Not a Love Letter to Emerald

When I first started out in jewellery, I used to make lamp-worked beads and I sold my jewellery in various shops and galleries. One of the shops always said to me, ‘no green please. People don’t buy green jewellery.’ Well, times have changed and green is definitely having a renaissance. Of course, if you talk about green stones, the first one that comes to mind has to be emerald. I have to say that I am not a massive fan of the big E; why not? Well, it’s a combination of its price and properties. Emerald is generally a very included kind of stone. Most emeralds have inclusions; gas bubbles, liquid inclusions, minerals and fractures. And oh my goodness; the fractures. It’s not known whether emerald is a generally fractured stone, or whether it’s the extreme processes required to get it out of the ground. Either way, what this means is that emerald tends to be fracture filled. Something like 96% of all emerald on the market is fracture-filled. This means that clean emerald is very rare and very expensive, and that cheaper emerald is generally highly included, almost certainly fracture filled and the lustre just isn’t great. Emerald is also a rather brittle stone, and of course, as we all know, fractures will tend to make a stone more brittle; if you have a fracture filled stone, then it will appear much less fractured than it actually is, and therefore – dangerously – appear more stable than it actually is. It’s not a great choice for a ring stone. In recent years, emerald finds in Afghanistan have turned up high quality, intense green and relatively clean stones, but obviously there are issues involved with mining in that part of the world.

From GIA article Emerald Adventures in Afghanistan

If you had to give me a choice, my top pick for a green stone would be tsavorite garnet. It comes in a stunning intense green, it has fantastic dispersion (it’s very sparkly!) it’s durable, free from inclusions and is not generally treated. It isn’t cheap, but small stones are reasonably priced and they have a beauty and brilliance that you just don’t get with emerald. Below is Anderson Beattie’s Opal & Tsavorite Garnet Ring; the opal really brings out the chrome green shade of the tsavorite.

Chrome diopside is another intense green option. It really isn’t well known and that’s a shame as colour-wise it packs a punch. It retains its intensity of colour even in small sizes – conversely this means that the colour can get very closed in large sizes, and really you don’t tend to see this stone above around 8mm.

Tourmaline: ah my favourite stone of all time. Green tourmaline runs the spectrum from aqua blue through to yellow ‘beer bottle’ green, with all shades of green-blue, blue-green, intense chrome green and light green along the way. Additionally, because tourmaline is so pleochroic, you will often get several shades of green in the same stone – the ring below from Disa Allsop is a really clear example of this where you can see the bright green and gold green colours dancing across the stone. I also love the way that Lola Brooks uses this spectrum of greens in her jewellery. Mimi Favre’s triple claw setting ring also demonstrates the colour range of tourmaline and Monika Krol’s asymmetrical green tourmaline pendant highlights the beauty of this stone set in gold.

Peridot runs apple green through to yellow-green. It’s reasonably priced and so it’s possible to have it in much larger sizes. For me its at its best en cabochon in a nice strong setting. It’s not hard to find clean stones but larger stones can be prone to black inclusions. However, if you can find them, peridot can have very characteristic ‘lily pad’ inclusions, which I think are rather beautiful. Below is Barbara Tipple’s Lioness Peridot Torque, whose powerful linesperfectly showcases the beauty of this stone.

And this ring from Tayma Fine Jewellery – a large, highly included peridot which looks knockout in this strong and simple setting.

I have a variety of green stones for sale in my shop; to browse, click here

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Green-Eyed Monster

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Actually, the green-eyed monster pretty perfectly describes my feelings whenever I see a piece of tsavorite garnet, whether it’s in jewellery or not. It’s my favourite green stone and I’m sorry, for my money, it beats emerald into a cocked hat. It’s bright green, extremely brilliant and unlike emerald, it’s not routinely treated. Tsavorite garnet, in case you don’t know is the transparent lime-green to emerald green variety of grossular garnet, and actually, the colour is due to the same minerals that colour emeralds – chromium or vanadium.  A relative newcomer, it was discovered in the 1960s and is mined in Kenya and Tanzania. It’s hard to find in large sizes, in fact the finest emerald green colour rarely occurs in crystals larger than 2 carats, and so larger stones are therefore a great deal more expensive. Smaller stones are not too expensive, however, and in fact it works really well in pave settings as it is so brilliant.

For centuries, garnet has been thought of as a travellers stone; according to legend Noah’s ark was supposed to have a garnet lantern to help with navigation. In particular, garnet is supposed to promote strength, vitality and positivity, so you really can’t go wrong! We have tsavorite garnet rose cuts in small sizes – 2mm, 3mm and 4mm, starting from $4.25 for a 2mm stone, and I will be listing a few 5mm stones in the next few days. You can browse the collection by clicking here.

Below from top are Ileana Makri’s Angry Tear Studs with diamonds, sapphires and tsavorites, and Pernille Lauridsen’s Gold and Tsavorite Ring

Ileana Makri Angry Tear Stud in 18k Gold with Diamonds, Sapphires and Tsavorites, $4540 USD
Ileana Makri Angry Tear Stud in 18k Gold with Diamonds, Sapphires and Tsavorites, $4540 USD

Pernille Lauridsen Wailani Gold and Tsavorite Ring, $595
Pernille Lauridsen Wailani Gold and Tsavorite Ring, $595

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Almandine Garnet 6x4mm Rose Cut Round Cabochon

Not Your Grandmother’s Jewellery

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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.

Left to right: Ananda Khalsa Garnet Stud Earrings with Two 22k Dots, $440, David J Thomas Tsavorite Garnet and 18k Gold Ring, Coffin & Trout Spessartite Garnet, Rubellite & 18K Gold Pendant

Colour and Varieties

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.

Clockwise from top left: Jane Taylor Malay Garnet and 14k Gold Ring, Vintage Tsavorite Garnet & Diamond Invisible Set Cocktail Ring 14k Gold, Quadram Hexagon Almandine Garnet RingPamela Huizenga Hydrogrossular Garnet & Diamond Earrings, William White Hessonite Garnet and Sterling Silver Ring, Henn of London Spessartite Garnet and 18k Gold Necklace

I’ll be doing posts on individual types of garnet so keep your eye out for those. I have a large variety of garnet stones; click here to browse the collection.

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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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March Newsletter; new additions, great discount!

Banner March 2016

Out now; my March 2016 newsletter with a round-up of new additions, gemstone news and the all-important reader offer – this month a birthstone offer – which I have interpreted very widely, taking in many different birthstone systems and adopting a very loose interpretation, to apply to all aquamarine and agate across my store. That’s cabochons, rose cuts, gemstones, beads and freeforms, all on 15% off for the month of March. Click here to open the newsletter and pick up the discount code, or go to www.joopygems.com to sign up and make sure you never miss out!

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