The World of Colored Gems

By Gleim the Jeweler

The jeweler allows me to wear the sapphire blue lake on my finger, emerald green leaves around my neck, and take the citrine sunset with me wherever I go. Jewelry has become my daytime link to nature in an office with no windows. And if I have to work late, there’s nothing like diamond stars and a pearl full moon against an onyx night sky.

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“Gossip” emerald cut three stone rings by Goshwara.

This wonderful quotation, by author Astrid Alauda, perfectly expresses the emotional connection that has been provided by colored gemstones for thousands of years.

Fine colored gemstones have been revered throughout history. Gemstones have been imbued with the power to foretell events, strengthen memory, quicken intelligence, ensure purity, avert lightning, prevent intoxication, ensure happiness and are often equated to the fountain of youth.

What Defines a Colored Gemstone?

Colored gemstones are described as all the various gemstones except for diamonds. Only a select few of the vast number of minerals known qualify as gemstones. In order to become a gemstone, the mineral must be rare and beautiful and be durable enough to be worn as jewelry.

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Blue sapphire ring by AG Gems.

Precious vs. Semi-Precious Gems?

In the past, the term “precious” was used to describe diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire. The term “semi-precious” referred to all other gemstones. Today, most jewelers and gemologists agree that these terms no longer accurately reflect the true value of these gems. In particular, some species of colored gems, such as alexandrite or demantoid garnet, are so rare that they have been known to command prices exceeding those of emerald, ruby, and even diamonds.

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Alexandrite and diamond pendant by Omi Privé.

Gemstones generally can be grouped into three major clarity categories:

  1. Gems that are flawless or have very minor inclusions (e.g. aquamarines and amethysts)
  2. Gems that are moderately included (e.g. rubies and sapphires)
  3. Gems that tend to be highly included (e.g. emeralds and red tourmalines)

Color is the single most important deciding factor in determining the value of a gemstone, followed by the cut. The cut of a gemstone is designed to bring out the best possible color or colors in the rough uncut material while retaining as much weight as possible. The color in a fine gem is saturated evenly throughout the stone and is of a brilliant deep, rich, and pleasing color—not too dark and not too light.

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Idolite earrings by Erica Courtney.

Each variety of colored gemstone has a range of highly prized colors that have evolved over the years. Many of these colors are tied to historical sources such as “Burmese” rubies from Burma, “Kashmir” sapphires from India, and “Persian” turquoise. This is by no means a sure bet. Not all rubies from Burma have the “Burmese” signature color and furthermore, you may find a fine color from a ruby that was mined in Thailand.

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Cushion cut Mozambican Ruby ring by Real Gems Inc.

Ultimately the wearer decides what color speaks to them, keeping in mind that this may not be that color defined as being the most valuable. Since we all perceive color differently it’s ultimately a very personal choice.

Today, with the ever-increasing advances in gemstone enhancements and synthetic gemstone production, it is more important than ever to work with a reputable and properly trained jeweler.

About Gleim the Jeweler

We have been serving the Peninsula since 1931 and have been members of the American Gem Society (AGS) since 1954. Our membership with the AGS assures you that we earn and maintain the education necessary to provide you with the most up to date information about gems and their different markets.

We also have American Gem Society Accredited Gem Laboratories, assuring you that we have the proper instruments to identify and grade gems. And, what’s perhaps most important, we love colored gems!

3 Stone and Jewelry Trends from the 2017 Tucson Gem Shows

By Jennifer Heebner, Guest Writer

Like tourists to the Grand Canyon, thousands of people routinely descend on Tucson, Arizona, in the first quarter of every year. The reason? Gemstones!

An annual gathering of miners and cutters that is loosely dubbed the “Tucson Gem Shows” is the draw, with 40-plus individual fairs targeting largely professional buyers of rough and loose stones and some finished jewelry.

While some venues permit entry to consumers, the bulk of the shows exist to serve the business-to-business audience. As a longtime member of the trade, the American Gem Society secures entry to the toniest destination in town—the American Gem Trade Association’s GemFair Tucson, held Jan. 31 to Feb. 5—to find out what AGS member artisans brought for your favorite stores to buy.To wit, here are three trends that you can shop by fall.

To wit, here are three trends that you can shop by fall.

Colored gemstone halo style engagement rings. You’re accustomed to seeing all-diamond halo-style rings in stores, but colored stone merchants are getting in on this style game with their own vivid versions. Think naturally color-changing alexandrite melee surrounding purple spinel at OMI Gems, or multiple hues of fancy color sapphires. These options are fresh in terms of look and can also help contain costs, depending on the gems. “Young couples are really interested in color for engagement rings—and not just blue!” observes Kambiz Sabouri, president of Gem 2000.

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Ring with a purple spinel center stone and a halo of diamonds and alexandrite from OMI Gems.

Unexpected color combinations. From rare pink Mahenge spinels with Mozambique ruby to opals with tsavorite or mandarin garnet, there are no rules for robust and beautifully colored gem pairings. In fact, Royal India isn’t creating anything that could be considered a basic look anymore; instead, it is making one-of-a-kinds. “People are tired of being ‘dull,’” remarks CEO Vishal Kotahwala. Helping to grow the numbers of sui generis? Rare stones like Paraiba tourmaline. “Paraiba with anything is wonderful,” notes Sabrina Bindra, director of sales and marketing for B & B Fine Gems.

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Earrings with mixed colors of gemstones from Royal India.

Long necklaces for layering. Length remains a go-to for many fine jewelry-buying fashionistas. Versatility is one reason—heard of layering?—but so is a variety of materials. Long necklaces from pearl maker Mastoloni feature not just round or baroque shapes of South Sea pearls but also gemstone accents. And at Jye’s International, lightweight numbers, particularly 36-inch-long necklaces with rose-cut sapphires, are most in demand. “The younger generation loves to mix up their wardrobes with functional pieces,” says founder Jennifer Chang.

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Multi-strand necklace with rose-cut multi-color sapphires from Jye’s International.

Want to learn more about these gemstones and trends? Do you have your own designs in mind? Visit an AGS-certified jeweler near you and they’ll be happy to help you find the gems and look that’s right for you!

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!

June Hits the Birthstone Trifecta

By Robin Skibicki

Those born in June celebrate their special month with three beautiful birthstones: the luminous pearl, enchanting alexandrite and magical moonstone.

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Pearls

Pearls are the only gemstone in the world that comes from a living organism, and can be found in both saltwater and freshwater. Whether natural or cultured, a pearl forms when a mollusk produces layers of nacre (pronounced NAY-kur) around any type of irritant inside its shell. In natural pearls, the irritant may be another organism from the water. In cultured pearls, a mother-of-pearl bead or a piece of tissue is inserted (by man) into the mollusk to start the process. There are also different types of mollusks that produce very different looking pearls.

For centuries, pearls have been a symbol of beauty and purity. Today, they are regarded as both classic and contemporary, coming in many more fashionable styles than your grandmother’s traditional strand of pearls.

 

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Sterling silver necklace with five rows of white baroque coin freshwater cultured pearls and rock crystal, by Honora.

 

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Mastoloni designed a 16.3mm Tahitian pearl set in 18kt white gold adorned with diamonds on each side.

 

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Natural golden South Sea cultured pearl and diamond earrings in 18kt gold, by Shogun Pearl.

 

Alexandrite

This variety of color change chrysoberyl is extremely rare, placing the alexandrite in its own mineral group. When this remarkable stone is viewed in daylight or fluorescent light, it appears green or blueish green. When seen under incandescent lighting, it morphs to a purplish red.

Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this chameleon-like gemstone. Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.

Alexandrite is a relatively modern gem, first discovered in Russia around 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II. Although alexandrite has a short history, it is has been associated with good fortune, enhanced creativity and focus.

The photos below are key examples of the incredible color-changing properties of the alexandrite. OMI Privé‘s, Niveet Nagpal, designed this bewitching brooch named “Alexis.” Each photo shows the same brooch under both color phases.

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The lizard’s body is 18K white gold, and the back is made up of 6.06 ctw of alexandrite rough. The eyes are tsavorite, the mouth is ruby, and the entire piece is accented with diamonds, alexandrites and black diamonds. A work of art!

AG Gems Alexandrite

A natural, oval-cut Alexandrite ring by AG Gems is flanked by two half-moon cut diamonds and accented by 42 round brilliant cut diamonds.

 

Moonstone

A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and occasionally show either a multi-rayed star or a cat’s eye. They are part of the family of minerals called feldspar and occur in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. Moonstone is a translucent stone that comes in a variety of colors, such as white, gray, green, blue, peach and champagne. The most popular is the rainbow moonstone, which is an iridescent white or gray displaying a blue sheen in the light. To enhance the adularescence, moonstone is often cut into a smooth cabochon shape.

Moonstone lore appears in varying cultures over the centuries, each associating its mesmerizing properties with goddesses, psychic abilities, femininity and motherhood, calming, protection, health and good fortune. Here are some exquisite designs featuring the magnificent moonstone.

 

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The Pompei Pendant by Lika Behar Collection features a tear drop rainbow moonstone framed by 24k gold and oxidized sterling silver.

 

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Yael Designs‘ Moonrise earrings are set in 18k white gold, and feature moonstones and blue sapphires, accented with ideal cut diamonds.

 

Moonstone-peach Ritani

A round, peach moonstone pendant by Ritani is set in 18kt yellow gold with a beaded edge finish.

 

If you’re in search of pearl, alexandrite or moonstone jewelry, visit our Find a Jeweler search for an AGS credentialed jeweler near you.

Color-Changing Gemstones are Phenomenal!

By Kevin P. McVay

Have you ever thought about adding color-changing gemstones to your jewelry collection? We’re not talking about well-known colored gemstones like rubies, sapphires or emeralds, but gems that actually change color depending on the lighting. From rings to pendants and everything in-between, color-changing gemstones, known as phenomenal gems, are unique and go well with many types of jewelry designs. Here are some of our favorites:

Alexandrite

This rare gem was discovered in 1834. During the day, it beams green or bluish-green. In incandescent light, it turns to a soft shade of red. The Alexandrite’s optical changes along with its rarity make it a very valuable gemstone.

 Opal

Some say that they can see fire, lightning, rainbows, stars and seas in opals. This gemstone ranges in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red and blue. The beauty and brilliance of this gem is the product ofthe contrast between its color play and its background.

Zultanite

This gem’s colors range from kiwi to champagne to raspberry depending on the lighting. Like Alexandrite, Zultanite is a very rare gem. Besides changing color, Zultanite also possesses a beautiful cat’s eye effect. This gem is truly spectacular!

There are more phenomenal gemstones out there, but these are three of our favorites. Please let us know if you have any gems you’d like to see featured on our blog by commenting below!

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