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…

Diamond Rose Cuts

Since diamond is the birthstone for April, I’ll stick with writing about them for the most part this month. It really helps that I’ve been playing with them a lot lately in a variety of forms. So today I want to talk about a rarer form that diamonds take on: Rose Cut.

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I have to laugh because I asked a local jeweler once, maybe a year ago, if he could make me a rose cut band. He replied, wait for it, that he didn’t know what a rose cut was. I hope that now that they seem to be gaining more mainstream appeal that he figures out what they are. Tiffany is completely littered with rose cuts right now, in fact, they designed a whole collection around them. I haven’t been back to that jeweler since then, but that’s due to a combination of factors, not just rose cut ignorance.

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One thing to note about rose cuts in that the higher a crown is,  the better looking it’ll be. Rose cuts are basically shaped like a bubble, with a flat facet on the bottom, and facets going up to create a bit of a dome, typically a pretty flat dome.

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A key to rose cuts it to be realistic in what to expect from it’s performance. Rose cuts tend to flash light off of it’s surface facets, instead of refracting through the table and from the pavilion, because they don’t have a pavilion. So rose cuts tend to have little sparkle, and more of a mirror like appearance. You’ll often see rose cuts interspersed with brilliant cuts so you have a combination of the sparkle from the brilliant cuts and the light (and color!) moving across the surface of the rose cuts.

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Rose cuts are one of those things that you either love or hate. They are typically used as accents, rather than a center piece of a project, so finding large rose cut diamonds that are the main stone in a piece is pretty rare, although it’s becoming more and more common!

Here are a couple of rose cut pears, illustrating that they don’t just come in rounds, but also other fancy shapes such as pears, ovals, cushions, marquises, etc:

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One thing I’ve noticed about rose cuts lately is that people are just flipping over badly cut stones (typically very shallow stones) and calling it a rose cut when it’s really not, it’s just a badly cut stone. Classic rose cuts have a particular facet pattern, with a hexagon pattern on the top. There are currently several rose cut style patterns for gemstones being developed, most notably by Jeffrey Hunt and Doug Menadue of Bespoke Gems.

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Thanks to Jewels by Grace for letting me play with these beautiful little rose cut diamonds! They are spectacular and I want to keep them all!

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Current Trends

I spend entirely too much time on instagram, and I’m ashamed to say that I look at users like the Kardashian’s. I know, I know, they are famous for a sex tape, blah blah blah. But the family is absolutely entrenched in fashion. And they are at the front lines! Kendall and Kylie are models, all of the girls have their individual clothing and shoe lines, makeup, hair, etc. I have used pictures of Khloe’s hair color for my own hair inspiration! But I keep an eye on them, because they are trendsetters and know what’s hot with teens right now!

Also, I also follow Lauren Conrad – she has a really interesting shabby chic thing going on, and certainly helps embody the details I mentioned above. Pastels, tutus, soft, feminine shapes. Totally opposite from the black leather and harsher lines of the Kardashians.

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It’s so weird to me that these reality show “stars” are successful and actually making statements in fashion. Who knew these empires would come from terrible television.

Right now I think that there is a trend towards disposable fashion, and that’s being translated into jewelry. So I’m seeing lots of super thin shanks, small stones, stacks of small rings or necklaces to make a bigger statement. Geometrics. Statement pieces. Thin shanks with tiny stones in bezels. Antique, vintage items are also becoming really popular because those items are one of a kind, and people/fashion seems to be pushing to make statements to be “one of a kind”. So lots of stacks, multiple rings on each hand, statement pieces with gold, silver, and gemstones.

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Big, opulent pieces seem to be shoved to the backburner for now, although they are always hanging around on the edges, and on celebrities.

But I am so happy to see COLOR! Yellow gold, rose gold, all colors of gems!

I’m kind of wondering where we’ll go next!

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And one last picture of this Montana sapphire with an amazing high crown and thick polished girdle.

I don’t drawn inspiration from Kardashians or LC, but I still like to see what they’re doing. Especially Khloe’s hair…hah!

Gem Blast: Amethyst

Apparently I have decided to do birthstone posts every month. Why not, right?

Anyway, February gets amethyst. Purple is traditionally a color of royalty, and generally a sought after gemstone for jewelry stores, because it is popular, and it’s relatively inexpensive since it’s pretty common to find in nice colors with good clarity. So I’m used to seeing lots of amethyst in jewelry stores, and it’s typically pretty “meh”. There are lots of windowed stones out there, I typically stay away from those. Why buy a stone that doesn’t sparkle, when you can spend a little bit more and get a super sparkly stone?

Here are some of the amethysts I have in my possession right now.

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An asscher.

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The glorious and enormous Kotlowski cut cushion.

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It might be a good size to serve two purposes: piece of jewelry and a paper weight.

A couple hand shots for size reference.

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An interesting marquise-oval shaped stone. The little pieces of fuzz on each stone is making me crazy. They are so tiny you can’t see them on the stones except under magnification.

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A pretty lighter purple emerald.

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I’ve never been a huge amethyst lover, even though I like purple quite a bit, so I’ve never really gotten into learning much about it. I know that there are pale Rose de France amethysts that are usually a pale pink-purple, and amethysts in deeper purples, that depending on locale may have red flashes or blue flashes, or even a combination.

I think that it’s simultaneously overrated and underrated as a gemstone. The general public sees it as being abundant, and inexpensive for a bright purple, so overrated. But the really nice colors aren’t widely known by the public, unless you really start digging around and educating yourself as to the differences between materials and location of origin. Amethyst is kind of underrated by the trade, precisely because the public doesn’t know the difference between really fine material and the stuff that is so widely available. So you can get high quality amethyst for comparatively lower prices than high quality in other gemstones.

There is not a more vibrant and saturated purple than an amethyst, although some stones may try! Looking at all of these amethysts makes me want to set some of it!

Pantone 2015: Marsala

Ok, Pantone, what happened? 2014 was Radiant Orchard. 2013 was Emerald. Why Marsala for 2015?

First off, Marsala is a fortified wine typically used in a chicken dish. So when I heard that “Marsala” was the color of 2015, I was like, “What?! What color is Marsala besides a brownish purple-red?”

Well, dear friends, I’m here to tell you that Marsala is indeed, a brownish purplish red.

Now, it’s certainly not that I have something against the wine. It’s the color. As a gemstone enthusiast, I’m typically eyeing the vivid jewel tones, or the softer pastel shades. Adding brown to any gemstone is absolutely against all of my gemstone picking instincts. It’s a great color for makeup, with eye shadow, blush, lipstick, and nail polish, but for gems?

So where do we go in the Year of Marsala with gemstones? Spinel? Tourmaline? Garnets? Sapphire? Zircon?

I have a spinel and a sapphire that are sort of Marsala colored, depending on the light…but I’m just so unenthusiastic about this color of the year. Way to let me down Pantone!

For the all important eye candy, here’s a 4+ct sapphire that is sort of Marsala colored, and one of the most color shifty sapphires I’ve ever seen. Orange-brown, peachy purple-pink with a vibrant surprise color. Since it’s so all over the place, I figure at least one of it’s random shades could probably pass for “Marsala”. Right?

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Don’t let the above photos fool you though – they were taken in very specific lighting conditions.

In other very specific lighting conditions, it goes hot pink, lighter pink and a dusky purple.

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Yes, all the pictures above really are the same stone. From a brownish-orange to purple-pink to bright pink, it’s the closest thing I have to Marsala. The entertaining part about this sapphire is that it goes it’s least attractive (but most interesting!) color in daylight – the lighting situation that is typically the most flattering for other gemstones.

I know that I’m clearly not the only jewelry person scratching their head about how to work Marsala into 2015.  Or you know, counting down the days to see what 2016 brings and hoping that it’s something more jewelry friendly!

Fantasy Cut Lapidaries

So,  we’ve talked about gemstone cutting flaws, some stellar gemstone lapidaries and other random topics. Since I’m typically preoccupied with aesthetics I really wanted to hit on more unusual types of cuts that are visually stunning, but are typically less popular, because the stones usually need custom settings built around them, rather than being able to put the stones into cheaper stock settings that hold traditional shaped stones.

Now, these lapidaries are more than capable of cutting rounds, ovals, etc, but the stones that they really cut exceptionally tend to be the fancy fantasy shapes. These gemstones are not something you will see anyone else wearing, every single stone is a one of a kind. Hexagon facets, free form beehives, free form, concave cutting,

Note: I have not bought stones from any of these lapidaries, but in my experience, I would not hesitate buying from them myself if presented with the opportunity!

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Jeffrey Hunt
Jeffrey is an exceptional gemstone photographer, but his gems aren’t anything to sniff at either! So many of his stones make me want to design one of a kind pieces around them, and the deeper shapes are especially challenging to base a design around!
Jeffrey Hunt

Jean-Noel Soni
Let me talk about Jean-Noel for a minute. I’ve been following him on Instagram for over a year now, and I am continually amazed at how he works. He does not use any faceting diagrams, and always cuts based on the shape of the rough.
Top Notch Faceting

Roger Dery
From what I understand, Roger has a lot more in his inventory than what you see on his website. I’ve also been told that the photography is less than perfect, but that just means the stones will knock your socks off in person! He does some fabulous opposed bar cuts
Spectral Gems

John Dyer
I have loved admiring his gemstones for years. He has won stacks of awards, and has done things (not traditional faceting, that’s for sure!) that I’m pretty sure must be magical. I have had the pleasure of having one of his stones in my possession temporarily, and it was absolutely fantastic.
John Dyer

Richard Homer
Richard is the one lapidary on this list that has cut a stone for me. It was not concave cut, it had traditional faceting, and it was intended as an engagement ring stone. I loved the stone, but my boyfriend at the time wasn’t convinced on it. But, from what I know, if you want a concave cut stone, Richard is the first person you talk to.
Concave Gems

Doug Menadue
Doug is probably the most traditional of the cutters listed here, but he does some amazing things with super tall crowned round brilliants, his amazing ying yang cuts, and the towering acorn cut. Be warned, if you are looking at purchasing from him, he is in Australia, so prices are in Australian dollars, and shipping will take a while longer!
Bespoke Gems

Uli Zeisberg
Uli has a couple cuts that are outstanding and always catch my eye, including the Liquid Flower, and the Trinity Hexagone, both are trillion style cuts that are incredibly eye catching and unusual. I am also a big fan of the Neo cut he does, but so many of his gems are eyecatching and would make incredible pieces of jewelry.
Osiris Gems

You can seriously lose hours looking at all of the gems and work that these lapidaries do! Not to mention the directions your imagination can go!

I really wish I had some photos of some of the above cutter’s work, but I don’t (I need to remedy that!), but I still promised that I’d always post at least one picture! So, in honor of reaching a little bit outside the box with these cutters, I’ll post pictures of something that’s NOT sparkly (I know, gasp!), a black opal triplet cabochon.

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The blue rhinestone material it’s resting on is actually the gaudiest cell phone cover ever invented by mankind. My little one picked it out. Hah!

Exciting News!

I am adding an extra post this week to announce that I have opened up an etsy store! Now, I’m still working towards getting my own site with my own designs, but in the meantime, I really wanted to get some of the loose gemstones that have been collected over the years out of my possession and into someone else’s.

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I don’t plan on replenishing the supply of gemstones because I can’t set or keep everything and I need to make space for new stuff! So if I don’t already have it in my possession, odds are good that I won’t be getting it, but I can always point you in a direction that might be fruitful.

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There are also some items of jewelry and settings on the etsy store as well, mostly because I don’t have room in my jewelry box for them anymore. Hah!

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This post is to announce the grand opening of my etsy shop!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGemstoneProject

Because I wanted to thank my readers for checking it out, if you see something you like, I’m offering a 10% off coupon code (no quotes) on any purchase over $100 for the month of February: “GRANDOPENING”

My inventory consists of mostly precision cut stones, with a heavy emphasis on oranges, reds, purples and blues, plus a healthy dose of green, and some random earthy shades as well. There is always the risk that I’ll randomly get inspired by a gem in the shop, and it may be pulled to make into a piece of jewelry, so if you see something you like, please grab it while you can!

So please, check out the store, and if you’re looking for something in particular, I might have it, and it just hasn’t been listed yet. So please feel free to reach out and ask if I have an item and you don’t see it in the shop. Should you end up picking up something, I’m always available to help design a setting!

Gem Blast: Garnets

In honor of my best friend growing up, whose birthday is tomorrow, I’m posting a whole bunch of gemstone pictures of her birthstone: Garnet.

Merelani Mint

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Almost Colorless Grossular Garnet

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Tsavorites:

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Imperial Garnet

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Imperial Garnet:

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Loliondo Spessartite

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Loliondo Spessartite

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Hah! I just realized that I don’t have any pink or red garnet pictures on this computer. I guess I need to take some more pictures!

But check out the variety of colors. I wish (sort of!) that the general public knew that these stones were as varied and interesting as they are. Of course, I don’t wish that the general public knew about them because then the prices would go up even more.

This is for all you January babies out there!

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!)