Category Archives: Watch and Jewelry

Guide to Choosing the Right Gemstones for your Jewelry

When buying gemstones for jewelry, it isn’t always about getting the right color of stone per se, though color certainly is one of the most important deciding factors. Since the gemstones and jewelry you are going to choose to buy and wear are going to reflect your personality and fashion style, here are some points to consider that will help guide you in choosing the right gemstones for your custom jewelry.

Durability and Wearability

Most people misinterpret the meaning of durability when it comes to gemstones for jewelry. Often, durability and wearability are gauged solely by level of hardness. Although hardness can be indicative and often coincides with gem durability and wearability, this is not always the case. Gemstone hardness only measures resistance to scratches – and not resistance to fracturing, crumbling, parting, crazing (drying) or even denting. Some hard gemstones are actually quite fragile, due to perfect cleavage, and can be easily split by a single blow. Such gems include diamond and topaz. Yet, some gem types that are actually softer according to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, are considered quite durable, like nephrite and jadeite. The overall toughness, durability and wearability of gemstones for jewelry is measured by several factors, including hardness, cleavage, fracture, tenacity and sensitivity.


For those without a budget, natural and untreated gemstones are the best choice. The term “natural” applies to gems that can be found in an untreated, unenhanced state. However, since most people are working with a budget and usually do not hold any strong objections to the concept of enhanced gems, choosing treated or enhanced gemstones can cut costs without sacrificing the look of the finished design. So, if you do not have a strong opinion against treated gemstones, these offer a much larger selection. This is partly because many of the most popular jewelry gemstones available today simply cannot be found untreated, including blue zircon and London blue topaz, both of which obtain their color through routine treatments.


It is important to ask yourself, how your gemstone jewelry will be worn – occasionally, frequently, or daily. White diamonds, which are most commonly worn in engagement and bridal jewelry can be worn in just about every scenario and matched with every type of fashion trend. Though many types of colored stones may not be as versatile as white diamonds, colored gemstone jewelry can be custom-designed to accommodate versatility. When shopping for the right gemstone for your jewelry, versatility may be important if you plan to wear your jewelry often. Choose versatile gemstones if you plan to invest in jewelry that you want to wear often. Selecting several different colored gemstone jewelry styles will ensure that color of your stone will always suit your attire. Some examples of extremely versatile gems include varieties of sapphire, tourmaline, garnet and spinel, as well as pastel colored stones like aquamarine and kunzite.


Some colored stones are simply so rare, that no matter how hard you look, you may not be able to find the size or shape you need. Availability may also affect the way you purchase the gemstone for your jewelry. Common gem types such as amethyst and citrine can usually be found even in small ‘mom and pop’ jewelry stores, while other lesser-known gems will likely need to be sourced from overseas online suppliers.

Many types of gemstones may be limited to certain sizes or weights. In most cases, certain gem types will only be available in small sizes, but there are a handful of gems known to be available only in large sizes as well, such as ametrine. This type of bicolor quartz is rarely found in gems weighing less than 5 carats, since cutting it down any smaller could reduce or even eliminate its attractive colors. Other gems such as alexandrite and demantoid garnet are extremely rare in large sizes. The availability of such gems makes it very hard to source large center stones for jewelry, but for smaller accent stones, alexandrite and demantoid garnet are absolutely ideal.

When it comes to large green centerstones, there are more varied options, which include chrysoberyl, emerald, tourmaline and sapphire. With regard to sapphire, we have often been asked by clients to find them an unheated 20 carat Ceylon sapphire for their custom jewelry design. To put this into perspective, the fact that the Prince William’s wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, wears a Ceylon sapphire of only 12 carats in her royal engagement ring, makes the chances of non-noble folks obtaining a substantially larger sapphire slim to none. The availability of natural gems is decreasing by the day.

There are several other factors to consider when buying gems for jewelry, including the quality of cut, color and clarity of the gemstones themselves. However, we hope this article will at least help steer you in the right direction and get you to consider to some important points before you start shopping for your next jewelry project. When it is time to choose the right gemstones to meet your needs, we hope this article can be of help.

Palladium for expensive jewelry

Many people think of gold as the most precious metal. It may be the most traditional precious metal, but it’s not the most valuable. Platinum is almost twice as expensive as gold, currently selling at today’s rate well over $1,700 per troy ounce, compared to about $900 per ounce for gold. Rhodium, an even rarer metal, was selling at prices as high as $9,000 per ounce in 2008.

With the popularity of white metals in jewelry during the last ten years, platinum became the metal of choice for high end jewelry, particularly wedding bands. Colored gemstones such as ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, spinel and tourmaline, look stunning when set in white metal. But in recent years, platinum has risen dramatically in price. In January 2007, platinum was trading at around $1,100 per ounce. By January 2008, it had risen above $1,500 per ounce and went as high as $2,200 in March 2008 before falling to around $1,700.

The high price of platinum has led jewelers to recommend another member of the platinum group to their customers; palladium. Palladium is not as dense as platinum and has a lower melting point. But like platinum, it is tarnish resistant, electrically stable and resistant to corrosion, as well as intense heat.

Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewelry since 1939, as an alternative to platinum or white gold. This is due to its natural white color, which eliminates the need for rhodium plating. It is slightly whiter, substantially lighter but about 12% harder than platinum. It is also considerably cheaper, selling at around $380 per ounce.

One of the unique properties of palladium is its ability to absorb hydrogen. When at room temperature and exposed to atmospheric pressure, palladium can absorb up to 900 times its own volume of hydrogen. Over half of the supply of palladium and its sister metal, platinum, goes into catalytic converters for automobiles, which convert up to 90% of harmful gases from auto exhausts (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide) into less harmful substances (nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor).

Palladium bullion has been assigned ISO currency codes of XPD and 964. It is one of only four metals to have such codes, the others being gold, silver and platinum. Palladium was discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803. In 2005, Russia was the top producer of palladium, with at least a 50% world share, followed by South Africa, the USA and Canada.

Maori Jade Jewelry that step

 The Maori are people of east Polynesian descent who have lived in New Zealand for centuries and developed their own unique culture. The Maori settled in New Zealand long before the arrival of Europeans, who brought great change and upheaval to the Maori people.

The Maori people made use of materials they call pounamu and tangiwai for weapons and decorations. Pounamu typically refers to nephrite jade, which is classified according to its appearance. For example, translucent to opaque, pearly-white or grayish-green pounamu is termed inanga pounamu. The name is derived from a freshwater fish that has a similar appearance. The most highly desired and rarest is kahurangi pounamu, which has a high level of translucency and a vivid green color. Tangiwai usually refers to bowenite, which is a compact variety of serpentine. In English, both pounamu and tangiwai are given the general term “greenstone”.

Some of the earliest known Maori decorations were reels, which were likely worn as necklaces and made from bone or stone. Also worn were whale teeth or carved replicas shaped like whale teeth, V-shaped pendants and discs decorated with designs such as fish. These were typically made from whale bone, shark teeth, whale teeth or shells.

The discovery of New Zealand nephrite and serpentine came later for the Maori people; around one thousand years ago. These materials were used to make tools, weapons and decorations. It is said that the Maoris valued pounamu due to its attractive appearance, strength and durability. In fact, in 1870 when gold was to be mined in Coromandel, a prominent Maori called Te Otatu made the following remark, “Let the gold be worked by the white men. It was not a thing known to our ancestors. My only treasure is the pounamu“. The greenstone was so treasured that its sources caused conflict between Maori tribes.

There are a variety of Maori motifs used for carved greenstone pendants. Fish hooks or hei matau are one design, which are said to bring luck, prosperity and promote safe water travel. Whales and dolphins are also important symbols, said to offer protection. Additionally, dolphins represent friendship. Koru resemble the spiral or curl of an unfurling fern frond and are thought to symbolize growth and new life. Circles and single twists are thought to symbolize eternity, whereas double or triple twists generally mean the joining together of people. A teardrop shape, known as roimata is believed to represent comfort. Also used as pendants are koropepe; an eel-like fish, and various mythical creatures.

An important Maori jewelry item is a pendant known as hei tiki or simply tiki (see top image). Tiki is the name assigned to all human figures and hei is the word for an object that hangs from the neck. These are carvings in the form of a human that are worn by women and men. They are often passed down through generations. The significance of tiki is not clear. Various theories state that the tiki could be the first man, known as Tiki, or perhaps be a human embryo, symbol of fertility or an amulet to promote safe childbirth. It is believed by some that a hei tiki can help a woman to conceive. Tiki can be female or sexless and the earliest ones were made from bone, wood or ivory. Later, tiki were made from mostly nephrite jade.

Maori people also wore a variety of ear ornaments. Some of these were long, straight polished greenstone pendants or pendants which were bent at the end. Others were drop-shaped. Also worn were rings, hooks, teeth or feathers.

The unique history of the Maori people is integral to the history of New Zealand and pounamu is an important part of Maori culture. To this day, there is a prominent Maori population in New Zealand, who continue to practice and preserve their traditions, including the carving of their treasured pounamu or greenstone.

The Secrets of Worldwide Jewelry Retailer

In every industry, there will always be some insider secrets, and the gem and jewelry industry is no exception. Of course, ethical jewelers and jewelry retailers will tell the truth when asked about their products (if they know the answer), but it’s up to you, the consumer, to ask the right questions to ensure you’re getting what you expect and what you’ve paid for. Like the chef’s special sauce, some things are best kept a secret.

Fluctuating prices

Most jewelers update their prices daily to reflect the current market prices for gold and jewelry, including diamonds and precious metals. This means the price you found yesterday in their store may very well change by the time you actually go the cashier. This is fair when it comes to diamonds, since they are usually custom ordered at the time of sale, but when it comes to gold and precious metals, daily fluctations in market prices shouldn’t affect retail prices for consumers instantaneously, especially when the item is already in stock.

Most jewelry retailers won’t reveal that market prices for gold, silver and other precious metals take up to 8 months before they impact the selling price for consumers. And most won’t tell you whether prices will be lower tomorrow based on market trends. The jewelry on display in-store was most likely purchased months or even years ago – at a locked price. Despite this, many retailers will still update prices based on the gram weight of precious metal in their items. This is why a $1,000 ring today may cost you $1,100 tomorrow.

Diamonds and Gemstones

Diamond and other gemstone suppliers are required to disclose any gem treatments or enhancements made to their gems before selling them to jewelers and resellers. The open disclosure policy has become an industry standard, so much so, that suppliers who do not disclose treatments or enhancements prior to offering them for sale are frowned upon and branded as unethical or cheaters.

However, this is not the case for the jewelry retailer. On the retailer’s end, most jewelry is often sold without disclosing any of these details to the consumer. In fact, do you ever recall a retailer asking you if you would be interested in purchasing an “irradiated Swiss blue topaz pendant” – or perhaps an “18K beryllium-heated sapphire ring”? Indeed, many of the gems shown in stores today have been treated to improve color, clarity and sometimes even size, but most retailers won’t tell you this unless you ask them. It may be in the small print if you read carefully. Even routine gem treatments such as oiling (emerald) or heating (ruby and sapphire) are usually handled with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. However, in the end most consumers don’t mind as long as the jewelry item can be appraised for the price they’ve paid, or sometimes more.

Virtual Inventory

Most consumers have no idea that the diamonds offered for sale are not actually available for immediate sale. In fact, that very same stone you’ve been contemplating is likely featured on hundreds of other jewelers’ websites, and depending on individual mark-ups, it can be listed at different prices too. Why? Because it would be far too costly for jewelry retailers to keep thousands of diamonds in stock. And if they did have thousands of diamonds in stock, even big chain stores would take several years to rid them from their inventory and earn a profit. This is why jewelers and retail stores use a shared virtual inventory.

Diamond suppliers upload availability information to a centralized feed, removing and adding items as they’re bought and sold. The database is accessible to thousands of jewelry trade members from all over the world. This virtual stock system is good for both jewelers and suppliers. It is important to always check and compare prices before buying jewelry, because that same gem is likely priced lower somewhere else. Most consumers have the assumption that the best prices are found at big name stores because they sell in volume, but in many cases, smaller, independent jewelry stores will offer better prices than chain stores. Also, most jewelers will happily haggle over prices and offer discounts, but only if you ask them.

In-store Warranties

Thinking about purchasing that extended warranty? Well, think twice. Almost every jewelry store will offer in-house warranties for their items, but at an added cost, sometimes amounting to several hundred dollars. Having an extended warranty often gives consumers a false feeling of full protection. In-house warranties are usually not worth the added costs. They may cover labor defects, but then again, you shouldn’t need a warranty for that. Most in-house warranties do not cover full loss, and chances are you won’t notice something wrong with your ring until it’s too late. Rather than purchasing a warranty, it is far better to cover your jewelry with homeowner or renter’s insurance because these policies often provide full coverage, so even if your jewelry is lost, damaged or stolen, you’re fully protected.

These are many other secrets of the trade, so the list certainly does not stop here. Always ask questions before buying, and buy from reputable sources. If you are buying anything expensive, ask your jeweler to put the details in writing along with the sales receipt. Important details include metal purity, metal weight, gemstone carat weight, and the diamond or gemstone grades if available. After buying expensive jewelry from one jeweler, you can always take the item to another jeweler from a different shop to provide you with an apprasial. The appraisal of value should be made by an independent accredited gemologist.

Bright Color Combination in Gemstone

It is known by most gem lovers that diamonds have a grading system known as the four Cs; cut, clarity, color and carat weight. These factors are taken into account when assessing the quality of each stone. Colorless white diamonds with a high carat weight, a well-proportioned cut and few inclusions are incredibly valuable.

However, when it comes to colored gemstones, many say that the most important thing is color, color and color. Thus, the most desirable aspect of colored gemstones is their color, and the other factors can be somewhat overlooked when a stone has a top color. For example, emeralds and rubies are admired for their beautiful hues, but often when they are looked at closely, they show inclusions. Similarly, a stunning blue sapphire could have a slightly asymmetrical cut, but because of its size and color, it is extremely valuable, so it is not recut because some of the beautiful color will be lost.

The colors of natural gemstones are beautiful by themselves, but there are some additional factors which can make them really come to life. For example, other colors that gems are seen with. Color can have an effect on mood, perception and even health, so it can be useful to know how to put colors together properly to achieve the desired effect. As a general rule, most color combinations work well when each color is not fighting for first place. Thus, one color can be allowed to dominate and the other/s provide support or accents.

Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are paradoxically known as “complementary” colors. This is because although they are in contrast, complementary colors seem to look good together because they balance each other out. Examples of complimentary colors are purple and yellow, and red and green. In jewelry, this effect can be seen by setting a purple sapphire into yellow gold, or by pairing peridot with rose gold. These combinations work best in jewelry when one of the complements is muted. For example, yellow gold is not very bright yellow, but the purple sapphire is bursting with color. Similarly, rose gold is not bright pink, but peridot is a lively green hue. As can be seen in the image on the left, the red pyrope garnet is much smaller than the green emerald, so the two colors do not have equal command of the piece. A further contrast is provided by the yellow gold and silver detail.

Analogous colors are ones that are adjacent on the color wheel. Examples of analogous colors are red and orange, and green and blue. Analogous colors may be pairs or three colors which work well together. Like complementary colors, analogous colors work well when one dominates and the other supports. In gemstone jewelry, an example would be a yellow gold ring with a central golden orange sapphire and small, yellow gemstone accents. Alternatively, a rose gold pendant could have a pink tourmaline gemstone with small, ruby accents. Analogous color combinations can also be seen in the current trend for yellow and brown diamonds with rose or yellow gold.

Triadic colors are three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel, so that if a triangle is placed on the color wheel, each point is in one color; for example, orange, purple and green. Triadic colors are quite tricky to balance well and create harmony, but by using one main color and two others as accents, it is possible to create something wonderful. For example, a blue zircon or a teal apatite in rose gold with golden beryl accents. Another example of triadic colors can be seen in the image on the right, where blue topaz, pink-purple tourmaline and yellow gold are used together to make a necklace pendant.

Split complementary colors are three colors; a color with the two that fall to either side of its complementary color; such as blue, pink and yellow. This could be achieved in a piece of jewelry by using a central gemstone such as blue sapphire, with rhodolite garnet accent stones in yellow gold. Split complementary colors tend to be easier to harmonize than some other combinations.

Tetradic colors are two pairs of complementary colors. On the color wheel, this looks like a rectangle is drawn with each corner in a different color, for example, red, orange, blue and green. A square color scheme has four equally spaced colors from the color wheel, as if a square has been placed over the wheel with each corner on a different color. Color schemes with four colors can often appear a little chaotic, so the colors should be well-balanced with attention paid to the harmony between cool and warm tones. It is best to choose one of the four colors to dominate the others when using four colors.

When designing unique gemstone jewelry, colors can be kept nice and simple or combined in many different ways to produce an effect that is pleasing to the eye. The most important thing is that the wearer is comfortable in the colors. With natural gemstones, and modern jewelry metals, it is possible to find almost any color on the color wheel and to have fun designing something new.

The history of Thai Silver Jewelry is very expensive

Thailand is world-famous for its exceptional silver and fine artisanal jewelry designs. The history behind Thailand’s well-developed silver market runs deep through many generations of Thai people. Originally, the majority of Thailand’s silver craftsmanship was for the production of fine silverware and decorative items such as trays, ladles and bowls. Through modernization, the industry brought about a shift in demand for finer silverwork and jewelry design.

The northern region of Thailand is most famous for the production of fine silverwork and jewelry, though silver craft is also abundant throughout Central and Southern Thailand. Northern Thai silver is renowned for its high level of purity (often up to 99.9%), and for its fine craftsmanship, typically featuring unique and intricate ethnic detail. The detailing of silver designs native to Northern Thailand incorporates many techniques, encompassing influences from ancient Hindu metalworkers, as well as Burmese refugees, Shan tribes and various hilltribes of Northern Thailand and the surrounding area.

The early Hindu settlers of Thailand were highly skilled in the art of metal-crafting. Although gold was their preferred medium, the ancient Hindu civilizations had a great influence on Thailand’s silver craft as well. As Hindu traders slowly made their way from Southern and Eastern India, the techniques of skilled goldsmiths eventually spread to natives throughout Thailand. Hindu influence and methods that were formerly used to design fine gold jewelry can easily be seen in some of the most astonishing pieces of modern silver jewelry fashioned by Thailand’s artisans.

After the fall of the Pagan (pronounced “Bagan” and not to be confused with the pre-Christian religion) Empire, many Burmese silversmiths fled to the capital of the Lanna Kingdom. For over 200 years, Lanna was an independent country, reaching south to Lumpang and extending north to the Shan State of Burma. The Kingdom of Lanna, now present day Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, inherited the fine Burmese silver-working methodology. Around this time, Shan tribes also began to establish themselves throughout Northern Thailand. The Shan tribesmen were also very skilled in the art of silver craft and many Northern Thai silver jewelry designs seen today draw their inspiration from Shan heritage.

Of the many hilltribes in Northern Thailand, none are as famous as the Karen tribe. The Karen tribe is actually one of the largest hilltribes in all of Southeast Asia. The Karen tribe has been hand making traditional silver jewelry for centuries, using methods that have been passed down for centuries from generation to generation. Many of the silver jewelry designs found in Chiang Mai, Thailand are handcrafted by silversmiths who are members of the Karen tribe. Many designs incorporate unusual traditional ethnic symbols or patterns, but nowadays, Western influences are creeping into their silver jewelry designs, in items such as necklaces, bangles and earrings.

Since the historical capital of Lanna was such a vast cultural melting pot, it evolved as a centerpoint for ethnic groups of Thailand, Laos, China and Burma. Here they shared and learned many different styles and methods of jewelry-making artistry. The same handcrafting methods used hundreds of years ago are still used today by many of the world’s finest silver jewelry artisans.

Today, handmade silver jewelry and ornaments can be found throughout Thailand, in places from ritzy five-star hotel gift shops to small shops located in Thailand’s many ‘open-air’ markets. The highly developed art of silver jewelry-making has because a source of local pride, not only for the Thai people, but also for the many other ethnic groups of Thailand and the surrounding areas, including Burmese, Laotian, Chinese and the Karen and Shan tribes of Northern Thailand, all of whom have helped play an important role in the growth of Thailand’s fine silver jewelry and craft trade.

Goth Jewelry

 The term “goth” or “gothic” has several meanings: Germanic people of the early Christian era (Goth/Gothic), an unrefined or barbaric person, or a follower of a particular style of music and fashion. Gothic rock is an alternative sub-genre which developed after punk in the 1970s. Religious motifs, especially Celtic crosses and ankh signs are popular gothic motifs. Similar to rock style, these may be worn as occult symbols. Pioneers of goth music include bands such as Joy Division, The Cure and Sioxsie and the Banshees. Gothic rock is characterized by darkness, introspection and romanticism. Along with the music scene came a goth subculture sometimes confused with “emo”, which came later. Typical goth fashions are pale skin, kohl-lined eyes, dark clothing, hair and nail polish, and red or dark lips. The clothing could be seen as a mix of Victorian, Vampire movies and punk style. Colors favored by goths include deep red, electric blue, purple and deep green. Lace and velvet are popular fabrics when it comes to goth-style clothing.

Gothic style is not all about death and darkness, goths also embrace romanticism, particularly the 18th century art and literary movement, which focused on intense emotion, and includes the poetry of William Wordsworth, Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Works of fiction classed as “gothic” are novels such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. These merge horror with romanticism. Such works may be the inspiration for gothic style, which combines the medieval with romanticism and horror, using motifs such as bats, skulls and roses. In fact, rose motifs can be often seen in gothic jewelry, whether they are carved gemstones, enamel work or metal. These may be black, red or another color and are attractive when used as necklace pendants, earrings or in bracelets.

Filigreed silver designs are popular goth-style jewelry items. Filigree is intricate metalwork that is made by twisting gold or silver wire and soldering it, making it appear like lace. While filigreed jewelry has been made for over 2000 years, it became popular in Europe during the Romantic era; the period of the emergence of the “gothic novel”. Filigree jewelry takes many forms, such as pendant earrings, rings and necklaces, where a central gemstone is surrounded by delicate metalwork.

Chokers, such as those worn by Queen Victoria are among the favorite gothic necklace styles. Chokers can be made from metal or may simply be a ribbon with a brooch attached at the front. A popular Victorian style is a ribbon choker with a cameo in the center, after the fashion of Queen Victoria. Mother-of-pearl and agate are materials often used for the carving of cameos. Alternatively, obsidian and ruby-zoisite are interesting and unique options for gemstone cameos. Cameos can be worn as brooches or pendants on chokers. Ribbon chokers may be made more durable and attractive by securing the ends into clasp fittings. Since chokers are close-fitting, the neck of the wearer should be measured before the length of the choker is decided. For those who do not like cameos, opal, rutile quartz or other interesting cabochons could be a modern interpretation of the style.

Since black is the usual goth color of choice, black metal is suitable for gothic-style jewelry settings. There is a choice of black metals, including black gold “alloys”, which have a black surface layer, black rhodium or ruthenium plating, plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of amorphous carbon, patination and femstosecond laser treated black metal. The most affordable option is black rhodium-plated jewelry, but this is subject to wear and tear, and may need replating from time to time. When it comes to black gemstones, there are quite a few options. Jet was a popular gemstone during the Victorian era, when mourning jewelry was worn and was often carved into cameos and other shapes. However, this is not very durable and also not widely available nowadays. Some good examples of affordable black faceted gems are black tourmaline, black spinel and melanite. When it comes to cabochons, agate, black star sapphire, cat’s eye scapolite, star garnet and jasper are suitable for black gemstone jewelry. With regard to black gemstone material that can be carved, black jade and onyx are possibilities.

While goths inhabit a certain style niche, it is not necessary to be considered a goth to enjoy the above jewelry. Goth-style jewelry can be an alternative embellishment to any outfit without engendering a particular stereotype. In fact, labels can divide, but jewelry can be appreciated for its intrinsic beauty, rather than be simply worn to be part of a particular subculture. Thus, those who are content to be themselves should wear the jewelry, rather than letting the jewelry wear them.

Beautiful gemstone jewelry

Colored gemstone jewelry has always been popular, but the range of choices and colors has never been so varied as it is today. Not so many years ago, you could find only sapphire, emerald and ruby pieces in your typical jewelry store. The choices expanded somewhat when jewelers starting carrying birthstone jewelry, and you might find amethyst, topaz, garnet and peridot rings as well.

However, for gemstone lovers it is often less than satisfying buying commercial gemstone jewelry. For one thing, many of the gems in such jewelry are low quality stones, designed to keep down the cost of the final piece of jewelry. Moreover, it is often impossible to get any information about the stones set in such jewelry, such as their country of origin or any treatment that may have been used in processing the stone.

The choice of gemstones in commercial jewelry also tends to be very limited. This is true of the choice of gem varieties, and the choices in cut, size and quality of each variety. Your local jeweler may carry some garnet jewelry, but can you choose from spessartite, rhodolite, hessonite, pyrope, grossularite and tsavorite garnet varieties?

Of course it is unreasonable to expect a retail jeweler to carry garnet jewelry in all those varieties, not to mention all the different cuts and sizes that a customer might want to consider. That is why many gemstone lovers take a different approach in buying gemstone jewelry. They buy high quality loose gems and have them set by a jeweler or jewelry designer.

This approach has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are numerous. They include the ability to buy exactly the gemstone you want, in the variety, color, size, cut and quality of your choice. Imagine being able to choose from 1,000 different pieces of tourmaline to find the exact color you’ve always wanted. You can buy your gems from a gemstone specialist who carries many of the 100+ varieties of gemstones available on the market. Some of these gems, such as natural spinel, are rarely found in commercial jewelry due to their rarity. A specialized gemstone dealer will know the origin of the gems for sale, and any treatments that may have been used to enhance them. The seller will also be able to provide certification for the gems on sale.

The main disadvantage of buying loose gems is time and, to some degree, cost. If you buy a gemstone in a standard or calibrated size, it will be easy for a jeweler to mount it in a standard commercial setting. If you are having a custom design created for you, then it is unnecessary to buy a stone in a calibrated size, since the jeweler can create a setting to accommodate whatever size of stone you buy. But there will be additional cost and time involved.

High quality gems are, of course, more expensive, but you might be surprised that the cost of many varieties are very reasonable if you find a wholesale dealer. Custom jewelry is naturally more expensive than commercial quality goods, but if you have purchased a special gemstone for a special piece of jewelry to be enjoyed for many years, the extra cost may be insignificant.

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.