Joopy Gems Green Tourmaline Rose Cut Cabochon 5mm Round

5 Alternatives to Emerald and Why They *Might* be Better

Yes, it’s May and the birthstone for this month is emerald and it’s time for me to do my customary post about emerald alternatives. Not that I have anything against emerald per se, I don’t want the Emerald Appreciation Society on my back, but I just think that there are many alternatives to emerald that are both cost-effective and just as beautiful, and less likely to break on setting, or in general use. I’m always surprised by emerald engagement rings, for example, as emerald is a brittle and often included stone, prone to breakage. Not a great ring stone. Why is it often so brittle and included? The jury is out; it could be that that is just how it grows; it could be an artefact of how it is mined, which is often using explosives. Because it is such an included stone, some 95% of emerald is routinely fracture-filled, either with oil or resin. It’s completely accepted by the trade, and it should be disclosed to the customer on purchase so if you are buying emerald, make sure you are clear about this.

Here’s a few alternatives, ranked according to my personal opinion! I’m not talking about imitations and synthetics here; simply what might you use if you want a green stone and want to get a bit more bang for your bucks.

5. Peridot.

It’s a bit too yellow to be a particularly convincing substitute, and it can have a bit of an oily lustre but it is the most affordable untreated green gem, and it has in the past been mistaken for emerald. It is speculated that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection was in fact peridot. It isn’t particularly difficult to find clean quality up to around 6mm; after that it gets a bit harder to find clean quality and whilst its characteristic lily-pad inclusions are rather beautiful, you also often get small, black mineral inclusions which are less appealing. I have clean quality up to 6mm but my 8mm stones are sprinkled with these tiny black inclusions. It is possible to get clean quality at this size, but expect to pay around 5 times the price. Peridot looks particularly beautiful with gold, which draws out the warm, gold tones. It isn’t, however, a great ring stone as it is rather soft – 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale – and it doesn’t take much for facet edges to become abraded. It’s iron that causes its attractive yellowish-green tones and most of it comes from China and Arizona in the USA. You have to be a bit careful with it – plunging in cold water after soldering can crack it and ultrasonic cleaning can wreck it. Below you can see how the warm gold of the setting picks up and complements the warmth of the stones.

4. Chrysoprase

This will substitute for translucent emerald – the kind you often see in polki cuts and beads. The kind of emerald that is used for this is often very included and often has those blackish inclusions. The colour and lustre can be poor, so lovely chrysoprase can be a good option if you want a brighter colour and cleaner look. Chrysoprase means ‘golden apple’ in Greek, and indeed, its best colour is a zingy apple green with just a touch of yellow. This stone is coloured by nickel and makes fantastic earrings. Again, it is really complemented by yellow metal settings but it is also quite soft – 6-7 on the Mohs scale, so is best suited to earrings or pendants that don’t get a lot of rough treatment. These two earrings below are a perfect example of the kind of clean, opaque material with that lovely emerald-like blue-green shade.

3. Chrome Diopside

This is an excellent choice as it is a stone that is not routinely treated and tends to display much better clarity than emerald. A fantastic, saturated green with great sparkle, it is coloured by the same elements as emerald; chromium or vanadium. In some cases this may be too good, as it tends to look dark in larger sizes; it needs careful cutting to maintain a good, open colour. The flip side of this means that it retains good saturation even in small sizes. It is pretty soft – 5.5-6 on the Mohs scale and so is not really tough enough to make a good ring stone. This also means that facet edges will abrade over time. Below you can really see the density of colour even in the tiny studs on Isueszabo’s stud earrings.

2. Tourmaline

Tourmaline comes in a dazzling array of colours, which makes it an excellent option. Although some green tourmaline shades quite yellow, the brighter grass greens are lively enough to make an excellent alternative. High quality chrome tourmaline certainly can rival emerald and tsavorite. Highly regarded as a stone in its own right, it is coloured by the elements iron and possibly titanium, and the brightest green stones contain traces of chromium and vanadium, like emerald. Measuring 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale, it’s the hardest so far of our potential substitutes and can be used with care in rings. Bot of the earrings below demonstrate the colour shade range that tourmaline can display and I love the arrangement of the different colours.

1. Tsavorite Garnet

In my view, the best option. Like tourmaline, garnet comes in an array of colours, although it’s possible that this is not quite so well known. For many, garnet refers to the dark and dusty jewellery belonging to your grandmother. The green versions of garnet are tsavorite and demantoid, and the most appropriate of these as an emerald alternative is tsavorite. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s vibrant green, it’s not hard to find in clean quality and as it is garnet, it also has great brilliance and fire. Yes, fire. Garnet is often so dark that you can’t see this, but with tsavorite you often can. Its colour is caused by the element vanadium, like emerald, and indeed the colour can often rival that of emerald. It’s one of my favourite stones and at 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale it can make a ring stone. You can see how beautiful it is both in the larger rings stone below left and in smaller stones on the right.

Click individual titles for links, or to view all my green stones, click here

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Aquamarine, Tourmaline, Emerald

My June newsletter is out and I have a whole bunch of beautiful new stones. The ever-popular Santa Maria aquamarine I now have in an array of sizes and half sizes from 3mm to 8mm, rose cut green tourmaline and emerald, plus there’s free standard shipping for the whole month of June. My newsletter is always the first place to find new stock announcements, offers and sales and sometimes these are newsletter exclusives. You can read this months by clicking here and you can sign up at my website.

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Gemstone Winter Wonderland

My newsletter is out, with an absolute cornucopia of new gemstones. I’ve got lots of old favourites such as rainbow moonstone 3mm-6mm in rose cuts and cabochons, plus new oval rose cuts. Opal rose cuts I’ve had in the past, but also cabochons in 3mm-5mm, which I’ve never had before. Beautiful saturated blue kyanite, aquamarine, tourmaline, sparkly, glittery zircon and so much more. Check out my newsletter here, and all new stock here. There’s a free shipping offer and I will upgrade all orders over $50 to express tracked.

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Sweet & Juicy Watermelon Tourmaline

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Watermelon tourmalines classically mimic the fruit, with their juicy fruit and rind; bright pink in the middle, green on the outside. However, they come in so many different colours, representing the full spectrum of tourmaline’s impressive colour range. In fact tourmaline’s original name was ‘turamali’ which means ‘mixed colours’. It’s quite simply one of my favourite stones, but maybe not the easiest to set; it’s not always easy to find pairs and the profiles are often very uneven and bockety.

Tourmaline grows in pegmatites – veins that run through rocks created by molten magma from volcanoes. As the magma cools, cracks form which fill with a solution of water and minerals such as iron, lithium or manganese. Over thousands of years, these turn into tourmaline crystals, and it is depending on which of these minerals is present that determines the colour. So how do you end up with more than one colour in the same stone? This happens when the trace elements change in concentration or composition during a crystal’s growth. This can result in a core of one colour and bands of different colours, or zones across the length of the crystal. A single tourmaline crystal can contain up to 15 different colours. Tourmaline is the birthstone for October and I always think that is so lucky, as you have such a huge choice of colours. It is said to be particularly beneficial to artists and those in creative fields.

Watermelon tourmaline lends itself wonderfully to carvings – in particular butterfly wings and leaves look great, but arguably the best way to display it is quite simply, in slices, to show off its saturated juiciness to full effect. Although it can be prong-set, I love to see these slices in bezels. I always think of India Mahon as the absolute queen of tourmaline, and I also especially love Sarah Walker’s classic settings below. I haven’t seen slices set like this very often and I really like it. Links and titles on each photo.

India Mahon India Earrings, $4360
India Mahon India Earrings, $4425

Leda Jewel Company Indicolite Blue Tourmaline Crystal Slice Bracelet, $1,100
Leda Jewel Company Indicolite Blue Tourmaline Crystal Slice Bracelet, $1,100

Leda Jewel Company Rubellite Earrings with watermelon tourmaline drops
Leda Jewel Company Rubelite Earrings With Watermelon Tourmaline Drops, $2,200

mimichaJAPAN Asymmetrical starburst blue and pink watermelon tourmaline stud earrings, $336
mimichaJAPAN Asymmetrical starburst blue and pink watermelon tourmaline stud earrings, $336

mimichaJAPAN starburst watermelon tourmaline dangle earrings with gold granules, $289
mimichaJAPAN starburst watermelon tourmaline dangle earrings with gold granules, $289

moustier tourmaline butterfly and diamond ring
Moustier Jewelry Tourmaline Butterfly & Diamond Ring, $1,100

moustier tourmaline pendant with tsavorites

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Sarah Walker Jewelry Watermelon Tourmaline Joy Earrings, $255

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Sarah Walker Watermelon Tourmaline Joy Necklace 1, $145

I have a range of quality watermelon tourmaline slices, to take a look, click here

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Pantone Has Spoken & The Future is Coral

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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.

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.

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October Flowers

Joopy Gems October 2018 newsletter

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

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Chryscolla, Tourmaline, Druzy, Lapis Lazuli and more…!

June 2018 newsletter header 4(1)

My June newsletter is out, and it’s crammed full of new gemstones, including this fantastic chrysocolla – doesn’t it look like the earth from space?! I’ve also got druzy slices, black lily beads (fab!) and mixed lots of rose cut tourmaline (buying in lots gives you a 35% or so discount off the price for single stones), lapis lazuli and sodalite beads. Plus as promised I’ve got price drops on some established lines and I’ll be doing my best to keep prices down this year. Check out my newsletter here: http://bit.ly/2sFgcf5  . Newsletter readers are always the first to learn about new stock and discounts, and some are exclusively for newsletter readers. Why not sign up at https://joopygems.com/ to make sure you never miss out?

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Show yourself some love!

Valentine's day FB post-1

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

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Golden days are coming….

Joopy Gems February 2018 newsletter

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.

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Winter Sparkle

Joopy Gems December 2017 Facebook post

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.

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