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.

The “Other” Famous Jewelry in Movies

By Donna Jolly, RJ

Ask someone which movies stand out as films with memorable jewelry, and chances are, there are a few titles that are likely to be mentioned: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds,” “Titanic” (the most recent version) or “Pretty Woman.”

While we love those movies and have featured the jewelry from some of them in our own content, we’d like to offer up three alternatives with great jewelry in movies that are either classic or are on their way to classic status.

Gone with the Wind

Gone-with-the-Wind

Remember this brooch? Frankly, my dear, you should. It is from the final, unforgettable scene where Rhett calls it quits with Scarlett. Even in moments of distress (especially in those moments), Scarlett O’Hara is in full no-surrender mode with this look-at-me brooch. The brooch has been replicated over the decades for Gone with the Wind diehards. This iconic piece actually comes from costume designer Walter Plunkett’s mother’s personal collection. Art imitates life—and in this case, literally borrowed from life.

Gone with the Wind is one of the most classic movies of all time, and knowing that something personal and beloved from Plunkett’s own life is actually a piece of the movie is even more special.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

ACK65796.jpg DAS MADCHEN MIT DEM PERLENOHRRING / Girl with a Pearl Earring UK/Luxembourg 2003 / Peter Webber Griet (SCARLETT JOHANSSON) und Vermeer (COLIN FIRTH) ||rights=ED

The earring in the movie was a creation of Dien van Strallen, the film’s costume designer. There is something about a big dollop of a pearl, though, that is as timeless as it is beautiful. Also, we love Vermeer and his moody strokes of color and shadow.

The great artist and his painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, inspired this beautiful movie. There is a mystery surrounding the model in the painting. In the movie, she is fictionally portrayed as the family’s maid’s assistant (played wonderfully by Scarlett Johansson).

Several authors, however, have suggested she might be Vermeer’s eldest daughter, Maria. It’s a notion that is not popular with Vermeer scholars. Whoever she was, between the actual painting and the movie, we love a mystery, we love a good story, and we do love some large pearls.

Glengarry Glen Ross

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Adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer and Tony-award winning play, this 1992 movie takes a real behind-the-scenes view of high-pressure sales. It also shows off the character’s (Blake) watch of choice.

Possibly the most famous moment in the movie is when Blake utters every salesperson’s mantra: Always Be Closing. Played by Alec Baldwin, Blake wore the ultimate status symbol for your wrist, an 18k Day-Date Rolex.

Tell us your favorite jewelry in a movie, and we’ll try to feature it in an upcoming blog.

To the American Gem Society, all of our readers are stars! Find your star-worthy jewelry at ags.org/findajeweler.

Teardrops of the Moon: Pearls in Legends…and Trends

Ancient Japanese legends told stories of mermaids and nymphs crying tears of pearls. When the Greek gods wept, they shed pearls. Even the moon allegedly shed tears of well…you know.

There are many myths pearls, and not all tales involve crying.

Early Chinese civilization believed that dragons carried pearls between their teeth. If you were brave enough to slay a dragon and claim a pearl, it was a symbol of wisdom. In Hindu folklore, dewdrops fell from the moon into the sea, turned into pearls, and Krishna picked one out of the water as a gift for his daughter on her wedding day.

Being the subject of many legends, pearls, as you can imagine, were highly coveted. They were also extremely rare in nature. During the Byzantine Empire, only the emperor was allowed to wear pearls. The ancient Egyptians loved them so much, they were buried with them. And Tudor England was nicknamed the Pearl Age because of the gem’s popularity with the sixteenth-century upper class. The next time you are in a museum looking at Renaissance art, notice the many portraits of the royals wearing pearls.

In more modern times, they became the Art Deco centerpiece for flappers and fashionistas. Ladies who lunch wore them with their white gloves. Pearls during the day, diamonds at night, and never the two shall meet.

And now? Today’s pearls are more often than not cultured. Honora, one of the premier pearl designers, refers to them as “affordable luxury.”

If pearls are the gem of legends, then this watch from Honora is legendary. We love the contrast of the leather wristband and the halo of pearls around the watch dial.

Pearl watch

One more from Honora: this classic strand of white pearls is timeless and versatile. Wear it with a blouse and jeans or a dress to work. It’s perfect for either and will make you feel like royalty.

strand of pearls

Thankfully, these drop earrings from Breuning ignored the memo that diamonds and pearls don’t go together. Try telling that to these rebellious diamond, pearl, and pink sapphire jewels.

diamonds_pearls_pink sapphires

Last, but certainly not least, are these pairs of thoroughly modern fringe earrings from Mastoloni Pearls, featuring both black and white pearls.

Diamond Pearl Fringe Earrings

If you are looking to mix up your jewelry arsenal, give pearls a whirl. Seriously, find some pearls you will love and enjoy them for years to come. Click here to find a jeweler who can help you find the perfect piece.

‘Tis the Season for Stackables, Studs, and Solitaires

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The holidays are only a few days away, so if you’re still looking for something super special for the season, the American Gem Society (AGS) suggests stackables, studs, or solitaires. These pieces are always on trend and are regular go-to items in any fine jewelry wardrobe.

Below are some dazzling designs by our AGS members that are sure to inspire. If you need more ideas, you can always count on an AGS jeweler to help. Every year, our AGS members are required to continue their gemological education, staying up-to-date on changes and trends in the jewelry industry. Search for an AGS jeweler near you by clicking here.

Stackables

The beauty of a stackable bracelet or ring is that you can wear them individually, mix and match to change the look or wear them all together. So many options!

Studs

These days, when it comes to studs, the possibilities are endless! You could sport a solitaire diamond or gemstone by day, and then dress it up with an earring jacket by night.

Solitaires

Often a solitaire is presumed to be a round diamond, simply set as a ring or pendant. But today you’ll find these singular stones come in all shapes, sizes, and species—like corundum (ruby and sapphire) and quartz (amethyst and citrine).

Always keep in mind, when purchasing a diamond—whether it’s a loose stone or mounted—to ask your jeweler for an AGS Laboratories Diamond Grading Report. That way you can be confident that your diamond has been consistently and accurately graded by the only nonprofit diamond grading laboratory with the mission of consumer protection. Accept no substitutes. Happy shopping!

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.