Tag: gems

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!




Gemstone Spotlight: Peridot, August’s Vitality

“Wear a peridot or for thee, 
No conjugal felicity; 
The August-born without this stone, 
`Tis said, must live unloved and lone.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

A faceted peridot and a rough peridot.
A peridot in the rough and a faceted peridot.

For years, August had two birthstones, peridot and sardonyx. The more popular of the two has always been peridot, which is a symbol of vitality, strength and growth and the star of this blog. However, August recently had a third stone added to its’ list of official stones, which you can read about here. (Spoiler alert – it’s Spinel)

Metaphysically, peridot is said to prevent against nightmares (especially when set in gold) and bring the wearer power and influence. Peridot was first found in Hawaii, where the natives explained its existence as being hardened tears from Pele, the Volcano Goddess, which is fitting because it is formed inside the earth and brought to the surface by volcanic activity. Throughout history, peridot has been used to connect with nature, perhaps because of it’s coloration. The ancient Egyptians believed drinking a beverage called Soma from peridot cups would bring them closer to Isis, Goddess of Nature. They also referred to peridot as the “gem of the sun.”

Pele, Goddess of Fire and Volcanos
Peridot was thought to have been formed by the tears of Pele, Goddess of Fire and Volcanos.

Today, peridot is primarily mined in Arizona, but is still found in Hawaii, and mined in other parts of the world, such as China and Pakistan. It is found in a variety of colors from yellow-green to brown, with the most desirable colors being the bright lime green and olive. It is sometimes called the “evening emerald,” probably for it’s similarity in color to emeralds. In addition to being August’s birthstone, peridot is a traditional gift to celebrate a 16th wedding anniversary.

Peridot and CZ Pendant in Sterling Silver
Peridot pendant in Sterling Silver, from Pearls International

sources: birthdaygems.org




Gemstone Spotlight: Rubies, July’s Passion

“The glowing ruby shall adorn,
Those who in July are born;
Then they’ll be exempt and free
From love’s doubts and anxiety.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Faceted Rubies

July’s birthstone is one of history’s most prized gems. Ancient Hindus called it “Rajnapura,” or “King of Gems.” It has a very mystical history and was once thought to have magical powers. A legend says that a ruby would glow darker when the owner was in danger, and return to its original color once the danger had passed. Royalty wore ruby jewelry to ward off evil. Ancient tribes used rubies as bullets, as they represented power and heat. Some also believed that a pot of water would instantly boil if a ruby was thrown into it. It was also ground up and placed on the tongue as a cure for indigestion. Today, they are regarded as symbols of love and passion, as these emotions are enhance by their deep red color. Metaphysically, they are thought to arouse the senses, stimulate your imagination, and guarantee success in love and wealth.

A rough ruby and faceted rubies.
A rough ruby and faceted rubies.

The Latin word “ruber” means red, and the most prized rubies are medium to deep red, although they do come in a variety of colors. If too much of another color is seen, (i.e. purple or orange) it will be called a fancy sapphire. Sapphires and rubies are nearly chemically identical, but rubies are prized for their color and are more rare in gem quality than Sapphires. The highest quality rubies are said to be found in Burma, but they are also mined in many other countries around the world, including India, Sri Lanka, and here in the U.S. The only gem harder than a ruby is a diamond, so they are perfect for everyday wear.

Shopping for someone born in July? Our pearl and ruby jewelry is a perfect way to show your love! Also consider buying a ruby to celebrate a 40th wedding anniversary.

Ruby and Pearl Pendant
This pearl and ruby pendant by Pearls International is simple and stylish, easy to dress up or down!

sources: www.about-birthstones.com/julybirthstone.html, www.birthdaygems.org, www.almanac.com, www.americangemsociety.org

Gemstone Spotlight: Diamonds, April’s Eternal Love

“She who from April dates her years,
Diamonds shall wear, lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow; this stone,
Emblem of innocence, is known.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

April girls may consider themselves lucky to be born with such a prestigious gemstone. If you have been following our blog for the last three months, you have probably learned a lot about the history of gemstones. Knowledge on diamonds is a little more widespread than some of the other stones, as it is a popular stone in many pieces of jewelry. Many people know that diamonds are a symbol of eternal love, and are frequently used in engagement rings and wedding and anniversary bands. Many people also know that diamonds are one of the hardest substances known to man. Lesser known facts about the diamond include its history, the circumstances around its formation, and some of the mythology around the stone.

Colored Diamonds
Diamonds are available in many colors.

The greek word “adamas,” which the word “diamond” is derivative of, means “invincible.” In Sanskrit, the diamond is called “vajra,” meaning “lightning.” Ancient legends of diamonds tell that they were created by lighting, or that they are the tears of Gods. Diamonds are actually chemically identical to carbon, and the stones themselves are created from carbon under extreme pressure and at very high temperatures for anywhere from 1-3 billion years. Diamonds can also form at impact sites where asteroids strike the Earth. The heat and pressure from this event can cause diamonds to form if the asteroid hits carbon-containing stones in the earth. Once the gems are gathered, they are polished and cut. Each diamond has at least 58 facets, which helps catch and refract light. This gives diamonds their signature “sparkle.”

Here are some great diamond gift ideas for your April girl. Diamonds are also a traditional 60th wedding anniversary gift. And pearls are always appropriate!

Pearl necklace with gold and diamond clasp.
Classic strand of large pearls with a 14k gold and diamond clasp.

Are diamonds a little out of your price range, or are you thinking of trying something a little less traditional? Try a bloodstone for your aries girl or a sapphire if her birthday falls under the taurus sign. We also offer a selection of synthetics (cubic zirconia and swarovski crystals) that shine just like a diamond!

http://geology.com/articles/diamonds-from-coal/, www.gemselect.com, www.americangemsociety.org, www.almanac.com

Pearly Whirly Poem – from a (Sad) Anonymous Middle English Poet

Pearl, pleasant for prince’s joy,
Cleanly closed in gold so clear,
Out of orient, I am bold to say
Never have proved her precious peer
So round, so radiant in every way
So slim, so smooth her sides were,
Wheresoever I judged fair gems
I placed her singly in a class apart.
Alas, I lost her in a garden,
Through grass to ground it from me went.
I pine away, stricken by grieving love
For that secret, spotless pearl.

Genuine Hand-Faceted Blue Topaz Chandelier

Shimmering Ice – The Tale of a Very Expensive Lighting Fixture

Once a Gem Cutter, always a Gem Cutter, Pearls International’s own Jim Stradley got his start in jewelry by purchasing his own gem cutting outfit upon returning from serving our country in Viet Nam. He has a history of cutting some of the finest and most unique gems in the world. Some of these gems have even made their way into museums like the Smithsonian Institute. A perfectionist at his art, Jeweler Jim has cut a 2,165 carat flawless blue topaz, fine amethysts weighing 605 carats, and even emeralds worth over $100,000.  Although we at Pearls International know him as the Pearl Guy, his first love was cutting gems.

Jim Stradley, the Pearl Guy

One of his best pieces, the Shimmering Ice Chandelier, made of blue topaz and totaling 5,712.69 carats, is a masterpiece in itself. Many of the topaz pieces making up the chandelier he collected himself in the Tarryall Mountains of Colorado. Jim gathered the remaining gems for this chandelier from exotic parts all over the world including Brazil, Madagascar, and Mozambique. Over 550 separate briolettes make up this fine work of art, the biggest of which weighs just over 185 carats. This one of a kind chandelier houses eight candles that brighten and accent each gem. The chandelier is now housed in Pearls International and can be seen immediately upon entering the showroom.