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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Beautiful Gems Are In and a Small Contest!

gold colored clasp with an oval and pear shaped white stone with strong blue highlights
22k gold blue sheen moonstone and diamond clasp
I used to go out to Tucson in February because they have what is known as the Gem Show there.  In fact it's more like 20 different gem shows and there is some pretty amazing stuff out there.  It's a ten day long event and virtually every gem dealer in the world is either in a booth there or they are out there buying and selling from the other gem dealers.  Some even just set up in their hotel rooms to see customers.  Looking at the massive concentration of wealth has always seemed like it would make a great detective story for someone to write about with a massive heist taking place under the noses of the amazingly heavy contingent of police working at the shows.  I was told many, many years ago by the first gem dealer I ever worked with (who later became a friend despite our 40 year age difference at the time) that one of the reasons the gem show was held in Tucson was because the Mafia had a heavy presence there and so everyone thought it would be safer since they didn't want any incidents happening too close to home.  I never found out if it was a true story but it always sounded good.

The problem with going to Tucson is that there is just too much stuff out there to buy.  So when I would go out there I would inevitably go way over budget in my buying and then when I would get back my then partner would yell at me for spending so much money.  After a few years I gave up feeling it was better to work with all of the wonderful dealers I had hooked up with out there over the years.  And since then it became more important that I stick to dealers I knew because, as I have discussed in numerous other articles here, gem treatments became far more prolific and difficult to detect.  Working with dealers I knew were as concerned about this as I was became more and more important.  Fortunately I had developed a good list of dealers who thought I like do and proved to be great sources for my needs.

My primary stone suppliers are a couple who I actually met before I was going to Tucson as they are located about an hour from here.  They have been friends as well for most of that time peiod.   I actually think I may have first bought from them about 35 or 36 years ago.  Both of our businesses grew over time and they have an astounding quantity of quality gem materials.  Every year around this time I try to get up and actually see them so I can pick up some neat material to put out for the holiday season. (Most of the time I deal with them on the phone as they know exactly what type of material I am looking for and it really isn't necessary to get up to see them---and it isn't safe for them to travel to me with any quantity of stuff so it's easier if I just get up there to look at the entire collection.)

yellow clasp with brown stone with color streaks running throughout
18k and 22k gold clasp with a boulder opal
So I did get up there this past weekend to play around and see all the amazing stuff they have.  I brought back some extraordinary material to put out for the holidays which makes this a great time of year to come in and see me.  And as I often do, I'm going to offer a little bonus to get you in the shop to look.  Anyone who comes in and asks to see the ruby slice can have a $50 credit towards anything bought out of the case (this is only good as long as I have the stones in my possession which is usually just through New Year's).  And if you can pick out the most expensive stone I came back with (without any clues or hints) you can have a $150 credit towards anything bought out of the case.  (I'm highlighting bought out of the case as it can't be used towards custom work or repairs.)

So please come on by and take a look.  I'm always amazed by the stones I get to bring back with me and I think you will be too!  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What Gems Not to Wear in Engagement Rings (or No, No, No Emeralds in Engagement Rings Part 2)

yellow gold pendant with a tear drop shaped multicolor opal and green stone
22k and 18k gold boulder opal and tsavorite garnet pendant
I know.  I know.  It's been forever since I've written a new post.  Suffice it to say I've been a wee bit busy and a little distracted. But that doesn't mean I haven't been busy getting ready for the upcoming season.  Actually my cases are really well stocked right now so it's a great time to see some new stuff.  I've got a couple of pictures of new pieces here and I will be posting more shortly (I promise no more long delays between posts for awhile). 

I thought that for today I would review a topic in a much earlier post because it seems to get more comments and questions than any other posting and it seems that I haven't been able to get my point across clearly enough (at least given the questions I keep getting).  It has to do with what stones you can use in every day wear rings (like engagement rings).  You can view the original posting here or you can just read this one.

Simple ring with an emerald cut orange sapphire in a bezel setting
18k gold vibrant orange sapphire ring
Because of the supposed issue (which really is moot at this point but most people aren't aware of that) of conflict diamonds many people today want to stay away from diamonds for their engagement rings.   And frankly I'm not opposed to this as an idea because I love colored stones.  However there is a reason diamonds are such good engagement ring stones (besides the sparkle that is).  They are, quite simply, the most durable gem materials available today.  They aren't just a little more durable.  They are a LOT more durable.  It is just about impossible to scratch diamonds unless you are rubbing another diamond against them.  While diamonds can break (you can break any stone if you try hard enough), and they can chip over a long period of time, they simply do not get scratched and they are somewhat harder to chip then most other material. 

So what do you do if you want to stay away from diamonds (for whatever the reason)?  You go to sapphires or rubies.  Sapphires come in a plethora of colors (except for red because then they are called rubies) so you do actually have a good selection of colored stones to choose.  Sapphire is 9 on the hardness scale of 1-10 and only diamond is harder.  The hardness scale is a relative scale so while sapphire is 9 it is actually much softer then diamond.

All other gem materials are truly not hard enough to be worn on an every day basis.  Some of them are more durable than others but if you are looking for a gemstone that will represent a lifetime of marriage nothing else is going to work. 

Emeralds in particular are problematic.  While their scratch hardness on the Moh's scale is actually pretty high, they are almost always filled with inclusions that make them extremely fragile.  Now if you don't mind replacing them every few years that's fine but they aren't exactly a cheap stone.  And if you're looking for green stones, this is really going to be a problem for engagement rings as green sapphires, while available (and relatively inexpensive) are not the kind of green that emeralds occur in.  They tend towards a light yellowish lime green with blue overtones to them.  Tourmalines are also too soft for every day wear.  They don't break that easily but they do scratch.  I gave my wife a 10.26 ct. tourmaline in her engagement ring and we're down to 9.50 ct. because of how many times I have had to have it repolished and she has only used it as an occasional wear ring after the first couple of years that she had it. 

Chrysoberyls, which include alexandrite, are also fairly high on the Moh's scale but again they are not as durable as sapphires or diamonds.  Anything in the quartz family or softer (this includes things like amethyst, opals, citrine, etc.) are a real problem because there is so much quartz dust in the air that the stones can actually get scratched just from that.  Opals break very easily as well. Pearls are an organic substance and they scratch very easily and are also subject to cleaning chemicals and other substances that you come in contact with on a daily basis.   

So here's what I tell people:  If you don't mind replacing the stone every few years (or if you are one of the more careful people out there every 5-10 years) go ahead and get whatever you want. But if you are looking for a meaningful stone that will be still be with you at your 50th anniversary party stick to the diamonds, rubies and sapphires.  All of the other ones will be problematic.