TGP Updates

It has been far too long since I managed to get a post up! In the last few weeks, I’ve had a family emergency, found myself terribly sick and even had a birthday.

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Bright Yellow Sapphire

In more jewelry related news, I managed to get some new gems up on etsy, got a few custom projects underway, and am anxiously waiting for a few items in production.

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Pastel Green Aquamarine

I’m really sad that I haven’t been able to get more jewelry into production so far this year, but things have been distracting me, and I am hoping that as soon as I get moved into the new studio, things will take a turn for the better. I have a bunch of custom projects in the works, including a step cut halo, some cluster type rings, another halo, and some others including a fancy colored diamond ring.

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Medium Gray Spinel Pair

Speaking of the studio, I have a new drafting table, and I’m so excited to be able to draw without getting instant neck strain! I also have a big south facing window with incredible natural light (except during those pesky storms that make it over the Cascades from Seattle) that has been working quite well for photographing stones and jewelry. I didn’t realize when I started planning this new space just how many functions I need it for – drawing, photography, computer, writing, storage, shipping, etc. And all of those tasks need different lighting (say, for instance, color shifting stones!) and suddenly office planning is incredibly complicated.

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Lavender Spinel

Now, as for decorating the studio, I already have one print up from Angie Crabtree – the Elle modern asscher, and my wonderful husband surprised me with a new print for my birthday – the Dominique antique pear! This complicates things though – I had just figured out my wall configuration with the decor, so I will have to redo it once it is framed.

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Barry Bridgestock Tourmaline

I hope that you have taken the opportunity to take a minute to check out my Repertoire page – I have many of the items I have designed up there, both stock items as well as custom items. I am going to be writing another Inside The Industry blog coming up soon – I just need to be able to spend some time writing, instead of spending it on random non-jewelry related items. And I will be sharing a couple new items to go with the Vivant necklace as well – they should be coming out of production very shortly!

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Peter Torraca Tourmaline

In other updates, I have stones at AGL for certification/testing, and I will have a new small padparadscha sapphire as well as a gorgeous blue sapphire here soon as well!

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Gem Blast: Emeralds

Emeralds are considered one of the four “precious gemstones” along with ruby, diamond and sapphire (blue, specifically, since, you know, red and pinkish sapphire is typically considered ruby. But whatever.) So that means that they are highly prized, highly synthesized and highly treated.

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But it’s the birthstone for May so I’ll do a post on it, especially because I am lucky enough to have had two fantastic specimens in my hot little hands for the moment and of course have photographed the heck out of both.

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I have a special place in my heart for green. It was my favorite color from roughly age fourteen until about seventeen. And no other gem does green quite the way emerald does. Here is an gorgeous Afghan tourmaline to illustrate this point:

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And a green beryl/Aquamarine:

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One of the things that makes emerald so special is the glow that seems to light it up from the inside, almost like a green light on a stop light. Fittingly part of what gives it this look is “jardin” the name for the inclusions within emerald, French for “garden”. The only time emerald really seems to “sparkle” is when it’s incredibly clean and without jardin, but this variety of emerald has an entirely different look and feel to it, more like a bright green aquamarine than the soft, but intense glow of a stone with jardin.

Close up with the smaller of the two. Both are Colombian in origin.

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This particular emerald doesn’t have a ton of inclusions, making it pretty rare for an emerald. Just enough jardin to give it that glow factor, which is so highly sought after in these green beauties.

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The larger of these two beauties is for sale, and I keep restraining myself from thinking about setting ideas for it.

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But I still have the little one to play with. I was thinking something Art Deco would be awesome…and emeralds always look amazing with diamonds!

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Maybe I need to hit up the sketchbook…

Gem Blast: Green Aquamarine

So it’s March, and that means it’s the month of aquamarines. Birthstones are a widely accepted social concept, but does anyone actually know who decided what stone for what month?

Green Aquamarine is difficult to find. Typically Aquas are heated to give them that blue color that people associate with Aquamarines. I saw this sucker at my most recent visit to the gem store, and it stuck out like a sore thumb among all of the blues. To find an Aqua that is slightly greenish blue is impressive, but to find one that is more mint green than anything else is like finding a needle in a haystack.

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Typically unheated aquamarines are a greenish-blue, and they are heated to burn off the green. Seeing this stone makes me so happy that they didn’t with this one!

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It can appear pretty pale in some lighting situations. You can see it has a little bit of a window in this picture.

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And to give you an idea of just how green it is, here it is pictured with a pretty vibrant blue aquamarine.

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I was just thinking that I should really take a picture with the above two stones and that emerald I have floating around! Capture the whole range of blues and greens of Beryl.

This stone is 10×12 and just under 5cts, so I am going to make it into a pendant. The sketch is almost complete, just need to finish that and then hopefully soon it’ll be complete!

Social Media

Have you found me on social media yet?

I was just lamenting to a fellow gemstone lover, Jeffrey Hunt, the other day that with blogs, you don’t really get to interact with people a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m just writing for myself and posting it out into the vast vacuum that is the internet.

So, in the event that you want to know what I’m up to on a more regular basis, you can find me on instagram:

thegemstoneproject on instagram

I typically try to post at least once a day, although sometimes its not until the middle of the night! I typically post pictures of what I’ve been working on that day or just pictures of gems I photographed and liked.

I also try to update my Facebook page at least a few times a week, which you can find here:

thegemstoneproject on Facebook

Right now I’m considering if I should start an etsy shop, or if I should go into a full blown website to sell some loose stones I have floating around, and eventually my own designs. Feel free to drop me your opinion on either of the two links above!

Untreated Blue Topaz:

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Blue sapphire:

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Blue sapphire:

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Unheated Aquamarine:

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I figured I’d go monochromatic with the gemstone pics today. Yay blue!

Also, because I’ve been putting so much effort into social media and getting designs together for a collection, I figured something needed to be cut a little short. So I know that I’ve just started doing two blogs a week again with the new year, but I just can’t maintain everything else that I’ve been working on and keep the blog posting up to twice a week. It’s either that or sacrificing sleep, and I’m already at a minimum on that! If I do find myself with extra time, or I happen to have a bunch of extra pictures so I can do a Gem Blast, I will post an extra post here and there!

Also, an important announcement is upcoming! So the next two week’s blogs should have some exciting things going on! Which reminds me, one of those blogs will be an extra post, not the regularly scheduled ones!

(Here is a hint: one refers to something I mentioned in this blog, and another has to do with a surefire way to make sure your jewelry doesn’t look like anyone elses!)

Gemstones: What to look for

So, buying gemstones is a tricky business. I’ve been doing it for many years, but I’m still far from being an expert at it.

Now, having said that, I do have some guidelines that I try to follow when I am after something. There are just too many variables for an easy how-to kind of guide the way diamonds have. There isn’t a lot of set pricing for various colored gemstones, so you have to do a lot of research to know if you’re getting a good deal or at least a fair deal.

Color
Color dictates everything. Red, especially pure red stones will be the most expensive stones you can buy. Pure blues, greens, yellows, and beautiful pinks won’t be far behind. Oranges are also very difficult to find, and are typically best found in garnets, but occasionally a great orange sapphire will come around.

Cut
This is something that’s different for everyone. I can overlook cut flaws for great color, some people are not as lenient as I am.

Clarity
This is something else that’s different for everyone. I don’t mind some inclusions, especially if they are cool looking (bubbles in spinels! Horsetail inclusions in demantoids!) but some people want completely clean and flaw-free. With most colored stones, this just isn’t possible. Not only that, but inclusions can help indicate the treatment level of a stone.

Size/Carat/Dimensions
Always buy by dimensions! Sapphires, for instance, are very dense and heavy, which means that 1ct will face up smaller than stones that are less dense.

Price
What is your budget for the project? How much does the gem in the size and color you desire typically cost? How savvy of a negotiator are you? You aren’t going to find a well cut, ideal blue with violet secondary in the 5ct range for $1k, unless it’s a fakey.

Treatment
Gemstones are constantly being treating in new and interesting ways that would lend to better color and clarity, not to mention making fakes. So the labs out there are having to stay on top if new treatments and innovative ways to, lets face it, scam people (ugh, the jewelry industry has such a bad rap when it comes to this topic!). The gems that are worth the most come out of the ground as you see them. There are different levels of heating, and other type of treatment – so many that I won’t got into all of them here. The GIA and AGL websites have tons of information on treatments.

Helpful hints:
1. If you’re buying a sapphire, ruby or emerald of a larger size, get a lab report.
2. Ask questions and ask for more pictures. If the seller doesn’t know the answers to the questions, and doesn’t seem to care about getting you the information you need, I’d reconsider doing business with them.
3. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of buying the gemstone variety you’re looking at. Blue topaz is almost always irradiated. Emeralds are almost always oil treated. Sapphires are almost always heated. Garnets and spinels typically aren’t treated (although lately there are rumors of heat treatment for color and clarity enhancement.) Look for comparables. I always go to reputable seller’s sites and compare compare compare. I try to find at least 3 other stones of similar size, shape, color.  If you’re after something really rare, this is harder than it sounds.
4. Ask outsiders for help! If you don’t know, ask someone else! Develop relationships with jewelers and utilize their knowledge. Ask for my help!
5. Understand that if someone acts like an expert on everything, they probably aren’t. Most jewelers are not well versed in gemstones because they aren’t as popular as diamonds.
6. Google is your friend. Seriously, I google stuff all of the time!
7. Don’t buy from the TV stations.
8. Buy what you like.
9. Manage your expectations!

Two unheated 5ctish Aquas. Blue is precision cut, green is not. Both are glorious in their own ways!

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New Year

So, we’re in the final days of 2014. While I’m sad to say goodbye to an amazing year, I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings. Which brings me to today’s topic: looking forward into the new year.

First, I am planning on making small change to the blog. I will be blogging on Mondays and Thursdays instead of Tuesdays and Fridays. This is just a matter of practicality for me, as getting blogs done over the weekend is easiest.

I got a new iPhone 6, along with a new Olloclip with multiple lenses for Christmas. I’m looking forward to playing with those and seeing if they will help improve my photography quality. I’ve been without a macro lens for a little while now, so I’m looking forward to playing around with various lenses and seeing what they can do for me.

I also got a new laptop – I have a massive amount of photos and am constantly combing the internet for inspiration and taking too many pictures of whatever stones I currently have. My poor current laptop has over 70k pictures on it, and keeps telling me its out of space. Which, of course, is a problem. So I got a new laptop and will be transferring most things over to the new laptop at some point.

Goals:
-Try to concentrate more on design, color usage.
-Working on putting together my first jewelry line, I am hoping to have 7-8 stock items. I will update as necessary when things start to get finalized.
-I am working on a few custom projects for friends, multiple green garnet pieces with interchangeable parts, and several large gemstone rings.
-I have been considering taking both drawing classes and CAD classes to improve my skills. Hopefully I will figure that out relatively soon.
-Potentially setting up a boutique/shop.
-Somehow add about 5 hours to every day so I can get everything I want to done!

Future blog posts:
-Hoping for more features on more people (lapidaries, jewelry designers, antique jewelry dealers, etc) in the industry.
-Putting together a sort of gemstone/jewelry term dictionary. If you have questions about certain terms you’ve seen on the blog, or elsewhere on the internet, please let me know so I can cover them.
-If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for blog posts, please feel free to contact me.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to 2015 as much as I am!

These babies below just went to a new home! (Tsavorite, spessartite, spinel, aquamarine, rubellite, tourmaline and zircon.)

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