Sunday, November 4, 2007

"To Be Continued" Jewelry!

There are three very popular pieces of jewelry that can be added to for significant occasions, like birthdays, anniversaries, and the birth of a child:

  • The Mother's Ring
  • The Add-a-Pearl Necklace
  • The Diamond Eternity Ring

This is a ring that holds all the birthstones of a mother's children. Some parents choose to include the mother's birthstone, and even the mother and father's birthstones. There are many styles that can hold up 16 stones. Sixteen children? Am I serious? Yes, but those rings hold both the children's, and the grandchildren's birthstones.

Mother's rings are enormously popular and are a great source of pride and joy for mothers. Today, there is also an entire line of what's called "family jewelry" that uses the same principle of adding birthstones for each child. Pendants and pins are popular types of family jewelry.

This is a necklace that comes with a select number of pearls initially, either in a uniform size, or tapered, with a large pearl in the center. Loved ones and friends can then buy single pearls on a card for birthdays, Christmas, and so forth, and the new pearls are added to the necklace by restringing. I often sold a beginner's pearl necklace to grandparents upon the birth of a granddaughter, and then they would continually buy pearls to be added with the goal of the granddaughter having a full strand of pearls by her 18th or 21st birthday.

Usually, the husband will buy this ring for his wife on their tenth anniversary, and it will have ten diamonds already set in it, one for each year. Then each year, he returns it to the jeweler, and adds a diamond, until the entire circle of the band is filled with diamonds.

What's really nice about these "to be continued" pieces of jewelry is that people always know that there's something they can buy as a gift that will be greatly appreciated, and will definitely not be returned!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How Are Your Prongs?

Prongs are thin pieces of gold, silver, or platinum that are shaped like a claw and have a notched-out top to hold a gemstone in place in your ring, pendant, or earrings.

Prongs are critical to the safety of the stone, whether it's a diamond, or a synthetic birthstone, and should be checked often by an experienced jeweler. One of the first signs that there's a problem is a loose stone.

When I would check prongs, I would actually grasp the stone's girdle with a serrated tweezers and try to turn it in its setting. If it moved, we knew for sure that the prongs needed tightening at the very least. Then we'd check for wear or breakage.

There are two ways prongs can go bad:
  1. They wear out.
  2. They get caught on something and break off.
The unit of 4 or 6 prongs is called a crown (or sometimes, a "head") and it can be replaced completely, or its individual prongs can be replaced.

There are a few ways of repairing prongs:
  • Re-tipping.  The tip of the prong always wears out first. If the remainder of the prong is still thick, just the tip can be replaced. This is the least expensive prong repair.
  • New prong:  This is replacing the entire prong with a new one.  If more than 2 prongs in a 4-prong crown, or more than 3 prongs in a 6-prong crown need replacing, it's more economical to replace the entire crown.
  • New crown: This is just what it sounds like. The old crown is removed from the mounting and a new one is soldered in place, and then the stone is reset.
  • Retipping: Retipping can cost between $10 and $25 per tip.
  • Prong: New prongs can cost between $20 and $50 each, depending on the length and thickness.
  • New crown: A new crown can cost between $75 and $200, depending, again, on the size and number of prongs.
Also, remember that platinum repairs will always cost considerably more than 14K gold.

It's a good idea to stop in your friendly neighborhood jewelers every couple of months and ask them to check your prongs and to also give your jewelry a good cleaning.  If the stone's loose, it's better to catch it early, when it can simply be tightened, rather than later, when the stone may actually fall out and then you've got real problems.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Engagement Ring Shopping Scenarios

Who Picks Out the Engagement Ring? Him, Her, or a Multitude?

Since online diamond buying is still only a small fraction of overall diamond sales, the odds are great that when you’re ready to get engaged, you will visit a jewelry store, and one that is almost certainly within 50 miles of where you live.

So here are some insights into the engagement ring buying process. Prepare thyself. ☺

Selling engagement rings was always an interesting experience when I was working in our family jewelry store.

Why? Because it was never really “carved in stone” just to whom I was selling: the guy, the girl, the girl’s parents, the girl’s friends, the guy’s friends, the guy’s parents, or a combination of all of the above.

Here are six typical “engagement ring shopping” scenarios.

  1. THE SHOPPING COUPLE: This was the most common scenario I’d see. The couple would come in and the girl would try on rings. She’d decide which one she liked, and then they’d leave. The guy would then come back later, either alone or with a friend, and buy the ring she had picked out. Y’know, so he could surprise her with it. Sometimes, I became part of the charade, usually by acknowledging the guy’s clandestine signal for me to hold the ring for him. Of course, the girl knew what he was doing, but I played along and would usually say something like, “Stop back if you’d like to see it again, or give me a call if you have any questions,” and then hand them my card. In this scenario, I would usually see the guy again within a few hours.
  2. THE GIRLFRIEND CONCLAVE: This was also a common scenario. The fiancĂ©e to be would come in with her sister, sisters, girlfriend, girlfriends, or a combination of these nearest and dearest and try on rings — turning to her companions for a continuous stream of opinion, advice, and suggestions. She would then ask me to write down the details of the one she liked, and one of her girlfriends would then be given the assignment of getting this info to the boyfriend.
  3. THE GUY ON HIS OWN: This was a tough one, because without knowing what his girlfriend liked — and women do know what they like and/or want when it comes to diamond rings — the guy was floundering, and would usually have a bewildered expression on his face that bordered on panic. A three-quarter carat marquise? A full carat round? A half-carat oval? The guy had no idea which one his beloved would love, so he would usually have to come back with someone. Which brings us to ...
  4. THE GUY AND HIS GIRLFRIEND’S BEST FRIEND: This scenario was hilarious because, essentially, the girlfriend’s best friend did the shopping. She would try on rings, ask questions, look at matching wedding bands, and I would always work with her while the guy stood there, awaiting the proclamation which would result in him pulling out his credit card. The guy was always confident in this scenario that he was buying the right ring because if there is anything BFFs know, it’s what kind of engagement ring they each want.
  5. THE GUY AND HIS FATHER: Sometimes a guy would bring his Dad in with him while looking for rings. This scenario was very close to the “Guy On His Own,” because, in most cases, the father was clueless as to what his son’s girlfriend would want, too. These visits were usually brief.
  6. THE GUY AND HIS BUDS: This scenario could be good or bad, depending on who the guy brought with him. If the guy had a friend who had already successfully executed the Engagement Ring Purchase, then he’d be in pretty good shape. But if the one or more friends he brought with him had never done it, then this was usually a fruitless endeavor. His friends would confuse and distract him, and after looking at a few rings, he’d tell me he’d come back. The next time I’d see him would usually be Scenario 4, bringing in his girlfriends best friend. The guy needed help, but he realized his friends would not be much use.

My personal favorite was the Shopping Couple, with the Guy and His Girlfriend’s Best Friend a close second.

Why? Because in those situations, the girl would always get the ring she really wanted. And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Jewelry A to Z

This A to Z will familiarize you with jewelry terminology.

  • ALLOY: A mixture of two or more metals.
  • APPRAISAL: An appraisal is an evaluation of the retail replacement value of a jewelry item. It is done by someone in the jewelry trade who has had enough experience to be able to arrive at a reasonable, fairly accurate approximate cost for replacement in case of loss. Appraisals are usually required by insurance companies before they will insure someone’s jewelry. Appraisals should be provided free of charge on newly purchased items. (Sometimes insurance companies will not except only a sales receipt, since many items are bought on sale and thus, their full replacement cost is not reflected in the amount of the sale.) The replacement cost of the piece, as determined by the jeweler/appraiser, will usually represent what he or she would sell the item for in their store at the time the appraisal is performed. An appraisal should include all pertinent details about the piece, any identifying marks such as engravings or manufacturer’s stamps, and a complete physical description of the piece. Important details include stone identifications; stone weight(s), colors and qualities; gold karat content, weight of the piece; and any other important characteristics. Any experienced jeweler can provide a consumer with an acceptable appraisal. An appraiser does not have to be licensed or “certified.”
  • BAIL: A piece on charms, stones, pendants etc., so it may be worn on a chain.
  • BASKET SETTING: A fancy setting with numerous side piercings that provides a lacy or basket-looking appearance.
  • BEAD A stone cut in the shape of a small sphere.
  • BEADED EDGE: A rounded raised edge on a ring or chram.
  • BEZEL: A metal groove or flange that holds a gemstone in its setting. Also refers to the slanting face of a cut gem.
  • BOX CHAIN: Links are wide and square so they form boxes.
  • BUFFING: Polishing with either a cloth or on a high-speed wheel. Buffing usually refers to the polishing of metals, such as silver, gold, or platinum.
  • CABOCHON: A domed gemstone. Also a highly polished curved surface without faceting.
  • CAMEO: A carved gem or shell in which the outer layers are cut away so that the design stands out in relief against a background of a different color.
  • CARAT: Unit of weight for gemstones with 100 points to a carat, with one carat equaling one-fifth of a gram.
  • CHAIN: A series of connected loops, links, rings, or beads used for closures on bracelets or necklaces.
  • CHANNEL SET: setting Grooved metal built into a jewelry setting for holding stones. Also refers to a number of uniformly sized small stones set in a row.
  • CHEVRON STYLE: A motif consisting of short lines joining at angles to form an inverted “V.”
  • CLASP: An attachment used to connect the two ends of a necklace, bracelet, or any similar piece of jewelry.
  • CLUTCH: The small push-on or screw-on nut that goes on the post of a pierced earring and holds it on the ear.
  • CROWN: The little know on a watch used to set the time; also the pronged setting part of a ring used to hold the gemstone or gemstones.
  • CURB LINK: The links are oval and twisted so they lie flat.
  • DIAMOND: A precious gemstone composed of pure carbon. Hardest of all known substances. Rated 10 on the Mohs scale.
  • DIAMOND CUT: The technique of cutting polished facets into the links of gold chain so that the chain sparkles “like a diamond” when it moves.
  • DROP: A small, pendant-like piece which is suspended from another part of a piece of jewelry.
  • EMERALD CUT: A cut which is usually rectangular, but sometimes square, with rows of step cuts along the edges and at the corners.
  • ENGRAVING: The cutting of letters, words, or dates into a ring or onto a piece of tableware such as pewter goblets or silver trays. Engraving can be done by machine or by hand.
  • EXTENDER CHAIN: A chain which may be attached to another in order to provide a longer length.
  • FACET: The polished surface of a gemstone; a small plane which is cut into a stone and enhances its reflection of light.
  • FIGARO: A chain similar in style to a curb chain, but instead of uniform links, the links alternate between long ones and round ones.
  • FILIGREE: lace-like ornamental work made from intricately arranged, intertwined wire.
  • FINISH: The way the surface of a piece is polished or textured.
  • FLUTED: A surface ornamented by channels or grooves.
  • FRICTION BACK: A push-on earring clutch.
  • FULL-DRILLED: A bead or pearl that is drilled all the way through for stringing on nylon cord. [See half-drilled.]
  • GALLERY: A strip of metal used to make settings for jewelry.
  • GEM: A stone which has been cut and polished for use in jewelry and fulfills the requirements of beauty, durability, and rarity. A fine stone of unusual quality. Thename for a precious or semi-precious stone.
  • GOLD: A heavy, yellow, metallic element used for coins and jewelry since prehistoric times.
  • GOLD FINISH: Jewelry done in a finish so that it has the look of gold.
  • GOLD-FILLED: A thin layer of gold on top of a base metal.
  • GOLD-PLATED: A thin plating of gold on top of a base metal.
  • GRADING: The system of evaluating gemstones for color, quality, cut, and finish.
  • HALF-DRILLED A bead or pearl that is drilled halfway through for setting on a post in a ring mounting. Half-drilled pearls or beads are usually cemented with epoxy onto the post. [See full-drilled.]
  • IRIDESCENT: An interplay of various rainbow-like colors.
  • JUMP RING: A link connecting the end of a chain to the clasp; also a link on a pendant or charm through which the chain is threaded so it can be worn around the neck.
  • KARAT: A measure, from 1 to 24, used to indicate how much of a piece of jewelry is gold content and how much an alloy.
  • LEVERIDGE GAUGE: A round millimeter gauge used for estimating the weight of mounted gemstones.
  • LINKS: A series of loops which make up a chain.
  • LOBSTER CLAW CLASP: A clasp used for necklaces and bracelets which features an elongated hook (like a lobster claw). It contains a spring mechanism and can be opened to catch the ring from the other end of the chain.
  • LOUPE: A small magnifier used by jewelrs to look at gems, and items of jewelry. Available magnifications usually range from 1.5X to 10X.
  • LUG: A spring bar that holds a watch strap or watch band to the case of the watch.
  • MANDREL: A tapered steel rod used for measuring the finger sizes of rings.
  • MANMADE: Synthetic; a gem manufactured in a laboratory and then mass-produced for use in jewelry.
  • MARQUISE: An oval shape gemstone cut with pointed ends. It is named for the Marquise de Pompadour, Mistress of King Louis XV.
  • MATTE: A frosted, non-shiny surface or finish.
  • MOH’S SCALE OF HARDNESS: The standard scale of gemstone hardness used in the jewelry industry.
  • MOUNTING: A rin, pendant, or earring setting.
  • NICKEL: One of the metal elements added to pure yellow gold to transform it into white gold.
  • PENDANT: An ornament suspended from a single chain.
  • PIN: A brooch, also sometimes used to describe a watchband spring-bar.
  • POINT: Unit of weight for gemstones equal to one one-hundreth of a carat.
  • POLISH: Process used to make metal smooth and glossy. Increases shine and eliminates flaws.
  • POST: The part of a pierced earring that goes through the ear.
  • PRONG: One of several claw-like wires used to hold a gem or stone in place.
  • RABBIT EARS: A split type of bail hook on the top of a pendant or charm that resembles two rabbit ears.
  • RHODIUM: A white, metallic element used as a plating for platinum and white gold to give it a mirror-like finish.
  • RIBBED: A textured effect consisting of ridges.
  • ROPE CHAIN: Chain with a spiral appearance, giving the effect of two thick strands woven together.
  • ROSE GOLD: An alloy of gold and copper.
  • ROUGE: A red, white, yellow, or green polishing compound that is used on gold, silver, and platinum jewelry to remove scratches. The rouge is applied directly to a high-speed buffing wheel and the piece is then polished on the wheel. Different colors (and compositions) of rouge are used for different metals.
  • SAFETY CATCH: A bracelet or chain clasp that has more than one closing and locking feature for safety.
  • SAFETY CHAIN: A thin chain attached to the clasp of a bracelet or a watch that remains in place if the clasp accidentally opens and prevents the piece from falling off the wrist.
  • SCALLOPED: An ornamental edge that consists of a series of curves.
  • SEED PEARL: A very tiny cultured pearl, usually 2 millimeters or smaller in diameter.
  • SETTING: An interchangeable word used to mean a complete ring mounting, as well as the small individual crowns stones are set into within a ring.
  • SHANK: The bottom part of a ring; the part that goes around the finger.
  • SIZING: Sizing usually refers to the adjusting of a ring size up or down to fit a person’s finger, although it is also used to describe the fitting of a watchband to a wrist. Sizing a ring is done by cutting the shank open with a jeweler’s saw and either removing a piece of gold to bring it down to the right size, or adding a piece of gold to increase the size. The piece is soldered into the shank, the seams are filed out, and then the ring is buffed, polished, and washed.
  • SOLDER: To join or repair a piece of jewelry using gold or silver solder and the heat of a torch.
  • SPRING RING CLASP: A rounded, hollow, circular wire which fits into a hollow, circular tube and is kept shut by a coiled spring on the inside.
  • SQUARE CUT: A style in which the stone is square an bordered by four long narrow facets that are step cut. Similar to emerald cut.
  • STAMPING: Marking a piece of jewlery with its karat designation; “14K”; “18K”; etc.
  • STEAMING: A method of cleaning jewelry and gemstones using live steam.
  • STEP CUT: A gem cut with a varying number of sloping parallel rows of four-sided facets which give the impression of steps.
  • STERLING SILVER: Silver that is at least 92.5 percent pure with 7.5 parts of another metal, usually copper, to make the piece harder.
  • STRAP: A leather watchband.
  • STRINGING: Affixing pearls or gemstone beads to nylon or silk bead cord to make a necklace or bracelet. Stringing can be done with knots between each bead or unknotted.
  • STUD: A single stone or metal ball on a straight post worn on pierced ears.
  • SYNTHETIC: A manmade gemstone.
  • TARNISH: The dark coating that occurs on silver and other metals due to oxidation.
  • THE GIA The Gemological Institute of America.
  • ULTRASONIC: A method of cleaning jewrelry and gemstones in jewelry cleaning solution in an ultrasonic cleaner.
  • WHITE GOLD: An alloy of gold, nickel, copper, and zinc.
  • WHITE METALS: Silver, white gold, and platinum.
  • “Y” NECKLACE: This style gets its name from its shape which features its own delicate dangle forming a Y-shape around the neck. Usually 16 to 18 inches in length.
  • YELLOW GOLD: The most popular gold alloy. An alloy of gold, silver, copper, and often zinc.

All about Apatite!

•What is apatite?
Apatite is a calcium phosphate mineral that occurs in the entire range of transparency, from totally opaque, through translucent specimens, to completely transparent stones. It exists in a wide range of colors and is one of the few gemstones that can be cut faceted as well as cut to show a cat’s eye.

Did you know?
Interestingly, apatite was the favorite gemstone of Dom DeLuise’s girlfriend in the 1980 comedy, Fatso. If you know the movie, which is about a young man trying to lose weight, I’m sure you’d agree that the fact that “apatite” is a homonym for “appetite” was not coincidental!

•Where is apatite found?
Apatite is mined in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Russia, Canada, Africa, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, the United States (New York, Maine, North Carolina, and elsewhere), and Mexico.

Apatite occurs in several colors, including yellow, brown, blue, pink, violet, purple, green, and colorless. Blue apatite can be cut into cabochons to show a cat’s eye. The yellow-green variety of apatite (mostly found in Spain) is known as asparagus stone.

Apatite is cut into all the faceted gemstone shapes: round brilliant, oval, pear, marquise, emerald, heart, square, trillion, and fantasy. Neon blue apatite is also cut into cabochons (with a distinctive cat’s eye effect).

Apatite is only a 5 on the Mohs Scale and is considered a relatively soft stone. The safest way to wear apatite is in earrings, pendants, and brooches. Rings set with apatite should be worn with care.

The quality of faceted apatite stones is evaluated in the same manner as other faceted gemstones: by the presence of (or lack of) internal inclusions and the vividness and uniformity of the individual stone’s color. The quality of neon blue cabochon apatite stones is judged by the smoothness of the stone’s surface texture, the uniformity of its color, and the intensity of the stone’s “cat’s eye” effect.

•Legend and lore
Apatite is reputed to bless the wearer with the ability to accept all things in their lives as they occur, with patience and grace.

Clean your apatite jewelry in a mild soapy solution, rinse well under warm water and dry with a soft cloth. Do not boil apatite or soak it in ammonia-based jewelry cleaning solution. Also avoid drastic temperature changes.

All about Amber!

•What is amber?
Amber is not a mined gemstone, but rather prehistoric tree resin that has fossilized. Amber has a very appealing golden yellow or yellow-orange color and it has been a popular “stone” for adornment and jewelry since the time of the ancient Romans and Greeks. Some amber even has the fossilized remains of prehistoric insects like flies and other animals trapped inside.

•Where is amber found?
The largest deposits of amber found to date have been along the Baltic Sea coasts of Poland, Latvia, Estonia, etc. Amber is also found in Myanmar (and known as burmite for the country’s former name, Burma); in Sicily, and in the United States, Mexico, France, Germany, Spain, Czechoslovakia, and Canada.

Amber is almost always yellow or yellow with tones of orange, athough green, black, purple, and red amber have also been discovered. The popular yellow and orange varieties are the ones most often used for jewelry.

Amber is very soft and thus can be easily cut and polished into a variety of shapes, the most common being beads and cabochons. Amber can also be cut into cameos and polished flat for setting in rings, pins, earring, and pendants.

Amber is a mere 2.5 on the Mohs Scale and, as such, is not a very durable stone for wide-ranging wear. Due to its organic nature, amber is susceptible to drying out and becoming brittle and fragile, thus, it should not be worn when sitting in the sun. Nor should it be worn in water, or while sleeping, or when playing sports. Treat amber carefully and avoid heat, water, harsh chemicals, and perfumes.

Amber is not graded by quality; its appeal is purely visual, although the stones with fossils inside are usually considered more valuable because of their rarity. If an amber necklace has beads that mostly match in size, shape, and color, then it is considered a “better” piece, as compared to a strand with irregularly shaped beads and mismatched colors. Other than that type of subjective assessment, though, one piece of amber is essentially as good as the next.

•Legend and lore
Throughout history, amber has been used for a wide range of medicinal uses. It is also reputed to enhance mental clarity and allow the wearer to make decisions from an intellectual perspective instead of an emotional one. Red amber is supposed to exert a calming effect and can also help the wearer detach him- or herself from emotional overreactions and think more logically.

Clean amber jewelry with a warm, soapy solution with no ammonia in it and pat dry with a soft cloth. Do not immerse amber in jewelry cleaner nor allow it to be steam-cleaned or put into an ultrasonic cleaner. Aagain, amber is an organic substance (not to mention that each piece is millions of years old!) and must be treated with care.

All about Tourmaline!

•What is tourmaline?
Tourmaline is a silicate mineral popular as a gemstone. Tourmaline occurs in the complete range of colors, as well as in a colorless form, and also as multicolored within the same specimen. Tourmaline’s name comes from the Sinhalese word turmali, which means “mixed precious stones.” Pink tourmaline is one of the stones used as the October birthstone; tourmaline is the commemorative gemstone for the 8th wedding anniversary. Popular forms of tourmaline include watermelon tourmaline; rubellite (see the chapter on rubellite); indicolite; dravite; achroite; and schorl; as well as green, pink, blue, yellow, and colorless varieties of tourmaline.

•Where is tourmaline found?
Tourmaline is found in many localities around the world, including Brazil, Africa, the United States, Sri Lanka, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar, Tanzania, and Namibia.

Tourmaline occurs in a gorgeous rainbow of colors, including all the shades of green (chrome tourmaline is especially vivid due to the presence of chromium); shades of pink; red (rubellite); shades of blue (indicolite, also known as indigolite); shades of yellow, orange, brown (dravite), gold; black (schorl); multicolored (watermelon tourmaline has bands of green and pink that make it look exactly like the inside of a slice of watermelon!); colorless (achroite); and white.

Tourmaline is cut into all the faceted gemstone shapes: round brilliant, oval, pear, marquise, emerald, heart, square, trillion, and fantasy. Watermelon tourmaline is also cut into cabochons.

Tourmaline has a hardness of 7 1/2 on the Mohs Scale and is moderately durable. It can be set in mountings with relative safety, and handles the jeweler’s torch and polishing fairly well. It is safe to place tourmaline in an ultrasonic cleaner, but it should not be boiled. It should also not be exposed to excessive heat or drastic temperature changes.

The quality of tourmaline is evaluated in much the same way as other translucent gemstones: by the intensity and uniformity of a stone’s color, and the presence or absence of internal inclusions. Many gemstone suppliers use a four-tiered system of grading for tourmalines:
  • AAA stones, the rarest stones, are deep pink or chrome green colors and are “eye clean” (no visible internal flaws)
  • AA stones are medium colored, either eye clean stones or stones with minor inclusions
  • A stones are medium to light colors, with a minor to medium level of inclusions
  • B stones are light colors, with moderate inclusions. It should be noted that almost all pink or red tourmalines have natural, internal inclusions of varying degrees of visibility and infiltration.

•Legend and lore
The legends surrounding tourmaline, and the powers attributed to this beautiful gemstone, are many and varied. Blue tourmaline can reputedly assist you in distancing yourself from negative people and events; green tourmaline can aid communications; pink or red tourmaline can reportedly relax the wearer and release tension; yellow varieties of tourmaline can help you think better; watermelon tourmaline can bring stamina and also can communicate to an observer that the wearer of the watermelon tourmaline is a dependable, responsible person.

You can clean your tourmaline in standard jewelry cleaner, but do not boil it. Soak it for a few minutes, rinse it well under warm (not hot) water, and dry it with a soft cloth. Do not wear tourmaline in the blazing sun; nor expose it to severe temperature changes.

What's Your Birthstone?

Precious gems have long been associated with people's birth month's and one of life's milestones is to be given one's birthstone in a piece of jewelry as a gift.

Here is the list of months and their birthstones:

  1. January: Garnet
  2. February: Amethyst
  3. March: Aquamarine
  4. April: Diamond or Cubic Zirconia
  5. May: Emerald
  6. June: Pearl or Alexandrite
  7. July: Ruby
  8. August: Peridot
  9. September: Sapphire
  10. October: Opal or Pink Tourmaline
  11. November: Topaz
  12. December: Blue Topaz

All about Alexandrite!

•What is alexandrite?
Alexandrite is a rare and unique form of the mineral chrysoberyl that was reportedly discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1830 on Czar Alexander II’s twelfth birthday and named in his honor. The finest natural alexandrite exhibits a dramatic color change, from vivid green in natural sunlight, to a deep purplish-red under incandescent lights (artificial light). (The color change is a function of the alexandrite crystals refracting the different types of light into distinctly different body colors.) Alexandrite is the genuine birthstone for June and is the commemorative gemstone for the 55th wedding anniversary.

•Where is alexandrite found?
Most alexandrite is found where it was discovered, in the Ural Mountains of Russia, although there also deposits in Brazil and Sri Lanka.

Alexandrite appears green in natural light and red in artificial light, and the stone occurs in a wide range of intensity of each color, from pale, grayish green to deep forest green; to a brownish lavender to deep purple-red.

Alexandrite can be cut into all the faceted gemstone shapes: round brilliant, oval, pear, cushion, marquise, heart, square, trillion, fantasy, and emerald. Alexandrite is rarely cut into cabochons (a highly polished, unfaceted shape) because of the beauty and brilliance revealed when the gem is cut into the faceted shapes.

Alexandrite is an extremely tough gemstone and bears up well for setting, polishing, boiling, steaming, and in an ultrasonic cleaner. It has a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs Scale and is quite durable, making it ideal for use in all manner of jewelry, although its expensive price ultimately limits its widespread use, especially in the larger stones (two carats or over), which are extremely rare.

The highest quality alexandrites exhibit strong color change and have no inclusions (flaws) visible to the unaided eye. These are very rare stones. Qualities of alexandrite then range from good to moderate color change with minor inclusions, to light color change with moderate to significant inclusions.

•Legend and lore
Alexandrite is considered to be the gemstone of children born on Friday. It is reputed to bring good luck to the wearer, and can also bring out the more refined and elegant characteristics and attributes of the wearer. If alexandrite is worn on the left hand, it can protect you from enemies. When alexandrite is worn on the chest, it supposedly causes the wearer to be emotionally inhibited, so that alexandrite pendant may not be a good choice for your next date.

Alexandrite can be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaning machine (even at boiling temperatures) with standard ammonia-based jewelry cleaner. As with all gemstones, however, avoid drastic temperature changes. Even though it can be boiled, an alexandrite will crack if removed from a boiling solution and immediately placed in cold water. Alexandrite is hard, but so are diamonds, and, as we know, diamonds can chip if struck hard enough and at the right (wrong) spot. And thus, so can alexandrite, so be careful not to bang it against a hard surface.

All about Citrine!

•What is citrine?
Citrine is the yellow variety of quartz. Citrine is often confused with yellow topaz. They are two completely different stones. Citrine is yellow because of the presence of iron, and its name comes from the French word citron, which means “lemon” and the Latin word citrus, which means “a citrus tree.” Yellow citrine is sometimes used as the alternate November birthstone, although topaz is the proper birthstone for that month. Citrine is also the commemorative gemstone for the 13th wedding anniversary.

•Where is citrine found?
Gem quality citrine is rare and found in only a few places, including Brazil (Rio Grande citrine); Spain; Madagascar; Russia; and Colombia (Palmira citrine).

Citrine occurs naturally in yellow, golden yellow, and orange colors. The most common color of natural citrine is a pale yellow.

Citrine can be cut into all the faceted gemstone shapes: round brilliant, oval, pear, marquise, heart, cushion, square, trillion, fantasy, and emerald. It is also cut into cabochons.

Citrine has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs Scale and is a relatively durable stone. It can be set, polished, cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner, and boiled and steamed with care. Also, mountings set with citrine stones can be worked on with a torch with relative safety.

The highest quality genuine citrines are an orangey-red color and are exceptionally rare. Most good quality commercial citrines are yellow or yellow-orange and, as with all translucent gemstones, the absence of internal inclusions (flaws) signifies a higher quality stone.

•Legend and lore
Citrine is reputed to have a calming effect on its wearers. It can supposedly provide a feeling of stability and can enhance stamina in all aspects of your being. Citrine is also supposed to help hyperactive, “Type-A,” workaholics slow down a little. (It is not known if lots of coffee negates this effect!)

Citrine can be cleaned with ammonia-based jewelry cleaner and is safe to clean in an ultrasonic cleaning machine. At home, you can soak your citrine jewelry in standard jewelry cleaner, rinse under hot water, and dry with a soft cloth. Do not boil citrine nor subject it to intense temperature changes (i.e., allowing the stone to become extremely hot and then running it under cold water).