The Month of Gift-Giving

December has finally arrived and we have a month filled with celebrations and life-long traditions to look forward to. One of those holiday traditions is gift-giving, which we can all relate to the challenge of finding the perfect gift for a loved one.

Each of the three main holidays celebrated this month—Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa—have their own special traditions on how and when to exchange gifts.

Hanukkah: December 13-20, 2017

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight consecutive evenings but that doesn’t mean everyone gets a gift each night. In lieu of presents, some families mix in a game night, go to a movie or special event, or simply spend quality time together. Often there is one night reserved for that very special gift. Here are a few ideas!

 

Christmas: December 25, 2017

Christmas is as diverse as the many countries that celebrate it, which means the traditions, decorations, foods, and presentation of the presents vary. No matter where Christmas is celebrated, it’s always about connecting with family and friends. Which of these gifts do you hope to find under the Christmas tree?

 

Kwanzaa: December 26, 2017-January 1, 2018

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration that centers on culture and family. Each day is associated with a symbol, such as Mazao, crops that “symbolize work and the basis of the holiday,” or Zawadi, which are “meaningful gifts to encourage growth, self-determination, achievement, and success.” On the last day of Kwanzaa, called Imani, gifts are exchanged, often honoring the creative spirit and to reaffirm self-worth. Below are some ideas for someone you know with a creative soul.

 

Perhaps some of the beautiful pieces above have given you some inspiration? When you are ready to shop, be sure to visit an American Gem Society (AGS) credentialed jeweler.  The American Gem Society wishes you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays, and may the new year bring some wonderful (and perhaps sparkly) surprises your way!

It’s Only Natural

By Robin Skibicki

Not all gemstones are minerals with a crystalline structure. In fact, some were formed through biological processes of living organisms, such as plants and animals. These natural beauties are referred to as organic gemstones and include several varieties that are important to the gem trade. We’re talking about pearls, coral, amber, ammolite, and shell, just to name a few.

Pearls

Pearls are pretty much perfect for any occasion. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed in silks and satins or khakis and jeans, they go with everything! There are several types to choose from, like freshwater or saltwater, natural or cultured, with such varieties as Akoya, Keshi, South Sea, and Tahitian.

 

Coral

There are hundreds of species of coral throughout the world, but only a few are used for fine jewelry. Corallium japonicum and Corallium rubrum are two varieties of red coral commonly used to produce jewelry, and Antipatharia, a species of black coral prized for its lustrous, black appearance after polishing.

 

Amber

Amber had its moment in the spotlight when it appeared as a source for “Dino DNA” in the movie, Jurassic Park. This fossilized resin of ancient tree sap dates back 25 to 50 million years, with some of the oldest known material dating back 290 to 350 million years ago. Amber comes in over 300 different shades, with the most common colors being honey, green, cherry, cognac, citrine, and butterscotch.

 

Ammolite

Ammolite is an iridescent gemstone material that comes from the fossilized shell of extinct squid-like creatures called ammonites. They only come from one place: Alberta, Canada. Although they have been forming for millions of years, ammolite first appeared in jewelry in the 1960s and was recognized in 1981 as an organic gemstone.

 

Shell

Shell has been used for decorative purposes for centuries and was most likely the by-product of the search for food. It’s been used for everything from buttons to knife handles, from cameos to necklaces. In jewelry design, the two most familiar types of shell are abalone and mother-of-pearl.

Interesting facts: Abalone is composed of mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl is called nacre, which makes the outer layer of pearls.

 

Visit an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you and ask them to show you some organic gemstones!

 

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!

The AGS Suppliers’ Reception and Showcase

Each year during the American Gem Society’s (AGS) annual conference, Conclave, we feature an exclusive event called the AGS Suppliers’ Reception and Showcase. This special evening gives our supplier members the opportunity to showcase their incredible jewelry to their fellow AGS members, the AGS retailers.

What makes this event so special is when we do a showcase…we do it up right! This year, with the generous sponsorship of the bridal magazine, The Knot, our showcase featured 23 AGS members whose most gorgeous and luxurious jewelry was worn by models in wedding gowns.

This showcase is not open to the public, but we’d like to give you a special peek into the fashions and festivities that took place this year!

This showcase is not open to the public, but we’d like to give you a special peek into the fashions and festivities that took place this year!

Stay tuned for more images featuring our AGS members.

Visit an AGS-certified jeweler near you and ask them to show you some of their favorite designs. And if you have a special design in mind, do not hesitate to ask—they’ll be happy to find it for you or bring your idea to life!

6 Jewelry Trends for 2017

By Jennifer Heebner

Directional colors and styles of jewelry shape up annually based on a trio of familiar factors—what’s trending in Hollywood, what the fashion designers are sending down the runways, and the gem material that Mother Nature provides. The following six jewelry trends were born from the intersection of these occasions, so keep them top of mind this year for gifts and self-rewards.

Oversize earrings. Calderesque versions in costume materials were evident on models at several spring couture shows though karat-gold numbers are an heirloom-quality choice. AGS members have plenty of options!

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Chandelier earrings in 18k gold with rose-cut diamonds and rubies from Vivaan.

 

Hearts. Love takes a literal interpretation next season. Just look at the word itself on sweaters by Michael Kors! While hearts can elicit mixed reactions—are they kitsch or cool?—know the fashion gods have committed to them this year. Would you wear a heart? Diamond options (here and below) are hard to resist!

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Ring in platinum with a heart-shaped yellow diamond, a heart-shaped emerald, and colorless diamonds from Setaré.

 

Choker necklaces. These continue to enjoy the spotlight. Both Céline and Versace sent choker-wearing models down the spring runways to create chic style messages. Chokers can feature traditional (think cameos) or contemporary elements ideal for wear dressed up for evening or down with denim during the day.

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Choker necklace in 18k Strawberry Gold with Chocolate and Vanilla diamonds and a Neon Paraiba Tourmaline from Le Vian.

 

Mismatched earrings. These range from subtly mismatched styles—one stud and one drop—at Dior to completely different designs on each ear. And related to this trend of uneven mates are the large single earrings being worn solo. No matter how you wear the mismatched look, its novelty will attract attention and admirers.

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Mismatched earrings in 18k gold with diamonds from Erica Courtney.

 

Statement necklaces. Recent red carpet jewelry placements have fueled a growing appetite for attention-grabbing necklaces. Expect to keep seeing bibs, big pendants on long chains (think Givenchy’s über-cool agates), and multi-layer options that build a look by using many slimmer styles.

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Collar necklace in 18k gold with blue chalcedony from Goshwara.

 

Pearls. From natural-color Chinese freshwaters to Japanese Akoya and South Sea varieties, pearls are making a comeback among jewelry designers for their iconic beauty. Even fashion brands like Gucci worked pearl accents into 2017 lines, further cementing the lustrous orb’s must-have status.

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Earrings in 24k gold with baroque-shape freshwater pearls and diamonds from Lika Behar Collection.

If you’re loving these trends, search for an AGS jeweler near you. They’ll help you find any of the above designs, match you with similar looks, or help you design your very own trend-setting style!

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!

The Five Trends of Christmas

If you’re in search of some great gift ideas—or some hints to give your true love—then look no further than today’s hottest jewelry trends. Below we feature designs by AGS members that represent these styles, just in time for Christmas.

Hoop Earrings

The hoop is a wonderful go-to classic that works for both day and night. They can be subtle silver or gilded gold loops, be studded with diamonds and gemstones, thread through the ear from behind vs. the front, or lay close to the lobe for the “huggie” style.

 

Pearls

You can never go wrong with pearls—they are forever chic, sophisticated, and classy. They can be mixed with metals and other gemstones, and worn with anything from evening gowns to jeans.

 

 

The Y-Necklace

Like the lariat, the Y-necklace doesn’t need to be wrapped or knotted. They are elegant all on their own, adding a slick touch of glamour to the neckline.

 

Slices

If you would love to have gemstones at an accessible price, slices are a wonderful alternative. Designers have discovered that slices also reveal the unique patterns and inclusions in the gemstone, enhancing their raw beauty.

 

 

Rainbow

It’s hard not to be happy when you see the vibrant colors of a rainbow. The gemstones can be placed together in a single piece or stacked with gemstone bands and bracelets. No matter the combination, they make a great addition to your jewelry wardrobe.

 

These trends only scratch the surface of what’s new and en vogue. If you are looking for some more ideas, be sure to ask your trusted jeweler. AGS jewelers keep up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry and are always happy to help you choose the best look for you and your loved ones. To find an AGS jeweler near you, click here.