Posted by & filed under Craftsmanship.

One of the most important decisions a jeweler makes when creating a new piece is whether to cast or to fabricate. Both casting and fabrication have been used to make jewelry for thousands of years, so the decision about which method to use is based on several concerns including complexity of the design, intended use of the piece, and the size of the gemstone being set. But perhaps we should step back and review the two methods:

When you fabricate, you start with gold (or platinum or silver) in the form of ingots, sheet, or wire. Using hammers, torches, pliers, and other hand tools, you form it into bands for rings, backings for settings, bezels, prongs, baskets, and galleries.

Anatomy of a RingWhen you cast, the traditional method (which is still used widely today) begins by carving a model of the item you plan to make in wax. A more modern method is to design a computer model of the item using a CAD program, then create the model in plastic using a 3D growing device. Once the wax or plastic model has been created, it is encased in a plaster-like material called investment, and heated in a kiln to melt out the wax or plastic. What remains is a plaster model with an impression of the jewelry item inside where the wax or plastic used to be. Into that void you pour liquid metal, and once the metal has cooled and hardened, you break away the plaster to reveal the rough piece of jewelry.

Either method of jewelry making is a valid, artisanal process. So why do we choose to hand fabricate nearly everything we make at Omi Privé?

First, the soldered prongs of a hand-fabricated jewelry piece are stronger than the prongs of a cast piece. This is not to suggest well-cast prongs are likely to break — they aren’t.  But at Omi Privé we are setting the finest gemstones, so it is important to us that the prongs be able to stand the maximum quality test, and that means hand fabrication.

Second, many of our designs require delicate wire work. We use drawn or extruded gold or platinum wire, which is much stronger than cast metal.  Just one look at the galleries of our rings will show you the intricacies of our designs. Less skilled jewelers would choose to cast these pieces, because the hand work is extremely challenging. But true masters of jewelry making do this work by hand to achieve a more refined, more delicate, and longer-lasting piece than casting can produce.

At Omi Privé, we want to create more than beautiful jewelry. We want to create masterpieces. So our choice is almost always to fabricate, and only cast when casting is the superior choice. Because when you’re working with the most beautiful gemstones in the world, only the most masterful settings will do.

Posted by & filed under Gem Knowledge.

Mohs Scale of Hardness

Image Courtesy of GIA

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “diamonds are the hardest material on earth” (and who hasn’t?), though you may not have known it, you were referring to the Mohs scale. The Mohs scale was created by a German mineralogist named Friedrich Mohs in 1822 to measure the relative hardness of minerals. He had been hired by a banker who had a very large collection of minerals, and he wanted Mohs to curate them. In order to properly curate the collection, Mohs had to sort the minerals, and at that time there was no acceptable method for categorizing minerals. Some scientists used color, others used geographic origin, and still others used various geometric characteristics.

Mohs noticed that some minerals scratched the surface of other minerals, and using that observtion he decided to explore their relative hardness. Though the minerology establishment at the time widely criticized Mohs for considering hardness as a meaningful characteristic, Mohs was ultimately validated. Today the Mohs scale is recognized as one of the most important measures of mineral categorization.

We’ve already mentioned that the diamond is at the top of the Mohs scale. Its measure of “absolute hardness” is 10. So what is at the bottom? Talc, with a measure of 1. We all know talcum powder, but some of the other elements in the Mohs scale — like fluorite and calcite — are less familiar to us in their mineral form. However, you probably do know minerals like quartz (7), and topaz (8).

Another good way to wrap your mind around Mohs hardness is to consider the Mohs rating of more every-day items:

  • Maple or Oak hardwood floors are 1.3 – 1.4
  • A fingernail has a hardness of 2
  • The average knife blade has a hardness of 5
  • The window panes in your house are 5.5
  • Granite countertops are typically around a 7
  • Tempered glass — like the average windshield — is usually a 7
  • Bulletproof glass could be anywhere from 8 – 9

The Mohs scale is very important to us as we decide how to set various gemstones. Some gemstones are much softer than others, so how a gemstone will be worn must be considered. You’ve probably heard before that pearl rings are best saved for special occasions. Why? Because pearls are between 2.5 – 4.5 on the Mohs scale, so they scratch rather easily. Along with pearls, amber (2-2.5), coral (3-4) and malachite (3.5 – 4) all tend to last longest when worn in pendants or earrings because of their relative softness.  Take more care in storing these softer gemstones by wrapping them in cloth or placing them in separate pouches.

At Omi Privé, we admire any gemstone that represents the best of its kind. If we find something rare and beautiful, we want you to see it. But for the most part, we work with gems that are a hardness of 7 or above, because these gems allow the most options for wearability. Diamonds may be the hardest on the scale at a 10, but rubies and sapphires are very durable at 9. Topaz, chrysoberyl, and spinel have a Mohs hardness of 8, and aquamarine and emerald are between 7.5 – 8.  Quartz is a 7 and is the most common mineral on Earth.  Because quartz is the most common mineral in dust, any gemstone softer than 7 can be scratched by common dust and, therefore, should be treated with more care than harder gems.

So the next time you’re looking at a gemstone, remember that it’s not just characterized by its color, its type, or its absolute beauty. Every gemstone also has a hardness rating on the Mohs scale, thanks to a fellow nearly 200 years ago who was faced with a sorting project.

rough alexandrite from omi gems

Posted by & filed under Alexandrite.

I am really appreciative of the fact that we humans see in color. It’s easy to take for granted, because it’s like breathing. We open our eyes, we see color. Do you remember how The Wizard of Oz starts out, in black-and-white? No matter how many times I watch that movie, I still gasp when Dorothy lands in Oz and suddenly the world is almost blinding with color. When it comes to color, we really do live in Oz.

I think that’s why so many people love colored gemstones. Many of the every-day colors we encounter are muted, and we get so busy we don’t even notice them. But then you see a rich red ruby or an eye-popping pink sapphire, and the energy flows into your eyes and straight to your brain. Gemstones are color personified. Read more »

Omi Privee ring with Kashmiri sapphire

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

alexandrite with spinel

Posted by & filed under Alexandrite, Spinel.

About a year ago, interesting colors of purple spinel started showing up in the market. Spinel comes in a beautiful range of reds, pinks, blues and purples, but until now I haven’t seen much of the intense purple you see in the photograph at the top. This deep, rich purple is very similar to the color of alexandrite when viewed in incandescent light. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Aquamarine, Omi Privé, Padparadscha Sapphire.

Pantone always has surprises up their sleeves when it comes to color.  Each year the “Color Authority” invigorates our world by unveiling their one select color choice.  But for 2016 they’ve really surprised us by announcing two colors.  Welcome to the world Rose Quartz and Serenity!  Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute states “Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.”  The soothing, calming nature of colors in the Spring collections are led by Rose Quartz, a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.  While a transcendent blue, Serenity, provides us with a naturally connected sense of space.

This “engaging combo” perfectly complements so many other colors which convey both lightness and intrigue.  Here are some color pairing examples:

 

Rose Quartz and Serenity are represented in a variety of stones, including sapphire, pink tourmaline, aquamarine, and padparadscha sapphire.  The Pantone Institute® 2016 Colors of the Year can also be represented in the metals you wear, like rose gold and platinum.

The possibilities are endless!

 

Aquamarine and Sapphire Pendant

Padparascha Sapphire and Diamond Ring

 

Posted by & filed under Alexandrite, Events, Monaco Collection.

The concept of phenomenal jewelry goes beyond the incredible allure possessed by such high jewelry as the Wallis Simpson Bracelet or the Heart of the Ocean necklace.  Phenomenal jewelry, and more specifically, phenomenal gemstones, are those rare stones nature has seen fit to bless with the extraordinary gift to create unusual optical effects: moonstones, opals, pearls, star sapphires, alexandrite.  All have the uncanny ability to create a unique waltz between color and light — an interplay that translates into a seductive dance of rainbows; or a mischievous cat’s eye; or a curiosity as to the exact color of the stone.

On Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Aaron Faber Gallery, will open Phenomenal Jewelry for the gallery’s annual spring exhibition. The exhibit explores how 21 celebrated jewelry artists have embraced the unique waltz of color and light shown by phenomenal gemstones into an astonishing piece of jewelry artistry.

We are excited to present the latest Omi Privé designs including color changing alexandrite and opals during this unique event.

Tuesday March 29th – Saturday April 23rd

Aaron Faber Gallery
666 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10103
212.586.8411
www.aaronfaber.com

RR1060-ALOV

Posted by & filed under As-Seen-In, Doré Collection, Emerald, Omi Privé.

Martha Stewart Weddings magazine is renowned for creative and unique ideas for an amazing wedding day. Their Spring issue dubbed, “The Color Issue,” doesn’t disappoint when it comes to bright and colorful suggestions. On newsstands now, check out their jewelry feature, “Dramatic Duos,” starting on page 262. “Diamonds shine bright on their own, but they take on a whole new sparkle and personality when coupled with colored gems” explain the Martha Stewart Weddings experts. We agree with their choice of our classic 3-stone emerald ring flanked with trilliant cut diamonds set in platinum and 18K yellow gold.

 

Martha Stewart Weddings Spring 2016 RC1260-EMEC-logo

Posted by & filed under Omi Privé.

We are honored to present our newest designs at the 2016 CENTURION Jewelry Show in Scottsdale, Arizona this January 31st – February 2, 2016. Please join us in salon 404 and discover how “It All Starts with a Gemstone” at Omi Privé. RSVP to [email protected] or call us at 877.OMI.GEMS for your personal appointment time.

For existing attendees, you may also login and request an appointment through the CENTURION Appointment Maker.

CenturionSalon404

Posted by & filed under Doré Collection, Duet Collection, Kunzite, Omi Privé, Pink Sapphire, Pink Tourmaline, Sevilla Collection, Spinel.

Halloween has arrived and amongst all of the fall colors, we like to sweeten things up with a little pink! From pink tourmaline to spinel to pink sapphire and even kunzite, there are a variety of colored gemstones that can brighten up any fall day. View a few of our favorites this season. Happy Halloween!

RC1730-TPOV-2A glorious and finely saturated oval pink tourmaline is kissed by sweet pear shape rubies on either side of this 18K rose gold and diamond ring.

ER1000-TPCUSweet cushion drops of light pink tourmaline accented by cornflower blue sapphires delight in these earrings designed in collaboration with Rémy Rotenier.

RC1012-SPOVA unique pink spinel exudes shades of pink with purple undertones in this classic 18K rose gold design from our Doré collection.

PC1115C-PSRDA sweet statement in platinum and 18K rose gold, a round pink sapphire surrounded by pink sapphires and diamonds sits at the center of this handset pendant.

RC1451-KUOVThe velvety purplish-pink oval kunzite is the star in this Sevilla collection 18K rose gold ring.