A year ago, August babies rejoiced at the news that spinel had been added as an official birthstone for the month to help alleviate their suffering at having the single-hued peridot as their only choice. Spinel brought to the table multiple colors and great life, along with a great deal of exposure for this underappreciated gemstone. So, what is it about this gem that prompted it’s rise to glory?
Although spinel was not commonly known, it has a rich history and was often misidentified for its close mineral cousin, ruby. In fact, one of the most famous rubies in the world, the Black Prince’s Ruby, is not a ruby at all, it is a 170 carat red spinel. This spinel is the centerpiece in the Imperial State Crown of England and it sits above the 317 carat Cullinan II diamond. It was given to the Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock, in 1327. The 350 carat Timur Ruby, presented to Queen Victoria by the East India Company in 1851, is another example of a spinel that was assumed to be a ruby.
Aside from its historical significance, spinel is an incredibly beautiful gemstone. Vivid red is the most prized color, but pink, purple, orange and blue are also very valuable. FIne red spinel is very rare, even more rare than fine rubies. They were mined historically in the mountainous regions in modern day Afghanistan, but now most spinels are mined in Burma(Myanmar), Tanzania, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Unlike most sapphires and rubies, spinels are not typically treated in any way to improve color or clarity.
Spinel mining in Burma. Photo: GIA – V. Pardieu
At Omi Privé, we love the versatility and liveliness of spinel, pairing it with diamonds and other colored gemtones. As a featured center gem, spinel always grabs attention with its strong color and the way light works through the crystal. As accents in smaller sizes, spinels can provide great contrast to other gems or add additional life to spinels of the same color. Some of our most recognizable pieces have spinels as the focal point, such as the 2016 AGTA Spectrum Award-winning ring below.
We expect the popularity of spinels to grow as the word spreads about this very special gemstone. With spinels being a personal favorite of President and designer Niveet Nagpal, we plan to continue to create jewelry for our collections that includes spinels as the focal point and as accents. So, keep your eye out for the latest releases and look to add a spinel piece to your own personal collection.
There was a time in this great land, not too long ago, when a great behemoth of a company ruled the airwaves with a constant barrage of commercials stating that “A Diamond is Forever”. One would have been considered weird or rebellious to get engaged with anything other than a diamond. Well, things have changed here in the 21st century with a renaissance of color emerging in engagement rings. Women and men are choosing gemstones for their most important and symbolic piece of jewelry that better reflect them as individuals. It is a new age, free of any pressure or traditional bonds to choose fabulous color over the monotony of the colorless.
Prior to the days of mass marketing’s influence on the population, colored gemstones were far more popular as a symbol of one’s love for another. In fact, sapphires were the gemstone of choice in early engagement rings, not only for their beauty, value and symbolism of love, but they were also believed to reveal any infidelity of the wearer. In the 18th and 19th century, colored gemstones were valued higher than diamonds, so it was more special for a bride to receive a rarer, more valuable colored gemstone than a more run-of-the-mill diamond.
Today’s brides-to-be can choose from an incredible array of gemstones and hues. There are so many reasons that a person may connect with a particular type of gemstone. It could be as simple as a favorite color. It could be the origin of the gemstone. It could be a special cosmic trait that a gemstone posesses and creates a bond with the wearer. Whatever the reason, there is a universe of options available to the newly unshackled engagement ring shopper.
There are some practical considerations that should come into the decision-making process when choosing a colored gemstone engagement ring. One of the most important factors is durability. You will wear your engagement ring for a long time, so it is imperative to select a gemstone that will stand up to the daily grind of life. Really durable gemstones include sapphires, rubies, chrysoberyl (alexandrite), topaz and spinel. Within this list, you will find every color in the rainbow to select from. Your choices are endless and it is entirely up to the wearer as to which gemstone speaks to him or her.
Colored gemstones are returning as the symbol of love and romance as they have been throughout history. The few decades-long blip on the radar of mass marketed colorless stones is being replaced by a new era of freedom of choice and personal expression. We are honored and proud to be able to play a role in so many new special moments involving our beautiful colored gemstones and award-winning jewelry designs, and look forward to many more as color returns to its rightful place in the realm of romance.
Being born in October is not the easiest thing – you were either the youngest kid in your class or you missed the cutoff and you were one of the oldest. Depending on where you live, the dreary Fall weather sets in and you can’t do outside birthday parties like all of your friends who have spring and summer birthdays. But one thing that helps make it all better is that you get not one, but two fabulous gemstones as birthstones – opals and tourmalines!
Let’s start off with opals, they are literally a phenomenal group of gemstones. Opals are incredible spectacles of nature, formed by silica-laden water filling in cracks in rock over a hundred million years ago. No two opals are alike, each tells their own story in colors and patterns unique to the individual gemstone. There are many varities of opal as well. The best known, and most valuable, opals are the Australian black opals found deep in the Outback. Australia’s opals range in color from a milky white to plays of color including bright blues, greens, oranges and reds (the most desirable color) and can be opaque to transluscent in its crystal forms. Mexico produces vivid orange opals, with or without a play of color, called fire opals. A very popular form of opal that has hit the market in recent years is the Ethiopian opals, which have great plays of color. Singular color blue opals are found in Peru, and domestically in the state of Oregon. Opals are a favorite of Omi Privé head designer Niveet Nagpal, who has been recognized for several of his opal-centric pieces, including the 2015 Grand Prize winner in the JCK Jewelers Choice Awards.
Tourmalines, on the other hand, are wonderful gemstones that come in almost every color hue in the rainbow. Trace minerals mixing within the tourmaline crystal structure help determine the hue of the gemstone. For example, the electric neon blue color of Paraiba tourmalines is due in part to the presence of copper. Tourmalines also have special properties, they become electrically charged when heated or put under pressure. They are also doubly refractive, which means that light separates when going into the gemstone and causes the tourmaline to appear to have more “life” than other gems. At Omi Privé, we use tourmalines of all colors, but tend to use more greens, blues, pinks and reds (rubellite). They are fabulous gemstones to be featured in the center of rings or pendants, either on their own or surrounded by accent stones.
As you can see, people with October birthdays have an incredible array of gems and colors to choose from in celebrating their special day. Opals are like small canvases of art drawn by nature, while tourmalines are charged full of life and found in all your favorite colors.
Omi Privé recently won two AGTA Spectrum Awards, a jewelry design competition that has been held annually for over 30 years. What does winning a design competition mean for the designer, and the consumer who might be considering buying a winning piece? There are many factors that go into the value of the award for all involved.
Let’s look at the Spectrum Awards specifically, which is considered one of the most prestigious design competitions in the world This competition is produced annually by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), a trade association who’s mission is to promote colored gemstones. The competition provides value for the association by encouraging jewelry designers to use colored gemstones in their designs, hopefully purchased from AGTA gemstone dealers. What helps set the Spectrum Awards apart is that each piece of jewelry is physically judged by a panel of jewelry industry experts that changes each year, ensuring that not one form of design is ever favored over another and that the smallest of details can affect the final outcome. To win a Spectrum Award is a benchmark that many designers aspire to achieve.
2016 AGTA Spectrum Award winning Spinel ring
Many gem dealers and designers collaborate on individual pieces to take advantage of the opportunity for exposure for individual gemstones and design aesthetics. Each year the competition receives between 500 and 600 entries. Each entrant knows that they are going to be competing against the best jewelry designers in the US and Canada, so everyone tends to put their best foot forward and sends in their best work. As the judges work their way through each of the entries, they must consider the quality of the gemstones, the quality of the workmanship and the design aesthetic. It usually takes two days of judging to determine the winning entries. Winners are announced the following day and the media are invited to see all the winners and other entries. The media values the competition because it offers a rare opportunity to look for new trends and emerging designers all in one location.
2016 AGTA Spectrum Award winning Alexandrite ring
designed in collaboration with Remy Rotenier
Winning designers benefit from an incredible amount of exposure driven by AGTA’s public relations efforts to share the results of the competition. AGTA and the media feature the winning designs throughout the year until the following year’s competition. The designers themselves publicize their wins through traditional marketing channels and social media. Yet, the true value for the designer who wins is that their work stood out against some of the top designers in the world. If they are a new designer, this exposure can serve as a launching point for their collection. For an established designer, a win reinforces their standing and provides additional caché for their jewelry lines.
For the pieces that win, many are sold quickly to collectors of those designers. For a client to be able to own an actual award-winning design gives them another opportunity to talk about the jewelry they love. Other designers hold on to their winning pieces and feature them in shows and museums. Many designs are incorporated into the designer’s collections in a bigger way to take advantage of the exposure and potential trends developing as a result of their win. We love to see our pieces being worn and enjoyed by our clients, so our award-winning designs are made available to our collectors. The awards are a welcome recognition for the quality of work we do, but in the end, it is all about these pieces adorning the people who appreciate their beauty.
Sapphire is one of the most revered gemstones in the world. It has held special meaning from the most ancient of times when it was worn as a symbol of power, wealth and as protection from harm and witchcraft. It is even said that the Ten Comandments were given to Moses on tablets of sapphire. As sapphires made their way into more modern pieces of jewelry, their siginificance and value continued to rise. Sapphires are found in the world’s most important royal jewelry pieces – so much so that sapphire is considered a “royal” gem. One royal-related piece that has garnered incredible attention in recent years is the blue sapphire engagement ring that Prince Charles gave to Diana, and subsequently that Prince William gave to Kate Middleton.
Sapphire is probably best known as a blue gemstone, but it is found in every color of the spectrum. When a sapphire is red, it is called a ruby. This wide palette of colors gives jewelry designers a lot of flexibility in creating colorful, all-sapphire designs. Sapphires are an excellent gemstone to use in everyday jewelry because of its durability – as it is the second hardest gemstone behind only diamond. A recent trend, maybe with help from Will and Kate, has seen many couples choosing sapphires for their engagement rings over diamonds – either in the traditional blue sapphire with a diamond halo, or in other colors as in the purple and pink sapphire ring below. Sapphires durability makes it suitable for everyday wear.
Would you say “Yes” to this engagement ring?
Sapphires are found in many countries around the world, including the United States. Most of our sapphires come from Sri Lanka/Ceylon, Madagascar and Myanmar/Burma. In most of these places sapphires are still mined by hand by artisanal miners in very remote areas. We travel the globe to find sapphires that best meet our strict standards and our clients’ needs. Fine sapphires are rare and prices have risen steadily for many years as demand continues to be very strong, which makes fine sapphire a nice long term investment. There is nothing more fulfilling for us than sourcing a gorgeous sapphire, designing a beautiful jewelry piece around it, then having someone appreciate it enough to add it to their personal jewelry collection.
Award-winning Omi Prive’ sapphire and diamond platinum bracelet
For more than a century, August babies have had to embrace peridot and sardonyx (a reddish-brown quartz) as their official birthstones. Peridot is a polarizing gemstone – many people like the yellow-green hued gem, but many do not. But fashionable people born in the eighth month can rejoice in the streets as they now have a great additional option – the spectacular spinel.
The American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America recently announced their decision to add spinel to the official birthstone list for August. This is only the third update to the list that was created in 1912. The last addition took place in 2002, when tanzanite was added as a birthstone for December.
Spinel is a gemstone that deserves more exposure and recognition. For centuries, red spinels were mistaken for rubies and it wasn’t until more modern testing techniques were developed that the difference was identified. In fact, one of the most prominent “rubies”, the Black Prince Ruby in the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels, is actually a 170 carat red spinel. While a deep, vivid red is the most valuable color of spinel, the gem naturally occurs in a spectrum of colors including pink, blue, purple, yellow, black and green hues.
Spinels are often called the “Gemologist’s Gemstone” because of their fabulous properties, including single refractivity and octahedral crystal structure. Unlike many gemstones, spinels are almost never treated in any way to enhance their color or clarity. Cutters are able to release the color and life of these natural gems by faceting the rough crystals into a multitude of shapes.
Omi Privé has featured spinels in many of its pieces over the years and will continue to do so in upcoming collections. Niveet is passionate about sourcing beautiful spinels, then designing jewelry around them with complementary colors. Just recently, one of our finest spinel pieces was recognized with a prestigious AGTA Spectrum Award – which honors jewelry design, craftsmanship and gemstone quality.
Omi Privé’s spessartite garnet and diamond platinum pendant was selected by Platinum Guild International (PGI) Facebook fans as a “Fan Favorite” for 2014. Fans voted via a special Facebook photo gallery, where the 20 images with the most “likes” were selected to be featured on Martha Stewart Weddings.com. Fans were enamored with the cheerful orange of Omi Privé’s 6.22 carat pear shaped spessertite garnet and brilliant diamond pendant. Omi Privé artisans prefer working with platinum for its natural white color as well as its durability and strength, providing for a lifetime of wear.
We invite you to view all of our available platinum designs on omiprive.com.
Omi Privé has been awarded the first ever “Platinum Craftsmanship Award” in the fifth annual Platinum Innovation Awards. Each year, Platinum Guild International hosts the prestigious Innovation Awards for outstanding platinum design in a variety of categories.
During the 2014 Innovation Awards Editor’s Day in New York City, Platinum Guild International recognized Omi Privé’s superior work in platinum and specially created the “Platinum Craftsmanship Award.” Competition organizers were extremely impressed by the attention to detail and high quality of craftsmanship seen in every Omi Privé piece.
Omi Privé submitted four handcrafted platinum designs to the competition, including a 20.02 carat oval sapphire and diamond ring, a three-stone sapphire and diamond ring, pear shape sapphire and diamond earrings, and a pair of earrings featuring an exquisite 13.60 carats total weight pair of Colombian emeralds. The newly announced Craftsmanship Award is based on overall quality of workmanship, rather than the design of one particular piece. “All of our designs are crafted here in Los Angeles with hand-drawn platinum wire,” explains Niveet Nagpal, Designer and President of Omi Privé. “This enables us to ensure the utmost quality of every piece we create.”
Omi Privé has been recognized by jewelry industry for the third year in a row!
Two of Omi Privé’s sapphire and diamond platinum rings have been awarded First Place in the seventh Annual JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards. Presented by JCK Magazine, the Jewelers’ Choice Awards are recognized as the industry’s highest honor for excellence in jewelry design and craftsmanship in a variety of categories. Retail jewelers throughout the world may cast votes through JCK’s web site for their favorites over a three-month duration. Omi Privé’s one-of-a-kind pink sapphire and diamond ring was also recognized as a finalist in the category of “Best Ring Design over $10,000.”
The first winning sapphire ring is handcrafted in platinum and won in the “Platinum Jewelry over $10,000” category. Sixteen diamond-encrusted prongs hoist its one-of-a-kind 17.00 carat no-heat Sri Lankan sapphire. Niveet Nagpal, head designer and President of Omi Privé, describes the unique oval gem as the inspiration for the piece, “The intensity of the blue in this stone is extremely rare for an unheated sapphire. I immediately realized it deserved a setting just as unique. I studied its individual properties and envisioned a design that would enliven and compliment the splendor of the stone.”
First Place Winner, Platinum Jewelry over $10,000
The second sapphire ring won first place in the “Bridal Jewelry over $10,000” category. A stunning 3.50 carat radiant-cut sapphire is framed perfectly by a double border of round sapphires and brilliant diamond rounds. Handcrafted in platinum, the hidden beauty of this piece lies underneath, where two inner baskets of hand-set French pavé diamonds and blue sapphires cross to form its base.
First Place Winner, Bridal Jewelry over $10,000
“We are honored to have won this year, and we thank all of the jewelry retailers who voted for Omi Privé. Our continued determination is to bring the stones to life through the jewelry in which they are presented,” concludes Nagpal.
Finalist, Best Ring Design over $10,000
View all of our award winning designs.