I’ve probably used that title before, but it has real poignancy now, as this is the last lot of AAA rainbow moonstone I am going to have for a while, and I may as well look for more at the end of the rainbow, along with the crock of gold. It’s 3mm rose cut round, and when it’s gone, it’s gone, so if this is your thing, grab it now before it runs out. Lovely, clean material with bright blue, green and gold adularescence (flash). I’ve got it in both Hong Kong and US stores: the Hong Kong store has stones with the kite shaped-faceting and the US store has the triangle facets. Why is the AAA so hard to find now (and it is, and if you can find it, it is an arm and a leg jobby)? Well, as usual, it’s a supply and demand thing – people have become more aware of the fine grade moonstone in recent years, and more prepared to pay extra for it. But it’s scarce because of the way moonstone is formed, in many layers. This layered makeup is what gives the stone its classic blue or green flash, as light refracts off the layers and produces that unworldly sheen that appears sometimes suspended within the stone. A layered makeup is obviously going to most commonly produce a very fractured stone; which then interferes with the refraction of light and results in a poor flash. There is absolutely no shortage of this kind of material at all, but the clean material is obviously less common in nature. You can find it here in my Hong Kong store, and here in my US store, $3 per stone each in either store.
It’s fashionable to dismiss Freud these days – ‘Fraud’, my cognitive psychology professor at university used to call him. But before I did a psychology degree, I studied history and one of my history tutors observed that he developed his theories during a period where whilst sex was a taboo subject, death was not. These days, that has reversed, so that now death is a taboo subject. Which means that a great deal of things that the Victorians wallowed in, that gave them comfort strikes us as uncomfortable, even creepy. The practice of going into formal mourning for months on end seems morbid and unnecessary to many of us; the posing and photographing of dead relatives morbidly bizarre.
Mourning jewellery has been around since the 16th century but it became most popular following the death of Prince Albert in 1861, when Queen Victoria and her court went into heavy mourning for decades. This sustained an entire industry in the production of jet and jet jewellery for the town of Whitby in Yorkshire for years, but that’s not the whole story when it comes to mourning jewellery. Whilst browsing the pages of an auction catalogue, I came something known as hair mourning jewellery. Now, the idea of a lock of hair kept in a locket as a memento, not just of someone who has gone, but perhaps of their own wispy baby hair, or the hair of a loved one is not a strange one. However, the Victorians took the idea of hair as memento mori well beyond this, creating elaborate pieces of jewellery out of hair, often from the hair of a deceased loved one.
I have to say I have had to challenge my own revulsion on this one, because they do disgust me. I saw these pieces and just thought, ‘ugh’. And yet I am not revolted by the idea of a wig of human hair, or a hair piece, so what is it? The association with death added to a kind of sense that it’s all a bit grubby? To the Victorians there was nothing macabre or strange about such works; they were more about celebrating your connections to others, about sentiment and emotion.
And in fact, the fashion for hair jewellery was not just confined to mourning – elaborate pieces, sometimes made with hair from different people, acted as sentimental family trees. Women wove their own pieces, with patterns found in magazines, just as you might knit a sweater or crochet a pan-holder today. As for grubby, we live in very sanitary times, compared to almost the entirety of human history. In a time where heavy clothing would not be routinely washed in order to preserve it, and even the wealthy didn’t bathe as frequently as we do, there would likely be no association of dirt and a lack of hygiene with such items.
In fact, hair is not a bad material for jewellery in general and mourning in particular – ifyou’re looking for something that maintains your connection to someone who has gone, hair is both very personal and very decay resistant – as can be seen from the above pieces, all over 100 years old. If you want to know more about it, you can check out the website for the Victorian Hairwork Society here, buy yourself some brand-new non-antique hair jewellery here or grab yourself a copy of Love Entwined: The Curious History of Hair Work by Dr. Helen Sheumaker. As for me, I’ll be putting it in the basket of things that are interesting but I don’t need to own.
I’m so in love with these: beautiful rose-cut pears in a variety of exciting stones. A while ago I had some 3x4mm rose cut sapphire pears, and they were really popular, but I struggled to replace them, as it’s always a bit difficult finding nice quality sapphire at a price-point that doesn’t make you choke on your morning tea. Then I had a brainwave: tanzanite! The same colour and effect but much more plentiful and at a price that won’t stick in your gullet. I mentioned it to a customer and she said, ‘oh, how about opal? How about rainbow moonstone?’ So I said good plan and went to my supplier who said, ‘Pink tourmaline! Green tourmaline!’ So now we have all of those things. The tourmaline is not going to hang around. I don’t have a lot of it and it’s clean. I’ve already sold a fair amount of it. The tanzanite, moonstone and opal I have plenty of. The opal is very, very powerful. I mean, not in a mystical way; the play of colour is super-strong. It’s white Ethiopian material, so the play-of-colour appears suspended in the stone. The rainbow moonstone is AA grade, so a few wisps and veils but excellent clarity and strong adularescence. The tanzanite is light blue/violet depending on the angle of view, the pleochroic little so-and-so. I’ve got light pink and dark pink tourmaline and it is stunning, and green tourmaline as well which is unusual and which never hangs around long in its rose-cut form. Prices start at $6.10 for a light pink tourmaline stone rising to $10 for a dark pink. Everything else is in between!
You can find them on the Hong Kong site here, and on the US site here.
Our May 2017 newsletter is out and we have a cornucopia of new stock! The big story is the 3x4mm rose cut pears, in fantastic new gemstones, as above but we also have new tanzanite, labradorite, rainbow moonstone in other shapes and sizes and more! You can get the international newsletter here, and the US one here, and you can sign up at either website to make sure you never miss out!
Those of you who know me well know that I love tourmaline. Out of all gemstones, it is simply my runaway favourite, and I value it for its infinite variety; the colour range, the pleochroism, even the fantastic and fascinating inclusions. This is a fantastic 15.1mm round bluish-green tourmaline cabochon – yes it’s all the same stone in the slideshow above but what you are seeing is an example of that pleochroism I was referring to. Tourmaline is strongly pleochroic; that is to say that it absorbs different wavelengths of light depending on the direction of the rays. What that means in reality is that it will show different colours according to different viewing directions. You can see that in the stone above, which shows both green and blue colours, strongly. It’s an absolute beauty.
Now, tourmaline grows in an environment rich in liquids, which are often captured as inclusions during crystal growth. I wish I had a camera on my microscope as when I view this stone, I see a network of tiny thread-like cavities running all over the stone. They are really fascinating and beautiful. In fact, I think that the inclusions make this stone; a fingerprint of its creation. However, as with all of my stones, because I use a macro lens and the stones are magnified beyond their actual size, they always appear far more included in photographs than in reality.
Most blue and green tourmalines derive their colour from traces of iron, and they are sometimes known by the trade names of indicolite for blue and verdelite for green. Less common than pink stones, they are according more expensive and sought-after. This is a strongly saturated stone with open colour, and at 15.1mm round and 14 carats in weight, it is a substantial rock. It’s going to make a fantastic ring or centrepiece for a pendant, something like this one, below. I found it on 1st dibs, and it’s not credited to any known designer, but I love how they have called it a ‘dragon’s eye’, because that’s exactly what it looks like. I also hope it shows just how fantastically beautiful and effective a large, included stone can look. The stone in this piece is a whopping 39.5 carats and both more included and less saturated than my stone but it’s nonetheless an amazing piece.
Be inspired! And do it fast before temptation gets the better of me and I filter the stone into my personal collection! To view this fabulous stone, click here. It’s in my Hong Kong shop, but it ships internationally.
That thing you do when you look at a big pile of a particular stone and wonder why no-one has bought any for a while and when you check it’s because you haven’t had it up for sale. For months! And it’s one of those stones that people generally want in a fairly steady way. Well, just FYI, I do have it; 8mm rose cut round white topaz. $10 per stone, come and get it here. A real work-horse of a stone; white topaz does not have fire, but it has brilliance and lustre – in fact topaz takes such a good polish that can feel slippery to the touch. It’s a great option for a white stone, and good value for money too.
For Easter we are offering a fantastic 20% discount for the next 4 days! Those of you who know us well, know that we don’t do these kind of offers very often, and look, it’s so much better for you than all that chocolate. Although, actually, those eggs in the picture, they are entirely my favourite kind – Cadbury’s mini-eggs, with a hard, sugar shell and a milk chocolate centre. I’m normally a bitter dark chocolate girl, but I can’t resist those mini-eggs! Anyway, I digress! Use code EA1D1 to claim your discount! This offer is valid on all stock items, in our international shop, our US shop and our Etsy shop so why not indulge yourself?!
Out now! Our April 2017 newsletter with news about new stock – labradorite and aquamarine freeforms, plus some amazing concave cuts and lovely new rose cuts pears. Also it’s double points for shopping and introducing a friend via our points scheme – plus your friend will get a 10% discount, so there couldn’t be a better month to spread the love! We’ve got 2 newsletters: the international version and the US version, depending on which shop you use.
Our March 2017 newsletter is out now with new stock alerts, gemstone news and a great offer for the month of March. You can find the international version here, or the US version here, or why not sign up at either website to ensure you never miss out?!
This one is all about the cabochons… A whole new lot of small to medium sized pink tourmaline cabochons. Lots of teardrops. Some ovals. Some marquise. Lots of bright, vibrant fuschia, and nice affordable prices for a lovely unique piece that won’t break the bank. Prices start from $37 with these stones which I think lend themselves very well to pendants. Mix them up with unexpected partners for an exciting effect; sunshine yellow citrine, or sharp green peridot. Perhaps even turquoise or rainbow moonstone could be fun. My mother’s engagement ring is a rather unexpected and lively tourmaline and amethyst combo. Or just go clean and lean with some white stones; diamonds if you can run to them; white topaz if not!
One thing that you tend to get with tourmaline – especially cabochons – is inclusions; very characteristic mirror like-inclusions, two-phase inclusions, liquid inclusions and growth tubes to mention just a few. Because of this, the predominent value factor with tourmaline is colour, and inclusions are tolerated to the extent that they don’t interfere with this. Besides, I think that many of the inclusions you see in tourmaline are quite simply beautiful, and rather than detract, add to the character of the stone. Clean gemstones are desirable, I know, but a few inclusions roots a stone to the earth, tells you where it has come from and reminds you of its incredible and unlikely journey to the surface of the earth. To shop the new tourmaline cabochons, click here.