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Article by: Joseph Denaburg

The Emerald, which gets its name from the word “smaragdus” (meaning green in Greek), has been mined since the Egyptians first recognized the stone’s beauty in 1300 BC. Their rich color is one of the main reasons that the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra prized her Emeralds more than any other gemstone. Emeralds are seen as a symbol of rebirth, and they are believed to grant the owner foresight, youth, and good fortune. It is also said that Emeralds have the power to increase the wearer’s speech and diplomacy and bring power to the wearer. These precious stones are also said to warn the wearer of incoming dangers when the color becomes slightly pale. Emeralds are the only stone other than Topaz to be listed in all of the ancient birthstone tables.

Other folklore states that Emeralds were once used as amulets to ward off Epilepsy in children, and they were long thought to cure diseases of the eye. They have also been said to improve memory, intelligence, and clairvoyance. Traditionally, this beautiful gemstone is gifted on a couple’s 55th wedding anniversary, but Emerald jewelry is also common as a gift for 20th and 35th anniversaries.

Emeralds are one of the more difficult stones to cut, due to their hard nature (they are harder than steel) and brittleness. Inexperienced gem cutters are known to leave these stones riddled with microscopic impurities, and it often takes an expert to ensure you are getting a fine quality stone.

A rectangular step-cut is the most common cut of the stone, as it suits the natural shape of the crystal. Instead of bringing out the sparkle of the stone, the “emerald cut” as it is commonly known enhances the depth of the crystal, bringing out the gem’s color.

Emeralds are now found in many countries across the world: Pakistan, Russia, Australia, India, Norway, South Africa, and the US, but the largest producers in the world are Brazil and Columbia. It is popular opinion that the most beautiful Emeralds in the world are those found in Columbia.

Emeralds are very delicate stones, and the wearer should be careful to avoid contact with salt water or extreme temperature changes. It is best to carefully clean these gemstones with a soft brush and warm water.

The Emerald, which gets its name from the word “smaragdus” (meaning green in Greek), has been mined since the Egyptians first recognized the stone’s beauty in 1300 BC.

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

As reported from Tucson, red, pink and lavender spinel colors drew much attention at its 2013 Gem and Mineral Show, although blue sapphires still seem to lead the market. Natural and cultured pearls also attracted the buyers’ attention.

The launch of the first Los Angeles Antique, Jewelry and Watch Show, hosted by US Antique Shows, occurred in March of this year. All eras of jewelry history from the Renaissance to Art Deco were represented. Also featured were pieces previously owned by celebrities and royalty, some of which were signed.

As always, Miami Beach served as the site for a variety of shows, including the International Contemporary Jewelry Fair, which presented jewelry as a “collectible art form.” Levy’s Fine Jewelry enjoyed a very successful visit to the Original Miami Beach Antique Show.

The Jewelers of America (JA) previewed its 2013 jewelry trends last summer and its list included statement necklaces and earrings, unique colored gemstones, sterling silver pieces, big and bold pearls, and “beyond-bridal” platinum.

How does this stack up against other predictions?

From JCK, the expectations for 2013 include emeralds, subtle drop earrings, black & white, i.e., diamonds and white topaz with cool colored stones (colorless rock crystal, black spinel, onyx), snakes and serpent jewels, drusy (flat-backed, crystal dusted mineral), cabochons (vibrant colored gemstones), hair ornaments, and estate jewelry, including wedding sets, fine gemstones and period looks.

And from our own Jared of Levy’s Fine Jewelry, the list includes estate diamonds for recut; big, bold chunky jewelry w/ large stones in yellow and rose gold circa 1950s-1980s; Victorian and art nouveau; original antique and estate engagement rings, and signed designer pieces.

As reported from Tucson, red, pink and lavender spinel colors drew much attention at its 2013 Gem and Mineral Show, although blue sapphires still seem to lead the market. Natural and cultured pearls also attracted the buyers’ attention.

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

Everyone knows that diamonds are rare, but the very finest diamonds are even more incredibly scarce. Large diamonds with a near perfect standard of color and clarity come on the market once in a blue moon. That was the case on the 13th of November when the stunning 76.02-carat Archduke Joseph Diamond was sold at auction for more than 20m Swiss frank ($21,474,525 USD including commission).

The Archduke Joseph Diamond is one of the most famous, most flawless and most stunningly beautiful diamonds to come on the market in recent years, so it is no surprise that the final sale price broke records for the per-carat price for a colorless stone.

The diamond is generally regarded as the world’s finest cushion cut, with a dazzling standard of brilliance. It is internally flawless, and completely colorless. The Archduke Joseph Diamond is the largest completely colorless and internally flawless diamond to ever be rated by the Gemological Institute of America.

This diamond isn’t just a stunning gem: it also has an impeccable historical pedigree. The extremely high sale price of the diamond is no doubt at least partly indicative of the historical interest behind the stone and its regal lineage.

It was originally excavated from the famous Golconda mines in South Central India. Golconda is known as the origin of some of the world’s finest and most famous diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor, the centerpiece of Britain’s crown jewels, and the famous Blue Hope diamond.

From there it fell into the hands of Archduke Joseph August of Austria, a Prince of the Hungarian line of the Hapsburg dynasty. As the first recorded owner, the diamond bears his name. He passed it on to his son, who secreted it away in a Hungarian bank vault.

The diamond was then sold to a French banker, who managed to keep it hidden throughout the entirety of World War 2. The next time it surfaced was at auction in 1961, and then again in 1993 where it was bought by Alfredo Molina, CEO of Black, Starr, and Frost jewelers, for around $6.4m USD. It has proven to be a very wise investment for Mr. Molina, who has more than tripled his money in the recent sale.

After his purchase, Mr. Molina took the brave decision to have the diamond re-cut and polished using modern day technology. This shaved several carats off the weight of the diamond, but greatly improved the symmetry and clarity of the stone. It is reasonably unusual to tamper with such a historically significant stone, but as a jewelry expert Mr. Molina felt his company could improve it. It seems he has been proven correctly by the diamond’s exceptionally high sale price.

Speculation is rife about who the new owner of this spectacular stone is. Christies of Geneva, the auction house where it was sold, is remaining tight lipped as to the buyers identity. They aren’t even saying which country the diamond will be going to. However rumor has it that is that the buyer will be donating it to a museum where a wider audience can enjoy it.

Everyone knows that diamonds are rare, but the very finest diamonds are even more incredibly scarce. Large diamonds with a near perfect standard of color and clarity come on the market once in a blue moon. That was the case on the 13th of November when the stunning 76.02-carat Archduke Joseph Diamond was sold at auction for more than 20m Swiss frank ($21,474,525 USD including commission).

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

There are many large, famous diamonds, but the biggest gem-quality diamond ever found was the Cullinan Diamond that weighed in at 3,106 carats. The stone was discovered by a miner employed by the South African Premier Mine by the name of Thomas Evan Powell in 1905. It was named after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan.

Analysis of the Cullinan diamond revealed astounding clarity but also a black spot in the middle. The colors around the spot were brilliant and vacillating as the stone was turned; this indicated strain in the stone, a not uncommon trait of diamonds. It was then purchased by the Transvaal government and given to King Edward VII on his birthday.

In the early 20th century, jewelers did not have access to the technology used today and cutting the diamond was considered a difficult, risky task that could very well end in disaster. Joseph Asscher of Amsterdam, said to be the most skilled cleaver of his time, managed to split the stone in half precisely through its defect. It is said that the knife broke in the first attempt but when the stone finally broke it fell apart as two perfect halves. It was then cut into thirds and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and 96 minor stones. The South African government eventually bought the major stones and gifted them to Queen Mary in 1910.

The largest of the major stones that were cut and polished from the Cullinan was Cullinan 1, also known as the Great Star of Africa totaling 530 carats. It was the biggest polished diamond in the world until 1985 when the Golden Jubilee Diamond (545 carats) was found. The Cullinan I, a pear shaped gem, now sits in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross, a sceptre that was crafted for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661. It was redesigned to hold the Cullinan I, which can be removed in order to be worn as a brooch. The Cullinan II, the second largest gem from the original stone, also known as the Lesser Star of Africa, is 317 carats; it is the 4th largest polished diamond on earth and cut in a rectangular cushion. Cullinan II now sits in the Imperial State Crown and can be combined with Cullinan I as a brooch. Both stones are part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The remainder of the 9 stones became part of the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure, a suite of emerald and diamond jewelry that was crafted by the crown jewelers for the coronation of King George V in 1911; Mary and George were proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India at a Dunbar in Delhi in December of 1911. Cullinan III, a pear shaped 94 carat stone now is part of a brooch that includes the Cullinan IV, a 63 carat square cushion diamond that was originally the centerpiece of the parure’s tiara. The 18.8 carat heart-shaped Cullinan V was originally part of the stomacher of the parure, a triangular shaped panel that was meant to fill the front opening of a woman’s gown or be attached to the bodice. Cullinan VI, an 11.5 carat marquise cut, was set as a pendant in the parure’s diamond and emerald necklace. Cullinan VII and Cullinan VIII are also part of the stomacher. Cullinan IX is a pear shaped 4.4 carat stone that was set as the bezel in a platinum ring for Queen Mary in 1911.

Speculation persists that the Cullinan diamond is but one fragment of an enormous octahedral crystal, the rest of which is awaiting discovery deep in the bowels of Africa.

There are many large, famous diamonds, but the biggest gem-quality diamond ever found was the Cullinan Diamond that weighed in at 3,106 carats. The stone was discovered by a miner employed by the South African Premier Mine by the name of Thomas Evan Powell in 1905. It was named after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan.

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

To people who are familiar only with the other-worldly beauty of pearls, the distinction between freshwater, saltwater, and cultured pearls can be a mystery. Many people think that the first two are “real” while cultured pearls are imitations. The fact is that the majority of the pearls sold in fine jewelry stores today are cultured whether they are saltwater or freshwater pearls.

Natural pearls, or pearls that were harvested from mollusks by divers, are very rare and usually are antiques. Natural pearls are rarely perfectly round and are usually not very large. The sad reality is that the mollusks that produce pearls “in the wild” are now so depleted that a string of natural pearls would only be within the price range of the incredibly wealthy.

A natural pearl is formed when a parasite or foreign matter make their way into a mollusk’s shell. Cultured pearls involve surgical placement of the irritant. The only way most experts can tell the difference between natural and cultured pearls is through x-rays.

Cultured pearls are a good example of human intervention in nature. When an oyster (mollusk) is 2-3 years old an irritant is surgically inserted and it forms a protective layer of nacre. It continues to add layers over time. The longer it remains unmolested, the thicker the nacre becomes and the larger and more valuable the pearl is. Most pearls are allowed to remain in the oyster between 8 months and two years.

Freshwater and saltwater pearls are both cultured but there are differences that you can see, both in appearance and price. Saltwater pearls are generally more costly because only one can be grown at a time, mainly in the lagoons of Eastern Asia. Freshwater pearls generally come from China and Japan and are grown in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Freshwater mollusks can grow several pearls at one time, sometimes up to a couple of dozen per mollusk.

Saltwater pearls are generally more lustrous and reflective while a freshwater pearl has a soft luster that seems to glow from its heart. A freshwater pearl’s luster is due to its composition, nearly 100% nacre, and many people are surprised to find that they prefer the luster of the freshwater to the iridescence of a saltwater pearl.

Both freshwater and saltwater pearls can be grown in different colors by adding certain metals to the oyster beds. However, saltwater pearls generally are traditional white or Tahitian black. If you see a strand of lustrous rose colored pearls, they are likely freshwater pearls.

Freshwater pearls come in many shapes and sizes while saltwater pearls are generally round. You can get freshwater pearls that are round, button or oval shaped or baroque. They come in sizes as small as a grain of rice, which are often used on wedding gowns.

You can generally tell the quality of a pearl by looking at your reflection in the surface. If you can see yourself clearly it is a good quality pearl. It should have evenly uniform color but don’t expect it to be perfectly round, which is relatively rare. Cultured pearls, both freshwater and saltwater, are quality rated on the thickness of the nacre, how smooth and unblemished the surface is, and the brilliance and reflective properties of the nacre.

To people who are familiar only with the other-worldly beauty of pearls, the distinction between freshwater, saltwater, and cultured pearls can be a mystery. Many people think that the first two are “real” while cultured pearls are imitations. The fact is that the majority of the pearls sold in fine jewelry stores today are cultured…
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