Tag Archive | sapphire

Call it what you will

We’re all used to the majority of gems being called by their name:
Diamond is diamond;

Opal is opal;

Turquoise is turquoise;

Even in it’s many different colours Topaz is still Topaz.

Emerald is emerald…well actually it’s Beryl…as is Morganite, Aquamarine, Heliodore and Goshenite!  What distinguishes each of these is the colour that the gem comes in (green, pink, pale blue, yellow and colourless respectively).

Ruby, well that’s actually a form of Corundum, called Ruby only when it is red, when it is pinky orange it is called Padparadscha.  All other colours of Corundum are called sapphires so you can find all kinds of sapphires, such as the green one below.

 

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Green sapphire

 

Tourmaline comes in a variety of colours and several of these have particular names too.  When it is red/pink it is Rubellite, green is Verdelite, blue is the fabulous Indicolite and colourless is Achroite.

Tanzanite is a form of zoisite, Morganite is a Beryl and they were both named by Tiffany and Co.

Amazonite is a type of Feldspar, as is Labradorite.  Incidentally Feldspar is the most prolific mineral in the Earth’s continental crust and can be found on Mars!  This is a good example of two types of mineral which are chemically related but clearly very different.

Quartz (the second most abundant mineral behind Feldspar) has another wide variation in colour, and many names or nicknames to go with it.  From the yellow citrine, to stunning purple amethyst (and of course the incredible ametrine is therefore part of this family).

Another variation is green quartz, sometimes referred to as green amethyst although if we were going to be strict about it that’s not it’s real name!  So we are going to go with the official Prasiolite, and here’s an example:

 

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However the quartz pseudonyms don’t stop there, even more strangely Chalcedony (see ring below), Agate, Onyx, Jasper, Tigers Eye, Aventurine and Carnelian are all types of quartz that you might not guess from the name!

 

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Blue Chalcedony

 

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Smokey Quartz

 

Of course the feminine pink of rose quartz to the stunning brown hues of smokey quartz (ring above) and the fascinating Rutilated Quartz are also, more obviously part of the family.

Another slight confusion may arise when considering the names of gems in that often the gem quality variation of a type of mineral has a different name to the non-gem form, Csarite/Diaspore, Peridot/Olivine and Iolite/Cordierite by way of example.

 

Call them what you will, they’re all beautiful to us!

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Through the Loupe with…JEMS Jewellery

The next installment of our Through the Loupe series has arrived, this month we’re going through the loupe with Jem from JEMS Jewellery.

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Tell us a bit about the jewellery you design

JEMS jewellery is inspired by a few things; the moments when we reminisce, the British stereotype we have as a country, and the rituals we proudly claim as a nation. Remember when the Olympics came to London? I loved the opening ceremony where the teams march in holding an umbrella with their countries names on, fantastically stereotypically British!

British ritual: I have fond memories of my past, doing bonkers things like going to the seaside with my mum and a brolly, to stand there with some fish and chips in the rain….because we did this every August, it was never questioned. I think the coast holds a romantic notion of childhood we all love to remember, and I try and capture this in the work. My designs are clean and simple, recognisable and fun. The rule tends to be if it doesn’t make me giggle at the bench peg, it’s not a JEMS design!

How did you get into jewellery designing?

Jewellery is very important to me, I wear it every day, I never take it off; it is my identity. I have a spider necklace named Boris that I have worn for over 10 years, he is my lucky spider.  [Ok as a spider hater this is something we have to see – we’ll be in touch to discuss this….]

Designing jewellery: I can trace it right back to my school days, when I left high school I was offered a ‘Summer School Experience’ by Bradford University. It was a week of doing all sorts of topics, from bone studies to class blowing. I enjoyed two classes the most, Glass blowing and jewellery making. The jewellery making was simply twisting silver plated wire around a metal bracelet frame and putting beads on it, but I loved every moment.

I can trace a love of jewellery even further back, when I was a toddler I wore plastic silver toy jewellery. I find it amazing that I was loving my silver even as a small child.

 

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Officially the cutest picture we have featured on this blog to date!

 

Do you make your own jewellery, or do you have help?

I mostly make all of my own at my workshop, however I outsource to other business local and national. These business have the skills and machinery I do not own such as mould making, lost wax casting and metal spinning. It is good to support other business, I believe heavily in business karma.

[As do we!!  That’s a great use of resources, such a good idea because it must give you the flexibility to access methods and tools that you just couldn’t manage otherwise.]

What are your influences?

This is a hard one, you may as well ask what doesn’t influence me! I am a bit of a sponge, I soak things up wherever I go.  The farm outside my window seems to be a big influence at the mo. I love Yorkshire Sculpture Park, I often go there to sketch. I was once inspired greatly by the Falkirk Boat Bridge, it is beautiful. I spent a day there just ogling the mechanisms in awe. I like to look at machinery and how they work, robots and gadgets. Music and fashion are quite amazing two, and go together like peas in a pod.

What’s your favourite piece of your own jewellery?

It will have to be the Memory Vessel. This piece has been growing with me since my final year at university. I have developed, redesigned and packaged it and I am sure it’s such a unique product, I have just had it engraved and now it looks the bee’s knees. I am sure it will make me famous one day.

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[We really love this too – for those of you who don’t know it is more than a locket could ever be, it’s your very own mini time capsule – what a great way of capturing a special moment.  You place your special items into it, close it up and it’s designed to stay sealed!]

Who inspires you?

There are many designers in the world that inspire me for a variety of different reasons. Jewellery designers Such as Alan Adriff, Becky Crow, and Chris Boland I admire for their unique style and hard work. I can spot Adriff’s work from a mile away, I love his little hinges and moving parts that are narrative and fun, often based on dreams and wives tails. Local jewellery designers such as Inky Linky and Magnolia Restrepo are often in my circles and have been jewellery designers for a while inspire, support and advise me as a new business which is amazing, I really appreciate their wise words. Then there are the big legendary designers such as Wendy Ramshaw, beautiful.

What sort of jewellery do you like to wear?

The jewellery I wear is the jewellery I have had on my whole life. I get very attached to it. Boris is the star piece, I wish I had made him. I have many piercings, so there is lots of body jewellery. I wear a pair of heavy silver flesh tunnels that I cast from tear drop stone ones using sand casting. The tunnels have my makers hallmarks engraved, I like to wear them for mostly for that reason.

What’s your favourite gemstone?

I love Rubies, I have a big crush on the colour red. The Sapphire in my engagement ring is pretty beautiful though too. It reflects all over the place. Mother of Pearl is fascinating, it’s so delicate and busy, bursting with colours.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I would love to have a few more stockists and attend all the big events such as Desire, Dazzle and GNCCF. I dream of becoming a specialist in wedding ring design and known for my work. Another dream of mine is to do an ‘Alt JEMS’ range for sub culture fashion, I can see it now. The branding could become green and black with a spooky bug! I would love to make it into a design book like the ones I studied at university, and be quoted with an image and a date. Truly famous!

[We love the sound of AltJEMS!  If you ever do this range I hope you’ll come back and tell us about it…I always hope designers will still think of us when they’re rich and famous!]

 

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How difficult was it to set up your own business?

It’s a strange moment, I had had a month in Thailand with a friend, and was getting scared to come home as I knew that was the beginning of a new life. It’s a bit daunting. I had been on many a short course, had mentoring and read books on how to start up. There was nothing else to do apart from register as self-employed. I told the tax man on 20th of November, scratched my head for a couple of months and then got myself into a collective shop. It’s hard at the start as you know nothing about the practical side of running a business. It’s a bit like fishing in the dark, no deadlines, and no briefs. I found myself being a bit clueless, but as time moves on opportunities come and things start to roll. I have been in the self-employed business almost 2 years now and things are only just starting to move in terms of stockists etc. There is so much to learn.

What did you do before you designed jewellery?

I first started out wanting to be a furniture maker. I knew I loved making 3D, and I loved craft such as woodwork, ceramics and glass. I left school not knowing what to do so my art teacher recommended Art and Design GNVQ for a year, which got me hooked on crafts. From there I did a furniture National Diploma and that naturally progressed me into the furniture degree. Life had become a bit sad, my mum had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and I just swam with the progression. It became a tough patch of life and the degree turned into a product design like course which didn’t have much actual making of final projects at all, I didn’t realise at the time, but I was failing…it hit me like a bus on the final day. I took a year out in 2008 trying to get a job and re build my life, having not found anything I looked at universities as the desire for a degree was burning bright. I found Metalwork and Jewellery at Sheffield Hallam and had an interview (which went very badly) and low and behold…I got a place! I found from failing my 1st degree I was loads better at the 2nd one and graduated with a 2:1! It just proves how life is so fantastic and hard to predict, as the saying goes “learn from your mistakes” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

[That’s really inspiring – it must have been a really difficult time for you and to come through it having found your way into something you enjoy is impressive!]

What do you like to do when you’re not doing this?

I have re discovered the joy of gardening recently after moving from a back to back to a beautiful house with a back garden and a greenhouse (which I have named George) I spent most of my time in there now, growing, thinning and re potting. I cannot believe how happy gardening makes me feel. My cucumber plant is going barmy and I have really big sun flowers growing on my veggie patch. I love it.

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[I do like the fact you name things, although I must confess  I wish I could enjoy gardening, our back garden looks like a disaster zone!]

White gold or yellow gold, or something else…?

I have only just discovered the joy of working in gold. I had a 9 carat wedding rings commission recently. Having only worked in silver since setting up JEMS I was hesitant, but as soon as I began I realised it was an amazing material to work with. When I polish it up, just wow! So now I much prefer working gold to silver, unfortunately as is costs a lot more, I can only work in gold as commissions pieces.

 

Thank you so much to Emma for letting us get to know you a little better – if you’re inspired by this piece you can visit Emma’s website and her shop on Etsy!  You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter at @emma_swailes.   We really hope you’ve enjoyed this post, if you are a designer, jewellery or work in any aspect of the jewellery or gemstone industry and fancy coming Through the Loupe with us please do get in touch at adventuresthroughtheloupe@outlook.com.

 

The colour of love?

As it’s July we thought we should do a quick shout out for July’s birthstone today (particularly as one of us is a July baby!)

Ruby spray

Ruby is a gem quality variety of corundum, and is essentially a red variety of sapphire.  Fine rubies are actually rare as they are formed when a soft limestone rock was put under extreme heat and pressure within the Earth’s crust, but more than that the limestone then had to come into contact with just the right elements, including chromium, which makes them relatively rare.

Due to the way they are formed all natural rubies have imperfections which include colour differences or markings, and silk, although this silk is an imperfection it is important to enable natural rubies to be distinguished from synthetic rubies.

Rubies reach 9 on the Mohs scale, which

The majority of us will identify a ruby simply because it’s red, but there’s actually more to this gem’s colour than simply one word.  As they are part of the sapphire family different countries take a different approach to colour identification, for example in the United States a minimum colour saturation must be met before a “ruby” becomes a ruby rather than a pink sapphire.  The ICA takes a more liberal approach, but it’s something you should certainly turn your mind to the issue of colour.

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 True or false?

Synthetic rubies are relatively common and were first created in 1937, by 1910 the annual production of synthetic rubies had reached 1000kg.  The fewer imperfections in a ruby the more likely it is to be treated with suspicion and identified as synthetic.  In addition to its use in gemstone jewellery synthetic ruby has use in industry as they can be used to make lasers or other production where it’s hard nature is useful.

What is interesting is that in addition to having to detect synthetic rubies, a number of imitation rubies are often found in the form of glass, or the genuine gemstones such as garnet and spinel.  The confusion between ruby and other gems has been a long standing issue, sometimes not helped by the use of some trade names such as rubellite, but one of the most famous examples of this confusion can even be found in the Crown Jewels!  A stunningly large spinel can be found on the Imperial State Crown, known as the Black Prince’s Ruby.

Myth & Legend

Back in time, as with many precious stones, people used to believe that ruby had powers to preserve the health of the wearer.  Particularly ruby was seen to help the wearer by changing colour when danger was close at hand, protect from poison and plague and even make the wearer invulnerable to steel weapons.  Ruby is absolutely surrounded by acres of legend, particularly stemming from the reverence it was given in South East Asia. and it’s definitely worth a read as some of the stories are interesting.  Star rubies were even more highly prized, it was believed that the star was formed by three benign spirits which had been imprisoned in the stone for a misdemeanour, the spirits represent faith, hope and destiny and it is thought that this type of stone can bring good fortune to the wearer.

Treatments

Due to their nature and the naturally occurring imperfections the overwhelming majority of rubies are treated before coming to the jewellery market.  The most common treatment is heating, but other treatments include colour alteration, fracture filling or dissolving silk defects within the ruby.  Heating can improve both the colour and silk within the ruby.  Fracture filling does what it says on the tin, essentially using lead glass (or similar translucent) to fill the cracks within the ruby, which improves the translucency.

Unlike with some gems the treatment can be observed through a 10x loupe, and the majority of treatments are acceptable due to the nature of natural ruby.

Ruby pendant

If you do manage to find a natural, high quality, untreated ruby then snap it up as they are extremely rare!  However you should be warned that you will need deep pockets (far beyond our own means sadly) to keep hold of it!