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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


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…

By: Shmukler Design 

Custom Jewelers are only as strong as their imaginations and the tools they use. At our Southern California custom jewelry business, Shmukler Design, imagination fuels us, while one of our favorite work instruments is the Orion LZR 100 Benchtop Laser.

Laser technology has found its way into many industries, both new — solar, electronics, aerospace — and some of the oldest, including jewelry making. A laser welder can help bench jewelers like our founder and creative director, Boris Shmukler, work quickly and efficiently to deliver custom designs or conduct restoration and repair work on heirloom jewelry.

And while laser welding tools are perfect for working with metals such as silver, gold, platinum, and more, they also have the ability to assist in repairing jewelry containing gemstones without having to remove the mounting. Laser welders create strong welds and can even weld in the direct vicinity of Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

Enchanting to royalty, both ancient and of the Hollywood variety, the spellbinding emerald is your birthstone if you are born in May. This gem is thought to represent:

  • Fertility
  • Growth
  • Intelligence
  • Liveliness
  • Quick Wit
  • Rebirth

History of the Emerald

The world’s most ancient emeralds, found in South Africa, are estimated to be about 2.97 billion years old, while the name “emerald”comes from smaragdos — the ancient Greek term for a green gem. Roman author and gem enthusiast Pliny the Elder (born Gaius Plinius Secundus in 23 AD – d. 79 AD) once wrote that “nothing greens greener” than an emerald.

While the emerald has existed in nature for billions of years, the first known emerald mines weren’t in operation until around 330 BC in Egypt, where they existed until the 1700s.

Egypt’s Queen Cleopatra (b. 69 BC – 30 BC), whose likeness is one of the most recognizable in the world, was known to have a passion for emeralds, and was said to have used them in her royal adornments. Legend has it that Cleopatra would gift emeralds to visiting dignitaries with her likeness carved into them. More practically, the ancient Egyptians believed Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

Last week, our blog post — History of Jewelry Part Two — Accessories: From Ancient Egypt to the Roaring ‘20s — covered the history of jewelry accessories and the different trademark styles created by cultures around the world from ancient times to the early 20th century. That post takes us up to the early 1900s, discussing the popular jewelry styles in the United States at the time, including those worn by the fated passengers aboard the RMS Titanic.

Today, we are fortunate to have Craig A. Lynch, G.G., with us to discuss the jewelry accessories he appraised from the Titanic, recovered from the bottom of the ocean nearly more than eight decades after an iceberg struck the luxury liner back in April of 1912.

Craig. A. Lynch, G.G.

You may recall from last week’s post that Craig, who is an Accredited Senior Gemologist and Certified Insurance Appraiser, is the owner of Ouellet & Lynch in Phoenix, Ariz. In 2002, he was selected to document and value all of the jewelry recovered from the Titanic. Below, in his own words, Craig provides answers to our questions about that experience and the jewelry accessories from the time of the sailing of the Titanic. Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

An outfit isn’t complete without accessories — more specifically, jewelry accessories. Nothing catches the eye more than a complementary necklace or sparkling earrings. Since the beginning of civilization, jewelry accessories have been popular for both men and women — the trend didn’t become more commonly thought of as feminine until the 18th century.

Jewelry Accessories

Here, in today’s post —the second entry in our History of Jewelry series — we’re pleased to provide a broad overview of the evolution of jewelry accessories, as well as tell about what’s coming next week, in part three of our series. For Part One in the series, please read History of Jewelry Part One: An Overview.

Early Evidence of Jewelry as an Accessory

Different cultures are known for their own signature jewelry accessories. Ancient Egyptians are often depicted wearing large collar pieces and lapis lazuli stones (a deep blue metamorphic rock that’s prized since antiquity for its intense color), and jewelry adorned with gemstones was first worn by the Romans during the first century.

In Ancient Egypt (from predynastic times to the Greco-Roman period), gold jewelry was a sign of Continue reading…