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How To Judge the Quality of Diamonds

Diamond Yellow Gold Engagement Ring

Diamond Quality Knowing diamond qualities is extremely important for you. Buying a diamond is one of the most expensive personal purchases you’ll make. Hence you, like many of us, may not know which diamond qualities to look for. As a result, you could end up with an inferior diamond at a high price.

Seems like you have a sense of what you want. But, you probably want one that sparkles. Is a nice size (or even bigger). In the shape you prefer. That’s how we look at it from our  perspective. (To see the shape options available check out our recent blog on the shape of diamonds )

In contrast to our priorities, experts tell us there are four important criteria used to evaluate diamond qualities.

The 4C’s of buying a diamond

Most noteworthy, there are four (4) diamond qualities that are considered standard. They include: Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat weight. More about them.

Diamond quality:  Cut

Above all, you need to consider the cut of the diamond. It is the biggest factor in creating sparkle and fire. And without a high cut grade even a high-quality diamond  can appear dull and lifeless. A diamond cut poorly and too deep can face-up smaller than it actually is. Like the three bears: Not too shallow. Not too deep. Just right.Diamond Cut

To maximize your budget, you should choose the highest diamond cut grade your budget allows. We suggest a cut grade of Very Good or better.

Diamond quality: Color

After diamond cut, diamond color is the second most important characteristic to consider. The highest quality diamonds are colorless. Those of lower quality have noticeable color, such as pale yellow. Here is a guide to preferred color ratings. For your convenience, the GIA table these and other criteria are obtained from is shown at the end of this blog.

Colorless Diamonds

D-F Color Diamonds (Highest Quality)

  Near Colorless Diamonds

G-H Color Diamonds (Best Value)

I-J Color Diamonds (Great with Yellow Gold)

Diamond quality: Clarity

Diamond clarity is the assessment of small imperfections on the surface and internally. The surface flaws are called blemishes, and internal defects are known as inclusions. These tiny, natural blemishes and inclusions are microscopic and do not affect a diamond’s beauty in any way. Diamonds with the least and smallest inclusions receive the highest clarity grades.

Flawless (FL) Diamonds

Inclusions and blemishes aren’t visible on flawless diamonds, even under 10x magnification. Less than 1% of all diamonds are FL clarity. A flawless diamond is incredibly rare because it’s nearly impossible to find a diamond 100% free of inclusions. Six percent of customers buy FL diamonds.

Diamond quality: Carat

Diamond carat is often misunderstood and refers to a diamond’s weight, not necessarily its size. When comparing diamond carat sizes, take a diamond’s cut into consideration as well: a high-carat diamond with a poor cut grade may look smaller, often cut deeper, than a diamond with smaller carat weight and a better cut.

You can also check these out

We think you’ll agree all of the above make sense. To help make it even clearer for you,  just check out the GIA chart below. The chart  was created to help you judge diamond qualities. If you want to learn more about diamonds, including certification and appraisals, go to Gemological Institute of America. You’ll find a detailed discussion of diamonds.

The chart below was created by GIA so you can understand the ratings of diamonds. Hence, when you see a string of letters in the description of the diamond, just check out the chart below to figure out the meaning. Better yet, make sure you have an expert help you select the best diamond for your budget.

All  our jewelry categories are on our home page.

The collection of diamond earrings, click earring collection. 

To learn about the origin of earrings, click on history of earrings.

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The Shape of Diamonds

Diamond stones

When you select a diamond, you expect it to last a lifetime. You want to love and cherish it forever. That’s why it’s important to know the choices to you have when selecting the perfect one. While many shapes have been around for generations, but every so often a new shape appears. Here are the most popular classic and newer shape of diamonds.

Round Cut  Diamond Shapes

The round (brilliant) diamond is probably the oldest diamond shape, being around for centuries. Even today you’ll find it to be a very popular stone, with fire and brilliance that is dazzling. It’s the most popular shape for the new “halo” diamond engagement rings.

Oval Cut  Diamond Shapes

An oval diamond has beautiful brilliance that’s similar to a round diamond. Oval diamonds are also very popular as their length can accentuate long, slender fingers.

Pear Cut Shape of diamonds

This brilliant-cut diamond is also called a teardrop for its single point and rounded end. The unique look of the pear shape helps make it a popular choice for a variety of diamond jewelry, not just rings. If you choose an elongated pear shape, the length of the diamond creates a subtle slimming effect on the fingers, similar to the oval.

 Heart-Shaped  Diamond shapes

The heart is the ultimate symbol of love. The unique look of the heart-shaped diamond helps make it a distinctive not just for a ring, but almost any type of jewelry.   The Heart shape is available in several length-to-width ratios, creating a rounder or longer heart shape. The choice is yours.

Marquise-Cut  Shape of diamonds

The shape of a marquise diamond can maximize carat weight, giving you a much larger-looking diamond. This brilliant-cut diamond looks beautiful set with round or pear-shaped side stones, and the length of the marquise diamond makes fingers appear long and slender.

Radiant-Cut Diamond shapes 

Trimmed corners are the way to identify the radiant-cut diamond.  A radiant-cut looks equally beautiful set with either baguette or round side-diamonds. Radiant-cut diamonds can vary in their degree of rectangularity.  Have your jeweler show you different types so you can select the one you prefer. That’s a good idea with all the diamonds.

Cushion-Cut Diamond Shapes 

This unique shape has been popular for more than a century. Cushion-cut diamonds (also known as “pillow-cut” diamonds) have rounded corners and larger facets to increase their brilliance. These larger facets highlight the diamond’s clarity, so be sure to review the clarity plot on the diamond certificate. Cushion-cut diamonds are available in shapes ranging from square to rectangular.

Emerald-Cut/Asscher  Diamond shapes Shape of diamonds

What makes the emerald diamond shape different is its pavilion, which is cut with rectangular facets to create a unique optical appearance. Due to its larger, open table, this shape highlights the clarity of a diamond. Also, emerald-cut diamonds can vary greatly in how rectangular they are. If you’d prefer an emerald cut with a squared outline, look for an Asscher-cut diamond.

Princess Cut   

The Princess is a square cut diamond. Today, the Princess cut is as popular among brides as the round diamond.

Whichever diamond shape you choose, they will never lose their shape.

There’s a song from an old movie (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) that has a line, “pear shaped or square shaped, these rocks won’t lose their shape…diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” Indeed they are. If you’re in doubt about whether a diamond is right for you, check out the best source of information about diamonds and other gemstones at the Gemological Society of America.

Check out Regency’s collection of diamond rings. And, please sign up for our blog. You’ll become a more knowledgeable jewelry buyer or collector. Go to our home page and submit the sign up form.

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The Meaning of Birthstones

Meaning of birthstone

The twelve birthstones for each calendar month have a very special meaning. They are said to carry magical, mythical qualities. Learn how your birthstone can protect you. Bring you good luck. Love. Money. Health.  Find out the meaning of birthstones, including the meaning of YOUR birthstone? We include a link, for your convenience, to more information about your birthstone. You can also go to our home page to link to all our jewelry collection.

What is the origin of birthstones?

Christian scholars in the 5th century made the connection between the twelve gems in the Breastplate of Aaron, twelve months of the year, and twelve signs of the zodiac. They theorized that each gem was connected to a certain month or astrological alignment and that they would receive therapeutic benefits for wearing one during that time.

One stone for each month

To receive the full benefit, people took to wearing one stone for each month of the year and attributed a different meaning and value to them. Eventually this practice was modified so that a person would only wear the stone for the month they were born in (hence the term birthstone). There was a great amount of disagreement over which stone should represent a calendar month until 1912 when Sears published an “official” list of all the birthstones and the months they represented. Since then there have been a few modifications here and there but the list remains largely unchanged. Read below to learn the meaning of birthstones. Click on the link to learn more about each gemstone.

January: Birthstone is Garnet. Dark Red. Protection 

Garnet has long been associated with clergy and nobility. In ancient Egypt the pharaohs wore red garnet necklaces. In ancient Rome rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax on important documents. Explorers and travelers carried garnets on their journeys to ward off evil and light up the night. The gift of a garnet is a great way to let a loved one know you want them to be safe on all of their future journeys. (more about garnets.)

February: Birthstone is Amethyst. Violet. Wisdom

Because of its color the ancient Greeks associated amethyst with the wine god Bacchus, and believed that the gem could prevent drunkenness. Amethyst has also been thought to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. While we can’t promise that giving your friends an amethyst will result in a mythological alcohol tolerance, we do hope that it will inspire the wisdom not to overindulge. more about amethysts

March: Birthstone is Aquamarine. Blue, Cyan. Serenity.

Regardless of the shade of blue, these gems have evoked images of sea water and endless skies for generations. Many sailors would bring aquamarines on their voyages for a variety of calming purposes like getting a good night sleep by keeping it under their pillow at night or warding off poisons and bad food by keeping one in their pocket while eating. These benefits combine to make an aquamarine a great gift for new brides, moms, and especially your “eccentric” friend who is planning to sail around the world.  more about Aquamarine

April: Birthstone is Diamond (some say Quartz). Multiple colors. Love

April BirthstoneThe April birthstone, diamond, in addition to being a symbol of everlasting love, was once thought to bring courage. In Sanskrit, the diamond is called “vajra,” which also means lightning; in Hindu mythology, vajra was the weapon of Indra, the king of gods. You’ve probably heard the slogan many times that “a diamond is forever.” This is because of the stone’s symbol of deep, everlasting love, as well as the fact that it’s the hardest substance known on earth. more about diamonds

May: Birthstone is the Emerald. Dark Green. Hope

Emeralds are named after the Vulgar Latin words ‘esmaralda’ and ‘esmaraldus’ which translate roughly to a green gem. While that might be a little on the nose for some people, we think emerald is a great name for this gem because of its beautiful green color that inspires thoughts of springtime and renewal. This association makes emeralds a great gift for someone who needs a reminder that winter doesn’t last forever (even in the Northeast!) or is starting a new chapter in their life. Legends have said that placing an emerald under your tongue gives you the ability to foresee the future and protects against evil spells and can cure disease. more about emeralds.

June: Birthstones June is pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. 

June’s birthstones range from opalescent pearl, moonstone and the rare color-changing alexandrite—one of the most valuable gems on earth. In many cultures, pearls symbolize purity and innocence, which is why it’s tradition for a bride to wear pearls on her wedding day.  Associated with concentration and learning, alexandrite is believed to strengthen intuition, aid creativity and inspire imagination—bringing good omens to anyone who wears it.  Moonstone acts as the ultimate fertility crystal by sparking passion in new lovers and reuniting old ones. Also encourages sound sleep and beneficial dreams. more about pearls

July: Birthstone is the Ruby. Red. Vitality

 The Ruby’s color of “blood” led to an association with vitality and physical strength for the ruby. Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered rubies to the god Krishna would be emperors in a future life. People in India and Burma have also believed that rubies offered safety and peace, and medieval Europeans thought that these gems guaranteed health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. Today, a ruby makes a great gift for someone who could use a reminder that they are full of energy and life and have a lot to offer the world around them.  More about the Ruby

August: Birthstone is the Peridot. Olive Green. Beauty

Peridot is always a yellow-green and the darker a specimen, the more valuable it is. The Egyptians thought that Peridot protected against nightmares and brought the wearer confidence, good luck and health. In fact, it’s believed that some of Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually Peridot. It is sometimes called the evening emerald for its light green color. When set in gold, this gem was said to protect the wearer from nightmares. more about peridot

September: Birthstone is the Sapphire. Blue. Fidelity, Truth

The meaning of birthstonesBlue has long been considered the color of fidelity. The magnificent and holy Sapphire, in all its celestial hues, is a stone of wisdom and royalty, of prophecy and Divine favor. It is forever associated with sacred things and considered the gem of gems, a jewel steeped in the history and lore of nearly every religion. Many sources list that sapphires are believed to symbolize wisdom, virtue, good fortune, and holiness for royals. In an engagement ring, a sapphire means faithfulness and sincerity, too. more about sapphire

October: Birthstone is the Opal. Multi-colored. Faithfulness, confidence.

October birthstoneOpals can exhibit many different colors within a single stone.That’s why it believed to possess supernatural powers. In ancient Rome, this gem symbolized love and hope. The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease. Europeans have long considered the gem a symbol of hope, purity, and truth.  Once, it was thought to have the power to preserve the life. Others say necklaces with opals set in them were worn to repel evil and to protect eyesight. more about opals

November: Birthstone is the Citrine or Golden Topaz. Both: love, vitality, energy, prosperity

The Topaz, symbolizes love and affection. It is believed to give the wearer increased strength and intellect. The Citrine is known as “healing quartz,” as legend has it that citrine promotes vitality and energy for wearers it. According to  Chinese feng shui philosophy, citrine creates wealth and abundance. Citrine is thought to offer the same benefits as topaz, including the ability to calm, heal, and encourage prosperity. Citrine, is often confused with golden topaz. More about citrine More about Golden Topaz

December: 3 birthstones: Turquoise, Zircon, Tanzanite.

December birthdays have claim to three gemstones; Zircon, Tanzanite and Turquoise. Each of these gemstones carries a unique blue tone.  Zircon can be found in a variety of colors, but blue is the overwhelming favorite. 

The turquoise  December birthstone

Turquoise is among the oldest known gemstones and its popularity has spanned the globe for centuries. It graced the necks of Egyptian Pharaohs and adorned the ceremonial dress of early Native Americans. This beautiful robin’s egg blue gemstone has been attributed with healing powers, promoting the wearer’s status and wealth, protecting from evil and bringing good luck.

The ZirconDecember birthstone

In the Middle Ages, Zircon was said to aid in resting, bring prosperity and promote honor and wisdom in its owner. Today, the most popular colors of Zircon are the vivid blue and bright Caribbean Sea colors.

DeThe Tanzanite

Tanzanite possesses an exotic velvety blue with a rich overtone of purple, a color unlike any other. It brings wisdom, truth, dignity and spiritual mastery. A stone of judgment and long life, it promotes introspection and can result in profound wisdom when used well. more about turquoise    

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November birthstone

November Birthstone

If you were born in November, you are lucky.  If you’re celebrating your 14th Anniversary, you’re lucky too You can choose from not just one November birthstone, but two:   Citrine and Topaz.

The warm color of Citrine is said to be a gift from the sun and it’s believed to be a healing gemstone. Topaz is most desired in its rich orange imperial Topaz color but it is found in a variety of rich colors like blue, pink and yellow. Because the citrine and topaz are so close in appearance often they are substituted. This is the result of the Citrine not easily available. Hence we recommend the topaz, especially the blue topaz, which is equally as beautiful.

The blue topaz: second November birthstone, but first in our hearts. 

If you’re like we are, the lore and history of a stone always interests us. Did you know the ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength? In Europe during the Renaissance (the period from the 1300s to the 1600s) people thought that topaz could break magic spells and dispel anger. And there’s more.

For centuries, many people in India have believed that topaz worn above the heart assures long life, beauty, and intelligence. Wow! Who knew.

The name for imperial topaz originated in nineteenth-century Russia. At the time, the Ural Mountains were topaz’s leading source, and the pink gemstone mined there was named to honor the Russian czar. Ownership of the gem was restricted to the royal family. That’s no longer true. We can all wear the topaz.

Today, topaz is one of the birthstones considered for November. The other is citrine quartz.

The Citrine

Natural citrine is rare. Most citrine on the market is the result of heat treatment of amethyst. Because it is rare, sometimes topaz and yellow sapphire are used in its place.

To learn everything you need to know about citrine and all birthstones, here’s a link the the Gemological Society’s fact page. What you will discover is this is a gorgeous stone, with unrivaled clarity and beautiful color as well as being able to be cut into unusual shapes.

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September is for Sapphires

September birthstone, Sapphire 

When we think about sapphires, as we’ve previously said, we think of deep, deep blue. And the September birthstone, sapphire is the bluest of blues. Prince Charles gave Princess Diana a beautiful diamond and sapphire ring for their engagement. It certainly made the sapphire, as opposed to diamonds, a popular engagement stone. But it’s for the September birthdays.

It’s the lucky September birthdays that can call the sapphire their own. But there’s more to be happy about. Rather than just one color, the sapphire comes in a variety of colors. The photo below shows the variety of colors including violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues.

You can see two videos about sapphires at GIA website.

You can also learn more about sapphires, including origins and history at the GIA Encyclopedia

A brief history of Sapphires

Historically sapphire is associated with nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has always been associated with royalty and wealth. After all, Prince Charles thought it worthy of an engagement ring. But the stone has always been for the upper classes.

In ancient Greece and Rome, royalty believed that the blue sapphire protected them from envy and harm. In the Middle Ages the clergy wore sapphires to symbolize Heaven.

People believed, in other times and places, sapphires had the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles.

For more information about sapphires, we suggest you peruse the GIA Encyclopedia. They discuss not only sapphires, but every gemstone under the sun. Great fun.

For more of our collection of vintage, antique and contemporary jewelry, timepieces, and silver go to our home page

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Peridot, August birthstone

Peridot, August Birthstone

Peridot, August birthstone   

If you asked ten people what is the August birthstone, the Peridot would not be mentioned by more than one—if that.

The Peridot is probably the least known and least appreciated of all the gemstones.

A woman friend, who is also born in August, said she hated having the Peridot as her birthstone when she was young. After all, her friends had “real” gemstones like diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies, and others. As she learned more about the stone, she considers it her favorite.

Where did the Peridot originate?

The formation of the Peridot, August birthstone 

Peridot was formed early in the solidification of the Earth. As the earth’s magma slowly cooled to form igneous rock, Peridot was born. Parts of the magma which cooled particularly slowly created large and clear specimens of Peridot. These rich deposits are located in Egypt, and in Burma as well as surrounding areas.

Peridot is not only born of fire here on earth, but it has also arrived to Earth from outer space. Although many different gems can be found in meteorites that have fallen to earth, Peridot is the only one that is found in large enough sized to make jewelry from. In 1749, a meteorite landed in a desolate area of Siberia. It was found to contain many pieces of Peridot crystals large enough to be set into Peridot jewelry.

Peridot, August birthstone:  its lure

A few jewelry historians are now convinced that some, or possibly all of the emeralds Cleopatra was famous for wearing, were not actually  emeralds, but Peridots from Egypt. This emerald-looking shade of green is almost never encountered in Peridots under ten carats.

Peridot has long been called “an Evening Emerald.” That’s because under artificial light, the stone glows a brilliant green. Peridot is similar to the emerald.emerald but softer in intensity. Two of the finest Peridot displays containing some of the largest and best specimens are in the American

Peridot, August birthstone Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Field Museum in Chicago. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC has a cut Peridot stone of 310 carats.

Peridot, August birthstone:  its legends and lores

The beauty of the Peridot, August birthstone, is what lures most knowledgeable people to the gem. But the lores of the stone attract others.

The Talisman. Throughout history, there have been many legends that state the strong magical power that Peridot possesses. Legend says that if the gem is set in gold, it will develop its full potential as a talisman and will have the power to dispel terrors of the night- fears and bad dreams. However, according to Pliny The Elder, the Great Roman authority on such matters, for Peridots to work their strongest magic, they must be worn on the right arm.

The Healer. As with other gemstones, the color of the Peridot stone is directly related to parts of the body that it can be of aid to. Because of its yellowish green color, Peridot has been believed to cure diseases of the liver and difficulties with digestion. It aids in physical detoxification and helps problems with the kidneys, bladder, gallbladder, and the stomach. Peridot heals such illnesses as ulcers, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. Hence, it’s a panacea.

  • Useful in helping to heal insect bites.
  • Has a tonic effect- it heals and regenerates tissues, strengthens the metabolism and benefits the skin.
  • Aids the heart, thymus, lungs, and spleen.
  • When placed on the abdomen, it aids in giving birth by strengthening the muscle contractions while lessening the pain.
  • Helpful in treating skin diseases and difficulties associated with the adrenal glands and endocrine systems.
  • Used to treat fevers.

Other lores and Legends. It said that Peridot, August birthstone, can help with anger management, depression, recovery from a broken heart. The stone calms the nervous system, helping to dissolve emotional tensions and bringing balance to the system. It actually attracts love and calms raging anger from within. It alleviates jealousy, resentment, and spite, and reduces stress.

So who needs a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist. You just need a Peridot. Problems solved. To learn more about the Peridot, please check out the encyclopedia of gems.

To see more of our collection of contemporary, vintage and antique jewelry go to our home page.

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The Ruby—July birthstone—a protector

Ruby-diamond flower bracelet

July Birthstone, the magical, fiery ruby.

The July birthstone, the Ruby, is a stone of nobility, considered the most magnificent of all gems. It is the queen of stones and the stone of kings. Ancients believed it surpassed all other precious stones in virtue, and its value exceeded even that of the Diamond. The Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan was said to have offered an entire city in exchange for a sizable Ruby.

The July birthstone has been believed to be a talisman and a protector

The July birthstone, Revered in many cultures throughout history, the July birthstone, the ruby, has always been a talisman of passion, protection and prosperity. It symbolizes the sun, and its glowing hue suggests an inextinguishable flame within the stone that legends claim would shine through even the thickest clothing and could not be hidden; if Ruby were cast into water it would cause it to boil, and if carved and pressed into wax, it would melt the wax.

It was worn as an amulet or charm to ward off plague and pestilence, warned its wearer of impending danger, kept the body safe, and banished sadness and foolish thoughts. It was reputed to bring its owner peace, drive away frightful dreams, restrain lust, and to help resolve disputes. Burmese legend declares inserting a Ruby into the flesh would make one completely invulnerable.

The Powers of the Ruby, the July birthstone  

The movie “The Wizard of Oz” confirmed the magical qualities of the ruby when they gave a pair to Dorothy to provide protection to her. For years, the ruby is believed to have supernatural and special powers. These include providing protection, physical and emotional healing energy, healing and spiritual energy. To learn more about the Ruby, its history and lore go to the GIA Encyclopedia of gems.

Natural Rubies and their flaws

The July birthstone, the ruby, like all natural Rubies have imperfections within them, including color impurities and inclusions of Rutile needles known as “silk.” These inclusions help distinguish natural Ruby from synthetics and when structurally oriented so the light shines off the “silk” in certain ways, the inclusions actually increase the rarity and value of the stone. If cut en cabochon, these special stones may display a chatoyancy, or rare “cat’s eye” effect, or in the case of a Star Ruby may display a six-rayed star effect called asterism, that causes the light rays to appear to glide magically across the stone as it is moved. [wikipedia.org][gemstone.org]

  

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JUNE BIRTHSTONE: THE PEARL

Vintage Mabe cultured Pearl button earrings

The June Birthstone

The most well-known June Birthstone is the pearl. However June is one of only two months that has three birthstones associated with it. That means the lucky people born in June a choice of gemstones among pearl, alexandrite and moonstone.

In this blog we will only tell you about the pearl,  since it’s most associated as the June Birthstone. Let us share some interesting information with you about pearls.

About Pearls: The most well-known June Birthstone

Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures. Mollusks produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants that get lodged in their shells—usually not a grain of sand, as commonly believed.

While any shelled mollusk can technically make a pearl, only two groups of bivalve mollusks (or clams) use mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent “nacreous” pearls that are valued in jewelry. These rare gems don’t require any polishing to reveal their natural luster. The finest pearls have a reflective luster, making them appear creamy white with an iridescent sheen that casts many colorful hues.

Cultured freshwater pearls can also be dyed yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple or black.

Black pearls—which are mostly cultured because they are so rare in nature—aren’t actually black but rather green, purple, blue or silver.

The June Birthstone: The History of the Pearl

Pearls have been used as adornment for centuries —at least as far back as ancient Greece, where they believed pearls were tears of the gods. The oldest known pearl jewelry was discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess who died in 520 B.C.

Ancient Japanese folktales told that pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures like mermaids and nymphs. Early Chinese civilizations believed that dragons carried pearls between their teeth, and the dragon must be slain to claim the pearls—which symbolized wisdom.

Other cultures associated pearls with the moon, calling them “teardrops of the moon.” Hindu folklore explained that dewdrops fell from the moon into the sea, and Krishna picked one for his daughter on her wedding day.

Because natural pearls were so rare throughout history, only the richest echelon could afford them. During the Byzantine Empire, rules dictated that only the emperor was allowed to wear these treasured gemstones. Ancient Egyptians were often buried with their prized pearls.

Tudor England was known as the Pearl Age because of the stone’s popularity with the upper class during the sixteenth century. Portraits showed royals wearing pearl jewelry and clothing adorned with pearls.

Source: www.americangemsociety.org

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May Birthstone: All about Emeralds

May birthstone May birthstoneMay birthstone

Green has been associated with “envy” since Shakespeare’s time. It’s true today, too. You can’t help but be envious that the May birthstone is the beautiful emerald. Of course, emeralds are so loved, people own and wear them regardless of their birthdate. The May Birthstone is considered to be a symbol of rebirth and love. Emeralds are the rarest gemstones and are typically mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia.

All About Emeralds

A little bit of the lore

Emerald’s lush green has soothed souls and excited imaginations since antiquity. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdus.” Rome’s Pliny the Elder described emerald in his Natural History, published in the first century AD: “…nothing greens greener” was his verdict. Even today, the color green is known to relieve stress and eye strain.

Emerald is the most famous member of the beryl family. Legends endowed the wearer with the ability to foresee the future when an emerald was placed under the tongue, as well as to reveal truth and be protected against evil spells. Emerald was once also believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria. Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath as well as make one an eloquent speaker.

Legend also states that emerald was one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon. These four stones were said to have endowed the king with power over all creation.

Its color reflects new spring growth, which makes it the perfect choice of a birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gemstone for twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.

The first known emerald mines were in Egypt, dating from at least 330 BC into the 1700s. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald, and used it in her royal adornments.

The History of Emeralds

Emeralds are gem-quality specimens of the beryl mineral family with a rich, distinctly green color. They are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks in a small number of locations worldwide.

For over 5000 years, emeralds have been one of the most desirable and valuable colored gemstones. Ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia, and South America independently discovered emeralds and made them their gemstone of highest esteem.

Emerald is defined by its green color. To be an emerald, a specimen must have a distinctly green color that falls in the range from bluish-green to green to slightly yellowish-green. To be an emerald, the specimen must also have a rich color. Stones with weak saturation or light tone should be called “green beryl.” If the beryl’s color is greenish blue then it is an “aquamarine.” If it is greenish-yellow it is “heliodor.”

Gem experts differ on the degree of green that makes one stone an emerald and another stone a less-expensive green beryl. However, to be considered a “real” emerald it should be deep and saturated enough in color.

Synthetic Emerald

The first synthetic emeralds were produced in the mid-1800s, but it was not until the 1930s that Carroll Chatham began producing emerald in commercial quantities. To date, several companies including Chatham Created Gems, Gilson, Kyocera Corporation, Lennix, Seiko Corporation, Biron Corporation, Lechleitner, and Regency, have produced synthetic emeralds by flux and hydrothermal processes.

Synthetic emeralds, also known as lab-created emeralds, have the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural emeralds. They are sold beside natural emeralds in most mall jewelry stores in the United States. When compared to natural emeralds, the synthetics have superior clarity and a more uniform appearance than natural stones of equivalent cost. Many consumers purchase them for their attractive appearance at a lower cost.

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April Birthstone: All about diamonds

two rows diamond Eternity Ring

The history of the April Birthstone: Diamonds

Before we delve into the April birthstone, let’s consider “who the heck created birthstones?” Well, it was too long ago to consider it a ploy to generate more business.  The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of  (Biblical) Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. As time wore on, the 12 gems became associated with the zodiac and the months connected to it.

Aaron started the tradition of wearing a colored stone each month as a sort of good luck charm. Initially people wore all twelve stones, rotating according to season. The current list dates back to 1912 with only one addition since then – the Tanzanite was added to December.

The Chronology of diamonds

Diamonds have been around as long as mankind. Diamonds have a long history as beautiful objects of desire. In the first century AD, the Roman naturalist Pliny stated: “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.”
 

The world’s love of diamonds had its start in India, where diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams. Some historians estimate that India was trading in diamonds as early as the fourth century BC.  Gradually, though, this changed. Indian diamonds found their way, along with other exotic merchandise, to Western Europe in the caravans that traveled to Venice’s medieval markets. By the 1400s, diamonds were becoming fashionable accessories for Europe’s elite.

Things changed in the 1700’s

In the early 1700s, as India’s diamond supplies began to decline, Brazil emerged as an important source. Diamonds were discovered in the pans of gold miners as they sifted through the gravels of local rivers. Once it reached its full potential, Brazil dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years.

The story of the modern diamond market really begins on the African continent, with the 1866 discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa. Entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited 22 years later, in 1888. By 1900, De Beers, through its mines in South Africa, controlled an estimated 90 percent of the world’s production of rough diamonds. Today, South Africa accounts for a much smaller percentage of diamond production. In fact, production is spread all over Africa and many countries in the world.

The lore of diamonds… 

Getting back to the April birthstone, diamonds have been admired for centuries; some historians estimate it was traded as early as 4 BC. Before man understood diamonds were produced under earth’s surface and pushed to the top, many ancient civilizations believed that diamonds were lighting made real on earth. Perhaps this is the reason that diamonds have often been associated with great healing powers. Many thought the diamond could cure brain disease, alleviate pituitary gland disorders and draw toxins from the blood. But there’s more…

The Healing Powers of Diamonds. 

During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to hold healing powers and to cure ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body.

It was also believed that diamonds could have an effect on an individual’s balance and clarity and could boost their energy when combined with other crystals like amethyst.

The diamond as the April gemstone has garnered the hearts of many and is the most coveted crystal to date. Deemed as the “King of all Birthstones,” diamonds make the ideal choice for an April birthday gift. And, diamonds were beloved by the ancient aristocracy..;

Historically, the diamond first became a popular gemstone in India, when the Moghuls and Imperial Colony easily mined diamonds from deposits along three major rivers. Today, the diamond is most widely known as the stone to give as part of an engagement ring.

Diamonds: A variety of colors. Often called Fancy Diamonds. Adopted from the Greek work adamas, meaning “invincible,” diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. For instance, yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron. The planet’s most valued gems are fancy color diamonds. Only one in 10,000 diamonds has a fancy color. Red, green, purple, and orange are generally the most rare, followed by pink and blue. Yellows and browns are the most common fancy colors, but they’re generally less valuable than the rarer colors. To learn more about diamonds, check out Gemological Institute of America.

With fancy color diamonds, their value generally increases with the strength and purity of the color. Large, vivid fancy color diamonds are extremely rare and very valuable. However, many fancy diamond colors are muted rather than pure and strong. Blacks, grays, and fancy whites are considered fancies, too. Some have been fashioned into gems. The 67.50-carat Black Orloff diamond, named after the Russian Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orloff, is the most well-known example. It’s shown here.