I’m always getting asked about birthstones, and so I finally thought it would make sense to make a section on my website for them. I started off quite ambitiously trying to include every system I could find, but that quickly got a bit complicated and, well, large. So I’ve stuck to modern British and USA systems. There’s a huge choice for every month and I’m looking to boost my selection of precious stones this year, so look out April, May, July and September birthdays! You can browse the selection in my new ‘Shop by Birthstone’ section.
What could I be talking about except garnet! You know what I mean; dull, rusty red stones set in gold-plated filligree. Nope. It’s just not fair. Garnet is one of the most exciting and varied of gemstones. It’s got a very wide colour-palette and price-wise it varies from the highly reasonable almandine to tsavorite at the top-end. It is also the birthstone for January.
Garnet has particular gemmological properties that make it reasonably straightforward to cut – it is what is known as singly refractive so what this means in real terms is that it is not at all pleochroic and therefore cutters don’t have to worry about what angle they are cutting it to make sure they are getting top colour. Many varieties also have a relatively high refractive index. What does this mean? Well, it is a measure of what happens when light hits a stone – a high index means that much of the light is reflected back to your eye; a low index means that much of the light passes right through. In real terms, stones with higher refractive indices are more sparkly. With the darker stones it’s not so obvious, but the sparkle on some tsavorites is simply amazing. See below and bottom for some examples of seriously stylish garnet jewellery.
Ananda Khalsa Garnet Stud Earrings with Two 22k Dots, $440
David J Thomas Tsavorite Garnet and 18k Gold Ring
Coffin and Trout Spessartite Garnet, Rubellite and 18K Gold Pendant
Red is the best-known colour of garnet, and the type that most people think of when they think of garnets is almandine. This commonly comes up very dark, what we call ‘closed’, and especially in larger sizes; however, it can be the most beautiful shade of deep blood-red. I have some almandine pears which just make me think of Sleeping Beauty every time I see them! In fact, the name ‘garnet’ comes from the Latin word ‘granatum’ which means ‘dark red’. Pyrope garnet is also red; you see it more rarely and it often has a slightly pinker note to it – it lacks the rustiness you can sometimes get with almandine. For a more pronounced pink colour there is rhodolite which ranges from pinkish red to a deep raspberry pink. For orange, there is hessonite, with its gorgeous swirling inclusions, and more expensively, spessartite. Malay garnet runs from yellow-orange to a lovely pinkish orange. Then you get the greens; hydrogrossular garnet with its black inclusions, yellowish-green demantoid with its horsetail inclusions, and vivid green, sparkling, firey grossular garnet, more commonly known as tsavorite. This is one of my favourite stones and I would take it over emerald any day. Garnet is also a really good choice for anyone who is not keen on gem treatments as it is not routinely treated with heat or anything else.
Jane Taylor Malay Garnet and 14k Gold Ring, $1200
Vintage Tsavorite Garnet & Diamond Invisible Set Cocktail Ring 14k Gold
Quadram Hexagon Almandine Garnet Ring, $1800
William White Hessonite Garnet and Sterling Silver Ring
Henn of London Spessartite Garnet and 18k Gold Necklace
Pantone has announced their colour of the year for 2019 and it is a bright orange-pink: ‘Living Coral’. From a jewellery perspective it’s a slightly awkward one, as the obvious stone, or rather mineral to represent this colour is, of course, coral. But coral has become a bit contraversial in recent years, due to environmental concerns around the depletion of coral reefs. In the past, red and pink coral was harvested in a completely unsustainable way from reefs in the Pacific, until the coral was all gone. So if you stock it, you want it to be sustainably sourced, but once it is on the market, it is almost impossible to know where it has come from. I’d like to stock this, but I think realistically, it’s not going to be possible. Alternatives in this colour range go from pale to deep orange; I’m thinking peach moonstone, pink pearls, padparadscha sapphire, morganite, conch pearls, fire opal, carnelian, tourmaline and rhodochrosite. I love both La Corser’s conch pearl necklace below paired with the the vibrant yellow diamonds and paraiaba tourmaline, and the softness of William White’s peach moonstone and prehnite combination. From left, clockwise, Turquoise and Sterling Silver Ring, Lia Chahla, Conch Pearl, Diamond and Tourmaline Necklace, La Corser Jewelry, Baroque Pearl Choker, Freshwater Creation, Peach Moonstone, Prehnite and 9k Gold Stacking Rings, William White, and Peach Tourmaline, 18k Gold and Sterling Silver Ring, Janish Jewels.
Turquoise and Sterling Silver Ring, Lia Chahla, $197
Conch Pearl, Diamond and Tourmaline Necklace, La Corser Jewelry, $2060
Peach Moonstone, Prehnite & 9ct Gold Ring, William White, $864
Coloured Pearl Choker, Freshwater Creation, $850
In terms of pairings for living coral, it’s tempting to look to the other brights on their colour report but I think that these will drown this colour. Personally I’m not fond of it paired with bright blues but turquoise and rhodochrosiste can be awfully pretty (see top left and top right). I think it does best when put with more subtle partners. Think peach and white, or peach and grey moonstone. Or as above, peach moonstone with the soft green of prehnite. Or peach pearls matched with white or rainbow moonstone. Or labradorite with any of these, which marries the the soft grey with a turquoise glow.
We have a selection of coral coloured stones; to shop the collection, click here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Divinity Jeweler Sterling Silver and Super 7 Pendant $277.72
Doorways to Power Sterling Silver and Super 7 Pendant $398
To view our collection of Super 7 cabochons, click here
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
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.
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.
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!