Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Zambian Emeralds, and a Truly Fantastic Jewelry Designer!

Emeralds are my favorite gemstone, and for a very long time, the Columbian Emerald has been the most beautiful and valued emerald.  They're known for their beautiful green color, but they have lots of inclusions and fractures.

In the mid 1970s, emeralds began being mined in Zambia, a country in Southern Africa.  In 1989, Tiffany began marketing jewelry with these Zambian emeralds and their popularity and acceptance in high-end jewelry has since risen. Kagem is the largest emerald mine in Zambia and produce about 6.5 million carats of emeralds annually.

Zambian emeralds have a beautiful saturated green color, sometimes blue-green, and are extremely transparent.  Columbian emeralds are said to have a warmer, "truer" green color.  Both are incredibly beautiful!  And the price of any emerald increases dramatically as the size increases.  Zambian emeralds are green because of the trace mineral Iron.  Columbian emeralds are green because of Chromium.

So, recently I was speaking with an Etsy seller named Deanna of Etsy shop "NadeanDesigns"  about "hydro quartz" which is actually glass.  And somehow we got on the subject of emeralds, and she offered to sell me some beautiful Zambian faceted rondelles at a really reduced price.  She is just SO nice (and knowledgeable!)!! And when they arrived, I could NOT believe the beauty of these emeralds!  I immediately made myself a necklace which I wear every day!  These are SO green and clear, and beautiful. 
Genuine Zambian Emeralds - So Clear and Green!

Deanna is a fantastic jewelry designer.  What's even more impressive is that she has over 500 beautiful things listed--WOW!  I looked at her Etsy shop and she has such a wide variety of beautiful designs, at all price points.  She makes fine jewelry, with genuine gemstones and quality metals.  I can't wear chains (I have REALLY sensitive skin) but most people can.  And if I COULD, I would buy this fantastic necklace which is worth every penny (click here to see it on Etsy):
GORGEOUS! Zambian Emeralds, Solid Gold and White Diamonds!! NadeanDesigns

That picture shows the gorgeous emerald necklace with a second gold chain and emerald necklace.  Holy COW those emeralds are beautiful!  I love the gold rondelles with pave white diamonds!  That truly IS an heirloom piece of jewelry. And it's hand knotted onto silk!

Here's a matching bracelet, and other gemstone stack bracelets, which are very affordable and GORGEOUS (HERE is a link to the listing):
Who wouldn't want to wear any (or all!) of these?!  NadeanDesigns

Deanna also sent me a couple of sizes of "Silverite" which is a so-called gemstone that is sold online, mostly on Etsy and occasionally on Ebay. I took them to a gemologist and had them tested, and I'll write about that in my next post.

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Bought "Beryl" Gems---But What Did I Really Get??

I am a huge fan of Beryl gemstones, which are considered precious gems, especially Aquamarines and Emeralds. And I've had my eye on the beautiful soft pink Morganite lately.  So I saw some gems for sale online, and took and chance and bought them.  The pictures looked nice, and the seller is a popular one online.  I bought five heart briolettes and five briolettes in all the colors of Beryl----Aquamarine, Green Beryl (not emerald), Morganite, Heliodor (yellow Beryl) and Goshenite (colorless Beryl). 

I waited awhile to get the package (11 days---they waited 9 days to even mail it, for some reason).  It arrived Saturday, and I could barely wait to see them!  I ripped the package open, and took a look at the very tiny stones (I was expecting them to be small).  And...

...well, to say I'm disappointed is an understatement.  And the more I looked, the angrier I got!   I took pictures of the stones---these are very close-up to show the detail, but you can enlarge the pictures when you click on them: 


In  sunlight---which is which?
The five stones are SO faint in color that I could barely tell which was which.  The green stone was the most colorful, followed by the blue, then pink, and the other two I'm not quite sure what color they are.  OK, fine, I know Morganite is a very pale pink...

HOWEVER, I could see with the naked eye that the green and blue stones had DYE MARKS at the drill holes!  I got my loupe and could REALLY see the sloppy dye marks at the edges of the holes, and throughout the lengths of the drill holes.
Green and Blue Dye in Holes
Obvious Dye Marks, and THAT's supposed to be Aquamarine?!

SO Obvious in Green and Blue
Now, genuine Green Beryl is NOT treated.  It's not enhanced.  It is mined, faceted and sold as is.  I found a wonderful website from a gemologist and gemcutter named John J. Bradshaw, and he has all the information about gemstones that anyone could need, plus pictures.  Per his site, he says regarding Green Beryl:

Clarity:  Green beryl is of Type I clarity.  By definition, gems of this type grow extremely clean in nature and usually have no eye visible inclusions...
Treatments:  No treatment (N) would be the case for the green beryl colored by iron...

Here is his info on Aquamarine (blue beryl):
 Clarity: Aquamarine has Type I clarity.  By definition, gems of this type grow extremely clean in nature and usually have no eye visible inclusions.
-Heating (H) is done to convert any ferric iron that imparts a yellow color to ferrous iron which imparts the more commercially desirable blue color.  This treatment is routinely done and is stable.  The treatment is undetectable but assumed in all blue aquamarines.

So the ONLY treatment done to genuine Aquamarine blue Beryl stones is HEAT, which brings out the blue color.  NOT dye.  And there is NO treatment done to Green Beryl stones.  And they are eye clean.

Inclusions, chips and obvious DYE on these

There is very visible evidence of dye on the blue and green stones.  The other three---it's hard to say, but possibly on the pink.  But really, if two of them out of the five are obviously dyed stones of some sort, then I don't trust any of them.

The stones I bought also all have visible inclusions----like bubbles or little fractures or something like that. Chips at the drill holes.

Okay, on to the next five...


The 5 Colors of Briolettes
At first glance, the colors look somewhat more saturated.  Of course, these are thicker stones.  I looked at them in the light.  And the yellow stone, supposedly Heliodor, exhibited a bright rainbow effect---JUST LIKE some sort of mystic coating!  The bottom part of the stone had a lot of little inclusions, like it was shattered inside---at first I thought it was quench crackled (a method used to dye quartz).  I took it out of the bag and looked at it with the loupe and yes, it has a coating on it.
Hard to capture the coating - it was like a deep Sunset color in person

Heliodor should NOT have pink, orange and purple rainbows on the surface!
What enhancements are done on Golden Beryl (heliodor)?  Certainly not mystic coating!!  Here's gemologist John J. Bradshaw's description:
Golden Beryl:  yellow to golden beryl colored by ferric iron.  This color can be induced through irradiation of beryl containing iron or it can also happen naturally.  There is no test to separate treated from untreated material.  Alternate names for golden beryl are yellow beryl or heliodor.
And for morganite:
Morganite:  pink beryl colored by manganese.  It is typical of morganites when found in nature to be an orange-pink or peach color.  Allowing the stone to sit in daylight for a few days to a week will alter the color to a pure pink.  Heating will have the same result.

And Goshenite (Clear):
Goshenite:  colorless beryl.  This variety has no impurities to impart any noticeable color.

And the clear briolette stone also had some "rainbow" color effects in the sunlight, possibly from a coating. Looking at this picture, it appears to be green dye in the green stone's drill hole. I didn't notice that until looking at the picture:
Rainbow Effects on Clear Stone - Like a Prism "Suncatcher"

Rainbow on Clear--more obvious in person
 The green stone in this packet had a huge air bubble in it, and was very poorly faceted. VERY.

The blue stone looked exactly the same as some blue "hydroquartz" glass that I had.  It was very blue, not aquamarine blue at all.  Poorly faceted and lots of pits and tiny chips. It really looked nothing like aquamarine.


Well there was NO WAY that I would try to sell these gems in jewelry!  I'm not going to try to pass off obviously dyed stones of some sort as "green Beryl" or "aquamarine".  Only unscrupulous people would do that!  So I contacted the person I purchased these from, and was very polite, and said I wanted to return them because the blue and green hearts were dyed, and the golden beryl was coated.  That's all I said.  I expected the seller to be horrified (as I was!) or at least ask me for pictures or more information,  or be apologetic. NO, that didn't happen.  Instead I got a terse response that said "I'm sorry your beryl gemstones won't work for you."  OMG!  AS IF these are beryl gemstones! Wow.

I just want to let everyone know that you must BE CAREFUL when buying any gemstones from ANY seller online.  In person is really the best way to buy gems.  Obviously this well-known seller didn't care that they are selling fake gems, and were in fact defensive about it.   I certainly sent these back, but I'm certain that this seller will continue to sell these "Beryl gemstones" including the ones I returned!


I didn't bother to take them to Rio Grande Jewelry or to another gemologist to have them tested.  The dye marks are SO obvious as is the mystic coating.  NO WAY are these Beryl gemstones!  These are possibly quartz, very possibly glass, but certainly NOT Beryl.

Really, every jewelry designer on Etsy or elsewhere shouldn't have to have every gemstone they purchase from a dealer tested by a gemologist!  It is the responsibility of the dealer to KNOW what they're selling, to be SURE if their gemstones that they purchased wholesale are genuine!  THEY should have them tested.  THEY should stand behind their gemstones. THEY should have examined these obviously dyed fake stones when they received them from the wholesaler, and sent them back!  The buck SHOULD stop there.  But sadly, that's not the case. And even worse--some sellers just simply don't care!

Buyer Beware!!  
UPDATE:  I followed this seller's (ridiculous, almost draconian) return instructions to the letter---meaning I had to return the items IMMEDIATELY  and enclose a note with my name, address, the order information, order number, date of order, reason for return, do I want a refund or exchange, and MORE, even though I also enclosed the order info that was sent to me AND I contacted the seller before returning.  I mailed the package the next business day which was a Monday, and it was delivered TO HER RESIDENCE on Wednesday at 11am.  She supplied the return address and I could see it was a residential address, not a PO Box or business address.  So I waited all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, and heard not one word of acknowledgement of receipt from the seller.
So I sent a "convo" and politely said the package was delivered and when will my refund be processed.  She responded that she "hasn't had time to check her mail" and would refund whenever she could "check the package".  Um WHAT??  So I googled her address and saw the "street view" of her house, complete with its own freestanding mailbox out front.  So she doesn't check her own mail each day??  Mail sits in her curbside mailbox for days??  Especially when she knows to expect a return?!  I am SURE that's not the case.  So I waited another 24 hours, heard nothing, and had to file a Paypal "not as described" case (thank God I used Paypal to buy this!).  In fact, I called Paypal and told them what was going on first, and THEY told me to open a case, and they escalated it immediately FOR me, giving her 10 days to respond or refund.
Incredibly, I never got any response from the seller until 8 days later, when she sent a convo to say that "she couldn't get Paypal to work" (???) and then two days after that, my refund was processed.  
WHAT A TERRIBLE SELLER!!  Disgraceful!  She is STILL selling these "beryl" stones.  She is a MESS. I haven't named the seller here, and no I did NOT leave any feedback, as I wrote about it fully here.  If you are wanting to know who to avoid, I'd be happy to share this info if you just ask me via email.  Otherwise, you could probably figure it out anyway.  

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"Moss Aquamarine": What Is It? Why So Mysterious?

 Moss Aquamarine--bluer color

I've seen a lot of  "Moss Aquamarine" lately, not just on Etsy (although most of it is on Etsy), but some jewelry designers are using it as well---one high-end designer who sells at Saks has a Moss Aquamarine necklace for sale, upwards of $750 (although there are other gemstones in the necklace as well).  I first noticed this "moss aqua" a couple of years ago, and its popularity seems to have grown.   But what is it?

 No Information Anywhere:

Moss Agate
I've searched online, and contacted my "usual" gemologists, and I haven't found much about this stone.  In fact, my gemologists have never heard of it!  Of course, they've heard of "Moss Agate" but not "moss" Aquamarine.  Moss Agate is translucent or transparent chalcedony quartz that has moss-like inclusions inside. These inclusions are green minerals, such as iron or manganese, which formed in "blooms" in the quartz.  

But the "moss aquamarine" that I've seen has little dots or specs of dark stuff inside the stone---not really anything like moss agate.

I searched every reputable gem website, and there is absolutely no information about anything called "moss aquamarine".  The GIA never heard of it.  Nothing at the Institute of Colored Gemstones. Nothing about it on which is a website that is "the world's largest public database of mineral information".  Nothing at places like  Google has nothing with the exception of a question someone posed on a website regarding "what is moss aquamarine?" and the responses were---"never heard of it."  I even searched on QVC, HSN and JTV and even they don't offer it.
Moss Agate--greener color

Yet strands or cabochons of this "moss aquamarine" can mostly be found for sale on Etsy, or from some wholesalers in India, and on Ebay.  I have been unable to find "moss aquamarine" loose stones for sale anywhere else.  

Is this a real gemstone?  Or is this one of those "creative marketing" things? 

What is Aquamarine?

Well first of all, it's my favorite gemstone!  It's a blue-green Beryl gemstone, as its name implies ("sea water") and many jewelers consider it to be a precious gemstone (rather than semi-precious), just like Goshenite (clear Beryl) is a precious gem.  The most "famous" Beryl gem is the beautiful Emerald, which of course is green, and is a precious gemstone.  Sometimes Aquamarine is kind of a pale grey-blue, sometimes more like Swiss Blue Topaz, and sometimes more of an aqua green color.  Like any gemstone, there are grades of Aquamarine.

Beryl can be found in other colors.  In its purest form, it's colorless and known as precious Goshenite.
It can also be pink (known as Morganite),  or bright yellow to dark golden---"golden beryl" describes the brighter yellow, and Heliodor is a deeper golden color to brown, and is highly collectible.  The rarest color is red, and is known as Bixbite.
Heliodor, Golden Beryl

Beryl gemstones are expensive, with huge ranges in price depending on the quality of course.  Aquamarine grows in huge, transparent crystals, as well as smaller crystals, but most Aquamarine is very transparent.  Green Aquamarine is heated to rid the crystal of green tones and it produces the more desirable blue colors.
WOW!! Aquamarine Crystal (from Pinterest)

So...What is "Moss Aquamarine"?
It appears to be a very low quality, like B or C grade, Beryl that is more green in color (more green than blue), lots of inclusions, and small specs of Iron within the stone.   I have seen some lighter colored "moss aqua" which I assume was heated to remove the green color, or perhaps irradiated.  This takes in the assumption that this is, in fact, aquamarine---no one has done any tests on this stone, so really it's just based on what wholesalers are telling consumers, that it's a type of aquamarine (or even beryl).

Colors of "Moss Aquamarine"
To summarize, this seems to be a low-grade blue Beryl that has iron inclusions, and has been given the marketing name of "Moss Aquamarine".  This was probably chosen because "Moss Agate" is a popular stone, even though "Moss Aqua" doesn't have any moss-like inclusions.  This appears to be a successful marketing effort to promote a very low quality Beryl---and this is assuming it's even a Beryl gem.  This stone is mostly found on Etsy and is a very affordable choice.  Wholesale individual faceted pears, for example, seem to cost around $1 or $2 per stone (10mm x7mm in size).  Wholesale rondelles seem to run about $16 a strand and up.  So the affordability of this gemstone, along with the name "Aquamarine" is appealing.

Plus, a lot of people like the "earthy" or "rustic" quality of this gemstone.  It makes a gemstone seem less "pretentious" and has its own charm.  And it's always nice to own an aquamarine, the birthstone of March, and this is a more affordable version of this gem.

In Summary:
I would say---buyer beware on this stone!  This is definitely "creative marketing" of a type of low-grade gemstone, using the buzzwords of "moss" and definitely "aquamarine" which is a precious gemstone.  Just because it's popular and fills a marketing niche, that doesn't mean it is what others claim it to be.  Until someone has this stone tested and verified that it is, in fact, aquamarine, or even Beryl, with iron inclusions, I would be careful buying this stone.   In other words, I'm not positive that this is even a low-quality aquamarine or beryl---it really could be anything including quartz or something manmade (like "hydro quartz" glass).  It's certainly possible it is a beryl stone, but no one has verified it, and no reputable gemstone website or gemologist even recognizes its existence.

To pay many hundreds of dollars for this "moss aquamarine", or even $100, is IMO way too much for this unknown gemstone.  If you like the look of this "rustic" included green gem--and many do--then buy it and enjoy it!  But I wish jewelry designers and gem sellers would stop trying to cash-in on a popular trend, and instead be responsible and find out exactly what they are selling!  But that would require having it tested, and most jewelry designers either just don't think about it, or they don't want to spend the money to have stones tested (which can be very expensive).

One final note: Fire Mountain Gems used to sell this "moss aquamarine" but no longer offers it.  I don't know why, but I thought that was interesting.  In fact, the ONLY info I could find about this stone---that it's aquamarine with iron inclusions---was found in FMG's google results, but that link to Fire Mountain Gems' moss aqua no longer exists.
If anyone finds more information about this gem, please let me know!

UPDATE:  September 15, 2016----I bought a couple of Moss Aquamarine briolettes from a reputable seller on Etsy.  They arrived, and....well, I'm underwhelmed.  They're very green with a lot of inclusions inside, more "muddy" than I expected, and have some hints of blue.  I'm not even going to have them tested---I do believe they are some sort of Beryl that is low quality (you can barely see through them!).   Personally, I don't really like this stone, and I doubt I'll list them in any of my shops.  Maybe some of these "moss aquas" that are more blue, with fewer inclusions, are prettier, but these stones do not impress me.  Here are a couple of pictures:
Very green beryl with a LOT of inclusions.

Semi transparent in spots, mostly olive green...beryl?