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?
My 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!
Our new newsletter is out and I have had so much new stock to list that I haven’t been able to include everything. From labradorite in new cuts and old faves that I haven’t had for a while, to turquoise. Plus ever-popular golden rutile in calibrated cabochons, rounds and ovals and in my quest to find ever more interesting purple stones in this year of purple, I have charoite cabochons too. Plus rock crystal lily beads, more aquamarine and tons more! I also have just a few discounts of 25% and 20% left, so why not either check out my newsletter here or go straight to the source and check out our latest additions here
Our website has got a whole new look and we think it’s fabulous! The navigation is better: you can shop by gemstone, cut or colour, and there are filters on each page, as well as a lot more information sections on hot topics and frequently asked questions. Plus we are offering a limited number of special discounts to our first customers! Here are the coupon codes:
My March 2018 newsletter is out, and this month I’m showcasing a bunch of new beads. I haven’t done a lot with beads in the past, but I am developing a carefully curated collection of contemporary beads with a bit more design in them than you usually see. More unusual shapes, matte finishes, that kind of thing. In addition, I’m also talking about turquoise rose cut freeforms and tanzanite. Plus I’ve got a good newsletter offer this month – which you can see if you click here to read the newsletter
It certainly is, with 20% off your entire order from now until Friday 16th February (midnight EST). I’ve got new rose cut freeforms, new beads and so it’s the perfect time to stock up! Oh, and if you fancy that fabulous heart-shaped pink tourmaline in the picture, you can find it here! All over at joopygems.com, discount code for your 20% as in the pic, LOVEGEMS
Well, that may be a little optimistic but we can give things a helping hand with this month’s gorgeous rutilated quartz cabochons. We’ve got a fantastic selection of different shapes and sizes with very different patterns, from angel-hair to thick, straw-like needles. We also have rose aquamarine freeforms But this post is really to say it’s newsletter time. This month we have double points, so if you aren’t signed up to our loyalty programme, then do consider it. You can sign up at our website; just go to http://www.joopygems.com and find the ‘Reward Program’ button on the bottom left hand corner. You can get 1000 points for signing up and there’s 2 points for every dollar you spend. Plus there is 20% off all bi-colour calibrated tourmaline rose cuts. You can read the newsletter here.
We have our January sale on and it’s the early bird catches the worm with up to 25% off your entire order! Remember also that we will be closing our USA office on 12th January, so anyone wanting their order to ship from the USA needs to place their order by 5.30 on that day.
It’s the first thing I say to non-jewellery-savvy people when I’m describing what a fabulous and under-used stone blue zircon is. I’m on it almost as the word is out of my mouth to try and stop the inevitable, ‘zircon…zirconia…cubic zirconia???!!!‘ Those in the know appreciate this stone for its colour, brilliance and fire. In its natural state it comes in a variety of colours; yellow, brown, orange, violet, blue, green and red; however most of the bright turquoise-blue material on the market is likely to be heated. In its clear form, it has been used in the past as a diamond simulant, due to its very strong brilliance and fire. You can see this also in the coloured material, and its distinct green-blue colour set it apart from other gemstones. Most similar is London Blue Topaz, but this lacks the liveliness of zircon. It’s been around a long time; in the Middle Ages, it was thought to promote sound sleep, drive away evil spirits and encourage wealth, wisdom and honour. It’s a beautiful stone that deserves more recognition; it looks icy-cool when paired with white metal and deep and warm with yellow. It’s also one of the December birthstones. It has reasonable hardness but is quite brittle if you’re going to put it in a ring, you’ll need to look after it a bit. I’m quite good at accidentally smashing my engagement ring into walls and zircon won’t react well to such treatment! I love the fantastically unique acid-etched meteorite bracelet with zircon pear by Jacob Albee, below.
Our December 2017 newsletter is out and we’ve got a whole lot of news and some fairly significant pieces of information. We also have a long 15% discount on everything from now until early January. You can use code XMAS15 – and it’s a multi-use coupon so use it as many times as you like! Benefit from the new shipping system we have in Hong Kong! To read the newsletter, click here.