Gemstone & Jewelry Blog by Dragon Dreams Jewelry, LLC

February 21, 2015

Featured stone: opal

Filed under: Featured Stones, Jewelry Care — Tags: , , , , — dragondreamsjewelry @ 8:25 pm

The origin of the term “opal” is unclear – it may be from the Roman word opalus, the Sanskrit  úpala, the Greek opallios, or any of many other possibilities.  In this way, the opal extends its mystery beyond the well known color play into the name of the stone itself.

Natural opal has a lot of variety, including: white opal, black opal, jelly opal, boulder opal, opal matrix, fire opal, harlequin opal, crustal opal, Andean opal, Ethiopian opal, and common opal.  White and black opal are most commonly found and these typically display the gorgeous color play which from “the diffraction of light off tiny, closely packed silica spheres inside the stone.” [1]  The silica gel inside the stone is 5-30% water.  Most of the world’s natural opals today come from Australia – particularly Lightning Ridge (black opal) and Cooper Pedy (white opal).

Because opal is soft (5.5-6.5 on the Mohs scale), it is often sold as doublets or triplets, which provide color enhancement as well as some protection for the stone. There are also synthetic man-made opals, like Gilson opal and opalite.  Be sure to ask your seller for information about any stone you purchase.

Opal can be easily damaged by pressure and impact.  Opal is also sensitive to acids and alkalis because of its porous nature, which also makes it vulnerable to perfumes, soaps and detergents.  Jewelry should always be removed before washing or applying lotions and other similar products.

If an opal is allowed to dry, it will crack and craze. In most cases, opals do not need any special care while stored. However, if you live in a very dry climate, or keep opals in a dehumidified room, some precautions are necessary. Keeping them in a tight plastic bag, with a damp piece of cotton or fabric will prevent dehydration.

Opals do not mind being hot or cold, it is the rate of change that damages them. You need to avoid exposing the stone to a sudden change in temperature, like from a warm house to the winter’s cold. Simply wearing an opal under clothing will protect it.

Clean your opal with warm or room temperature soap and water. Avoid wearing the stone where it will get rough treatment.

According to lore, opal helps relieve issues with eyesight and was believed to obscure its wearer with a thick fog. [2]

There are other metaphysical properties ascribed to this multi-colored gem:

  • Makes it easier to handle changes in life
  • Protects the wearer from harm
  • Supports renewal and fidelity in love
  • Intensifies emotions and intuition
  • Helps to express your true self

Chakras: links the root and crown

opal ring

Coober Pedy opal sterling silver ring by Dragon Dreams Jewelry, LLC http://www.dragondreamsjewelry.com

[1] The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe, p.92

[2] A Lapidary of Sacred Stones by Claude Lecouteux, p.244

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July 16, 2013

Featured stone: tourmalinated (tourmaline included) quartz

Tourmalinated (tourmaline included) quartz is a type of quartz that has black or green tourmaline needle-like inclusions within it.   The stone looks best when the quartz is clear but more common specimens are found where the quartz is whitish-grey.  This uniquely patterned stone has a Mohs hardness of 7, so it is moderately hard but can scratch and get chipped.

Clean your tourmalinated quartz jewelry with water mixed with a small amount of mild liquid hand soap with a soft cloth, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.  I have a sterling silver and tourmalinated quartz bracelet that I’ve been wearing for 3 or 4 years – the round stones have been unaffected by bathing soaps or shampoo, still looking as lovely as the day I made the bracelet.

Tourmalinated quartz has multiple metaphysical associations with it, including:

  • excellent protective stone
  • brings balance and inner strength
  • deflects and grounds negativity
  • reduces anxiety and depression

Chakra: crown

Below is a photo of a tourmalinated quartz trillion.  We have a variety of loose gemstones as well as lovely completed pieces at www.dragondreamsjewelry.com.

tourmalinated quartz trillion

May 12, 2013

A variety of quartz

“Beads of quartz have been found in caves in Israel that were occupied between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago.”[1]  Clearly quartz has been valued over time as a stone of worth for adornment.

There are many varieties of stone in the quartz family.  Many are commonly known as quartz: rose quartz, smoky quartz, blue quartz, milky quartz, tourmalinated quartz, rutilated quartz, strawberry quartz, amethyst, and even citrine.  However, there are still others less commonly known to be quartz.

  • Aventurine – usually a milky medium to dark green colored stone but it may be a metallic orange-brown color
  • Dumortierite quartz – a rare violet-blue to denim-blue colored stone
  • Prasiolite – a pale green stone that may be anywhere from transparent to translucent; most prasiolite is created by heating amethyst or citrine
  • Tiger’s eye/hawk’s eye – tiger’s eye has brownish yellow – golden brown/green colors while hawk’s eye has darker blue/black colors; both have the “cat’s eye” effect (chatoyancy) because of the way quartz filled in for the asbestos in the rock fibers as the stone formed

 

[1] The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe, p.67

Lemon citrine in Sterling Silver

January 27, 2013

Federal Trade Commission and Jewelry, Gemstones, Precious Metals

Filed under: Stone Buying Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — dragondreamsjewelry @ 10:07 pm

This topic may sound dry and dull but it is relevant to anyone shopping for jewelry, gemstones or precious metals.  We have seen recent  listings (on a variety of auction sites) which misrepresent metals and gemstones.  For example:

  • One troy ounce German silver: this can be misleading as German silver contains zero Silver – see details in our blog post about various representations of silver: https://dragondreamsjewelry.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/know-your-silver/
  • 925 silver: then the listing states “no Sterling Silver content” in fine print
  • Peridot quartz: this was describing green colored stones but what exactly, one would have to guess since peridot and quartz are distinct gemstones

What’s a consumer to do?  First, educate yourself.  Do some research about the item you are buying – or seek assistance from someone who does.  Know the characteristics of the gemstone or metal as well as market prices.  If an item is selling for well below market price, that may be a warning sign.   Second, work with a reputable seller you can trust.  Positive feedback on an auction site or other website is no guarantee that a seller is trustworthy – far too many people purchase items from unscrupulous individuals without verifying their purchase.  If you cannot trust the seller, be sure you can get a full refund should the item not be as claimed.  Third, verify items you purchase.  Inspect the item or possibly have an expert evaluate it.

If you find a disreputable seller, know that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is out there to help consumers.  It is required by FTC rules that sellers disclose any and all treatments to gemstones, that is, the seller is responsible for informing the consumer.  The FTC also outlines rules for clearly identifying metals and metal content so that the consumer is able to understand exactly what is being purchased.  Details of the rules are on the FTC site here:  http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/guides/jewel-gd.shtm

Some sellers make mistakes and will correct the mistake once it has been brought to their attention.  However, sellers who repeatedly and intentionally misrepresent their products should be reported to the FTC.

January 20, 2013

Featured stone: ruby

The Latin ruber, meaning red, is the likely origin of the name ruby.

Prior to the 1800s, there was not a distinction made between red spinel, red garnet, and ruby[1].  As a result, some of the most famous rubies of the world are not actually rubies.  For example, the Black Prince’s Ruby is actually red spinel.   There are also a number of misnomers for ruby[1]:

  • almandine ruby (red garnet)
  • Australian ruby (red garnet)
  • balas ruby (red spinel)
  • Bohemian ruby (red garnet)
  • cape ruby (red garnet)

Chatham ruby, Ramaura ruby, Linde star ruby are all names describing synthetic, flux grown ruby.

Ruby is a variety of corundum which has a purplish-bluish red to yellow-red color (sapphire is used to describe corundum of any other color).  Ruby has a Mohs hardness of 9, making it quite durable and strong.

Clean your ruby jewelry with water mixed with a small amount of mild liquid hand soap with a soft cloth, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.  You may want to use a toothbrush to clean under the stone.  While rubies are not particularly light sensitive, all colored stones can fade with prolonged intense exposure to sunlight, so be sure to store your ruby jewelry out of direct light.  As ruby jewelry can last many years, periodically check the prongs and/or settings to be sure the metal is still holding the stone securely in place.

Rubies can have fractures filled with oil, wax, paraffin, glass, or epoxy resin as fillers, reducing the visibility of flaws and cracks within the stone.  When this has been done, the ruby is considered to be composite, reducing the value of the stone although the it will look better to the naked eye as the fractures will be nonreflective[1].   Rubies, like sapphires, can also be heat treated to improve the color.  Most of the rubies we have seen recently in chain jewelry stores have been lab created rather than natural stones.  Sellers are responsible for disclosing all treatments and whether the stone is natural or lab created.

Some of the metaphysical properties associated with ruby include:

  • shields against negative intentions
  • guards against psychic or physical attack
  • helps to be warm, caring toward others
  • reinvigorates and restores energy
  • encourages love, passion, joy, spontaneity, laughter, and courage
  • balances the heart
  • improves motivation

Chakras: root, heart

[1] The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe, p.50

We have gorgeous ruby jewelry items on our site at www.dragondreamsjewelry.com.

Ruby and Sterling Silver earrings

January 13, 2013

Featured stone: sapphire

Sapphire is believed to derive its name from the Greek σάπφειρος; sappheiros, meaning ‘blue stone’.  However, there are a variety of possible word origins from Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew, and other languages.

A 12th century writing by Abbess Hildegard von Bingen includes this use for a sapphire: “Who is dull and would like to be clever, should, in a sober state, frequently lick with the tongue on a sapphire, because the gemstone’s warmth and power, combined with the saliva’s moisture, will expel the harmful juices that affect the intellect. Thus the man will attain a good intellect.”

Sapphire is a variety of corundum which comes in a variety of colors, including pink, yellow, green, purple, blue, colorless (virtually any color except ruby, another variety of corundum which has a purplish-bluish red to yellow-red color.)  Sapphire has a Mohs hardness of 9, making it quite durable and strong.

Clean your sapphire jewelry with water mixed with a small amount of mild liquid hand soap with a soft cloth, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.  You may want to use a toothbrush to clean under the stone.  While sapphires are not particularly light sensitive, all colored stones can fade with prolonged intense exposure to sunlight, so be sure to store your sapphire jewelry out of direct light.  As sapphire jewelry can last many years, periodically check the prongs and/or settings to be sure the metal is still holding the stone securely in place.

Because these beautiful stones are durable and colorful, there are many synthetics and imitations on the market.  Heat treatment of sapphire has been a common practice since the 1960s [1].  Most of the sapphires we have seen recently in chain jewelry stores have been lab created rather than natural stones.  As always, be sure to ask your seller.

Some of the metaphysical properties associated with sapphire include:

  • bring clarity and clear perception
  • assist communication, including with the spirit realms
  • release mental tension
  • enhance creative expression and intuition
  • promote fairness and loyalty
  • protection during astral travel

Chakras (by color):
White, purple – Crown chakra
Blue – Third Eye and throat chakra
Padparadscha, Yellow – Solar plexus chakra
Green – Heart chakra

[1] The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe, p.48

We have many lovely sapphire jewelry items on our site at www.dragondreamsjewelry.com.

Sapphire in Sterling Silver

December 2, 2012

Brrr…gemstones in the cold

Filed under: Jewelry Care — Tags: , , , , , — dragondreamsjewelry @ 7:00 pm

Here in the United States, the deep cold of winter is settling in.  Just as you may not like the dramatic temperature change from warm indoor air to frigid outdoor air, many of your gemstones won’t like it either.

Sudden changes in temperature can cause some gemstones to crack or shatter, so not only should you take care to bundle yourself up, you should also take care to especially bundle up the following gemstones when you go outside:

  • emerald
  • garnet
  • kunzite
  • opal
  • peridot
  • quartz
  • tanzanite
  • topaz
  • tourmaline

November 25, 2012

Featured stone: amethyst

The Greek word ‘amethystos,’ meaning ‘not intoxicated,’ gives amethyst it’s name – it was considered to be a strong antidote to drunkenness.

Amethyst is a type of quartz that can be found in all shades of purple – from light lavender to a rich purple that can display highlights of magenta when faceted, known as Siberian amethyst.  Cape amethyst (also called amethyst quartz) is more opaque with color zoning in white and purple.  Like all quartz, amethyst has a Mohs hardness of 7, so it is moderately hard but can scratch and get chipped.

Amethyst is sensitive both to heat and sunlight – both could affect the color of the stone.  Try to keep your amethyst jewelry or stones away from prolonged exposure to intense heat or light and store in a cool, dark place when not in use.  Clean your amethyst jewelry with water mixed with a small amount of mild liquid hand soap with a soft cloth, rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.

Typically amethyst is not treated in any way, however synthetic amethyst does exist and synthetic quartz may be dyed and sold as amethyst.  Be sure to ask your seller about the stones.

Amethyst has a number of metaphysical associations with it, including:

  • increases stability, peace,  and calm
  • provides protection against psychic attacks
  • opens communication with angels, telepathy and other psychic abilities
  • promotes shrewdness in business matters
  • balances and heals all chakras
  • encourages inner strength
  • helps with developing intuition and psychic abilities
  • can transform negative energy to love energy

Chakras: third eye, crown

 

We have many amethyst pieces on our site and loose stones waiting to be set.  Below is a 2.51ct amethyst set in Sterling Silver from www.dragondreamsjewelry.com

Amethyst set in Sterling Silver

November 18, 2012

Featured stone: fluorite

Fluorite’s name derives from the Latin fluere, “to flow”.   It “melts more easily than other minerals and was once used as a flux.”  [1]

Fluorite, sometimes called fluorine, fluorospar or fluorspar, can be found in a variety of colors: bright golden yellow, bluish green, rose-pink, blue, green, purple, colorless, and in a mixture of any of these colors.  Fluorite can be transparent or translucent – or anywhere in between.  With a Mohs hardness of 4, this stone is somewhat fragile, brittle and can be damaged easily.

Because the stone is so soft and scratches easily, cleaning fluorite is best done with a soft dry cloth (like a chamois) or with some cool water and a soft cloth.  Do not use warm or hot water on fluorite as this will damage the luster.  The beautiful colors of fluorite can fade if exposed to prolonged intense sunlight so be careful to store these stones in a cool, dark place.   To protect your fluorite jewelry when not in use, also store it apart from other stones, wrapping it in a soft cloth to provide additional protection from scratching or chipping.

One of the interesting features of fluorite is that it usually glows (fluoresces) under black or ultraviolet light – likely caused by yttrium and other trace impurities in the stone.

Fluorite may be irradiated or heated in oil to deepen the color.  It may be impregnated with a resin or polymer to strengthen the stone.  Cabochons are sometimes capped with clear quartz to protect the stone against scratches or being chipped.  All treatments should be disclosed by the seller.

Fluorite (sometimes called “the genius stone”) has a myriad of metaphysical properties associated with it, including:

  • stimulates third eye
  • increases wisdom and the power of discrimination
  • aids the advancement of the mind, concentration, and meditation
  • cleanses aura
  • promotes self-love
  • powerful healing stone
  • grounds excess energy
  • boosts comprehension
  • promotes spiritual and psychic wholeness and development, truth, protection, and peace

Chakras: vary by color but include heart (green), third eye (purple)

[1] The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones by Judith Crowe, p.108

See beautiful jewelry like this for sale at our website – www.dragondreamsjewelry.com

Fluorite wrapped in Sterling Silver

 

April 23, 2011

Amber – tips for identifying the genuine article

Filed under: Stone Buying Tips — Tags: , , , , — dragondreamsjewelry @ 7:09 am

It is fairly common knowledge that Amber is hardened, fossilized resin of pine trees. Amber, once called “the gold of the north,” is also one of the earliest-used gem materials.

Today, Baltic amber (from Poland or Russia) is the most sought after. However, that desirability also inspires fraud.

COLOR TIP OFFS
* Violet and black amber are extremely rare and not commercially available – if the gem for sale is one of these colors, be suspicious!
* Red amber does occur naturally but is also quite rare. Most red amber in jewelry is imitation, often the more common cognac amber backed with foil.

COMMON IMITATIONS
* Copal resin is often sold as amber but it is actually a resin produced by a type of tropical tree.
* Ambroid is a composite amber that is created by heating small pieces of real amber at a high temperature and compressing them together. It usually has a misty look and will often contain trapped elongated air bubbles that can be seen through a jeweler’s loupe.
* Plastic is a common imitation also. Use a hot needle to distinguish amber from synthetics. Real amber will produce smoke that smells a bit like incense, while plastic will melt and show a black mark.
* Polish dealers need a license to manufacture and export amber – so if your dealer is from Poland, ask to see this license.
* Amber is soft and warm to the touch. It also floats in salty water. An additional characteristic of natural amber is that when rubbed, it can produce enough static electricity to pick up a piece of paper.

I hope this information helps you the next time you are shopping for amber.

If that “next time” has you shopping for jewelry, here’s a pair of amber and Sterling Silver earrings at Dragon Dreams Jewelry. 🙂

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