Spinel has long been one of the most under-appreciated gemstones on the market, yet it is coveted by collectors and gemologists for its range of hues and spectacular optical properties. Spinel was recently added as an official birthstone for August, raising its exposure to new heights. Recognized and prized for its hardness, brilliance, and unlike many other gem types, spinel is rarely treated or enhanced in any way. Many believe the name spinel comes from the Greek word for ’spark’. This name suits spinel well since it is a singularly refractive stone and is formed with cubic crystals similar to diamond, which gives this gemstone remarkable brilliance and fire. Watch the video below to see how even rough spinel has an unmatched brilliance.
Spinel comes in many different colors however red and blue are the most notable because for centuries they were mistaken for ruby and sapphire. One of the most famous rubies in history was discovered to not be a ruby at all, but a red spinel. This shocking discovery is what gave birth to the study of gems and gemology. The Black Prince’s stone was given to him in payment for an expensive military campaign, and the “Balas Ruby” became treasured by many English monarchs. This stone, with much appeal and allure is now known to be a spinel.
Spinels are an attractive alternative to ruby and sapphire as the same trace elements that color corundum are also what colors different colors of spinels, which come in an array of colors- ranging from a continuum of intense reds and pinks, down to the cool hues of blue and violet. Chromium causes the fiery red color of red spinels, and a mixture of cobalt and iron colors the striking blue color of stones from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a top source for blue “cobalt” spinels, which are sought after for their vivid, intense blue color. In addition, the Mogok region of Myanmar (much like Burmese rubies) is a renowned source for the finest red and hot-pink spinel. While all colors of spinel are beautiful in their own way, red is the rarest in nature and the most valuable. In addition to similar trace elements, and sources that are shared with ruby and sapphire, spinels form in the same metamorphic rock as corundum and are found in the same deposits. Wear a piece of rare history with any of our beautiful spinel pieces or view them in person at an Omi Privé Authorized Retailer.
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.
Accessorizing with the Colors of the Season
The trend-setting institution that is Pantone shares with the world on an ongoing basis the most important fashion colors for Spring and Fall seasons. What do you do with this information? Do you immediately go out shopping, with palette in hand, to ensure you are on trend with your personal apparel? Or do you give it a quick glance, pick out a couple of your favorites and file it away for future reference? The important aspect from our perspective of this guide to the upcoming season’s colors is how do we recommend our jewelry as an accessory to outifts in these hues.
For example, let’s look at what we might suggest for Island Paradise, a light, refreshing blue color. The obvious choice if you were the type of person who likes matching accessories, would be something with aquamarine as the featured gemstone. The light, airy feel of aqua would pair beautifully with this color. What about a complementary color? We would suggest something with a pastel feel, such as a light pink or peach. A piece featuring a light pink sapphire, spinel, morganite, or in this case a Padparadscha sapphire, would be a great match.
If we look at the more “earthy” colors in this palette, aside from finding matching colors, we will also have the opportunity to select colors that really pop against a warmer base color. If we look at the the color Greenery, which is also Pantone’s “Color of the Year” for 2017, we would match this color with gemstones such as peridot, chrysoberyl or green tourmaline, like this ring below. On the other side of the spectrum, you would look to something in a bolder purple, red or pink as a suitable companion. As you can see from this Duet ring, we love combining green with purple spinel centers.
For another example, let’s consider a rich blue color like Lapis Blue. One of our specialties is blue sapphire, so matching this color with existing Omi jewelry is relatively easy. The complementary color for a bold blue color like this would be an equally bold orange hue – which we would find in our new orange tourmaline ring seen below. We can also find similar colors in spessartite garnets and orange sapphires.
There is a myriad of options when it comes to accessorizing this Spring’s fashion color palette with fabulous colored gemstones. Knowing and understanding how colors accent each other will go a long way in developing your fashion credibility amongst your peers and clients. Pay attention to what the trends are and take the time to pick out the best options for you to ensure you are trend-savvy in your day-to-day life.
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.
A little holiday season inspiration for that special someone……..
What do you buy for that certain someone who has everything? Well, we at Omi Privé specialize in the rare and extraordinary, so here are a few of our suggestions for this year:
Incredible Australian Lightning Ridge Opal Ring
An amazing palette of color swirls around in this 13.46 carat opal. We surround this magnificent gem with grass-green tsavorite garnets, deep ocean blue sapphires and diamonds – all set in platinum. No two opals are alike and very few look anything like this one.
Pastel Pinks, Purples and Blues in a Cacophony of Color
In this design collaboration with artist/designer Remy Rotenier, we started with an amazing 12.27 carat cushion-cut pink kunzite in the center then surrounded it with rose cut sapphires in pleasing pink and purple tones. We added in a few pretty blue sapphires as accents to round out this18K rose gold ring for the free form loving artist in us all.
Luck be a Sapphire Tonight!
If you know someone who needs a little good fortune – how about this 7.77 carat emerald cut blue sapphire from Ceylon set in platinum and surrounded by baguette diamonds and a pair of blue sapphires? Imagine looking at this beauty everytime you pull down the handle on a one-armed bandit.
You Can’t Buy Me Love
But, you can buy this fabulous ring……featuring a passion-inspiring, unheated 4.01 carat oval ruby from Mozambique and over a carat of diamonds set in platinum with 18K gold prongs. This is truly one of Mother Nature’s true works of art, released by the hands of a master gem cutter.
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Thanks to an effect known as asterism, certain cabochon-cut sapphires exhibit a star-like pattern when light is reflected off the internal silk of the gem. Finding a fine quality sapphire that exhibits this is rare, finding a pair is much rarer. Check out these star sapphire earrings, accented with blue sapphires and diamonds in 18K white gold. These are sure to be a conversation-starter at any event.
Emerald by Day, Ruby by Night – Introducing the Alexandrite
A lot of history and lore surrounds the magical color-change gemstone Alexandrite. What is truly factual is the beauty and rarity of this very fine gemstone. This 3.76 carat emerald-cut Alexandrite exhibits a deep teal blue-green in daylight and a rich raspberry-purple color in warm candlelight. The gem originated in the exceptional chrysoberyl deposits of Brazil, which have all been played out at this time. The gemstone is framed by a halo of diamonds, then framed again with more alexandrites that change color along with the center when the lighting conditions change. The platinum ring shank features more alexandrites and diamonds – this is a true work of gem wizardry.
We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, and remember that the more you give, the more you get!
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.