For anyone who didn’t catch in our newsletter, we now have two Etsy stores: JoopyGemsAmerica and JoopyGemsHongKong. This is something I have had to do for somewhat arcane reasons involving Etsy’s payments system and their inability to change the country bank account on my old Etsy shop. However, it’s also going to be good for UK customers who wish to shop via Etsy rather than our website, as I understand that orders from the US attract a Royal Mail ‘admin fee’, whereas those from Hong Kong do not. The Hong Kong store has a few more and some different items than the US; there are beads and our uniques are obviously different – all of the rose cut freeforms, watermelon tourmalines and uncalibrated mixed cuts. To shop our US Etsy store, click here; to shop our Hong Kong store, click here. We’ve had no end of changes with Etsy, and really I should have made the one mahoosive change a year ago when we opened in the USA but I was trying to save myself from trouble and my customers from becoming confused. Of course I should have known there is no path of least resistance, I quote this to my ten year old at least once a day so really it’s a case of physician, heal thyself and here we are. Finally. No more changes. I promise. Phew!
Winston Churchill said, “I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.” I think I’ve quoted this before, and it’s because it always falls into my head when I think of brown anything. But brown is also be supremely elegant; think butter-soft suede boots, conker-coloured leather jackets, chocolate coloured cashmere, all the shades of Autumn. Recently we have introduced a whole new line of brown moonstone; a product I’ve been humming and haa-ing about for a while, and why? Just because there are brighter peacocks out there: I’ve been dazzled by multi-coloured tourmaline; blinded by peridots and amethysts but just now I am appreciating the quiet elegance of this soft milk-chocolate coloured moonstone. We’ve got cabs and rose cuts 6-10mm. I am particularly partial to brown with silver, but below is a fantastic ring by Karin Jamieson, a whopping 34 carats of moonstone set in 18 carat gold; simple and devastatingly elegant. You can browse our brown moonstone at the Hong Kong store here and the USA store here. Prices start from $1.85 for a 6mm cabochon.
Karin Jamieson brown moonstone and 18 carat gold ring
Our September 2017 newsletter is out and we have an absolute treasure trove of new gemstones for you; rainbow moonstone AA rose cuts – for which I’ve been inundated with requests – new opal rose cuts, new turquoise rose cuts, brown moonstone rose cuts, garnet rose cut pears, and so much more. And the best incentive whatsoever to join our email list is a newsletter-only scratchcard discount. We’ve got a number of discounts ranging up to 15%, so everyone is a winner; scratch and see what you’ve won! And if that’s not enough, we’ve got news as well: the introduction of a $3.50 USPS First Class posting option for customers buying from the US store and shipping within the US, and for international customers, the opening of a new Hong Kong Etsy store. So dive in and have a read! Click below for the relevant newsletter! And why not sign up at our websites to make sure you never miss out?!
Our August 2017 newsletters are out, packed with new stock updates, gemstone news and last but not least, a fantastic 4-day offer! You get 20% off for the next 2 days, 15% on Thursday and 10% on Friday, so it pays to get your skates on! No need for a code; just shop and save! You can read the international newsletter here and the US one here. Sign up for whichever one you want at the appropriate website.
Our July 2017 newsletter is out and it’s packed with updates of new gemstones and industry news as well as a fantastic free ship for the rest of the month. You can read it here, or why not sign up at our website to make sure you never miss out?!
Well, I listed these a few days ago and already they are going fast. Lovely bi and parti-colour tourmaline rose cut freeforms – also known as polki cut, if that makes more sense to you. The fascinating multi-coloured patterns that occur, and that make this material so unique are caused by changes in the concentration of trace elements during crystal growth. It is these trace elements that often give stones their different colours; manganese for red, pink or brown crystals, iron for dark blue or black, chromium for green and so on. As the crystal grows, if it is exposed to different trace elements, it will change colour as it grows. These are always so popular; partly due to their vibrancy, I think but also because they are unique. You can find them here, just in the Hong Kong store.
Our June 2017 newsletter is out and this month we have a fantastic 20% 3 day event! From now until 14th June, you can use code J17D1 to take 20% off your entire order. A fantastic chance to stock up on all of your summer-time requirements, and we have a lot to tempt you this month! All new rose cut pearls, sublimely beautiful bi-colour tourmaline baguettes, rose cut rhodolite and re-stocks of favourites such as turquoise 3mm cabochons. You can view the newsletter here and sign up at joopygems.com; there’s an offer in every issue, so don’t miss out!
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.