All New Summer Sparklers!

My newsletter is out, listing all (most!) of my new stock, and it’s all just so beautiful! You can see the newsletter at this link https://app.omnisend.com/view/5f0f4fa54c7fa46de454e89e/0 or why not sign up at my website. There’s usually an offer or sale each month and newsletter readers are the first to know! I’ve got a bunch of restocks this month, including some of the most beautiful clean hessonite and some really lovely pale pink tourmaline. Next month is going to be phenomenal stone month, with opal, rainbow moonstone and labradorite; some restocks but also new shapes and sizes and cuts. I’m also hoping for some all new high quality kyanite rose cuts, because who can’t resist deep blue stones?!

I’ve also got a double points offer on this month; if you don’t have a loyalty account, why not set one up? Just click on the ‘Rewards’ icon at the lower right hand corner of my homepage; it’s very simple, you just exchange points for money off coupons. The points boundaries are all completely reachable – you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a reward!

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Not a Love Letter to Emerald

When I first started out in jewellery, I used to make lamp-worked beads and I sold my jewellery in various shops and galleries. One of the shops always said to me, ‘no green please. People don’t buy green jewellery.’ Well, times have changed and green is definitely having a renaissance. Of course, if you talk about green stones, the first one that comes to mind has to be emerald. I have to say that I am not a massive fan of the big E; why not? Well, it’s a combination of its price and properties. Emerald is generally a very included kind of stone. Most emeralds have inclusions; gas bubbles, liquid inclusions, minerals and fractures. And oh my goodness; the fractures. It’s not known whether emerald is a generally fractured stone, or whether it’s the extreme processes required to get it out of the ground. Either way, what this means is that emerald tends to be fracture filled. Something like 96% of all emerald on the market is fracture-filled. This means that clean emerald is very rare and very expensive, and that cheaper emerald is generally highly included, almost certainly fracture filled and the lustre just isn’t great. Emerald is also a rather brittle stone, and of course, as we all know, fractures will tend to make a stone more brittle; if you have a fracture filled stone, then it will appear much less fractured than it actually is, and therefore – dangerously – appear more stable than it actually is. It’s not a great choice for a ring stone. In recent years, emerald finds in Afghanistan have turned up high quality, intense green and relatively clean stones, but obviously there are issues involved with mining in that part of the world.

From GIA article Emerald Adventures in Afghanistan

If you had to give me a choice, my top pick for a green stone would be tsavorite garnet. It comes in a stunning intense green, it has fantastic dispersion (it’s very sparkly!) it’s durable, free from inclusions and is not generally treated. It isn’t cheap, but small stones are reasonably priced and they have a beauty and brilliance that you just don’t get with emerald. Below is Anderson Beattie’s Opal & Tsavorite Garnet Ring; the opal really brings out the chrome green shade of the tsavorite.

Chrome diopside is another intense green option. It really isn’t well known and that’s a shame as colour-wise it packs a punch. It retains its intensity of colour even in small sizes – conversely this means that the colour can get very closed in large sizes, and really you don’t tend to see this stone above around 8mm.

Tourmaline: ah my favourite stone of all time. Green tourmaline runs the spectrum from aqua blue through to yellow ‘beer bottle’ green, with all shades of green-blue, blue-green, intense chrome green and light green along the way. Additionally, because tourmaline is so pleochroic, you will often get several shades of green in the same stone – the ring below from Disa Allsop is a really clear example of this where you can see the bright green and gold green colours dancing across the stone. I also love the way that Lola Brooks uses this spectrum of greens in her jewellery. Mimi Favre’s triple claw setting ring also demonstrates the colour range of tourmaline and Monika Krol’s asymmetrical green tourmaline pendant highlights the beauty of this stone set in gold.

Peridot runs apple green through to yellow-green. It’s reasonably priced and so it’s possible to have it in much larger sizes. For me its at its best en cabochon in a nice strong setting. It’s not hard to find clean stones but larger stones can be prone to black inclusions. However, if you can find them, peridot can have very characteristic ‘lily pad’ inclusions, which I think are rather beautiful. Below is Barbara Tipple’s Lioness Peridot Torque, whose powerful linesperfectly showcases the beauty of this stone.

And this ring from Tayma Fine Jewellery – a large, highly included peridot which looks knockout in this strong and simple setting.

I have a variety of green stones for sale in my shop; to browse, click here

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Final Moving Sale!

As many of you already know, I am moving the business to the UK. It’s been an amazing ten years in Hong Kong but it’s time for me to return to my home now and give the kids some roots. I’m looking forward to daffodils and bluebells, strawberries, clean air and water, decent pubs, so many things! Before I leave I need to drop my stock levels a bit so I am offering a flash sale – 40% off for the next day. Just use code MOVING40 at checkout! This is the last sale I will run before I leave, so don’t miss it! Click here to shop.

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Lapis Lazuli Rose Cut Cabochon 8mm Round

Timeless, enduring, serene…but maybe, a little bit boring?

I am referring, of course, to Pantone’s Colour of the Year, Classic Blue. I don’t know, I find I am often a bit bemused by their picks. Along with everyone else, last year’s Living Coral seemed bizarre. This year, they are clearly playing it safe, but is it too safe? What do they say?

“We are living in a time that requires trust and faith. It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on,” says executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman.

Ok, yes. Solid and dependable; words to make the blood start pounding through your veins? Not really. He goes on to say,

“A boundless blue evocative of the vast and infinite evening sky”

Ok, that’s better, and I can see that. It is a very definite shade of blue; a strong colour, but not a loud one. ‘Full fat’ says Michelle Ogundehin and it’s a good description. Blue skies thinking, celestial skies, deep blue seas, all lovely connotations. But also sadness and depression; having the blues. It’s an interesting choice too, when other colour forecasters, for example WSGN, have opted for green shades, in keeping with the current focus on sustainability and, well, green issues.

I do think there’s a difference when it comes to colours between clothing and jewellery. I can’t see myself wearing this blue in clothing form. It’s at once too loud and not distinctive enough. It’s the colour of store uniforms and cheap balldresses from Moss Bros. However, when it comes to gems, it’s a different matter, because the two biggest stars are sapphire and lapis lazuli. At opposite ends of the value spectrum, still there are affordable sapphire cabochons and lapis is making inroads into fine jewellery. Sapphire is my birthstone and yes, one of my favourite gems. But lapis is something else; still inexpensive enough that it can be used in large, experimental pieces, it frequently appears in very contemporary looks, and yet it has a pedigree that stretches back centuries. When set in gold, it evokes Renaissance paintings when, crushed, it provided the blue pigment for the Madonna’s dress. In silver it is clean and sharp.

Sapphire is more expensive and rare, and therefore the jewellery tends towards the more classic and traditional. Big, set-piece engagement rings surrounded by diamonds (like my own!). However, sapphire does also lend itself to a clean, contemporary look, princess cuts set in white metal or larger cabochons in plain settings.

Other stones that could fall under the Classic Blue hat are London Blue topaz and iolite, although the former shades a bit green and the latter a bit purple. In terms of gems, I carry a range of all these stones. To view my Classic Blue collection, click here.

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Home is Where the Gems are :-)

Some of the sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve been doing more offers than usual and the reason for that is that, after 10 years in Hong Kong we are finally moving back to the UK and Joopy Gems is moving too! I’m trying to reduce my stock levels a bit before returning, to try and reduce the overall cost of bringing them to the UK. I’m doing a time-limited 2 day sale of 35% off all stock – unless stocks fall below where I want them in which case I’ll stop it sooner.

Hong Kong has been really good to us and I’ve loved living there. It is still the most interesting, fascinating multi-layered and vibrant place I have ever lived. Although things have been difficult recently, our return is more due to family reasons – to be close to my mum and for the children to attend school in the UK. I’m excited that I’ll be able to offer a better deal for UK customers – no VAT and no Royal Mail international handling fee as well as fast delivery times. For non-UK customers, there will be little change.

To enjoy the sale, you can use code MOVING35 on pretty much all stock. Click here to shop the sale.

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Offer 3: Frozen Fire

Offer number 3 is a 20% discount on all labradorite and white topaz. What could be more seasonally appropriate than glowing, glittering, frosty white topaz and labradorite, like sparkling frost on a winter’s night? The inuit used to believe that labradorite was the frozen fire from the aurora borealis, so this is an offer full of romance and lore! You can shop the offer here, just use code ADVENT3 at checkout

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12 Days of Gems

Introducing my advent offer: every day – or more like every other day as I am so turned around with time zone differences, I’m struggling to work out for myself when things should end and begin – I’ll be posting an offer. Each one time limited. I’m posting each offer on my website, Facebook and Instagram, so you can keep updated by checking there, and also I’ll be sending some (although maybe not all as I don’t want to drive people crazy!) via my newsletter. You can see what’s on today by visiting joopygems.com

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Peacock Pearls; Perfect Iridescence

The first thing I am going to say is that pearls are treated, most of them, in one way or another. Let’s just get that out of the way. Even the most beautiful and expensive South Sea and Akoya pearls are likely to have some kinds of bleaching and for the pearls that I sell, they are definitely bleached. Let’s just have a brief walk-through the pearl landscape as it were. Most expensive and desirable are natural saltwater pearls; now extremely rare. It was the main source of wealth and the Arabian Gulf until the 1950s; of course once oil was discovered, pearls were eclipsed and in fact, many of the ancient pearl beds were torn up and destroyed. Most saltwater pearls are now cultured, and tend to come from the same sort of places that natural ones came from; for example Myanmar, China, Australia, French Polynesia and Africa to name a few. I deal mainly in cultured freshwater pearls; grown mainly in China on pearl farms; this is a very established industry that can yield very beautiful and affordable pearls. Even with these, there is huge variation with the very cheap, quickly-grown potato pearls competing with slower grown, more lustrous varieties.

Today I’m looking at peacock pearls. Natural black, South Sea or Tahtian pearls have a satiny, rather than high, lustre. With a dark green-grey body colour and a purple, pink, blue or gold overtone that appears to float on the surface of the pearl as the light catches it, these are magical, mysterious, iridescent pearls. These are beautiful and eye-wateringly expensive.

It’s not surprising, then, that artificial colour treatments have been developed, and this is what I want to talk about today. Treated peacock pearls are usually first soaked in silver nitrate (the same chemical that makes photographic film sensitive), then either exposed to light or hydrogen sulphide gas. This turns the pearls black. They are then dyed to achieve the colourful characteristic overtones. How do you tell them apart from the real thing? As with most things, if they look too good to be true, they probably are. That, and price. If the lustre is too high, the colours too bright, they are probably dyed. Size is another; South Sea and Tahitian pearls don’t normally come in sizes below 8mm – anything smaller than that and you are probably dealing with a treated pearl. It goes without saying that this should be stated, and I wouldn’t personally even describe a pearl as ‘like South Sea’ or ‘like Tahitian’ due to the potential for confusion. However, if you do want your treated peacocks to look a bit more like the real thing, then there are a few simple rules:

  1. Step away from the lustre. As stated, real South Sea pearls have a satiny lustre; the high, almost metallic lustre is something that you might see on the banded Tahitian varieties, but generally, look for less lustrous pearls
  2. Colour. The colours of treated peacock pearls are vibrant and beautiful, but to get a more authentic appearance, go for pearls that have more of a subtle colouring, with a more grey and less black body-colour

This is why I’m particularly excited about the 8mm half-drilled peacock pearls I have just listed, as they do fulfill both of these criteria. Not that I’m for a minute suggesting that you pass them off as real, just that if you are looking for a more authentic, less ‘oil-on-water’ appearance, these are a really good option; a lovely grey body-colour with subtle overtone. Check them out here.

A Note on Pearl Grading

Pearls is a funny business. Every time I shop, I have to reinvent the wheel, as just because one company had beautiful pearls a year ago, doesn’t mean that they will next time they restock. Another thing you have to realise is that there is no standardisation in terms of quality grading. A pearl company will sort its pearls in terms of the qualities that they hold, and so one company’s AAA is another’s AA and so on. Also – and this is a really funny one – AAA+ is less good than AAA. Just so you know. For me, there is nothing that takes the place of painstakingly going round suppliers and carefully comparing by eye to get the best quality for the price you want.

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William White Sea Urchin Citrine and Silver Ring, $160

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

William White Sea Urchin Citrine and Silver Ring, $160
William White Sea Urchin Citrine and Silver Ring, $160 USD

Actually it’s not raining here but it is rather overcast. And citrine has long be treasured as a gift from the sun. Natural citrine is pretty rare, although it does exist, and ranges from pale straw to deep amber. Generally the darker the colour, the more expensive it is. Madeira citrine, for example, is a beautiful, deep brandy colour, you can see the difference in William White’s Citrine Double Trillion ring below. This goes for treated citrine as well, and really a lot of citrine on the market is treated. Let’s just get that out of the way right now – it’s heated amethyst. It’s fairly safe to assume that most of the citrine you come across is going to be treated, and it’s fine, it’s an accepted treatment, but as always, with treatments it does need to be disclosed. The good thing is that this ensures there is a plentiful supply and therefore it remains affordable even in large sizes.

Citrine takes its name from the Latin ‘citrus’ and the French ‘citron’ – fairly self-explanatory, meaning lemon. It is said to carry the power of the sun giving strength, warmth, energy and pleasure. Its last period of real popularity was in the 1940s, set with stones like ruby, peridot and aquamarine in colourful pieces. Now, I think it’s pretty underrated, and there are plenty of people who would agree – here’s Brittany Siminitz at JCK news making a plea for the stone If you think it’s just for cheap birthstone jewellery, take a look at any of the pieces on this page. It even cropped up in Wallis Simpson’s iconic Cartier Flamingo Brooch. Below is a cocktail ring from Laing Antiques and Wallis’ iconic piece

It really pops with white metals, whilst yellow metal settings amplify and deepen its warmth and vibrancy, as can be seen in this beautiful, undulating de Grisogono ring below.

de Grisogon 18k Gold and Citrine Ring
de Grisogono 18k Gold and Citrine Ring, $7700 USD

Citrine is a quartz, so it’s pretty durable at Mohs 7 making it a versatile stone that can be used in a number of different kinds of jewellery. We carry a variety of sizes and shapes at Joopy Gems, you can shop them here.

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Sunshine & Blue Skies (or maybe IKEA…)

My November newsletter is out and it’s full of news, views and gemstone goodness. There’s a free ship offer for November as well as the last gasp of my bead sale and de-stash open for a limited stint. You can read it here. Newsletter readers are always the first to hear about offers, some of which are exclusive; why not sign up at joopygems.com?

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