Corundum of Many Colors: Sapphire

As we turn our calendars to September, we start thinking of things like heading back to school, sipping on a pumpkin spice latte, and planning our fall fashions. For those celebrating a birthday in September, they’re thinking of their birthstone: sapphire!

Although sapphire typically refers to the rich blue gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, this royal gem actually occurs in a rainbow of hues. Sapphires come in every color except red, which would then be classified as ruby.

Trace elements like iron, titanium, chromium, copper, and magnesium give naturally colorless corundum a tint of blue, yellow, purple, orange or green, respectively. Sapphires in any color but blue are called “fancies.”

Pink sapphires, in particular, tow a fine line between ruby and sapphire. In the U.S., these gems must meet a minimum color saturation to be considered rubies. Pinkish orange sapphires called padparadscha (from the Sri Lankan word for “lotus flower”) can actually draw higher prices than some blue sapphires.

Due to the remarkable hardness of sapphires—which measure 9 on the Mohs scale, second only to diamond—they aren’t just valuable in jewelry, but also in industrial applications including scientific instruments, high-durability windows, watches, and electronics.

Sapphires make stunning gifts for anyone born in September or celebrating a 5th or 45th wedding anniversary, so be sure to visit an AGS jeweler. They will help you find that perfect gift, whether you’re seeking the classic blue or another shade from the sapphire rainbow.

Need some inspiration? View this collection of designs featuring the sapphire!

Living Coral: Pantone’s 2019 Color of the Year

By Isabelle Corvin, CG, Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers.

pantone-livingcoralPantone has officially announced it’s 2019 Color of the Year as “Living Coral” (16-1546)!

This bold, energetic, and dynamic color is sure to liven things up for the New Year! Pantone calls Living Coral “sociable and spirited” and says that it is a nurturing color. It’s a blended hue of orange and pink, creating a bright spot in our everyday lives.

The first known written use of the word “coral” to describe a color was in 1513, and the use of “coral pink” was in 1892. The term “coral” for color has been used to described reds, oranges, and pinks, as well as mixed colors from those components.

Cheerful and shocking, coral lends itself well to all aspects of décor, graphic design, and fashion. In fact, you’ll find several gemstones that display this bright, bold, and beautiful color!

Padparadscha sapphire and Rhodochrosite match Living Coral almost perfectly, with their lively blend of just the right amount of pink and orange.

 

Padparadscha is a high-energy stone with an exotic look. The name comes from the Sanskrit word for “lotus.” And indeed, some lotus blossoms exhibit Living Coral excellently!

Rhodochrosite embodies the feeling of Living Coral with its color and the belief that it is a powerful stone for opening your heart once more. It is said to heal emotional wounds and be a guide for finding love.

Other gemstones that depict shades of Living Coral are additional sapphire colors, and some hues of topaz and spinel, as well as certain garnets.

 

Living Coral reminds us that the world around us is alive, filled with wonder and magic, if we only take a few moments to look. The color dives deep into our hearts, beckoning an appreciation for life’s moments and worthwhile memories.

According to Pantone, they chose this color for that very reason. In a world so immersed in technology, we all seek connections. Living Coral is a delight to the eyes and a light to the heart.

Happy New Year!

Jewelry images by credentialed AGS members. Visit ags.org/findajeweler to find an AGS jeweler near you.

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.

Choose it for Love. Buy it From a Titleholder.

By Alethea Inns, CGA,
Director of Gemology and Education, American Gem Society

Buying jewelry can be intimidating—it’s a bit like buying a home. It’s a big purchase and you need help from qualified professionals—that you trust—to close the deal. And it’s an emotional purchase; it can represent a big life change.

This is experience talking. I recently bought my first house. It was scary. How was I supposed to spend so much money on something that was so unknown? I had the comps, knew the area, knew the specs of the house and all the data and statistics. But that wasn’t enough. How did I know if there weren’t issues that I couldn’t see? What if the foundation was cracked, or there was mold behind the walls? What if there was a weird smell no one knew the cause of?

That’s why I brought in the experts. I had an amazing real estate agent who knew the area and even researched the owners. I had an appraiser that was ethical who refused to raise the appraised value of the house beyond what he thought was fair. I had an inspector who I trusted to come in and point out every little issue that could be a problem later on.

These professionals were people that I trusted. I knew they had their professional credentials and licenses. They were experts in their fields and most importantly, upheld standards of practice.

This is the exact same reason why you need an American Gem Society (AGS) jeweler when making a jewelry purchase.

AGSTitles

These jewelers are AGS titleholders, which means they are professionals who have pre-requisite gemological or jewelry industry education, verified by the AGS, and then tested by the AGS in their proficiency to grade diamonds. Not only that, they are required to write a Recertification Exam every year to ensure they are up-to-date on the most recent developments in the jewelry industry. If they do not take the annual exam, they cannot maintain their title.

More than being knowledgeable, AGS titleholders are also required to sign an ethics agreement every year and are required to uphold the AGS standards for protecting you, the customer, every day, and in every interaction.

Why shop with an AGS jeweler?

For the same reason you see a certified professional accountant (CPA) to do your taxes, or a doctor that not only has a medical degree, but has their board certification, or the reason you rely on experts with any major purchase, investment, or life event.

An AGS jeweler is there to protect you, their customer. They are there to give you the information you need to make an informed buying decision. Yes, they are there to sell you jewelry, but more than that, they are there to share their passion for jewelry and help you celebrate the moments and reason you walked into their store in the first place.

Ask your jeweler, “Are you an AGS jeweler?” If not, find one that is.

As a credentialed gemologist, Alethea has some favorite gemstones, although it’s not easy to narrow the list down to just a few. Click below to get a closer look at these beautiful gems!

Quote-worthy Jewelry

We often share beautiful images of  American Gem Society members’ jewelry. Today, we wanted to take that a step further and give you a sneak peek into their passion for jewelry, the symbolism it represents, and the way it makes them feel. In some cases, we just wanted to give you a glimpse of their humor, with jewelry as their much-adored punchline.

To achieve all that, we asked these five members to give us a quote about jewelry, along with an image of one of their favorite pieces. Enjoy!

paula Crevoshay

Opal brooch from Paula Crevoshay.

 

Spinel pendant from Sharon Wei Designs

Pink tourmaline pendant from Sharon Wei Designs.

 

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Moonstone, sapphire, and diamond ring from Omi Privé.

 

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Custom-designed ring from Michaels Jewelers.

 

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Diamond engagement ring by Tacori.

To find some jewelry inspiration of your own, visit your local American Gem Society (AGS) jeweler. Ask your AGS jeweler if they have a personal saying or a favorite quote about jewelry! You can ask them to show you one of the above pieces or something that inspires you and your imagination. Visit ags.org/findajeweler.

Setting our Sights on Sapphires

By Robin Skibicki

As we change our calendars to September, our sights are set on cooler weather, and on sapphires!

Sapphires are known for their beautiful blue hue, but they can also be found in a variety of pinks, yellows, and oranges, even peach, green, and violet colors. These colors are referred to as fancy sapphire.

One of the most sought-after fancy sapphires is the padparadscha. Its pink-orange coloration can be compared to that of a tropical sunset. Princess Eugenie, a cousin to Princes William and Harry, received an oval cut padparadscha sapphire ring for her engagement, bringing this rare gemstone into the limelight.

Omi-sapphire

Padparadscha sapphire and diamond ring by Omi Privé. This ring is the AGTA 2018 Spectrum Award Winner.

Sapphires can also display the celestial-like optical phenomena, asterism, adding the name “star” to this type of sapphire.

Suna-PinkStarSapphire-loose

Pink star sapphire cut en cabochon, by Suna Bros.

September babies are lucky to have a birthstone that comes in a variety of colors! Below are a few images from American Gem Society (AGS) members that showcase the chromatically-gifted sapphire. To find an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you, click here!

Spinel: The Coolest Gem You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

By Isabelle Corvin, CG, Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers

Three Spinel Crystals

Red Spinel

Spinel is an oxide mineral that crystallizes in the cubic structure and has quite the mixed-up history.

As of 2016, it is also the newest birthstone to be added to the birthstone list! August babies now have a choice between vivid peridot and alluring spinel.

The word “spinel” comes from the Latin word Spinella, which means “little thorn” or “arrow-shaped.” Spinel gems come in a wide range of colors and saturations, though perhaps the most famous (and mistakenly infamous) is the red variety.

In ancient cultures, red spinel was always grouped together with rubies, and sometimes garnets, since the rough (and even polished and cut) crystals look so similar. In the modern age, the gems can be separated, but much of spinel’s history is tied up in the lore of rubies.

Red spinel ring, by Omi Privé.

Spinel-Omi

The oldest known spinel dates back to 100 B.C. and was found in Kabul, Afghanistan, inside a Buddhist temple. Red and blue spinels were also being used in crafting by the Romans.

The most famous spinel is also the most famous example of mistaken identity in all of gemological history. A “ruby” known as the Black Prince’s Ruby is our culprit. It is a red gem set in the Imperial State Crown of the British crown jewels. The gemstone is uncut, but polished, and weighs approximately 170 carats. The gem has never been removed from its original setting, so the weight is only estimated.

This amazing gemstone, however, is no ruby. It is, in fact, a spinel.

The Imperial State Crown. Image courtesy of GIA.

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The Black Prince was the son of Edward III, and reportedly received the gem from Don Pedro the Cruel, King of Castille as a reward. Legend has it that the spinel was one of the gems worn by Henry V on his helmet and that it deflected a fatal blow, saving his life during the Battle of Agincourt.

Whether true or not, the gem was thought to be ruby for many years, until technology and the knowledge of gems improved enough to separate gems on more than mere color.

This royal stone is not the only spinel in disguise. Empress Catherine II of Russia had a crown that bore an estimated 400-carat spinel. Likewise, Queen Victoria had a very dark red spinel called the Timur Ruby.

It doesn’t help matters when spinel and ruby often form together in the earth! In 1783, mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle finally separated spinel from ruby, realizing that the two minerals were completely different.

Further confusion arises with spinel’s true nature even now.

Many pieces of inexpensive birthstone jewelry have an imitation of the true birthstone: something that looks like—but isn’t—the real thing. The majority of these are made with synthetic spinel, grown in a laboratory rather than the ground, but boasting the same chemical make-up.

The natural gem is lovely, but many only know of its synthetic counterparts.

Each color of spinel is thought to provide different benefits to the wearer, from protection to enhancing creativity and kindness, to better cognitive abilities. Colorless spinel is rare, and no current mines exist that produce it.

Spinel earrings set in 18k rose gold, by AG Gems.

Spinel-AGGems (2)

The most common colors seen in jewelry are red and blue, with the hues ranging from highly saturated to perfectly pastel.

Other popular colors are yellows, purples, and pinks, although the gem comes in every color. Black spinel is found in many pieces, and once again, is often confused for other black gems like hematite, black diamond, and black onyx.

Black spinel and white sapphire pendant, by Dilamani.

Spinel-Dilamani

Spinel is mined in many locations, including Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (formerly Bruma) Brazil, Sweden, Pakistan, and Russia, among others. It can even be found in the USA.

Additionally, small crystals have been found on meteorites, a trait spinel shares with the other August birthstone, peridot.

For a gemstone many have never heard of, it might be the most famous of all. It is the hidden star of the show, silently shining on as the world ignores it or mistakes it for another stone altogether.

Pink spinel and diamond drop earrings, by JB Star.

Spinel-JBstar

But spinel is worth a first, and second, glance. With spectacular colors, excellent durability and an amusing history, it’s the perfect addition to anyone’s gem and jewelry collection.

Spinel truly deserves the title: The Coolest Gem You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of!

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.

American Gem Society Members Sparkle in Nashville

The American Gem Society (AGS) Suppliers’ Reception and Showcase occurs annually during the American Gem Society’s Conclave, the industry’s premier educational and networking event.

This year’s Conclave was held in Nashville, TN, and the AGS Suppliers’ Reception and Showcase featured 16 AGS members. Below are photos from the highly successful evening, featuring the incredible jewelry and the lovely ladies who modeled them.

Click on each photo to get a closer look.

 

If there’s a design you like and want to know more, contact an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you.