Monthly Archives: April 2017

Jewelry is nice and costly

There are several different terms used to refer to gemstone jewelry. For example, costume jewelry, fashion jewelry, couture jewelry, fine jewelry, luxury jewelry and high jewelry, to name just a few. But what do they all mean?

Costume jewelry used to refer to jewelry of lesser value or imitation items, but now the term has expanded to accommodate the word “fashion”, and costume and fashion jewelry are simply defined as adornments that are designed or worn to be in style. These jewels may be made from high quality materials by hand, or they could be produced from inexpensive materials and mass-produced. A related term introduced by fashion houses is “couture” jewelry, which also refers to fashion jewelry. Couture or fashion jewelry can be of considerable value, especially if it is produced by a famous fashion designer.

Another term for jewelry is “fine” jewelry. This used to be a generally accepted term for jewelry made from precious metals and precious gemstones. But the gemstones that are traditionally thought of as “precious”; diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald, are not necessarily the most valuable gemstones. In fact, imperial jade, imperial topaz, tanzanite, aquamarine, pearls and several other gems are just as sought-after and high value.

When it comes to precious metals, for “fine” jewelry, the lines are also blurring. Alternative metals are becoming more popular, which means that the definition of “fine” jewelry is evolving into something different.

Some consider fine jewelry to be an art form. This means that each piece is painstakingly produced by hand, rather than mass-produced by machines. There seems to be a fine line between fashion jewelry and fine jewelry. According to the dictionary, for something to be fine, it should be of superior quality, skill or appearance. Yet, it could also be carefully or delicately made, refined and elegant, or excellent in quality. There are differences of opinion when it comes to a clear definition of fine jewelry.

“Luxury” is an additional word that is used to refer to jewelry. Like the word “fine”, this is another term that is open to interpretation. If something is a luxury, then it is not a necessity. Therefore all jewelry could be considered luxury items. However, another opinion is that only the most sumptuous, indulgent or extraordinary pieces should be referred to as luxury jewelry.

Alternatively, the word “high” is used for jewelry, meaning “high-end” jewelry. This is also known by the French term “haute joaillerie”. This would indicate expensive jewelry that appeals to sophisticated or discerning customers. Yet, doesn’t every customer consider their choices to be discerning? This could invite jewelers to put a high price tag onto jewelry items to market them as “high” jewelry.

To conclude, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The ways in which jewelry is defined depend upon personal opinion and preferences. Perhaps the only way to truly define jewelry is not by its price tag, but by considering the following: The gemstones used and their type, color, clarity, carat weight, cutting style and scarcity. Also, the types of metals used, the amount and purity level. Lastly, the workmanship should be taken into account, since true works of art require extra attention to detail.

Extremely’s Body Jewelry from Past to Present

Body jewelry has been around for thousands of years, in fact, the oldest earrings found come from the Sumerian Tombs of Ur, which date from around 2300 BC. It is said that the long earlobes of Buddha images refer to the practice of wearing ear plugs of gradually increasing size that stretched and elongated the earlobes. This has become a more recent trend in the West, with flesh plugs being a more common sight on the street than a century ago. Some tribes, such as the Apatani women of Northeast India used to insert wooden flesh plugs into both sides of their noses and tattoo their faces. This is not so popular in contemporary Western body jewelry.

Body piercing was practiced by the ancients, including the Egyptians and the Romans. Apparently, only the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were permitted to have belly button piercings, but since the 1990s, this has become a popular form of mainstream body jewelry, with a wide variety of beautiful belly jewelry available (see, top image). It is said that Roman gladiators had their penises pierced to enable the penis to be tied to the testicles during fights, in order to avoid injury (the mind boggles!). These piercings also stopped gladiators from having sexual intercourse without their owners’ permission, since their seed was considered valuable. Penis jewelry can also be seen in the illustrations of the Karma Sutra.

Despite the Victorians’ reputation for being repressed, there are records of Victorian women having nipple piercings. However, this was not a popular topic of conversation at the time. Modern interpretations of Genesis 24:22 and 24:47 suggests that nose piercings were practiced in ancient Biblical times. The Aztecs and Mayans wore nose piercings in the septum and the sides of the nose made of gold and gemstones such as jade. African, Australian and New Guinean tribes have also practiced nose piercing for hundreds of years.

Nose rings have long been a part of Indian culture and are thought to have been introduced by the Mughals. Ancient Vedic texts mention nose rings. Nose rings worn by Indian women are often made from gold or silver and beautifully embellished with gemstones, such as rubies and pearls. They can be a symbol of status, religion or marriage. Some Indian wedding nose jewelry consists of a hoop with a chain that attaches to an earring. Other styles worn in India are septum piercings called “nathori”, which can be seen on images of Hindu gods, such as Krishna, though these are not as widely worn. Indian nose rings can be so large that they cover part of the mouth. Nose rings came to the West during the 1960s, when hippies visited India. They were later adopted by punks in the 1970s and 80s. Nowadays, nose rings are a popular form of mainstream fashion jewelry.

Other types of body modification have been practiced throughout history by various cultures, such as the filing of teeth into sharpened points by the Balinese and the wearing of gemstone dental implants by the Mayans. Lip piercing and the insertion of labrets (lip plates) has also been done for hundreds of years by Northwest Coast American Indians; some of the labrets would be made from gold and jade. This is still practiced by some tribes, such as the Mursi in Ethiopia and the Kayopo of Brazil. For some these lip plates used to be a marker of social status or a protective amulet. Lip plates generally begin as piercings, which are then stretched by the wearing of plugs of gradually increasing size. Modern variations on this theme are lip piercings that are not stretched, but house barbells or studs, sometimes with attractive colored gemstones. A few contemporary body modification enthusiasts in the West experiment with flesh plugs in the lips and even the cheeks.

The Padaung tribe of Mae Hong Son in Northern Thailand have taken the necklace to another level. Some of the Padaung ladies use brass rings to depress their collar bones and upper ribs, which gives their necks an elongated appearance. They are known as the “long-necked women” or “giraffe women”. The neck rings are heavy, weighing around 4.5 kilograms. Unfortunately, the neck muscles are severely weakened, so the rings must be worn throughout the life. This practice has not caught on in the West, but chokers and other necklaces are widely worn with less permanent consequences. Other Karen tribes of Northern Thailand, such as some of the Palong people, favor silver jewelry, including silver ear plugs, which stretch their ear lobes. They also use gold to decorate their teeth. Both tribes also wear anklets, bracelets and leg rings.

The Padaung tribe of Mae Hong Son in Northern Thailand have taken the necklace to another level. Some of the Padaung ladies use brass rings to depress their collar bones and upper ribs, which gives their necks an elongated appearance. They are known as the “long-necked women” or “giraffe women”. The neck rings are heavy, weighing around 4.5 kilograms. Unfortunately, the neck muscles are severely weakened, so the rings must be worn throughout the life. This practice has not caught on in the West, but chokers and other necklaces are widely worn with less permanent consequences. Other Karen tribes of Northern Thailand, such as some of the Palong people, favor silver jewelry, including silver ear plugs, which stretch their ear lobes. They also use gold to decorate their teeth. Both tribes also wear anklets, bracelets and leg rings.

Body modification has always existed, though some forms are more generally accepted in some societies than others. For example, in ancient China, it was the norm to practice foot binding, and in the West, a small waist was so attractive that some women had ribs removed and wore uncomfortable corsets to achieve this.

What may seem normal to one culture may appear very strange to another. Having said this, anything that is unnatural could be considered strange by some. Body jewelry seems to grow more extreme in its quest to experiment, shock or to be different. The lengths people go to in order change their appearance now include tongue splitting, sub-dermal implants, gold-plated magnetic finger implants, branding (scarification), platinum eyeball jewelry (see, image above), corneal tattoos, sub- and micro-dermal implants, tooth tattoos and gold contact lenses.

Buying Organic Gems and Jewelry at affordable prices

When most people hear the term ‘organic’, the first thing that comes to mind is usually food, such as organic fruit and vegetables. Many forget that not only can you eat and drink organic products, but you can also wear them. Although they share similar defining characteristics, in the gem and jewelry trade, ‘organic’ takes on a slightly different meaning than it does for the food and health industry. In order for foods to be classified as organic, they must either be grown or raised with only the use of natural materials. This means that before organic products are offered to the consumer market, they must not be processed or show any indication of artificial enhancement, including the use of synthetic chemical treatments, such as dyes used for coloring. Like organic foods, organic gemstones must also be completely natural. In fact, they are products of nature. If we apply the same definition of ‘organic’ to gemstones as we do for foods, then technically all untreated and natural gemstones could be described as organic. They also share two things in common: First, they’re all products of some form of biological process, either animal or vegetable. Secondly, all organic gems could be considered priceless, and they’re especially unique for the making of creative and interesting jewelry. What could be more precious than wearing jewelry as natural as life itself?

So what exactly qualifies as an organic gem?
The classification of organic gems is based on whether the material was once part (or a by-product) of something that was living. Over the last decade, interest in organic gems has been increasing, just as the organic food niche has resulted in the exponential development of stores that specialize in organic foods. Just like organic foods, organic gemstones have a very specialized industry. However, when it comes to organic gems, the ability to meet consumer demands becomes slimmer year-after-year, because unlike food, there’s an extremely limited supply of natural gems, especially natural organic gems.

Since organic gemstones are produced by some type of biological process, either animal or vegetable, they are quite a rarity. Many organic gems are highly sought after by collectors, and some, such as ivory and coral, have caused great concern among animal rights activists and environmental campaigners. In addition to being collectable, organic gemstones are also popular for the manufacturing of jewelry. In fact, some of the earliest forms of jewelry ever found were made of the shells of marine mollusks; they would be strung and worn like contemporary beaded bracelets and necklaces. Since prehistoric times, organic gems have been prized by people from all walks of life. Some organic gemstones can be extremely expensive, but there are other varieties that are very affordable, including fossilized (petrified) wood, mother-of-pearl and shark’s teeth.

The family of organic gemstones is very small, and technically they’re not even stones per se. Of the hundreds of gemstone varieties available today, only a small handful of gems are classified as organic, most of which are extremely rare, some even more so than rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds combined. Interestingly enough, unlike organic foods, it is acceptable for organic gemstones to be enhanced by the use of artificial or synthetic counterparts. Additionally, for many gems, artificial enhancements are considered routine, comparable to the heating of sapphire or the oiling of emerald. Common organic gem enhancements for organic gems include dyeing (often seen in pearls and mother-of-pearl), as well as stabilization or impregnation, usually with plastic, polymer or resin, in efforts to increase the durability of fragile materials. Organic gems may also be enhanced through assembling of layers, which utilizes various adhesives and may even contain a layer of synthetic material (such as ammolite doublets and triplets).

Other than cultured pearls and cultured mother-of-pearl, organic gemstones must be naturally formed, which makes them especially unique. Some of the most popular and well-known organic gems include freshwater and saltwater pearls. Pearls are the ultimate in luxury, and for most of time, they were worn and owned only by the world’s elite. Ivory is an organic gem that has caused much controversy over the last century. Originally the main source of ivory was elephant tusks, especially elephants from certain areas of Africa and Asia, which threatened the species. However, today, ivory can also be sourced from a variety of other, non-threatened animals such as the teeth and tusks of hippos, walruses, whales, wart hogs and even the remains of mammoths.

Coral gemstones are also organic, and when polished, they can exhibit an amazing luster. Amber is another unique organic gem that has a color like no other gem in the entire world. Polished amber is normally available en cabochon and this highly remarkable material formed from the hardened resin of pine trees is a result of a process that dates back over 50 million years. As odd as it sounds, even highly polished coal is considered a desirable gem, specifically jet, one of the few types of gemstones that comes in black. Jet was extremely popular during the 19th century, but over the last century, it has become increasingly rare. Other fossilized organic materials include petrified wood; a gemstone that began its life as an organic material, but over time, became crystallized and pseudomorphed into a variety of quartz. The same process is also found in coral species.

Fossil coral at one time in its life was organic living coral. But over 20 million years, it became ‘agatized’ and slowly transformed into quartz, all while retaining some of its original properties. Lastly, one of the most colorful organic gems in the world and arguably one of the rarest is ammolite, a gemstone that is made up of the fossilized shell remains of ammonites, primarily aragonite, which is also the very same material that is responsible for nacreous pearl. Ammolite is often cut into thin strips and carefully layered into assembled doublets and triplets because of its delicate nature. It is highly regarded for its attractive iridescence, an optical phenomenon found only a small variety of special gems.

Like all things organic, there is a niche market for everything from fruit and vegetables to gems and jewelry. Living organic isn’t limited to only a few aspects of life, rather, it’s an entire lifestyle, involving one’s health (body and mind), as well as wearables. Buying organic products can benefit us in many ways. Since by living organically, we’re leaving less of an enviornmental impact, the next generation can look forward to a brighter, greener future. Online, you can find numerous suppliers and jewelry retailers who specialize in organic gems and handcrafted jewelry. Popular designs include amber rings and pendants, pearl stud earrings, and mother-of-pearl watches or cufflinks. So for those who love the organic lifestyle, Not only can you eat organic products, but you can also wear them too.

Gems and jewelry in china country

Many people are aware of the long history of nephrite jade in China, which goes back to the New Stone Age. However, China is not only a source for jade, other gemstones are also found there.

With the expanding Chinese middle class comes a greater market for jewelry. The Chinese are spending more on luxuries than ever before. According to some reports, with regard to revenue, the Asia Pacific region now has the largest gemstone and jewelry share. Also, China is the largest platinum jewelry consumer in the world. However, when it comes to gold, India remains the largest consumer, with China coming second. Therefore, domestic production of precious metals and gemstones is more important than ever.

Some Chinese people place significance on traditional beliefs such as feng shui and Chinese astrology. Gemstones play a role here and certain gems are attributed to each astrological sign, whether it is due to the gemstone color or another property. Feng shui is the art of placement and design, which attaches importance to color. According to feng shui, colored gemstones are materials which attract, repel or conduct energy. Auspicious gemstones are often bought for weddings and on the birth of babies.

Some organic gemstones are sourced from China, such as cultured pearls and amber. In fact, since the 1980s, China has been the most prolific producer of cultured pearls in the world, mostly from saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels. The fisheries where these mollusks are raised date back to the Han Dynasty. The saltwater fisheries are based mainly in Guangxi and Guangdong in the south, and the freshwater fisheries are mostly in the eastern region. Since freshwater mussels can produce more pearls than marine oysters, freshwater pearls tend to be lower priced.

Another organic gemstone, amber, the fossilized resin of pine trees, has been found in Yunnan Province of China. The demand for Baltic amber has increased in China. Amber is believed by some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to soothe the circulatory system and calm the wearer. Additionally, amber in Chinese is called “the soul of a tiger” because an old Chinese belief states that a dead tiger’s spirit goes into the ground and turns into a mineral. Therefore, some Chinese people believe that amber represents tiger-like qualities, such as courage.

Cinnabar, a form of mercury sulfide, has been mined from the border area of Hunan and Kweichow Provinces. The cinnabar mines date back to the Ming Dynasty and some of the best cinnabar crystal specimens known have been produced by this area. The material has various uses; it has been used as a red pigment since ancient times and is the common ore of mercury. It is used for decorative purposes and large crystals are faceted for collectors. These faceted gems exhibit an attractive adamantine to sub-metallic luster, due to the remarkably high refractive index of cinnabar. Since cinnabar has a relatively low level of hardness (just 2 to 2.5 on the Mohs scale), it is not considered to be suitable for jewelry.

Some of the finest turquoise gemstones are sourced from China. This material comes mainly from Hubei and Shaanxi. Turquoise has been used for ornamental purposes in China for over three thousand years. Chinese turquoise ranges from blue to green in color with a waxy luster and a Mohs hardness of 4.6 to 5.5. It occurs in a pure form, rivaling the renowned “Persian turquoise” and also with veined patterns. The most desirable turquoise in China has a pure, sky-blue color and a Mohs hardness score of above 5. Turquoise with such hardness is termed “porcelain turquoise” by the Chinese. In Tibet, turquoise is believed to bring good luck and offer protection.

Corundum (ruby and sapphire) has been made use of for thousands of years in China. Highly polished ceremonial axes from Liangzhou District of Gansu Province dating back over four thousand years have been found to contain corundum. It is thought that these axes provide evidence of the first use of diamond as an abrasive. This is because another material such as quartz would not have been hard enough to grind corundum, which has a Mohs hardness of 9. Corundum is also found in the provinces of Shandong, Sichuan, Yunnan, Xinjiang and Hainan Island. The sapphires of Penglai, Hainan, are said to be similar to those found in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Hainan Island is also a source for purple, red, purplish-red, brown and brownish-red zircon gemstones. These gems also occur in Heilongjiang and Fujian.

Since the 1990s, China has been one of the largest producers of peridot gemstones. These tend to be yellowish-green and are typically mined from Hebei Province in the northeast. Chinese peridot is said to possess a good level of hardness and a luster similar to highly-desired Burmese peridot. This peridot is typically untreated and exhibits excellent transparency. In China, there is a traditional belief that peridot promotes prosperity and success.

The above gemstone materials are just some of the gems that can be found in the People’s Republic of China. Garnet, bloodstone, chicken’s blood stone, diamond, topaz, pietersite, amethyst, azurite, fluorite and tourmaline are some of the other gemstone materials that have been discovered in the vast expanse of the Middle Kingdom, from the far reaches of the western frontier of Xinjiang, to the east of the mountains where the Yellow River meets the Yellow Sea in Shandong.