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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…

By: Shmukler Design 

Diamonds: A girl’s best friend. Infamously expensive and the height of luxury. The universal symbol of everlasting love. Liz Taylor owned the first documented million-dollar valued stone, and Lucy was in the sky with them.

For those fortunate enough to be born in April, the diamond is your birthstone. Legend has it diamonds have a number of attributes, including:

  • Healing powers
  • Ability to ward off evil
  • Protect against the plague
  • Bring the wearer longevity, happiness, beauty and strength

History of Diamond

One ancient theory posited that diamonds were formed from lightning bolts hitting the earth. As evidence of this way of thinking, in Sanskrit, a diamond is called vajra, which also means lightning, and in Hindu mythology, vajra was the weapon of Indra, the king of gods. Only the best for the king of kings.

So, are those born in April endowed with special powers in connection to their birthstone? Probably not, but that belief is Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to eight jewelers for promoting laboratory-grown diamonds in advertising that the agency claims might be deceptive or at the least, not in line with its own Jewelry Guide.

That particular code of federal regulations — formally known as the “Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries,” describes what businesses must do to avoid making deceptive claims about precious metal, pewter, diamond, gemstone, and pearl products. The intent is to prevent unfair or deceptive trade practices; practices that almost always lead to unsuspecting consumers being ripped off or worse.

FTC April 2019 Diamond Warning

And while the FTC has determined that laboratory-grown diamonds are real diamonds, the agency’s April 2, 2019 announcement said businesses must be crystal clear in their advertising that their product is man-made. In an article posted on here on the Custom Jewelry Blog last month (please see: Understanding Lab-grown Diamonds), we reported the FTC’s finding that lab-created diamonds share the Continue reading…

By: Shmukler Design 

If you’re in the market for a diamond — often the case at this time of year what with love and engagements are in the air — you’ve likely come across laboratory-grown diamonds and may still have questions about, well, everything having to do with lab-grown diamonds (aka, synthetic diamonds).

The first laboratory-grown diamond was created more than 60 years ago when a Swedish industrial firm successfully developed a high-pressure, high-temperature process that mirrored the same chemical, physical and optical properties as traditional diamonds mined from the earth.

Side by side comparison lab-grown and mined diamonds

And while lab-grown diamonds have been around since the Eisenhower administration, their popularity didn’t really take off until recently, when commercialization of the technology put it on the same footing as “real” diamonds — those sparkling minerals created deep in the dirt over billions of years.

It was within the past decade that a new technology — known as chemical vapor deposition (CVD) — made it possible to rapidly produce high-quality diamonds in a laboratory setting at prices between $300 and $500 per carat instead of the $4,000 per carat price tag for such lab-grown gems before 2008.

When the cost of producing lab-grown diamonds began to decline, so did retail prices for these gemstones. As a result, lab-grown diamonds are now 25 percent to 30 percent less expensive than mined diamonds. Indeed, prices are expected to fall even more as production efficiencies increase, new competitors enter the market and the segment commoditizes.

And make no mistake about it: Laboratory-grown diamonds are real diamonds. That determination was made just last year when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) amended its jewelry guides, asserting that “a diamond is a diamond,” no matter its origin. The FTC determined that lab-created diamonds share the Continue reading…