Thursday, May 30, 2013

What is Marcasite?

Iridescent Cluster of Marcasite Crystals
A lot of vintage jewelry, and vintage-looking jewelry, has marcasite in it.  Marcasite is really pretty, sort of a dark gunmetal to gold color, and is faceted and sparkly.  It has been used in jewelry since the time of the Ancient Greeks, and was very popular in the Victorian era, and in Art Nouveau jewelry.  In the early 20th Century, it was referred to as "black diamonds".   But what is marcasite?

Marcasite Sterling Band Ring in my Etsy Shop
Marcasite is actually "Fool's Gold" or Iron Pyrite!  Pyrite is more stable and less brittle than actual Marcasite, so it's used in jewelry. Actual "marcasite" is very similar to Fool's Gold, in that it is White Iron Pyrite---very similar but with a more fragile crystal structure. 

I didn't realize that Marcasite was actually Fool's Gold until today! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What is Hydroquartz? Cherry Quartz? Pineapple Quartz??

I was looking around etsy tonight, and I saw a very pretty necklace made of a single briolette of "emerald hydroquartz" simply set on a sterling chain.  It was also quite expensive (well over $125), which probably leads buyers to believe that this is a gemstone, probably related to emerald or some sort of rare green quartz. Right?

NOT!!!  Hydroquartz is GLASS.  It's not a gemstone at all.  No matter what it's called, whenever the word "hydroquartz" is found, it's GLASS.  It's neither quartz nor emerald---just a very pretty green glass.

Emerald "Hydro Quartz" Briolettes (Glass)
What's really sad is that I googled "hydroquartz" which brought up 77,800 results, mostly for "hydro quartz" although whether one word or two, it's the same thing.  And the first result took me to a bead website that went into great detail (including diagrams!) about hydrothermic production of synthetic stones, such as emeralds and rubies, yakkity blah blah about hydrothermic this and that, as if it is related to Hydro Quartz.  (Also note:  the comments are closed on that site---always a bad sign.)  That's because it's totally FALSE---these "hydro quartz" stones are NOT created in the same manner that a created emerald or ruby are created.  Hydroquartz stones are NOT created gemstones!  That's a whole other matter, but not in the least bit related to hydroquartz.  Hydrothermic synthesis is a real thing---but not to make anything called "hydro quartz".  

Searching the google results further, I see other bloggers who tell of their disappointed tales of buying hydroquartz, only to find it is "some sort of man-made stone" with bubbles inside or some sort of "wavy" look to the stone, or in the case of a lapidary website, it was suggested that it's glass.  Ding Ding Ding!!  There it is.

Hydro quartz manufacturers came up with the name in order to confuse!  It sounds a lot like "enhydro quartz" which is a real quartz stone with naturally encapsulated water bubbles inside.  It's like a lot of manufacturers' names for things that don't mean anything---like "opalite" which is glass as well, and not any sort of opal.  And people are trying to twist the "hydro" into meaning it was produced in some sort of water environment, or like hydrothermic production----not so!!  Hydro Quartz appeared in the marketplace around 2000, and was clearly stated EVERYWHERE that it was "glass", but somehow, over the past 10-15 years (and especially within the last 5 years) these fraudulent names and claims have become the norm.

Or like "Cherry Quartz" and "Pineapple Quartz" (and some other lesser used "fruit" quartz names)---those are also just GLASS, not quartz at all.  Cherry "quartz" is made to look like the very lovely but rare genuine stone, strawberry quartz.  A large jewelry company in the US  has Cherry Quartz for sale ($46 for a tiny 6 x 9mm piece on a chain) as a "Healing Gem" that instructs the wearer that "Cherry quartz releases, stores, and regulates energy. It attracts love in all its forms."  Yeah, right, IT'S GLASS, and where would they come up with these "properties" for a glass pendant masquerading as a gemstone?  (Answer: they made it up.)   In the marketplace, lemon quartz IS a gemstone so that's another exception to the "fruity" names. Yet there is also "Lemon Hydro Quartz" which is glass. So confusing!  (And the confusion is done on purpose, sadly.)

From India - "Tanzanite Hydro Quartz-Glass"
If you look around the web, you'll find the actual GLASS manufacturers of  "hydro quartz" in India and other places, such as China.   It is actually called "Hydro Glass" in India. sells this glass as well, but they don't try to deceive anyone by calling it "hydro quartz" -- they call it "quartz" glass (with the quotes).  Thank you for the honesty, Fire Mountain Gems!!

So, just because everyone else is pretending that Hydro Quartz is a gemstone, or because a wholesaler claims it's not glass, that doesn't make it right for a seller---no matter how large or small---to continue misleading buyers. Do they think it's up to the buyer to discover that "Hydroquartz" is not a gemstone, so if they include that term in the description, they're not liable for fraud?  It's GLASS, it's not a gemstone, it's not precious,  it's not a synthesized gemstone, it's not a hydrothermically produced gemstone---it's GLASS that is colored to look like gemstones.  GLASS.  Opalite is glass, Cherry Quartz is glass, Pineapple Quartz is glass, Hydro Quartz is glass.  Period.  It should be clearly stated as glass, and not as a "gem".

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral on earth.  It ranges in color from clear, colorless "rock crystal" quartz, to pink rose quartz, amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz, chalcedony, agate, onyx, jasper, aventurine, prasiolite, carnelian, and many more varieties of quartz.  Genuine quartz is an abundant mineral that can be found in many countries including here in the US where they can be found as HUGE natural gem-quality crystals,  and there is no need to create man-made quartz for use in the jewelry industry---it is synthesized only for use in the electronics industry.

"Aquamarine" Hydro Quartz (glass)--6 pieces for $3.85!

Also note that these glass manufacturers, or wholesale sellers, are marketing these glass stones with names of precious gemstones, such as "Aquamarine Hydro Quartz", "Emerald Hydro Quartz", "London Blue Hydro Quartz" and "Rubellite Pink Hydro Quartz" and so forth, and for about $3.75 for SIX pieces---and that's retail, not even wholesale!  Aquamarine is a precious Beryl gemstone (as is Emerald), and of course London Blue is an expensive variety of semi-precious Topaz gemstones---not quartz at all.  Rubellite is bright pink tourmaline. So they aren't even trying to say these are "synthetic aquamarines" or "created Tanzanite" or "lab created tourmaline" or something---the very use of the term "hydro quartz" means it's GLASS.  Plain and simple.

Please don't be fooled!  And ask yourself, do you really want to do business with ANY seller that is trying to deceive?  Or who chooses to leave out the important fact that it's not just Hydroquartz, but is glass? Or at the very least, giving the benefit of a doubt, would you trust any seller that isn't savvy enough to even research the products that they sell??

Buyer beware!!


UPDATE:  June, 2016

Since I wrote this post about 3 years ago, I've since written more about this "hydroquartz" here on my blog.  I have purchased several varieties of this "hydro" stone in many colors, from many different sellers----Paraiba hydro quartz, Pink Tourmaline hydroquartz, Sapphire hydroquartz, London Blue hydroquartz, and others, including several purple Amethyst hydroquartz stones.  I took these to a gemologist and had them tested, per the recommendation I got from someone at the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) who told me that it's possible that some of the hydroquartz may be manmade quartz, or glass, but only testing will confirm.

So these stones were tested, and as suspected, were glass (no crystal structure).  HOWEVER, one of the Amethyst hydroquartz stones actually WAS manmade quartz!  Amethyst is considered the premier quartz and although abundant in nature, fine quality Amethyst is expensive and is therefore worth it to synthesize it in a lab.

So SOMETIMES, but not often, hydro quartz can be actual quartz, particularly with purple quartz.  And sometimes, Amethyst that is manmade is being sold as natural!  So be very careful.

The only way to tell if something is glass or not is to have it tested.  But that said, I've never seen any other "hydro quartz" that is not glass.  But it is possible---although not likely.

I still say, be careful of buying and selling so-called "hydro quartz".  If you love the way something looks, by all means, buy it and wear it and love it!  But I don't sell anything I'm not sure of, and I'm not at all comfortable with buying or selling "hydroquartz".  

I've written more about this in my blog post here:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Opal Moonstone", "Sea Opal", "Opal Quartz" or "Opalite Quartz" etc. Are Glass OPALITE

Please note: since I wrote this post in 2013, I've written more info about Opalite (starting from most recent) HERE, and more about the difference between Moonstone and opalite HERE, plus HERE and yet another post HERE.  I've also included Opalite in my running list of fake gems HERE.

Opalite Bib Necklace I sold (and made!)--note the pink tones
GRRRR!!  It's so aggravating!  I see sellers with jewelry made with Opalite, which is a man-made "stone" that is actually glass, being sold as a "gemstone".  It's VERY pretty, and looks mystical-blue-white against the skin or light backgrounds (like in my picture left), and vibrant opaque BLUE against dark backgrounds (like below, left).  I sold a beautiful Opalite necklace in March.  BUT I never said it was anything other than what it was---Opalite! And I explained how it is man-made glass.  Opalite is not a laser treated quartz. It’s a pretty glass with an opalescent quality, similar to "milk glass" which was an opalescent type of glass first produced in Venice in the 16th century.  Opalite is made like "milk glass" by melting opacifiers (such as Titanium Dioxide, bone ash, even cyanide!) with the molten glass.  Opalite, just like milk glass, shows the "Tyndall effect" (The Tyndall effect in opalescent glass: It appears blue from the side, but orange light shines through)  as seen in the picture below:
The Tyndall effect - Light through Blue Glass

Now I see sellers offering Opalite as "Sea Opal" and "Opal Moonstone" or just plain "Moonstone".  It is NEITHER opal nor moonstone.  It doesn't come from the sea.  And of course there is no such thing as a combined "opal moonstone".  Recently I saw "Opalite Quartz" or "Opal Quartz"---no, it's not any type of quartz. Opalite is GLASS.  I recently read that is might be PLASTIC fused with metal!  It does have a sort of plastic-y feel, and warm to the touch.  Either glass or plastic, it is not a gemstone.  It is not precious.  It's not infused with any mineral.  It's not really worth very much.  It's just a very pretty piece of glass (or plastic).  You can buy strands of Opalite beads and briolettes at Michael's for $5.99 and they are clearly marked "glass Opalite".  It was introduced to the world in 1988 in Hong Kong.  Exactly what is added to the glass to make it glow isn't known, but it is definitely NOT "dolomite" (which is plain grey rock---pavement gravel!) or quartz or fluorite!!  That's FALSE.   NO minerals are found in this glass. This is just an iridescent glass.

I just saw someone online selling Opalite as "Synthetic Opal" or "Opal (Created)".  It is NOT a created opal----it's not any kind of opal----it's just glass.

Opalite "Points" - GLASS
There are also sellers who offer this in crystal "point" shapes and are marketing it as "Opalite Quartz" and "Natural Opalite".   Opalite is NEVER natural and is simply carved or molded into those "crystal" shapes.  They are perfectly shaped---and a natural crystal is never so perfect.  No matter how many times sellers will try to push this glass stone as "quartz" it is NOT QUARTZ, not any type of gemstone, just glass.

I just looked on Alibaba (see HERE), and saw Opalite being sold as "Natural Semi Precious Irregular Gravel Chip Argenon Opalite Quartz Stones" for $5.95 for an entire strand.  No matter what they are trying to claim, these beads are GLASS, not "Argenon" and not "Quartz" and not any type of semi-precious "irregular" bead.  These were formed this way because these are all manmade GLASS beads.  Sadly, in reading the comments and reviews for these beads, someone wrote "Very beautiful but some beads are not opalite they are just clear Quartz mixed in."  WOW, talk about being misinformed!!

Now moonstone---that's a different matter.  Moonstone IS a gemstone, of the feldspar family like Labradorite, and come mostly from India and Sri Lanka.  They can be white, blue, rainbow, even peach.  (Rainbow Moonstone is actually labradorite, but it's accepted in the jewelry industry to call it Moonstone.)  They have an incredible glow called Adularescence" or "chatoyance" (inner glow) with flashes of colors that is unlike anything else.  Ancient Romans. thought the stone was made of moonlight.  It does look like that.  It is a stone that is thought to have special powers.

You can see a vague similarity between the very fine grade blue moonstones (below to the right) and 
Moonstone Cabochon against black
opalite glass cabochons (below) in these pictures---they're both bluish and clearish with a certain glow.  But Moonstones are a true gemstone that has value, whereas opalite is just mass-manufactured glass or plastic (and is milkier and pinker, and more obviously glass or plastic in person).  Opalite has a lovely look with a sort of blue "plasma" glow (see pic below), but doesn't possess the same characteristics as real moonstone which is obvious when viewed in person.
Glass Opalite Cabochons against black

I don't know if any etsy seller is just mistaken.  Possibly (probably?)  they know very well that they are not selling a gemstone called "opal moonstone" because even if you google that, there is no information for a gemstone called that, but there are plenty of mentions of it being man-made.  HOWEVER, there are TONS of ebay items (from the Far East, mostly) that are Opalite being sold as "opal necklaces" (for $5.99!)  and so forth.  That is a blatant RIP OFF if you are thinking it's anything other than glass beads.  Buyer beware!!

Better yet, ASK the seller if the stone is a genuine stone or man-made Opalite BEFORE you buy it!  (Unless you just love the look of Opalite and don't care if it's man-made--it IS very pretty!)  And get a guarantee that if you bring it to a jeweler and they tell you it's glass, you'll get your money back!  I think a seller will be more likely to tell the truth when confronted.  Sad that they are trying to deceive in the first place, but as a buyer, you have to protect yourself!  (And my advice: don't buy anything from a deceitful seller who has to be confronted in the first place!)  And if the seller just doesn't honestly know that it is a man-made stone (it can happen!) then they would appreciate being educated about Opalite.

UPDATE 8.19.13:  I was reading a forum online, and they were discussing an etsy seller charging over $60 for an OPALITE necklace that is totally misrepresented as "moonstone".  On etsy.  NOT COOL.  This seller obviously knows it's not moonstone (because basically everyone in the jewelry business KNOWS that this is glass----it's only the unsuspecting and uninformed buyer that is duped!)  and is lying to get that sale.  SAD.  The only reason I'm not linking to it is because I don't want to drive business her way----anyone that tries to defraud buyers is just the worst and should just go away.  However, if you go to etsy and search for "translucent round moonstone sterling silver" you'll find the necklace.  AND earrings. Bracelet too!  They also have this opalite in square glass pieces (as "moonstone") as well.  Seller paid about $10 (tops) for a strand of those glass stones.  NOT moonstone, not a gemstone----GLASS.  About 70 results will show up---over 60 are real moonstone, a carved rose is also Opalite (not opal, etc. etc.) and another pendant is also just glass Opalite.  IRRITATING.  Makes etsy look bad and drives away customers from legitimate sellers.

UPDATE 1.6.15:    Here are a couple of pictures of genuine Moonstone cabochons, and a picture of Opalite Glass for comparison.  As you can see, real moonstone has inclusions---they look like fractures, but are "layers" which are natural to the gem.  These mineral layers are what cause the phenomenon known as adularescence, or schiller, which is that beautiful shimmering glow that makes Moonstone and Labradorite so special! 
Genuine Moonstones
Genuine Moonstone

*NOT* Moonstone -- Opalite GLASS

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What, exactly, is a CZ? What is Moissanite?

Personally, I love CZs (Cubic Zirconia) because they look like diamonds (NO ONE can tell just by looking!) but are very inexpensive, and I'm not giving money to the "blood diamonds" industry.  That's important to me.  I like to know where gemstones originate, just like I want to be sure my purse didn't come from a Chinese sweat shop!

I think there is a LOT of confusion about CZ.  I think people confuse CZ with Swarovski crystals, or think they're somehow lesser quality than crystals.  NOT SO!  Crystals are fine sometimes, very sparkly, but they generally LOOK just like crystals and are glued in place most often---not really diamond substitutes, in my opinion.  I think they contain lead too.  I'm not entirely cool with that.

CZ is grown in a lab-environmentally friendly.  There are a wide variety in the quality of CZ and stones are rated like diamonds---AAAAA is the highest quality.  The Mohs hardness is 8.5 for a CZ--harder than most gemstones, nearly as hard as sapphire (Mohs 9).  The rough CZ are cut like real gemstones, and in fact, diamond cutters will cut CZ as well.  Certain oxides are added in the CZ growing process to produce different colors of CZ, including new multi-colored CZ stones.

Interesting fact:  recent innovations include applying a coating of Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) on top of the CZ stone, so it will actually TEST as a diamond!  It also takes the brilliance of a CZ down a notch, because CZ are brighter than diamonds.  I'll bet the diamond industry HATES this.  Also, a thin film is sometimes applied to CZ just like on "mystic topaz" stones to give them the "rainbow" look---not so great because the mystic coating easily wears off on both CZ and topaz. 
CZ ring in my shop

So, to quote Wikipedia:

"Because of its low cost, durability, and close visual likeness to diamond,  synthetic cubic zirconia has remained the most gemologically  and economically important competitor for diamonds since commercial production began in 1976. Its main competitor as a synthetic gemstone  is the more recently cultivated material, synthetic moissanite."

Moissanite ring--courtesy of Wiki Commons
Yes, moissanite.  I see moissanite engagement rings on etsy that are THOUSANDS of dollars.  Why is that?  Moissanite *originally* was found at a meteorite crater in Arizona in 1898---a mineral that was named after its founder.  But today, Moissanite is CREATED in a lab.  It's a synthetic stone, just like a CZ is.  Since naturally occurring moissanite is so rare, lab-grown moissanite is the only commercially viable version of the mineral.

Yet, sellers claim it's a "mineral" from "a meteorite", but that is NOT TRUE.  The moissanite on the market today---all of it----is synthetic, lab-grown crystals.  Environmentally friendly, lab created stones.  NOT from a meteorite!

Moissanite was introduced into the jewelry market in 1998.  It is considered a diamond alternative that is eco friendly and ethically produced (in a lab).  It is harder than CZ, a 9.5 on the Mohs scale, so it is used in industrial applications.  However, it is very "yellow" looking as opposed to clear CZ, so I just don't "get" the whole moissanite thing.  Moissanite is graded in the "I, J, and K" range (faint yellows) on the diamond grading scale, whereas CZ is graded as "D" (colorless--the finest diamond). To me, there is just no comparison between Moissanite and colorless/flawless CZ.

But because of marketing (by Charles & Colvard---they must be the "De Beers" of Moissanite!), moissanite is very expensive---"perception is reality" I guess.

To me, a good quality simulated diamond is a good quality simulated diamond.  If you don't want to purchase a genuine diamond for whatever reason (expense, ethics, etc) then a fine CZ is the only way to go.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jade: Lots of fakes!

Real Jade Buddha on Auction at Christie's 2010
Jade is what I call a "mysterious" stone.  It comes from mysterious places (like China, or Central America or the Yucatan as found in Mayan temples) and has been used for centuries.  It's beautiful and comes in different colors, but the emerald-green variety is the one I think of when I think of jade.

BUT, there are a lot of other stones being sold as jade, and they're anything including glass, dyed quartz, serpentine, soapstone, and just tons of other natural and manmade stones (even plastic!).  I have a green jade ring in my etsy shop, and I received a lovely "convo" from someone who has the ring as well---she purchased it in a book shop years ago!  And she was told it was real Jade from China.  It's almost impossible to tell if it is in fact Jade or a dyed stone.   It seems like the word "jade" is being used for just about anything that is carved in some sort of Asian piece, which really loses the meaning of the term "jade" regarding the real thing.
Mayan Jade Mask

I bought some "ruby jade" faceted coin beads about 8 years ago from a store in Santa Fe, NM, and they told me it was "white jade" that was dyed red.  In looking up "white jade" I'm not sure, but I think it's some sort of quartz.  The red jade coins are translucent and hard, but is it really jade, or quartz?  It's all VERY confusing!!

I found a great website that is very informative, with pictures and lots of information.  If you are wondering about jade and all the fakes found on ebay and other places, please take a look at this website.  The author is named Molly Kalafut, and I don't know her at all, but I appreciate all her hard work!  Take a look:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Gram weights for jewelry? What's it really "worth"?

I have a large collection of vintage jewelry that I'm selling on etsy.  Some of the jewelry is mine, but most is jewelry that I received as an inheritance from my aunt, my mom's half-sister, who lived a great, long life.  The jewelry was, for the most part, kept in bags and marked with little comments about where she acquired it, when, things like that.  I have kept a lot of the jewelry, but a number of items don't fit me, so I have offered them on etsy at really great prices.  I'd rather see the pieces go to people who will enjoy them, and I'm asking very reasonable (or maybe too cheap!) prices.

Most of the jewelry is made with real gemstones, pearls, sterling, gold.  I look at the quality (most of it is like brand new, never worn) and workmanship.  I compare prices for similar items.  I think the prices I ask are more than fair.

Vintage (Antique?) 14k Ring on Etsy
On etsy, I have a solid 14k ring for sale (seen in the picture).  It's a ring with a lot of ornate detail, diamond-cut engraved details, a dome ring.  Never worn, as far as I can tell.  And it is hallmarked 14k, so it's solid gold.  I don't know if it's 20 years old or 80 years old, or where it's from (it was in an unmarked box).  But I thought $100 was a good price for a solid, detailed 14k ring, and would be $90 if a buyer used my $10 off coupon. 

Today, someone asked me, "What is the gram weight of this ring?"

I didn't know what to say!  Should I feel insulted?  Because to me, the "gram weight of gold" is important to SCRAP dealers!  Like those places that offer "cash for gold" where you bring in your old broken chains and get a few bucks for it.

I simply don't even have a gram scale, as I'm not a jeweler or wholesaler or whatever type of business would have a gram scale.  I do have a ring mandrel and a millimeter gauge to measure gem sizes or band widths. I have a postal scale! But  I never even thought about a gram scale!  I'm a person selling vintage jewelry that I thought might find a new owner who'd appreciate the jewelry, rather than sitting in storage.

Isn't jewelry worth more than the sum of its parts?  Do people contact Tiffany, for example, and ask the gram weight of their sterling silver jewelry?  Because if they based the value on how much silver is in the product, by grams, Tiffany's sterling open-hearts band ring would only be worth maybe $46 for approximately two grams of silver (I'm guessing--they don't weigh their stuff), and not $175...  Do people look at a Dior gown and say, "How much is that silk fabric per yard used in that dress?"   Do you look at an oil painting and say, "Well, the canvas was about $18 and they used about $30 worth of paint, so they want WHAT for that Picasso??"  Hahaha,  I'm sure you get what I'm saying.

Just seems ridiculous to me, and a little insulting.  Is this person planning to scrap the ring for cash?  Is the gold ring only worth $100 if there are more than 4 grams of gold at $25 per gram at today's price?  Did they not want to WEAR the ring?

Is this insulting?  Sort of.  Am I being too sensitive?  I don't think so.  Isn't the style and artistry of a piece, and maybe it's age and condition, worth something beyond the cost of the materials?  Or is the "value of the metal" the way people buy vintage jewelry?

It's like the "value" of the human body is something like $160 if you separate and tally all the elements found within.  Is that really what it's worth?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My thoughts on some weird Etsy things...

I don't care what other people do.  Unless it's hurting someone, of course.  But today I was looking around on etsy and I saw a couple of very weird things.  I'd call it "taking advantage of others" or perhaps "fraud" or something like that.

I thought etsy was for handmade or vintage? Or supplies?  A seller, who has sold thousands of things, is selling earrings, stud earrings in particular, that they don't make!  They BUY them wholesale and then turn around and sell them as if they made them.  And for $10, $20, $30 or more.  For CZ earrings.  Or fake opal or other types of "gems".

Now, buyers seem happy (for the most part), so I guess there's no real harm.  But it bothers me because I GIVE THESE EARRINGS AWAY as a gift for each purchase.  The same sterling silver earrings with the same size CZ stones.  So I know where this seller is BUYING them.  I would never think of selling retail what I buy wholesale.  (Unless it's ebay!)  And sometimes I give away sterling earrings that are set with genuine turquoise, or genuine onyx, or whatever I have on hand that matches their purchase---sometimes even genuine amethyst earrings or sapphire ones.  Sometimes a bracelet or pendant.  I like giving little "surprises" to people as a thank-you gesture!

I guess that's just me.

But the WORST OFFENDER I've seen in a long time is someone who is using etsy to try to sell a supposed Alexandrite for literally TENS of thousands of dollars.  And it's NOT an Alexandrite at all!  It's probably just a Chrysoberyl, which somewhat changes from a gold color to a green color depending on the light.  An Alexandrite is a VALUABLE stone that absolutely MUST change colors from green to red to purple---it's TRICHROIC (meaning THREE color changes), always, always, always. They are claiming it's some sort of "special" Alexandrite from another country no less (uh, it's called Alexandrite because it's Russian, from Russia...) which makes zero sense---but hey, they'll say anything to make a buck (or over 30,000 bucks). 

So this total FRAUD on etsy is pretending to sell some stone and they think that by charging a ridiculous amount of money, that some sucker will fall for it and buy it.  FRAUD.  If I had a lot of money (they're charging five figures for it) I'd buy that, then turn around and SUE them for ten times what I paid, for fraud and so forth.  They deserve it!

Oh, I found this fabulous article about this VERY type of fraud, entitled "The Misconception and Erroneous Marketing of Alexandrite Versus Color hange Chrysoberyl" from the International Gem Society (IGS): 

The sad part is that this etsy seller knows EXACTLY what they're doing.  Buyer beware!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gemstone Love: Sapphires!

I love gemstones!  I've been collecting gemstones (loose ones as well as in jewelry) since I was about 16.  I used to LOVE going to the "Hall of Gems" at the Field Museum in Chicago.  I'd spend a huge amount of time staring in the cases, amazed at the colors and beauty of the gems.  I think my favorite was the Aquamarine---what a color!  They had a faceted Aquamarine the size of my fist, and that soft ocean blue-green color....WOW. 

Anyway, sapphires are such wonderful stones.  When you think of sapphires, most people think of the rich blue stones (like Kate Middleton's ring).  But sapphires come in every color of the rainbow, including clear, grey and black!  Here are some interesting facts about sapphires:

 - Sapphire is the gemstone variety of the mineral Corundum.
 - When a sapphire is red, it is called a RUBY!
 - Colorless (white) sapphires are often used as diamond substitutes.
 - Sapphires are VERY hard, rated a 9 on the Mohs scale, and only a diamond can scratch it!
 - Sapphires are so hard that they are used in scientific instruments, watch crystals, and for many other scientific and practical uses.
 - A sapphire, when it is a certain shade of pink-orange, is called Padparadscha.
 - Sapphires are found all over the world, including Montana.

Regarding colors:

Rainbow Sapphires - ring in my shop!
Color in gemstones breaks down into three components: hue, saturation and tone. Hue is most commonly understood as the COLOR of the gemstone. Saturation refers to the vividness or brightness of the color, and tone is the lightness to darkness of the color. Blue sapphire exists in various mixtures of its primary (blue) and secondary hues, various shades, and at various levels of saturation (vividness).

Blue sapphires are evaluated based upon the purity of their primary hue:  purple, violet and green are the most common secondary hues found in blue sapphires. Blue sapphires with up to 15% violet or purple are generally said to be of fine quality.

"Fancy Sapphires" - when sapphires are found in other colors (other than blue), they are called "Fancy" sapphires.  Pink Sapphires are very valuable when they are very deep pink, almost red in color.

Color Change Sapphires - very rare, exhibits different colors in different lights.  Sometimes these are sold as "created Alexandrite" but they are neither created nor alexandrite!

It's common for sapphires to be heat-treated to enhance color.  This is done by heating the sapphires in furnaces to temperatures between 500 and 1800 °C for several hours, or by heating in a nitrogen-deficient atmosphere oven for seven days or more. Once heated, the stone becomes more blue in color but the stone loses all silk (inclusions) and it becomes clear under magnification.