Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Word About "Russian" Diamonds, CZ, Etc.

Before I get into discussing the etsy and ebay seller's items I discovered, I want to mention this:  There is a company, an honorable company, named "Russian Brilliants" that sells simulated diamonds, or CZ.  They are forthright in their product descriptions and claims!  They offer not only top-quality stones, but the finest CUT stones.  Bravo to them!  They even have a page that better outlines what I've been trying to say here.  Please take a moment and read it---about avoiding the false claims and hype.  Written by an attorney, it discusses the FTC violations regarding so-called "bonded" stones and "coated" CZ and creative marketing (at the buyer's expense).  VERY important reading!  Honesty is so refreshing! 

I was looking at rings on etsy (I like to shop too!) and came across yet another seller who is offering so-called "created diamonds" or some sort of "Russian" stones.  They call them "Siberian Brilliant" stones which, when I googled it, seems to be a term that someone tried to trademark back in 2005 but the trademark didn't go through for one reason or another.  I found that term mentioned on a couple of discussion boards, with people who realized too late that it was just a CZ.   It seems that a "creative marketer" was selling these Siberian stones on ebay (still do) as well as on etsy (under a different seller name), and their ebay description is muddled.  What are they claiming... Is it a "created diamond"?  A CZ?  A CZ that is coated with a diamond, like an Asha stone

They seem to claim it's a diamond-coated or "bonded" CZ, as well as a lab-created one, and is ALSO made of other gemstones...whaaat??   Here is  description from their ebay site for a ring:

Siberian Brilliants are one of the finest Lab Created Diamond Bonded Gemstones available today, these stones are created using state of the art technology and are designed to have the exact visual properties of natural diamonds, unlike most simulates these stones are made from the exact elements found in the finest natural gemstones including diamond.
This is a problem. (And I don't just mean the grammar and spelling issues! haha)   First, a CZ is a diamond simulant, not a lab-created diamond.  I've talked about this on my blog before---a CZ is grown in a lab, but that's not a lab-created diamond, just a lab-created CZ.  Second, all CZ have the "exact visual properties of natural diamonds" so there is nothing special there.  And third, only a real diamond (mined or created) is made from PURE CARBON, which would be the elements found in the stone. It's all a confusing mish-mash of marketing buzzwords that make no sense and are there just deceive.  (And the saddest part is if you read customers' feedback, they are ridiculously misled and fooled.)

The problem is, these "Siberian" stones are NOT diamond coated.  They claim they have a Mohs hardness of "9" but that would be impossible---IF it's diamond coated, it would be 10.  Sapphire has a Mohs rating of 9.  CZ has a Mohs rating of 8.5.  Only a Moissanite has a Mohs hardness of 9.5, and they aren't claiming these are Moissanite.  These Russian stones are just CZ, and have been sold for about 8 years under the guise of having the same "elements" as a real diamond.  Their claims go beyond "creative marketing" and I don't like that. 

I found this same ebay seller's facebook page, and their description on facebook is quite different---never really implying that this is a diamond-coated stone:

All Lab Created Stones are not alike, our Siberian Brilliant line of created Diamonds by Dymonite are not common C Z , they have been designed to have the exact visual characteristics and are cut to the exact new specifications set by GIA (Gem Institute of America) and are virtually impossible for anyone to distinguish from a natural Diamond without the use of standard and state of the art electronic Gemological equipment, the fact is on one will be able to tell the difference, not your Mother, your girlfriends your sister etc.. even you will believe that this is a Natural Diamond.
CZ Rough
Okay, so here they're saying that the stones are VISUALLY the same as a diamond, and unless tested by a gemologist, will fool everyone.  So that is definitely NOT a "created diamond" at all, but simply IS a CZ.   I love how they throw in the "GIA guidelines" (but only for cut specifications!) to make themselves sound very official.   But who or what is Dymonite?  A quick google search yielded some varied results:  a hard surface cleaner, a youtube karaoke singer, lots of video gamers who use that name (I think it's a character in a game), and finally their website about these CZ stones.  Unfortunately, the website seems to have been abandoned in 2010 without any products listed. 

I've seen online sellers using the term "Russian CZ" for at least 10-15 years, as if it's somehow a better stone than other CZ.  (For awhile before that, it was "French CZ"!  Because anything French is fancy!!)  It seems that the "Russian CZ" term has faded lately because everyone has figured out that scam.  So now online sellers are offering beautiful CZ rings as "Russian" created diamonds (dropping the CZ altogether), or tried to give them a trademarked name so it sounds "official" and "fancy" and somehow "superior" to a "regular CZ."

These so-called Russian stones are just regular CZ.  And the truth is:  CZ are BEAUTIFUL.  They've taken what appears to be high quality CZ (CZ comes in various grades, just like diamonds) and set them in 14k gold settings.  I think this is a FANTASTIC alternative to real diamonds; for a lot of people, diamonds are not ethical or eco-friendly and lots of people choose not to buy a "blood diamond", or simply don't buy into the De Beers hype and price fixing.  A CZ set in sterling silver is fabulous, but sterling tarnishes and needs upkeep (cleaning).  And a CZ that is set in solid gold will last FOREVER and will always look like a flawless diamond.  It's a great alternative to a diamond!  A PERFECT ring, I think.

Fabulous CZ Rings found on HSN, for well under $200
But please, do your research.  Look at the ACTUAL diamond-coated CZ stones (Asha is a great company) in person.  Look at a top quality CZ.  Decide on a stone size and cut.  Choose a beautiful setting.  But know what you are buying!  Just because a seller online says their stone is a "lab created diamond", doesn't make it true.  In fact, if they are saying that, most likely they are trying to defraud you.  They are using buzzwords and "shell game" tactics!  They are relying on uninformed buyers who are easily swayed by their marketing tactics.   There are real lab diamonds---they are TRUE diamonds, Mohs hardness of 10, will test as a diamond because it IS a diamond inside and out---but they are just as expensive as a "mined" stone.  They are very expensive stones, although they are truly eco-friendly.

If, for ethical reasons, you want a real created diamond, look at them in person.  Visit a reputable jeweler.  Or deal directly with the producers of actual lab diamonds---Gemesis for example.  Don't buy one from anyone on ebay!!  Or anyone making such false claims on etsy, sadly.   A $300-$400 two-carat solitaire ring set in solid gold is a CZ, nothing more, and not worth anywhere near that much.   Don't fall for the big claims by some random seller online that a stone is "coated" and that makes it a diamond.  You'll buy it, and take it to a jeweler who can do a quick test and tell you that it isn't a diamond at all, but is a CZ.  Now THAT I can guarantee!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What is "Zentrumite"? Vaseline Glass?

I saw a piece of jewelry today with a stone described as "Zentrumite".  It glows neon green under a black light, and is a pretty, pale green color in other lighting.   It looks sort of like Prehnite in the pictures I saw.

It's VERY pretty!   Zentrumite sounds like a mineral, sort of like dolomite or Prehnite. 

But what is it, really?

Vaseline Glass Beads--natural light
Well, after some research (thanks, google!) I've discovered that it's glass---Vaseline glass to be specific.  All Vaseline glass glows green.  A quick google search reveals that this trademarked Zentrumite is Vaseline glass that is made at the Zentrum Glass Company in Ohio.  They make glowing glass "jewels" for windows, stained glass, things like that.  They have a variety of glass options---blues, greens, reds and ambers.

Vaseline Glass--Black Light

What is Vaseline Glass?
Vaseline glass is yellow or greenish-yellow glass that contains uranium dioxide* as a colorant.  It's also called Uranium Glass.  The uranium content makes the glass fluoresce (glow) bright green under ultraviolet light.  Vaseline glass is a broad category that includes other glass categories:  it encompasses both pressed and blown glass manufactured from 1835 onward and includes  carnival, opalescent, stretch, satin, cased and cut glass.

Vaseline glass was first produced in 1835 in Bohemia, and first made in America in the 1840's by the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company.  It's heyday was the late 1880's through 1905.  After the start of World War II, the United States government curtailed the liberal use of uranium by glass companies.  In 1959, the government's ban was lifted, and since then several glass companies have produced contemporary Vaseline glass.

Vaseline Glass Collectors, Inc. ( defines it as follows: (1) it must be yellow or greenish-yellow by daylight; (2) it must fluoresce bright green under a black light; and (3) the glass must contain uranium dioxide (at least 2%).  

I googled "Vaseline glass faceted jewelry" and to my surprise, there is a LOT of this jewelry around, vintage and contemporary, on places like RubyLane and ebay. And on etsy too!  It's VERY pretty, looks like peridot sometimes, and makes some VERY beautiful and interesting jewelry pieces!  I like it a lot.

*My only thought though uranium in glass SAFE?  Uranium Dioxide is radioactive---you can detect Vaseline glass (and Urania-glazed pottery) with a Geiger counter!  I searched around the net for awhile and it seems like the answer is.... it's sort of safe.  It's been tested, and although no one should polish or otherwise cause "dust" from this glass (don't breathe that in!), it's deemed "safe" for touching or wearing, I suppose.  HERE is a website that discusses the testing process, and the readings from a Geiger Counter on assorted glassware and jewelry.  BIG Geiger counter readings on some beads there. This scares me a bit.  I don't know, anything with Uranium.... may not be something I want touching my skin. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Organic Gem Love: PEARLS

Crown Jewels of France
The pearl is the oldest known gem.  For many centuries, it was considered the most valuable of all gems.  But unlike other gems--which are minerals---pearls are organic, derived from oysters, clams and mussels.   So much history accompanies this stone that five months claim it as a birthstone - February, April, June (traditional), July and November.

Early cultures believed that a pearl was born when a single drop of rain fell from the heavens and became the heart of the oyster.  Pearls have been called the 'teardrops of the moon'.  Some believed that pearls were formed by the passage of angels through the clouds of heaven.  Over time, the pearl has become the symbol of purity and innocence, and pearls are often sewn into bridal gowns, or worn as jewelry by the bride.

Pearls are created when an oyster covers a foreign object, such as a grain of sand, with beautiful layers of nacre.  Long ago, it would take a search of thousands of oysters to find one pearl---so rare because they were created by chance.  Today, pearls are "cultured" by man.  Shell beads are inserted into the oyster and returned to the water, where layers of nacre cover this foreign object.  Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan.  In the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian black cultured pearls, which are larger in size.  Freshwater pearls are cultured mostly in China, in mussels.

The quality of pearls is judged by the "orient"---the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre, and "luster"---the reflectivity and shine of the surface.  Fine pearls have no flaws or spots in the nacre and are even and smooth.  Other factors which affect value are the regularity of the shape, size,and color---white with "rose" tints are the most popular.

In fact, like diamonds and the "four Cs", pearls are graded by the "5 S's":  Shine, Surface, Shape, Shade, and Size.
  • Shine: considered the "soul" of the pearl
  • Surface: any blemishes or grain
  • Shape: round, near round, drop, button, baroque, circle
  • Shade: natural pearls are found in white, ivory, pink, peach, champagne, rose, lavender, silver, blue, yellow, gold, aubergine, green, grey, black
  • Size: pearls are measured my millimeter, and range up to 22.8 mm

Baroque Pearls:   Any pearl that is not round
Blister Pearls:  Pearls that form on the inside of the shell
Mabe Pearls:  Cultured blistered pearl
Biwa Pearls:  Pearls formed in Biwa Lake, Japan. Irregular shaped.  Are formed when a square mother of pearl bead is inserted inside a freshwater clam.
Circle Pearl Strand, $2,000
Ringed or Circle Pearls:  As the pearl turns inside the mollusk as it is form, little rings form around the pearl. A pearl that has one or more parallel grooves etched around its circumference is called a 'circle' pearl. All shapes can be classified as circle pearls if these rings or grooves are present. Found often on Tahitian pearls.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

BALTIC AMBER: "The Living Gem"

Along the shorelines of the Baltic Sea are the countries Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Finland, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden.  This Baltic region is home to the largest deposits of Amber, called Baltic Amber or Succinite, and the Amber is approximately 44 MILLION years old!  Amber is fossilized resin (not sap) from trees that are most closely related to today's Japanese umbrella pine.  As the climate became warmer, the trees exuded more resin, which achieved a stable state through oxidation.

Amber sometimes contains encapsulated insects or plants---species that have been extinct for millions of years.

Baltic Amber is harvested, or "fished", from the Baltic Sea.

Chemically speaking, amber consists of 79% carbon, 10.5% hydrogen and 10.5% oxygen. Studies with a mass spectrometer have shown that amber contains over 40 compounds as well as succinic acids (which is why it's called Succinite) and additive salts of potassium, sodium and iron.

Victorian Faceted Amber Necklace
Amber ranges from bright yellow to dark yellow or brownish-orange, depending on its age and where it is found, and rarely red or blue:

Honey Amber: by far, the most common color. Ranges from dark to light.  Called "sunshine" by Lithuanians, and known as the "stone of the sun" in many cultures.
Green Amber:  known as "earth amber" and has many inclusions, giving it a shimmery look.  Considered good luck.  UPDATE:  Natural green amber is very dark, almost black; however, it appears that most (if not all) green amber on the market is not natural, but pigmented,  heated, or otherwise processed.
Cherry Amber: rare deep red color
Cognac Amber:  can be almost black, with red glow  Is heat treated.
Lemon or Citrine Amber:  Yellow, bright
Butterscotch Amber: opaque yellow, rare

Baltic amber floats in sea water but sinks in fresh water.

And most interestingly, Amber is still alive because its internal metamorphosis is still incomplete!

Real or Fake? 
As with most gems, scientists have found ways to imitate precious Baltic Amber.  It's difficult to tell the real Amber from the fakes, so know who you're buying from (preferably directly from the Baltic region).  Fake Amber can be plastic, glass, celluloid, casein, or Copal.  Copal is resin from trees that are approximately 1,000 to 1 million years old---much younger than Amber.  People will melt Copal enough to insert insects!  Many artificial Amber beads are actually Phenolic resins (heat-formed plastic, like "Bakelite"), and can be identified by their perfect shapes---ovals, spheres, etc.  Casein is made from milk, and is used to make very cloudy yellow fake Amber.

Pressed Amber
When small remnants of amber are fused together using high pressure or heat, the result is called “pressed” amber.  It is genuine Amber, but should be disclosed by a seller.

In searching how to discover if Amber is real or not, I came across this adorable girl on youtube---she drops Amber into salt water, and if it floats, it's real!  So cute---check it out:

UPDATE:  October 5, 2014:  I received the following information in the comments section by "Noa".  This is some great information!  VERY informative, with interesting links, and I appreciate it! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

About Diamonds--CUT: Trilliant, Trillion, Trielle...?

A diamond's cut is crucial to the stone's final beauty and value. And of all the diamond 4Cs, it is the most complex and most difficult to analyze. The Cut unleashes the stone's light.  We often think of the shape of the stone---round, square, rectangular, oval, pear, heart, triangular---but really the CUT is more about how the facets interact with light.  Incredible workmanship is required to cut a stone so its proportions, symmetry, and polish deliver the most magnificent return of light.

The majority of diamonds are round brilliant cut.  Other shapes are referred to as "fancy cut" stones---gemstones as well as diamonds.  There is a lot of information about each cut, so today I want to share what I've learned about one cut:  the triangular cut---trilliant, Trillion, Trielle, Trillian, Troidia and Trillium!  Some triangle cut diamonds have sharp corners—fragile, vulnerable to chipping—while others have clipped corners. Sharp cornered triangle cut diamonds can use specially molded V-shaped prongs (like a marquise)  and clipped corner triangle cut diamonds can use standard prong designs.

Trilliant Diamond
Trilliant  is the name given to diamonds having a triangular shape with brilliant facets. Triangular brilliant diamonds are also referred to as Triangular Brilliant and Triangular Modified Brilliant.

Originally designed and patented by the Henry Meyer Diamond Company of New York in 1962, the patent has now lapsed and that is why "trilliant" is used as a generic term for triangular shaped diamonds.

Trilliant Cut is a variation of the modern brilliant cut with 44 facets. The stone is step cut on the crown and brilliant cut on the pavilion. This cut has triangular shape with very sharp and pointed edges. An overall depth of 32% to 44% said to be the best for great brilliance.

A trilliant diamond is generally used as side stones rather than as a solitaire.  However, the trilliant-cut solitaire is becoming more popular, and is beautiful and unusual.
Moussaieff Red Diamond, Trillion Cut

This is the traditional and original triangular diamond, with slightly rounded edges. It was created in Amsterdam by Leon Finker in 1978. A variation of the modern brilliant cut, it has 31 facets. Both the crown and pavillion are brilliant cut. 

The Moussaieff Red is one of the famous trillion cut red diamond. It weighs 5.11 ct diamond and is regarded as the largest Fancy Red diamond ever rated by the Gemological Institute of America.

This triangular cut diamond was created and patented by the Trillion Diamond Company. It is trademarked by the  Trillion Diamond Company.  Every Trielle diamond is an equilateral triangle with 50 facets---41 facets on the table and culet, plus nine girdle facets
Trielle Cut---Spectacular!

Other Names:
Trillian, Troidia and Trillium are examples of other names for triangular cuts.
Since laser technology allows a multitude of shapes, triangle cut diamonds can be equilateral (all three sides are the same length), isosceles (two sides have the same length), or even scalene (none of the sides have equal length). For maximum brilliance, an equilateral triangle is best.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I stumbled upon yet another etsy seller who is offering "man-made" diamonds.  The rings are pretty, nothing special at ALL, and you can buy them wholesale in a number of places online.  And by "number of places" I mean literally thousands of online sites.

These are NOT diamonds in any way.  Diamonds are made out of pure carbon.  These are simple CZ (zirconium dioxide) rings set in sterling, and sometimes gold (they have little solitaires in gold for about $400---WAY too expensive).  Their description says that the stones used are "Man-made" and specifically say in the description:

"Just like natural diamonds, simulated and lab created diamonds come in a wide assortment of grades and quality..."

I think that lumping together "simulated and lab created diamonds" is their way of not being TOO fraudulent, in case they're caught misrepresenting their items.  (I've caught them---can't you??)

Except they ARE misrepresenting---downright LYING.  There is NO SUCH STONE with a "Mohs hardness of 9.5" with the exception of one:  moissanite.  They are pretending that this thing they have is actually Moissanite without saying so---because the makers of Moissanite would shut them DOWN.  Charles & Colvard does not mess around!  (They manufacture Moissanite, which is a lab created diamond SIMULANT, harder than CZ, at Mohs 9.5.  Diamond is Mohs 10.  CZ is Mohs 8.5.)

This etsy seller has CZ solitaires set in sterling for $79---some more, some less money.

It's worth about $29 retail, purchased for under $10 wholesale.  Stroll into Kohl's or Target, look at their CZ rings, and they're exactly the same.  

Their feedback is amazing which shows that there are a LOT  of suckers out there!!  Yes, CZ sparkles like crazy and look just like diamonds.  CZ is the finest diamond simulant!  But SIMULANT meaning it looks like a diamond.  It's not a diamond, not made out of carbon.  It's a CZ!!  

Man-made diamonds are VERY expensive, thousands of dollars a carat, about the price of a mined diamond.  Anything else you see that is being sold for anywhere under $1000 for a man-made diamond ring (which would ONLY be set in solid gold, by the way) is a CZ.  Nothing wrong with that!  But thinking it's something better than a CZ is very sad.

And stones coming from "Russia" and cut in "Antwerp" are just marketing buzzwords, people.  "Creative" marketing!  CZ are produced in the US as well as all around the world (such as China) but Russia?  That's an old creative marketing trick from the 1990s.  NOTHING is special about any particular "Russian" CZ.  Their stones aren't cut in Antwerp.  You can buy their mass-produced rings all over the interwebs!!!  (Just google "wholesale CZ sterling rings" and see for yourself!)

The latest CZ marketing trick though is "signity CZ" mostly over on ebay.  Don't be fooled by that one either!

Anyway, that same CZ seller on etsy is also offering the glass "aquamarines" and other "gemstones" that you can find on ebay, etc. that I've written about before.  This etsy seller is calling it "manmade aquamarine" but there is no such thing----they don't grow real aquamarines in a lab, anywhere.   IT'S FUSED GLASS.  Just because they call it an aquamarine does not make it one!!  It's NOT.  Their settings are the same as all the other ones out of Thailand on ebay. 

Also, their mystic "topaz" is not topaz--it's coated CZ.  Again, from Thailand.  Will scratch off the surface.

I hate that etsy allows fraud like this, but there's nothing anyone can do except maybe talk about it here, with an attempt to get a message out to consumers---DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Look up "man made diamond" online and see what that is.  It's not difficult!!  Google is fast and easy!   Don't take my word for it----look it up yourself!  Use "google images" to search that same ring you're considering, and you'll see it EVERYWHERE for much less, which is a more honest price and description of what you're getting. 

Not a man-made diamond.  NOT EVER.  Except if you buy it from or  Look it up!  Educate yourself!  Knowledge really IS power, and stop being taken advantage of.  I think this quote from Gemesis Diamond's website says it all:

All lab-created diamonds are man-made diamonds. Why?  Because they are grown by man in a laboratory setting. But (and it’s a big “but”) because some marketers use the term “man-made diamonds” to (inaccurately) describe simulants (CZ, etc.), all “man-made diamonds” are not lab-created diamonds.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Little Info About Diamonds: CLARITY

I've written about the first of the four Cs of diamonds, Color.  I found that pretty interesting---all the colors of natural diamonds is amazing!  And it was interesting to read how diamonds are treated to enhance color as well.   But today I wanted to write about another C -- Clarity.  It's more complicated than I thought!

Diamonds are formed deep in the earth as a result of carbon exposed to tremendous pressure and heat.  This process results in a variety of internal characteristics called "inclusions" and external characteristics called "blemishes".

Evaluating diamond clarity involves determining the number, size, relief, nature, and position of these characteristics, as well as how these affect the overall appearance of the stone. While no diamond is perfectly pure, the closer it comes, the higher its value.  Generally, clarity has the least impact on a diamond's appearance.  Clarity simply refers to tiny, natural imperfections that occur in all but the finest diamonds.  

There are a total of 11 grades of clarity within 6 categories, as follows:

  • Flawless (FL)
    No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
  • Internally Flawless (IF)
    No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
  • Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2)
    Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
  • Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2)
    Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
  • Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2)
    Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
  • Included (I1, I2, and I3)
    Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
 Inclusions and blemishes are extremely tiny, even microscopic, and not  visible to the naked eye.  So a diamond graded "VS1" and another graded "SI2" might look the same, but are graded differently by experts.  This would affect the price of the diamond perhaps, but not the beauty of the diamond.

What to Look For When Purchasing a Diamond
  It's recommended to select an "eye-clean" diamond - one that has no imperfections visible to the unaided-eye through the crown. An excellent value, diamonds of this clarity are much less expensive than flawless (FL) or internally flawless (IF) diamonds, which are extremely rare and command higher prices.  Frequently, imperfections in diamonds graded slightly included (SI) are not visible to the unaided eye, making them an excellent value.

Treatments That Improve Clarity
Some diamonds are coated with chemicals or plastics that improve the color of a diamond and mask any inclusions or blemishes. 

Aside from coating a diamond, there are two main techniques for improving a diamond's clarity:
  • Laser drilling is commonly used to remove small dark inclusions. The laser bores a small hole into the diamond's interior and burns away the inclusion, or creates a channel through which a bleaching agent can be introduced to improve the inclusion's appearance.
    Fracture Filled, Before (L) and After
  • Fracture filling hides white fractures in a diamond called "feathers." A glass-like substance is injected into the fracture to make it less visible and to improve the stone's apparent clarity. Because the filling may be damaged or removed during routine cleaning and repair, the technique is controversial. Good fracture filling is very subtle, and so examination by a skilled diamond grader is necessary to detect its presence in a stone.  This method is not considered permanent.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I've written before about "fused glass" or "fused quartz" (both are glass) that is manufactured for the jewelry industry, to create very convincing-looking gemstones.  HERE is a website that supplies this glass "rough".  It's very clear, and the colors are spectacular.  Once faceted, green fused quartz looks VERY much like emerald, peach fused quartz looks EXACTLY like Morganite, and so forth.  It's being used nearly 100% of the time in jewelry made in Thailand now, which is very unfortunate because unknowingly, customers are buying what they think are "sapphires" or "apatite" etc. and it's just glass.
Tourmalike on clearance: pretty, but not a gemstone

Ebay is flooded with these pieces, and sadly it's found on etsy as well.  The Thai jeweler that is selling these same items as found on ebay has a couple of negatives from buyers who've had their rings looked at by a jeweler and gave the appropriate negative feedback.  Two out of 100+ feedback comments from buyers.  SAD.  Still, people choose to ignore the negative comments and still insist they are giving someone the most spectacular "sapphire" ring, or whatever.

We're talking about HUGE carat weight stones, like a 16-carat Aquamarine, set in sterling with "topaz" accents for like $100.  Same ring on ebay for $24.99 or LESS.  Obviously these aren't real gems----yet people are always quick to snap up a "deal" which is why ebay is so successful:  the "garage sale" mentality.

Sometimes, on etsy, a seller will "wise-up" and offer fake gemstones at VERY high prices which they think will fool consumers into thinking, "Well, the price is so high it must be real!"   Unfortunately, it's not always true.

There is a U.S. seller on etsy who I won't call out here (but if you ask me, I'll tell you privately!) who is offering a supposed Alexandrite for TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars---which even at that, is a "reduced price"!!  It's supposed to be an Alexandrite, in a very large carat weight (like over 15+ carats!) set in sterling silver (not even gold? Platinum?) that changes from "gold to neon green" and is a "once in a lifetime" find!!

Well, first of all, real Alexandrite isn't even found in sizes that large.  It is also considered THE most expensive gemstone in the world.  But that's beside the point---Alexandrite isn't that color AT ALL!  Alexandrite MUST be purple/red/emerald green depending on the light source.  Never "gold to neon green".  Even *created* alexandrite changes color from purple/red/green.  Over 99% of all alexandrite today is created.  IF there ever were a large natural Alexandrite that is as large as 15 or 16 carats, it would be in a museum or in the crown jewels of a monarchy somewhere.  It would be worth millions of dollars. 

So what exactly is this seller offering?  I'm pretty sure I know now.  It's not any sort of chrysoberyl (which is the gemstone family that Alexandrite is a member of).  It's FUSED GLASS. And it's found on that website, and costs....$12 for 100 carats!!  Here's a picture of their rough:

It looks EXACTLY like the "alexandrite" ring being sold for somewhere in the five-digits (on sale!).  In fact, this particular color-changing glass has a trade name, "Tourmalike" because it resembles a color-changing tourmaline.   They don't even try to say it's alexandrite because, well, it looks nothing like that!

That same etsy seller is also offering a few other pieces of this "tourmalike" as Alexandrite at ridiculous prices, although less than five digits.

I mean, hey, tourmalike is pretty!  It would make a spectacular piece of jewelry!  I would venture to say that a tourmalike ring set in sterling might be worth between $50-$100.  It's VERY pretty and unusual and if it's beautifully cut/faceted and set in sterling, it would definitely make a nice piece of jewelry.

BUT IT'S NOT ALEXANDRITE!  And not worth anywhere NEAR $25,000.  Not $2500.  Not even $250.

I happened to see another item of theirs---a "jade" bangle---that they claim is mid-century because of the "wear" on it.  It's amazing the stories they come up with!!  (Like, if it's "originally from Beverly Hills" it must be real, right?  haha) Okay, first off, it's NOT jade at all as anyone can see, and it's badly carved like someone with an out-of-control Dremel did it.  Second, jade is extremely hard and doesn't just "wear down"!!!  Their "jade" is probably dyed quartzite (it does look crystalline) or saussurite (a feldspar mineral) but it's NOT jade, not worth thousands like they're trying to get.  SO much jade everywhere is fake---HERE is a great website for identifying fakes, one of many many such websites.  My advice: buy jade in person if you are looking for an investment piece, and get it certified.  Do NOT buy jade online, unless you don't care if it's fake and just like it.  (In which case, I'd spend under $100 for it.)   

If you figure out who the seller is, do yourself a favor and google the shop's owner's name---you'll find their Linkedin page.  Same picture.  But their occupation... ????  Not anywhere close to a "jeweler" or "gemologist" or whatever else they claim.    Remember, you never know WHO is behind the computer (buyers OR sellers).   (I recently had to deal with someone who was totally UNHINGED, so you never know who you're dealing with.)  Not everyone who sells jewelry is a trained gemologist (I'm certainly NOT!) and that's okay, but if you claim to be...well that's another story.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Gem ❤ Love ❤: GARNET!

Did you know that Garnets come in all sorts of natural colors?  I knew they were found in beautiful red shades, and orange, and cinnamon brown, but not until recently did I know that Garnets are found in yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. The rarest of these is the blue garnet, discovered in the late 1990s in Madagascar!  BLUE!  In fact, it changes color from blue in daylight to purple in incandescent light!
Color Changing Blue Garnet Crystal
  There are other varieties of color-changing garnets. In daylight, their color ranges from shades of green, beige, brown, gray, and blue, but in incandescent light, they appear a reddish or purplish/pink color and are often mistaken for Alexandrite.  WOW!  Natural Alexandrite is SO rare that most Alexandrite is lab created, but these color-changing garnets are natural!

Here is a very interesting fact:  real garnets can be picked up by a strong neodymium magnet!  And the use of the magnet will separate the clear garnets from other gemstones easily.

Different colors of garnet are given different names, which is mostly why I didn't realize that garnets came in so many colors!

Shades of Grossular Garnet - Tsavorite on Far Right
Uvarovite Pendant
  • Almandine - deep red, most common garnet
  • Pyrope -  very deep red to black
  • Rhodolite - raspberry red
  • Spessartine - orange yellow
  • Topazolite - yellow green
  • Demantoid - green
  • Melanite - black
  • Grossular - green (Siberian), cinnamon brown (Hessonite), red and yellow
  • Tasavorite - green grossular garnet from Kenya and Tanzania
  • Uvarovite - rare green garnet from Ural Mountains
Less common types of garnet include Goldmanite, Kimzeyite, Morimotoite, Schorlomite, Toturite, and more that I've never heard of!

Garnet is considered the stone of love and compassion.  It is believed that will bring good fortune to business, and if you put a few garnets on your work desk, your business will improve!  (Hmmm, I'll definitely have to try that!)  It is also believed to cure depression, and provide protection while traveling. (This sounds like a good stone to wear all the time!)   

8th Century AD Sword Hilt Fitting
Red Garnets were the most common gemstone used in the late Antique Roman world.  They were often inlaid into gold, called "garnet cloissonné".

Garnets are used in sand paper for finishing wood.
Garnet sand is used in sandblasting.
Garnet sand mixed with high-pressure water will cut steel!
Garnet sand is used in water filtration methods.
Garnet in India is used as a polishing medium for glass.

River garnet is abundant in Australia!

It is the birthstone for the month of January.


About 9 years ago, I had the idea of an online shop by the name InVogueJewelry.  So I registered the .com domain, with yearly auto renewal.  I had every intention of opening a shop that would showcase some vintage items I have, plus some new jewelry that I would make.  I've been accumulating gemstones for a very long time (loose ones).  However, "life" got in the way and I never had the chance to sit down and actually put together my website.  Besides, I was totally "website illiterate" and had NO idea how to even start my website!   I bought some website creator software and back then, there wasn't much help online, unlike today.

I even intended to open a shop for the vintage items on Etsy, way back in Feb. of 2008.  But I never actually opened the shop, or listed anything, until very late February or early March of this year!  But at least I had the name secured there! 

Meanwhile, it came to my attention about a year ago that my domain name had been STOLEN (in 2011) by some company in India via Godaddy and they are now using my .com for their own use.  GRRRRRR!!!!  However, my former domain registrar contacted me and "offered" to SELL it back to me at a huge price!  WHAT A SCAM!!

I see the people in India have a twitter account by my name, although they seem to have tweeted only twice.

Just to be clear:  NEITHER ARE ME.  I don't have a twitter account, and I don't have a website except for my etsy shop. 

Of course, the domain is up for renewal next month and for only $20,000 I can have it again!!

Yeah, no.

Now... I DO have a website that is a work in progress.  It currently has only one style of necklace, in gold or vermeil, but I intend to include gemstones and other styles in the near future.  It is called WabiSabiChic and it will celebrate all things "imperfect" or "aged, with patina" in the true Wabi-Sabi sense.   And very Chic!!