All Things Jewelry

  • History + Characteritics of Blue Diamonds

     

    Blue diamonds, the rarest of rare A stunning example of blue diamonds, this stunning blue and white diamond wring is set in 18k white gold. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    This gorgeous wide band 18k white gold ring features a jaw-dropping 1.6 carat natural blue diamond. Surrounded by stunning emerald-cut and round brilliant white diamonds, the blue diamond just pops on this ring. Talk about the rarest of the rare, a blue diamond is perhaps one of the rarest precious gemstones on earth.

    I wanted to write about blue diamonds after browsing the lots of Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction. The top-grossing lot in this sale, a gorgeous blue diamond ring also mounted in 18k white gold, especially caught my attention.

    A Rare and Important Blue Diamond

    Realizing an astonishing $13.8 million, the Ai Diamond in Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale was a rare and important Vivid Blue and white diamond ring. Weighing an astonishing 5 carats, The Ai Diamond radiates with VS2 clarity. The GIA released a special monograph for this diamond, stating that the Ai Diamond is “saturated with the color of wisdom, harmony, and truth…”

    Natural blue diamonds are rarer than rare. Only one diamond in every 10,000 white diamonds found are colored. And only a very small portion of those colored diamonds are blue. In fact, Nature published a study reporting that only 1 in about every 200,000 diamonds have any blue tint. {source} The deeper the blue, the rarer the stone. Hence, the extraordinary price realized for this magnificent jewel.

    Mysterious Boron

    Blue diamonds derive their color from trapped particles of boron in their carbon structure. Boron absorbs yellow light from the spectrum, allowing the color blue to radiate out from the stone.

    The boron found in blue diamonds has baffled scientists until recently. Boron is decidedly a crustal element, found primarily in the earth’s crust and rarely in the mantle. However, diamonds form deep within the earth’s depths, around 100 miles below the mantle. Furthermore, blue diamonds form even deeper down, as deep as 410 miles below the mantle.

    How Does the Boron Get Down There?

    The study published in Nature reports that the Earth's recycling habits drive boron down deep enough for a blue diamond to form. When two tectonic plates grind together, one pushes the other beneath it. The force at which this occurs drives crustal elements down into the mantle, sometimes as deep as the 400 miles required for forming blue diamonds.

    Once these crustal elements find their way into the mantle, the earth recycles and reuses them to create new materials that later shoot back up to the surface by way of volcanic or tectonic ruptures. Perhaps it would be better to call this upcycling - most certainly a blue diamond proves an upgrade from a bit of carbon and boron!

    Let us help you upgrade your jewelry case! Give us a call to add this gorgeous blue diamond ring to your collection.

  • The Key Features of Art Deco Engagement Rings


    Art Deco Engagement Rings Old Cut Diamond w/ Colored Accents Art Deco Engagement Rings never go out of style. This ring features an Old Euro Cut Diamond with Colored Accents. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Art Deco engagement rings continue capturing the eye of brides everywhere. From celebrities to models, from businesswomen to housewives, women from every walk of life are captivated by Art Deco style.

    This magnificent Art Deco engagement ring features an exquisite 1.68 carat old European cut central diamond. The diamond grades J in color and VVS2 in clarity. Its sparkle is breathtaking.

    Crafted of platinum, this antique ring features 14 single cut diamonds and 14 lab created blue sapphires set in amazing floral filigree. This ring epitomizes the key features of Art Deco engagement rings.

     

    The Art Deco Period

    Art Deco describes the design aesthetic of the period between 1920 and 1935. This design style emphasizes the marriage between art and modern industry.

    It represents a departure from natural lines and organic muses, such as flowers, fairies, and fauna. Instead, designers drew inspiration from modern inventions and archeological discoveries.

    Such inventions included the steamship, airplanes, steam engines, and automobiles. Archaeological discoveries included ancient Egyptian relics, as well as Central American and African tribal art motifs. In particular, these archaeological discoveries introduced an infatuation with geometric shapes for both gemstones and filigree designs.

    In addition, Art Deco artists found inspiration in Oriental artwork, as well as in Cubism and Fauvism. These artistic approaches further encouraged the use of geometric lines and designs.

     

    Art Deco Engagement Rings

    Drawing upon these same influences, jewelry designers fashioned numerous Art Deco engagement rings in keeping with these aesthetic principles. In the medium of metals and gemstones, a few key characteristics stand out for engagement rings made during this period.

    Platinum and white gold, platinum in particular, proved itself superior to yellow gold for Art Deco jewelry. For one thing, it is stronger than yellow gold. The intricacies of filigree and other delicate metalwork held up better in platinum. Platinum withstood the impact of daily wear better than yellow gold with these delicate designs.

    In addition, a new supply of platinum, discovered in South Africa in 1924, allowed jewelers to continue feeding the demand for platinum jewelry. For centuries, royals around the world preferred the contrast of white metals and diamonds to the warmer yellow gold.

    Of course, yellow gold found favor in some royal courts. However, by Edwardian times, platinum was the metal of choice. It remained so for many more years following.

    Today, platinum continues to shine as the metal of choice for many brides. This is not surprising, as not only does platinum retain its beauty and shine day after day, but it is lightweight and extremely durable.

    Perhaps you are in the market for an Art Deco engagement ring. If so, we offer a few pointers for ensuring that your engagement ring is an authentic antique from the 1920s or 1930s.

     

    Tips for Choosing Art Deco Engagement Rings

    1. True Art Deco engagement rings are fashioned from platinum or white gold.
    2. In its natural state, white gold from the 1920s appears grayish, as opposed to yellowish in tone.
    3. Art Deco settings include intricate filigree and other designs etched directly into the metal.
    4. Designs will be geometric with symmetry and clean lines.
    5. Central stones are primarily diamonds cut in Old Euro, cushion, Asscher, or transitional cuts.
    6. Many designs include smaller colored gemstones, primarily blue sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.
    7. These smaller gemstones may be synthetic without detracting from the value. This is the only period in which synthetic accent stones are fairly equal in value to their natural counterparts.
    8. Accent stones are cut in specialized geometric shapes, particularly calibre-cut, baguette, trapeze, half moon, and triangular.
    9. Jewelers often set accent stones in channels so they would essentially sit right next to each other, creating a seamless, mosaic design aesthetic.
    10. In this fashion, gemstones created the outlines and contrast for beautiful and intricate geometric designs.
    11. Certain semi-precious stones grew in popularity during the Art Deco period, including black onyx, coral, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and jade.
    12. Art Deco motifs included Egyptian symbols, lotus blossoms, Mughal carvings, Chinese dragons, Parisian arabesques, and more.

    If you desire more help in choosing an Art Deco engagement ring, we welcome you to visit our Bellevue showroom. Just give us a call to make an appointment.

  • History + Characteristics of Palladium


    1930's Art Deco Old Euro Cut Diamond Engagement Ring Palladium 1930's Art Deco Palladium Engagement Ring. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Palladium is a noble metal in the same family as platinum. Though it was discovered in 1802, by the chemist William Hyde Wollaston, he did not take credit for the discovery until several years later.

     

    Palladium History

    In July 1802, Wollaston made note of his discovery in his journal. The following month, he named the metal after the asteroid Pallas which was discovered in March that year.

    Wollaston's discovery began with crude platinum unearthed in South America. Upon arriving at his lab, Wollaston dissolved the ore in aqua regia, following which he neutralized the solution with sodium hydroxide.

    He continued the process of separating the different metals within the ore. Finally, he added mercuric cyanide to form palladium cyanide. When heated, pure palladium separates completely.

    Surprisingly, Wollaston introduced this new metal in a strange way. He made arrangements with a London mineral dealer to offer a quantity of the metal for sale. To advertise the metal, Wollaston circulated anonymous handbills describing the metals unique properties.

    This unprecedented approach brought suspicion from other prominent chemists. One, Richard Chenevix, proclaimed the metal to be an alloy of platinum and mercury.

    Once again choosing to remain anonymous, Wollaston offered a reward of 20 guineas to anyone who could produce synthetic palladium. No one came forward to claim the reward.

    Finally, in 1805, Wollaston spoke about the process of isolating the noble metal, as well as illuminating its unique properties. He saved his big reveal for the end of his presentation, surprising everyone with the news that he was the anonymous discoverer of the metal.

     

    Palladium Sources and Uses

    Generally this noble metal forms in the same zones as nickel, copper, silver, gold, and platinum. Considered a byproduct of these metals, it's actually rarer even than its cousin platinum.

    The most abundant source throughout history has been Russia. However, it is also found in Montana (USA), Ontario (Canada), South Africa, South America, and Australia. Today, Canada and South Africa provide most of the commercial-grade palladium.

    Obviously, its used as an alloy for making fine jewelry. However, its primary commercial application is the manufacture of catalytic converters. In fact, as palladium grows scarcer, recycling will emerge as a primary source for all uses.

    As the price of gold and platinum rise, and as the availability of platinum declines, palladium has experienced a revival in Chinese jewelry in particular. A lustrous white metal, it holds up beautifully under the rigors of daily wear.

    In recent years, palladium received its status as a precious metal. In 2009, the industry agreed upon a new hallmark for it. Stamped with the number 950, the hallmark bears the head of Pallas Athena to distinguish it from platinum.

    We would love to show you our selection of palladium jewelry. Please give us a call to schedule an appointment with a member of our team.

  • Womens Shelter Jewelry Project Sponsored by Seattle Metals Guild

     

    Donate Your Extra Jewelry to Womens Shelter Project Do you have some extra jewels taking up space in your jewelry box? Consider donating your extra jewelry to the Womens Shelter Project.

     

    On November 11th, Micki Lippe of the Seattle Metals Guild will host a sorting party in her home for the Women’s Shelter Project. Guests at this special party will spend several hours sorting through donated jewelry from around Puget Sound. These jewels will be sorted by type, by value, and by state of repair.

    Those jewels of high value will be set aside for the Women's Shelter Project public sale scheduled for next year. Those in need of repair will go home with jewelers who will donate their time to fix them. Most of the jewels, however, will be sent to local domestic violence shelters, as well as to the Dress for Success program.

    Womens Shelter Project

    The Womens Shelter Project sprang from Micki’s desire to use her time and talents to provide support to women in her community. “I’ve had friends who have been abused. This is something I’ve always had empathy for,” Micki told the Seattle Times.

    After more than 20 years doing this, Micki Lippe continues to find joy in giving back to her community through the Womens Shelter Project. At the shelters, a woman might receive a jewel on their birthday. Shelter staff may also help her children wrap a jewel to give her for Mother’s Day. Additionally, a woman may need a brooch or necklace to dress up her interview outfit.

    Certainly, many occasions arise in which jewelry makes the perfect gift, an unexpected luxury in a life otherwise marked by pain and difficulty. “This is the best recycling you could ever do,” Micki says. {source}

    In addition, the proceeds from the annual sale of antique, vintage, and other high-value jewels provide unrestricted grants for a few select programs. This year, the Women's Shelter Project sale raised $15,000 for several local shelters.

    Undoubtedly, the sorting days are busy and many hands make light work. However, Micki told me that what project really needs is more donations and more donation drop-off points.

     

    How to Donate Your Jewelry

    Every woman's jewelry box holds untouched jewels in its dark recesses. Perhaps her heirloom jewels hide there in the dark. Those should stay put.

    However, what about those earrings her former mother-in-law gave her? You know, the ones she forgot about and never thinks to wear any. Maybe they never fit her style. Or maybe they bring up painful memories.

    If you own jewels lingering in the back of your jewelry box, consider donating them to the project. Embarking upon its third decade, the Womens Shelter Project now provides donation sites around King and Kitsap Counties. The Project continually seeks donations and more places to set up donation drop off boxes.

    For more information about donating your jewels or providing a permanent drop off point in the Puget Sound area, reach out to Micki. Find her contact information on the Seattle Metals Guild website.

  • History + Characteristics of Paraiba Tourmaline

    GIA Certified 6 Carat Paraiba Tourmaline Ring

    GIA Certified 6 Carat Paraiba Tourmaline Ring. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    This exquisite ring is set cathedral style in platinum and features a gorgeous paraiba tourmaline. A halo of diamonds surrounds the electric blue stone. The cathedral and shoulders feature accent diamonds, as well.

    The stone features a cut cornered rectangular mixed cut gemstone. The GIA certified stone is a Paraiba tourmaline weighing 6 carats.

     

    History of Paraiba Tourmaline

    First discovered in the 1980s, paraiba tourmaline is primarily associated with the State of Paraiba in Brazil. For many years Hector Dimas Barbosa followed a hunch. Digging hole after hole in the hills of Paraiba, he knew he would eventually find something different.

    Eight years later, friends of his unearthed a handful of exquisite tourmalines in shades never before seen. Unfortunately, Barbosa missed the discovery.

    He stayed home that day, recovering from an illness. Though he certainly lamented missing the first glimpses, he no doubt swelled with pride at the news. He never gave up, and he found what he was looking for even though no one else had ever seen it before.

     

    Paraiaba Tourmaline Sources

    For a time, paraiba tourmaline was found only in the State of Paraiba. That vein lasted about five years before the stampede of excavators depleted the hills of the gorgeous gemstone.

    At some time, shortly after Barbosa’s discovery, miners discovered a cache of similar tourmaline in Rio Grande do Norte, a Brazilian state adjacent to Paraiba. Eventually, these unique tourmalines showed up in a few other places, including Mozambique and Nigeria.

    Geologists propose that these discoveries in these seemingly distant places is not surprising. Much evidence exists that at one time South America and Africa belonged to the same continent.

     

    The Unique Properties of Paraiba Tourmaline

    That being said, certain but subtle differences exist between the tourmaline found in Brazil and the tourmaline found in Africa. Nonetheless, the industry calls all of it paraiba tourmaline.

    The classification results from the significant unique properties that separate paraiba tourmaline from other tourmaline species. The most significant difference is the color.

    Most species of tourmaline come in a variety of colors, including red, pink, violet, blue, yellowish green, green, and more. Paraiba tourmaline also comes in hues of green, blue, and violet. However, the saturation of color in paraiba is second to none. In fact, most paraiba tourmaline appears to glow from within, radiating in almost neon green, blue, and violet.

    The chemical component responsible for this almost unworldly color saturation is copper, sometimes paired with manganese. Paraiba tourmaline is the only tourmaline with copper intrusion in the crystal structure.

    Copper is responsible for the startling blues and greens, while copper with manganese causes violet and reddish tones. The higher the concentration of copper intrusion, the more vivid the colors paraiba radiates.

     

    A Classification Debate

    With the influx of paraiba from Africa, experts continue debating over the classification of copper tourmalines. Some feel that the name paraiba should remain exclusive to those from the eponymous state in Brazil.

    Others, however, argue that all copper tourmalines should be called paraiba. These experts base their position primarily on the fact the chemistry of the stones from all locations is essentially identical.

    Furthermore, although the tectonic plates shifted away from each other millions of years ago, the veins in Africa and Brazil are likely one and the same.

    In February of 2006, at the International Gemstone Industry Laboratory Conference, industry leaders declared paraiba tourmaline as a label for copper tourmaline varieties, regardless of origin. A couple months later, the International Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee agreed to accept this new definition of terms.

    Hence, most international gemological laboratories label all copper-bearing tourmaline as paraiba, regardless of whether it came from Brazil or Africa. While some frown upon this adoption, for the most part the industry celebrates the influx of more of this scintillating tourmaline variety.

  • History of the Fantasy Cut

    Fantasy Cut Aquamarine & Diamond Pendant by Anthony Gerard

    Fantasy Cut Aquamarine pendant with diamonds and yellow gold. By Bernd Munsteiner. Click here for details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Magnificence is the perfect word for Fantasy Cut gemstones. This spectacular 11.30 carat aquamarine was hand cut by the father of the Fantasy Cut, Bernd Munsteiner.

     

    Bernd Munsteiner

    Raised in the gemcutting capital of the world, Idar-Oberstein, Bernd Munsteiner learned the intricate techniques and time-honored principles of faceting gemstones. However, at a time when tradition came under fire in every other aspect of life, Munsteiner turned the traditions of gemcutting on their head.

    Rather than polishing away the natural rough or cutting along standard lines and forms, Munsteiner looked at stones in a completely different way. Instead of maximizing carat weight and cutting along ideal patterns, he played with the light and made his cuts on the backside of his gems.

    These negative cuts, sometimes deep slices into the gemstone, opened up a whole new world of light play within the stones. His geometric wonders transcended the boundaries of fine jewelry, catapulting his new cuts into the realm of sculpture and art.

     

    The Fantasy Cut Receives Mixed Reviews

    At first, Munsteiner's Free Cuts met with disdain in the industry. This did not prevent some of his fellow artisans from learning the techniques he devised. Dieter Lorenz, John Dyer, Michael Dyber, and others followed in Munsteiner's footsteps.

    Of course, the establishment rejected this new approach to gemcutting, the first new technique to emerge since the Middle Ages. However, the trade publications chose to include these emerging artists and their jewelry in their pages. Circulating internationally, these trade journals launched the Fantasy Cut into popular demand.  Today, these exquisite works of art have been purchased by collectors, dealers, jewelers, and even museums.

  • Beautiful Cats Eye Chrysoberyl


    Vintage Mens Cats Eye Chrysoberyl Ring 18K Gold Vintage Mens Cats Eye Chrysoberyl Ring 18K Gold. Click here for details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry

     

    This handsome vintage mens ring features a stunning 7.6 carat cats eye chrysoberyl. In 1789, geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner discovered the semi-precious gemstone chrysoberyl. An aluminate of beryllium, chrysoberyl comes in several popular varieties, including alexandrite and cats eye chrysoberyl.

     

    Cats Eye Chrysoberyl

    While the primary chemical formulation of cats eye chrysoberyl remains aluminate of beryllium, inside the crystal lattice rests an uncommon inclusion. The included material, called rutile, is titanium dioxide. Under a microscope it looks like needle-like crystals of a reddish-brown color.

    When bands of these needle-like crystals, sometimes referred to as "silk," form parallel to the C-axis, gemcutters can maximize this inclusion to create a very special effect called chatoyancy.

    Chatoyancy occurs when a gemstone with silk parallel to the c-axis is cut in cabochon, with the cuts made perpendicular to the c-axis. This results in a shifting band of light which bisects the stone across the center. This band of light shifts as the stone moves from side to side. Looking straight on, it looks just like the slits a cat's eyes form. Thus, the term chatoyancy, a word combination involving two French words: chat and oeil. Chat means cat, and oeil means eye.

    When used by itself in the industry, the term cats eye always refers to its chrysoberyl form. Other stones must be labeled with what they are, such as aquamarine, topaz, etc.

     

    Other Cats Eye Stones

    As mentioned before, chrysoberyl is not the only gemstone that can be cut en cabochon to reveal a cats eye. Tiger's eye, perhaps the other most famous type of cats eye stone, is a yellowish-brown variety of quartz in which chalcedony replaces the crocidolite in the crystal structure. Tiger's eye and chrysoberyl cats eye are the most popular cats eye gemstones.

    In addition to these, cats eyes emerge in moonstone, apatite, quartz, tourmaline, topaz, and spinel. They also show up in more valuable semiprecious stones, such as garnet, aquamarine, and peridot. Sapphires are another stone in which the rutile bands can be found. Typically, blue sapphires and rubies display another form of light play called asterism. In layman's terms, a star sapphire.

     

    The Rarity of Cats Eye Chrysoberyl

    Chrysoberyl surfaces primarily in Brazil, India, China, and Zimbabwe. Wherever chrysoberyl resides, cats eye chrysoberyl may coexist. However, chatoyant stones comprise only a small percentage of total chrysoberyl extractions.

    Early on in the stone's discovery, Sri Lanka proved a hearty source of many precious and semi-precious gemstones, including cats eye chrysoberyl. Indeed, it proved the source of the largest cats eye, weighing over 700 carats. Miners discovered the stone on the estate belonging to The Grand Lady Iddamalgoda Kumarihamy.

    The Grand Lady gifted the massive uncut stone to her eldest daughter's husband. He, in turn, gave it to his eldest son, whom The Grand Lady adopted as her heir. Upon reaching adulthood, her grandson assumed the position of Dissawa, or Governor, of Sri Lanka.

    In 1930, the Dissawa invited a famous gemcutter from the region of Ratnapura to come to his home. With the Dissawa presiding over the planning and cutting of the stone, this gemcutter shaved off nearly 300 carats to shape it into a spectacular 465-carat cabochon. The Smithsonian calls the gem, called The Eye of the Lion, the world's largest cats eye chrysoberyl.

    Though the Smithsonian hopes one day to house the stone in its collection, today experts believe the Eye of the Lion belongs to a gemstone dealer based in Bangkok. {source}

     

    Key Qualities of Cats Eye Cabochons

    Looking to purchase a cats eye jewel?

    We recommend working exclusively with a reputable dealer who clearly defines their terms and uses the appropriate labels for their different cats eye gemstones.

    In addition, we recommend you choose a cats eye cabochon that, in the very least, demonstrates a clear band (or sometimes a square) of light that moves smoothly across the surface as the stone rotates. In a superior cats eye, this band of light should bisect the cabochon symmetrically and contrast sharply with the rest of the stone's body color.

    Chrysoberyl comes in various shades of green, yellow, brown, and red. Finally, when shopping for cats eye chrysoberyl, we advise you choose stones with superior color saturation.

    In addition to this striking vintage cats eye ring, we carry a lovely selection of mens and womens rings with cats eye chrysoberyl, including cats eye apatite, cats eye tourmaline, and even a cats eye emerald. Call today to shop with us for your cats eye ring.

  • The Lab-Created Ruby on The Jeweler's Bench

     

    Lab-Created Ruby Cocktail Ring by Tenthio This gorgeous Tenthio cocktail ring features a striking oval-cut lab-created ruby. It also features natural and synthetic diamond accent stones. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    This designer cocktail ring, featuring a gorgeous lab-created ruby, resembles a budding flower. Golden petals trimmed in natural and lab-created diamonds nestle against each other to form a tight bud. Embedded in their midst is a 1.3 carat created ruby.

     

    Synthetic vs. Lab-Created Ruby

    Synthetic rubies are chemically discrete from natural rubies. They are most often made out of glass, but can also be made from resin, plastic, ceramic, or other materials. Rarely will you see an imitation ruby at a fine jewelry store, unless it is incorporated as an original part of an antique. A reputable jeweler labels all imitation rubies as such, using terms like imitation, synthetic, or glass.

    A lab-created ruby, on the other hand, is chemically identical to a natural ruby mined from the earth. It has the same chemical, optical, and physical properties of a natural ruby. As long as they are properly labeled, lab-crated rubies are definitely a purchase worth considering.

    As their name implies, created rubies grow in a laboratory setting. Today, gemstone chemists continue to use the historical flame fusion process discovered in the late 1800s by Auguste-Victor-Louis Verneuil.

     

    History of the Lab-Created Ruby

    Scientists first attempted to create rubies in the early 1800s. Rubies proved rare, and when found they rarely exceeded 3 carats in size. Industry demanded a greater supply, particularly as microabrasives and for jeweled watch bearings.

    The French chemist, Edmond Fremy, reached success first with his huge fireclay crucibles. A mixture of alum, red lead, silica, and potassium dichromate reached temperatures referred to as "red heat" in these crucibles. When held at this high temperature for 20 days, the result yielded small, brittle, but perfectly formed rubies identical to naturally mined rubies.

    Verneuil, who began as Fremy's lab assistant, carried on with the crucible experiments, eventually forming created rubies the size of a nail head. While one jeweler successfully mounted a few of these created rubies into a brooch, and others used them in watches, their small size rendered their use limited in the jewelry industry.

    Eventually, Verneuil discovered Geneva rubies. In 1885, an influx of large jewel-grade rubies hit the market. These rubies appeared to be high-quality stones of rare large carat size. They sold for thousands of dollars per carat.

    However, under microscopic scrutiny, these rubies contained minute opaque spheres, gas bubbles which formed during some sort of melting or fusion process. The French Syndicate for Diamonds and Precious Stones declared them "artificial." They forbid jewelers from selling them as natural and forced those who had already sold them to refund their customers' money. The source of these Geneva rubies remains a mystery to this day.

     

    Flame Fusion

    While the Geneva rubies caused a fuss for many jewelers, Verneuil studied these manufactured gemstones, looking for a new approach to creating rubies. Using a hydrogen-oxygen or gas-oxygen mixture, Verneuil began using blowtorches to apply flame heat directly to a ruby "feed" made from aluminum oxide.

    Over the next 15 years, Verneuil continued to perfect his technique, creating several means for controlling flow of the feed and gas mixtures, as well as timing for removing the heat. Finally, in 1902, he published his perfected flame fusion method for creating rubies. This method remains the favored method for creating rubies, as I mentioned before.

    In two hours, a lab assistant created a 15-carat boule which could be cut into several faceted rubies. A flame fusion-created ruby possessed identical chemical and optical properties as a natural ruby. The only differences were physical, visible only at the microscopic level. Indeed, they were almost too perfect, lacking the usual inclusions of their natural cousins.

     

    Benefits of Lab-Created Rubies

    Lab-created rubies offer the jewelry connoisseur several benefits. For one, they come at a lower price point than natural rubies. Yet, they radiate with gorgeous color and beautiful shine in the same way as natural rubies.

    As such, lab-created rubies are the perfect choice for traveling. Travelers often leave their authentic jewels at home, locked away in their safe, while out of the country. But perhaps you wish to travel in style. In that case, we urge you to travel with your lab-created ruby jewelry. That way, you can shimmer and shine as usual without as much fear of loss.

    Finally, creating rubies in a lab leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Manufacturing rubies in a lab uses far less natural and manmade resources than mining rubies does.

    Here at EraGem, we have a handful of lab-created ruby (and other sapphire) jewels we would love to show you. We welcome your call and look forward to hosting you in our showroom very soon.

  • Characteristics of Parti Sapphires

    Parti Sapphire engagement ring A gorgeous Parti Sapphire engagement ring which creates a butterfly pattern. For more details, click here. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry.

     

    Parti sapphires comprise a gorgeous and rare class of corundum. All sapphires belong to the corundum family, a class of gemstones comprised primarily of aluminum and oxygen (aluminum oxide). Parti sapphires include traces of iron and titanium to produce exquisite zones of colors in the same stone.

     

    Sapphire Characteristics

    In its purest state corundum appears clear white, like a diamond. In fact, at one time pure corundum posed as diamonds in jewelry. However, the rarity of the pure white stone forced jewelers to seek other options for diamond alternatives.

    Corundum is a hard gemstone, rating a 9 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. All sapphires, whether blue, green, yellow, red, or pink, belong to the corundum family. Consequently, all sapphires lend themselves to daily wear. Their hardness protects them from harm throughout most of an ordinary day. Sapphires can be worn every day, as long as they are removed before engaging in heavy work, like gardening, welding, or construction.

    Another bonus of sapphires is that they come in almost every color of the rainbow. Although blue and red/pink (ruby) sapphires are the most popular engagement ring stones, colored gemstone engagement rings are growing in popularity.

    Depending on your preference, you could choose a green, yellow, or even a violet sapphire. You could also choose among two types of very special sapphires - the color change sapphires and the parti sapphires.

    Color change sapphires will appear one color in dim lighting and another color entirely in bright light.

     

    Parti Sapphires

    Unlike color change sapphires, parti sapphires do not change color in different light. They actually display different colors in different regions of the stone, under all light. Deep in the earth, as the corundum forms, different trace minerals infiltrate the crystal structure in distinct zones.

    These trace minerals create areas of differing colors, most particularly regions of green, blue, and/or yellow. Most parti sapphires display two colors. However, some of these special sapphires display three different color zones.

    These exceptional sapphires primarily come from Australia, though they have also been found in Nigeria, Madagascar, and Tanzania. The rarity of parti sapphires endows them with exceptional value. Typically, the brighter the color zones, the higher the price per carat.

    Usually, parti sapphires radiate in yellows and blues. The most unusual parti sapphire is called Pharaoh's Eye, a blue crystal with a yellow core.

    In light of their unusual color zones, gem cutters typically cut parti sapphires to enhance the color, rather than to preserve carat weight. This can result in unusual cuts with some deviations from the uniform cuts associated with more typical sapphires. Rarely will parti stones be free of inclusions, therefore clarity does not play as large a role in determining value as it does for, say, a diamond.

     

    What's In the Color?

    As mentioned above, parti sapphires, like all sapphires, obtain their colors from the intrusion of trace minerals. Zones colored yellow or yellow-brown contain trace amounts of only iron. Those with blue zones contain titanium with very scant traces of iron. On the other hand, those with titanium and higher traces of iron appear green.

    The parti sapphire engagement ring pictured above contains zones of deep blue (with a hint of green) and an almost brownish-yellow. The gemstone cutter capitalized on the placement of these color zones to create an enchanting butterfly effect when the light catches the facets.

    This beautiful ring can be yours. Simply give us a call and make an appointment to visit our Bellevue showroom.

  • Art Deco Engagement Ring Characteristics


    Art Deco Engagement Ring Old Euro Diamond w/ Sapphires Platinum

    Art Deco jewelry dates from 1920 to 1935 and represents the transition away from Art Nouveau and Edwardian styles. Whereas artists working in the previous styles imitated nature's sinuous curves, Art Deco designers emphasized the sleek geometric lines of modern industry.

     

    Three Spectacular Art Deco Engagement Rings

    In this post, we feature three gorgeous engagement rings that characterize the Art Deco style. To begin with, the ring pictured above features a central old Euro cut diamond set in solid platinum. A concave square frame surrounds the stone, with smaller diamonds set in triplicate between two bezel set diamonds on each corner.

    The shank features three single cut diamonds and three channel set calibre' French cut blue sapphires. The lines of the shank and shoulders are stunning in their geometrical renderings. The top and sides of the shank feature engraved wheat motifs. For more information about this stunning engagement ring, click here.

    Art Deco Jewelry

    Jewelry from the Art Deco period features the following characteristics:

    • Geometrical shapes
    • Large central diamonds - Old Euro, Asscher, transitional, cushion cuts
    • Precious stones as accents
    • Combining precious with semi-precious gemstones
    • Platinum or white gold only (no yellow gold)
    • Hand-carved, then later die-cut filigree
    • Wheat motifs
    • Clean, symmetrical or parallel lines
    • Vibrant, colorful designs with bold lines
    • The use of synthetic emeralds and blue sapphires
    • Motifs inspired by India, Persia, Central America, and Egypt

     

    Art Deco Engagement Ring 1.5 Carat Transitional Cut Diamond w/ Sapphires

    An Intricate Transition Ring

    This gorgeous Art Deco engagement ring features a central transitional cut diamond which sparkles with intense fire in the sunlight. The intricacy of this ring's mount demonstrates a transition from the Edwardian style into the Art Deco style of the early 1920s.

    Four old Euro cut diamonds and 20 French cut synthetic sapphires surround the central stone. Synthetic sapphires were wildly popular during the Art Deco period, as chemists refined new formulas and processes for creating them during this time. These stones are channel set, in keeping with the usual technique of the period.

    The platinum shoulders feature a pierced design accented by three single cut diamonds. The upper portions of the shanks are engraved with wheat motifs. For more information about this magnificent ring, click here.

     

    Art Deco Engagement Ring Characteristics

    Art Deco engagement ring features demonstrate distinctive characteristics. First of all, they typically feature a larger central stone surrounded by smaller accent stones. Usually, the central stone is either an Old Euro, a cushion-cut, or a transitional diamond.

    Jewelry designers typically paired these larger central stones with geometrically shaped accents of emerald, blue sapphire, or rubies. With the advent of synthetic emeralds and blue sapphires during this period, designers often chose to include synthetic colored stones instead of genuine stones. This is one of the only periods in history in which these synthetic stones do not detract from the value of the ring.

    Of course, the geometrical Art Deco aesthetic demanded new cuts for these accent stones. Parallel lines and geometric channels required novel shapes to fill the spaces between. Therefore, Art Deco artisans invented new accent cuts, including triangular, trapeze, and half-moon cuts. As a whole, the practice of cutting a stone to fit the design is called calibré cut. French cut diamonds and gemstones also suited the purposes nicely for outlining design contours, lining edges, or flanking larger diamonds.

    The platinum or white gold settings of Art Deco engagement rings feature intricate filigree carvings. Early designs are hand carved. However, later filigree was made using innovative die-cut machines.

    As a result, the filigree of the late 1920s and early 1930s appears stark, with cleanly stamped edges. In contrast, late 20th century filigree appears less precise, as a result of the wax molds used in modern replicas.

     

    Art Deco Filigree Engagement Ring 2 Carat Diamond GIA H/VS2

    Another Gorgeous Gap-Year Design

    Our final Art Deco engagement ring features characteristics of both the Edwardian and Art Deco styles. The Edwardian period spanned the years between 1901 and 1915.

    While most experts date the beginning of Art Deco at 1920, an obvious gap of about 5 years lies in between the two styles. During this time, the styles overlapped and morphed before transitioning from distinctly Edwardian to distinctly Art Deco. We think this ring may have been crafted during those gap years.

    Set in the usual Art Deco platinum, this ring features the characteristic wheat grass etched on its shoulders. The ring features a 2-carat transitional stone, also characteristic of Art Deco style. In addition, the face of the ring demonstrates the intricate die-cut filigree work characteristic of the Art Deco style.

    On the other hand, the rounded curves and elaborate faces of the ring are definitely Edwardian in character. While decorated in filigree, the sinuous curves and rounded diamond accent stones clearly represent a contrast to the stark geometric angles and lines of the Art Deco designs which would become popular in a few years.

    Also, the absence of colored accent stones lends this ring a more delicate elegance, as opposed to the bold sophistication of later Art Deco designs. For more information about this gorgeous ring, click here.

     

    At EraGem, we hold a particular fondness for Art Deco engagement rings. Besides these three stunning beauties, we offer nearly 200 more Art Deco rings for you to choose from. Call us today to make an appointment to choose your very own Art Deco engagement ring.

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