Gemstone Spotlight: Tanzanite

tanzanite-UCG

Pear shape tanzanite and diamond ring by United Color Gems.

We often come across a gemstone that inspires us to learn more about its origins and history, as we search out jewelry designs that feature it. Today’s blog spotlights the alternative birthstone for a month other than this one, December. We’re referring to tanzanite.

Tanzanite is the exquisite blue variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery.

Zoisite had been around more than a century and a half before this rare blue variety was found in 1967. Trace amounts of vanadium, mixed with extreme heat, cause the blue color – which ranges from pale blue to intense ultramarine with violet undertones.

Due to pleochroism—an optical phenomenon in which a substance displays different colors when seen from different angles—tanzanite must be cut properly to highlight the more attractive blue and violet hues, and deemphasize the undesirable brown tones.

The majority of tanzanite on the market today is heat treated to minimize the brown colors found naturally and to enhance the blue shades that can rival sapphire.

Tanzanite is still only found on a few square miles of land in Tanzania, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Its price and availability are directly tied to mines in this region.

Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many—whether you happen to be born in December or not!

 

If you’re drawn to the eye-catching blue, violet, and purple hues of tanzanite, contact an AGS credentialed jeweler near you to find a design that best suits you!

We’re an AGS Jeweler!

We are very proud of our new video, “We’re an AGS Jeweler!”

It’s one thing for us to tell you to shop with an American Gem Society (AGS) jeweler, it’s another thing to actually see why shopping with a trusted, AGS jeweler is so important.

To view our short “We’re an AGS Jeweler” video, click the image below.

Capture

Are you ready to find an AGS Jeweler near you? Click here to get started!

Six Displays of Optical Phenomena in Gemstones

By Robin Skibicki

There are several varieties of gemstones that display optical phenomena, which describes the many ways light interacts with the structural features or inclusions (internal characteristics) in the gemstone. Often these gemstones will be fashioned in a particular way that best displays these effects.

The science of optical phenomena can be fascinating, although the mystery and allure of these effects are what initially attract us! In this article, we’ll discuss six of the most familiar (and magical) displays of optical phenomena in gemstones.

Adularescence

Adularescence is the phenomena typically seen in moonstone, which is a member of the feldspar family. It produces a billowy soft blue to milky white light that appears to move across the gemstone. This occurs when light hits the alternating layers of albite and orthoclase, which are two differing forms of feldspar within the gem.

The layers of feldspar interfere with the light rays causing them to scatter and the eye to observe adularescence. The effect is best seen when the gemstone is cut en cabochon [en CAB-ah-shawn]—that is, with a polished, domed top and a flat or slightly rounded base.

 

Asterism

Asterism, or stars, relates to the four- or six-rayed star pattern of light produced by the fibrous inclusions, elongated needles, or growth tubes in a gemstone. This singular, celestial-like phenomenon is best seen in a gemstone cut en cabochon.

 

Chatoyancy

Chatoyancy [sha-TOY-an-cee] is also known as “cat’s eye.” Fine needle-like or fibrous inclusions within the gemstone are what causes this effect. Again, stones fashioned as cabochons display this effect the best.

 

Color Change

A small number of gemstones display the color change optical phenomena. Depending on the lighting environment, the color change appearance can vary due to the shifting wavelengths. The technical term for this is photochromism or photochroism; “color-change” is a lot easier to say!

The best-known color changing gemstone is alexandrite. When viewed in sunlight, it appears greenish. When placed under incandescent light, it appears reddish. Other varieties of color-changing gemstones include sapphire, garnet, spinel, diaspore, and tourmaline.

 

Labradorescence

Labradorscence [lab-ra-dor-es-cence] is an optical characteristic often seen in labradorite. The effect is a spectacular play-of-color that is metallic or iridescent, displaying blue, green, red, orange, and yellow. This is an interference effect within the gemstone caused by internal structures that selectively reflect only certain colors.

 

Play-of-Color

Play-of-color is created by a combination of diffraction and interference and is the result of the microstructure of opal: the chameleon of a thousand colors!

Opals are made up of many layers of small, stacked spheres of silica. These spheres diffract light, splitting it into a spectrum of colors. The layers of these spheres create interference allowing certain colors to dominate, depending on the angle the opal is viewed.

 

Are you ready to see some of these displays in person? Visit a credentialed AGS jeweler near you and ask to see some gemstones that exhibit optical phenomena!

How to Rock Stackable Rings Like A Pro

By Uneek Fine Jewelry

Stackable rings are a trend that has definitely been re-emerging in the last year and we are loving it! Whether you’re having a dinner date, a night out with the girls, or a business meeting, there is a stackable ring style that is appropriate for you. Here are our tips on stacking rings like a pro for any event:

Keep It Simple

An important key to remember is to be simple. Using small bands to accent instead of chunky pieces. These simple touches will not only stand out but also create symmetry to your look. To ensure the complete chic stack, be sure they keep it symmetrical and not to clutter all your rings on one finger…share the love!

Mix & Match

You’ve always heard not to wear gold and silver jewelry but we are here to tell you that…they are all wrong! Mixing metals can create a cohesive glow that also looks great with your summer tan or favorite fall-colored clothing. More importantly, who doesn’t love a fashionista who is willing to take some risks from time to time?

Playing With Shapes

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different designs and shapes. Bold diamond bands paired with fun geometric designs complete a playful, yet sophisticated look. For the ethereal look, pair diamond bands with our dainty laurel bands [pictured below].

Stay True to You

Some of us are a little more conservative while some of us like to explore styles and fashions more often. No matter the case, it is important to stay true to your personality. Maybe one to two rings are all you need but perhaps another day you’re feeling that bohemian vibe where you want to pile on every finger. Don’t worry, the rings are here to support whichever look you’re feeling.

Are you ready to rock your own stacking style? Contact a certified AGS jeweler near you.

About Uneek Fine Jewelry

Established in 1996, Uneek Fine Jewelry has emerged as an unparalleled standard in fine diamond jewelry. The reasons will be evident once you see and experience the extraordinary detail, intricate workmanship and breathtaking designs in their extensive bridal, color and fashion collections.

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: What Does Jewelers Mutual Cover?

Jewelry box with white gold and silver rings, earrings and penda

What is the purpose of insuring your fine jewelry? If your ruby earring went down the shower drain, an heirloom necklace disappeared from your dresser, or you accidentally cracked the center stone of your engagement ring—that’s when having jewelry insurance will bring you peace of mind. It’s good to know you’re protected!

This informative article from Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company will give you a clear idea as to what their jewelry insurance policy covers. Click here to read more!

Interstellar Gemstones

By Isabelle Corvin, CG, Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers

Gemstones are beautiful. Everyone knows that! They are flowers of the mineral world, treasures from deep within the Earth.

Most of the time.

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

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

Opal

Dilamani Black Opal

This incredible pendant by Dilamani Jewelry features Black Opal, which is, thankfully, found right here on Earth!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peridot

ColoreSG-Peridot

Though peridot’s remarkable green hue looks out of this world, these sterling silver peridot post earrings by Colore|SG belong to our world.

Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral olivine with the chemical formula (Mg, Fe)2SiO4 – magnesium, iron, silicon, and oxygen. It’s the birthstone of August and is famous for its almost shockingly energetic green color.

On Earth, this gem is found in igneous rocks. Not on Earth, you might see it on a meteorite! The gems have been on pallasite, and around, meteorite impact craters.

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

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

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

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

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

Quartz and Feldspar

markschneider-quartz

This futuristic pendant features the earthly gemstones bubble quartz, moonstones, and diamonds. Designer Mark Schneider Design won 2nd place for Design Excellence in the 2013 MJSA American Vision Awards.

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

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

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

Will we find a bright blue quartz, naturally colored?

A giant moonstone spire that stands taller than a skyscraper?

An entire planet of nothing but crystal?

No one is sure but the possibilities are endless!

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

“Diamonds”

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

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

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

Glass

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

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

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

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

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

And, apparently, other planets, too.

isabelle

Isabelle Corvin is an AGS Certified Gemologist (CG) who is the Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers. Since she was 14-years-old, she knew she wanted to be a gemologist. Ms. Corvin also writes for Panowicz Jewelers’ blog.

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: How to Ship Jewelry, According to Loss Prevention Experts

Delivery man delivering package to customer close up at hand and box

Until the day transporters—like those used in Star Trek—become a reality, sending our valuable items over a great distance still requires shipping. How can this be done safely, discretely, and with peace of mind?

We’ve found the best advice comes from the loss prevention experts at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. They’ve provided eight steps to take in order to ensure your items arrive securely and intact. Click here to read their article,  How to Ship Jewelry, According to Loss Prevention Experts.