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Karat Gold Jewelry

Gold, one of the world’s most precious metals, dates back to the dawn of mankind. All great civilizations built up treasuries of the lustrous metal, reserving golden objects for their most important rituals.

The most alluring use of the sun-colored metal has always been in jewelry. The Egyptians, largest producers of gold in the ancient world, equated gold with the sun, the giver of life, and reserved its use for pharaohs only. The ancient Etruscans created meticulously hand-wrought objects using fine granules and threads of gold, a technique still practiced today. To this day, Chinese and Indian brides wear jewelry of 24-karat gold on their wedding day to ensure a lifetime of good luck and happiness. A gift of gold jewelry says love and permanence as eloquently today as in all the ages past.

The Characteristics of Gold. Gold combines four basic characteristics that make it a universally treasured possession:

Beauty. Gold’s natural color can be further enhanced by alloying it with small amounts of other metals, yielding a spectrum of exquisite, subtle shades. Metalsmiths are able to create yellow, rose, green and white golds by adjusting the alloys. More copper results in a soft rose color; additional silver creates green gold; and nickel produces white. A popular trend is to combine two or more colors of gold in a single piece of jewelry.

Purity It is estimated that only slightly more than 100,000 tons of gold have been taken from the earth during all of recorded history. And although gold can be found in rivers, seas and land in many parts of the earth, it is not easily extracted. Opening a mine is a time-consuming and costly operation, and several tons of ore are required in order to produce just one ounce of the precious metal.

Durability Look no further than the nearest museum, where gold jewelry, coins and artifacts from ancient civilizations attest to the metal’s enduring beauty and permanence.

Workability Jewelers throughout the ages have preferred gold to all other metals for its beauty and ease of workmanship. Gold can be melted, or shaped, to create any design. It can be alloyed with a number of other metals to increase its strength and produce a variety of colors and can be re-melted and used again to create new designs.

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Colored Gemstones

Colored Gemstones
Beauty. Rarity. Durability. These attributes attract us to colored gemstones for personal adornment and make gemstones valuable and precious. Colored gemstones provide the opportunity for uniquely personal expression.

Beauty.     Most colored gemstones derive their beauty from their color purples, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, reds. In certain colored gemstones color occurs naturally. Satisfying hues are intrinsic in some garnets, for example. In other colored gemstones, the final color occurs with assistance. For nearly as long as people have worn rubies, we have known how to treat a rough ruby with heat to obtain a desirable red color. Not all rubies are heat treated, but the vast majority are.

Gem cutters work to achieve a pleasing and affordable mix of color, weight (measured in carats), and a safe shape for mounting. During creation, a gemstones size is constrained by nature. For example, while large and beautiful amethysts are readily available, an alexandrite of large size is extremely rare.

Sparkle adds to the beauty of a well-cut colored gemstone. The cut of a colored gemstone describes its shape and how it is fashioned. Some gemstones, such as opal, are suited to a smooth, rounded surface. Others, such as sapphire, are more frequently shaped with a precise series of flat, symmetrical planes, called facets, which make the most pleasing illumination of the gems color. Some cutters today may also use convex or concave facets, shaping colored gemstone like small sculptures.

The clarity of colored gemstones contributes to their beauty. Unless a gemstone is opaque and blocks all light, how light moves through the gemstone affects its beauty. Some gemstones have few internal inclusions to interrupt the passage of light, as is the case with most pieces of Tanzanite. Others have characteristic inclusions. For example, some emerald has a jardine (garden), which makes each gem truly unique.

Rarity.   Across time and cultures, people have adorned themselves with rare gem materials. From pearls and corals plucked from the seas, to bright colored pebbles found in the soils settling at the mouths of rivers; from the collection of gemstones mounted in the breastplate of Aaron as accounted in ancient scripture, to the historic gemstones mounted in the crown jewels of European monarchs, we let ourselves be known through the gemstones we choose to wear. These gemstones are precious because they are rare.

Because of their rarity, gemstones in which color is naturally occurring are generally more valuable. Many gemstones are treated or enhanced in some way, such as with heat or safe irradiation, to achieve the beautiful colors or clarity we desire in the sizes we desire. These gems, which are less rare, can also be very valuable. Some jewelers make synthetic colored gemstones available. Synthetic colored gemstones have all the optical, physical and chemical properties of naturally occurring gemstones, but they are created in a laboratory rather than occurring in nature. For some budgets, these synthetic materials are an acceptable choice. Continue reading Colored Gemstones

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Care and Cleaning of your Jewelry

​Fine jewelry is a precious possession that is designed and crafted to last a lifetime. However, proper care is required to assure the lasting qualities of your jewelry. Jewelers of America is pleased to offer simple guidelines for the care and cleaning of your fine jewelry.

 General Tips
Store your jewelry in a clean, dry place. Keep your jewelry in a fabric-lined jewelry case, or in a box with compartments and dividers. If you prefer to use ordinary boxes,    wrap each piece individually in soft tissue paper. Don’t jumble your jewelry pieces in a drawer or jewelry case. Pieces can scratch each other.

Be careful when removing your jewelry to wash your hands. Do not leave your jewelry on the rim of a sink where it can easily slip down the drain.

See your jeweler at least once a year to have your jewelry checked for loose prongs, worn mountings, and general wear and tear. Visit your jeweler every six months to have your jewelry professionally cleaned.

There are many types of small machines on the market that will clean jewelry in a matter of minutes using high-frequency sound. These machines are called ultrasonic cleaners and are available in many different models and prices. They can be a convenient way to quickly clean your jewelry at home. However, ultrasonic cleaners can damage some jewelry and prolonged use may loosen gemstones from their mountings. Your local jeweler can tell you if an ultrasonic cleaning machine is right for your jewelry wardrobe and, if it is, recommend an appropriate model.

 Diamond Jewelry
Diamond jewelry is very popular. Some pieces, such as diamond engagement and wedding rings, are often worn 24 hours a day. Even though you may wear your diamond jewelry around the clock, you should give thought to its care. Diamonds are durable, but they still require proper maintenance. Diamonds can get smudged, soiled and dusty. Lotions, powders, soaps and natural skin oils put a film on diamonds and cut down their brilliance. Clean diamonds glow, because the maximum amount of light can enter the stone and return in a fiery brilliance. It takes just a little care to keep them that way:

Do not wear diamond jewelry, especially rings, when doing rough work. Even though diamond is one of the hardest materials in nature, it can still be chipped by a sharp, sudden blow.

Chlorine can damage and discolor the mounting on your diamond jewelry. Keep your diamond away from chlorine bleach or other household chemicals. You should also remove your diamond jewelry before entering a chlorinated pool or hot tub.

Clean your diamonds regularly using a commercial jewelry cleaner, a mix of ammonia and water, or a mild detergent. Dip the jewelry into the solution and use a soft brush to dislodge dust or dirt from under the setting. Always thoroughly rinse and dry your jewelry after cleaning and before storage. Avoid touching your clean diamonds with your fingers. Handle clean jewelry by its edges.

 Colored Gemstones
There are many different types of colored gemstones, some of which require specific care and cleaning. It would be impossible to enumerate all of them in this brochure. However, there are some general care and cleaning rules that apply to all colored gemstone jewelry:

Many natural gemstones are treated or enhanced from the time they are extracted from the earth by one or more traditionally accepted jewelry industry practices. These treatments and enhancements can affect how you should clean and care for your colored gemstone jewelry. Consult your jeweler for more information on caring for treated or enhanced gemstones.

After wearing, wipe your precious gemstone jewelry thoroughly with a clean, soft, slightly damp cloth. This will enhance the luster of the gemstones and ensure that your jewelry is clean before storage. Store gemstone pieces individually in soft pouches. You should be able to obtain these from your jeweler.

Do not expose your precious gemstone pieces to saltwater or harsh chemicals, such as chlorine or detergents. These chemicals may slowly erode the finish and polish of gemstones. Hair spray, perfume and perspiration may cause jewelry to become dull. Apply all cosmetics, perfumes and colognes before putting on colored gemstone jewelry. Make sure to wipe your gemstones after wear to remove any chemicals, oils or perspiration.

Do not subject gemstone jewelry to sudden temperature changes. Continue reading Care and Cleaning of your Jewelry

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Aquamarine

aquamarine-gia-600x300

Aquamarine
 gemstones evoke the colors of the sea. Aquamarine can be blue, very slightly greenish blue, greenish blue, very strongly greenish blue, or green-blue. Aquamarine gemstones are often free from inclusions and clear as water too, symbolizing purity of spirit and soul. They make fantastic gemstones for evening wear because they glitter and gleam even under muted light conditions. During the day or in bright light, they exhibit a soothing coolness.

Aquamarines are found on most continents. Aquamarine is the March birthstone, but anyone can wear and delight in the optical qualities of this gemstone.

Aquamarine Facts

  • Aquamarine belongs to the beryl species of mineral and is closely related to emerald, morganite and golden beryl, among others.
  • Brazil is an important source for aquamarine. Other sources include Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), China, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Ukraine and the United States.
  • Aquamarine is a fairly durable gemstone with a hardness of 7.5-8.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Aquamarine gemstones can be cut into many shapes and sizes. Some are cut as cabochons or fashioned into beads. Larger specimens may be carved into gem sculptures.
  • Nature produces a variety known as cat’s-eye aquamarine, a rare, highly collectible, phenomenal variety. Microscopic growth tube inclusions cause the cat’s-eye effect.

Aquamarine Treatment

  • Aquamarines are almost always heat-treated to lessen the subtle yellow color that occurs in some of them. Any treatments should be disclosed to buyers.

Synthetic Aquamarine

  • Aquamarine can also be man-made, meaning it is manufactured in a lab rather than mined, but it is more often imitated by treated blue topaz, glass and synthetic blue spinel. This should be understood by the seller and clearly disclosed to the buyer.

Aquamarine Care and Cleaning

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each piece of fine jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Aquamarine jewelry is best cleaned with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth.
  • Take all your fine jewelry to a professional jeweler at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.
  • See our full guide to jewelry care and cleaning.

Content © GIA. Image © Robert Weldon/GIA Written by Jewelers of America.

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Amethyst Gemstone Information

amethyst gemstone february birthstone

Amethyst gemstones have captivated humankind for centuries. The lilac-to-deep purple hues were once reserved for royalty or religious figures who wore it as a symbol of their important stature in society. Its lore comprises several claims to mystical powers, including that it would convey strength and wit to those who wore it. Amethyst was also associated with Bacchus, the ancient Greek god of wine, and wearing it was thought to keep the drinker sober.

Amethyst comes from many places around the world and is a gemstone everyone can enjoy. It is the February birthstone, but those born in other months also take pleasure from its charm and beauty.

Amethyst Facts

  • Amethyst belongs to the quartz species and is related to rock crystal, citrine, prasiolite (a rare, greenish variety of quartz) and agate (a variety of chalcedony).
  • Russia was a classic source for amethyst. Current sources include Brazil, Bolivia, South Africa, South Korea, the United States, Uruguay and Zambia.
  • Amethyst is a fairly durable gemstone with a hardness of 7.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Amethyst gemstones can be cut into many shapes and sizes, often as cabochons or beads, and is also carved for ornamental use.
  • Nature produces a variety known as ametrine, a combination of amethyst and citrine. This gem is purple and yellow and is frequently cut to show its division of color or in a way that mixes the colors, forming interesting medium dark to moderately strong orange, and vivid to strong purple or violet hues.

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