Birth stone for March : Aquamarine

Aquamarine is Latin for ‘water of the sea’ and what a perfect description of the colour of the stone.  

Naturally, the stone should be a seawater colour, with dark blue being the most admired. Less fine quality stones are often heated to turn them to a stronger blue and fashion has influenced this by making the stronger blue more desirable than the natural blue/green of the stone. 

The stone is quite hard, (moh’s scale 71/2 -8) however it is brittle and can be known to chip.  If worn in a ring it is best for special occasions or delicate wear…not gardening and washing up! 

As part of the beryl family, Aquamarine has the same chemical construction (aluminium beryllium silicate) as Emeralds, Morganite (soft pink), golden beryl and Heliodor….so how come they all are different colours I hear you ask?  Well, Emerald’s colouring agent is chrome, Aquamarine’s colouring agent is iron….(there can be green beryl’s that are not green because of chrome but because of vanadium and therefore they can never be called an Emerald). It’s all back to the mix of ingredients when these rocks are formed.

Queen Elizabeth II Aquamarine, Diamond and Platinum necklace

All this may be a bit confusing…but in the silicate slush in the centre of the earth these are the chemicals that naturally may or may not be present….it is like the earth’s natural larder…and what is available that day will dictate the colour and type of stone that is the result.

scissor_cut_aquamarine_and_diamond_ringSassalina-Pendant-1aquamarine_stud_earringsIf you are born in march you are lucky enough to claim Aquamarine as your birth stone…however as there are no rules.  If this is your favourite colour you can still treat yourself to one of these beauties!! Just remember – even though white diamonds complement the Aqua very well…you can be more adventurous as you can see with the gorgeous orange of these hessonite garnets…

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Sarah x

 

 

 

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The mighty Corundum and its Sapphire and Ruby offspring

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Colour spectrum: corundum

Colour spectrum: corundum

Corundum

A word which I’m sure many people glance over and read as conundrum…unless explained you could end up none the wiser!!

Corundum is a species of gemstone which includes both sapphires and rubies as they are essentially the same chemical construction… AL2O3 for nerds like me!  It is a 9 on Mohs scale and therefore the second hardest material after diamonds ….very useful for making great rings that can be worn everyday. Also useful to know is that when red the stones are known as Rubies, with the remainder being called Sapphires. A very high proportion of coloured stones being sold in jewellery shops all over the UK have been heated to improve the colour…..jewellers should declare if this has happened but sadly many retailers are not gemmologists and do not know how to tell the difference…high quality untreated stone are more valuable and I often sell these stones with a certificate to state this.

Rubies

If you are lucky enough to be born in July then rubies are your birthstone and are considered the king of gems and represent love, health and wisdom. It was believed wearing a fine red ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner. Ruby and Diamond cocktail ring

Ruby and Diamond cocktail ring which was a birthday gift made all the more special as their daughter is called Ruby… the pendant was created from a lonely earring when its’ pair was lost.

Ruby and Diamond Pendant

Ruby and Diamond Pendant

Rubies vary from pinkish to purplish or brownish or bluish red, depending on the chromium or iron content of the stone. What is interesting is that aluminium oxide, with very small amounts of chromium, creates pure pink sapphires…as the chromium level increases you move towards rubies….it is strength and depth of colour, as well as the clarity, that determines the price of the stone, however, with just the right level of chromium and a tiny bit of iron the really beautiful and very rare padparadscha pink/orange stone is formed. Ruby drop pair

Unheated Ruby drop pair…currently available for sale…would make stunning earrings!

Sapphires

Many of my clients are so surprised that sapphires come in such a variety of colours…other colouring agents are iron and titanium for blue, vanadium for violet and orange and a small iron content results in yellow and green tones….

I enjoy stones almost every day of my life and some really special ones haunt me forever….There are so many colours to choose from, which makes it difficult to pick out my favourite, however, this amazing 14ct lilac sapphire was one that I did manage to keep…On my website you can also see a lovely ring made of two tone green sapphires set in rose gold which I made for an engagement ring …untreated_lilac_sapphire_and_trapezoid_diamond_ring

Untreated Lilac Sapphire and Trapezoid Diamond ring

Sadly the retail high street has such a limited colour range of sapphires on show…..I find my clients adore the individual beauty and enormous colour range on offer when making a bespoke piece of jewellery with me, exactly the perfect colour for you. After almost 10 years of making bespoke jewellery I am almost convinced that the stone chooses the wearer.

Sarah x

images via sassalina.com and gemhub.com

Bejewelled Treasures : V&A

In my spare time….

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My favourite place to be is in the jewellery vault at the V&A. I have subjected my children to endless visits, when they were small they loved the jewellery designing computers, my mother and mother in law have been dragged around…this does not even touch the understanding of my long suffering husband….he is so patient with my love of jewels that he even accompanied me to New York to see the JAR show.

But back to the V&A…the collection offers an amazing cover of jewellery design through the ages and a few seriously major tiara’s which I dream of owning…

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there are quirky pieces…

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and the odd bit of modern jewellery which I am less a fan of….the wheel of stones all set in rings does set my heart aflutter as some are seriously impressive in size and quality…..

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however they are having a show in November which is a whole new level of gorgeousness…..

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Paul Iribe (French, Angoulême 1883–1935 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin) Aigrette, 1910 Platinum, set with emerald, sapphires, diamonds, and pearls; H. 3 5/8 in. (9 cm) W. 2 1/4 in. (5.6 cm) D. 5/8 in. (1.5 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Al Thani Collection (MJ.133) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/458931

snippet from V&A site…

Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection
21 November 2015 – 28 March 2016

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Sarah x

My week at the jeweller’s bench.

Never say Never… I was never going to send my daughter to Boarding School and then it happened….I needed to occupy myself for the first week after she left….what better place to hang out than on a Central St Martin’s short course…
Jewellery and Wax Carving.

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Kings Cross campus is a fantastic venue, especially in the sunshine…the new space is perfect to work in and the teaching is first class.

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Gems and fine jewellery rarely reflect the industrial workshop that they are created in…..making jewellery is very physical…sawing, carving, filing, hammering, soldering…however the joy of St Martin’s is that they have a tool (or several) for every part of the process.

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Wax carving appears child’s play however the technique took a couple of days to master and by then you have made several mistakes which take time to fix. I absolutely love working at a jeweller’s bench and having a week dedicated to thinking and creating was such a luxury.  My first project was a commission from my 17 year old son.  He had a very specific ring he wanted and this was the perfect opportunity to realise that dream. He was thrilled with the result and has been proudly showing all his friends. Helping him to identify his style and then spending the time to make it perfect has been a very rewarding experience.

Other pieces I designed and created were made using fine sheets of wax and layering them up to make different shapes. I had an idea which morphed into a floral pendant and then a more delicate ring….I cast these in silver, however I can see the ring being made in rose gold with a little diamond set in the centre of the flower. I am interested to hear your feedback as this might become the beginning of my first range…

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Sarah x

Taking care of your jewellery……

Jewellery is like a luxury car…it requires care and servicing from time to time… gems and especially metals can wear with use…white gold rings are typically rhodium plated when bought and this coating can wear off over time giving a brown tone to the metal, claws on rings can receive the odd knock and become loose, the stones themselves can get chipped or even eventually fall out!

One of the most common problems is white gold becoming browner with age and a simple Rhodium plating treatment can completely rejuvenate and regenerate your piece of jewellery.  Rhodium plating transforms metal as it is very bright and mirror-like and reflects light.  It is particularly good for diamond jewellery as it bounces light around much like diamonds do. Platinum is a naturally whiter metal and therefore does not discolour but loses its’ shine and becomes more matt, this can be buffed to return to its’ original glory.

The following image shows:

1. 18K yellow gold

2. 18K white gold, rhodium plated

3. 18K palladium white gold, not plated

three rings gold

If you just want to change your jewellery from yellow gold to white gold then in many cases rhodium plating is the best option.

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You do have to be careful when rhodium plating jewellery that is set with porous stones as the plating process would adversely affect such stones such as peridot or certain treatments of rubies.

What is Rhodium?

Rhodium is in the platinum family of metals.  It is rare and quite precious.

What is Rhodium plating?

Rhodium plating, also known as rhodium flashing, is a process that coats a fine layer of rhodium over white gold rings to make them appear whiter and improve the shine. I have seen some jewellery from the Far East which completely changes colour when the Rhodium wears off and this is because they have used a poor quality of gold mix to make the original ring.

How long does plating last?

Rhodium plating is not permanent. The time the plating lasts depends on how much the piece of jewellery is used and how thick the original plating was….a wedding ring which is worn everyday will require re-plating sooner than a pair of earrings which may retain their plating for many years.

Can I change yellow gold into white gold?

Yes….but we would need to chat about the stones in the piece and the fact it is not a permanent change!

How much will it cost?

Surprisingly affordable, from as little as £40…I have clients who were overjoyed by the result and even one lady who said it looked better than when the ring was new!

images via Joseph Schubach and ultrasoniccleaning.com

Gemstones : It’s not easy being green….

I was inspired by St Patrick’s Day this year to instagram a photo of this gorgeous emerald antique tiara:

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An Emerald is actually a colour variety of a Beryl gemstone, other colour types of Beryl are Aquamarine, Morganite, Heliodor, Golden Beryl and the hardly ever spoken about Bixbite which is raspberry red!

Emeralds originate from Brazil, Austria, India, Columbia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Russia and Zambia and what is most interesting to a gemologist is that the inclusions, which are often perceived to be flaws, can be individually unique to each of the countries of origin and therefore help us to identify where a stone is from.

Post mining, Emeralds can be subjected to all types of treatment.  Historically, Emeralds were taken out of the soil and put into a pot of green coloured oil to keep them moist and to enrich the colour.

A huge proportion of Emeralds sold in the UK have been heated to improve the colour and clarity.  In addition, Emeralds can be made synthetically by two different methods and we use the tell-tale inclusions to identify that they are not natural.

Finally there is also an unusual Emerald called Trapiche which has six black spokes showing the hexagonal symmetry which is consistent to all Emerald gem crystals but not clearly visible.

trapiche emerald ring

trapiche emerald ring

images from pinterest

I can imagine a pair of drop earrings set with Trapiche Emeralds and sparkly black diamonds so that the light shines through the stones.  Trapiche Emeralds offer great value as they are more affordable than Emerald stones most people recognise.

If you’re lucky enough to have a birthday in May then this is your birth stone so consider adding one to your wishlist!

Sarah x