A few months ago (June 2014 actually) I entered a competition with Jewellery Maker to Blog about my 5 favourite gemstones, I didn’t win but really enjoyed the challenge. So, last night whilst perusing Instagram I spotted a similar competition, again #Blog2win.
As the seasons have changed, the autumnal colours are most definitely in evidence all around us, with the leaves falling from the trees, Halloween, Thanksgiving for my US friends then Christmas, all rapidly approaching its fair to say that different gems will capture the imagination – well mine most certainly!
My first choice actually grabbed me, the other evening, I rarely look at Jewellery stores these days but did have a glance at the 10th Birthday party celebrations of Gems TV, which Jewellery Maker is part of the same family.
Can you believe that on the Gemporia live auction they sold 3,000 pieces of this stone, set in 925 Sterling Silver in an hour – I was captivated by it. The stone is of course Black Star Diopside, I was stunned at the price – it was a special birthday giveaway price of just £9.95. Never to be repeated I suspect!
The piece of Jewellery they were selling was stunning, the silver really set it off beautifully, but the most amazing sight for me was that from any angle the star moved across the centre of the stone, they were most definitely amazing Stars of India!
Unbelievably the Black Star Diopside is entirely natural, these gemstones are not mass produced, the asterism or star effect can’t be faked, these really are beautiful, enchanting gemstones and without a doubt a stunning centre piece on a necklace or bracelet for the up coming festive season.
My second choice is a gemstone I hanker after, yearn for, but yet to purchase. Its beautiful, and first introduced to the world by my most favourite Jewellers Tiffany & Co. Mined in only one country in the world, and those mines are depleting daily so the price is starting to rocket my second choice is of course Tanzanite.
Isn’t this Gemstone simply delightful, the colours I find enchanting with the almost transparent blue violet hues. You may ask why would a pale stone appear in my colour choices for this fall, well in simple answer to that, I just love the gem.
The longer answer is that the American Gem Society made this Gemstone the December birthstone, therefore an easy choice for my fall selection. It reminds me of Icy glaziers, the chill of a winters day, my daughters current favourite Disney Movie Frozen, the icicles hanging off buildings in the mid winter. The feel I imagine is of an icicle too, as Gemstones always feel wonderfully cold to the skin, until they adjust to the wearers body temperature – I often wonder why would anyone wear expensive plastic or glass designer jewellery when they could have stones like this for most probably less money?
Interestingly, the stone was named by Tiffany & Co, they wanted to focus on the rarity & single source location of this gemstone. This was their own USP (Unique Selling Point), the advertising that came along with the launch was simple and targeted – Tanzanite, available in 2 places globally, Tanzania and Tiffany & Co. Wow!!!! What exclusivity that gave them.
Anyway scroll forward a couple of decades and obviously Tanzanite is now available from many locations, JM & Gemporia included. For me though, the truly lovely thing about this gemstone is that whilst most mined gemstones are cut & finished in Jaipur, India. Tanzanite is now due to the Tanzania Government controls only cut in Tanzania, this aids the development of small local independent Gem processing families giving a long term boost to the economy and ensuring that the profits from the local mines are ploughed back to the country, and not squirrelled away overseas by capitalists.
This is another reason why I am huge fan of JM, they work closely with the Equal World Foundation. A charity that ensures communities in countries, those most remote corners of the earth where the gems are mined benefit directly from the profits the gems can command. The charity works closely with these communities to bring them education, to help improve health and living conditions, the environmental issues that they can face, like obtaining clean water, food sources, vaccines & much more. Living in the UK, there is so much that we take for granted, the Gemstones JM sell are pure pleasure for me, a treat absolutely not a necessity but selling them is the bread & water of some of these families in remote locations around the world with of course limited access to the gemstone market. So knowing that in a very small way my purchases can help a family is my little self justification so simply spend more (not that I really need it of course)!
My third choice is the Pearl, more specifically Mulberry Potato Pearls. How autumnal are these ? They are like little drops of cranberries on a string, and so incredibly versatile, they could look amazing just knotted, as a necklace, bracelet set, a couple of pearls hung from a pair of earring hooks and wire wrap another for a ring. They are rounds – ok not perfect but then what naturally created gemstone is ? The fabulous Mark Smith (designer on JM) has demonstrated some amazing macramé with wire bracelets using pearls like these, the amazing Sheila Davies (whom I have had the absolute pleasure to meet on the Sunday Experience – do check that out its amazing fun) loves pearls, but I could see these in a fabulous winter wedding tiara – I married in Red at Christmas, I just wish I had discovered jewellery making earlier!
Both Sheila, and Mark have some some fabulous demonstrations, (as have many other designers on JM) the great thing is you can replay them on youtube too, which is particularly useful if there is a technique they demo, and you want to have a go at in your on time.
Pearls are currently, and have been for a very long time exceedingly popular. Renowned for their iridescence & natural luster, the potato pearl is irregular in shape. In fact most pearls created will be irregular, if you find a strand that are perfect, and uniform in size, shape, and colour then they are more likely to be fake than genuine. A pearl is naturally grown over a period of time (years, at least 2-5) inside a mollusk – unless its a Keshi pearl, which is actually a by product of the Mollusk, as these have been “spat out” and then develop randomly but naturally outside of the normal mollusk environment. A firm favourite of the Royal Family, I can’t help but think about Queen Elizabeth 1 dress in Blackadder, it was covered in pearls!! But seriously from the Queen down to the younger members of the family they are frequently pictured wearing a strand of pearls. These strands are trending constantly in fashion magazines, its unlikely that the pearl will go out of trend in the near future. Although I do believe there are controls being introduced at one the source in the USA to protect the environment, and over production of the pearls, so these are definitely a collectors choice, and could be one to watch the prices rocket on.
My fourth choice is Silver Quartz Coated Faceted Druze
There is no real reason I have selected these other than I simply adore them. I have noticed a small quantity of Druzy gradually appearing periodically on JM, whenever they do, the stones tend to be a sellout virtually immediately. These stones are just vibrant, sparkly, they have such a depth of character that shouts really does scream BLING!
Each stone is completely unique, the Druzy is the glittery effect provided by hundreds of tiny crystals which have formed covering the surface, or nested in the cracks & exposed cavities or veins being caused by deposits left from water running over the surface, becoming trapped, and cooling down rapidly enabling crystal formation over millions of years is just unbelievably exquisite.
These stones either centrally drilled or a cabochons, would make an amazing attention grabbing necklace centrepiece, or even if you dangle individual stones from your Christmas tree. They would glisten against the fairy lights, amazingly these gemstones could workout at less than an individual designer bauble but would without a doubt have the wow factor!
My final choice was tough, I really wanted Black Diamond, JM sell the most amazing dazzling strands of Black Diamonds which are simply spectacular but sadly after scouring the website I couldn’t find any for sale. I know they are rare, I know they sell out, I guess thats why I couldn’t find the listing. So I picked a beautiful strand of Green Sapphire, which actually bear an uncanny resemblance to the strand of black diamond I was seeking. The strand in question wasn’t pure black as black spinel, black onyx, black agate would be, it was sparkly divine hint of black on the strand. I suspect that if I viewed side by side the Green Sapphire pictured and the Black Diamond I have in mind they would look completely different to the naked eye, but pictorially this particular strand leapt off the screen at me with its subtle hues of colour.
As you can see the Green hues in this strand are very subtle, but I do associate Green with holly, admittedly its normally a darker deeper shade of green, Emerald green in Holly, but nevertheless I am captivated by the variations of colour in Sapphire, Obviously, thinking back to the Mulberry potato pearls I selected earlier these would make stunning holly berries, the red & green colours are such beautiful Christmassy colours.
I also find that green gemstones also look phenomenal with purple gemstones, such as Amethyst, the really deep purple coloured amethyst, or even a purple agate. Its not hard to appreciate why purple is one of the most popular gemstone strand colours, I have read that its the colour stone most often associated with a first purchase for many people at craft markets – I am certainly drawn to any purple stones I spot at craft fairs, birth stones are my next draw Emerald being mine for May…. Ooops am easily distracted by my other favourite strands!
I admit, Sapphires, until recently I have always assumed are blue, the darker the better. After all Princess Diana’s most famous engagement ring was of course a substantial deep blue sapphire, but it is now the coloured sapphires that interest me the most. The colour is due to the presence of iron in the formation of the vein, yellow and blue bands microscopically run through the stone and as they cross, or merge they form the a hue of green to the naked eye. The intensity of the colour can change also, the spectrum ranges from the pale to dark green almost emerald.
The most amazing thing about all of these gemstones is that they are completely natural, they are all unique. Rather like snowflakes, each stone whilst faceted on a strand using identical techniques from a highly skilled, highly trained lapidarist will always be slightly different, even if its microscopically different to next gemstone.
Admittedly many genuine gemstones are heat treated in order to bring out the colour intensity but they have been forming over many hundreds or thousands of years, they have been mined, they have been cut, faceted or just left in the rough, but one fact I am certain of is that long after anyone reading this blog including myself has left the earth they will still be in existence in all their spark-tacular glory.
So, there you have it, my top 5 in no real order of preference autumnal gemstone strand selections, I really hope you love them as much I do!