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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Year of the Sapphire III

Orange sapphire and diamond ring
As I mentioned before sapphires come in a wide variety of colors.  One of my favorite ones is orange.  Orange sapphires can vary in tone from a very brownish orange to a very reddish orange.  Often when I buy parcels of orange sapphires there are some in the parcels that are more brandy colored than orange but they tend to be quite attractive too.  The most well known type of orange sapphire is called a padparadscha sapphire.  It can also be one of the most expensive sapphires on the market.

A padparadscha sapphire has to be an intense reddish or pinkish orange in color and they are truly exceedingly rare.  Unfortunately as with most things in this day of Internet shopping, there are seemingly an unbelievable number of these stones available for sale all the time.  However virtually all of the stones sold as padparadscha sapphires on line are truly not.  They rarely have the actual combination of pink/red and orange necessary to fall into this category.  Are they orange sapphires?  Usually.  Are they padparadscha?  No.  And if you're buying one for a couple of hundred dollars I can assure you that they are nowhere near the real thing.

One of the best stories about padparadscha is an old one.  Quite a few years ago (this is more like a number of decades ago) the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) was writing an article for their magazine about padparadscha sapphires.  As it happened the LA County Museum, which has an amazing gemstone collection, had at the time what was considered the perfect padparadscha sapphire in terms of color.  I can't remember how big it was but it was a stunning stone and well known in the trade at the time.  The GIA asked if it could borrow the stone to photograph and study it as part of the article.  When they got it into their gem labs, however, they discovered that it was actually a synthetic sapphire!  No one had realized or spotted this before (and again the LA County Museum had gemologists on staff)!  The thing to take out of this is it's always important to implicitly trust your sources because you never know what you might be getting when you don't.

Next week I think I'll talk about green sapphires (well after I talk about Valentine's Day which is fast approaching!)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Year of the Sapphire II

Blue stone ring with white stones on the sides, looping wires
Custom Blue Sapphire and Diamond Ring

Sapphire and ruby are members of the corundum family.  Corundum is an aluminum oxide.  Color is caused by the presence of chromium oxide in ruby (and pink sapphire), titanium and iron oxide in blue sapphire, iron oxide in yellow sapphire, chromium and iron oxide in orange sapphire, iron and titanium oxide in green sapphire and chromium, titanium and iron oxide in purple sapphire crystals.  As with many gem materials, corundum itself occurs fairly commonly, but in the transparent or translucent form it is extremely rare. 

It's quite a color range you get out of the material.  In fact it also comes in black but that is only seen in star sapphires.  Star sapphires are often opaque so the colors will read differently in them sometimes.

But it's really pretty amazing to think about all of the colors that corundum comes in.  Personally I have always preferred purple sapphires.  Maybe it's just that I like the color purple or that I have always liked things that are different, but I have always found them to be more appealing that blue sapphires.  Although, as with all gemstones, that depends on the quality of the individual stone.  I'm not going to think a muddy looking purple sapphire is prettier than a fine rich blue sapphire (like the one in the picture above).  But I think I would always rather have a really fine purple stone than a really fine blue one.  And as it happens, they tend to be less expensive too.  Well at least they used to be.  When I first opened my store more than 30 years ago, purple sapphires used to be much, much less expensive than blue sapphires.  Most of that was because of the demand for blue sapphires, not because of the rarity.  Purples were actually much harder to come by, but all the public knew about in those days was blue sapphire.  Most people had never even heard about purple sapphire, no matter actually seen one.  But I'm happy to say I educated an awful lot of people about them and today, thanks to efforts by similar like minded jewelers, it's actually fairly common knowledge that sapphire occurs in a wide variety of colors.  And, unfortunately, pricing has gone up on them significantly with that widespread acceptance. 

My next article will discuss orange and padparadscha sapphires a bit.  I love oranges too!

The stone in the ring above is a .88 ct. heated blue sapphire. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Year of the Sapphire

Magnificent blue sapphire in custom ring
I've decided that this is the year of the sapphire, at least in my life, and I'm going to be focusing a lot more on sapphires.  Actually, I'm going to include rubies too because ruby and sapphire are both corundum so they're related by everything except color. 

I'm running a picture here that I also ran in my last blog article because I do want to talk a bit about this particular stone.   It wasn't huge (under a carat) but it was just a stunning stone.  All too often people are focused on how big gemstones are but I can assure you that there is an absolutely huge number of very, very ugly large sapphires out there. I personally love sapphires because of the range of colors they are available in, their durability and because of how stunning some of them can be if you're willing to look around for them a little bit.  The sapphire in this ring was one of a group I got in for a customer to look at to pick out a stone for an engagement ring.  Fortunately for me, he didn't pick the one in the picture. I immediately fell in love with the stone because of the fact that it was a little lighter than most of the commercially sold stones and because of that it had a wonderful sparkle to it.  Darker stones can have beautiful color but often they are so dark that you just don't get much sparkle in them (something that happens in most colored stones).  I told my dealers that I wanted to keep that stone as well as the one the customer bought and, sure enough, within a week or so one of my great customers came in and picked it out for a ring for herself.  It was fortunate that she has a fascination for high quality gems, has a great eye, and has bought a lot of great beauties from me over the years. 

This was a heated sapphire, which is a little uncommon for a sapphire in this tone (heating tends to darken stones) but as I have always said, you should buy a stone you love, not one that falls into some particular category.   If you want to read more about heat treatment in gemstones click on my blog directory link to your right and look for the section on gemstone treatments.  I will be getting back into the topic in future articles this year but for now you can get some answers to your questions about gemstone treatments there. 

In my next article I think I'll talk about all the wonderful colors that sapphires come in. 

Please remember to follow me on Instagram.   Pictures are uploaded at least a few times every week. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas is Almost Here!

I have been busy with my work (especially with finishing up my wife's Christmas present in the last few days) so I don't have time to say much.  But I wanted to post some pictures of some of my newest pieces that are out in the cases and for sale right now.  You know just in case you wanted to give a hint to your significant other who probably hasn't even started shopping yet. Happy Holidays!
Diamond Comet Earrings

Ruby Swirls (22k gold)

Sunstone Pink and Gold Bracelet

Swirls Necklace

Mix and Match Earrings

Black Hole in the Center of a Spiral Galaxy

Mokume Fans

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Tree Ornament

A customer came in today to order a pin for his wife for Christmas.  In talking to him it came out that a (very) long time ago, I made him a Christmas ornament for the top of his tree. I remembered doing it because it is the only time I have ever made a Christmas tree ornament.  In those days I used to work in silver routinely and I made up a large star in silver and gold with a diamond in the center.  When he told me he was the customer who had ordered it, I asked him if they still used it and he told me that they use it every year and it's an important part of their holiday as it goes at the top of their tree. After he left he took a picture of it and sent it to me.  And here it is! 

More than anything it's important to me to know that I have been such an important part of their memories and traditions for so long (25 years maybe?).  And that's why I love this business.  Who else can say something like that? 

Want to see what I'm working on now?  What my latest pieces are, either for the cases or custom jobs?  Follow me on Instagram.  Everything goes up there first.