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.

Happy Birthday November!

By Amanda L. Colborn

November has two beautiful birthstones associated with the month. If you’re a fan of color or variations of colored stones, than November is the perfect month for you. Both Topaz and Citrine shine in popularity because of their outstanding colors. They both also have a very special place in history!

Learn more about each stone below:

Topaz

Topaz is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colors. Prized for several thousand years in antiquity, at the time — all yellow gems were called topaz. Often confused with citrine quartz (yellow) and smoky quartz (brown), quartz and topaz are separate and unrelated mineral species. The most prized color of topaz is called Imperial topaz after the Russian Czars of the 1800s and features a magnificent orange body color with pinkish undertones. Topaz also comes in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and the many popular blue tones.

Topaz from Goshwara

Topaz from Goshwara

Topaz from Goshwara

Topaz from Goshwara

Citrine

Citrine, the other birthstone for November is known as the “healing quartz.” This golden gemstone is said to support vitality and health while encouraging and guiding hope, energy and warmth within the wearer. Citrine is also known as a success and prosperity stone. So much so that it is called the “Success Stone.” It is said to promote and manifest success and abundance in all areas, and in many ways. Citrine can be found in a variety of shades ranging from pastel yellow to dark brownish orange. It is one of the most affordable of gemstones and plentiful in nature. Citrine is found most frequently in Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain.

Citrine from Goshwara

Citrine from Goshwara

Citrine from Goshwara

Citrine from Goshwara

To learn more about any of the year’s birthstones, click here: https://www.americangemsociety.org/birthstones

Happy Birthday October!

By Amanda L. Colborn

Happy birthday to all the October babies out there! October features two very unique and different birthstones.  Tourmaline and Opal, two of the most gorgeous and diverse birthstones make beautiful and vibrant jewelry.  Let’s explore them individually:

Tourmaline

Tourmaline has become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designers, and gem collectors the world over. Since it is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone’s taste. Tourmaline also is known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone.  These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized.  One multi-color variety is known as watermelon tourmaline, and features green, pink, and white colors bands; to resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge.  Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline rings from Suna Bros.

Tourmaline rings from Suna Bros.

Opal

The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).”  Opals range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. An opal’s beauty is the product of contrast between its color play and its background.  Opal is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature’s heating and molding processes, the gel hardened into the form of opals. The opal is composed of particles closely packed in spherical arrangements. When packed together in a regular pattern, a three-dimensional array of spaces are created that give opal its radiance.

Fire Opal from AGS headquarters

Fire Opal from AGS headquarters

Yellow gold and Opal pendant from Spark Creations.

Yellow gold and Opal pendant from Spark Creations.

Close-up shot of a Opal pendant from Sydney Rosen Company

Close-up shot of a Opal pendant from Sydney Rosen Company

On behalf of everyone at AGS, we wish all the October babies out there a very happy birthday!

To find a beautiful opal and tourmaline jewelry in your area from an AGS credentialed jeweler, please check out our Find a Jeweler tool here: https://www.americangemsociety.org/find-a-jeweler

Celebrating September with Sparkling Sapphire

We’re getting a jump-start on September!

September’s birthstone is the sapphire, a beautiful gemstone that has been popular since the Middle Ages. According to folklore, sapphires bring wearers good fortune, spiritual insight and provide them with protection from envy and harm.

Blue sapphires range from very light to very dark greenish or violet-blue, as well as various shades of pure blue.  The most prized colors are a medium to medium dark blue or slightly violet-blue.  Sapphire is a variety of the gem species, corundum, and occurs in all colors of the rainbow.  Pink, purple, green, orange, or yellow corundum are known by their color (e.g. pink sapphire, green sapphire).  Ruby is the red variety of corundum.

Sapphires are one of our favorite gems here at the American Gem Society. They’re versatile and can be worn with just about anything, but strike a beautiful chord when paired with diamonds and white gold. While there are many shades of sapphires to choose from, the gem’s radiance never fails to attract attention. Here are the top three reasons why we’re in love with sapphires:

Blue Sapphire necklace and ring from Omi Privé

Blue Sapphire necklace and ring from Omi Privé

  1. They’re always in fashion. From blue to pink, sapphires of all colors are stylish staples of luxury. Sapphires hit the Hollywood stage every year, making regular appearances on the red carpet and in the collections of well-known celebrities and even royalty.
  2. They complement fall attire. Sapphire jewelry adds a touch of color to fall fashion apparel. The gem accents other fall colors really well, especially gray, red, and orange hues. Wearing a sapphire makes a statement and adds a vivacious aura that brings warmth to the crowd. They wouldn’t be called the September birthstone if they didn’t.
  3. They’re durable and stable. Sapphires (and Rubies) are second only to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale, ranking at a solid 9 compared to a diamond’s 10. This hardness allows sapphires to be worn every day without the constant worry about them scratching or becoming damaged. Though it’s important to take care of your gemstones, sapphires can withstand chipping and breaking while being knocked or bumped. They’re also able to handle heat, light, and chemicals really well, bringing needed peace-of-mind to their wearers.
Blue and Pink Sapphire earrings from AG Gems

Blue and Pink Sapphire earrings from AG Gems

We’re excited to see what kinds of sapphires our members share with us this year! For more information about sapphires, please visit the American Gem Society website. Happy September!

Happy Birthday August!

By Amanda L Colborn

With tomorrow marking the first day of August, we’d like to wish all the August babies a happy birthday! You have two special birthstones associated with the month of August. Both of which are not only unique and beautiful, but very representative of power and courage. Read on to learn more about the birthstones of August, peridot and sardonyx.

Peridot

Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year.

As peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes.

Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan.  This gemstone comes in several color variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens.  Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.

14K yellow gold, peridot and diamond earrings from Parlé Jewelry Design

14K yellow gold, peridot and diamond earrings from Parlé Jewelry Design

Sardonyx

Sardonyx is a form of onyx and is recognized by its layers of reddish brown and white banding.

It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who carried into battle talismans of sardonyx engraved with images of heroes such as Mars or Hercules, believing that this would bring courage and victory.

Because of its attractive banding, sardonyx has long been used to fashion cameos (carved raised figures) and intaglios (the reverse of cameos).  This gemstone is found throughout the world.  The most attractive specimens are found in India, but material also is mined in Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, and in the United States.

14k yellow gold filigree ring circa 1950 from Stanley Jewelers Gemologist, Little Rock, AK

14k yellow gold filigree ring circa 1950 from Stanley Jewelers Gemologist; Little Rock, AR

To all of those celebrating birthdays in August, we wish you a very happy birthday. And to everyone, we wish you a very happy August. If you’d like to learn more about any month’s birthstone, click here.

 

Rah! Rah! Rubies!

By Amanda L. Colborn

There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday.

Ruby earrings by Omi Privé

Ruby earrings by Omi Privé

Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.

Ruby is a variety of the gems species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear.

Ruby earrings by AG Gems

Ruby earrings by AG Gems

Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red. If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire.

3 Fun Facts About Rubies:

  • Rubies are historically known as the stone of love.
  • Followers of Hinduism believe that wearing a ruby protects them from their enemies.
  • In addition to being the birthstone for July, rubies are also a traditional gift for those celebrating 15th or 40th anniversaries.
Diamond and Rubies waiting to be set at Nanci Knott & Company

Diamond and Rubies waiting to be set at Nanci Knott & Co.

 

Pearls of Wisdom for June 2015

By Amanda L Colborn

Happy birthday to all the June babies out there!

You’re all very lucky in that you have three very unique birthstones commemorating this special month! Unfortunately, I am not creative enough to also be able to work “Alexandrite” and “Moonstone” into this blog’s title.

But, let’s jump right into pearls!

PEARLS

Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries.  They were one of the favorite gems of the Roman Empire. Later, during the Tudor period in England, the 1500’s were known as the Pearl Age.

Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market though we are seeing a strong revival of natural pearls.

Natural Pearl Necklace from Matoloni Pearls

Natural Pearl Necklace from Matoloni Pearls

Pearl Necklace from Mastoloni Pearls

Pearl Necklace from Mastoloni Pearls

ALEXANDRITE

A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare Chrysoberyl, with chameleon-like qualities.

Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light.  Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone.  (Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.)

Here we have a video featuring a rare 6 carat Alexandrite ring from AG Gems:

A close-up of an Alexandrite Ring from AG Gems

A close-up of an Alexandrite Ring from AG Gems

MOONSTONE

The third birthstone for June is the Moonstone.  It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century.

A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multirayed star or a cat’s eye. Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred color) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune.

Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colors such as green, blue, peach, and champagne. The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources.

Moonstone

Moonstone

On behalf of everyone at the American Gem Society — we wish you a very happy June, full of joy and jewels!