How Do You Solve a Problem Like London Blue?

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When I first started selling gemstones 10 years ago (blimey) one of the first stones that I focussed on was London Blue. It was reasonably priced, plentiful and the colour was like no other. Before I started my journey into gems, blue topaz to me meant swiss blue; bright, vivid cornflower blue. I’m not really a bright and vivid kind of girl (!), or at least, the colours don’t look good on me, so it wasn’t a stone I was interested in selling. London Blue, however was a different story. Prussian blue, petrol blue, I had so many names for this distinctive and elegant shade of greenish blue. No other stone could touch it, except perhaps blue tourmaline (indicolite) but you needed deep pockets for that. And my customers appeared to agree! They couldn’t get enough so I started cutting it in all shapes and sizes. However, around 2015 something unpleasant started to happen; the price started jumping up, the quality began to waver. What could be happening? Well, there two main drivers of this price increase. First of all, let’s be clear. When we are talking about blue topaz we are talking about treated topaz. Blue topaz is irradiated white topaz. It has to be irradiated, and then it has to be cooled – that is, allowed to sit whilst the radiation disperses. The darker the topaz, the longer it has to sit. So whilst sky blue topaz has a 3-month cooling period, London Blue has something like 18 months. There are not many places that treat London Blue, and so that in itself puts a pinch on demand. Added to that you have the increasing popularity of the stone, the unwillingness of suppliers to treat more rough – since it effectively ties up millions of dollars for a year and a half with no return during that time. There is also a natural caution amongst suppliers around the popularity of London Blue. Is the increase just a blip, or is it here to stay? Because it’s one heck of an expensive gamble to treat more rough because it is popular now, only to find that in a year and a half it’s gone out of fashion and they have a whole lot of treated rough that they cannot shift. In my view this wont happen; I think the colour is unique and it has enduring appeal, but I’m not the one having to stump up the cash.

However, this is only half the story, and the woes of London Blue go further back, as so many things do, to the recession of 2008. What happened is very simple; topaz is sourced largely from Brazil, and during this time many mines were forced to close. They have never re-opened and now topaz supply is down by around 60% from pre-2008 levels. For a while there was enough rough in circulation to not have too much of an impact, but this corner was turned in around 2015, when demand began to seriously outstrip supply. So there is now a serious problem in that there are two major pinch-points in the supply chain; a lack of good quality untreated rough coming out of the mines resulting in an increase in price at this point. This has then led to suppliers taking a very conservative attitude towards treating the rough, not wanting to tie up increasing amounts of money in a stone that they fear may be something of a bubble. In reality this seems unlikely. Demand for the stone is still high; it is still a unique colour, and it still is available in clean quality. Although the colour has much more variation than it has in the past, with more greyer, less saturated material on the market some people prefer this, feeling that it looks more natural, more gemmy.

So in short, the outlook for London Blue is that prices aren’t coming down anytime soon. This makes it more expensive to buy, but it also means that it’s unlikely to be a wasted investment. And you could do worse than start here, from top, Ananda Khalsa’s London Blue Topaz ring is set in warm 22 carat gold and sterling silver and highlighted with sparkling diamond dots. I love blue topaz in silver, but putting it in gold takes it to a completely new dimension. I’ve always loved the solid, crafted simplicity of William White’s ring settings; in fact I have a number of stones in my collection I’d love him to set for me. The ring below is a 10mm cabochon in a satin-finished sterling silver band.  I do like the angular lines of Eva Dorneys London Blue topaz rings in 9kt gold and sterling silver and I also love the cool stacking system of Barbara S Jewellery. That’s 2 rings, not one; an aquamarine and a London Blue

Ananda Khalsa London Blue Topaz Ring with Diamond Dots, $1,190
Ananda Khalsa London Blue Topaz Ring with Diamond Dots, $1,190
William White Blue Topaz Cabochon Ring, $594
William White Blue Topaz Cabochon Ring, $594
Eva Dorney London Blue Topaz Rings, $305
Eva Dorney London Blue Topaz Rings, $305
Barbara S Jewellery Aqumarine and Topaz Contemporary Stacking Ring, $485
Barbara S Jewellery Aqumarine and Topaz Contemporary Stacking Ring, $485

 

I do have new stocks of 6mm London Blue topaz cabochons; they are more expensive than I would like them to be but trust me when I say I have shaved the price as low as possible! You can find all of my London Blue 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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New Season; New Gems

Joopy Gems September 2017 newsletter header

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?!

Joopy Gems international newsletter

Joopy Gems USA newsletter

 

Dazzle your way into summer!

Joopy Gems June 2017 newsletter

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!

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Somewhere over the rainbow

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.

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Indulge yourself this Easter with our 20% offer

Joopy Gems Easter 2017 20% discount offer

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?!

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Check out some Springtime treasures!

April 2017 newsletter header

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.

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Pink does not stink, part 2

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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.

I love all of the stones below; the sublime apricot of the tourmaline and 14 carat gold ring, (top) by Mastergoldcraft with its fine trails of inclusions; the deep fuschia of Janish Jewels’ tourmaline, diamond and 14 carat gold ring (middle) and the pale pink of Tinken Jewelry’s tourmaline and 18 carat gold ring, with its liquid inclusions and glowing, hazy lustre. Gold is the perfect foil for pink and I love the matt, brushed finish of these shanks.

Mastergoldcraft tourmaline and 14 carat gold ring, $2,295
Mastergoldcraft tourmaline and 14 carat gold ring, $2,295

Janish Jewels pink tourmaline, diamond and 14 carat gold ring, $698
Janish Jewels pink tourmaline, diamond and 14 carat gold ring, $698

Tinken Jewelry pink tourmaline and 18 carat gold ring, $1,380
Tinken Jewelry pink tourmaline and 18 carat gold ring, $1,380
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New Year; New Jewels

newsletter-header-january-2017-4
Joopy Gems January 2017 newsletter

Just the thing to brighten up a winter’s day; a treasure trove of gems. Have a look at my January 2017 newsletter for gem news and a fantastic reader offer. I have an offer every month listed in the newsletter, so why not sign up at joopygems.com to make sure you never miss out?! Or for US customers, you can read the US version here and sign up for it at www.joopygemsusa.com.

Click here to read; click here to sign up at joopygems.com

Smoking hot…

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Winston Churchill famously said, ‘I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.’ An especially difficult colour for us Brits; I grew up in the 1970s and my overriding memories were of the colour brown; brown food, brown walls, brown clothes, brown bedding. Not forgetting, of course, brownouts, and everyone completely browned off. And yet it’s also the colour of, oh, chocolate, and polished wood, and my daughters’ eyes and my favourite kind of dog (a caramel coloured cocker spaniel). And, of course, smoky quartz. There’s something fascinating about this material. Like a pair of beautiful brown eyes, it can be deep and velvety, or flashing with gold lights, or sometimes the colour of an old sepia photograph. Perfect with white metal; I love the combination of silver and dark brown; it’s combusting with elegance. I now have some new lines; in addition to the 4mm and 6mm rose cuts that I have back in stock, I have added 5mm and 8mm rose cuts. I particularly love the 8mm stones, which have such depth of colour with an almost mysterious lustre. And the best part is that it is such excellent value for money! To shop all smoky quartz, click here. Prices start from $1.00 for a 4mm stone.

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