check the return policy.

Art jewelry can be gorgeous and fun. Hopefully these guidelines will
help you buy great pieces of handmade jewelry you will wear and look
beautiful in. Jewelry is fun but only if it leaves your jewelry box.

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to identify a good gemstone?

What could be more tempting than a jewelry display packed with a rainbow of
brightly colored gemstones? Go shopping and you'll see natural, synthetic,
and imitation stones of every color, shape, and size. Can you tell one type
of stone from another? Here are some tips to help you understand the
differences so you can ask the right questions before you buy a colored
gemstone.

Natural stones are courtesy of nature, with no interference from humans.
Don't assume that just because it's natural a stone should carry a high
price tag. Prices are driven by desirability, quality, and availability. A
brilliantly colored ruby with "perfect" clarity will cost thousands of
dollars more than a garnet of similar quality. Become acquainted with the
gemstone market before you buy.

Most natural stones are treated to improve appearance. Heat and radiation
change or enhance colors. Diffusion deepens color, but only within a stone's
outer layers. Oil and waxes are used to fill-in surface-breaking fractures.
Some treatments are permanent--others are not. Treated gems can be a good
choice when you know what you are buying and pay a price that reflects a
stone's true quality.

Unlike diamond gemstone has individual value factors, and within each gem
variety, quality dramatically affects price: a ruby can be worth $10 or
$1,000,000.

First, the basics. Like diamonds, gemstone quality and value are evaluated
according to the "four Cs": color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. For ruby,
sapphire, and to a lesser extent emerald, country or origin also affects
value. Unfortunately, colored gemstones are also commonly treated, so that
also affects value for ruby, sapphire and emerald in particular.

Let's start with the most important gemstone value factors, color, clarity,
and carat weight.

Judging Color - Color is the key factor. But don't assume that the darker
the color, the better the stone. That isn't true: color can be too dark,
like some sapphires that look more black than blue. Think grass green, not
forest green. Fire engine red, not burgundy. The more bright and vivid the
color, the better.

When a color mixed with gray, white or black we use saturation and hue to
describe the color more deeply.
Saturation means the amount of gray in a color. The gray color has 100%
saturation and 0% saturation mean there are no gray color in a color.

Hue is color perceived to be red, purple, yellow, green etc., and white,
black and gray have no hue.

The tone of a color - Tone means the amount of black or white mixed in a
color. Tone describes as "very light", "light", "medium", "dark" or "very
dark".

Gemstones with high color grades and light-medium to medium-dark tones fetch
the highest prices.
In precise grading terms: clear, medium-tone, intense and saturated primary
colors are the most preferred. Pure blue, not greenish blue. Pure red, not
purplish red. Muted colors and colors between hues, which you might find
very attractive, are usually less expensive. Look at the color in different
kinds of light.

Judging Clarity - The amount or absence of inclusions or other imperfections
within a gemstone determines its clarity. A Clarity grade can be assigned to
a gemstone based on the amount of imperfections, their size, relief
(contrast and appearance), and location within a gemstone. Clarity is one of
the 4Cs used to grade Diamonds in the G.I.A. system of Diamond grading. We
use a clarity grading scale to describe the amount or absence of inclusions
within a gemstone.

clear transparent gemstones with no visible flaws are the most valued. There
is no standardized grading system for clarity: it varies by gem variety.
With colored gemstones, if the inclusion doesn't show in the face up
position, it generally doesn't matter at all. (unlike diamonds which are
graded upside-down at 10x magnification). Some varieties, notably emerald
and red tourmaline, are very rare without inclusions of some kind so the
price structure takes this into account. Pastel colored gemstones show
inclusions more, so they generally detract more from the value for pale
stones.

Carat Weight and Price - Carat is a metric unit of weight used in the
gemstone industry to describe how much a gemstone weighs. A carat is equal
to one fifth of a gram or it can be said that there are five carats in one
gram. The term points means a decimal fraction of a carat. A point is equal
to .01 of a carat. This can equate to one US dollar is equal to $1.00 and it
has 100 pennies or 100 points in one carat.

Gemstones are sold by weight, not by size. Prices are calculated per carat,
which is one-fifth of a gram. Some gems are denser than others so the same
weight stone may be a different size! For example a one-carat emerald is a
bigger than a one-carat ruby. Just like diamonds, the carat weight also
affects the price: large gemstones are more rare, so the price per carat is
higher. But practically, this doesn't make much of a difference with common
gems like amethyst, citrine and blue topaz. It really kicks in for ruby,
emerald, sapphire, alexandrite, tsavorite and demantoid garnet, Paraiba and
rubellite tourmaline, spinel, and pink topaz.

Judging Cut - In my opinion Cutting is in reality the number one item that
you need to be concerned about! Proper cutting is what gives a gemstone its
beauty and brilliance. Many people are confused about what a well cut
gemstone looks like. There are no big mysteries about judging good cutting,
it is very simple. When viewing a gemstone, looking at the table, a well cut
gemstone will be very bright across the entire surface. This brightness is
light being bounced around inside the gemstone and being reflected back to
your eye. You cannot see through a well cut gemstone because almost all
light is being reflected back towards your eyes. Poorly cut gemstones maybe
too shallow or too deep causing what is called a "window". Windows are some
thing that you are meant to look through and these are better left as
windshields in you car or as windows in your home. If you can see through a
gemstone looking from the table down towards the culet, the point on the
bottom, it has a window. If you can see through a gemstone it means that
light is passing through it, along with color and brilliance, it's gone.
Windows weaken the intensity of color and severely affect brilliance.
Gemstones with windows are not desirable, they lack beauty and brilliance.
You want gemstones that have "mirrors" that reflect back to you all of the
beauty and brilliance that is yours to enjoy, but only with well cut
gemstones.

A good cut is something that may not cost more but can add or subtract a lot
of beauty. A well-cut faceted gemstone reflects light back evenly across its
surface area when held face up. If the stone is too deep and narrow, areas
will be dark. If it is too shallow and wide, parts of the stone will be
washed out and lifeless. The best way to judge cut is to look at similar
gemstones next to each other.

Buy the best within your highest budget!

In general, gemstone pricing within each variety follows common sense: the
more beautiful the gemstone, with the final visual effect of all the quality
factors, the more valuable it is. Don't be afraid to choose what looks best
to you!

Different varieties have different price ranges. some varieties are lower in
price because they are readily available, some because the color isn't very
popular, some because the material is relatively soft, some because they are
too rare to create demand and some because no one has heard of them or they
have a weird name. You think I am kidding? Why does tanzanite cost more than
tsavorite or spinel? A pretty name is the only explanation.

Gemstone Treatments - Most gemstones are treated. If you want one, you
basically have to just get over it. Or buy a garnet, peridot, iolite,
spinel, chrysoberyl, or alexandrite, which are basically the only gemstones
that aren't doctored.

Country of Origin - Country of origin matters in the prices of high-end ruby
and sapphire. If a major lab says that a ruby is from Burma or a sapphire is
from Sri Lanka (Ceylon), it costs more than an identical stone without
confirmed origin. Are you buying a gem that is important, say $20,000 or up,
with a certificate? Then you need to think about origin. Burmese and Ceylon
(Sri Lanka) gemstones now command the top prices. If not, don't worry about
it other than the fact that it is kind of cool to know where a gem is from.

What is the best for you?

The Kings of the Gems - ruby emerald and sapphire. Expect to pay between
$250 and $10,000 per carat. Emerald and ruby cost more than sapphire,
particularly in large sizes.

Classics Collection - tanzanite, tourmaline, aquamarine, imperial topaz, and
tsavorite garnet These gemstones are sometimes available in standardized
sizes but fine stones are one of a kind and jewelry will have to be made
specifically for the stone. Prices range between $50 to $1,000 per carat,
with tsavorite easily reaching $3,000 per carat.

Connoisseur Gems - black opal, jadeite, pink topaz, chrysoberyl cat's-eye,
fancy colored sapphires, demantoid garnet and alexandrite. These gems are
sought after and prices range from $250 to $5,000 per carat, although
alexandrite with a good color change will command at least $10,000 even in a
one-carat size.

Collector Stones - spinel, zircon, moonstone, morganite and other beryls,
and many rare gemstones. Collector's gems are not available in quantity to
be marketed effectively so you get a lot of beauty for the money. Red and
hot pink spinels can command a few thousand per carat but most of the gems
in this category will sell for hundreds not thousands.

Affordable Gems - amethyst, white opal, citrine, ametrine, peridot,
rhodolite garnet, blue topaz, iolite, chrome diopside, kunzite, andalusite,
and ornamental gemstones such as lapis lazuli, turquoise, onyx, chrysoprase,
nephrite jade, and amber. These gems combine great color with reasonable
prices and good availability: prices for these gemstone range between $5 and
$100 per carat.

Sapphire Buying Guide

Blue Sapphire
Enduring and most popular color hue of the sapphire family comes in a wide
range of blue colors. With the exception of the rare and collectable
padparadscha sapphires, blue sapphires are thought of as the most desirable
and expensive of the entire sapphire family. Graduating in color from light
pastel blues all the way through to the depths of midnight blue, the most
beautiful blue sapphire colors and the highest values sit in the middle of
the blue-color range. While the pale blues and darker midnight blues offer
the purchaser the best value, the rare and captivating cornflower blues
offer the consumer unbeatable color with a captivating beauty - but at a
premium.

Padparadsha Sapphires
Sapphires that combine the three colors of pink, purple and orange in one
gem can resemble the famed and beautiful lotus flower known to the Sri
Lankans (Ceylon) as "padparadsha". Taking its name from the flower,
padparadscha sapphires are so rare and beautiful that they are highly prized
and valued by collectors and connoisseurs. Widely regarded as the most
valuable of all sapphires, prices can reach many thousands of dollars per
Carat.

Pink Sapphire
After the seductive tones of padparadsha and blue sapphire, the next most
highly valued member of the family is pink sapphire. Ambiguously sharing a
color border with ruby, many pink sapphires are so close to this boundary
they are termed as "hot pink" with prices being at a premium.

Yellow Sapphire
Ranging from pleasing butter like colors to intensely beautiful canary
yellows, yellow sapphires provide both beauty and value within the same gem.
Often under appreciated, yellow sapphires are frequently found in large
crystal sizes that can be obtained for surprisingly low prices. Arguably,
yellow sapphires offer the best value of the entire sapphire family.

Purple Sapphire
At their best, purple sapphires display rich purple-pink colors reminiscent
of orchids. Prized by collectors, purple sapphires offer the consumer
excellent value when compared to blue, pink and padparadscha sapphires.

Star Sapphire
Star sapphires have long been coveted for their beautiful and mysterious
optical effects. Glance at a star sapphire and you will see six or even
twelve rayed stars silently gliding across the gemstone's surface. With
their very bright and lustrous star formations, star sapphires have
traditionally been the most popular of all star gemstones.

Shape and Cut - Faceted sapphires (those with flat polished faces) are found
in a variety of shapes and styles. While ovals and cushion cuts are most
commonly seen, other shapes such as emerald cuts and hearts are not
uncommon. Slight premiums are levied upon round cut sapphires due to the
higher carat weight loss of expensive rough crystal during cutting.
Conversely, discounts are often applied to the value of both pear and
marquise cuts. A perfectly cut sapphire should exhibit good symmetry and
polish conditions, facets should be aligned straight in relation to the gem'
s girdle and also to each other, polish condition should be good with no
visible surface pits or polishing lines.

Heat treatment of Sapphires - Most sapphires seen on the market today have
been subjected to high temperatures in an age-old practice that is said to
have originated in Sri Lanka some 2,000 years ago. Sapphires are heated at
high temperatures to improve their clarity and to intensify their colors.
Without this practice, we would see fewer sapphires on the market today, at
far higher carat prices due to restricted and narrowed supplies. Heating
sapphires makes otherwise expensive gems, more accessible and more
affordable. The proportion of unheated sapphires on the market is small and
is widely thought to be less than 1%. Although no more beautiful, their
rarity makes them highly collectable and prices are set at a premium,
sometimes fetching triple the price paid for an equivalent heated sapphire.
When purchasing unheated sapphires, please be aware that unheated material
is rare, as a result, always purchase from a reliable supplier who
guarantees their gemstones or have the seller's claim verified by a
qualified expert.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Padparadscha sapphires

Padparadscha sapphires are a special variety of the gem class termed
corundrum. A natural padparadscha sapphire is a delicate color that
is a combination of pink/red and orange and the best specimens are
from Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Padparadscha is derived from the Sanskrit
word padmaraga meaning lotus flower: The petals of the finest lotus
blossoms are a blend of pink and orange.

Padparadscha sapphires are one of the world's most expensive gems,
with prices similar to those fetched by fine rubies or fine emeralds.
Prices for padparadscha sapphires are difficult to determine because
some sources value them at the highest range of a pink sapphire at
$3,125/carat, whereas others value them in their own category at up to
$30,000/carat.

Padparadscha sapphires tend to demand a greater clarity than an
equivalent ruby since an inclusion is more prominent in the
padparadscha sapphire. Nevertheless, an equivalent sized padparadscha
sapphire is much more rare than a ruby. Any fine padparadscha
sapphire greater than 2 carats is a real rarity. And a padparadscha
sapphire above five carats can be considered a world-class gem. The
largest gem quality paparadscha sapphire is 100.18 CT and can be found
in the New York's American Museum of Natural History. Furthermore,
only a handful of star padparadscha sapphires have been reported in
the world!

When buying a padparadscha sapphire make sure that the seller states
that the origin is from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the color is a red/pink
and orange, and that they seller mentions that the gem is "natural" or
"genuine." Recently, celebrities have been proposing with
padparadscha sapphires instead of the classic diamonds... and why not
since a fine padparadscha sapphire is much rarer than a diamond.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Export Procedures

Export Procedure for Gemstones and Jewellery Purchased in Sri Lanka:

A foreign buyer can export gemstones in two ways:
(1) Personally hand carry the gem stones or jewellery purchased - The buyer
will have to show proof that he has brought in or remitted the required
funds to purchase the items. The gemstones or jewellery can be personally
hand carried by the buyer and should be declared at airport customs on
departure. The buyer will have to present to customs all receipts for the
purchased items. There is no export duty to be paid.
OR:
(2) Seal the purchased gemstones or jewellery at the Sri Lanka Gem
Corporation and freight goods via a high value courier company such as
Malca-Amith or Brinks

Export procedure for foreigners:
(a) Commercial invoice should be prepared and handed over by the shipper to
the agent along with 10 copies manually signed.
(b) Customer should obtain a temporary Tax Identification Number (TIN
number) and G.S.T. number and register the same at the Customs department.
(c) Goods have to be sealed at the Gem and Jewellery exchange - in Colombo
or at the Katunayake Airport. A service charge of approximately 0.5% of the
invoice value will be applied.
(d) It is not necessary for foreigners to have a Gem Dealer license.
(e) If the customer obtains the temporary TIN number and G.S.T. number, all
other procedures can be handled by the courier company for a standard fee.

Shopping Advise - Buying gems and jewelry

Buying jewellery can be an enjoyable but daunting task. Identifying, let
alone valuing precious material, is no easy task even for the expert - and
the best way for you to be happy with your purchase is to be informed before
you buy.

Read on to learn some useful tips before making your jewellery purchase -

Useful Info On Selecting Gems & Jewellery

Buy from a trusted jeweller or one who has been recommended:
Ask around and get recommendations, ask friends for an introduction to a
jeweller that they are satisfied with. If this is not possible, check on the
jeweller through a government certifying body or some other authorising body
who has certified the jeweller.

A good jeweller will be clear and transparent in his explanation of the
piece and will guarantee that the product is what he/she says it is. Also,
the right jeweller will be there when the piece needs to be cleaned,
restrung or remounted.

Find out if the jeweller provides other services (such as assaying and
hallmarking) and check how their return or trade-up policy works. Finally,
ask if the jeweller is affiliated with one of the jewellery trade
organisations and also, if that association requires a code of conduct for
its members.

Value for money:
Ask around and window shop before you buy - do not be misled by huge
discounts, which may be a gimmick to attract people into the shop. Compare
jewellery prices before you buy. The lowest price is not an indication of
the best value; diamonds and coloured stones vary greatly in quality and
price. Although the price of diamonds is relatively standardised to size and
quality, coloured gemstones are not and if you are making a major purchase,
finding out the correct value of the piece is important.

The most accurate method of establishing value is through an appraisal from
an independent gemmologist preferably certified by an authorised body.
Prices can vary greatly on similar items from vendor to vendor. So, lacking
an independent appraisal, you should at least shop around and compare prices
on items of similar quality.

Gemstone and diamond quality is a major factor in calculating the accurate
value of a piece of jewellery. Get a detailed receipt giving materials,
weights and number of stones, sizes and quality. Also get a money back
guarantee if returned within a reasonable period so that you can have the
jewellery evaluated by an independent appraiser.

Look for the registered trademark and quality mark:
Whenever possible, look for quality marks such as hallmarks (which state the
karatage of gold in the piece) as well as certification for the stones.
There are also quality marks for silver and platinum - make sure your
jeweller either stamps his jewellery with a quality mark or has it assayed
and hallmarked by a central authority.

Get it in writing:
When buying fine jewellery, ask the jeweller to write a complete description
on your receipt. For gold jewellery, ask for the karatage; for diamonds, the
cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight (the weight of the centre stone and
total carat weight if there are side stones); for coloured stones, ask for a
description of overall colour and carat weight and if the stone is of
natural origin or has been treated in any way. All this information should
be included on the bill of sale.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Skills of Sri Lankan Jewellers

Sri Lanka has a long tradition in handmade jewellery - the skills of its
jewellers are generally confined to a particular caste and the skills passed
down from generation to generation.

Examples of Sri Lanka's traditional jewellery include the beautifully
handcrafted silver jewellery from the Kandy area.

Today, as jewellery exports increase, a greater number of jewellers are
creating cast jewellery - which is mass produced jewellery - aimed at the
export market.

Retailers: Gold manufacturers and retailers addressing the local market can
be separated into two distinct consumer focus groups; domestic customers
(mainly gold jewellery or pieces set with precious gemstones) and tourists
(jewellery with precious and semi-precious gemstones).

The Domestic Market - demands mainly gold jewellery in traditional designs
which are sold for weddings and special occasions. This segment is estimated
at US$50 million in annual sales.

The Tourist Market - prefer gem-set jewellery in contemporary designs.

If you are looking to buy jewellery in Sri Lanka, you will not be
disappointed because there's something for everyone. Glittering gold,
sizzling platinum, white gold, white, black and golden pearls, diamonds and
crystal - Sri Lankan consumers insist on the latest styles in jewellery.

Gold is the perennial favourite and the best seller - many consumers use
gold jewellery as a hedge against troubled times and inflation too. It is
also the traditional choice for wedding jewellery and most of the gold
jewellery sales in Sri Lanka are specifically for weddings and special
occasions.

Platinum is said to showcase certain gemstones, including diamonds, better
than other metals. While it was a favourite in Sri Lanka in the 1950s and
enjoyed a brief revival in the 1970s, platinum declined in popularity after
that, due to other external factors. However today, it is back in fashion
with many younger, more affluent customers asking for white metals,
especially platinum.

White gold is 18-karat gold with the contents of the alloy changed to give
the white colour. Platinum is a high value, extremely hard and shiny metal,
which actually costs about 50 percent more per gram than gold. It is highly
prized in Japan and the United States, where the traditional favourite for
wedding bands is platinum. Grades of platinum include Pt900, Pt950, and
Pt995 - these grades show the amount of pure platinum in your jewellery.

Sri Lanka is also home to a vibrant silver jewellery industry - in the
southern coast of the island, where many pieces are made for tourists as
well as for export. In the Kandy area beautiful silver jewellery is made in
very traditional styles, often with elaborate filigree work.

Silver jewellery is often a sector that shows the most innovation as well as
cutting-edge design trends because the relatively lower price of metal
allows designers and jewellery makers the freedom to experiment and design
more freely.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rare gemstones of Sri Lanka

The most world famous rare gemstones are from Sri Lanka.

Among the Several world famous rare gems, Sri Lanka's blue sapphire Weighing
466 carats. the largest known sapphire in the world. Other famous rare gems
include the Blue giant of the Orient, Weighing nearly 500 carats and the
bluebell of Asia, which weighs in at 400 carats. The renowned Sri Lankan
Star sapphire is on permanent display at the Museum of Natural History in
New York, but due to an oversight, the stone has been called the star of
India. The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the
rough is the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a
sparkling rare gem of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection
when acquired by a Saudi prince.

Throughout history Sri Lanka's gems and jewellery have adorned the crown
jewels of many royal families. A very very rare gem- a 105 carat cat's eye-
discovered in a paddy field in Sri Lanka, gained fame among the royalty of
Britain and was Successively Admired by Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII
and Queen Elizabeth.

Alexandrite, the rarest gem in the world is Sri Lanka it was first pound in
the Urals in 1830 and is named after czar Alexander II who come of age on
the day it was found. This stone shines green in natural light but turns
raspberry red in artificial light.

The cat's eye is another stone which is considered valuable and rare. It
derives its name from fact that a silvery line runs across its greenish-gray
surface, giving it a remarkable resemblance to the eye of a cat. The rarest
type is the black cat's eye.

The most rare gems of Sri Lanka

1. Andalusite: Mineral found in Sri Lanka. Mainly green in color.

2. Apatite: Blue-green, yellow, and violet.

3. Diopside: Generally green, some show cat's-eye effect.

4. Ekanite: First found in Sri Lanka in 1953 and named after the man who
discovered it, F.L.D. Ekanayake. Green in colour.

5. Cordierite: Gem variety called iolite and is generally blue, but can also
be yellowish-white or colourless.

6. Kornerupine: Pale brownish-yellow, green and colourless.

7. Sinhalite: Recognised in 1952 as a new mineral - first found in Sri
Lanka. Pale yellow, brown or greenish-brown.

8. Taaffeite: Identified as a new mineral in 1945 after it was found in Sri
Lanka by Count Taaffe

Rare gemstones of Sri Lanka

The most world famous rare gemstones are from Sri Lanka.

Among the Several world famous rare gems, Sri Lanka's blue sapphire Weighing
466 carats. the largest known sapphire in the world. Other famous rare gems
include the Blue giant of the Orient, Weighing nearly 500 carats and the
bluebell of Asia, which weighs in at 400 carats. The renowned Sri Lankan
Star sapphire is on permanent display at the Museum of Natural History in
New York, but due to an oversight, the stone has been called the star of
India. The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the
rough is the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a
sparkling rare gem of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection
when acquired by a Saudi prince.

Throughout history Sri Lanka's gems and jewellery have adorned the crown
jewels of many royal families. A very very rare gem- a 105 carat cat's eye-
discovered in a paddy field in Sri Lanka, gained fame among the royalty of
Britain and was Successively Admired by Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII
and Queen Elizabeth.

Alexandrite, the rarest gem in the world is Sri Lanka it was first pound in
the Urals in 1830 and is named after czar Alexander II who come of age on
the day it was found. This stone shines green in natural light but turns
raspberry red in artificial light.

The cat's eye is another stone which is considered valuable and rare. It
derives its name from fact that a silvery line runs across its greenish-gray
surface, giving it a remarkable resemblance to the eye of a cat. The rarest
type is the black cat's eye.

The most rare gems of Sri Lanka

1. Andalusite: Mineral found in Sri Lanka. Mainly green in color.

2. Apatite: Blue-green, yellow, and violet.

3. Diopside: Generally green, some show cat's-eye effect.

4. Ekanite: First found in Sri Lanka in 1953 and named after the man who
discovered it, F.L.D. Ekanayake. Green in colour.

5. Cordierite: Gem variety called iolite and is generally blue, but can also
be yellowish-white or colourless.

6. Kornerupine: Pale brownish-yellow, green and colourless.

7. Sinhalite: Recognised in 1952 as a new mineral - first found in Sri
Lanka. Pale yellow, brown or greenish-brown.

8. Taaffeite: Identified as a new mineral in 1945 after it was found in Sri
Lanka by Count Taaffe

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unique gems of Sri Lanka

The most world famous gemstones are from Sri Lanka.

Blue Giant of the Orient - 466 carats
Mined in Kuruwita in 1907, this giant blue sapphire is one of the world's
most valuable gemstones. In rough, it was said to have been over 600 carats
and was fashioned into a jewel of 466 carats. It is the largest blue
sapphire in the world. This gem is in the collection of an American gem and
art collector.

Logan Blue Sapphire - 423 carats
Considered to be the second largest blue sapphire in the world on record. A
flawless specimen with a rich deep blue, the stone was gifted to The
Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC by John Logan.

Blue Belle of Asia - 400 carats
Discovered in the paddy fields of Pelmadulla, Sri Lanka in 1926, the Blue
Belle is held in high esteem because of its peacock blue colour and
excellent clarity. Today, it is part of the collection of a British gem
investor.


Star of India - 563 carats
The second largest star sapphire in the world was discovered in Sri Lanka.
It is almost flawless and unusual in that it has stars on both sides of the
stone. Part of the collection of the American Museum of Natural history.

Star of Lanka - 362 carats
Third largest star sapphire on record. The phenomenal stone is a rich
deep-blue in colour and has a well-defined six-ray star. Owned by the
National Gem & Jewellery Authority in Sri Lanka.

Rosser Reeves Star Ruby - 138 carats
The world's largest star ruby combining excellent colour, good transparency
and a well-defined star. Part of the United States National Gem Collection
at the Smithsonian Institute.

Hope Cat's Eye - over 500 carats
Probably the largest chrysoberyl cat's eye in the world, it was previously
part of the collection of Thomas Hope, the wealthy British banker and gem
investor. This cat's eye is carved to represent an alter surmounted by a
torch. Exhibited at the British Museum of Natural History.

Ray of Treasure - 103 carats
The stone displays the most desirable qualities of a "milk and honey"
effect, with good transparency and a well-defined silvery star. An almost
flawless specimen, its cut and proportions are excellent. It is part of the
collection of the Sri Lanka National Gem & Jewellery Authority.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sri Lanka vs. Madagascar

No other country has yielded such an abundance of gems in terms of quality
and variety than Sri Lanka. In the past decade however, competition has
taken place and the new king ascending the throne of the new millennium may
be Madagascar.

The list of gem varieties from this new island source reads like a
gemological textbook. From A to Z, you can find an abundance of Amethyst,
Apatite, Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Beryl, Chrysoberyl (& Chrysoberyl Cat's
Eye), Diamond, Emerald, Flurite, Garnet (Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Green
and never heard of before 'blue'), Helidor, Iolite, Jadeite, Kunzite,
Liddicoatite, Morganite, Quartz, Ruby, Sapphire, Spinel, Topaz, Uvarovite,
Vesuvianite and Zircon. This is only a fraction of the list.

That is the upper end of the list, and there is also a huge selection of
translucent and opaque gems such as Rose Quartz, Labradorite, Petrified
Woods, Fossilized Shells, Common Opal, Jasoper and Agate, which are used for
beads, cabochons and carvings. We are really pushed down to the second place
as we haven't got valuable varieties (traditionally called precious gems)
such as Diamond, Emerald and even Alexandrite and Ruby are rarely found now
in Sri Lanka, where as they are abundant in Madagascar.

Although Tourmaline and Garnet are considered semi-precious according to the
tradition, Pink Tourmaline, Chrome Tourmaline (Green), Blue Tourmaline (Also
known as Parabiba Tourmaline, after the first discovery at Paraiba in
Brazil), Tasvorite (Green Garnet) are priced much more than blue sapphires
(sometimes around US$ 15000-20000/carat) in the international gem trade.

We do not have those beautiful coloured tourmalines or Garnets that they
have. So is it not true that Sri Lanka is producing more than 70 varieties
of gemstones? It is true but about 97% of our gem exports by value
constitute of Sapphire (80), Cat's Eye (10), Alexandrite (5), Ruby (1) and
Topaz (1). All the other varieties together are less than 3% whereas in
Madagascar, the earlier mentioned varieties are in abundance.

With so much interest in the new discoveries in Madagascar, researchers and
traders have turned into Madagascar like never before. Text books on
Gemology are being revised like annual publications. Nowhere is quite like
Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island is nine times the area of Sri
Lanka with a population of 15 million people. It is the neglected, funny
looking cousin of a continent isolated about 200 million years ago during
the continental drift. The island developed a diverse and bizarre ecosystem
with 97% of all non-flying life forms, exclusive to the island.

One of the strange species have in fact given the place little fame it has
enjoyed in the past. Lemurs, perhaps the cutest of all primates, with
colorful dog-money faces were more famous than the many other things in the
island until gems of all kinds were found recently. There from north to
south and east to west, one can hardly find a place without gems.
Comparatively in Sri Lanka where there are not many rivers flowing to north,
north-west or north-east, and also there are no gem bearing source rocks,
north-east is virtually devoid of gem deposits.

During the past few years, almost all the restrictions for the gem trade
have been removed in Sri Lanka. One of the noteworthy moves was the removal
of duty and tax on the import of rough and cut and polished gemstones
including diamonds. This was done in order to make available raw materials
to sustain the gem cutting industry in Sri Lanka and also to attract foreign
buyers who would not only arrive here for buying Sri Lankan gemstones but
also what is not produced in Sri Lanka. So that a buyer need not go to many
countries to purchase their requirements.

Having learnt about the potential of gem resources in Madagascar, I
organised a gem trade delegation to that country in April 1999 as Chairman
of NGJA. The delegation consisted of 18 leading gem traders and officials of
the Sri Lanka Gem Traders' Association, Sri Lanka did not have diplomatic
ties established at that time, and due to poor communication facilities
there, it took nearly four months to make the tour a reality. Fortunately
for us one of my many correspondences to the Ministry of Energy and Mines
had been directed to a travel agency to arrange the itinerary, which could
not be done from here.

The following day a selected few met the Minister of Mines and the Secretary
to the Ministry of Trade and had discussions as to how we can get involved
in the gem trade in Madagascar. In the afternoon we took flight to Tulear,
the nearest major city to our destination, Illakaka which was further 260km
away. We were welcomed by 20 to 30 scornful Thai's who had already extended
their tentacles to Madagascar before we ventured.

Gemming was being done just around the corner, on a hill slope. There was no
water to be seen except a small stream at the bottom of the valley it was
being used for drinking, bathing, washing gem gravels and for all the other
human needs. The miners dwellings reminded me honey-comb shanties in Mumbai,
and Sri Lankan shanties would have been a luxury.

The abandoned gem pits lay miles long, and it is a sight you will not see in
Sri Lanka although we have been mining for centuries. Unfortunately for
Madagascar, we heard that most miners starting point of mining, is the
countries few protected areas. The miners seem to believe that the parks are
fertile ground of the gems, plus they are protected, so that they think
there must be something good inside!

After having a preliminary visit to the area, we set off to our night-stay
in a little hotel at Ihosy another 30km away. We managed to sleep because
everybody was so tired after day's travel. The following day morning we went
back to the gem trading and mining area and members of our team went wild
with having seen the gems so much similar, but cheaper to what we see in Sri
Lanka.

It was like putting fish into the water, they hardly needed a few minutes
before they started purchasing. In the evening we returned to Tulear and
following day I took flight to Tana and back to Sri Lanka via Mauritius and
Singapore, the usual route for a Sri Lankan going to Madagascar.

Our team wanted to stay a few days to continue studying and purchasing gems.
Throughout our tour, there were a few officials from the Ministry of Energy
and Mines to guide and look after us. It is interesting to look at why
gemstones of Madagascar look so much similar to those of Sri Lanka. Two
hundred million years ago the earth consisted of two continents known as
Laurasia and Gondwanaland. Gondwanaland was made of one single landmass of
South America, India, Africa, Australia and Antarctica together. During the
continental drift that took place afterwards, those countries were
separated. The origin of gemstones due to Igneous and metamorphic activities
took place around xxx million years ago.

So it has been established that there is a gem belt running across Sri
Lanka, Kerala, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Medagacar down to Antarctica.
Similarly the fossils as well as gems in these countries lends credibility
to the theory. Like Sri Lanka, Madagascar consists mainly of Precambrian
rocks, and the central part of Madagascar is called 'highland' and goes upto
3,000m in height. That is why gems formed during the same period under
similar conditions in Sri Lanka and Madagascar are similar. Since our tour,
through many seminars, I informed the gem traders of the gem potential in
Madagascar and the number of people travelling there grew steadily.

Over the past few years many thousands of people have visited the country
and imported gems and have become very successful. Since my return I
informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the importance of establishing
diplomatic ties with Madagascar, so that the hassle that our people have to
undergo to get a visa from Singapore or Thailand can be avoided. And also
there were a numerous instances where our people had been robbed, assaulted,
gems left at the Customs being lost. It took so much efforts on the part of
the then Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PA government to make contact
with their counterpart in Madagascar.

But none of those attempts were successful and finally Laksman Kadiragamar
had to meet the Foreign Minister of Madagascar at the UN meeting in 2000 and
pursue the matter. And finally in 2001, the Additional Secretary of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I visited Madagascar to sign the agreement
to establish diplomatic ties.

Once again I had been continuously pursuing with the ministry to establish
an honorary consulate and appoint a consul for Sri Lanka in Madagascar. With
the consultation of the Sri Lanka Gem Traders' Association and the consent
of the Additional Secretary, I recommended a qualified, experienced person
whom we met in Madagascar and later in Sri Lanka to be appointed as the
honorary consul.

Meanwhile Madagascar though not keen at first, probably having realised the
importance of it, established their consulate in Sri Lanka early 2002. But
still Sri Lanka is the world's best source for finest quality Sapphires,
specially Blue Sapphire and Sri Lanka has it's unique sapphire called
patparascha. Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Sapphires are the highest valued in the
world market. Perhaps this value will be remain or grow in the future.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gemstones of Sri Lanka

For centuries and perhaps the last thousand years, Sri Lanka has reined as
the king of the world's gem producing nations. Sri Lanka has been the
world's centre for coloured gemstones and from time immemorial has given the
world many diverse facets of romantic overtones. Among them is that Prince
Charles mesmerised Lady Diana with an engagement ring, set with a priceless
Blue Sapphire. The Blue Sapphire is Sri Lanka's gem supreme and can be
considered the highest prized of all gems, while being second only to the
diamond in hardness. The largest known Sapphire in the world weighing 42
pounds, was found in the gem gravels of Sri Lanka.

A well-known legend says that in Biblical times, King Solomon in his wisdom
used precious stones from the paradise isle to woo the Queen of Sheba.
Factually, Solomon sent emissaries to the City of Gems in the Orient
(Ratnapura in Sri Lanka) to procure the precious stones that won him the
hand, and then the heart of Queen Sheba. Since, and even before, Sri Lanka's
priceless gems have dazzled kings and rulers.

These coloured precious stones have adorned their crowns and thrones and
bedecked royalty world over, including Queen Victoria, in recent times,
according to diverse sources on gems and jewellery.

In the Adventures of Sinbad in Serendib (Sri Lanka) Sinbad became a
household word among the Arabs and Jazirat Kakut or Island of Gems became
equally known.

The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the rough is
the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a sparkling gem
of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection when acquired by a
Saudi prince.

Gems are deeply embedded in the traditional beliefs and religious life of
the majority of Sri Lankans. Sinhalese mythology says that rubies were born
when heavenly beings (gods) sprinkled the land with dew. Priceless gems are
among the treasures kept in the relic chambers of great Buddhist stupas.

Many people all over the world attribute occult powers to gems.

They believe that certain kinds of precious stones have the power to ward
off evil planetary influences. Many of the world's leading gem collectors
believe that every precious stone carries with it different therapeutical
properties and wearing of such stones prevents and cures diseases.

Today, approximately 25,000 men and women are employed in Sri Lanka's
jewellery manufacturing industry, according to National Gem and Jewellery
Authority (NGJA) statistics. Traditional jewellery worn by Sri Lankans is
handcrafted and intricately designed. However, to meet the demands of the
international market, simple and contemporary designs are introduced. The
finished pieces display a high degree of Sri Lankan ingenuity. The major
buyers of Sri Lankan jewellery are Germany, Japan, the United States and the
United Kingdom.

According to geological surveys, 90 per cent of the country is estimated to
be potential gem bearing land and the earth's greatest concentration of fine
gems are found here with over 60 varieties of precious and semi-precious
stones, which include: Corundum - Ruby, Star Ruby, Blue Sapphire, Star
Sapphire, Yellow Sapphire, Golden Sapphire, Padparadscha, White Sapphire.
Chrysoberyl - Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye, Alexandrite, Alexandrite Cat's Eye,
Chrysoberyl. Spinel - Blue Spinel, Red Spinel, Mauve Spinel. Topaz - White
Topaz. Beryl - Aquamarine, White Beryl, Pale Green Beryl. Zircon - Green
Zircon, Yellow Zircon, Brown Zircon, Red and Blue Zircon (very rare).
Garnet - Rose red colored garnet, Red, Mauve, Hesonite Garnet, Spessartine
Garnet. Tourmaline - Green, Brown varieties. Quartz - Yellow, White, Brown,
Rose, Purple (Amethyst). Feldspar - Moonstone.

Sri Lanka's rare gemstones include: Andalusite, Apatite, Cordierite,
Diopside, Ekanite, Dpidote, Euclase, Fibrolite, Florite, Idocrase,
Kornerupine, Kyanite, Sinhalite, Scapolite, Taffeite.

A unique feature of Sri Lanka's gem pits is that there is almost never an
`illam' (deposit) of any one type of gem. Always there is an assorted
collection of stones like Spinels, Corundums (Sapphire and Ruby), Star
Stones, Cat's Eyes and many others.

Among the outstanding gemstones that Sri Lanka has produced in the
contemporary era are the Blue Giant of the Orient (466 carat), Logan Blue
Sapphire (423 cts), Blue Belle of Asia (400 cts), Rossar Reeves Star Ruby
(138.7cts), Star of Lanka (293cts.), Star Sapphire and Ray of Treasure (105
cts. Cat's Eye). The first three gems are on display at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington USA. The Star of Lanka and the Ray of Treasure are
in the proud possession of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chrysoberyl

The species name chrysoberyl is given to a transparent, faceted gemstone
that does not show a color change between daylight and artificial light (the
chrysoberyl which shows a colour change is called alexandrite). The ideal
colors of chrysoberyl are green and yellowish-green. In addition, due to
strong dichroism, one may see an attractive bi-coloured chrysoberyl
occasionally. Hardness is 8.5 on the Moh's scale. The high refractive index
of the stone makes it very lively when properly cut and polished.

The mineral or gemstone chrysoberyl, not to be confused with beryl, is an
aluminate of beryllium. Chrysoberyl is transparent to translucent and
sometimes chatoyant. An interesting feature of uncut crystals of chrysoberyl
are the cyclic twins called trillings. These twinned crystals have a
hexagonal appearance, but are the result of a triplet of twins with each
"twin" taking up 120 degrees of the cyclic trilling. The word chrysoberyl is
derived from the Greek chrysos, "golden," and beryllos, of uncertain
etymology.

Varieties - Alexandrite, Color change green to red, Chatoyant, Various
shades of green and yellow; brownish, reddish.

Sources - Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Myanmar.

History - The name chrysoberyl comes from the Greek, chrysoberyl meaning
golden beryl. But chrysoberyl is more hard and therefore different from the
classical gem beryl, which is much softer. Chrysolite is another name given
to the light greenish yellow variety of chrysoberyl that was in fashion
during the nineteenth century. A magnificent 47 carats chrysoberyl is listed
in the catalog of the British Museum of Natural History.

Cut and uses - Chrysoberyl and Alexandrite is usually faceted. Chrysoberyl
cat's eyes must be cut en cabochon to display a chatoyant effect.

Translucent yellowish chatoyant chrysoberyl is called cymophane or cat's
eye. Cymophane has its derivation also from the Greek words meaning wave and
appearance, in reference to the chatoyancy sometimes exhibited. In this
variety, microscopic tubelike cavities or needlelike inclusions of rutile
occur in an orientation parallel to the c-axis producing a chatoyant effect
visible as a single ray of light passing across the crystal. This effect is
best seen in gemstones cut in cabochon form perpendicular to the c-axis.

Although other minerals such as tourmaline, scapolite, corundum, spinel and
quartz can form "cat's eye" stones similar in appearance to cymophane, the
jewelry industry designates these stones as "quartz cat's eyes", or "ruby
cat's eyes" and only chrysoberyl can be referred to as "cat's eye" with no
other designation.

There are main three chrysoberyl varieties. The first type is simply faceted
transparent Chrysoberyl that is usually found in yellowish green to green,
yellow and shades of brown. It is a fine gemstone, but is over-shadowed by
its two cousins. The second variety is the "cat's eye", also known as
cymophane. The effect is caused by microscopic needle-like inclusions that
reflect light into a single dynamic sliver of light running along the center
of the crystal thus making it look like a living cat's eye! The third and
perhaps most interesting is Alexandrite. This rare and valuable gemstone has
the unique property of changing color depending on the type of light that
hits it. In sunlight, it appears almost emerald green, while in artificial
incandescent light it appears a violet-red. Some sapphires show similar
ability, and synthetic sapphires are now on the market being sold as
"Alexandrites" but at substantially lower prices than natural Alexandrite.

Until recently the main producers of fine quality chrysoberyl were Brazil
and Sri Lanka, but now much more productive mines are in Madagascar and
Tanzania. Because Sri Lanka Chrysoberyl has the finest quality and high
value most of the Madagascar rough is sold as genuine Sri Lanka stones.

When choosing a Chrysoberyl gemstone, due to the pastel color of
chrysoberyl, special attention should be given to the cut and overall
proportions of the stone. When choosing a cat's eye gemstone priority should
be given to the ray or eye of the stone.

Tourmaline

Tourmalines are precious stones displaying a unique splendour of colours.
According to an ancient Egyptian legend this is the result of the fact that
on the long way from the Earth's heart up towards the sun, Tourmaline
travelled along a rainbow. And on its way it collected all the colors of the
rainbow. This is why nowadays it is called the "Rainbow gemstone".

Tourmaline is a group of minerals comprised of a complex boron-aluminum
silicate with one or more of the following: magnesium, sodium, lithium,
iron, potassium or other metals. It appears in light from dark red to purple
as well as brownish variations of these hues - light to dark green,
yellowish-green, greenish-yellow, brownish-orange. It also grows
bi-coloured.

Varieties - Bi-colored, watermelon, cat's eye, alexandrite-like (rare).

Sources - Sri Lanka, Brazil, USA (California, Maine), Madagascar, Tanzania,
Kenya, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan (prime new source).

History - Dutch children played with tourmaline because of its ability to
attract light objects. The stones were called "aschentrekkers" (ash
drawers).

Cut and Uses - Any cut may be used. Some are carved, some fashioned into
beads. Cat's eye are always cut en cabochon. Sometimes carved to make use of
more than one colour.

However, the name "Tourmaline" has been derived from the Singhalese
expression "tura mali", which translates as "stone of mixed colors." The
very name already refers to the unique spectrum of colors displayed by this
gemstone, which is second to none in the realm of precious stones.
Tourmalines are red and green, range from blue to yellow. Often they show
two or more colors and are cherished for this parti- or multi-coloured
appearance. There are Tourmalines which change their colour from daylight to
artificial light, others display chattoyance. No Tourmaline exactly
resembles another one: this gemstone shows many faces and is thus
excellently suited to match all moods and tempers. It does not come as a
surprise, then, that ever since ancient days it has been attributed with
magical powers. Tourmaline is supposed to be an especially powerful
influence on love and friendship, lending them permanence and stability.

In order to understand this multitude of colors you will have to polish up
your knowledge of gemmology: Tourmalines are mixed crystals of complex
aluminium-borosilicate varying in their composition. The slightest changes
in composition will result in completely different colours. In fact,
crystals showing one colour only are quite rare; generally one and the same
crystal displays several shades and colours. Not only the wide range of
colours characterises this gemstone, it also shows a remarkable dichroism.
Depending on the angle of view the colour will be different or at least show
different intensity. The deepest colour always appears along the main axis,
a fact that the gemstone cutter has to keep in mind when cutting the stone.
This gemstone is excellently suited for wearing and is uncomplicated to care
for, since all Tourmalines show a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs' scale.
Thus Tourmaline is an interesting gemstone in many aspects indeed.

Tourmaline seems to have a special place in the hearts of mineral collectors
as well as in that of gem and gemstone enthusiasts. Its nearly universal
popularity is based on two very important facts: first, it is a bright and
beautiful gemstone that can be found in just about any color; and second,
materials that are of acceptable quality are affordable to most purchasers.

The word "rainbow" is used figuratively to describe tourmaline. In reality,
it is a well recognized fact that tourmaline's diversity in color is not
limited to the seven colors of the rainbow. Tourmaline can be colorless to
just about any color, hue, or tone known to man. And if range of colors
among different tourmalines is not enough, individual crystals can vary in
color along their length or in cross-section. The variations in color along
a crystal's length give rise to the bicolor and tricolor tourmalines which
have multitudes of color combinations. The variation in color in
cross-section can be concentric, as in the case of "watermelon" tourmaline,
a pink core surrounded by a green rind. Or the variation may have a distinct
triangular pattern as in the case of liddicoatite. The four most common and
well known tourmalines are distinguished by their color and transparencies.
Elbaite is the gemstone tourmaline and comes in many varied and beautiful
colors. It is transparent to translucent and is highly prized as minerals
specimens and as gemstones. Elbaite is easily the most colorful of all the
gemstones.

The iron rich schorl is the most abundant tourmaline and is black and
opaque. It is a common accessory mineral in igneous and metamorphic rocks
and can form nice crystals. Although too opaque to be used as a gemstone,
schorl is used as an ornamental stone when found as inclusions in quartz, a
stone is called "tourmalinated quartz". Usually when someone refers to
tourmaline they are referring to either elbaite or schorl.

The main suppliers of tourmalines are Madagascar, North America, Brazil,
Myanmar (Burma), Africa, Siberia, Australia, Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Tourmaline
and opal are the birthstones of the month of October. Tourmaline is the
national gemstone of the United States.

Tourmaline has a wide variety of colors. Usually, iron-rich tourmalines are
black to bluish-black to deep brown, while magnesium-rich varieties are
brown to yellow, and lithium-rich tourmalines are practically any color:
blue, green, red, yellow, pink etc. Rarely, it is colourless. Bi-colored and
multicoloured crystals are relatively common, reflecting variations of fluid
chemistry during crystalisation. Crystals may be green at one end and pink
at the other, or green on the outside and pink inside: this type is called
watermelon tourmaline. Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic, in that they
appear to change color when viewed from different directions.

The most common variety of tourmaline is schorl, first described by
Mathesius in 1524. It may account for 95% or more of all tourmaline in
nature. The word tourmaline is a corruption of the Sinhalese word turamali,
meaning "stone attracting ash" (a reference to its pyroelectric properties).
The meaning of the word "schorl" is a mystery, but it may be a Scandinavian
word.

Tourmaline is used in jewelry, pressure gauges, and specialist microphones.
In jewellery, blue indicolite is the most expensive, followed by green
verdelite and pink rubellite. Ironically the rarest variety, colourless
achroite, is not appreciated and is the least expensive of the transparent
tourmalines.

Tourmaline is a very special stone indeed and holds an outstanding position
in the fascinating world of gemstones. Its excellent availability and unique
splendour of colours make it one of the most popular gemstones - and besides
almost every Tourmaline is an original.

Peridot

Peridot is a beautiful olive green stone. It is much less expensive than
green tourmaline. It is worn in necklaces, earrings, pendants and bracelets.
Like other gems, peridot was believed to offer special powers.

Peridot is the best known gem variety of olivine, a species name for a
series of magnesium-iron rich silicate minerals. This bright yellow-green to
green gemstone has caught the fancy of humans for thousands of years. Some
historians even suspect that at least some of the "emeralds" worn by
Cleopatra were actually peridot. Much of its recent popularity can be
explained by its currently being recognized as the birthstone for the month
of August, people wear the stone because it is supposed to bring the wearer
success, peace, and good luck.

Peridot is the birthstone of August.

Varieties - Peridot top grades: medium to dark, slightly yellowish-green.
Chrysolite - greenish-yellow, light to dark yellowish-green to
brownish-green to almost brown.

Sources - Sri Lanka, Island of Zeberget (Egypt), Burma, USA, Mexico.

History - The ancients called it the "gem of the sun." They attributed to it
the power to dispel enchantment and evil spirits due to its association with
the sun (which drives away darkness). In order to be worn as a talisman, it
had to be set in gold. The Red Sea island of Zeberget, off the southern tip
of Egypt, was worked for this stone as early as 1500 B.C. At that time, the
island was known as "The Island of Serpents," because it was infested with
poisonous snakes. Later, the reigning Egyptian king had the snakes destroyed
to facilitate prospecting for peridot. Prospecting was done at night because
the gem could not be seen in sunlight. The workers would mark the spots and
return the next day to dig them out.

Cut and Uses - Usually faceted. Step-cut is best; oval, round and pendeloque
cuts are common. Very suitable for brooches, pendants, earrings, but not for
rings or bracelets because it abrades easily.

Throughout time, Peridot has been confused with many other gemstones, even
emerald. Many "emeralds" of royal treasures have turned out to be peridots!
And although peridot is distinctly a different shade of green, many jewelers
refer to peridot as "evening emerald". Emerald is a dark green as opposed to
a yellow green and always contains inclusions. Other green gemstones
confused with peridot include apatite (which is much softer); green garnets
(have no double refraction), green tourmaline and green sinhalite (both of
which are strongly pleochroic), moldavites (no double refraction) and green
zircon (significantly heavier). All of these gemstones rarely have as nice a
yellow component to their green color as does most peridot, but darker green
peridot can be confusing when good crystal form is not discernible.

Peridot is an ancient and yet currently very popular gemstone. It is so old
that it can be found even in Egyptian jewellery from the early second
millennium BC. The stones used in those days came from an occurrence on a
little volcanic island in the Red Sea. Peridot, however, is also a very
modern stone, for only a few years ago Peridot occurrences were discovered
in the Kashmir region and Sri Lanka, and the stones from there show a unique
beauty of color and transparency, so that the image of the stone, which was
somewhat dulled over the ages, has received an efficient polishing.

The most beautiful stones come from Sri Lanka and the Pakistan-Afghanistan
border region. Peridot as gemstone does also exist in Myanmar, China, the
USA, Africa and Australia. Stones from East Burma, today's Myanmar, show a
vivid green with fine silky inclusions. Peridot from the American state of
Arizona, where it is quite popular in Native Indian jewellery, often shows a
yellowish to golden brown shade

Peridot is a gain for the green gemstone' colour palette. There is trend to
use it not only as individual stone, but also in jewellery series. And since
the world of fashion has just discovered a preference for the colour green,
the popularity of this deep green gemstone has increased accordingly.

Peridot is a beautiful gemstone in its own right and is widely popular. Its
popularity is said to be increasing yearly and with new finds in Pakistan
producing exceptionally well crystallized specimens, peridot can be fun to
collect for years to come.

Monnstones

Moonstones are usually colourless to white, semi-transparent to translucent,
and characterised by a glowing light effect known as adularescence, the
visibility of which is confined to a restricted angle of view. The most
valuable of the feldspar gems.

Moonstone shows an almost magical play of light as its characteristic
feature. It owes its name to this mysterious gleaming which appears
different whenever the stone changes its position in movement. Experts call
this the "adularescence", and in earlier times the phases of waxing and
waning moon were though to be discerned in this phenomenon.

Moonstones are Nature's treasures with a sensuous and seductive charm. The
do not only ask to be looked at and admired, the require to be worn and
moved a lot. Because only then the soft veil of light which makes this
gemstone so attractive will be able to display its beauty to the best
effect.

Varieties - Some may exhibit cat's eye effect.

Sources - Sri Lanka

History - Considered a love charm, moonstone has been attributed the power
to arouse tender passions and foretell the future. Therapeutic qualities
include protection from lunacy, appeaser of anger and relief from fever.

Cut and Uses - Usually en cabochon, sometimes carved into cameos. Generally
used as an inexpensive stone for rings, pendants, etc

Moonstone from Sri Lanka, the classical country of origin for Moonstone,
shimmers pale blue on almost transparent ground. Specimen from India shoe
cloudlike plays of light and shade on beige brown, green, orange or simple
brown background. These subdued colors in combination with the fine shine
make Moonstone an ideal gemstone for jewellery with a sensuous and feminine
character. This gemstone was once before extremely popular, about a hundred
years ago in the times of Art Nouveau. It used to decorate a striking amount
of pieces of jewellery created by the famous French Master Goldsmith René
Lalique and by his contemporaries. These pieces are usually only found in a
museum or in collections nowadays.

Moonstone symbolizes a holistic view of man and woman. Its soft shine will
support the emotional and dreamy tendencies of a person. The associations
thus involved make Moonstone of course the ideal stone for lovers, reputed
to bring forth feelings of tenderness and to protect true love. It is also
reported that wearing a Moonstone will further intuition and your
sensitivity for others.

The mystical stone belongs to the large mineral family of feldspars, which
provide almost two thirds of all stones on our Earth. In the case of
Moonstone, we are looking at the feldspar variety called "adularia" a
silicate of potassium aluminium in gemstone quality, which is also found in
the European Alps near the Adula-group - thus the name "adularia". Another
synonym for Moonstone is "Selenite", according to the Greek goddess of the
moon, Selene.

The classical, bluish and almost transparent Moonstones traditionally came
from Sri Lanka. But they are also found in the USA, in Brasil, Australia,
Myanmar, and Madagascar. Since blue Moonstones in fine qualities have become
more and more scarce in recent time, the prices have increased accordingly.

For some years now also green, blue and peach or smoke and champagne
coloured, black and reddish specimen have been offered, which come mainly
from Sri Lanka. Some of these show not only the typical the typical floating
play of light, but also a cat's eye or a multi-rayed star. These stones,
then, are not only cut as cabochons, but also cut as intricate cameos,
sometimes engraved as children's -, moon - or gargoyle face. They also show
the play of light which is so typical for Moonstone, just like the spheres
and beads made from suitable raw material to be crafted into fine necklaces.

When purchasing Moonstone you will be astonished at the striking differences
in price. The more intense the color, the larger and more transparent the
stone, the more valuable is the gem. Really top quality fine blue Moonstone
show an incredible "three-dimensional" depth of colour, which you will see
clearly only when playfully tilting the stone and moving it. Such specimen
are very rare and thus highly coveted, and of course accordingly valuable.
The brighter coloured Indian Moonstones are not only a fashion trend. They
are usually a little less expensive than the classical blue variant, so that
everybody today may pick his or her favourite Moonstone to meet exactly all
requirements of taste and budget.

Garnet

Garnet is the name which can be applied to six similar mineral species,
namely almandine, pyrope, spessartine, grossular, andradite and uvarovite.
To further complicate matters, many garnets are actually a combination of
these minerals. Rhodolite garnet for instance, is a combination of almandine
and pyrope, and is sometimes referred to as pyrope-almandine garnet. There
are also many trade names and other commonly used names which only adds to
the confusion, such as Rhodolite, Tsavorite, Hessonite, Malaya, Mozambique,
Mandarin, Ant-hill, Leuco, Hydrogrossular, Demantoid, Melanite, Topazolite,
Thai. Other names such as "cape ruby" are simply misleading and deceptive.
Some garnets also exhibit color change and stars.

Garnet displays the greatest variety of color of any mineral, occurring in
every color except blue. For example, grossularite can be colorless, white,
gray, yellow, yellowish green, various shades of green, brown, pink,
reddish, or black. Andradite garnet can be yellow-green, green, greenish
brown, orangy yellow, brown, grayish black or black. Pyrope is commonly
purplish red, purplish red, orangy red, crimson, or dark red; and almandite
is deep red, brownish red, brownish black or violet-red. Spessartite garnet
can be red, reddish orange, orange, yellow-brown, reddish brown, or blackish
brown. A few garnets exhibit a color-change phenomenon. They are one color
when viewed in natural light and another color when viewed in incandescent
light.

Varieties:
Rhodolite- violet to purplish-red;
Almandite - red, brownish-red, violetish-red or Purple;
Pyrope - red;
Grossularite - green, yellow, brown, white, colourless, light violet, red,
orangey-red;
Varieties: hessonite (orange to brown), transparent, green, grossularite
(tsavorite); Some show a colour change from a mauve-brown to orange-red.
Andradite - green, yellow, black. Green called demantoid (high lustre and
dispersion); Spessartite - yellow to yellow-brown, dark orangey-brown,
reddish-orange, orange; Uvarovite - emerald green, found only in tiny sizes,
usually opaque.

Sources:
Rhodolite - Sri Lanka, North Carolina, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa,
Brazil.
Almandite - Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, star from Idaho - USA.
Pyrope - Czechoslovakia, South Africa, Zimbabwe - Rhodesia, Brazil, Arizona.
Grossularite - Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Canada.
Andradite - demantoid: Russia, Italy; translucent yellowish or
greenish-brown, Arizona.
Spessartite - Sri Lanka, Burma, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya.
Uvarovite - Russia, Finland (hardly mined at all).

History - Since earliest times garnets have been carried as amulets against
accidents in travel. Asiatic peoples and even our Southwest Indians used
them as bullets, believing that their rich, glowing colour might cause more
deadly wounds. The Persians have given the garnet a favoured place as a
royal stone, allowing it to bear their sovereign's image. Red garnet was
once used to relieve fever, yellow garnet to cure jaundice. If the powder
failed, the apothecary was accused of using a substitute.

The use of garnets as a gem or gemstone can be traced to prehistoric times.
However, the first industrial use of garnet appears to have been as coated
sandpaper manufactured in the United States by Henry Hudson Barton (founder
of Barton Mines Corp.) in 1878. Its use has grown from that single sample of
garnet coated sandpaper, to world industrial uses of more than 110,000 tons
per year. In 1994, United States production of industrial garnet was valued
at about $14 million, while gem garnet production was valued at only about
$233,000.
Garnets are isostructural, meaning that they share the same crystal
structure. This leads to similar crystal shapes and properties. Garnets
belong to the isometric crystal class, which produces very symmetrical,
cube-based crystals. The most common crystal shape for garnets however is
the rhombic dodecahedron, a twelve sided crystal with diamond-shaped
(rhombic) faces. This basic shape is the trademark of garnets, for no other
crystal shape is so closely associated with a single mineral group like the
rhombic dodecahedron is with garnets. Most garnets are red in color, leading
to the erroneous belief that all garnets are red. In fact a few varieties,
such as grossular, can have a wide range of colors, and uvarovite is always
a bright green. As a mineral specimen, garnets usually have well shaped and
complex crystals and their color and luster can make for a very beautiful
addition to a collection. At times, garnets are accessory minerals to other
valuable and pretty gem minerals such as topaz, beryl, tourmaline,
vesuvianite and diopside making these specimens extra special.

There is a misconception that garnets are only a red gem but in fact they
come in a variety of colors including purple, red, orange, yellow, green,
brown, black, or colorless. The lack of a blue garnet was remedied in 1990's
following the discovery of color-change blue to red/pink material in Bekily,
Madagascar but these stones are very rare. Color-change garnets are by far
the rarest garnets except uvarovite, which does not come in cuttable sizes.
In daylight, their color can be shades of green, beige, brown, gray and
rarely blue, to a reddish or purplish/pink color in incandescent light. By
composition, these garnets are a mix of spessartine and pyrope, as are
Malaya garnets. The color change of these new garnets is often more intense
and more dramatic than the color change of top quality Alexandrite which is
frequently disappointing, but still sells for many thousands of dollars (US)
per carat. It is expected that blue color-change garnets will match
Alexandrite prices or even exceed them as the color change is often better
and these garnets are much rarer.

Six common varieties of garnet are recognized based on their chemical
composition. They are pyrope, almandine or carbuncle, spessartite,
grossularite (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and
tsavorite), uvarovite and andradite. The garnets make up two solid solution
series; 1. pyrope-almandine-spessarite and 2.
uvarovite-grossularite-andradite.

Garnet is the birthstone for January, and has been used since the Bronze
Age.

Pure crystals of garnet are used as gemstones. Garnet sand is a good
abrasive, and a common replacement for silica sand in sand blasting. Pyrope
varieties are used as kimberlite indicator minerals in diamond prospecting.

Garnets are very abundant in the lower crust and mantle and thus play an
important role in geochemical understanding of the Earth.

Our Facebook Page