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!

 

AGS Member Spotlight: ASBA USA, Inc.

ASBA USA, Inc. is a prime supplier of Tahitian cultured pearls and finished diamond, colored stone, and cultured pearl jewelry.

For over 25 years, ASBA USA has been owned and operated by the Israileff family and are long-time members of the American Gem Society. Joshua, Nathan, and Nicolai Israileff carry on their family’s tradition of providing fine quality jewelry.

The following images are just a mere sampling of the artistic, whimsical, and one-of-a-kind designs ASBA USA creates with pearls—their specialty—or a variety of gemstones.

 

If you’d like to see more designs by ASBA USA in person, contact a credentialed AGS jeweler near you.