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By: Shmukler Design 

If you’re a January baby, your birthstone is the brilliant and diverse garnet gemstone. And you’re in for a treat, because there’s more to this gem than meets the eye. Garnet is known for its deep red hue, but the gem actually comes in many colors, including orange, yellow, purple and green. In addition, there are garnets that change color from blue to purple depending on the lighting.

As weve done with previous birthstone posts, below isinformation on the history of garnet, an overview of the myths associated with the stone, and our recommendations for how to care for and clean garnet.

History of Garnet

The name garnet has its origins in its famous color. It originates from the 14th century Middle English word gernet, meaning “dark red,” which came from the medieval Latin granatus, meaning “pomegranate.”

 

If you want to win a trivia contest, you should know garnet isn’t really a stone, but a group of minerals. Five minerals to be exact, and they are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, and andradite. Pyrope and almandine’s hues range from purple to red, and spessartine is found in oranges and yellows. Andradite has hues of yellow to green, and grossular holds the widest range: colorless to orangy red. One of grossular’s standout hues is a bright green called tsavorite Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

A selection of three stunning gems are yours for the picking if your birthday happens to fall in the month of December. These sparklers include tanzanite, turquoise, and zircon. Turquoise is the original birthstone, for the month of December with the other two added over the last 67 years.

Do you gravitate toward the blue tones found in tanzanite and turquoise, or do your preferences draw you into the rainbow of options that Zircon offers? Perhaps you are enticed by the storied history of turquoise, or the excitement of a young gem like tanzanite. Regardless of where you are on the interest spectrum, everything you need to know about December’s birthstones appears below, starting with Turquoise.

History and Attributes of Turquoise

Turquoise has been cherished for thousands of years. The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt adorned themselves with turquoise, while ancient Chinese artisans were including it in their designs more than 3,000 years ago. Famously, the funereal mask of Tutankhamun (King Tut: b. 1342 – d. 1325 BC) is encrusted with turquoise. The British Royal family is a fan of the stone as well, proving that the popularity of this birthstone is truly timeless.

The name of this stone is fairly new compared to its beginnings. Turquoise is a French word derived from turquois meaning “Turkish” because the gem was brought from Turkey to Europe. Ancient Egyptians called turquoise “mefkat,” which means both “joy” and “delight.”

Turquoise is an opaque gem with hues that range from blue to green. It often has veins of rock remnant — called matrix — that runs through it. It has been mined in the Nishapur district of Iran for more than 1,000 years. New Mexico was once the largest producer of turquoise in the United States, but in the 1920s, Arizona and Nevada mines gained more prominence. However, the largest geographical producer of turquoise in the world today is China’s Hubei Province.

Turquoise is the traditional gem of Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

When it comes to retail, almost everything is available online, with most items deliverable to your door within 24 to 48 hours. Out of paper towels? You can order them online and have them delivered to your home or office the next day instead of having to stop by the grocery store on your way home. Don’t want to cook? A mobile app can be used to order food and have it delivered from the restaurant of your choice. And best of all, you don’t have to phone for a reservation or wait in line for takeout.

The instant gratification of these purchases is convenient, but in many cases, it takes away from the personal experience you get with industry professionals — especially when it comes to selecting jewelry and gems that are either for yourself or a loved one. When buying a precious gem or diamond, it’s a no-brainer that you should personally see that stone and setting with your own eyes.

Purchase diamonds online

But in this age of online specialty retailers, including those serving diamond buyers, that train of thought goes out the proverbial drive-thru window. By contrast, you should be able to hold a gem or diamond in your hand and have the verification paperwork handed to you by a professional. Being face to face with a legitimate jeweler is the best — and sometimes only — way to get high-quality diamonds and gems.

The benefits of buying from a jeweler directly instead of looking at photos on a website will always outweigh the conveniences offered by the online marketplace. There are so many websites claiming  Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

If you were born in November, you are part of the two-birthstone club that includes people born in March, August, and October. Your birthstones — Topaz and Citrine — offer a number of colors that fit nicely with autumn, including yellow, orange, violet, and brown.

Here’s what you need to know about November’s two birthstones, starting with Topaz:

History of Topaz

This November gemstone’s name is believed to come from the Sanskrit word tapas, which means “fire.” Another possible root of the name is the Greek topazios, which was the ancient name given to Zabargad Island (aka St. John’s Island) in Egypt’s Foul Bay, although topaz was never actually found there.

In 1768, the royal court in Portugal celebrated the discovery Imperial topaz, which has a pinkish-orange color. There is some debate as to whether Portugal is where the “imperial” moniker originated, or if that qualifier came from Russian royalty in the 1880s. It was at that time that the royal family insisted on reserving the best colors of the gem for themselves, which is when topaz was mined from Russia’s Ural Mountains. However, topaz goes back much further than that — all the way back to ancient Greece.

Brazil is currently the largest producer of high-quality topaz and features many colors. Pink topaz is found in Pakistan, but even in the area with the highest concentration of the gem, pink is a rare hue. Topaz can also be found in Namibia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Russia, and even here in the United States, where Texas Blue Topaz is the official gem of the States of Texas, and traditional topaz is the official gem of the State of Utah

The most common hues of topaz are  Continue reading…

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If you’re an October baby, you have two beautiful gems assigned as your birthstone: opal and tourmaline. Pick the one that suits you best — or wear them both. Each stone offers endless vibrant color combinations from which to choose.

History of the Opal

Opal is the more traditional of the two October birthstones. Its name is believed to have originated in India, the source of the first opals brought to the Western world. Specifically, the name comes from the Sanskrit word upala, which fittingly means “precious stone.”

Opal October Birthstone

Opals are valued for their shifting colors in many hues, a phenomenon known as “play-of-color.” That phenomenon has inspired writers to compare it to other great wonders of nature, such as galaxies, volcanoes, and even the man-made wonder of fireworks. And, in addition to being considered the most popular birthstone for the month of October, opal is the traditional gem given to celebrate a 14th wedding anniversary.

Opal is found in many places across the globe, the most popular being Australia. Other common sources are Ethiopia, Mexico and Brazil. You can find the rarest of all opals — the black opal — in Lightning Ridge, a small town in a dry, rocky region of New South Wales, Australia.

Recently, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered opal deposits on  Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

From the people who ascend to modern American royalty to those who are born into actual royalty in nations like the United Kingdom, sapphire is viewed as one of the most regal gemstones on earth. In addition, sapphire — which is commercially mined here the United States and abroad — also happens to be the birthstone for anyone born in the month of September.

Sapphire ring deconstructed.

Synonymous with a deep blue color, there are other variations of sapphire to be aware of. Being one of two varieties of corundum (the other being ruby, which is one of July’s birthstones), the other colors associated with sapphires are gray, colorless, black, and a pinkish-orange variety called padparadscha, which is named for a variety of lotus blossom.

History of Sapphire

For centuries, sapphires have decorated those of royal standing and the robes of the clergy. Clerics in the Middle Ages prized the sapphire as a symbol of heaven, while ancient Persians believed that the sky’s blue hue was due to the earth resting atop a giant  Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

August babies are now part of a select group that has three birthstones. We say now because just a few years ago, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and Jewelers of America (JA) authorized spinel to join peridot and sardonyx as an official August birthstone.

Spinel is only the third update to the birthstone list since it was officially created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now JA.

Get to know spinel, along with peridot and sardonyx, in today’s Custom Jewelry Blog entry:

Spinel is now an August birthstone

Spinel

To explain its addition to the birthstone list, which occurred in 2016, ATGA’s CEO Douglas Hucker said in press release issued at that time:

Ancient gemstone merchants revered spinel, and it was widely sought after by royalty. It was then known as ‘Balas Ruby.’ It wasn’t until the late 18th century that we developed the technology acumen necessary to distinguish spinel asa separate mineralfrom ruby. We are very excitedto announce it asthe newest memberof the official birthstone list.

Spinel’s historical significance

Based on Hucker’s commentary, it’s easy to see why spinel is known as the great impostor of gemstone history. For centuries, it was mistaken for a ruby, even by the most renowned royal jewelry experts. Pink and red spinels were also mistaken for pink sapphires for centuries, making this gem a true chameleonthat’s mistakenly been mounted in crown jewels under the assumption they were rubies.

The most well-known hue of spinel — which is most often found in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand — is red. Thousands of years ago, the mines of Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

If you’ve been following along since the launch of the Custom Jewelry Blog, you know that each month we endeavor to shine a light on the birthstone representing the current month of the year. This month, we’re pleased to tell you about the pink to blood-red colored gemstone known as ruby.

Rubies are a type of corundum — a mineral made up of densely packed oxygen and aluminum atoms. Under normal conditions, corundum is colorless. But when a small number of atoms are substituted for some of the aluminum atoms, the result is the emergence of some truly unique colors. Both ruby and sapphire are scientifically the same mineral, differing only in color. Ruby is defined as red corundum. Anything not red is classified as sapphire.

For example: Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

The investment you make in a quality piece of jewelry doesn’t stop after the initial outlay of cash — it includes making a promise to care for that item and giving it the attention that it deserves over the piece’s many years of ownership. But don’t fret. As arduous as that task may sound, taking care of jewelry isn’t as difficult as you might think.

There are many simple, inexpensive steps that you can take at home to properly care for your jewelry pieces in order to maintain their beauty. In today’s post, we cover some of the basics you can perform to make your jewelry last a lifetime and beyond.

Consistency Matters

One of the most important steps in taking care of jewelry is consistency. Depending on how much wear a piece gets, you should give it a routine cleaning at home either weekly or monthly. Special occasion jewelry may only need a cleaning every few months or once a year. And most of it can be done while talking on the phone with a friend or watching the latest episode of The Crown or another binge-worthy show on Hulu or Netflix.

Jewelry Cleaning Supplies and Methods

Often, the safest jewelry cleaning methods are also the easiest. You can clean your jewelry with items that are inexpensive and easy to find around the house or pick up at the grocery store.

Warning: Your kitchen or bathroom sink should never be used to clean jewelry. And, of course, that’s because sinks contain a drain that can easily swallow your jewels should they become slippery and fall while cleaning or polishing them.

Supplies to always have on hand for jewelry cleaning include: Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

For those born in the month of June, you have the luxury of selecting the birthstone that best fits your personality and personal preference from among three beautiful options: pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. Scholars and researchers alike believe the anointing of birthstones can be traced to biblical times, when a dozen gemstones said to represent the 12 tribes of Israel, were described in the book of Exodus.

Here, in today’s post, we’re pleased to tell you about the history of June’s three birthstones, as well as offer some tips on keeping those stones clean for years to come.

History of the Pearl

Pearls have the special distinction of being the only gemstones made by living creatures and are thought to be among the world’s first gemstones. In the ancient Middle East, people believed pearls were teardrops that fell from heaven. The ancient Chinese wrote that pearls came from the brain of a dragon.

18 Karat Yellow Gold Ring w/ Golden South Sea Pearl, created by Boris Shmukler.

Pearls can be found within any shelled mollusk, but only certain clams use mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent pearls we use in jewelry. These natural treasures don’t require any polishing to reveal their shine.

Pearls are produced when mollusks deposit layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic debris that becomes wedged inside their shells. Those mollusks thrive in freshwater and fittingly, the formation of beautiful pearls is nearly impossible when the water in which the mollusk resides is Continue reading…