WHAT ARE CULTURED PEARLS?
" Without a little help most mussels or oysters
won't grow a pearl either. "
Freshwater cultured pearl means cultured pearls produced in mollusks in freshwater. Normally, freshwater pearls are referred to as “freshwater cultured pearls” in commerce.
Freshwater cultured pearls come from freshwater mussels and are produced by Japan,China, and the US. The most famous type of freshwater cultured pearl is the Biwa (pronounced bee-wah) pearl which use to come from mussels grown in Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake. Because of pollution, production has stopped. Freshwater shell and pearl mussels are from the family Unionidae, from which about 20 different species are commercially harvested. The tones of the freshwater cultured pearls are dictated by the mother shell. White is the most common, followed by pink. Other colors depend on the type of mussels. Big washboard mussels (Megalonaias nervosa) usually have pink pearls, as do the wartyback mussel (Quadrula nodulata). Threeridge mussels (Amblema plicata) have pearls in shades of blue-green and lavender. Muckets (Actinonaias ligamentina) produce fine pink pearls, and sand mussel (Lasmigona costata) have salmon-pink pearls. Other mussels used to produce freshwater cultured pearls include the ebony, heelsplitter, pimple back, elephant ear, mapleleaf, three-ridge pigtoe, pistol grip, and butterfly.
For non-nucleated cultured pearls, the grafting process begins by selecting a suitable donor mussel and cutting a strip of tissue from the mantle. This strip of tissue is then cut into 3mm squares. These square are delivered to a technician who performs the operation. Unlike saltwater bead nucleation, this process is not considered difficult, and technicians need only minimum training to perform the operation. The technician creates small incisions on the upper value and inserts the tissue piece. A small twist of the tissue upon insertion is believed to create a higher ratio of round pearls. After the maximum number of grafts had been performed, the mussel is flipped, and the procedure is performed once again on the reverse side of the value.
The production of freshwater pearls with a nucleus is difficult. The workers at the farm are trained at a high level, which is constantly being improved. It is now possible to implant up to nine nuclei of an average size of 5 to 7 mm into the connective tissue of the mantle, together with a tiny square of mantle tissue from a donor mussel. The mussel is used at the same time for the production of non-nucleated pearls, and 10 to 20 tiny pieces of tissue are implanted in the mantle. Only one nucleus of over 7 mm in size is implanted into the gonad.
After the implantation procedure and after two weeks of intensive care, the mussels are placed foot-up into labeled plastic nets or baskets, which are hung from ropes just below the surface, the water depth rarely exceeds two meters.
The density should not exceed 150 to 225 mussels per one hundred square meters, but the smaller farms probably do not adhere to this rule.
Cleaning take place twice a year, but only the larger farms use cleaning machines. Water quality is monitored constantly, at least on the larger farms. When water temperatures increase, the farmers will add cooler, flowing water from neighboring rivers and canals, but they also use ground water.
the mussels are quite strong and they can survive several days in the dry without damaging the quality of the pearls they hold. They are also able to endure a certain amount of water pollution. However, the farmers do everything to protect them during the rain season. Moreover, nets at the entrance of each pond protect the mussels from their natural enemies.
The farmers determine the end of the growth period in accordance with their financial requirement. Harvests may take place each month, especially on the small farms. But October and November, the late autumn months, are considered the best time as the growth rate slows down due to the cooler water temperatures. The smaller size of the growing aragonite platelets will have a favorable influence on the luster of the pearls.
The skilled workers open mussels and gather the pearls quickly. It took only a few minutes until a colorful mixture of pearls of all possible sizes, shapes and colors appeared on the bottom of the tubes. They were immediately collected and seemed to disappear quickly into sheds where they were weighted and packed without undergoing any further treatment.
The result of the harvests depends on the size of the farm and may range from several kilograms to several tons. It’s usually thought that one hundred mussels produce about 500 to 1,000 grams of pearls. Only about 10 to 20 percent of the marketable pearls are of good quality, and only a tiny amount is of very good quality.
After harvest the pearls are delivered to a first stage factory. This factory is responsible for cleaning and sorting the pearls by size and shape. After this process has been completed, the pearls are considered ready material for processing factories.
The pearls are pre-treated in a warm and cold chemical solution and then bleached. The pearls that exhibit strong coloration will only go through the pre-treated.
After the pearls are bleached they are drilled and then polished with a mixture of cornmeal and wax.
The rounded shapes are sometimes dyed artificially in loud blue, green, yellow, pink, dark grey and black. The dyed pearls are all in the lower price ranges.
The largest perfectly spherical, saltwater, nacreous pearl in existence is the 60.94-carat (243.76 grains) Paspaley Pearl . But, this perfectly spherical pearl is a cultured pearl and not a natural pearl.
STAR SAPPHIRE (ASTERISM)
September brings us to one of the popular gems in the world the Sapphire! Sapphires come in deep blue, Ceylon blue, blues with slight lilac hues as well as pink and yellow sapphires. But let's focus on the Star Sapphire today.
When we talk of Asterism, we talk about rubies and sapphires. Rutile inclusions ( also known as silk), when interacting with light, create the likeness of a star and so is born the star sapphire or star ruby. When needle-like inclusions (often minerals composed of titanium dioxide) intersect following the underlying structure of the crystal, it creates a six-rayed pattern, exhibiting this star-like phenomenon which is called Asterism. These crystals are cut in cabochon as seen in picture, with the star on the top of the dome. On rare occasions we can find stars in gems with more than six beams and, sometimes with even twelve beams.Legends have been told and poems written saying the first star rubies and sapphires were created by a sunbeam, in love with a gorgeous star.
The Black Star of Queensland is believed to be the largest star sapphire ever mined weighing 733 carats, discovered in the 1930s in the Anakie Sapphire fields of the Rubyvale area in the State of Queensland, in northeastern Australia. Followed by the Star of India weighing 563.4 carats. The latter is currently in display at the American Museum of Natural History, in NY city.
The visibility and intensity of the Asterism (the star-like pattern) along with the weight will determine the value of the Star Sapphire. The Black Star of Queensland would make its way around the world, weaving in and out of spotlight and obscurity, with stops in the Smithsonian in the '60s, on Cher's neck in the '70s, and at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in 2007. Currently, the sapphire is owned by an unknown private party and is not believed to be on public display.
THE GLORY OF GREEN
Many August born ladies frown upon their birthstone, but the Peridot which is often overlooked should get more attention with its exquisite brilliant green which symbolise the abundance
and prosperity of the last month of Summer, August which bring us vibrant greens before the Autumn hues start to emerge.
Did you know Peridot is the only gemstone found in meteors, in fact, some specimens have journeyed to Earth on pallasite meteorites which are the remnants of the birth of our solar system. Yes, now what other gem can live up to that? Peridot, in fact, is the first gemstone discovered on another planet. Huge deposits of peridot crystals were discovered on Mars during a 2003 mission to survey the Red Planet.
Today, the world’s peridot supply predominantly comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Peridot is also mined in parts of China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Tanzania and Pakistan.
Peridot, also called precious olivine, is a gem-quality transparent green olivine. The crystals of peridot have a vitreous lustre and conchoidal fracture. Gem-quality olivine is a mineral that composes a lot of the earth's mantel, the layer below the crust. It is also common in basalts on the moon.
Peridot has been adored since ancient times and has been valued for centuries. Peridot was greatly prized by Egyptian Kings. Some of Cleopatra's emeralds were Peridots.
The most beautiful stones come from the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, the peridot as a gemstone also exists in Myanmar, China, the USA, Africa and Australia. Stones from East Burma, now known as Myanmar, have a vivid light green and fine inclusions with a silky shine to them. Peridot from Arizona, where it is popularly used in native American jewelry, often has somewhat yellowish or gold-brown nuances.
Properties of Peridot
Peridot is the gem variety of the olivine group, which has the following species: Forsterite, Mg2SiO4 Fayalite, Fe2SiO4
6.5 to 7
Imperfect to distinct in one direction (rarely seen)
3.34 + 0.17, – 0.07
0.035 to 0.038
Orthorhombic; usually occurs as rounded pebbles; well formed crystals are quite rare
Mainly green; sometimes yellow or brown
Weak to moderate, dichroic
Cat’s eye and star peridot are known, but are rare
Never clean peridot ultrasonically.
Not safe in steamer.
The best way to care for peridot is to clean it with warm, soapy water. Avoid exposure to heat, acids and rapid temperature changes
Peridot is not typically enhanced
Choosing the Right Metal for your Jewelry
Recently we had a customer ask "what's the difference between gold and platinum" the answer left her perplexed at first but eventually she understood the differences and was able to make a sound decision for her particular custom piece. So this week's blog, I want to talk about the different metals in jewelry making, their pros and cons and help make the decision on future jewelry purchases easier.
How you intend to wear your jewelry piece will determine your decision on what materials to use. You may want to wear your piece everyday or have one for only special occasion. Some metals are stronger and better for daily wear, while other not so much. So let's start with the most popular metal recently and through out history in fact, the eternal GOLD.
Here is a metal that is the most commonly used in jewelry, it comes in white, yellow and in recent years rose gold has made its mark as well. White gold, however, has always been the favorite. White Gold is made by combining yellow gold with nickel, zinc and silver. Its final color tone is a light champagne and to get that bright white, white gold is plated with rhodium. White Gold is extremely durable and resists tarnishing. The rhodium will wear off after time though, if you wear the piece daily, most likely you'll need to replate your piece once or twice a year. If it isn't a daily wear, once in a few years. 14K White Gold is usually what buyers prefer, some prefer 18K. Both are stunning and can withstand daily wear.
Yellow Gold is a combination of pure gold, zinc and copper. Equally durable and a popular choice for men and women's jewelry. For those who seek that classic charm, yellow gold, depending on the design will reflect an extremely modern look or a very vintage one. Both 14k and 18k hold up well over time, an occasional cleaning and polish will bring it back to a shine. Yellow Gold is as perfect a metal as the White Gold minus the need to re-plate.
Rose Gold, a new comer in recent year, and a favorite of younger buyers who like the more romantic and unique look to jewelry pieces. Rose Gold is made by combining gold and copper which gives it the pink tint. This combination makes it a level more durable than the white and yellow gold. The romance it brings to a jewelry piece has made Rose Gold more and more popular over the years. Great for drop earring, tennis bracelets and engagement rings.
Here we have a metal that is heavier, denser, incredibly durable but also more expensive. Platinum will never lose its whiteness and never tarnish. Breathtaking engagement rings have been created with Platinum, which is rare and valuable. Mostly used in rings, it is important to note that sizing a platinum ring will be far more expensive, so when buying one, make sure to get the right size. If you plan on fluctuating on your weight, opt for White Gold.
Another reason to lean toward the Platinum is that it is hypoallergenic, often someone who experience allergy reaction with Gold, is recommended platinum. Platinum while incredibly durable, is also more malleable than Gold which means that it will scratch and dent more easily.
But if you want a piece of jewelry truly WHITE, platinum will be the better choice as even White Gold will have a hint of yellow and will need to be re-plated. Platinum being stronger is less likely to break but Gold is less likely to scratch. Decisions, decisions. As mentioned, platinum being denser, heavier will cost more as more of it will be required to make a jewelry piece. finally I'll end by saying Platinum IS Platinum while Gold has other metals included.
.925 sterling silver, a popular choice for many because it is affordable clearly. Silver can be stunning and bright and white but will tarnish over time unless it is plated with rhodium, yes the same plating that goes over the White Gold. Most our pieces in our Silver Collection are plated and therefore keeps them from tarnishing. Silver is a soft metal and will scratch easily, silver jewelry should be well taken care of with regular polishing and keeping it from moisture will delay tarnishing (if your silver piece isn't plated).
If there was anything lighter than this metal! A popular choice for men's bracelets and wedding bands, it is tarnish resistant and incredibly STRONG, if you're the man who will wear and tear your jewelry - GO TITANIUM, but if you want something heavier, you want to feel that band on your finger.... Tungsten is the metal for you.
This metal is very hard and heavy, will never need polishing and it will shine forever!
A level higher in hardness than TUNGSTEN, scratch proof and hypoallergenic. Most asked by men who want that strong white gold look without the cost of the white gold.
I hope this has helped clarify any questions you might have had about the different metals in jewelry making! Many of our customer like to have a collection of all the above in their jewelry box, in the end, it's whatever makes you feel good when you wear that special piece.
Sapphire’s breathtaking blues have captured our imagination and inspired designs. Ancient lore tells us that blue sapphire brought spiritual enlightenment, inner peace, wisdom, insight, and the discernment to choose what's right. It is September’s birthstone and celebrates the 45th wedding anniversary.
Sapphires are rated “excellent” for everyday wear. Avoid exposure to heat and contact with chemicals. To clean, gently scrub with a soft toothbrush and a solution of mild dish soap and warm water, or clean in an at-home ultrasonic unit.
India, Kashmir, Madagascar,
Myanmar, Sri Lanka,
The color blue holds an endless fascination. From the high dome of the sky to the oceans that cover two-thirds of the globe’s surface, blue literally surrounds us. Seen from space, Earth is revealed as a shimmering blue planet. It’s little wonder, then, that the breathtaking blue of Sapphire has captured man’s imagination from the beginning. Ranging from the deepest midnight to brilliant cornflower blue, Sapphires have long been prized for their intense, velvety color.
Many people believe that the darker the color, the more valuable the gem. In many instances, this is not the case. Sapphire is one such example where the best and most valuable color is a mid-toned hue. In the case of Blue Sapphire – it is the vibrant “cornflower” hue that is most prized.
The ancients believed that Blue Sapphire - holding in its depths the power of sea and sky - had influence over the spirit world as well; among its reputed powers was the ability to make peace between warring parties. The calming influence of blue has also made it an enduring symbol for loyalty and trust - one reason that women around the world choose Sapphire for their engagement rings.
Sapphire – in all its rainbow of colors – is the gem given to those born in September or to those born under the sign of Aquarius. Those who celebrate their 5th, 7th, 10th and 45th wedding anniversary find the brilliant blue color of Sapphire makes the perfect gift to represent faith and steadfast commitment of their relationship.
Several countries produce gem quality Sapphire, including the United States, Asia, Australia and East Africa. Our Blue Sapphire is mined primarily in East Africa. With colors ranging from inky blue to voluptuous azure, there is a Blue for everyone who chooses to experience the enchantment of this splendid gem.
AAA: Medium navy to royal blue; eye clean; good brilliance; excellent cut; excellent polish
AA: Medium navy to royal blue; eye clean; good brilliance; good cut; good polish
A: Medium to dark navy, little or no color zoning; slightly included; good brilliance; good cut; good polish
B: Dark navy, little or no color zoning; slightly included; good cut
Blue Topaz may be the birthstone of December and also of of Sagittarians, but its vibrant blue is admired by all regardless of when they are born. The gem is named after Topasos Island in the Red Sea.
It occurs in pegmatites and high-temperature quartz veins, also in cavities in granites and rhyolites, as a rock forming mineral in igneous rocks, pegmatites and rhyolites, hydrothermal veins, metamorphic rocks and greisens.
Transparent, Translucent, its colors range from colorless, white, pale blue, light green, yellow, yellowish brown, or red. Topaz is a very hard material and durable, on Mohs hardness scale is an 8.
November claims the warm orange Topaz, but December with its cooling Season is a better fit for the Blue Topaz; I say Summer heat waves can use some of the cooling nature of this stone.
Blue Topaz in nature is very rare indeed, and tends to a very pale blue. The vivid blues available in the market have all been produced by treating white Topaz. The color change is permanent and stable.
Topaz is a fairly common and inexpensive gemstone. The largest Topaz producer is Brazil. Other sources are in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, China, Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Mexico, and the U.S. (California, Utah, and New Hampshire).
Of all the topaz gems, blue topaz is the most popular. There are also known by the three hues of Blue Topaz which are Sky, Swiss and London Blue. The deepest blue is London Blue and is often used as a substitute for Sapphire.
HEALING AND MAGICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT TOPAZ:
If you dream of a blue topaz, it translates into protection and good fortune in your affairs. It is no wonder that Topaz is associated with the zodiac Sagittarius as it promotes movement in your business, action and motivation, which are strong personality traits of the December/January sign. Like the Sagittarius straight arrow shooter, Topaz promotes bold truthfulness in relationships. It helps control passions and also helps in forgiveness.
If you have thyroid issues, wearing a topaz jewelry against you or having a topaz gem on you, is very helpful. It is said that it strengthens the Thyroid. On a last note, it is also known to help blood circulation.
Traditions hold that topaz bestowed many benefits upon its wearer. It would dispel cowardice, calm the temper, cure madness and plague, and sharpen the wit. It was also thought to aid in sleep and eliminate nightmares, as well as cure rheumatism and soreness in the joints. The stone has also been credited with being effective against bleeding and heart disease. It has been said to instantly lose its color to indicate that poison is present, thus protecting its owner. The stone has also been thought to bring fidelity and friendship if constantly worn without being set aside. It was also believed to be an effective talisman against accident and fire, and to bring increased intuition and long life. To Christians, it has been known as a symbol of uprightness and virtue.
While I wouldn't promote Topaz as a medical cure which it is not, wearing one in a beautiful jewelry setting not only helps promote all the above mentioned, but will bring a wonderfully cool and bright disposition to the wearer.
Soft yet vivid, enchanting and magical, these are the characteristics of the beauty of the Morganite semi-precious gem. Often set in Rose Gold, but equally brilliant in white or yellow, this gemstone brings a rare elegance to a piece. Its stunning hue not often seen in gemstones, it is considered to have a calming, soothing effect.
Morganite used to be known as the Pink Beryl up until 1910, from the family of Beryls such as Emeralds and Aquamarines, its name was then changed to Morganite after famous banker and gem collector John Pierpont Morgan. Gemmologist George Kunz proposed the name Morganite at a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences on 5 December 1910 to honor his friend and customer J.P. Morgan for his financial support for the arts and sciences, and his important gifts of gems to the American Museum of Natural History in New York and to the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Morgan was one of the most important gem collectors in the early 1900s – his collection was partly assembled by Tiffany and Company and their chief gemologist, Kunz.
Pure Beryl is colorless, Morganite’s subtle color is caused by traces of manganese.
Untreated morganite often has a strong orange color component, creating a salmon color.
Morganite is found primarily from deposits in Brazil, Afghanistan, Madagascar and right here
in California. Morganite can form large crystals,
miners in Brazil have found crystals as
large as 22 lbs!
On October 7th, 1989, one of the largest specimens of Morganite was uncovered. It was found in the Bennet Quarry of Buckfield, Maine, and it was somewhat orangish in hue. This well-formed crystal weighed in at just more than 50 lbs, and was called ‘The Rose of Maine’.
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., includes two faceted gems
weighing 236 cts. and 250 cts. in its collection.
Morganite’s color range includes pink, rose, peach, and salmon. In today’s market, the pink and rose tints are more fashionable. The peach and salmon hues seem less popular, but some collectors value untreated peach-colored material more highly than heat-treated pink stones.
When choosing a morganite, bigger is better, since only in stones larger than a certain size does the unique allure of the gem’s color show to its best advantage. Strong hues in morganite are rare, and these gems typically need to be large to achieve the best color.
Morganites generally do not have inclusions that are visible to the unaided eye. When shopping for a piece of morganite jewelry, consider cut as well as color, because only a skillful cut will highlight the brilliant beauty of the sparkling pink stone. Morganites are cut in all standard shapes, as well as in distinctive designer cuts. Morganite combines affordability, durability, and the singularly exquisite color of hope, love, and promise. These highly desirable qualities make morganite an outstanding choice for a gift of love.
So your favorite gold chain broke, and your diamond ring won't slide on your finger as it used to because you either gained weight or lost weight, you're thinking "I need to take these to a jeweler". Your first thought is the chain jewelry stores, but here's a few reasons you should consider your local family owned jewelry store.
Jewels Quest is one of those small businesses owned and operated by family for over 13 years. Now 13 years doesn't mean our experience in the jewelry industry is that long, in fact it is much longer. From father to son, the expertise in jewelry making, repairing and selling goes as far back as 40 years. And even though the store opened only in 2000, the people running it have been in the industry for two generations.
Coming to a small business jewelry store, ensures you will get extra personalized service, a one on one communication with the owner/jeweler expert, and you will also find the prices far more competitive. With a lower overhead, a small jewelry store will be able to pass down savings to you.
Jewels Quest will also repair your precious jewelry right there on the premise. A lot of large jewelers send out your diamond rings and pieces to a third party. Not Jewels Quest, and this has been a very important factor with our customers. Often leaving their diamond rings in-store and feeling secure that their piece will not leave the premise is very reassuring.
Top reasons to go to a small business jeweler like Jewels Quest:
1. One on one personalized service
2. Expert repair service done on the premise
3. Lower prices on repairs
4. Faster service
5. Helping small businesses
Here's a reality about larger jewelry chain stores:
1. Often send their repair jobs out to third party
2. Turn around time longer
3. You deal with sales persons, not owner
4. Prices are higher (they have larger overhead)
5. Yes they have bigger discounts up to 75% off on merchandise, but their mark ups are very high to begin with.
So next time you are in the market for jewelry, or need jewelry services, consider Jewels Quest, a mom and pop small business. You'll be getting superior service, great deals and helping your local business at the same time.
There was a time when every green gemstone was considered an Emerald. You say the word emerald and visions of intense vivid greens come to flash before our mind's eye. It is a stone that has been used to make jewelry for as long as history. From the Egyptians to the Romans to modern day, Emerald much as many other gemstones, has great value and significance. From the ancient belief that it brings fertility and eternal youth to today's notion of its great exotic nature.
At Jewels Quest, we carry a few pieces of Emerald jewelry and often disclose much about it to our customers who desire to buy an Emerald. It is a beautiful stone and knowing and understanding fully the features of this gemstone before you buy it leaves customers better equipped to make their decision before buying it.
Let's begin with the 4 c's of Emerald, these are the same as diamonds, cut, clarity, color and carat weight. The difference is the importance of the order. In diamonds, you'd be more concerned with the clarity grade while with emeralds we look at color which is the most important aspect to consider with emeralds, while the carat weight will be the least important.
Tip#1: The darker the color, the more valuable: It would have to be a dark blue green while still brilliant and translucent, simply dark green opaque stones isn't enough to be considred valuable, these can be quite cheaper in fact.
Tip#2: Inclusions in the emerald are what cause the beautiful green color: Remember that point, and don't be surprised at how highly included these precious stones are. It is also the reason why the emerald rough must be cut away so much. This weight loss is the main reason of their high cost.
Tip#2: Symmetrical and uniform facets providing maximum color and brilliance are an Emerald's ideal cut: If the cut is too shallow, light will be lost at the bottom of the stone and the emerald will not have maximum brilliance. If the cut is too deep, the light will escape out of the sides and the emerald will appear dark.
Caution when cleaning your Emerald jewelry: Clean your emerald with a soft, dry cloth. Oil is used during the stone treatment, therfore you should never clean an emerald with an ultrasonic cleaner because this oil could be removed or damaged. In addition, do not clean emerald in hot soapy water since it too can remove this oil. Avoid sudden temperature changes as emeralds lose their color when strongly heated. t.