August’s Trio of Distinctive Gemstones

It’s been a year since spinel was added to August’s birthstone line up. Those celebrating a birthday during the eighth calendar month now have three gemstone choices: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel.

Spinel

spinel-Gem2000

Blue spinel by Gem 2000.

For those who are still unfamiliar with spinel, it is often assumed to be other gemstones, like ruby or sapphire.  Cobalt blue, like the one above, is one of the most desired colors. But it can be found in a variety of colors, such as the much coveted red, as well as black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. Spinel can also be found in various cuts, like octagons, trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes, like ovals, pears, and cushions.

No matter what the shape, spinel is spectacular! Take a look at these designs by our AGS members. Click on the images for a closer view.

 

Peridot

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Peridot by Gem 2000.

The verdant peridot is the gemstone most commonly associated with August. Peridot’s recognizable green hue could sometimes vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish green, contingent on how much iron is present. Yet the finest peridot is a brilliant green without any hints of brown or yellow.

Our AGS members will help you find the perfect peridot for you! Click on the images for a closer view.

 

Sardonyx

Sardonyx

Since as far back as Roman times, sardonyx has been highly valued as a stone representing strength, courage, happiness, and clear communication.

The unique reddish, zebra-striped banding of sardonyx stands out beautifully when the stone is smoothed, so it is often cut in cabochon and worn as beads or featured in an eye-catching pendant or ring.

Sardonyx makes a great gift for those born in August who want something a little different than the traditional birthstone. Readily available and relatively inexpensive, sardonyx makes an affordable addition to anyone’s collection.

If you’d like to add spinel, peridot, or sardonyx to your jewelry wardrobe, contact a credentialed AGS jeweler near you!

Chase Away the Winter Blues With December’s Birthstones

decemberbluesDecember’s birthstones offer three ways to fight the winter blues: tanzanite, zircon, and turquoise—all of them, appropriately, best known for beautiful shades of blue.

These gems range from the oldest on earth (zircon) to one of the first mined and used in jewelry (turquoise), to one of the most recently discovered (tanzanite).

Below is a collection of beautiful blues designed by our AGS members. Click on the images to see all the beautiful details!

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.

Due to pleochroism, tanzanite can display different colors when viewed from different angles. Stones 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. Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many—whether one is born in December or not!

 

Zircon

Zircon is an underrated gem that’s often confused with synthetic cubic zirconia due to similar names and shared use as diamond simulants. Few people realize that zircon is a spectacular natural gem available in a variety of colors.

Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Blue zircon, in particular, is the alternative birthstone for December.

Whether you’re buying blue zircon to celebrate a December birthday, or selecting another shade just to own a gorgeous piece of earth’s oldest history, zircon offers many options.

Turquoise

Turquoise, the traditional birthstone of December, is also gifted on the 11th wedding anniversary. But buying turquoise doesn’t require special occasions; its namesake blue color has been internationally revered for centuries as a symbol of protection, friendship, and happiness.

Thanks to its historical and cultural significance in many Native American tribes, turquoise remains most popular throughout the southwestern U.S.—which supplies most of the world’s turquoise today.

Turquoise is one of few gems not judged by the 4Cs of diamond quality. Instead, the main factors that determine its value are color, matrix, hardness, and size. The most prized turquoise color is a bright, even sky blue. Greenish tones can lower the value of a stone, although some designers prefer it.

Because of its fragility, turquoise is often treated to enhance durability and color. Some treatments involving wax and oil are relatively harmless, while other methods—including dye, impregnation, and reconstitution—are more controversial. Seek out an AGS jeweler who can help you find the best quality turquoise.

 

Shopping for fine jewelry should never make you blue! Make sure you shop with a trusted jeweler and buy it with confidence. Click here to search for an AGS jeweler near you.

American Gem Society Member Spotlight: Lisa Bridge, CG

By Randi Molofsky

Lisa BridgeGemologist and designer, Lisa Bridge, has been around fine jewelry and gemstones her entire life. As a fifth generation member of the Seattle-based Ben Bridge empire (70 stores and counting across the United States!), she knows a thing or two about what kind of accessories women want to wear, and luckily enough, she has the right connections (wink, wink) to design her version of statement jewelry at accessible price points. We spoke to Lisa about how her collection came to be, and what’s next for the brand.

Jewelry is definitely in your blood. What is it like to be a fifth generation jeweler?

It is a tremendous joy to have spent my life dreaming of jewelry! Growing up, it was what we talked about around the dinner table and our spring break trips were spent visiting stores. Being in business with my family is wonderful, I get to learn from them and share in the business that they have built.

moss agateLisa Bridge Angular Moss Agate Necklace in Sterling Silver

Why did you decide to earn your gemology degree and move into design?

I believe in professionalism and I knew that I needed the best knowledge to achieve it. I sought my gemological titles to gain a base of knowledge that I am constantly building upon.

Your collection uses gemstones in 14k gold and silver. What is your design process like and what stones and silhouettes are you loving right now?

Every piece of jewelry has a different journey. Sometimes I am inspired by a particular stone – for example, I found a wonderfully shaped piece of lapis in Tucson last year. It was almost a guitar-pick shape. I took that piece of lapis home and stared at it dreaming of what it could become. I designed a suite of jewelry using this unusual shape and customers have really responded to it!

The other way I find inspiration is in experiencing incredible places. I love gazing at a beautiful vista of mountains, trees, and water. I find ideas in the shapes and colors that I see. Traveling is one of my favorite things and now trying to capture the essence of amazing places is a delicious challenge!

malachite
Lisa Bridge Malachite Ring in Sterling Silver

What have the reactions from your customers been to your line?

I feel deeply gratified that customers have embraced the collection. I am encouraged by people who come back to purchase a second or third piece having loved what they already have. Having my creations become part of people’s lives is truly a wonderful gift.

chalcedony hoops

Lisa Bridge Chalcedony & Agate Hoop Earrings in Sterling Silver

What’s next for the LB collection?

I am excited to be introducing a new collection this fall full of new inspiration, colors, and gemstones!

Shop the Lisa Bridge for Ben Bridge collection right here.