6 May

The Gemvara Birthstone Guide

5_6 Birthstone Guide

Discover the lore, power, and meaning behind your birthstone with the Gemvara Birthstone Guide.

9 December

Gem Class: Tanzanite and Blue Topaz

Demand attention at your next holiday party with one (or two) of December’s birthstones, tanzanite and blue topaz. These two gemstones are stylish and stunning, perfect in any piece, created for you or your special someone.

A member of the mineral family zoisite, tanzanite is a relatively new gemstone. In fact, it only became a birthstone 10 years ago. Tanzanite was only named December’s birthstone in 2002. It’s velvety purplish-blue color is unique.  Manuel d’Souza was looking for sapphire in 1967 when he stumbled upon a new gemstone in northeastern Tanzania, East Africa. The natives took him to an area in the region of the Merelani Hills near Mount Kilimanjaro and he found precious blue stones originally believed to be sapphire. When he realized they weren’t, he started mining.

Soon Tanzanite started to become the focus in America and Europe. In 1970, Tiffany and Co. began a marketing campaign to introduce it to the public. Henry Platt of Tiffanys named the stone tanzanite. The secret to tanzanite’s mesmerizing color is trichoism: crystals of tanzanite are three different colors from different directions. This means that blue and purple dance together in the depths of the gem as it moves and catches the light.

This is one of the most successful and exciting discoveries in the field of gemstones in a century. The original stones are over 500 million years old and are the only tanzanite stones that are naturally blue. The Smithsonian Institute has  an impressive tanzanite collection including a 122.7 carat stone.

Topaz, the second and equally impressive December birthstone, actually means “fire” in Sanskrit.  It was given this name because many cultures believed that the sun is responsible for it’s color. Some of the mystical properties that topaz offers are warding off colds, enhancing the breathing process, and help those with insomnia.

The most famous topaz is a colorless topaz that was thought to be a diamond. It is a 1680 carat stone known as the “Braganza Diamond” set in Portuguese Crown Jewels.

Blue topaz, however, is the most common color variety and is also used as December’s second birthstone. Gemvara’s blue topaz has a bright and lively color that looks gorgeous set in every metal. We also offer a second shade of blue topaz, a London Blue Topaz that has a darker more intense shade of blue.

Which stone do you prefer?

 

3 January

January Gem

The month of January is always marked by a desire to start fresh. It’s that time of year when (more often than not) you make a pact to forgo ice cream for dinner and hit the gym instead. While we’re all for positive resolutions, we also think that it’s important to have some help along the way. It may seem silly, but we’ve got the perfect (chic) solution: a garnet.

Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January, but what makes me most excited about this gem is that it is also known to promote constancy, true friendship, and loyalty. Not to mention it also protects travelers on their adventures. What better bauble to have as a reminder to keep up with your New Year’s resolutions? I love the idea of wearing this gem in a cute pendant or gemstone ring.

If carrying around an amulet is not your style, garnets are also simply beautiful gemstones. They come in many variations and colors allowing them to virtually fit any type of personality. For example, red garnets from Mozambique have an earthy, red ocher color, and are a good match for those with a vintage or rock style like Kate Moss (whose birthday also happens to be in January).

For those with a sweeter side, the juicy, raspberry color of the rhodolite garnet is a good choice. Garnets also come in rare vivid green tsavorite and bright orange spessartite varieties. Emma Stone was spotted in mandarin-hued garnet earrings at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards.

If January is the start to a fresh, new you, there is no better way to kick off 2012 than with a gorgeous garnet in your jewelry box.

5 August

Pile It On

We assume you’ve probably heard of the stackable bracelet trend. Well, here at Gemvara we love putting our own spin on things, so let us introduce you to our version: the stackable ring!

A versatile accessory for any wardrobe, our stackable rings are the perfect way to display a multitude of meaningful bands (think birthstone, anniversary, “push present”) or simply a few colorful rings to liven up any finger.

Gemvara’s customization makes it easy for you to create your very own stackable ring collection. Create rings that match perfectly with ones you already own or start from scratch and make a whole new set!

For some ideas on how to create your own stack of rings, try matching up three Strand Bands in mixed metals such as yellow gold, rose gold, and sterling silver. Like lots of bling? Why not choose multiple Rich and Thin, Cloud Nine or Band of Brilliance rings. If convenience is more your style, check out the ready-made set of Bubble Stack Rings. With all of our colorful gems and various metals, the possibilities are endless.

How do you stack ‘em? Tell us your favorite ring combinations!

20 July

All the Green Without the Envy

As a bona fide Leo, born in the month of August, I have always felt a connection to many of the characteristic “lioness” tendencies. Whether for good or bad, it is apparent that Leos are definitely a fiery breed.

This being said, it struck me as odd when I discovered that my birthstone was peridot. I remember thinking, “Green? Really?” I had always envisioned the birthstone of August as a bright red, vibrant orange or even a sparkling yellow- all colors that match the summer sun. Green, on the other hand, evoked a calming sense for me. That is until I actually saw peridot.

Anything but calming, peridot’s green is incredibly lively. When caught in the light, its color dances with a rich glow and a velvety luster. Formed as a result of volcanic activity (I guess it truly is “fiery”), peridot is among the oldest of the gemstones. Ancient Egyptians used to call them “gems of the sun” because of their dazzling brilliance when seen in the desert sunlight. In fact, Egyptians believed that peridot glowed even in darkness. Because of this, early miners in Egypt actually used to mine for peridot late at night, believing that the light of the moon made the crystals easier to find. Talk about a beacon of light!

Throughout history, peridot (pronounced “pear-a-doe”) was used as a means of connecting to nature, a trait that seems fitting for a gemstone that only occurs in the color green. However, that’s not to say there is only one shade of green: peridot can range from a yellowish-green to a dark olive color. Peridot is among the “greenest” of gems in another way too. Most peridot is mined, often by hand, by Native Americans on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona.

This transparent crystal was once known to protect against evil, ward off depression and fear and keep one free from envy. Peridot is also said to bring divine inspiration, promote vitality, and strengthen the self as well as relationships. The property that I find most endearing about peridot is that it promotes new growth in years to come. Who wouldn’t want to wear a daily reminder that “the best is yet to come?”

Peridot is a fabulous gem to wear during the summer months because it matches very well with other citrus colors. My three favorite “Gemvarian” ways to wear peridot are in the Hera Earrings, a regal statement in gold, the Heartbeat Band, mixed with diamonds this is a real dazzler, and the Large Gemstone Solitaire Pendant, a stunning statement to match an August baby’s striking personality!

27 June

Oh My Ruby!

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore my July birthstone, the regal ruby. And I’m not alone — this gem has been prized for centuries by royalty, Hollywood and the wealthy worldwide.

The Sanskrit word for ruby is “ratnaraj,” which means “king of the gemstones.” Second only to diamonds in the Mohs hardness scale, rubies are durable and can be cleaned easily with a soft cloth and mild dish soap. Or vodka, if you prefer.

Rubies were widely used in royal insignias and crowns — St. Wenzel’s Crown holds a staggering 250-carat ruby. The 167-carat Edwardes Ruby was named for Major General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes who turned back the tide of mutiny against British rule in India. It rests in the British Museum of Natural History in London, donated by John Ruskin in 1887. American crowds can gape at the 137-carat Rosser Reeves Ruby, on display at the Smithsonian.

In more modern times, rubies remain popular. The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, received a ruby engagement ring from Prince Andrew. Singer and budding fashion tycoon Jessica Simpson also sports a ruby engagement ring, so similar to this Gemvara ring here, that we named it after her.

Right now, I’m obsessing over this stunning ruby pendant. Set in 14K yellow gold, this piece just exudes luxury. Eight marquis-cut rubies radiate from a round center stone. Play with color and develop your own unique piece! I added tanzanite accent gems for a spellbinding look. I love it. Maybe I’ll drop some hints to the fiancée. My birthday is in a few weeks after all…

I toyed with the idea of ruby engagement rings for awhile, particularly this one, with its lovely vintage beading, diamond halo, and side diamonds:

And the Natalie Ring, with a ruby in place of a center diamond, surrounded by a double halo of pavé diamonds, is just so hot! I can only imagine the jaws dropping.

If you could wear any piece of ruby jewelry, what would it be?

29 March

Diamond: Invincible Style

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Bursting with brilliance and fire, it’s no surprise that diamonds were once thought to be fallen stars. Earth’s hardest substance, diamond is the most eloquent way to say “forever.”

The ancient Greeks called diamond “adamas,” meaning invincible, theorizing that something so beautiful must be the crystallized teardrops of the gods.  Wearing diamond is said to attract good fortune too.

Those who are fortunate enough to wear diamonds quickly discover how versatile they are. Diamond stud earrings are a wear-everywhere basic that can take you from the grocery store to Oscar’s red carpet.  Diamond drop earrings and diamond hoops make every day an occasion.  And most women today, married or single, wear diamond right-hand rings on their right hand, as essential to being well-dressed as the right handbag or shoes.

But diamonds are as desirable for their significance as for their beauty: most women agree that diamond jewelry is the most romantic gift a man can give a woman. Three-stone diamond jewelry celebrates your past, present, and future, a romantic gesture for any anniversary. In addition to being the birthstone for April, diamond is also the 10th anniversary gem.

As anyone who’s researched diamonds knows, their value varies dramatically with quality. White gems with the least amount of color and the fewest imperfections are the most rare and valuable. The bigger the diamond, the higher its carat weight and the more it costs per carat. For center diamonds above a half-carat, you should have quality documented by a GIA or AGS report.

Cut is arguably the most important value factor because the quality of a diamond’s cut gives it its life and sparkle. Higher quality diamonds tend to hold value better than inexpensive gems, so most experts advise buying a better smaller stone rather than a larger lower quality version.

Gemvara chooses diamonds with a minimum H SI2 grade and excellent cutting because we believe that quality diamonds are simply more beautiful. Rather than trade down in quality, we advise choosing a fine quality white sapphire instead. Before buying a diamond, be sure to ask the seller if the gems are conflict free. Responsible sellers will have documentation from the Kimberley Process System of Warranties.

Today, unusual black diamond jewelry is also becoming popular: they are the black-swan opposite of white diamonds: inky dark and opaque, with mysterious glamour. Black diamonds are the perfect choice for women who prefer not to sparkle, with hidden depths.

Even if you were not born in April, you were probably born to wear diamonds.

23 February

Aquamarine: Water Color

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With a name like aquamarine, it’s not surprising this brilliant greenish-blue gem is the color of water. Its sparkling depths make you think of warm, clear ocean waves lapping on a white sand beach.

Close your eyes and picture that sunny day at the beach. Are you surprised that aquamarine is the gem of happiness?

Legend says that this gem receives its power from mermaids, who use it to keep sailors safe during storms at sea. (For maximum protective effect, it must be bathed in sea water.)

Aquamarine is the mineral beryl, which makes it a close relative of emerald. This pastel gem has emerald’s brilliance and lasting value too.

The most important value factor for aquamarine is its color, which should be a light but pure pastel blue with only a hint of green.  Aquamarine is always more saturated in larger sizes: it isn’t possible to get the best color in small accent stones.

Experts recommend choosing an aquamarine with good clarity, since this gem’s pale color makes inclusions more visible than they would be in more vividly colored gems.  A perfectly proportioned and polished cut is important to add sparkle.

Brazil is the most important source of aquamarine, with many mines in the state of Minas Gerais. The most famous mine for aquamarine is the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil, which produced beautiful gems, some in very large sizes. Today, when a new deposit is found with a bright blue color, it’s sometimes named after that legendary mine.  Lovely aquamarines found in the last decade in Mozambique were called “Santa Maria Africana.” But gem collectors know that all mines produce good and not-so-good gems, so you should never take origin as a guarantee of quality.

Almost all aquamarines are heated gently to about 400 degrees Celsius before their final polish to remove any color overtones.  This enhancement is undetectable and is accepted by the trade so it does not affect value.

In addition to being the birthstone for March, Aquamarine is the gem for the 19th anniversary. Aquamarine has royal pedigree: a large aquamarine is set in Saint Edwards Crown, the official coronation crown of British kings and queens. Catherine the Great, Napoleon, and Leopold I of Austria also loved this lovely pastel gem.

Today jewelry designers most often set aquamarine in white gold jewelry but the color also complements rose gold, platinum, and sterling silver. Aquamarine engagement rings are becoming more popular as the symbol of a happy marriage.

9 February

Amethyst for Your Valentine

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February’s birthstone Amethyst is the gem of cupid too: they say St. Valentine himself wore an amethyst ring.

Does that make amethyst the gem of love? After all, it’s the gem of peace and tranquility. Tibetan Buddhists use amethyst rosaries to enhance meditation. The ancient Greeks thought amethyst could even keep you sober.

Because purple is the color of royalty, amethyst rings were long reserved only for kings, queens, and bishops. Today amethyst inspires jewelry designers to create affordable and not-so-affordable treasures.

Amethyst is one of the most popular gems in our palette at Gemvara. Our customers love setting amethyst in platinum, probably because this combination is difficult to find anywhere else. Here are some of our customer’s recent creations in this lovely purple gem.

22 December

Garnet: Gem to Go

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Break open a pomegranate: see the tiny glossy red seeds? Now you can see why garnet comes from the Latin word for seed, granatum. Beautiful garnet jewelry found in archeological digs is more than 5,000 years old.

Garnets are the most worldly gem, found on every continent in an astonishingly wide variety of colors, including rare vivid green tsavorite and bright orange spessartite. Jewelry designers love its versatility, durability, and brilliance. The most popular varieties are different shades of red, from the dark red of embers to the juicy red of berries.

Red garnets from Mozambique, which have an earthy red ocher color, are among the most affordable gemstones. Their color adds a warm deep glow to fashionable jewelry.

Rhodolite garnets have a juicy raspberry color. This beautiful purplish-red garnet was discovered in 1882 in the hills of North Carolina. Tiffany gemologist and author George Kunz named it after the rhododendron that grows in the mountains of that state.

In addition to the birthstone for January, garnet is the zodiac gem for Aquarius and the gem for the second anniversary.

Garnets symbolize loyalty and kindness. In a Grimm Fairy Tale, an old lady who rescues an injured bird is rewarded with a magical garnet that lights up the night. A garnet also lit the way for Noah’s Ark. In legend, garnets always protect travelers when they are far from home. Garnet jewelry is the perfect choice for road warriors and world travelers: keeping them stylishly ready for the next adventure.