Glittering Black Beauty

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It’s only relatively recently that black diamonds have become prized as gemstones in their own right. Traditionally either thrown away or used solely for industrial purposes, it’s really only in the past thirty or so years that they have come into their own. Now called ‘fancy blacks’, they began their popularity streak when designers started using them to contrast with colourless stones in pave settings and have got bigger and better ever since, in fact you might say they finally ‘arrived’ when Mr Big gave Carrie a 5 carat black diamond ring at the end of Sex and the City 2! Since then, there have been more high-profile black diamond engagement rings and of course, prices have risen in line with their popularity. They are unique stones, having the adamantine brilliance you’d expect from a diamond, despite the fact that they are black and opaque. They glitter, like mirrors, with a silvery lustre. Still, there are relatively few famous black diamonds, one of which is the Black Orlov which comes laden with the usual kind of myths and legends of curse and disaster.

GIA Black Orloff
The 67.50 ct Black Orlov diamond, set in a circle of colourless diamonds (image courtesy of GIA education)

But what is a black diamond? Conversations with customers over the years have told me that this gemstone is not well-understood. Natural black diamond is, in fact, simply diamond that is so included with mineral inclusions, such as haematite, pyrite and graphite that it appears black. It is also often criss-crossed with minute cleavages and fractures that are either stained black or have become black due to graphitisation (the formation of graphite due to a process too arcane for me to wrap my feeble head around). And in fact, a great deal of black diamond on the market is irradiated, so that the inclusions turn black. I always state the black diamond I sell as irradiated, as I am generally not sure and better to be safe than sorry…

The upshot of this is that black diamond is rather brittle, and it is this that causes confusion. Yes, diamond is hard; very hard. But hardness is not the same as toughness. Glass is hard but will shatter if you drop it; putty is soft but you can drop it and it will remain in one piece. Black diamond, filled with inclusions and riven with tiny fractures is pretty brittle. Don’t drop it, don’t – as a friend of mine did – slam it in a car door and do set it with care. You can also expect it to be rather prone to pitting, certainly on the base and around the girdle and often on the facets edges and corners. But if you can live with all that, you’ve got a gemstone like none other. Below, I love the contrast of the black and white diamonds, accentuated by the use of silver and oxidised metals in this Coco & Chia stacking ring set.

Coco & Chia Black & White Diamond Stacking Ring Set
Coco and Chia Black & White Diamond Stacking Ring Set, $265

You can clearly see, top, the included nature of black diamonds in this beautiful rose cut black diamond ring from Lex Luxe – you can actually identify the blackened, frondlike clouds of inclusions. Another option from this jeweller is this black and white diamond cuff bracelet, with the contrasting colours offset by oxidised metal. And, right, just because it’s black, doesn’t have to go in white metal; this black diamond cluster ring (bottom) by Ferkos Fine Jewelry is set in 14k gold.

Lex Luxe rose cut black diamond engagement ring
Lex Luxe Rose Cut Black Diamond Cluster Ring, $1495
Lex Luxe black and white diamond bracelet
Lex Luxe Black and White Diamond Cuff Bracelet, $478
Ferkos Fine Jewelry engagement ring
Ferkos Fine Jewelry Black Diamond Cluster Ring, $238.50

At Joopy Gems we carry rose cut black diamonds in a range from 3mm-5mm. These are sized pretty precisely as small differences make a disproportionate difference in terms of price when the carat price is high. The 3mm and 4mm stones are of slightly higher quality than the other sizes but you can expect the odd pit and fracture as is normal with this stone. To browse the entire range, click here.

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Super 7 is Super Beautiful

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A few years ago I started seeing Super 7 at gemstone fairs. I hadn’t seen it before and I first saw it on the stand of a really fantastic Brazilian gemstone supplier who always has the most sublime quality tourmaline and rutile. Gorgeous clear crystal with bronze coloured needles shot through with smears of bright purple. I had to ask what it was. Super 7, they said. Another gemstone that sounds like car wax (like chrome diopside in my view!). But there’s a really good reason for the name: Super 7 is made up of 7 different minerals. It’s a quartz base with goethite, cacoxenite, rutile, lepidocrocite, amethyst, clear quartz and smoky quartz included. Now this can make for a rather murky stone, however, the whole point of it, the ‘super’ part, the reason it is also called ‘sacred 7’, and referred to as ‘the healing stone’ is that this combination of 7 minerals are supposed to have powerful healing properties. For jewellery, it’s better that the inclusions are a bit more sparing and in fact, it can still be called Super 7 even if it does not include all 7 of the minerals. An awful lot of people have not heard of it, and I do think with such an unprepossessing name it may well stay that way. Names matter, and Super 7 just doesn’t resonate with most people. However, do take a look at it. At its best it’s really special. Below are a couple of really nice examples, both sterling silver and Super 7: left is by Doorways to Power and right by Divinity Jeweler

To view our collection of Super 7 cabochons, click here

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October Flowers

Joopy Gems October 2018 newsletter

I’m a bit late posting about my newsletter this month, but it is out, and I have a bunch of new things to offer you. Gorgeous carved flowers in mother of pearl and jade, rose cut ruby, rose cut black diamond, super 7 and some lovely rose cut green tourmaline, always thin on the ground and always very popular. There’s a newsletter exclusive offer this month too, so why not check out the newsletter and maybe sign up to make sure you’ll always get those offers first?! You can read the newsletter here, or sign up here

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Send Your Creativity into Orbit!

Joopy Gems mid autumn festival offer

I’m just fresh off the beach having spent several hours sitting by candlelight, watching the new moon, which amazingly made an appearance after a cloudy day and of course, chasing the kids around in the near-total darkness! And I want to share the joy with you! We have a 20% off your order event, for the next 3 days until midnight on Wednesday 26th September! Use code LF1D1 and click here to have it automatically applied to your order! It will appear at checkout.

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Extra 15% Off Destash!

Joopy Gems August 2018 newsletter

This is the last month of my destash sale, and there is an extra 15% off for the entire month! You can use the code: FINALSALE at checkout, or click this link to have the order automatically applied to your order! Plus I also have new sapphire, chevron amethyst pendants, and topaz restocks. I always announce offers via newsletters, and some are newsletter exclusives. I won’t bother you often and if you’re comfortable to give me your birthday, I always hand out a special offer! You can read this months newsletter here and sign up here.

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10 for 10!

 

Joopy Gems July 2018 newsletter

What is she on about? Well, it’s a 10% off sale, for 10 days. From now until 15th July you can take 10% off with coupon code D1JL1. My newsletter is out and you can click here to read it!

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Summer De-Stash

Joopy Gems June 2018 de-stash header

Just started is my June 2018 de-stash sale. Absolutely huge range of stock on sale; samples, end of line and surplus stock at breathtaking discounts, up to 95% on some lines. The clue is in the title; everything needs to go! I’ve got some really amazing products, white topaz, tourmaline, garnet, amethyst, citrine, peridot…something for everyone! So click here to shop the sale, and remember, everything is limited and once it’s gone it’s gone!

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Chryscolla, Tourmaline, Druzy, Lapis Lazuli and more…!

June 2018 newsletter header 4(1)

My June newsletter is out, and it’s crammed full of new gemstones, including this fantastic chrysocolla – doesn’t it look like the earth from space?! I’ve also got druzy slices, black lily beads (fab!) and mixed lots of rose cut tourmaline (buying in lots gives you a 35% or so discount off the price for single stones), lapis lazuli and sodalite beads. Plus as promised I’ve got price drops on some established lines and I’ll be doing my best to keep prices down this year. Check out my newsletter here: http://bit.ly/2sFgcf5  . Newsletter readers are always the first to learn about new stock and discounts, and some are exclusively for newsletter readers. Why not sign up at https://joopygems.com/ to make sure you never miss out?

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Keeping it real

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Lab Created Ruby Bracelet set in Vermeil….offered at aution with a starting bid price of $1.

It was a pair of padparadscha sapphires that first got me thinking. The beautiful colour, neither pink nor orange, but a gorgeous melange of the two, like a perfect sunrise…I coveted them. And then I saw that they weren’t ‘real’. And I felt a curious mixture of professional shame, slight embarrassment and a faint sense that I should not really like them. Because they were, you’ve guessed it, synthetic. By which I mean lab-grown. Created. Not real. And yet… I still liked them. And it made me wonder whether my snobbery was misplaced. I, like many people I’m sure, associate synthetic stones with cheap jewellery. I turn my nose up at it. It isn’t real. And yet, in order to be classed as a synthetic, a stone has to have the same crystal structure and chemical composition as its natural counterpart. The only thing that is different is that it is grown in a laboratory instead of being dug out of the ground. Without getting too technical, there are several processes for growing synthetics, and they divide into low cost-high volume, and high cost-low volume processes. It is the rapidly produced flame fusion and pulling processes that produce large, clean crystals with all the charm of a piece of coloured glass. Large pieces of emerald without inclusions do not look real. They are too good to be true and easily identified as synthetics. And they are cheap; a few dollars a carat. However, slow processes, where crystals are grown under carefully controlled conditions; flux or hydrothermal processes – processes that are hit and miss and you don’t know what you’re going to get until the crystal grows – these produce much more real looking stones. Nature isn’t perfect. In fact these are sometimes not so easy to tell apart from naturals. Hydrothermal emeralds tend to have very distinctive growth lines, but I remember for my GIA Gem ID exam – you know, the one with the 100% pass mark – I changed my answer on a ruby at the last minute. Thank goodness I did, because changing that answer meant I passed the exam! It was a ruby with fingerprints. Very natural looking fingerprints. But I decided at the last minute that the minute bit of yellow staining at one edge of the stone was a bit of flux residue, and I was right. Such slow-grown synthetics are not cheap stones; the sapphires I wanted were several hundred dollars – nothing like the price had they been real, but still, not the kind of money you’d throw away.

So why didn’t I buy them? For me, it comes down to authenticity and rarity. A ‘real’ sapphire, dug out of the ground, is unique. There is no stone like it. It maybe grew for thousands of years, or came up in the magma of a volcanic eruption. I know it’s real and I can be proud of it. It’s the same reason that I don’t buy knock-off designer handbags (apart from the fact it’s completely illegal of course!). I just think, what’s the point? Why not get something non-designer but beautiful and real. Instead of buying a fake sapphire, I’d rather have a beautiful piece of agate, or a gorgeous pearl, or something properly gemmy but cheaper, like an aquamarine, or tanzanite. That’s just me. I don’t buy them and I won’t ever sell them. I don’t think they’re bad, they just aren’t for me. So it was with interest that I saw that De Beers have launched a created diamond jewellery line; Lightbox. The news created an absolute bombshell within the industry with buyers and producers completely blind-sided. De Beers say that they are not trying to replace the existing diamond industry but create a new one. This might be a master-stroke – rather than turning up their noses and cutting themselves out of a potentially large and growing market. However, I’m not sure. I don’t see how they can promote either market without disparaging the other. Initial statements from meetings at the Las Vegas show report executives stating the that stones are suitable for “emotionally shallower occasions,” and that if you lost such jewelry at the beach “you wouldn’t be quite so concerned,”. Hmm, this doesn’t seem to have ‘PR coup’ written all over it. JCK news reckon they are trying to ‘steer into a skid’ – they can’t stop the car from heading in this direction, but they are trying to maintain control. And De Beers has always been about control. What do you think? Are you a fan of synthetics? Or do you favour the mystique and uniqueness of natural stones?

De Beers Lightbox jewellery
Lab-created diamonds from the Lightbox line. No piece will exceed 1 ct.

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La Vie en Silver

Joopy Gems MAy 2018 newsletterMy newsletter for May 2018 is out and it’s an absolute corker. Loads of new stock; specularite, lapis lazuli, new sizes in chrysoprase, new beads and new oval and pear-shaped labradorite rose cuts. Plus some old faves back in stock, such as Rainbow Moonstone AAA grade in 3mm rose cuts – which I didn’t think I’d be able to stock again! And to top it all off, there’s free shipping for May. Click here to read the newsletter, and pick up the code! And remember, if you sign up at joopygems.com, you’ll never miss out!