Color Comes Into Play with October’s Birthstones

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Opal and tourmaline from Gem 2000.

When it comes to color choices, October’s birthstones give you some amazing choices. Whether you choose opal or tourmaline, you’ll get a display of exciting and intense colors, making them popular choices for jewelry designers and collectors.

Opal

The name “opal” derives from the Greek opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).” They range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. An opal’s beauty is the product of contrast between its color play and its background.

Opal is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature’s heating and molding processes, the gel hardened into the form of opals. The opal is composed of particles closely packed in spherical arrangements. When packed together in a regular pattern, a three-dimensional array of spaces is created that gives opal its radiance.

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s precious opal comes from Australia. The following are other countries that produce precious or fancy varieties: Brazil, Mexico, United States, Hungary, Peru, Indonesia, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Ethiopia.

Each opal is totally unique, like fingerprints!! To get a really good look at the opals in these designs, click on the images below for a larger view.

Tourmaline

Since tourmaline is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone’s taste. It is known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; the gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized.

Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.

The following designs feature the varying hues of tourmaline. Click on the images to see a larger view.

 

If you are shopping for opal or tourmaline jewelry, click here to search for an American Gem Society (AGS) credentialed jeweler near you.

 

Jewelers Mutual Presents: Your Birthstone Guide

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There’s something about birthstones that creates fascination, whether the focus is on their history and lore, or the emotional connection an individual may have with their birth month’s gem(s). In fact, the most searched topic on the American Gem Society website is “birthstones.”

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group, in collaboration with the American Gem Society, has created a handy, go-to guide for birthstones. The guide features interesting facts about each birthstone and how to care for them. Click here to learn more!

Bring on Spring: Be Inspired by the Colors of the Season

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

Now that spring has arrived, we look forward to the signs of renewal. From fastidiously cleaning our homes and joyously changing out our wardrobe to reconnecting with family and friends for a spring holiday or wedding. It’s easy to love this time of year!

Even our jewelry is complementing the seasonal spectrums, with soft pastels and bright, happy colors. Here are some spring-inspired styles from a few of our American Gem Society (AGS) members.

 

We’ve all got that extra spring in our step thanks to the warmer weather and the chance to don the colors of the season in our homes, wardrobe, and fine jewelry! Search for an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you and they’ll help you find the perfect piece for any springtime occasion.

Aquamarine: the Cure for the Madness of March

Historically speaking, March is an unusual month. It’s a time of transition, from winter blues to the summertime blue of swimming pools. It’s a windy month, too, and the weather can be fickle as one day is cold and the next is warm. It’s supposed to be the first month of spring, but sometimes it feels like the final month of winter.

Even literature has a conflicted relationship with the month. Shakespeare warned Caesar to “Beware the ides of March” in his eponymous play, “Julius Caesar.”

Despite the ups and downs of March, there is one bright, shining and beautiful factor. Aquamarine.

It’s a word which evokes the sea.

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Beautiful aquamarine gems. Courtesy of Suna Bros.

Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones, and darker blue stones are very valuable. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

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Aquamarine and diamond ring from Suna Bros.

Like emeralds, this gemstone is a variety of a mineral called beryl. Large stones have been found all over the world, including one stone found in Brazil that weighed over 240 pounds. Aquamarine grows in large, six-sided crystals that can be up to a foot long, making it a great gem to be cut and polished in larger carats for statement pieces.

Not only is aquamarine one of the March birthstones, it’s also used to celebrate 19th wedding anniversaries. It’s a beautiful stone with little or no yellow in it, so it looks great in many settings with different colored metals and gemstones.

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Opal pendant surrounded by aquamarine and diamonds. From Yael Designs.

First, visit an AGS jeweler, who will be happy to help you pick out the perfect piece. Next, look at the stone’s cut. Since aquamarine can be very lightly colored (and sometimes appear almost colorless), the cut is very important to the overall appearance of the stone and how saturated, or even, the color appears.

Of course, choose the color that most appeals to you, however, it’s generally accepted that lighter colored aquamarines are less valuable than the stronger, deeper hues of blue or blue-green.

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Aquamarine and diamonds in a gold setting.
From Erica Courtney Jewelry

Next, take a look at the stone’s clarity. Most cut gems do not have inclusions that are visible to the eye, and some rarer or more expensive aquamarines are available without visible inclusions, as well.

Since aquamarine crystals can grow to be quite large, larger cut gemstones are possible to purchase as a part of beautiful statement pieces. While you may not be looking to buy in that range, even smaller aquamarines make for lovely solitaires or companion jewels in larger pieces.

Ready to see aquamarine up-close and in person? Find an AGS Jewler here. Just don’t forget to bring your jacket. . . or not. It’s March, after all. Who knows what the weather will be like?

Tips from Jewelers Mutual: Ring Appraisal—What You Need to Know for Insurance

Jeweler looking at the ring through microscope in a workshop.

When it comes to receiving a ring—whether you are newly engaged, celebrating a birthday, toasting an anniversary, or treasuring an heirloom—you’re probably not thinking about insurance.

When you procure something so precious, for peace of mind, you should consider protecting it. An important step to insuring your ring is to have it appraised.

In the following article, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company covers the most common misconceptions of ring appraisal, tips for getting a good appraisal, and why they are so important. Click here to read more.

Emeralds and Diamonds: the perfect pair

By Donna Jolly, RJ

When you roam the hallways of the American Gem Society, it’s not unusual to see members of the team staring at images of gorgeous jewelry on their desktop. We work in this industry because we are fans of shiny, pretty things! As jewelry lovers, we can be a little fickle, month to month, as to what our favorite gemstone is.

Yes, we love diamonds. Quite a lot.

Turns out, we love May’s birthstone quite a lot, too: the emerald.

Pair an emerald and a diamond together, and we pretty much have a hard time finding the words to describe how over-the-top in love we are with that striking combination.

But let’s try. And in the process, we’ll show you some of our favorite pieces of emerald and diamond jewelry.

First, a little history on the emerald. This beautiful gemstone was mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC, but some estimate that the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old. Cleopatra had a thing for emeralds. She even claimed ownership of all emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. If the queen could be around today, she would no doubt attempt to expand her reach of this green gift from the earth.

Emeralds, like diamonds, are analyzed according to the 4Cs: color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Rare emeralds are a deep green-blue, while lighter colored gems are more common—and a good choice for those looking for a more affordable alternative.

Now for the good stuff: take a look at this stunning pendant below from JB Star. Marquis shaped emeralds and diamonds surround a square-cut center diamond for a green and white starburst.

Pear Shaped emeralds and Marquite diamonds

Yael Designs is known for creating crazy beautiful colorful jewelry. Here, they show us some marquis magic, blending yellow and white diamonds with emeralds.

Emerald and and diamonds

Supreme Jewelry created this gorgeous pair of diamond chandelier earrings featuring tear-drop shaped emeralds. There is quite a lot to love here. Especially the intricate yet delicate design. Try to imagine this design with another gem in it other than emerald. Would it have the same level of vibrancy?

Emerald and Diamond Chandelier Earrings

Jewelry can represent different things: symbols of love and success, a cause for celebration, a little something extra to make you feel good. If you are in search of fine jewelry, whether it’s an emerald, diamond or another gemstone, shop with a jeweler you trust. It’s step number one in the jewelry-buying process. Find a professional, trusted American Gem Society jeweler here.  To learn more about emeralds and diamonds, click here.

Ignite Your Passion for Purple!

Amethyst is a violet variety of crystal quartz. Macro Texture purple crystals.For some, the color purple calms the mind and nerves. It encourages creativity and offers a sense of spirituality. It can signify royalty, virtue and faith, wealth and position, and courage. Purple unites the “wisdom” of blue and the “love” of red. It’s the distinguishable color of February’s birthstone, amethyst, which seems quite apropos for a month often associated with love and passion!

Amethyst is a purple quartz exhibiting a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found all over the world, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Zambia. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, derived from the word “methustos,” which means “intoxicated.” Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness.

While amethyst is most commonly recognized to be a purple color, the gemstone can actually range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that leans more towards blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes, even the same stone can have layers or color variants, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the color shows in a finished piece.

Today, many wearers simply prize the amethyst for its beautiful shade and the way it complements both warm and cool colors. Below you’ll find designs by our AGS members which feature the amazing amethyst. Click on the image to get a closer look.

Have any of these designs ignited your passion for the peaceful purple quartz? If you are in search of fine jewelry featuring amethyst—or if you’d like someone to design a special piece for you—get in contact with a jeweler you can trust. Search for an AGS jeweler near you, https://www.americangemsociety.org/en/find-a-jeweler.

Four Fun Facts About January’s Gemstone

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Rhodolite garnet and emerald sunbeam earrings by Ricardo Basta Fine Jewelry.

If you’re celebrating a birthday or any special occasion this month, then the garnet is a worthy addition to your fine jewelry wardrobe. Here are four fun facts about the colorific January gem:

1. Not all garnets are red.

Garnet is actually the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the Pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of Tsavorites. Some rare garnets are even blue, colorless, or—most rare of all—change colors in different lights. But the most common color is a beautiful range of reds, from rust colored to deep violet-red.

2. It’s more than just a gemstone.

For thousands of years, the garnet has lived a glamorous life as a gemstone. But in the past 150 years, it has also been put to the test as an effective industrial mineral. In the United States, garnet has been utilized for waterjet cutting, abrasive blasting, and filtration.

3. Their inclusions make them unique.

Some garnets have inclusions that are part of the beauty of the overall stone (like “horsetails” in Demantoid garnets, or Hessonite garnets which sometimes have a “turbulent” look). So you may discover that you like the distinctive look these inclusions bring to the piece.

4. Garnets have been around for a very long time.

The garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age. Other references go back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. The Egyptians even said it was the symbol of life. The garnet was very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Century.

Today, the garnet can be found in a range of jewelry pieces and styles, from beautiful rings to stunning tiaras. Since the garnet can come in a range of colors, rare garnets in green or blue make breathtaking pieces, especially in pendants or drop earrings.

Here are a few designs from AGS members featuring the many colors of the garnet. Click on the images for a larger view.

To learn more about the wide range of garnet color options and to pick the perfect piece, search for an 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.

The Mistaken Identity of November’s Birthstones

novemberbirthstonesThe month of November is represented by two richly colored gemstones: topaz and citrine. The gemstones look similar, in fact, that they’ve often been mistaken for one another throughout history. But they are actually unrelated minerals, and topaz occurs in a wide variety of colors far beyond yellow.

The good news is that both of these gemstones are fairly abundant and affordably priced, which means anyone can find a topaz or citrine that will fit their budget.

Topaz

Once upon a time, all gems that were yellow were once considered topaz, and all topaz were presumed to be yellow. Alas, it’s been discovered that topaz is available in a wide variety of colors, with Imperial topaz—a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones— being the most prized. Blue topaz, although abundant in the market, rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment.

Pure topaz is colorless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any color of the rainbow. Precious topaz, ranging in color from brownish orange to yellow, is often mistaken for “smoky quartz” or “citrine quartz,” respectively—although quartz and topaz are unrelated minerals.

Topaz is a traditional gift for those with November birthdays. It’s also given to celebrate 19th wedding anniversaries, and certain types (blue and Imperial, respectively) acknowledge 4th and 23rd wedding anniversaries, as well.

When buying topaz, realize that this gem is most often treated with irradiation to produce desirable colors—particularly blue. Because these processes so closely resemble how topaz forms in nature, there is practically no way to determine whether a stone has been treated.

Here are a few designs from AGS members featuring the terrific topaz. Click on the images for a larger view.

Coffin & Trout Fine Jewellers

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Bi-color topaz set in platinum, 18k rose and yellow gold accented by a pear shaped garnet, tourmaline, and round brilliant cut diamonds.

Goshwara

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“Gossip” London Blue topaz emerald cut earrings on wire.

Corona Jewellery Company

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Sunrise topaz and diamond ring.

Yael Designs

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The Nero pendant is 18k black gold featuring Imperial topaz, accented with rubies and champagne diamonds.

Citrine

The second birthstone for November, citrine, is the variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to brownish orange in color. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of these lemon-inspired shades.

The name “citrine” was commonly used to refer to yellow gems as early as 1385 when the word was first recorded in English. However, since the gem’s color closely resembled topaz, the two November birthstones shared a history of mistaken identities.

Once citrine was distinguished from topaz, it quickly became popular in women’s jewelry as well as men’s cufflinks and rings. Today, it remains one of the most affordable and frequently purchased yellow gemstones.

Whether shopping for a November birthday, a 13th wedding anniversary, or just an affordable piece of jewelry to complement any style, citrine makes a perfect gift. These beautiful design from AGS members ought to spark some gift ideas. Be sure to click on the images to get a larger view.

Gumuchian

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These 18kt yellow gold Mosaic Tile earrings feature diamonds, honey citrine and yellow mother of pearl.

Gleim the Jeweler

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Long, graceful citrine briolettes drop from a tracery of diamonds set in 18K white gold.

United Color Gems

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This pendant is 18k white gold featuring a cushion shaped citrine with a fancy cut top and round diamonds.

Ricardo Basta Fine Jewelry

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The Citrine Swirl Brooch features round citrine surrounded by diamonds and rubies, set in platinum and 18k yellow gold.

When buying topaz or citrine, be sure to shop with a trusted jeweler who will inform you whether or not the stones have been treated. To find an AGS jeweler near you, visit our Find a Jeweler search. The American Gem Society wishes you a very happy birthday, and if you’re celebrating an anniversary, may your love continue to flourish for years to come!