Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rock Review: Simbercite

 Simbercite if easy to fall in love with. It is not just a rock, but rather rock in combination with fossil. Ancient shell creatures called ammonite would grow to become very large, when they died, about 80 million years ago, the shells were filled with sea life and sediment.and swallowed by the earth. Over the coming millennia, the shells accumulated pyrite crystals, fossilized and under heat and pressure from the earth, these delightful stones were created. which include shell fossil, fossilized sea life, linear patterns of shining golden pyrite, and vivid coloration half amber and half chocolate brown.
Simbercite is named after Simbirsk, Russia, the city in which it was originally found. Most of the world's simbercite is mined in Russia. So now that we know the geology about it, what to do with this stone? It is a warm stone, not just to look at, but it warms quickly when held. This stone is thought to give energy to the wearer and to alleviate fears. But more importantly, it astounds us with it's jaw-dropping natural beauty. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rock Review: Pearls

There is so much to know about pearls! They are far stranger and more mysterious than many other gems. In  fact, they are not really a rock, but rather fall into a category of gems that are called "organics" for obvious reasons. They come in several natural colors, but are frequently dyed to offer a wide variety of colors.

June's primary birthstone is pearl, and on a practical level, this can be difficult because of it's delicate nature. The pearl is created by an oyster depositing many layers of nacre over a small irritant that was introduced into it's shell. This nacre can be scratched or chipped somewhat easily. Therefore pearls are most commonly used in earrings and necklaces, where they receive less wear and tear.

Despite it's limitations, the mystique of a pearl makes it a very interesting gem. Pearls were once thought to be "the tears of the gods" and have been used for adornment since well before the time of Christ. The creation of a pearl within a mollusk was a natural phenomenon less rare that one might think.

Cultured pearls were first eveloped by the Chinese in the 12th or 13th century, but no one followed their lead until the Japanese picked up on the idea in the 1890's. In this process, the irritant to become the nucleus of the pearl is surgically implanted in the mollusk. Cultured pearls take two to three years to develope while natural pearls take seven years or more to build up in the mollusk body.

The Pearl resembles honesty, integrity, wisdom and faith. It is a noble gem, promoting dignity.

Shirley L. Gordon says in an article about pearls "Have you ever seen a woman wearing Pearls acting in an undignified manner?  Did you have  the oddest feeling?  That's because they just don't mix." in her article at

Check back Next week for pearl care and how to identify real from imitation pearls

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rock Review: Flourite

Flourite is named for the Latin "fluo"-- to flow,  because it is used as an additive to aid in proper flow for iron smelting. Additionally, the phenomenon "flourescence" takes it's name from this stone where strong flourescence can commonly be observed under UV light.
Excellent Specimens of flourite have beautiful, intense color banding in all shades of purple, mint green to teal, some pink and white. Strong color banding is a good way to identify flourite, but not all material is so fantastically banded. See below:
This is more common.

Flourite is found commonly cut into beads, and for other ornamental purposes. It can be found cut as a gemstone for setting in jewelry, but it is a relatively soft stone, making this practice uncommon.

This gem does have a common place in gemstone healing, however. It is thought to strengthen one's power of concentration. It is also used to cleanse the aura, and it is applied directly to an ailing part of the body to relieve pain.

Different colors of flourite are thought to have more specific benefits, more information on this here:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rock Review: Turitella Agate

Turitella Agate is a fossil gem. The creastures fossilized in Turitella agate are called Elimia tenera (erroneously considered Turritella) shells. Elimia tenera are spiral marine snails having elongated, spiral shells composed of many whorls.

A good cut of Turitella agate features a bounty of these beautiful shell cross sections. these gorgeous stones come from the Green River Formation in southwestern Wyoming, Northeastern Utah, and Northern Colorado. The material is found in layers deposited in ancient lakebeds formed over 40 million years ago.

The coloration is typically a mixture of black and brown tones with the fossilezed shell patterns appearing in shades of pearly white. to beige. Because of the fossil nature of the stone, these gems are considered to carry a memory and help the wearer with memory and looking into the past. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Diamonds Part 4: CUT

The standardized grading of diamonds is a relatively recent industry development. Even after GIA established color and clarity grades, there continued to be a missing factor in a set of scientifically gathered information to accurately asses a diamond for quality. The final factor, thr fourth “C” stands for cut.

Color and clarity are inherent properties of the diamond as it comes out of the earth, yet the cut of the diamond is man's effort to unlock the shimmering beauty of the stone. Because diamonds are the hardest substance on earth, cutting a diamond in just the right was to create maximum brightness and fire is no small feat.

After my trip to GIA at the end of April, I have a profoundly new appreciation for the impact that a cutter can have on the overall look of a finished diamond. I analyzed some diamonds with excellent clarity and color grades that simply did not seem to sparkle. One in particular just looked dark and lifeless.

When I began to measure the proportions of the stone's depth as well as the angle and size of the facets, I discovered that while the gem looked similar to the other diamonds, it's proportions fell far outside of the prescribed ranges for excellent cutting. So even though this diamond was worth a great deal of money as rough material, the work of the cutter was of poor quality and really damaged the potential value of the stone. It would be very difficult to sell a diamond that just didn't seem to sparkle like the others.

On the other extreme, a diamond which is cut to fall within the many proportion standards for an excellent cut grade looks like it is radiating with it's own light source! The cut grade and proportions are based on the physics of light entering the diamond, then bouncing around at just the right angles to come back out the top of the stone for your viewing pleasure. The more the light bounces around inside the stone, the more it “disperses” or separates into different colors of the light spectrum creating what is termed “fire” or the presence of different colors of light.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Diamonds Part 3: Clarity

As I gear up for a trip to a diamond grading lab class at the Gemological Institute of America, it seems like the perfect time to be doing a marathon rock review on diamonds. What makes these tiny rocks worth thousands, even millions of dollars to us? Is it all part of an incredible marketing plan by giant corporations with diamond interests? Perhaps there really is something to it.

The diamond is a gem fascinating from all perspectives. To begin with, a diamond is composed entirely from carbon, the building block of life. It is the only gem whose chemical makeup is so pure. That is precisely why the clarity of a given gem has a monumental effect on the value of that gem. Clarity characteristics represent something that got stuck in the crystal as it was being formed. Some clarity characteristics are tiny crystals of other types of gem, some are graphite, and yet others are simply cracks in the crystal structure. Regardless, they take away from the notion that this gem is one of the rare examples of pure, perfect carbon atoms connecting in elegant succession to create the most durable substance known to man.

The truth is, that most of the diamond mined do not represent diamonds in such a romantic way. After a mine has started operations after billions of dollars in investment, tons and tons of diamonds are mined which are so heavily included that they would not even resemble what you think of as a diamond. Less than 20% of diamonds mined worldwide each year approach gem-quality. Low grade rough is used industrially.

In case you are reading with the intention of diamond shopping, I will include below a chart which expresses the different grades of clarity as they pertain to Gem-quality diamonds.

If you are diamond shopping, be aware that flawless and internally flawless diamonds are so very rare, that they are unattainable for most of us. This chart is showing an a large, elementary scale what the clarity grades mean, but remember that 10 times magnification is a lot, and even under this magnification, many characteristics are only visible by a person trained to know what to look for. I encourage you to shop for diamonds that are graded with a certification from the Gemological Institute of America. That certification gives you proof of what it is that you are purchasing. That assurance is difficult to get in any other way. If you need a diamond buying coach, maybe I can help. feel free to email me--

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Diamonds Part 2: Color

Of the four "C"s it is color which is most obvious to the consumer. For this reason it is perhaps the most well known of the four "C"s. Diamonds come in an amazing variety of colors including blue, green, red, orange, yellow and more.

Diamond most commonly occur in shades of yellow to white (colorless) and brown. All shades from completely colorless to slightly yellow or brown fall into a standard called the "normal color range" by the Gemological Institiute of America. Deep tones of these colors, or any color other than yellow or brown are considered "fancy" colors.

Diamonds in the normal color range are categorized in an alphabetical scale ranging from D to Z, D being the highest color grade that a stone can have. When this scale was created, it was meant to be used only within the industry for gem dealers to communicate with each other. The reason that the scale begins with "D" is because GIA felt that the negative connotation of the letter "D" as it is used in the school system would discourage jewelers from using this scale with their customers! It was not in effort to hide anything from customers, but rather that consumers would have no desire to learn charts and scales of information just to buy a diamond.

Regardless, after the scale was unveiled, jewelers and customers alike were using the scale to better understand the value of their gems. Before the implementation of this scale, terms like "light yellow, fancy white, and blue white" were used to describe diamond colors. For obvious reasons the vagueness of these terms created conflict about how a gem was represented versus the real color of the gem.

For most shoppers, the GIA scale can be simplified for easier commnication. D,E, and F color stones are all in the range considered "colorless." G,H,I and J rated diamonds are considered "nearly colorless" and K, L, M, and N stones are dubbed "faint yellow" See the chart above.