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
While we are all in the throws of Olympic Fever (no, not the type you catch when swimming in Rio Bay!) – we thought it might be fun to explore the meaning behind the colors in the Olympic rings on the official flag. We here at Omi Gems and Omi Privé are hyper-focused on color.
The multi-color interlocking rings symbol that we all associate with the Olympic Games was designed in 1912 by one of the co-founders of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. His inspiration stemmed from the interlocking rings of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who thought the ring symbolized continuity and the human being.
The five rings symbolize the five populated continents at the time: Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The ring colors, contrary to belief at one point, are not assigned to specific continents. The colors (including white) represented all of the colors on all of the nation’s flags who competed in the Olypics at that time. Coubertin shared the following in 1912:
“…the six colorscombined in this way reproduce the colors of every country without exception. The blue and yellow of Sweden, the blue and white of Greece, the tri-colors of France and Serbia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, America, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Hungary, and the yellow and red of Spain, are placed together with the innovations of Brazil or Australia, with old Japan, and with new China. Here is truly an international symbol.” (Olympique magazine)
So, enjoy the rest of the Olympic Games and it’s symbolism. We all can use a little dose of the Olympic ideal of bringing the world together to celebrate sport and life.
For the first time ever, Pantone selected two colors as its color of the year for 2016. The first color is Rose Quartz, a warm, soft pink with a very earthy undertone. The second color, Serenity, is a lilac-tinged blue with the same earthy quality, which leans on its purplish influence to blend seamlessly into the Rose Quartz.
Pantone sees these selections as peaceful, soothing colors for our modern times. This has both practical and psychological implications. From a psychological perspective, Pantone writes “as consumers seek mindfulness as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent.” More practically speaking, “in many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. The more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches for color usage.”
Many of our Omi Privé designs use gemstones that match Pantone’s Rose Quartz and Serenity palette. We see some of the same things Pantone mentions about these colors when showing our gems to potential buyers. When looking at the softer blue sapphires, it’s not unusual to hear someone say, “that’s like staring into a pond,” or “that’s like stepping into a cool pool of water.” Coming closest to the pink in Pantone’s Rose Quartz, padparadscha sapphires offer that earthy pink tone that often leads to a sharp intake of breath, followed by a comment like “I could just stare at that forever.”
Here are a few images of Omi Privé jewelry that pay homage to Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year.