One of today’s most popular gemstones is the multi-hued tourmaline. This fabulous gemstone comes in almost every color in the rainbow and is durable enough for everyday wear. In fact, its name comes from “tormalli” – which means mixed gems in the Sinalhese language of Sri Lanka. It has a rich history and many claims to its metaphysical powers, including warding off dangers, inducing sleep and providing assistance to artists, actors, writers and others in creative pursuits. Tourmaline, along with opal, is a traditional birthstone for the month of October.
Tourmalines are found all over the world, including here in the United States, in Maine and California. Maine is known for producing fabulous green and blue-green gems, while California is known for its pink and red production. Back in the late 1800’s, California tourmalines were all the rage in China, where the Empress Tz’u Hsi was a big fan of the gems. This trade came to a quick halt with the Xinhai Revolution of 1912. Tiffany & Co. also promoted the “American” gem heavily in the early 1900’s through the writings of famed gemologist George F. Kunz.
Paraiba tourmaline is the most valuable of all tourmalines, and perhaps the most confusing. These neon greenish-blue tourmalines were just discovered in the Paraiba province of Brazil in 1989. These beautiful gemstones, which owe their color to trace amounts of copper, took the trade by storm and were bought up quickly. In 2003, similar colored tourmalines were discovered in Mozambique, some in much larger sizes. Even though they were not from Brazil, they were still referred to as “paraiba” (with a small “p”) based on the now accepted trade name for that color of tourmaline and not its origin. The fact that these paraiba tourmalines are copper-bearing has also lead to other colors of tourmalines being referred to as paraibas, even in purple and pink hues – see where the confusion might lie?
The most common color of tourmaline used in jewelry today is green tourmaline. It is typically a rich, forest green color that quenches the thirst of the green-loving population. We use green tourmaline in many of our settings, either as a stand-alone gem or as the center in one of our signature Duet rings. Green tourmaline is the perfect complement and contrast when we use color-change alexandrites as a halo around the gem.
Tourmaline is an under-appreciated gemstone. It exhibits a wide range of colors in a wide range of price levels. If you love colored gemstones, then tourmalines should be high on your wish list. We appreciate its ease of use and breadth of color in many of our jewelry designs.
When you think of a sapphire, a blue gemstone probably comes to mind first. This is not surprising as the blue sapphire is considered one of the three Classic Gemstones, along with emerald and ruby, and has been valued for centuries. Yet, as hallowed a place that blue sapphires hold in the gemstone world, we can’t ignore the other colors of sapphire that are special in their own right.
Sapphire is the gem variety of the mineral corundum. Corundum comes in all colors of the spectrum and is called sapphire for every color except red, when it is referred to as ruby. A sapphire’s value is determined by several factors including color, clarity and origin. Whether a sapphire is treated in some way, generally by heating, can affect its value as well. Let’s look at a few examples of some of our favorite fancy color sapphires.
Sapphires come in many shades of pink, from super vivid to a barely discernable wisp. Value is often determined by the saturation of pink throughout the gem, but with lighter pink sapphires, the quality of the cutting and clarity may have a bigger impact. A premium is placed on sapphires that are completely natural with no external enhancements or treatments. The 6.61 carat pink sapphire is one of those special, natural pink sapphires.
Named after the lotus flower blossom of Sri Lanka, the orangey-pink Padparadscha sapphire is a favorite amongst colored gemstone connoisseurs. These special sapphires are rare in their optimal color and typically demand a hefty premium over pink or orange sapphires. As you can see above with this 5.73 carat oval, we love to surround our padparadscha sapphires with rose gold to complement the color.
Some of the prettiest sapphires are in the purple family. These gems range in color including lilac, lavender and deep, royal purple. The color is believed to be a result of trace amounts of vanadium in the sapphire. We love to work with sapphires in this color range, often pairing them with pink sapphires in rose gold for a very rich look.
Fine green sapphires are rare, bold and really beautiful. The green color is caused by trace amounts of iron within the gemstone. The color ranges from pale to rich, dark shades. When we obtain a top quality green sapphire, we like to accent it with alexandrites and diamonds for an interesting combination – as can be seen in the ring above.
We could use up a lot more space going on and on about all of the different colors of sapphire, but we need to leave some for us to discuss in a future blog. Sapphires in all colors are a great addition to any collection as they are durable and have lasting value. The best part is that no matter what your favorite color is that there is a sapphire available for you in that color. We always have a great selection of fancy colored sapphire jewelry on hand or we can provide an unset gemstone for custom designs. Call or email us today.
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.