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Tanzanite

Poised between lush blue, vibrant violet, and rich purple, exotic tanzanite is found in only one place on earth, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.

We have an extensive collection of loose tanzanite gemstones, precisely cut by a local Berkshire lapidary. The selection includes gems of all sizes and shapes. Come to our gallery or shop online for tanzanite.

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Tanzanite and Zircon are December’s Birthstones

December has two birthstones, Tanzanite and Zircon. First, let’s delve briefly into Tanzanite’s background.

Tiffany & Co. introduced Tanzanite to the market in 1968 naming it after Tanzania, the country in which it was discovered. Tiffany’s marketing department created the gemstone’s name after deciding that its scientific name, blue-violet zoisite, was too hard for consumers to remember.

Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism (a chemical structure causing a double refraction when white light passes through) that leads to it appearing alternatively blue, violet and burgundy. Blue will be more evident when the gemstone is viewed under fluorescent light; violet hues will be more evident when viewed under incandescent light.

Tanzanite’s hardness registers 6.5 on the Moh’s Scale. The gemstone is safest set in pendants and earrings. Expect the gemstone to show wear if you set it into a frequently worn ring.

Zircon, December’s second birthstone, is one of my favorites appearing frequently in my custom designs. Its numerous colors – reddish brown, yellow, green, blue, gray, peach, orange, red, pale brown and colorless – inspire my creativity. I equally appreciate the gemstone’s high refractive index making it similar to a diamond. Also, its strong luster and intense fire give it a flash comparable with a diamond.

Zircon’s hardness (7.5 on the Moh’s Scale) attests to its durability so it can be set into any piece of jewelry. It is mined in Tanzania and Cambodia.

Aside from loose Zircon and Tanzanite (both of which hold their value) our gallery and online store offer many finished pieces for purchase. The jewelry and gemstones are priced well for first time investors in fine jewlery.
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Pin/Pendant with Blue Topaz, 18KY & W

This pin/pendant was inspired by a swimming hole in the Berkshires. Blue topaz is set into a highly polished 18K white gold concave background to achieve the look of water. The “rocks” are created in 18K yellow and white gold, enhanced by aline graved texture. The necklace is made of crystal and blue topaz beads with bezel set Chrome Tourmalines and “S” hooks to attach to the piece or to each other in order to wear alone. Designed and created by Laurie Donovan.

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Topaz, November Birthstone

Topaz is November’s birthstone. It’s also an ideal gemstone for custom-designed jewelry given its brilliantly diverse colors and its hardness.

The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit word “tapaz”, meaning “heat” or “fire”. In ancient times, the Greeks believed that those who wore topaz possessed strength and invisibility. The Romans believed it improved eyesight. The Egyptians believed it protected against injury. During the Middle Ages, topaz was believed to be a healer of both physical and mental sicknesses and even able to prevent death.

In its natural state, topaz is golden brown to yellow. A variety of impurities and treatments may make topaz wine red, pale grey, reddish-orange, pale green or pink (rare) and opaque to translucent and even transparent.

The most sought after and consequently more valuable natural topaz is Imperial Topaz, alson known as “precious topaz”. The color of the setting sun (pink or pink-orange), the name arose with the Russian tsars of the 17th century who claimed their right to all the pink topaz mined in the Urals. The czars might take exception to the fact that today it’s the gemstone of Utah. They would also have to share mining locations with Brazil, one of the world’s largest producers of topaz.

Topaz is also the gemstone of another state, Texas, where it is found in the Precambrian granite of Macon County. For Texas, it’s blue topaz. Naturally occurring blue topaz is considered rare. Typically, to achieve blue, colorless, grey or pale yellow topaz is heat-treated.

Another topaz you might have heard of is Mystic Topaz. It is a colorless topaz artificially coated using a vapor deposition process to render a rainbow effect.

Topaz is 8 on the Mohs hardness scale. Given its relatively low index of refraction, do not expect large-faceted topaz to sparkle as readily as a diamond. Do expect it to be durable and lasting.

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Mexican Fire Opal

Mexican Fire Opal is a type of crystal opal that shows magnificant flashes of red/orange color. Unlike most opals, fire opal is usually faceted so that you get sparkle in addition to vibrant color. Fire opal was born in fire in the ancient volcanoes of Mexico. It forms when water seeps into silica-rich lava, filling seams and hollows. Under heat and pressure, the silica forms a solid gel that traps the remaining water within its structure. Fire opal that displays play-of-color is rare because volcanic opal forms relatively quickly and the spheres of silica rarely have time to settle into the diffraction grids that create play-of-color.

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Ethiopian Opal Ring

Ethiopian opals originate from volcanic activity. All volcanic opal is called “hydrophane opal.” The term hydrophane comes from the Greek words meaning “water-loving” and describes their ability to absorb water and change from opaque or semi-translucent to translucent or transparent. Sometimes this highlights the color play – other times the opal will  become transparent or opaque, with no color when hydrated. The color returns when the gem dries out.

It is important that you handle and clean your opal jewelry with care. Never use a steamer or ultrasonic, keep away from harsh temperatures or sudden temperature changes. Simply wipe your opal jewelry with a clean soft cloth.

The opal is a favorite gemstone of mine given its wide palette of colors, shapes and versatility in jewelry. I’ve created many pieces of opal jewelry over my 40-year career as a fine goldsmith. It also explains why we pride ourselves on having a wide selection of loose opals available to collectors and for custom jewelry orders.

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Opal, October Birthstone

“The Romans established opal as a precious gemstone, obtaining their supplies from traders in the Middle East. The early Greeks believed the opal bestowed powers of foresight and prophecy upon its owner. In Arabian folklore, it is said that the stone fell from heaven in flashes of lightening.” (Opals Down Under)

Opal has a hardness of 5.5 – 6.5 on the Mohs scale, so it is more delicate, cabable of being scratched and its surface worn down. Opal rings are beautiful but should be worn with care. Opals make exculsive jewelry pieces because no two opals are alike. Finding a matched pair of opals for earrings is a challenge. When it does happen it is called a “split”.

The opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica. As such, its water content may range from 3 to 21% by weight, but is usually between 6 and 10%. The internal structure of precious opal makes it diffract light. Depending.on the conditions in which it formed, it can take on many colors. Black opals are the rarest, white and greens are the most common. Opal is the national gemsotne of Australia.

Gem opals can be classified into four groups, light, dark, boulder, and black.

Light Opal, the most common, has a translucent milky to opaque white background. Crystal Opal is transparent to translucent.

Fire Opal, a type of crystal opal, is reddish orange to red, is normally translucent to semi-translcent, and is found in Mexico and Ethiopia.

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Hand Made Sapphire Jewelry

Padparadscha Sapphire Ring with Diamonds, 18KY.

Sapphire is the perfect engagement ring stone because of it’s hardness. Our hand made jewelry is also made to last a life time.

Padparadscha is the rarest type of Sapphire. The word means “The color of the lotus”. Sapphire is a wonderful ring gemstone because it has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale making it less susceptible to damage than any other gem except diamond. And it comes in every color of the rainbow except red when it is considered ruby. We have a large collection of sapphire jewelry and loose sapphire gemstones available for purchase in our gallery or our online store.