Saturday, December 5, 2009

Colored Stone Hardness

When we talk about hardness in a colored stone we are talking about its resistance to scratches. We need to think about the hardness of a stone when we decide what type of jewelry the stone will best be used for. The Mohs scale was created by a professor from Germany named Friedrich Mohs. Stones are rated from 1 to 10 with 10 being the hardest. Diamond has a rating of 10 and is harder than any other gemstone. Rubies and sapphires which are both corundum have a rating of 9 and they are fine to be used as stones in rings. Those with a rating of under 7 will wear if used in a ring or a bracelet. That’s not to say you can’t do it but that you should wear them carefully.

Mohs Scale Examples

10. Diamond

9. Corundum

8. Topaz

7. Quartz

6. Orthoclase feldspar

5. Apatite

4. Fluorite

3. Calcite

2. Gypsum

1. Talc

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tahitian Cultured Pearls

Tahitian cultured pearls have been on the pearl market since sometime in the 70’s. They are what we think of as newcomers in the world of pearls. The majority of Tahitian cultured pearls come from the lagoons of Tuamotu Archipelago and the Gambier Islands. In the 1960’s the investigation started on how to culture the P. margaritifera in the French Polynesia. This is the type of oyster (a black lipped) that produces Tahitian pearls. They first had to produce a gem-quality and then they needed to establish a market to sell the pearls to. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s Tahitian pearls were not known outside of French Polynesia. A campaign to promote the pearls was successful but the farms faced the challenge to create quantities that were large enough to serve an international market. Tahitian cultured pearls are usually harvested in the spring and summer from May to November. Approximately 40% of the pearls that are implanted produce gem-quality cultured pearls. Only approximately 5% will be round and the top 1 to 2% will be of the finest quality. These pearls take approximately 22 to 26 months for their growth.

Tahitian cultured pearls are larger in size and seeing them as a size of 14 mm is common. The have colors like an eggplant purple, peacock green, metallic gray and some grayish blue. When they were first marketed they were marked as “black” because of their dark colors. There are three colors that are associated with Tahitian pearls. Peacock is a term for a color that is highly valued. It is a dark green gray to blue gray with rose to purple overtones. Aubergine which means eggplant in French is most often used to describe dark grayish purple. Pistachio is a term for yellowish green to greenish yellow Tahitian pearls.
Tahitian cultured pearls stand out because of their high value which is comparable to South Sea pearls but higher than other types of pearls. Their value is higher due to many factors including their larger size and unusual color. There are also fewer of them being produced than other types of pearls. A top quality Tahitian cultured pearl can cost in the thousands. If you had a pearl necklace with sizes that were graduated fro 10 to 14 mm it might retail for 40,000. Most Tahitian pearls measure between 8 mm and 14 mm.
Unlike Akoya pearls which are almost all spherical less than half of the Tahitian pearls are spherical. Tahitian pearls that have excellent luster are almost metallic. Surface quality can range from spotless which are extremely rare to heavily blemished. Because Tahitian pearls have a cultivation period of 2 years they usually have a 2 mm nacre all around the pearl. These pearls rarely have a visible nucleous or a chalkey appearance.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Symbols in Jewelry

As a person who has been in the "fine"jewelry industry for years I would never have thought about wearing much less making jewelry for healing. I also never really thought about its meaning. There are many symbols that different groups wear and people from every culture have used spiritual symbols to focus their energies connect tot he metaphysical world and touch the divine. A sybol is symply an object, picture word sound or makr that represents something else. In spirituality and religion, symbols are instant cues that remind us of the Eternal. From the cross worn by Christians to the Om drawn by Hindus to the lotus flower portrayed by Buddhists, symbols help us to channel our throughts and intentions on spirituality. These spiritual representations also identify us to others who share our same path and journey. Finally, each symbol, whether a hamsa or a yin yang, is an immediate reminder of the divinity in ourselves and all those around us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making over my Blog

I have been trying to learn to be a regular blogger for quite awhile. I wasn't sure when I started why I wanted a blog. After all I'm not a writer. I struggle with spelling. However, I study gemstones and believe in their metaphysical properties and if I sat with you for half an hour you would understand that about me. I decided to take a class from Alyson Stanfield and Cynthia Morris. It is a 4-week class that I hope will help me to become a better blogger and really connect with my readers. In fact that is the assignment for today, to identify the people that I want to visit and read my blog. My hope is that anyone who visits will take an opportunity to read a bit but mostly I hope that anyone looking for information on gemstones will be a reader. I want to educate about the properties of gemstones as well as the metaphysical energy in them. Even if you just want to know what your birthstone should look like my hope is you will find that here. I do have a jewelry business that is based on gemstones but here I really hope to educate or help answer questions that people might have and haven't been able to find an answer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gemstone Basics

Colored stones have had a very special desire by people for many centuries. Most gems come from the earth and they are inorganic. This means that they are from non-living matter. Some gems are organic which means they are produced by something that was or is a living organism. Pearls, coral and amber are examples of organic gems. No matter which they come from they are called natural gems to help point the difference out between a man-made stone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

South Sea Pearls

South Sea Cultured Pearls
South Sea pearls come from the largest mollusks in the world. The mother-of-pearl lining on the shell is used to make buttons and sometimes inlay work. This was the original focus of the harvest of the South Sea pearls.

South Sea Pearls are harvested in three major areas. Approximately 61% come from Australia, 29% come from Indonesia and about 10% from the Philippines. The Australian oysters tend to be the largest of the three producing the majority of the largest pearls. In Australia the harvest is done during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter which is June, July and August. During this time the water temperature is very low and the pearls have their most luster and color. The Indonesian pearls closely resemble the Philippine pearls. The largest difference is the size as the Indonesian pearls range from 8 to 13 mm rather than the 10 to 20 mm that the Australian pearls range. The harvest for the Philippine pearls is done during the wet season which is June through November. The other difference is the color. Indonesian pearls will produce more cream and yellow pearls as they focus on the gold-lipped variety. Australian pearls focus more on the silver-lipped variety and will produce more of the white pearls with overtones of rose’, blue or green.

One of the characteristics of a South Sea pearl is their large size. South Sea pearls range from 9 mm to 20 mm in diameter with most of them being around 13 mm. The growth period of a South Sea pearl is around 2 years. A South Sea oyster can be nucleated (have a bead inserted) up to 3 times and very often the third time will produce the largest pearl.

Because the South Sea oyster lives in warm waters they deposit a very thick coating of nacre 2 mm to 6 mm and this is done much more quickly than an oyster in a cooler climate. This thick nacre gives the pearl a soft glow rather than a metallic sheen. The glow also gives color. Silver, white and yellow are the most common colors that you will see. The color depends largely on if it is a silver-lipped or gold-lipped oyster. The edge of the mantle tissue will influence the pearl color. The silver-lipped variety will produce predominately white to silver pearls that might have a rose’, blue or green overtone. The gold-lipped variety will produce pearls that range mostly from yellow to yellowish orange which the trade may refer to as golden.

Strands of pearls are what we think of when we think of pearl jewelry. A strand of South Sea pearls would be very expensive so a lot of jewelry made with South Sea pearls uses individual pieces. Round and near round South Sea pearls only make between 10 to 30% of the harvest. Ovals, buttons and drops make 40 to 60% of the harvest with baroques making between 20 and 40%. Because of this you will find that other shapes than round give a greater opportunity for designing jewelry. Even though baroques don’t make up the majority of the harvest their prices are not pushed up so you will see them in many unusually designed pieces using South Sea pearls but at a reasonable price. Large Keishi pearls are very rare and a strand of keishi South Seas are in demand.
Typical rating for South Sea pearls luster is excellent, good and fair. The surface quality is considered either clean or lightly blemished and the nacre quality is graded as acceptable or not acceptable

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Akoya Pearls

Akoya is what we generally think of when someone talks about pearls. They speak of a white round gem. Akoya oysters are the main ones used for saltwear pearl culturing in both China and Japan. Most are cream or white and some have a tint of rose or green. The oyster itself is relatively small so it doesn’t produce a cultured pearl larger than 11 mm. What we see as the traditional strand of pearls are generally an Akoya pearls. They lend themselves to matching very well.

Akoya pearls were the first round or spherical cultured pearl and were introduced in the twentieth century. Japan and China are the primary sources for Akoya pearls but there are other areas that grow them including Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean. In the 1940’s pearls were not readily available in all sizes for strands. Because of this graduated strands of cultured pearls were strung. Almost all necklaces before and immediately after World War II were graduated necklaces. U.S. servicemen brought home many of these necklaces for their moms, girlfriends and wives. This helped to create a demand and knowledge of the cultured pearl.

The Japanese growth period for Akoya pearls is 8 months to 2 years. Farmers will harvest Akoya pearls in the winter. The water is the coldest then and it will lead to a better cultured pearl quality. The longer the pearl grows generally the better the pearl.

The size of Akoyas are relatively small. They are available in sizes 2 to 11 mm in diameter but a 10 mm Akoya is very rare. The average size of an Akoya is 6 to 7 mm.

Most Akoya pearls are sold as strands and they are very well matched. A very high amount of pearls will receive an excellent rating in matching. This happens because a very high amount of Akoyas are round or near round. If all other value features are equal in an Akoya their value will raise as their size gets larger.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pearl Value-Shape


In general the round pearl is the most valuable pearl shape. This is partly because a well formed round shape is relatively hard to find. Also most people recognize a round chocker of pearls.

A symmetrical pearl also should have well proportion symmetry. The outline should not have irregularities.


Baroque Pearls can have all different shapes; they can be shaped like a cone or a wing. Many times they are formed in the muscle tissue of the mollusk rather than its softer organs. If a pearl looks like it could be round but has an irregular deposit of extra nacre it is classified as a semi-baroque pearl. If all is equal in the valuing a baroque pearl will rank third behind spherical and symmetrical pearls.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pearl Value - Matching

Matching – Pearls are organic and no two will be alike. You often need to look at the design of the piece as many designers intentionally mismatch their pearls. Matched pearls are rated as …

Excellent – The pearls will be drilled in the center and they have a uniform appearance.
Good – The uniformity of the pearls has a minor variation.
Fair – The uniformity of the pearls very noticeable uniformity.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pearl Value - Nacre Quality

Nacre Quality – A thicker nacre does not always guarantee that you will have a better pearl. However, in most instances thicker nacre will also tend to be a more lustrous pearl. If you look at your strand of pearls and they appear to be chalky they probably have thinner nacre. Also rotating your pearl and seeing blinking which is the pearl’s nucleolus showing through is also a sign of thin nacre. If you can look at the end of the pearl around the hole and it you see chipping that shows the bead it is a sign of thin nacre and will probably not be very durable. There are three classifications for nacre quality
Acceptable - The nucleus is not able to be noticed. You might see a very slight blink upon rotating it. The appearance is also not chalky.
Nucleus Visible – The pearl will blink, you will see a flicker of light to dark when rotating. You also see evidence of the bead through the nacre.
Chalky Appearance – The pearl has a whitish appearance and it is dull.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pearl Value- Surface Quality

Surface Quality –Cultured pearls an organic material s they are going to show surface characteristics. This is perfectly normal and there are many different types of irregularities.

Abrasions – These are going to be scratches on the surface that a result of damage to the pearl.
Bump –this is a very small little blister, welt or bulge that is normally very small and does not change the basic shape of the pearl.
Chip – A place on the pearl where there is an opening in the surface.
Crack – This is a fracture in the nature that reaches the surface of the pearl. It can also be a fracture in the nucleus.
Flat – A spherical or symmetrical pearl that has a small flat section. It needs to be too small to change the overall shape of the pearl.
Gap – The nucleus is not covered by nacre in a specific area.
Pit – A small depression or indentation. Looks like a small pinprick. They can be found just as a single or in a group.
Scratch – A depression or thin grove that is in the surface of the pearl.
Spot – An area in the nacre that is either darker, lighter or even more dull that the surrounding areas.
Wrinkle – This can appear as a crease or even a ridge in the surface of the pearl.

For evaluation pearls are divided into four categories.
Clean – A trained person will examine the pearl and find them to be spotless or have a very minute surface characteristic.
Lightly Blemished – The trained person will find minor surface irregularities.
Moderately Blemished – The trained person will find noticeable surface irregularities and characteristics. Heavily Blemished – The trained person will find obvious surface issues. The durability of the pearl might be affected by these blemishes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pearl Value-Luster

Luster-The luster of the pearl is where you find the true beauty of a pearl and is thus its most important value factor. There are four categories of luster that are used when grading pearls.
Exellent – the reflection is distinct and sharp.
Good –Reflections are not as sharp but they are bright. The edges are a bit hazy.
Fair – Reflections are blurred, hazy and weak.
Poor – Your reflection will be dim. Luster is also different for the type of pearl. An akoya will have a very bright-mirror like luster and a South Sea parl will have a satiny soft luster

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pearl Value-Color

Color- A Pearl’s color is the same as anything else we look at color in. It is made of three basic componenents
Hue- the first impression of clor that we see.
Tone – The lightness or darkness of the pearl
Saturation - The intensity of the color.

To really understand the color of a pearl think about anything that nature it is made up of a blend of color. Look at a beautiful flower and it isn’t just a solid color. It is a blend of colors even if all of the same basic color. Pearls are the same. The color of a pearl will have 3 main characteristics.

Bodycolor- This is the dominant color of the pearl that you see overall.
Overtone- This is a translucent color that will appear over a pearl’s surface. It can be more than one color.
Orient- Iridescent, ranbow colors that will shimmer either over or just below the pearl’s surface.

You will see a bodycolor for all pearls but they will not all have an overtone or orient.

There are many trade names that are used for pearls. However, remember that each manuafacturer might have a different take on this name and it is simply for a reference point.
Apricot- These refer to a light pinkish orange Freshwater pearl from China.
Aubergine-A Tahitian cultured pearl that has a dark grayish purple body color.
Golden-This cultured pearl has a strong greenish yellow to orangy yellow color.
Lavender – A Chinese freshwater cultured pearl that is light pinkish purple in color.
Peacock – A Tahitian cultured pearl that has a dark green to gray to blue gray body color. It also has overtones that are rose and purple.
Pistachi – A Tahitian cultured pearl that has a yellowish green to greenish yellow bodycolor.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pearl Value Factors

Size – Pearls are sold in millimeaer sizes and they are usually rounded to the nearest 0.5 mm. As with most gems the larger the pearl generally the more valuable. However, also as with all pearls this can change depending on how all the value factors of the pearl itself work together. Also each type of cultured pearl has a different range of sizes.

Shape- Round pearls are the ones that we think of the most when we think of a pearl. There are many different shapes from tear drops, coins and irregular freeform shapes. There are seven standard shapes although they are by far not all that we see today. These shapes are…
Round- This pearl appears round to our eyes.
Near Round – This pearl is almost round when we look at it. They can be out of round, flattened a bit and even elongated.
Oval –These are symmetrical. They appear rounded but with an oblong shape.
Button- They are symmetrical. These are flattened or slightly flattened in shape. The button can be high-dome or low dome.
Drop –This is a symmetrical rounded pear shaped pearl. It can be long or short.
Semi-baroque – This is a non-symmetrical, slightly irregular oval, off-round button or drop pearls.
Baroque – This is a pearl that is non-symmetrical in shape and has noticeably irregular appearance.

Any shape other than those 7 standard shapes they should be described by their shape, like a cross, a bar or a coin.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pearl Information

Saltwater Cultured Pearls
There are approximately 3 different types of a saltwater cultured pearl.
South SeaThey look very different and each comes from a different type of oyster.

Value Factors- Each type of pearl has its own unique types of ranges for value factors. The total worth of a pearl depends on how all the value factors mix together.
Surface Quality
Nacre Quality

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Metaphysical Properties of Pearls

Metaphysical Properties of Pearls.

Pearls usually come in a pale white or a cream color but you can find pink, darker blue, sometimes gray and even black. Pearls are in tune with women, and especially so with pregnant women. Pearls relate to inner growth and form. Pearls absorb by nature so you need to remember this when wearing pearls. If you have having a day where you feel that you have a lot of negative energy and you are wearing the pearls they will absorb this energy and will hold it. You should cleanse the pearl regularly. Pearls can be very nurturing and if we use them in a proper way they can lessen stress and the results that stress can have on our body. If you are going to use pearls with other stones consider using a diamond which will help to amplify the energy and purify. Emeralds will bring out the negative energy and disperse it. This stone is recommended for a variety of occupations including artists, chiropractors and farmers. The white color is a symbol of a pure heart and mind. It is of the sea so it has the water and lunar elements and because of this will help to balance emotions. It is especially good for water signs. Fire signs are not as compatible with a pearl unless they feel drawn to it.