There is a Cure for the Summertime Blues

By Donna Jolly, RJ

As summer stretches out toward its final dog days, and the thermometer keeps bobbing toward the high end, you are probably feeling the need to cool down. We have some nice ice to help. As usual with us, it’s the jewelry kind of ice.

Let’s look at five amazingly lovely pieces of jewelry we’ve recently featured on our AGS Facebook page to help us take our minds off of the temperature.

First up, these blue topaz and peridot earrings, and blue topaz pendant, from Goshwara are as calming and cool as the ocean itself.

Goshwara

Staying with the light blues, we love this custom engagement ring from Tacori:

Tacori

Let’s keep the light blue theme going, with this big, beautiful zircon ring from Carizza:

Carizza

Straying from the lighter blues, let’s get a little deep, as in the deep violet hue of this Tanzanite beauty from United Color Gems.

UGCLast, but certainly not least, imagine this blue-green sapphire from Gem 2000 in the style of your choice. What would you do? A pendant? A solitaire ring?

Gem2000

To find any of these beauties, contact your local AGS jeweler 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.

QueensCrown-lrg

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.

Bring on Spring: Be Inspired by the Colors of the Season

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

Now that spring has arrived, we look forward to the signs of renewal. From fastidiously cleaning our homes and joyously changing out our wardrobe to reconnecting with family and friends for a spring holiday or wedding. It’s easy to love this time of year!

Even our jewelry is complementing the seasonal spectrums, with soft pastels and bright, happy colors. Here are some spring-inspired styles from a few of our American Gem Society (AGS) members.

 

We’ve all got that extra spring in our step thanks to the warmer weather and the chance to don the colors of the season in our homes, wardrobe, and fine jewelry! Search for an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you and they’ll help you find the perfect piece for any springtime occasion.

Seeing Green: The Perfect Jewelry for St. Patrick’s Day

Blog article courtesy of the American Gem Society (AGS) member, Malak Jewelers. Featured photos were contributed by members of the AGS.

Art Deco emerald and diamond bracelet by Nash James.

Art Deco emerald and diamond bracelet by Nash James.

Throughout the world on March 17th, the streets fill with laughter, dancing, and most of all, the color green.  St. Patrick’s Day began as a religious feast day observing the death of St. Patrick. But now it has turned into a variety of festivals across the globe, celebrating Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, and a whole lot of green.

If you are at a loss for what green to wear, or just want to add more green to your outfit, here are four of the most well-known green gemstones that will add sparkle and color to your St. Patrick’s Day.

EMERALDS

Emeralds were first found in Egypt in 330 B.C. The name “emerald” derives from the Greek word smaragdos, which was a term used to refer to the greenest of gems. Emeralds can come in varying shades of green and some feature blueish hints. The green color comes from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium in the mineral beryl. Its color symbolizes the rebirth and renewal of spring, and that is why it is the birthstone for the month of May. It’s also a popular gem for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversary.

Emeralds are typically formed in six-sided prisms, so they are naturally suited for the emerald cut for jewelry. They are mostly found in Colombia, Zambia, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. North Carolina is also a minor source for emeralds.

PERIDOT

Peridot’s name comes from the Arabic term faridat which means “gem.” Peridots were referred to as the gem of the sun by the Egyptians because of its bright color, which ranges from light to dark green and yellowish green. Most commonly it is seen in pale olive but can be bright golden lime. The mesmerizing color comes from trace amounts of iron within the mineral.

Peridot is the birthstone for August and the gem for the 16th wedding anniversary. The leading producer of peridots is in the San Carlos Indian reservation in Arizona.

ALEXANDRITE

The first alexandrites were discovered in Russia in the 1830s. The gemstone is named after Czar Alexander II. It is often described as “emeralds by day and rubies by night” because it is blueish, green in the daylight and purplish, red in incandescent light. Alexandrites change color because they are a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. This gem provides dramatic proof of how a light source can affect the color of gemstones.

If you know of any June babies or a happy couple celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary, then alexandrite makes a treasured gift!

JADE- JADEITE

The names “jade” and “jadeite” come from the Spanish phrase piedra de ijada meaning, “stone of the lions.” They may sound similar, but they have totally different chemical, optical, and physical properties, with jadeite being the more valuable of the two.

Most of the classic jade (nephrite jade) comes from China, whereas Myanmar is the main source for jadeite. Jadeites are held in high regard throughout the Asian culture. And in China, nephrite jade is a symbol for purity, good luck, and prosperity. Jadeites come in varying shades of green. The most valuable jadeites are pure “imperial” green, which equals the intensity of emeralds.

 

Malak Jewelers
Malak Jewelers is Charlotte, North Carolina’s premier direct diamond importer, supplier of loose diamonds, and custom design jewelry

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!

Interstellar Gemstones

By Isabelle Corvin, CG, Staff Gemologist at Panowicz Jewelers

Gemstones are beautiful. Everyone knows that! They are flowers of the mineral world, treasures from deep within the Earth.

Most of the time.

There are some gems that are a special breed of stellar minerals. Interstellar minerals that is!

That’s right, there are some amazing gemstones that come from the stars above, or have been found on other planets. These gems aren’t just rare, durable and beautiful; they are (literally) out of this world!

Opal

Dilamani Black Opal

This incredible pendant by Dilamani Jewelry features Black Opal, which is, thankfully, found right here on Earth!

Opal is comprised of a silica gel substance, usually with a small percentage of water present. The silica forms microscopic spheres that stack upon each other to form opal.

Opal deposits are usually found in cracks and fissures; places where the silica was allowed to seep long ago. Usually, the “gel” is a byproduct of an acidic water-based compound. We know of our opals here on Earth, but what about on Mars?

In 2007, the Mars rover Spirit discovered many deposits of a silica-based rock that looked an awful lot like opals. NASA confirmed it was silica by using false color imaging and the spectrometer, which collects approximately 544 colors (wavelengths) of reflected light to detect minerals on the surface. The minerals are most prominent on outcroppings and in cliff basins in one section of the planet.

These were a surprising and important find on our neighboring red planet because it proves there was, at least at one time, water on the surface.

Perhaps someday they will be able to obtain a sample of this Martian Opal and take a closer look. Will it look like our opals or will it stun us with a different kind of beauty?

For now, they often call it Opaline Silica and eagerly study what they can of this Martian feature as it might hold clues to Mars many ages ago.

Peridot

ColoreSG-Peridot

Though peridot’s remarkable green hue looks out of this world, these sterling silver peridot post earrings by Colore|SG belong to our world.

Peridot is the gem variety of the mineral olivine with the chemical formula (Mg, Fe)2SiO4 – magnesium, iron, silicon, and oxygen. It’s the birthstone of August and is famous for its almost shockingly energetic green color.

On Earth, this gem is found in igneous rocks. Not on Earth, you might see it on a meteorite! The gems have been on pallasite, and around, meteorite impact craters.

The interesting thing to note is that peridot can’t handle super high temperatures, so the outer “shell” of meteorite must have protected it and burned off instead, as it entered the atmosphere.

It is also been observed as interstellar dust. This “dust” is seen in the tails of comets, the disks around young stars, and at the sites of impact craters.

This evidence suggests that the mineral olivine quite possibly was present at the creation of many planets. Perhaps even our own.

Usually, the peridot found on meteorites is small and pale in color, due to the extreme conditions from once it came. GIA laboratories ran a series of tests on the “space” versions of peridot and found key differences in the chemical makeup of the stones, meaning they can always tell if it’s an Earth grown peridot or a visitor from the stars.

The gemstone is often called the stone of sun, maybe that’s a little more literal than we thought.

Quartz and Feldspar

markschneider-quartz

This futuristic pendant features the earthly gemstones bubble quartz, moonstones, and diamonds. Designer Mark Schneider Design won 2nd place for Design Excellence in the 2013 MJSA American Vision Awards.

Quartz and feldspar are two of the most common minerals found on Earth, and makeup not only gemstones such as amethyst, citrine, chalcedony, and moonstone (among others,) but also sand, marble, ceramics, and plastics.

Quartz and feldspar are massive groups of minerals, and since it’s abundant on Earth, we fully expect to see it elsewhere in the universe!

But what might we see if we find these rocks far, far away?

Will we find a bright blue quartz, naturally colored?

A giant moonstone spire that stands taller than a skyscraper?

An entire planet of nothing but crystal?

No one is sure but the possibilities are endless!

The presence of these minerals tells us that other worlds may not be as different as our own, despite appearance. They were all formed in the same universe, after all.

“Diamonds”

Many types of “diamonds,” or something kind of like them, have been found. Some of these minerals are made of carbon but form in a different crystal structure. Since the crystal structure is unique to diamonds and is partially responsible for how tough and durable diamonds are, these stones have a key difference.

Others are small pieces, considered dust. There’s even some that form flat-like sheets, instead of how they form here on Earth.

There’s a bit of a debate if any of these can truly be called “diamonds,” but either way, they are unlike the gems we have here on Earth.

Glass

Multiple forms of glass have been found at impact craters, but the interesting thing about them is that they are often colored. We tend to think of glass as clear, transparent, but the majority of “natural” glass formed by impacts is green! Some of this is called Moldavite.

Discoveries are happening daily about the world beyond our own, and who knows what’s next.

Perhaps someday in the near, or distant, future, we’ll be talking to clients about setting “space” stones into rings, and working on marketing some rare mineral from a million light years away.

With the variety of minerals on Earth alone, the sky’s not even the limit on what we could discover!

Here’s to the rare, durable and beautiful gemstones that make our planet special.

And, apparently, other planets, too.

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.

August’s Trio of Distinctive Gemstones

It’s been a year since spinel was added to August’s birthstone line up. Those celebrating a birthday during the eighth calendar month now have three gemstone choices: peridot, sardonyx, and spinel.

Spinel

spinel-Gem2000

Blue spinel by Gem 2000.

For those who are still unfamiliar with spinel, it is often assumed to be other gemstones, like ruby or sapphire.  Cobalt blue, like the one above, is one of the most desired colors. But it can be found in a variety of colors, such as the much coveted red, as well as black, violet blue, greenish blue, grayish, pale pink, mauve, yellow or brown. Spinel can also be found in various cuts, like octagons, trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes, like ovals, pears, and cushions.

No matter what the shape, spinel is spectacular! Take a look at these designs by our AGS members. Click on the images for a closer view.

 

Peridot

peridot-Gem2000

Peridot by Gem 2000.

The verdant peridot is the gemstone most commonly associated with August. Peridot’s recognizable green hue could sometimes vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish green, contingent on how much iron is present. Yet the finest peridot is a brilliant green without any hints of brown or yellow.

Our AGS members will help you find the perfect peridot for you! Click on the images for a closer view.

 

Sardonyx

Sardonyx

Since as far back as Roman times, sardonyx has been highly valued as a stone representing strength, courage, happiness, and clear communication.

The unique reddish, zebra-striped banding of sardonyx stands out beautifully when the stone is smoothed, so it is often cut in cabochon and worn as beads or featured in an eye-catching pendant or ring.

Sardonyx makes a great gift for those born in August who want something a little different than the traditional birthstone. Readily available and relatively inexpensive, sardonyx makes an affordable addition to anyone’s collection.

If you’d like to add spinel, peridot, or sardonyx to your jewelry wardrobe, contact a credentialed AGS jeweler near you!