Tag: educational

What’s tougher than a diamond? You’ll never guess!

Our recent gemstone spotlight, featuring Jade, inspired us to dig a little deeper into what exactly the Mohs Hardness Scale is, and also the difference between hardness and toughness. Jade is a very tough stone, but not a very hard stone. In ancient times, it was used to create weapons and other tools, yet only falls between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale.
How could that be? The answer is that toughness and hardness are not the same. Hardness (which is measured on the Mohs scale) determines how easily a mineral can be scratched, while toughness judges its ability to withstand breakage, as from a fall or impact with another object.

A guide to the Mohs scale

While the Mohs Scale consists of a numerical scale of 1-10, the toughness scale is a little less specific. There is not yet a standardized test for measuring toughness, and minerals are graded on a scale of Exceptional, Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor.

Diamonds, which are commonly known as the hardest natural mineral, sit at a solid 10 on the Mohs scale. However, they only rank as far as “Good” on the toughness scale. Jade, however, ranks as “Exceptional” and is therefore considered to be tougher than a diamond, although it sits at a 6-7 on the Mohs scale. GemSociety.org uses the comparison of wood vs. glass to help you remember the difference between toughness and hardness. Glass is very hard and can easily scratch wood, but wood is very tough, so if you bang a piece of glass and a piece of wood together the glass is more likely to be broken by the piece of wood.

With this logic, diamonds can easily scratch jade, but what happens if you whack a piece of jadeite and a piece of diamond together? The diamond could crack, but your jade will probably come away a little bruised, but not too much worse for the wear. Now you know!

 

Sources:
https://www.gemsociety.org/article/gemstones-tough-hard/
http://www.firemountaingems.com/resources/encyclobeadia/charts/68ag
http://geology.com/minerals/mohs-hardness-scale.shtml

 


Jade Cabs

Gemstone Spotlight – Jade!

Today’s Gemstone Spotlight will leave you feeling green with envy!

Jade is known for its striking green color and exceptional toughness. But did you know that jade comes in more colors than just green? While green is the most valuable, jadeite is also found in yellow, red-orange, white, gray, black, brown, and light purple. Nephrite, another variety of jade, is found in yellow, brown, black, gray, or white in addition to the classic shades of green.

History and Applications

Throughout history, Jade was valued for its toughness. While it ranges from a 6-7 on the Mohs scale, it is a very durable gem and was often used to create tools and weaponry in several different cultures. The mineral buildup of Jade makes this possible, as both jadeite and nephrite are metamorphic rocks composed of tiny, interlocking crystals. So if it doesn’t get very high marks in hardness, how is it valued for being tough? Interestingly enough, hardness and toughness are tested very differently in the jewelry industry. Hardness (as measured on the Mohs scale) ranks the stone’s ability to withstand scratches and indentation, while toughness judges the stone’s ability to withstand breakage. This is why jade rings may become scratched over time, but ancient Chinese jade sculptures still stand unbroken.

Moh's Scale of Hardness

A Chinese ceremonial jade axe.
A Chinese ceremonial jade axe.
Mayan jade head sculpture.
Mayan jade head sculpture.

Jade Jewelry

In a jewelry application, jade is typically beaded or polished into a cabochon. It is rarely faceted. When polished, jade should have a glassy to oily luster. This stone is popular in both men’s and women’s jewelry.

It is most commonly seen in rings in cabochon form and carved into beads or discs for necklaces. In the east, the most popular piece of jade jewelry is the carved jade bangle, which is thought to bring protection to the wearer. At Pearls International Jewelers, we have stunning pearl and jade pieces in our Dream In Color Collection, which uses traditional jade beads strung together with pearls in necklaces and bracelets. We also have lovely jade earrings.

Freshwater Pearl and Gemstone Necklace
Jade beads with white freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystal rondelles.
Freshwater Pearl and Gemstone Earrings
Pearl and Jade earrings.

Lore and Metaphysical Properties

Aztecs and Mayans believed jade could cure pain in the side of the body. In fact, the name jade came from Spanish explorers calling the gem “piedra de ijada,” literally meaning stone for pain in the side, which they coined while observing these cultures holding jade pieces up their sides. It is also thought to bring good luck and prosperity.

Two Chinese bi discs made of carved white jade.
Two Chinese bi discs made of carved white jade.

Perhaps the culture in which jade has the greatest value is China. The Chinese believe jade encourages longevity and strengthens your health. Meaningful sculptures are carved from jade all over China, giving it further meaning. A popular example of this is the traditional flat disc with a hole in the middle, known as “bi” in Chinese, a symbol of heaven. Other common Chinese jade sculptures include butterflies, which symbolize a long life, and dragons, which represent power and prosperity.

A bangle carved of imperial jade.
A bangle carved from imperial jade.

In many stories and legends, the popular jade bangle of eastern cultures (particularly China), was accredited with miraculous recovery from illnesses. It is said that the bangle would break at the critical moment and the wearer would recover as a result. In similar tales, the wearer of a jade bangle would emerge from an accident uninjured if the bangle broke at the right time.

Location

Both varieties of jade are found all over the world. Nephrite is more commonly obtained and therefore slightly less valuable than jadeite. The most valuable variety of jadeite, called imperial jade, which is prized for having a brighter, bolder green hue than the other varieties, is only mined in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Jade may also be found in China, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, and Guatemala to name a few known deposits.

Necklaces made of imperial jade.
Necklaces made of imperial jade.

Jade as a Gift

Jade is the traditional gift for a 12th wedding anniversary. It is also associated with the astrological sign of Taurus, so makes a meaningful gift for those interested in connection with their star sign. Jade is a wonderful every day stone which can be made into many different jewelry styles. Need a special gift for your upcoming anniversary or sweetheart’s birthday? Please contact us!


Sources:
http://www.minsocam.org/ammin/AM58/AM58_727.pdf
http://www.gia.edu/jade
http://www.gemselect.com/gem-info/jade/jade-info.php

Tahitian Pearls

Choosing the Perfect Pearl – Your Guide to Making an Informed Decision.

While much of the process of choosing pearls is subjective, and depends on the wearer’s taste, there are a few questions to ask that will ensure that the pearls you choose will be of the highest quality. Just like diamonds have their “4C’s”, pearls have common properties that should be considered as you shop.

 Color

A pearl’s color is more a matter of personal taste than one of quality, but naturally colored pearls will typically weather trends and fads better than those that have been artificially dyed. Beware especially bright or garish pearls, as these are almost certainly the result of manmade color processes and the dye can be prone to fading or even wearing off onto skin or clothing. Strong colors may sometimes indicate a lower-quality pearl, as the dye may have been used to disguise unsightly color variations in the surface of the pearl.

Pearl Colors

Orient and Overtone

There are very small differences between orient and overtone. The orient of a pearl is the beautiful iridescent shimmer of color that spreads across its surface. Often, this causes a ‘rainbow’ effect on the surface of the pearl. This color is not the same as the color of the pearl itself, but the iridescence that may seem to dance and move across the pearl as you turn it. In contrast, the overtone of a pearl is the secondary impression of color from a pearl as it is viewed against a white background. For example, a black pearl may seem to have a subtle blush of green. This color, unlike the orient, does not shimmer, but may differ depending on which side of the pearl is viewed, due to the refraction of light within the pearl.

Examples of Overtone on a White Pearl

Overtone on White Pearl

Examples of Overtone on a Black Pearl

Overtone on Black Pearl

Black Pearls Displaying Excellent Orient

Black Pearls with Excellent Orient

Size

The larger the pearl, the longer it had to remain in the oyster’s shell, and as a result, these are usually more costly. Very large pearls are a rarity, due to the cost of producing them. Consider that the oysters must be kept healthy and safe from predators, parasites, and destruction of their natural habitat for several years while the pearl is allowed to form. Additionally, the extra time in the shell increases the likelihood of blemishes forming on the pearl as small imperfections in the nacre are magnified as they are coated. Flawless pearls of a large size will command very high prices.

Pearl Size

Surface

Surface indicates the perfection of the exterior of the pearl itself. Higher quality surfaces have very few marks, bumps, ripples, or blemishes, indicating that the oyster was very well cared-for during the cultivation process. Pearls that show little to no variation in their surfaces will typically cost more than those with a few marks here and there.

Pearl Surface

Regularity

Regularity refers to the shape of a pearl. The more spherical the pearl, the more regular it is said to be. No pearl is perfectly round, but some come close to being spherical. The best pearls are typically smooth and even. Do not pay for a pearl that is absolutely spherical and has no defining marks unless it is certified, as these are probably synthetic, and therefore of low value.

Pearl Regularity

Luster

A pearl’s luster, or shine, is determined by the layers of ‘nacre,’ the substance pearls are made of, that coats its central nucleus. Usually, more nacre results in higher luster. The surface curvature of a pearl can also have an effect on the luster, as light passes through the delicate outer layers and refracts off of the aragonite crystals in the pearl, giving the pearl its signature glow. This causes the highly desirable translucent appearance that very fine pearls display.

Pearl Luster

Authenticity

A genuine pearl will typically show minor variations in shape, color, and surface. Truly perfect pearls are rarely real, but may be simply convincing fakes. One way to test their authenticity (although this test can be fooled) is to gently rub the pearl on the edge of your tooth. Genuine pearls will feel very slightly gritty, due to their crystalline structure, while faux pearls and glass pearls will feel smooth and silky. The exception to this rule is composite, or “shell” pearls, which are created by grinding low-quality pearls into a powder and then reconstituting them using epoxy or acrylic. Due to their nacre content, these will feel gritty to the teeth, but since they are usually perfectly round, they are easy to spot and avoid.

Real vs Shell Pearl

Other fake pearl types to look out for:

  • Plastic: Ultra-shiny, easy to chip the paint. Very lightweight. Usually unknotted. Smooth to the tooth.
  • Glass: Higher quality, usually knotted in between and heavy. Look for paint flaking near the drill-holes. Smooth to the tooth.
  • Mallorca: A specific variety of glass pearl, very high quality and usually difficult to identify. The paint is very similar in luster to real pearls, but if on a strand, will be perfectly uniform. Smooth to the tooth.

Check out our post on Real vs. Faux pearls for more info on Authenticity!

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How Can I Tell if My Pearls are Real? Ten Quick Tips.

Pearls International only carries genuine cultured freshwater and saltwater pearls, but with so many convincing fakes on the market, how can you tell if the pearls you got somewhere else are the genuine article?

Today recently broke a story about dishonest salesmen in destination spots like Cozumel who duped their customers into purchasing jewelry that wasn’t real. We wanted to take a moment to help educate our customers and readers about how you can avoid scams like this on your vacation and protect yourself from people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

First, always ask for recommendations at your hotel or with a local resident you trust. Most people aren’t going to shop at a jeweler who is hidden down some dark alleyway, but it’s always a good idea to be smart about where you spend your money.

Satisfaction Guarantee SealSecond, ask about their return policy. If you get home to discover that an item you thought was gold instead turned out to be gold plate, at least you’ll know how to get your money back. Pearls International offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee with easy returns and exchanges. If you ever purchase the wrong size or color with us, we’ll happily and enthusiastically make it right.

So what if you’ve already made a purchase, and you’re wondering whether you got your money’s worth? Or maybe you’ve inherited some jewelry and you’re thinking of selling it, but don’t want to risk taking it to a pawn shop or a gold-buyer without knowing what it’s worth?


It’s always a good idea to have a jeweler you trust take a look at a new piece to validate its authenticity. At Pearls International, we’ll even give you a free jeweler’s loupe that you can use to look at the metal hallmarks in your jewelry, and they’re also very useful for doing annual checks on prongs to prevent your stones from getting lost!

If you don’t have time to bring your jewelry to an expert, there are several things you can do at home to find out if your pearls are real.

Are my pearls real? Ten things to look for:

Tip: It’s best to start with a clean strand so you can identify small details that might be missed due to a buildup of oils or perfumes on the surface of your pearls. If you need to find out how to clean your pearls, check out this tutorial or use our specially created pearl-safe cleaner.

Pearl Juice
Normal gold and silver cleaners are acidic and can damage your pearls. Use a pearl-friendly cleaner like our Pearl Juice to avoid damaging your pearls. It is best to start with a clean strand when determining if your pearls are the real deal.

[dropcap2]1[/dropcap2]Real pearls are heavier than fake pearls. Imagine you are holding a strand of little pebbles. Would your strand be about the same weight? If not, you might be holding some pearl impostors. The nacre that makes up the layers of a real pearl is very dense, so it will weigh quite a bit more than plastic or resin, two common materials used in many fake pearls. Beware! Some materials such as glass and composite, or ‘shell’ pearls (pearls made from crushed and reconstituted shell) may fool this test.

[dropcap2]2[/dropcap2]If your pearls are heavy, but you still suspect they may be false, chipped or cracking paint is a sure sign that your pearls are fakes. To find it, look carefully between two pearls at a drill hole. If you notice any paint is missing, or if the material from inside the pearl formed a ‘burr’ when the pearl was drilled, your pearls are probably fake. Real pearls will have a drill hole that is quite smooth and doesn’t show any chipping (unless it has been mishandled). If in doubt, ask an expert.

Chipped Pearl Paint

[dropcap2]3[/dropcap2]Real pearls on a strand will never be perfectly matched. Since no two pearls are identical in nature, look for minor variation in color and shape that indicate your pearls are authentic. You may need to look very closely, as high quality strands will be well matched. However, the differences will be there! 

[dropcap2]4[/dropcap2] Size matters. Are your pearls enormous and perfectly spherical? If you paid a comically tiny price for your comically huge pearls, it’s very likely that they are fake. In nature, the longer a pearl remains within an oyster’s shell, the more likely it is to develop imperfections like dents and divots. As a result, pearls of a very large size can be extremely valuable. If your pearls fit this description, it’s likely you have a strand of shell pearls.

[dropcap2]5[/dropcap2] Knots are important! Real pearls will be individually knotted on a silk or microfiber strand. These knots are crucial to the longevity of your pearls. In addition to preventing each pearl from rubbing against its neighbor, the knots also protect against the loss of more than a couple of pearls, should your strand get caught on something and break. Many high-quality fakes will be knotted (such as Mallorca Pearls), but they are easy to identify when you know what to look for.


Tip: If your strand is knotted, take note of the condition of the knots. Are they frayed or discolored? Is there space between the knots and the pearls? If so, you may need to have your strand restrung to prevent breakage. Pearls International offers restringing for $1/knot. Contact us if you’d like to get more information about our jewelry repair services.

Knotted vs. Unknotted Pearls[dropcap2]6[/dropcap2]If your pearls have unusual coloring, they may be fake. While some real pearls are dyed for fashion or to cover up unsightly surface imperfections, good-quality pearls usually stick to colors that appear in nature. Your favorite chartreuse strand might not be the real thing, but feel free to rock that look if it suits you! To learn more about color treatments in pearls, check out this post.

[dropcap2]7[/dropcap2] The temperature of your pearls can give you some hints. Real pearls often feel cool to the touch and will quickly warm to your body’s temperature when worn. Fake pearls will feel much more close to room temperature when you first pick them up.

[dropcap2]8[/dropcap2] Do your pearls look like soldiers in a row? If they are perfectly uniform without any differences or imperfections, it’s very likely that they were manufactured. Real pearls are born in the sea, so they grow up getting rolled around by wind and waves, and as a result, they are never, never perfect. Even ’round’ pearls will show small lumps and bumps and minor imperfections in the nacre. In the pearls of utmost quality, these may not be visible without a loupe, but they are still there. Don’t worry — these are signs that your pearl came from nature!

Pearl Shape

[dropcap2]9[/dropcap2]Genuine pearls appear more ‘glowy’ than ‘shiny’. Look at your pearls under natural light. Real pearls are made from layer upon layer of a material called ‘nacre’. These layers are translucent, and reflect light in such a way that a real pearl appears to have an inner glow that is almost impossible to recreate with artificial methods. If your pearls appear harsh or have an unusual brassy or metallic appearance, they may be fake.

Graduated white akoya pearl necklace
Genuine Akoya Pearls from Pearls International – this exquisite strand shows you a real life example of the ‘glowy’ quality mentioned above. Faux pearls can appear more metallic.

[dropcap2]10[/dropcap2]Last but not least, one of the best methods for determining if your pearls are genuine is the ‘tooth test’. Real pearls have microscopic crystalline structures, not unlike fingerprints. Every pearl has its own structure, but fake pearls do not have this unique characteristic. As a result, if you hold one pearl between your thumb and index finger, then gently rub the pearl on one of your teeth (this only works with real teeth, not veneers or dental implants), you will feel a slight ‘gritty’ texture, as if you are rubbing sand on your tooth. Fake pearls will feel perfectly smooth. Note: Shell pearls, due to the powdered nacre they contain, may feel gritty. Ask your jeweler to identify them for you.

Now you know!

We hope these tips helped you determine if your pearls are real or fake. Still not sure? Drop by and we can take a look for you, or you can send your pearls to us at the address below. Be sure to include your name, phone number and a return address with your package!

Pearls International
3114 So. Atlantic Avenue
Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118


Red Algal Bloom

Pearly Whirly Pearl Fact: Never Eat Oysters During These Months

Have you ever heard that you should only eat oysters in months with names that include the letter “R”? Turns out, there’s truth to the tale!

So why should you avoid eating local oysters in the months of May, June, July, and August?

Oysters are filter feeders that eat algae and plankton and are susceptible to a very specific type of algal bloom, or “Red Tide” that can occur during warmer months of the year. A buildup of toxins in the oyster’s tissue as a result of this algae can be harmful to humans.

So what’s an oyster lover to do?

The answer is actually quite simple. While this old rule is a word to the wise for those of us who like to gather our own oysters to eat from rivers and oceans, it doesn’t usually apply to commercially available oysters, which are strictly regulated by the U.S. government. You can rest assured that your favorite oyster joint is probably serving oysters that are algae free and delicious. Slurp!

Gemstone Spotlight: December’s Ice Blue Sincerity

“If cold December gave you birth,
The month of snow and ice and mirth,
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’er you do.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Turquoise
Rough and polished turquoise stones.

If you were born in December, you may find yourself a little confused on which stone to call your own. Turquoise has been the longest standing and most traditional birthstone for December, with zircon and tanzanite recently added. Many also consider blue topaz amongst the ranks of December birthstones. (Fun fact: Topaz is one of November’s traditional gemstones.) Whichever stone you prefer, December’s birthstones all bring a sense of calm, peace, and sincerity you gain from gazing at their gorgeous blue surfaces. And they are all amazing stones, so this month’s gemstone spotlight will encompass not one, not two, but four stones. What a good way to end the year.

Turquoise has been on the list of December birthstones since before 1912, along with lapis lazuli (which is not heavily recognized as a birthstone today). It is, in fact, one of the oldest gemstones known to man. The name turquoise comes from the French phrase “Pierre tourques”, meaning “Turkish stone” although it was most likely originally mined in Egypt and Iran, not Turkey. Today, we use the word turquoise to describe anything of the blue-green color commonly associated with the gem, which is interesting because the color is actually named after the stone, and not vice versa. American turquoise is mined in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. A rare translucent variety is found only in Virginia. “Persian turquoise” refers to any turquoise which does not have black or brown veining in the stone. These are more commonly found outside of the U.S. in countries such as Tanzania, Afghanistan, Mexico, China, and Israel. The most valuable specimens are said to come from Iran. The value of turquoise stones based on color and patterning depends on region and personal preference. Most Americans prefer the spidery patterns, while clean stones are generally preferred east of here.

Greenish turquoise with veining
Turquoise stones with veining.

Turquoise jewelry requires some care. It is relatively soft, and the color can be affected by harsh lighting, household chemicals, oil (including natural oils and perspiration from your body) and cosmetics. It is a good idea to remove your turquoise jewelry before washing your hands, showering, or applying perfume and makeup. (Similar to how you would care for your pearls!) Most turquoise pieces are set in silver, although it is commonly found set in gold alongside diamonds in the Middle East. It is extremely popular in the southwest, and is associated with a lot of Native American style jewelry.

It is regarded as symbol of good fortune, happiness, and success. Wearing turquoise, especially in a ring, is thought to keep away evil spirits. Turquoise jewelry in general is said to protect the wearer from harm and relax the mind. Apache indians believed that attaching turquoise to an arrow would increase the hunter’s accuracy. Native Americans have associated the color of the stone with the sky and the Earth, and many people today still think of it as being symbolic of nature. Shamans, healers, and medicine men have talked of the healing properties of turquoise stones, contributing it as a healing agent for heart ailments and blisters, amongst other afflictions.

Looking for a turquoise piece as a gift? It is a traditional gift for an 11th wedding anniversary, and its affordability makes it a great birthday choice. Check out these awesome turquoise pieces from Pearls International:

Freshwater pearl and turquoise gemstone pendant
This lovely pendant features a gemstone bead in between two swarovski rondelles and freshwater pearls. It is available in both blue and green turquoise.

 

Pearl and turquoise necklace
This pearl and gemstone necklace is perfect for any occasion.

The name zircon is derived from the Arabic words for “gold colored,” although it is found in a wide variety of colors (with blue being the most popular, and also the color recognized as December’s birthstone). Stones that are medium dark and pure blue all the way through are the most valuable. It is a dense stone, so a small piece of zircon will have a higher weight than most other stones of similar size. Zircon is most heavily mined in Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam, though it is also found in Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and etc. Colorless zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia and sometimes fraudulently sold as real diamonds. However, zircon is a natural gemstone, while cubic zirconia is laboratory grown.

Faceted Blue Zircon
Faceted blue zircon.

Of all the blue gemstones (and there are a lot!) zircon has the highest refractive index. This makes the stones look very brilliant, but they sometimes see a double refractive effect, which makes the stone look “fuzzy” around the facets. It is a fairly hard stone, but has a tendency to wear along the faceted edges and is sensitive to hard knocks, so should be treated as occasional wear jewelry, especially in rings. It should also be stored carefully.

Zircon is said to aid in spiritual growth, bring wisdom to the wearer, and help find beauty and peace. It is said to relieve pain, protect travelers from injury and illness, and aid in sleep, including preventing nightmares. Many people in the Hindu culture consider trees to be sacred, and one legend tells of the Kalpa Tree, a sacred offering to the gods that was made entirely of gemstones. In this tree, all the mature leaves were made of zircon. It is said that when one wanted to find peace and seek out certain blessings, they would sit under the Kalpa Tree and meditate.

Kalpa Tree
An illustration of the Kalpa Tree.

The next December gemstone is Tanzanite, which was discovered in Tanzania in the late 60’s, making it a relatively new stone on the market. It is interesting because it is not found in any other parts of the world, while many other stones are mined all in several countries. In fact, the entire mineable area of tanzanite at present is only five square miles, surrounding the volcano Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tanzanite gemstone cuts.
Tanzanite gemstones in several different cuts.

Tanzanite comes in a variety of blue-violet blue shades, and can show brown or yellow coloration in certain lightings. It is often heated to remove the brown and yellow hues, leaving you with a blue or blue violet gem. There is little history on this gem, as it is still so new to the market.

Faceted blue topaz
Faceted blue topaz.

The final gem considered in the list of December birthstones is blue topaz. Topaz is discussed in our prior blog on November’s birthstones, as topaz is considered to be a birthstone for November. However, November most primarily recognizes the yellow shades of topaz, while December only considers the blue varieties. Topaz is a very popular stone due to its durability and its affordability. In fact, it is the second most popular colored gemstone on the market, outranked only by sapphire. Blue topaz comes in a variety of shades. All deep, saturated blue stones are treated to enhance color. Most natural blue topaz is a pale blue. Pearls International’s jeweler has a fondness for natural blue topaz, and if you visit our Daytona Beach shores location you can see our chandelier made with natural blue topaz crystals, hand carved by our own Jim Stradley. We also have pearl and topaz pendants and earrings available for sale.

Blue Topaz and Pearl Earring and pendant Set
Pearls International’s natural blue topaz and pearl pendant and earring set.

According to legend, wearing topaz can improve your eyesight. Topaz was also said to change color in the presence of food or drinks that had been poisoned. It is also thought to cure insomnia and asthma.

 

sources: www.almanac.com, www.gemselect.com, www.birthdaygems.org, www.gia.edu/turquoise-history-lore, www.americangemsociety.org

Gemstone Spotlight: November’s Stone of the Sun

“Who first comes to this world below 
In dreary November’s fog and snow, 
Should prize the topaz’s amber hue, 
Emblem of friends and lovers true.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Topaz
Topaz gemstones with varying colors.

The topaz is the traditional birthstone for November, with citrine having been recently added as a secondary stone. Topaz colors include clear, brown, yellow, orange, pink, and red, as well as the well-known blue topaz. Many examples of topaz seen in jewelry are treated to bring out the color, as topaz is most often found in pale and light colors. This is especially true in blue topaz.

Blue topaz changes in color
The topaz on the right has been treated to bring out the bright blue colors within the stone, while the topaz on the left is a closer representation of its natural color.

This stone is found in many countries around the world, with the most common source being Brazil. It is a symbol of affection, has an interesting history of legends, and holds a few interesting metaphysical properties. Topaz has been said to increase strength, fight against insomnia, cure asthma, and improve eyesight. The ancient Greeks believed that this stone held the power to make the wearer invisible in an emergency. Both the Egyptians and the Romans associated topaz with their sun gods (Ra and Jupiter, respectively). The Egyptians believed that it was colored with the energy of Ra, and regarded it as a very powerful amulet to protect against harm. These legends more than likely refer to yellow varieties of topaz, as well as citrine, which was once confused with similar specimens of topaz, although they are unrelated.

Need a piece of topaz jewelry for a gift? We have a gorgeous topaz pendant and earring set, in natural, untreated, hand faceted blue topaz.

Pendant with blue topaz and freshwater pearl
Pearls International blue topaz and freshwater pearl pendant.

 

Freshwater pearl and blue topaz earrings
Freshwater pearl and natural blue topaz earrings.

Citrine, the second stone for November, is the yellow or orange variety of quartz. The word citrine comes from the French “citron,” meaning “lemon.” Naturally yellow citrine is primarily found in Brazil and Madagascar, although some of the citrine market today is actually heat-treated amethyst.

Natural Citrine Crystal
Natural citrine crystal.

Citrine’s sunshine-like color has earned it a spot regarded as a positive energy stone, and it is thought to cure depression and radiate success, prosperity, and abundance. These qualities have given citrine nicknames such as “merchant’s stone” or “success stone,” and many places of business keep a citrine stone at the cash register.

Citrine and CZ Pendant in Sterling Silver

Amongst other metaphysical properties, citrine banishes negative energy, and will never absorb negative energy from its surroundings, meaning it never needs to be cleared or re-charged. The healing properties behind the stone are endless, both mentally and physically. It can relieve emotional trauma, repel nightmares, aid in digestion, help overcome addictions, and promote self confidence. It is said to carry the power of the sun with it.

Faceted citrine stones
Faceted citrine stones.

sources: www.almanac.com, www.gemselect.com, www.americangemsociety.org

Gemstone Spotlight: A Variegation of Colors for October

“October’s child is born for woe, 
And life’s vicissitudes must know, 
But lay an opal on her breast, 
And hope will lull those woes to rest.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Opals
Opals, October’s traditional birthstone, often show a flamelike effect in their color variations.

 

Tourmaline Stones
Tourmaline comes in a great variety of colors, including bi- and tri-colored stones.

October is another of those lucky months with two stones to chose from. Opal is the traditional October stone, with tourmaline added as a secondary stone in 1912. The fantastic thing about being born in October is the amazing range of colors these two stones have to offer. Opal is made when silica gel seeps into cracks in sedimentary rock and is naturally heated and molded over time. This gives the wide range of colors seen within the different varieties of opals, and gives the stones a 3D effect – you see different colors at different depths within the stone.

Tourmaline comes in a variety of single color stones, as will as bi- or tri-colored stones. This effect is known as color zoning. A popular variety of multicolored tourmaline is watermelon tourmaline, which has a color gradient of green to pink/red, often with a colorless zone in between.

Watermelon Tourmaline Butterfly
Check out this adorable watermelon tourmaline butterfly!

Tourmaline is found in Brazil, the U.S., Africa, and Afghanistan. An intense green variety called chrome tourmaline is found in Kenya and Tanzania. The word “tourmaline” comes from the Sinhalese word “turmali,” meaning “mixed,” referring to its stunning color varieties. According to Egyptian legend, tourmaline passed under a rainbow on it’s way up from the center of the earth, and therefore absorbed all the colors of the rainbow, giving us the varieties we see today.  Tourmaline is thought to enhance creativity, and is a stone of love and friendship. Another trait that sets tourmaline apart from many other stones is their ability to hold an electrical charge when heated and then allowed to cool.

Shopping for an October birthday present? Pearls International offers this amazing pearl enhancer with chrome tourmaline, which is a perfect addition to any of our pearl necklaces.

Chrome Tourmaline Pearl Enhancer
Our pearl enhancer with chrome tourmaline.

Opal also comes in many varieties, including black opal, fire opal, and milky opal. Australia produces a large percentage of the world’s opal, primarily black and white opal. The greek word “oppallos” means “to see a change of color.” This word is derivative from the Sanskrit word “upala” which means “valuable stone.” The Romans also have a word, “opalus” meaning “a stone from many elements.”

Opal pendant in Sterling silver

African Aborigines have a legend about the creation of opals that also involves a rainbow, interestingly enough. It was believed that the Creator came down from the heavens on a rainbow, bearing a message of peace for all people. When his feet touched the ground, the stones around him began to sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow, and thus opals were created. Metaphysically, it is thought to cure depression and bring real and true love to the wearer.

Fire Opal
A gorgeous fire opal. Look at all those colors!

When buying opals as a gift, remember that they contain 3-30% water, and are a very soft stone, meaning they are best for occasional or light wear.

 

 

sources: www.americangemsociety.org, http://4csblog.gia.edu/2012/october-birthstone-about-tourmaline, http://www.colonialjewelers.com/learn/about-gemstones/opal-tourmaline/, www.almanac.com, www.gemstone.org, www.gemselect.com

Gemstone Spotlight: Sapphire, September’s Protection

“A maiden born when autumn leaves 
Are rustling in September’s breeze, 
A sapphire on her brow should bind 
`Twill cure diseases of the mind.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Some examples of sapphire color variation.
Some examples of sapphire color variation.

Those born in September call the sapphire their own. Sapphires, the sister stone to the ruby (which is really a red sapphire), are the the second hardest gemstone, rivaled only by the diamond. Corundum (a.k.a. the mineral that makes up rubies and sapphires) comes in every color of the rainbow. Many colors are shown in the photo above. Aside from the traditional blue, popular colors include pink, yellow, and green, like the pendant below.

Green Sapphire and CZ Pendant in Sterling Silver

It is most commonly seen in shades of blue, blue-green, and blue-violet. The most prized varieties are a rich, intense shade of blue that is not too light or too dark. The best sapphires are said to come from Sri Lanka and Madagascar, although sapphires are found in many other places around the world, including Thailand, Australia, the U.S. and China.

A high quality sapphire
A high quality sapphire is deep blue in color.

Wearing a sapphire is said to protect your loved ones from harm. If you are a Taurus, wearing sapphires has been said to cure and protect against mental illnesses, which is implied in the Gregorian Birthstone Poem at the top of this blog. It is also said to help cure rheumatism, work as an anti-depressant, promote clairvoyance, and aid in astral projection, to name a few traits. Since the middle ages, sapphires have been a popular stone amongst priests and royalty. Clergymen from medieval times wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and commoners thought the stone itself attracted heavenly blessings.  Sapphire stones were regarded as a talisman to ward off evil. Star sapphires were said to be so powerful that they would continue to protect the wearer as it was passed on to someone else, and was used primarily as a protective stone for travelers. Another legend says a venomous snake encased in a container made of sapphire would die. It represents faithfulness and sincerity in relationships, and symbolizes peace, joy, and wisdom. Metaphysically, it is a great stone for healing and protective purposes, and for mental growth.

A star sapphire
A star sapphire.

Thinking of giving a sapphire as a gift? Your September girl will be blown away! Sapphires (along with rubies) are also popular in engagement rings due to their superb hardness (Prince William gave a sapphire to Kate Middleton for their engagement!). Because of the amazing variety of colors they come in, you could even pick a stone in her favorite color. She will love you for being so thoughtful.

Think also of giving them as a 5th, 23rd, or 45th wedding anniversary present. Star sapphires are a traditional gift for a 65th wedding anniversary as well.

sources: almanac.com, gemselect.com, americangemsociety.org, www.bernardine.com/gemstones/sapphire

Top Ten Most Wanted Continued (#1)

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

We have finally reached the end of our list and hope you have enjoyed learning with us! Similar to Ocean Acidification, our top offender is an unseen predator. However, it is one in which the cause is still unknown, and treatment is impossible.

Dermo Most Wanted Poster

1) Parasitic Diseases
Causing a higher mortality rate than natural predators and ocean acidification, diseases such as Dermo and MSX come in at a landslide as #1 on our list. Perkinsus marinus, or Dermo, is a single-celled parasite that can multiply by hundreds of thousands. It is contagious and spreads easily because of the way oysters feed. Temperatures higher than 68 degrees Fahrenheit and high salinity can cause it to spread more rapidly. MSX, another parasitic disease, is similar in the way that it spreads and effects oysters, but requires higher levels of salinity to see the same rapid increase. These diseases get all of their nutrients from the oysters they infect. Diseases in oysters are nearly always fatal and kill within a year. Oyster beds can remain infected for 1-2 years before it is safe to repopulate them.