November Blues

Topaz is one of the November birthstones…or is it? The GIA rather confusingly states that Imperial Topaz is a birthstone for November, whilst blue topaz is a December birthstone. Other sources say that tanzanite, zircon and turquoise are December birthstones, which in my view is quite enough blue for one month. Added to that, I’m quite sure that lots of people don’t know the difference between Imperial and other forms of topaz. So I’m just going to treat all topaz as a November birthstone and be done with it. So let’s clear up the topaz issue, and you can do that quite easily by dividing it into treated and untreated. Untreated topaz comes in a broad colour range: yellow, brown, orange, pink, purple, red, as well as blue and colourless. Yellow is the most common and red is the most valuable. The name Imperial Topaz came into being in 19th century Russia, when the Ural mountains were the leading source for topaz and the deep pink colour mined there named for – and restricted to – the Russian royal family. Currently, many in the trade will define the paler oranges and yellows as Imperial topaz: as with the boundary between pink sapphire and ruby, there is no standardised definition or colour cross-over point. Actually, although you don’t see alot of it about, deep red, orange and pink topaz is absolutely stunning.

And that brings me to the issue of price. For years the price of darker coloured blue topaz, especially London Blue topaz has steadily increased. There aren’t many places that do the treatment and this, combined with the fact that it has to sit for so long – and so therefore treaters have to tie up their money for so long with no return – added to the steady increase in popularity of this gem has made it rather scarce and expensive. It is no longer so easy to find large, flawless gems and sometimes the colour can be rather more greyish than desirable. It is a shame as it is a popular stone and the colour is unusual; I can’t think of many other stones like it, except maybe some of the darker blue tourmaline…and that is also not very plentiful and correspondingly pricey. Sky blue topaz has long been used as an alternative to aquamarine. This makes sense especially for smaller sizes as it is just a little more saturated than aquamarine generally is. Swiss Blue has a saturated and vibrant cornflower blue hue whilst London Blue is a sophisticated greyish-greenish blue.

Below from top, I love the elegant, flowing lines of Laura Stasa’s Calla Lily Pendant in silver and gold; although the icy blue topaz tones look great with white metals, I think that London Blue in particular is also sensational in gold. This pendant has an Art Deco quality to me, whilst at the same time being utterly contemporary. I really love jewellery with clean and definite lines like Kate Phipp’s tapered silver pendant set with a trillion sky blue topaz. This does illustrate how well the pale blue of this stone is set off by silver; icy perfection. The Swiss blue topaz ring by Mountain Spirit Jewels demonstrates the vibrant, saturated colour of this stone, for so long the best known and favourite colour of blue topaz, and bottom left, Kira Ferrer’s stacking rings sets all three colours in juxtaposition from light to dark in beautiful, clean settings.

There is one issue that is common to all topaz, however, and that is a property of the stone itself; cleavage. Topaz has what you call basal cleavage, which means that the cleavage plane is parallel to the base of the crystal. Cutters try to mitigate this by cutting the stones so that the cleavage direction is at a 15 degree angle to the table; however topaz can be rather brittle for this reason and does need a certain amount of careful handling.

Currently I sell blue and white topaz. I’d like to start offering other colours of untreated topaz – it is on my list of desired gems for next year.

To shop all of my topaz, click here.

joopygems.com

What should you spend on an engagement ring?

Joopy Gems tourmaline mixed cut 2.315 carats
Apricot Pink Tourmaline Oval Mixed Cut 2.315 carats, 9.8×8.4×4.3mm, $125

JCK news report that something like 36% of Americans want to spend less than $1000 on their engagement rings, and that furthermore, older adults are likely to believe this more than those who are younger. Of course there is (as I know from my other life as a

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Pink Tourmaline Heart, 5.290 carats, $460

psychologist) that there is often a gap between what people say they believe and what people actually do: the average cost of an engagement ring in the US is between $3000 and $5000. But it made me think – is that necessary? When I got engaged, in the car on the way over to buy the ring, I remember saying to my husband-to-be, ‘Oh, let’s not spend too much, I don’t need anything fancy, it’s not what it’s about anyway’…

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Green Tourmaline Square, 5.415 carats, $565

And then they brought out the trays of bling, and I was ‘Uh…oh… I want that one’!!! And it was more than $1000. More than £1000 come to that. That was before I was in this line of work, and now I’d do it differently. Now I’d work from the stone out – that is, pick a stone that I loved and then have the ring designed around that.

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Yellow Tourmaline Oval, 5.165 carats, $450

I’ve got a sapphire in my ring and I love it, but I think if I were to have my time again, I’d maybe choose something different. Forget about diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire, with the prices sky-high, and having to keep it small. How about the gorgeous apricot pink oval at the top of the page, with gorgeous pleochroic lighter and darker shades? Or what could be more perfect than a big, plump, pink heart to seal the deal? This one (above left) is is around 12x11mm –

Joopy Gems pink tourmaline pear, 1.46 carats
Pink Tourmaline Pear, 1.460 carats, $85

imagine that sitting proudly on your finger! Or for something more classic, the green square mixed cut (above right) would be beautiful surrounded by some baguette-cut diamonds.  What I love most about tourmaline is its extraordinary colour range, and more unusual is the gorgeous sunshine-yellow oval, left. Again, it’s a good size at around 11mm long. Also lovely is the luminous pink pear, right, also a great size at around 10mm, and an even more fantastic price.

But what about a ring for $1000 and under? Impossible?! Not at all; there is plenty on offer; so many I had trouble picking just a few. Here are some of my favourites; clockwise from top left: rhodolite garnet is a beautiful and under-rated stone, in my opinion. This garnet, palladium and rose gold ring by Nodeform Weddings is beautiful in its simplicity and the rhodolite and rose gold compliment each other perfectly and comes in well under budget at $785. Those who know me know that there is a special place in my heart for textured metal; Stone Fever Jewelry’s Moonscape ring features a green tourmaline on a hand-punched, cratered 14 carat rose gold band and sneaks under the bar at $999. They will can also make matching wedding bands.and this style can also be made in yellow gold. Doron Merav’s Leaves engagement ring of white gold set with diamonds showcases an unashamedly feminine yet contemporary aesthetic, and at only $370 represents fantastic value for money. I don’t think I’ve seen anything so pretty that I’ve like so much in a long time. Last but not least is Nangijala Jewelry’s rough teal, sapphire and rose gold ring; sleek, contemporary and original. This is priced at a very reasonable $825.

 

As for me – the ring we ended up buying, the one I absolutely had to have? I remember saying to the rather austere assistant (with the brutal dark red lipstick) ‘My only concern is that it’s quite like Princess Di’s.’ Without missing a beat she replied, ‘Princess Di’s was much bigger.’ Well, I could have walked out there and then. But then, I absolutely had to have that ring.

All tourmaline stones featured above are from my ‘Limited Edition’ range. For limited edition tourmaline mixed cuts, click here; for cabochons, click here.

joopygems.com

Serene Blue Chalcedony

Joopy Gems blue chalcedony rose cut 10mm round

Last week’s post focused on rose quartz; this week I am looking at the second of Pantone’s colours of the year: Serenity. Pantone see these two colours in balance; the warmth of the rose quartz contrasting with the cool beauty of pale icy blue, perfectly realised by blue chalcedony. With its billowing translucency, this stone often glows as if lit from within. There are lots of examples on my Pinterest board; below are just a few that have caught my eye.

FifthHeaven pale blue chalcedony ringPictured left is a pale blue chalcedony ring, set in solid sterling silver and oxidised to a dark, blackened finish. This is by Raphaela and Jenna of Fifth Heaven Designs, a team based in Brisbane, Australia, who love making interesting and quirky designs, and who  specialise in one-off custom designs, hand-forged from silver and gold-fill. I love the edgy, industrial feel this ring has, the stark metal a perfect contrast with the soft blue of the stone.

Ravena Earrings resizeDana Evans of Dana Evans Studio is an architect-turned jeweller, who remains inspired by architectural forms and details; incorporating a love of shape and pattern into her work. Her silver and blue chalcedony Ravena earrings are part of her Etruria collection, part homage to the ancient Etruscans, who were masters of the art of granulation. You can see this technique in these earrings, which blend an ancient and modern aesthetic into a perfect harmony. I love the bold shapes and the contrast between bright silver highlights and oxidised background. Dana incorporates cast and hard-forged pieces into her hand-made work.

Bridget Clark sterling silver and Peruvian chalcedony earringsBridget Clark takes her inspiration from primitive, industrial and organic forms which she simplifies into bold and striking pieces of wearable art. Pictured left are her sterling silver and Peruvian chalcedony long fob earrings; I love the matt silver finish and subtle elegance of these. Bridget states that she aims for a subtle asymmetry in her work, for interest and movement and I think this works perfectly, challenging the eye and the brain. Bridget makes all of her pieces herself and is constantly experimenting with shape and form.

Chris Ploof mokume gane blue chalcedony ringI absolutely love mokume gane, and you don’t see alot of it about. That is most likely because it is a challenging, technical and precise technique, but Chris Ploof Designs specialises in it. It involves the bonding of many metals which can then be bent, twisted, cut, rolled, ground down or shaped with punches and chisels. These are then rolled out, to reveal the intricate, curving patterns. This hollow construction silver, 14 carat gold and white gold ring with blue chalcedony takes my breath away, the white metal acting as a perfect complement to the cool, blue stone.

For more examples of amazing and inspiring blue chalcedony pieces, check out my Pinterest board, including, below from left to right, J Chapa Hernandez Ellensburg blue chalcedony ring set in 18 carat goldDior Gourmande Libellule ring in white gold and blue chalcedony, Bartosz Ciba’s ‘Wennonah’; sterling silver upcycled wire wrapped earrings with blue chalcedony and Leslie Zemeneck Jewelry’s ‘In a Blue Mood’ sterling silver and blue chalcedony pendant.

J Chapa Hernandez Ellensburg blue chalcedony ringDior GOURMANDE LIBELLULE RING IN 18K WHITE GOLD AND BLUE CHALCEDONYBartoszCiba silver and blue chalcedony earringsLeslie Zemeneck In a Blue Mood - Sterling Silver and Blue Chalcedony Pendant

Why not check out our range of blue chalcedony cabochons? We have a range of rose cuts, starting at $1.60 for a 4mm round. Pictured at top are our 10mm rose cut blue chalcedony round cabochons.

www.joopygems.com

Rose Quartz and Serenity

Quartz and chalcedony composite 2 sml.JPG

Pantone has for the first time this year chosen two shades to be their colours of the year; Rose quartz and Serenity. With this they are striving to demonstrate a balance between the warmth of pink and the cool celestial quality of pale blue reflecting the current preoccupation with mindfulness and well-being. These colours are perfectly represented by the gemstones rose quartz and blue chalcedony. This post is dedicated to the pale beauty of rose quartz; look out next week for blue chalcedony. I’ve been putting together a Pinterest board on this theme with a selection of jewellery that has caught my eye; the bold, the beautiful and the truly unique!

Nicole Scheetz rose quartz ring resizeNicole Scheetz is the inspiration behind Luxuring, based in Alberta, Canada. Specialising in rings, her pieces speak to a feminine, minimalist aesthetic. I love this delicate ring of 14 carat gold set with a rose cut rose quartz cabochon. Nicole uses recycled metals; solid silver and 14k gold in her work and hand-forges all of her pieces. Nicole is a customer of mine and it’s wonderful to see the many amazing ways in which all you talented designers incorporate my stones into your art.

Engelken rose quartz white gold ring resizeChris Engelken is a US designer based in Wisconsin who has been designing and making jewellery for over 20 years. Right is his amazing Rose Quartz White Gold ring. This setting really showcases the beauty of this unique sculpted piece of rose quartz. Rose quartz can be quite pale but this 30 carat chunk really demonstrates a superb density of colour, which with the cool, white gold setting is a match made in heaven!

Ben Proctor rose quartz necklace resizeBen Proctor of Benati jewellery is based in Israel. Inspired by nature and architectural forms, he blends old gold-smithing techniques and modern technology to create fine, individual pieces with an emphasis on quality and perfection. This approach is encapsulated in the rose quartz pendant pictured left; a combination of fine, delicate gold mesh-work and a classic bezel set rose quartz.

For more examples of exciting and inspiring rose quartz pieces, check out my Pinterest board, including, below from left to right, ‘French Kiss’ Lip necklace by cliffandb, Madagascar Rose Quartz and 14k gold earrings by Marie Wu Designs, Winged Rose Quartz ring by Agrigento Designs and Rose Gold and Rose Quartz Sun Necklace by Snowflake Designs

Cliff and B kiss necklacemariewu rose quartz earringsAgrigento winged quartz ringSnowflake Rose Gold & Rose Quartz Sun Necklace

Why not check out our range of rose quartz and blue chalcedony; we have cabochons and rose cuts in a range of sizes. Pictured top are 10mm rose cut rose quartz and blue chalcedony.

www.joopygems.com

 

Spring Colours: Emerald

This is Pantone’s colour of 2013; a pleasing shade of blue-green, soft but with enough vibrancy to pack a punch. I remember when green was considered an awkward colour, difficult to wear. Times have changed and even if green still makes you nervous, jewellery is a good way of adding an accent of colour; dipping your toes in without getting completely soaked! The colour has also seen a rise in popularity in jewellery in recent years with the growing awareness of stones like chrysophase, which can make an excellent opaque emerald substitute. Emerald itself can be difficult; whilst it is indisputably beautiful, it’s expensive and I’ve seen the price of even lower grade opaque material soar over the past few years. Cheaper transparent material may be brittle and included, and rather lacking in lustre and so a more cost effective option might be the green and green-blue tourmalines. For vibrant green, chrome diopside is a good option.

3mm EME cab round 1SLTW103 34mm cabochon round11Tourmaline blue green cabochons 4mm round

In this colour range I have a selection of emerald cabochons, tourmaline and chrome diopside, plus a number of watermelon tourmaline slices in hard-to-find shades of blues and greens, available at www.joopygems.com Whilst emerald is often paired with diamond, greens also partner well with warm golds such as citrine and purples; all shades of amethyst from pale lavender to deep grape.

I’ve got a Pinterest board with a huge selection of jewellery in this colour range. To pick out just a few (which is hard!), to the right is a ring from Wexford Jewelers; the Emerald and Diamond Wedding set, in 14k yellow gold. To the left and below is the ‘Skyscraper IV, Destroyed. A tourmaline rough ring’. This is a fantastic natural bi-colour tourmaline crystal set in silver and 14k gold with diamond accents. I love this; you can see the natural crystal formation on this along with the growth marks. Wexford Jewelers are based in Michigan in the USA; a team of three sisters who, in their own words, ‘create a bouquet of exquisite pieces using recycled silver & gold, exquisite rough and polished gemstones, re-purposed diamonds, and rare minerals’. Unlike most other small-scale jewellers, they use the method of lost wax casting extensively in their work, carving their designs from wax first before having them cast in metal, lending a fluid and dynamic quality to their work. You can visit their shop here.

Charmian Harris is a British based designer, who cites early Greek and Roman jewellery as well as Egyptian jewellery as among her influences. She cuts and shapes her own stones and handpicks each one from collectors, dealers and sometimes direct from mine owners. I would imagine that this is extremely liberating for a designer, not to be bound by existing shapes and cuts. Certainly, Charmian’s work displays a striking fluidity and individuality; solid rock appears to flow in fantastically imagined forms. To the right is her Sea Creature pendant made of 18 carat gold, chrysophase, white sapphire and diamond. I love the shape and the sinuous lines of this piece; wonderfully tactile. To the right is her 18 carat gold ring with chrysophase; a form that appears organic and living with its curving lines and textured metal. You can find Charmian’s website and shop here.

Here’s something a little bit different: to the left is Adzia’s Fingerprint Wedding band. A unisex band with a fingerprint and a gemstone, Chicago-based Adzia makes these to order, so that you can wear your beloved’s fingerprint wherever you go! To the left is an example in 14 carat white gold set with a natural emerald, but you can choose your metal, your gemstone and your finish. A very unique way of sealing your relationship, and not only do I like the idea, I also love the look of this – I adore textured metal! Adzia has a whole range of fingerprint rings, with and without gemstones; prints on the inside, prints on the outside, you name it! You can find this ring, and more examples of Adzia’s work here

For a spot of sheer glamour, why not have a look at Hong Kong based designer-maker Steve Cheen’s work? Steve’s work is complex and highly detailed, despite handmaking each piece. To the right is his Jaguar Engagement Ring, made from 14K white gold with emeralds and diamonds. To me this is reminiscent of the 1930s with its curving lines, pave setting and intricately imagined jaguar head, the kind of elegant piece that might have adorned the finger of Wallis Simpson. To the left is his 3.2 carat green tourmaline ring set in 14 carat gold with diamonds. Again, the channel set diamonds lend traditional glamour, and the green tourmaline is spectacular. Steve will design to your specifications, and treats each piece as an individual artwork. For other examples of his work, you can find his shop here.

You can find more examples on my Pinterest board , below a selection, from left to right: necklace made of paper discs from German-based Dorisse at Paper Statement, Dior Fine Jewellery’s fantastical le Bal des Roses bal d’autrefois ring in white gold with diamonds, emeralds, chrysoprase, green tourmalines, tsavorite garnets and paraiba tourmalines, British based Louise O’Neill’s 18 carat gold necklace with green and pink tourmalines, and Jewelry by Johan’s Meteorite ring inlaid with platinum and set with a trillion cut emerald.