Sapphires – September’s Magnificent Birthstone

Posted by & filed under Award Winning, Bridal, Color, Fancy Sapphire, Omi Privé, One-of-a-Kind Collection, Sapphire.

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.

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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.

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Award-winning Omi Prive’ sapphire and diamond platinum bracelet

A Sapphire by Any Other Name

Posted by & filed under Gem Knowledge, Sapphire.

Rosecut Fancy SapphiresIt’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love sapphires, because there are so many wonderful sapphires to choose from! We thought it might be a fun time to review the different types of sapphires and perhaps add a bit of sapphire trivia to your conversational repertoire.

Blue sapphires are the most well-known and also the most popular. Most people picture rich, blueberry-blue gems when they hear or read the word sapphire. Blue sapphires are found all over the world, including Kashmir, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia, Madagascar, Tanzania and even the state of Montana! Sapphires have been used for nearly a millennium in the adornment of clergy and royalty, and of course Princess Diana received a magnificent sapphire engagement ring from Britain’s Prince Charles.

Pink sapphires have gained tremendous popularity since new deposits were found in Madagascar in the late 1990s. Until then, they were extremely rare. Even now they are fairly rare — particularly larger pink sapphires. As a result, stones half a carat or more are not cut into calibrated sizes. Instead, they are generally cut to retain as much of the rough as possible, and the result is that most pink sapphires of any size are also highly unique in terms of cut.

Yellow sapphires are often confused with fancy yellow diamonds. They show up in a very broad range of color from greenish yellow to orangey-yellow, and the most favored is saturated, vibrant, canary yellow. Because yellow sapphires tend to have fewer inclusions (seen as shaded or dark spots) than other colors of sapphire, you’ll often hear gem dealers speak of “clarity” when discussing yellow sapphires, but not when speaking of blues or pinks. And since yellow sapphires are more abundant than pink sapphires, cutters worry less about retaining the size of the gemstones. As a result, it’s very easy to find consistent, calibrated yellow sapphires.

Padparadscha Sapphires live in the color range between pink and orange. The term padparadscha itself is derived from the word for an aquatic lotus blossom, which, not surprisingly, has a salmon-y color. Interestingly, gemologists and collectors cannot agree on exactly what salmon color range defines a padparadscha sapphire. There is still some argument about how much orange, how much pink, how dark, how light . . . and we imagine this will go on for a while. But when a sapphire falls clearly in that salmon range, it leaves little room for debate and a premium is typically added to the price.  Omi has a long history working with Padparadscha sapphires, and they have graced many beautiful designs.

Star sapphires occur in nearly every color from transparent to green. The star occurs when small, needle-like inclusions of the mineral rutile are embedded in the sapphires, which create a light effect called asterism. In black star sapphires, the mineral inclusions are hematite instead of rutile.

The ideal star sapphire has a star that starts – and is centered on – the crown of the sapphire, with bright, clear rays that reach down to the base evenly and without interruption. As you might imagine, proper cutting is critical to preserve and showcase a natural star sapphire!

And now, let’s talk about rubies. Both rubies and sapphires are members of the mineral species corundum. A red corundum becomes a ruby – instead of a pink sapphire – when it displays a medium to very dark red tone. Rubies are found in many locales around the world, but the most desired source is Myanmar. You’ve probably heard of “Burmese Rubies,” and of course Burma is the name Myanmar was previously known by. Burmese rubies, known for their “pigeon’s blood” color, can be priced 30-40% higher than rubies from other sources.  Rubies are typically faceted, but star rubies (remember – star sapphires occur in every color!) are almost always cabochons.

What other colors do sapphires come in? Lime green, dark green (very rare), magenta, transparent, orange, brown, gray, black, violet, and lavender are all colors of sapphire. Many purple and violet sapphires shift color in different lights, appearing violet in fluorescent or daylight and deeply purple under incandescent light.

We could write an entire book on sapphires (and some have), but hopefully this overview helps you develop your love for sapphires, and understand a bit more about the many types of sapphires we use at Omi Privé.

Blasts from the Past

Posted by & filed under Gem History, Sapphire.

Star of India SapphirePaola de Luca’s Trend Book 2017 is a treasure trove of predictions about emerging consumer needs and tastes in jewelry. One of the predictions we find most interesting is that consumers want jewelry with historical references. We’ve seen indications of this trend as well.

In the larger jewelry world, this trend may show up as an interest in coin jewelry, crown rings, and reliefs of historical monuments and art. In the colored gemstone world, history is rich with stories of royal jewels, dramatic love stories, grand thefts, and even battles.

At Omi Privé we’re not just gem nerds, we love our history too. One story that never loses its luster is the story of the Star of India, a 563-carat star sapphire that is believed to be over a billion years old. It is the size of a golf ball, nearly flawless, and it has stars on both sides of the gemstone — all of which are highly unusual.

It was originally purchased by esteemed mineralogist and collector George Frederick Kunz (1856 – 1932) on behalf of Tiffany & Co. It was part of a collection Kunz had convinced his bosses at Tiffany to build in order to gain more respect from European gem and jewelry collectors, and which was ultimately purchased by J.P. Morgan and donated to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the history of the Star of India prior to its purchase in Sri Lanka in the late 1800s. Kunz himself wrote in 1913 that the Star of India “has a more or less indefinite historic record of some three centuries,” which indicates that it was mined in the 1600s; but even that may be speculation.

So the story of the Star of India begins with a mystery. Now let’s add some action. On October 29, 1964, two amateur thieves scaled a fence into the American Museum of Natural History’s courtyard, climbed a fire escape, and hung a rope from a pillar set over the 4th floor windows of the J.P. Morgan Hall of Gems and Minerals. Inside that Hall, the Star of India was on display. Hanging from the rope, one of the thieves swung to a window that was cracked open, and used his feet to open the window the rest of the way.

Using a glass cutter, some duct tape, and a squeegee, they stole 24 gems – including the Star of India. Then the thieves, Allan Dale Kuhn and Jack Roland Murphy, retraced their steps, grabbed separate taxis, and rode off with their valuable loot.

In the six months that followed, the Star of India led state and federal police on a wild goose chase involving anonymous foreign collectors, an upper West Side party palace, handsome bad boys, jilted lovers, suicide, a red Cadillac, an underwater hiding place, disguising one of the thieves as a police officer to spirit him off to Miami, and the pistol-whipping of Eva Gabor.

How’s that for a bit of history? We bet you’ll never look at a star sapphire the same way again.

What’s Old is New Again: Colored Gemstone Wedding Jewelry

Posted by & filed under Bridal, Ruby, Sapphire.

Omi Privee ring with Kashmiri sapphireThough diamonds are currently the gem of choice in engagement rings, it was only in the 20th century that diamonds became popular. Before the 20th century, colored gemstones had a long history of being considered most precious.

Engagement rings as we know them began as a result of Pope Innocent III implementing a mandatory waiting period between engagement and marriage in the year 1215. Until that time, people simply married once they made the decision to do so. Couples in the limbo between not-married and married began to exchange symbols of commitment, and the engagement ring was born. Jump forward 150-200 years, and it was the sapphire that was the favorite engagement gemstone, because it symbolized love, truth and commitment. Plus, it was believed that a sapphire’s color would fade if worn by an unfaithful or untruthful person!

Royalty were known to use diamonds in their engagement rings, but no more often than they used sapphires, rubies and emeralds. And of course, back in those centuries diamonds were extremely rare. But starting in 1870, when huge diamond deposits were discovered in South Africa, diamonds began to flood the market and prices for diamonds started to come down. De Beers launched its massive effort in to make diamonds part of every wedding in 1938.  They coined the phrase “A Diamond is Forever” in 1947 and by the 1960s, diamonds were synonymous with engagement.  That slogan was named the best advertising slogan of the 20th century.

Today we see a resurgence of interest in colored gemstones for engagement rings. Today’s brides are open to a broad range of gemstones and designs, basing their jewelry decisions on personal taste, the desire for uniqueness, and concerns about diamond origins. Colored gemstones – many of which are rarer than diamonds – offer exciting stories for today’s brides; from historic lore to the metaphysical properties of gems and the various meanings associated with colors. It appears the old adage is true: What comes around goes around. At Omi Privé, we’re just excited that colored gemstone bridal jewelry has come around again.

How Old are Kashmiri Sapphires?

Posted by & filed under Fancy Sapphire, Kashmiri Sapphire, Sapphire.

Omi Privee ring with Kashmiri sapphire

Most people understand that gemstones are from the earth, and that they have been there for a long time. But a long time is such an abstract concept. However, when Gübelin Gem Lab is able to give the age of a gemstone using radiometric dating, that abstract concept becomes very real. How long is a long time? Think in terms of millions of years, not hundreds of thousands.  Here is an excerpt from the May 12, 2016 issue of the Gübelin Newsletter #46, on determining the absolute age of Kashmiri sapphires.


Kashmiri sapphires determined to be 25 million years old

Last fall, for the first time ever, the absolute age of a high-value gemstone has been determined. Our geochemical specialist Klemens Link used radiometric dating on the in-house Laser Ablation ICPMS facility. The method and results are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Gemmology, Vol 34, Issue 8. Meanwhile, age determination is applied regularly in our lab on rubies and sapphires, supporting the distinction of African and Sri Lankan sapphires from the Burmese and Kashmiri ones.

The determination of the exact age of Kashmiri sapphires, however, was not yet undertaken, until the Gübelin Gem Lab initiated a research project jointly with Prof. C. Liu, and Dr. C. Zhang of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Zircon crystals included in samples from the Gübelin Reference Collection have now been analysed by LA-ICPMS in the Gubelin lab, and by high-resolution SIMS at the IGGCAS in Beijing. The respective uranium-lead ages are 26.8 (±3.8) million years, and 24.97 (±0.22)  million years, mutually confirming the results.

 

Omi Prive Kashmiri sapphireThis is exciting news for all of us at Omi Gems and Omi Privé. Our Kashmiri Sapphires are among our favorite gemstones. To be able to imagine them in terms of their real age makes them even more magnificent in our eyes.

The platinum Omi Privé ring shown on the left and at the top of this post features a 3.43 carat Kashmir Sapphire accented with French-cut tapered diamond baguettes and round brilliant-cut diamonds.

Spectacular Sapphires for September

Posted by & filed under Fancy Sapphire, Omi Privé, Padparadscha Sapphire, Pink Sapphire, Sapphire, Yellow Sapphire.

We are always excited to welcome the fall season at Omi Privé, as it celebrates sapphire, the birthstone of September. Sapphire is named from the Greek “Sappheiros,” which is roughly translated as “blue stone.”

Sapphire comes in a wide range of blues, varying from very light to deep blue that can appear nearly black. A slightly subdued hue of sapphire known as cornflower blue, displays a lighter and more open blue, which is preferred by many. A highly valued shade of sapphire is “Royal Blue,” which is a very deep, rich blue. The very finest sapphires are a velvet, slightly violetish medium to medium dark blue, often called Kashmir blue, after its original location in India.

A wondrous fact about sapphire, besides its durability (it is a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale), is that it is found in a multitude of colors. Generally referred to as “fancy sapphires,” these include pink, purple, violet, yellow, orange, green and their intermediate hues. Some sapphires do exhibit a color-change, most often transitioning from blue in daylight or fluorescent light to purple in incandescent light. Padparadscha sapphires are amongst the rarest, exhibiting a unique combination of pink and orange, reminiscent of a warm sunset.

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This award-winning platinum ring features a 20.03 blue sapphire certified as “Royal Blue”.
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A cornflower blue sapphire sits at the center of this double halo ring from our Duet collection.

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A cushion shape fancy purple sapphire is the star in this 18K rose gold and diamond ring.

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An intense round fancy sapphire grabs attention in this unique 18K yellow gold ring.

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A new twist on a classic, this sapphire and diamond ring features black rhodium accents, intensifying the overall look.

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Last but not least, a stunning oval padparadscha sapphire displaying the rare pink and orange combination, which defines a padparadscha.

Pantone Springs into 2015 with Soft Cool Hues and Subtle Warm Tones

Posted by & filed under Blue Zircon, Custom Collection, Fancy Sapphire, News, Omi Privé, Padparadscha Sapphire, Sapphire, Signature Collection, Tourmaline, Trends, Yellow Sapphire.

Pantone, the world-renowned authority of color, has announced their color predictions for Spring 2015. Although we don’t yet know the official color of 2015 (stay tuned in December for the announcement!), we are seeing prominent colors at Fashion Week including; aquamarine, lucite green and strawberry ice. Pantone executive director, Leatrice Eiseman, states “The color choices for 2015 follow a minimalistic, ‘en plain air’ theme, taking cue from nature rather than being reinvented or mechanically manipulated. Soft, cool hues blend with subtle warm tones to create a soothing escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.” Colored gemstones are the perfect natural representation or accent to spring’s hottest colors! We’re excited to present 9 of the most striking tones for the upcoming season with descriptive notes by Pantone.

 

Strawberry Ice

“Both tasty and tasteful, Strawberry Ice is a confection color that evokes a feeling of being “in the pink,” emitting a flattering and healthy glow.” Our Padparadscha sapphire and diamond ring is the perfect delight accented with 18K rose gold filigree. Pairs well with Tangerine and Toasted Almond.

 

Aquamarine

“Aquamarine, an airy, ethereal blue with a cool, dreamy feel mixes will with other blues and greens in this season’s color palette.” Feel the breeze of the ocean all day with our 6.80 carat emerald cut aquamarine and diamond ring. Pairs well with Marsala, Classic Blue and Lucite Green.

Classic Blue

“Classic blue is a strong and reliable anchor color and, with its waterborne qualities is perceived as thoughtful and introspective.” Classic Blue seems best represented by sapphire, as seen in these cushion sapphire and diamond double halo earrings. Classic Blue combines well with Lucite Green, Scuba Blue and Custard for bold looks.

Custard

“Custard serves as an all-encompassing yellow for the spring palette, which can be combined with Classic Blue for a maritime look.” Say “Ahoy” with our round yellow sapphire and diamond ring set in 18K yellow and white gold.

Lucite Green

“Fresh and clarifying, cool and refreezing, Lucite Green has a minty glow. Light in weight and also in tone, Lucite Green seems almost transparent.” We can’t help but point out this color and transparency is perfectly represented through Paraíba tourmaline! Two Paraíba cabochons totaling 25.31 carats are cradled by 18K yellow gold surrounded by diamonds and round Paraíba tourmalines. Pairs well with Classic Blue and Scuba Blue.

Marsala

“Sensual and bold, delicious Marsala is a daringly inviting tone that nurtures; exuding confidence and stability while feeding the body, mind and soul.” A robust shade, hints of Marsala can be seen in this imperial topaz, ruby and diamond ring set in 18K rose gold. Pairs well with Aquamarine.

Scuba Blue

“Scuba Blue offers a feeling of escape as it is reminiscent of a tropical ocean. This stirring and energizing shade takes us off to an exotic paradise that is pleasant and inviting, even if only a fantasy.” Make your fantasy come true by keeping this vibrant blue close to your heart with our blue zircon and diamond pendant. Pairs well with Classic Blue and Lucite Green.

 

Tangerine

“Spontaneous and gregarious, Tangerine is a juicy orange shade that is energizing, yet not jarring to the eye. Versatile Tangerine is striking enough to stand on its own and adds vitality to a printed pattern.” This fancy orange sapphire and diamond ring set in 18K rose gold is a great stone/metal combo to represent this tangy color! Pairs well with Strawberry Ice and Toasted Almond.

Toasted Almond

“A sun-tanned neutral, Toasted Almond offers comforting warmth and is indicative of a spontaneous spring, summer feeling.” Because Toasted Almond pairs well with Tangerine and Strawberry Ice, a great combination of those two hues can be found in our 21.88 carat cushion morganite and diamond earrings. 

Omi Privé Receives First Ever Platinum Craftsmanship Award at JCK Las Vegas

Posted by & filed under Award Winning, Custom Collection, Emerald, News, Omi Privé, One-of-a-Kind Collection, Sapphire.

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.”

 

 

PIA Winner

Piece #2 in The Jewelry Week Countdown: Opal, Sapphire, Tsavorite and Diamond Ring

Posted by & filed under Custom Collection, Omi Privé, Opal, Sapphire, Tsavorite Garnet.

nicheadshot1by Nicolette Kovacevich, G.G.
Manager of Fine Jewelry, Omi Privé

 

 

I adore this ring so much, I was tempted NOT to write this post. I would love to keep it!  The second piece in our countdown introduces a new stone to the Privé collection: opal.

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What it is: 4.50 carat black opal set in 18K yellow gold. Accent stones comprise round diamonds, green tsavorite garnets, and pear-shape sapphires.

Why it’s cool: This black opal has extraordinary play of color. Its vivid blues and greens are striking. The ring sits low against the finger, making it easy to wear. High-polish yellow gold plays off the hue palette of the opal.

Why it’s “Privé”: This ring transitions from a classic style, featuring pavé-set diamond and garnet melee, while embracing an edgy, more stylish look. The piece was designed specifically for this opal, with the sapphire pair and tsavorites distinctively selected to accentuate the gem’s play of color.

 

Opal Ring Sketch

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Piece #1 in the Jewelry Week Countdown: Fancy Sapphire & Diamond Ring

Posted by & filed under Custom Collection, Fancy Sapphire, Omi Privé, Sapphire.

nicheadshot1by Nicolette Kovacevich, G.G.
Manager of Fine Jewelry, Omi Privé

 

Gearing up for Jewelry Week in Las Vegas is the most exciting time for me at Omi! While busily sketching and crafting new pieces, we cannot wait for their official introduction in just a few short weeks. Here is a “sneak peek” countdown for some of the newest Privé designs. This fancy-colored sapphire ring was just finished and released from the shop!

What it is: 5.77 carat emerald-cut fancy sapphire set in 18K yellow gold. The ring features a high-polish finish and pavé-set diamonds on its sides.

Why it’s cool: This fancy sapphire has a lighter tone in comparison to many of the darker, royal blue sapphires most often shown in the market.  Its pastel hue is on-trend, and is enhanced by the brightness of the yellow gold frame. Also, while it is common for an elongated stone to be set vertically on the finger, this stone is set in opposition. This creates a visually slimming look on wider fingers, as well.

Why it’s “Privé”: This ring unveils a different style. Without any diamonds viewable from the top, the sapphire is the sole focus of the piece. While its hue is light in tone, the color is distributed evenly throughout the stone. During the creative process, we designed the split shank and the sides of the ring to be open, allowing the sapphire’s color to be viewed from every angle.

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