Gem Blast: A Variety

So, I’ve been super busy. I currently have two ring setting prototypes heading towards production, and a necklace prototype I’m looking towards production on (trying to get the ring setting collection out first!), and about a dozen and a half other designs in my head/in the sketchbook that want to be made sooner rather than later.

Plus I’m attempting to try to come up with some stock product ideas for a jeweler I work with, several other custom projects for various clients, and that’s not touching on my interstate move.

I don’t really have a ton of time for a lot of blogging right now, but I’ve still been taking a lot of gem and jewelry photos. I figured I could post some of my recent favorites as a blog entry.

A vintage blue sapphire and diamond ring.

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A couple of citrines against a blue rhinestone background.

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Some spessartite garnet earrings. I keep considering repurposing these, but I haven’t quite decided yet.

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An ideal cut diamond showing off a little bit of arrow action.

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Some rose and yellow gold rings in my personal collection. I need to flesh this collection out some more!

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Playing with light and a green garnet.

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This Star 80 cut in a lavender spinel never fails to be interesting.

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A Jeff White asscher spinel. A bevy of step cuts.

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A trio of colorful haloed rings.

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Some spinel rough. Not really facetable, but I like to keep it around because the colors are nice and I love the natural texture. It’s fun to play with.

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A couple of spinels. The top is from Mahenge Tanzania, and the bottom is from Burma. The top is more reddish pink, the bottom is more pinkish red. Both have the neon glow that is considered ideal in the industry.

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And last, but certainly not least, though uploading lost a lot of it’s beauty, the cut of this unheated aquamarine reminded me of the way water ripples.

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Many of these will be available back in my etsy shop as soon as I’m back up and running.

You can likely look forward to another photo-heavy post next week, as I will be completely entrenched in my move (probably driving somewhere in Northern California) when the next blog posts, as I do typically try to plan most blog posts in advance.

Also, I’m hoping to post on August 9th – it’ll be my blog’s first birthday! Kind of amazing to me that I’ve kept it up for almost a year already.

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Red Spinel

So I’ve posted some (a lot) of pictures and several blog posts on red spinel, and even have some running as banners along the top of my blog. Spinel is one of my favorite gemstones, mostly because it produces the best gray color, but also because it has an almost metallic sheen to it sometimes. Spinel is very good at having a variety of colors, I’d go so far as to say it’s right up there with sapphire, tourmaline and garnet with the rainbow of colors it comes in.

Now, I’m not a huge red person for myself, but red spinel has slowly been working on that for me. I like red spinel so much that the color red has been slowly wormed into my collection.

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I also have a few international friends that are seeking their own red spinels, and I have received red spinel for them and evaluated them so they don’t have to take the risk and time of international shipping, which is beneficial for both them and the vendors of said stones. I really enjoy doing this and I wish they’d utilize me more often!

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Red spinel melee can vary a bit, and I swear it is on my list to get mine from my gem store set sooner rather than later. I said in this post that I would set them in 2015. We’ll see how the year progresses, but at this point I’m going to aim for more like 2016, since all of my jewelry money is being funneled into putting my jewelry line together.

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So one of the things about red spinel, is that it used to get mislabeled as ruby precisely because of it’s rich red color. The Black Prince’s Ruby is the best and most widely known example of red spinel being mistaken for a ruby, but it is certainly not the only one. One really fantastic thing (in my opinion) about red spinel is that it doesn’t have the fine inclusions that ruby does, so unlike most ruby, spinel actually sparkles, instead of the glowy velvety look of ruby.

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Now, red is one of the most highly sought after colors of gemstones, if not THE highest sought after color. Ruby has traditionally been the most expensive red gemstone, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Red spinel, on the other hand, has been going and will likely continue going way up in price, especially as it gets to be more popular and mainstream. It is already rivaling ruby on the pricing plane, and yet, it is still incredibly difficult to find quality pieces. As with all gemstones, there is a price premium that accompanies stones of larger sizes.

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I didn’t really bring up a lot about modifiers in this post because the red hue was exactly what my friend was looking for, but in reds it is very important because they can mean a big price difference for what some might see as being a very small variation. Red usually has some kind of color modifier and the most typical are orange, blue/purple, pink and brown. The most commonly forgivable modifier is pink, since pink is a lighter toned red, but some people can excuse purple/blues and oranges because of personal taste and/or budget. Browns are typically going to be the most economically priced, while pure reds are going to be astronomical.

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Red spinels are most commonly found in three different areas: Vietnam, Burma and Mahenge, Tanzania. Mahenge spinels have in the past ten years or so been coming out with the intense hot pinks and reds that display tons of red fluorescence under UV, which enhances it’s color under UV lighting conditions and causes it to appear to have some “glow”.

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I keep hearing buzz about ultra red “Jedi spinels” but I haven’t taken a great interest in them because I know from what I’ve heard that they are going to be astronomically expensive, that is, IF you can get your hands on any of them!

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So, the fun part of this post is that I’m adding a coupon code for all of the red and hot pink spinels in my etsy shop for two weeks only! So you can use the code “REDSPINEL” (no quotes) for 15% off from March 16 through the 31st at midnight. If you’ve been eyeing any of the reds or hot pinks in my store, now is the time to go and snatch them up!

Mahenge Spinel

The stone of the moment seems to be Mahenge spinel. Years ago a deposit of neon pink and red stones was discovered in the Mahenge region of Tanzania, Africa. The color was neon and was arguably better than the best rubies. They say that the color of the first ones was best, and that the saturation level of them has been going down, but I haven’t seen the new material in real life, so I can’t speak to that particular rumor.

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I particularly enjoy the hot pink variety, and am not really a red lover, so I don’t have any red spinels from Mahenge.

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The larger of the two cushions has more red and not really any other orange modifiers, just pure pink/red, while the smaller of the two has almost a blue-purple modifier.

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In natural lighting, these stones fluoresce red, making them appear even more saturated than they do indoors. They sort of wooed me away from the cool desaturated blue/green/purple world and into the super saturated market, where the prices are high and competition fierce.

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Lately, I’ve been looking into prices on them because I’ve been attempting to find one for a long-time friend of mine who is really a diamond girl, but has been wandering into the realm of colored stones lately. Prices on these have at least doubled, and depending on where you look, have tripled since I bought mine a few years ago, so I feel really fortunate to have purchased these when I did. I don’t know who let the cat out of the bag, but these should have stayed top secret!

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There is nothing quite as bright pink as a pink spinel from this region, and they are even more saturated than some of the nicest pink sapphires out there. I love trying to find them, but since their popularity shot up, I can’t justify the prices myself, but enjoy seeking them out for other people.

Gem Blast: Considering Gemstone Recuts

I typically like to do Gem Blast posts as mostly pictures with little commentary, as it gives me a little break from writing, and I get to post pictures, which I love taking, but this one is a little bit different because it deals with a specific issue: Gemstone Recuts

This stone started out coming to me from ebay, and is a hot pink spinel from the Mahenge area of the Morogoro region of Tanzania. It was 1.8cts, and 7x6mm. It wasn’t until owning this stone for well over a year that I realized that it had a horrible crack in the pavilion, along the keel. I enlisted the help of  Jerry Newman of Gemart Services to see if it could be cut out and let me tell you, that man is a miracle worker.

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Amazing color! But if you look carefully at the above left image, you can see something funky going on on the keel from the face down view. But when you flip it over and look at the keel through a macro lens, it makes sense.

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So I sent my stone to Jerry. He had said that he thought he could get rid of that nastiness without it affecting the face up size. Once he was done, and he is very very fast – I got the “It’s done!” email less than a week after he got it – he said that he thought he could recut it again and make it more brilliant, but he wanted to know my opinion. After the recut:

 

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Obviously I liked the stone just as it is, and didn’t want to lose more material or risk the loss of more saturation. It is difficult to tell because the environmental situations are different from the “before” pictures, but the stone lost a little bit of saturation. However, Jerry managed to only recut the pavilion with no loss to the face up size. It went from 1.8cts to 1.55cts, and actually became more stable since the liability of the crack on the bottom was eliminated. The clarity was improved as well since the fuzziness that the crack created went away.

Hot pink1 Cushion

Because of the overwhelming success of the above pink spinel, I have started considering recutting a few other stones of mine…

Silvery spinel, 5×7, considering a recut on it to improve performance. It currently has a small window, and a bowtie. Sometimes it even shows a bit of half and half shadowing. I think it’d be gorgeous if it had some improved cutting. It has a bulgy pavilion, so recutting it should be relatively simple and improve it significantly. I actually think the stone is nice to begin with, with a really cool light gray, but I think the risk is small enough and the payoff good enough that I think it should probably be done.

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Possible Emerald Tourmaline recut. This is a different case because this stone started out as a precision cut stone from Master Cut Gems. It has a gorgeous color, but it was very badly chipped (mangled?) when it was set in a setting. Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until long after purchasing the original ring. Luckily I had a stone that would fit into the setting, so it wasn’t a total loss, but the stone is pretty much unable to be reset because it’s so badly damaged. Here is a picture of the stone from Dana at Master Cut Gems before it was set:

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Beautiful color, eh? It’s a great teal, not too dark. And here is the stone after being unset, under my macro lens, which makes everything look dark and shadowy, since it is black:

 

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You can see in this image how smoothed out the chipping is, with no sharp edges, showing that it was done quite some time ago, and is not new damage:

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I have a macro picture of the stone in the setting, and you can just barely make out the mess under the one set of double prongs. This is the mess on the opposite end:

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Another view, giving an idea of the slight bicolor (green on one end, blue-green on the other) action going on with this stone, as well as showing the wear on the facet junction on the meet between the crown and the table facets.

 

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So, I’m kind of playing with the idea of seeing if it would be possible to cut all of the bad stuff away, and leave something that could be used. I have talked a little bit before about my love of all things step cut, so it really pains me to chop this up, but I think there might be potential to cut another step cut out of it, perhaps a shorter emerald, a carre or an asscher. Unfortunately, this stone is a smaller 1.07ct (the chip is probably big enough to decrease that!) so it’d probably end up being about 5×5 and maybe .60ct, so I don’t know that it’d make a lot of sense to do it, but I might do it anyway because it’s such a great color.

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Gemstone recutting, or cutting of rough is not a job to be taken lightly. It takes an immense amount of talent, intestinal fortitude, luck and knowledge to produce these small sparkly items. I have nothing but the utmost respect for lapidaries because it is not an easy job, and clients can be hypercritical of the results. I greatly admire those that do it, especially recutting damaged stones and cutting from customer’s rough because of all of the risk involved. Every time I have gone into a jewelry project with something I’m unsure about, I have a pit in my stomach until it is completed, and when the risk is the total ruining of a gemstone, the risk is really quite high, and not something to be attempted on a whim.