Sunday, July 31, 2011

METALS used in Jewelry !

After several questons as to what metals are being used in Jewelry with the price of Gold going over $1600/oz and Silver at $40/oz, I thought a listing with short explanations, of the most commonly found metals used in the jewelry business, would be appropriate. Which ones are used most commonly these days, who knows, you will have to ask the person making the jewelry..
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery and ductile member of the metal group. Aluminum is found primarily in bauxite ore and is remarkable for its ability to resist corrosion. Although aluminum has been used in jewelry, it is not widely accepted or used frequently.
Argentium or ARGENTIUM™ Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver made to a higher standard than traditional sterling silver and is guaranteed to be not less than 92.5% pure. It can be made nearly twice as hard as annealed standard sterling silver by a simple heat treatment. With this most important advance in silver technology in modern times, unlike standard sterling silver, Argentium is virtually tarnish-free and stays how silver was meant to be: forever beautiful. Argentium does not require the chemical treatment to maintain the high luster, therefore it does not have the allergic effect on some people as does normal Sterling Silver.
Brass is the term used for alloys of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses each with unique properties and color. Brass has a yellow color, somewhat similar to gold. It is relatively resistant to tarnishing, and is often used as decoration, jewelry and for coins.
Bronze refers to a broad range of copper alloys, usually with tin as the main additive. It is strong and tough and has myriad uses in industry. It was particularly significant in antiquity, giving its name to the Bronze Age. Common bronze alloys often have the unusual and very desirable property of expanding slightly just before they set, thus filling in the finest details of a mold.
Copper is a ductile metal with excellent electrical conductivity, and finds extensive use as an electrical conductor and as a component of various alloys used in jewelry. Copper oxidizes easily giving it its green coloration. NOTE: some people will cause Copper and Copper Alloys to turn a bright green.
Elegente gives jewelry the gorgeous look of platinum, without the price tag. This unique sterling silver and 1% platinum blend offers incredible luster in vintage and classic jewelry designs.
Gold is the most highly sought-after precious metal which, for many centuries, has been used as money and in jewelry due to its value. The most common carats used for gold in bullion, jewelry making and goldsmithing are:
999 (24 karat) (millesimal fineness 999)
916 (22 karat) (millesimal fineness 916)
833 (20 karat) (millesimal fineness 833)
750 (18 karat) (millesimal fineness 750)
625 (15 karat) (millesimal fineness 625)
585 (14 karat) (millesimal fineness 585)
417 (10 karat) (millesimal fineness 417)
375 ( 9 karat) (millesimal fineness 375)
The use of the carat (karat in North American spelling) is a system of denoting the purity of gold by fractions of 24. The carat (karat) term is only associated with gold, millesimal fineness is used for all other precious metals. NOTE: some people will cause Gold, especially Yellow Gold, to turn green.
Gold Filled jewelry or any other item with a sheet of gold applied to its surface, can be called Gold Filled.
Gold Plated jewelry or any other item that has a very thin layer of gold applied to it. The thin layer normally wears away more quickly than gold in a gold filled item.
Nickel is a silvery white metal that takes on a high polish. It belongs to the transition metals, and is hard and ductile. It is chiefly valuable for the alloys. WARNING - nickel plated jewelry, especially earrings can cause allergic reactions on many people.
Palladium is a rare silver-white metal resembling platinum. Palladium has a great affinity for hydrogen and is used in catalytic converters on cars. As a precious metal, it is sometimes used in jewelry. Quite often Palladium is used to cover Silver to prevent tarnishing.
Pewter is a metal alloy, traditionally between 85 and 99 percent tin, with the remainder consisting copper, acting as a hardener, with the addition of lead for the lower grades of pewter. Physically, pewter is a bright, shiny metal that is very similar in appearance to silver. Like silver, pewter will also oxidize to a dull gray over time if left untreated. Pewter is a very malleable alloy, being soft enough to carve with hand tools, and it also takes good impressions from punches or presses. Because of this inherent softness and malleability, however, pewter cannot be used to make tools itself. Duplication by casting will give excellent results especially in jewelry making. Pewter is many times the base metal for Silver or Gold plating.
Platinum is aheavy, malleable, ductile, precious, grey-white metal resistant to corrosion. Platinum is used in jewelry, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, dentistry, and coinage. Platinum jewelry achieves the highest value of all the jewelry metals. Platinum's wear and tarnish-resistance characteristics are well suited for making the finest of jewelry. Platinum is more precious than gold.
999 (also known as three-nines fine)
950 (the most common purity for platinum jewellery)
900 (also known as one-nine fine) 850 (rarely seen any longer)
Rhodium is a rare silvery-white hard metal. The primary use of rhodium is as an alloying agent for hardening platinum and palladium. This metal finds use in jewelry and for decorations. It is electroplated on white gold and platinum to give it a reflective white surface. This is known as rhodium flashing in the jewelry business.
Silver is a soft white lustrous metal and has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity for all metals, and like gold, occurs as a free metal in nature. Its main use is as a precious metal for currency, ornaments and jewelry, and as utensils (hence the term silverware).
999 (Fine silver used in bullion bars, also known as three-nines fine)
980 (common standard used in Mexico ca.1930 - 1945)
958 (equivalent to Britannia silver)
950 (equivalent to "French 1st Standard")
925 (equivalent to Sterling silver)
900 (equivalent to "Coin silver" in the USA, also known as one-nine fine)
830 (common standard used in older Scandinavian silver)
800 (minimum standard for silver in Germany after 1884)
Silver Plated jewelry or any other item that has a layer of Sterling Silver applied over a base metal.
Sterling Silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The minimum millesimal fineness is 925, although all grades of Silver are used in jewelry. Silver is also a common coinage material. . WARNING: Care should be taken when purchasing Sterling Silver jewelry as the chemical treatment used on Sterling Silver to maintain the high luster does have an allergic effect on some people.


Surgical Stainless Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, with chromium (12–20%), molybdenum (0.2–3%), and nickel (8–12%). The chromium forms a passivation layer of oxide when exposed to oxygen (air), so even though there is still nickel in the mixture, the chromium forms a layer that is too thin to be visible, which means that the metal remains lustrous. The oxide provides an impervious barrier to water and air, protecting the metal beneath thus it does not react to the human body. Mixtures of these metals are used for short term medical implants but are not considered for longer term (20 to 30 years). In cases where the implants are to be “permanent”, titanium alloys are preferred. Titanium is a reactive metal, the surface of which almost instantly oxidizes on exposure to air, creating a microstructured stable oxide surface. This provides a surface into which bone can grow and adhere in orthopaedic implants but which is incorrodible after implant. Thus “surgical steel” may be used for temporary implants and the more expensive "titanium steel" for permanent ones. Either can be used for people alergic to other metals for their jewelry, especially pierced earrings.

Tin is a silvery, malleable poor metal that is not easily oxidized in air and resists corrosion. It is found in many alloys and is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion. Tin is malleable at ordinary temperatures but is brittle when it is heated. The primary use of Tin in jewelry is for solders, but is normally combined with other jewelry metals for more durability and color match.
Titanium is a light, strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant metal with a white-silvery-metallic color. Titanium can be alloyed with other metalselements to produce strong lightweight alloys for aerospace, military, industrial applications, to include strengthening of jewelry pieces, especially rings.
Vermeil also known as silver gilt, is a combination of sterling silver, gold and other precious metals. It is commonly used as a component in jewelry. A typical example is sterling silver coated with 14-carat gold. To be considered as vermeil however, the gold must also be at least 10-carat and be at least 1.5 micrometers thick. Vermeil, Gold Plating and Gold Filled are many times used synonymously in the jewelry business, but should not be.
Also be careful. As plastics and resins have become harder and more heat-proof, they are also being coated with fine layers of gold, silver and platinum, and are passed off as solid or plated metals in jewelry pieces. The weight of the item quickly identifies if it is solid metal or a metal covered plastic/resin. Cost savings lends it's self to using plated items and as long as they are properly idenified, pose no problem and in many cases can be more decorative than solid metal counterparts.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Highly reflective bi-colored Smoky Topaz and clear Chinese Crystal rectangles alternate

with Czech Crystal charmed beads for a sophisticated sparkling necklace.

The necklace is 21 inches long with a Hook clasp and a 2 inch extender.

Matching Silver plated French Hook crystal earrings are 2 inches in length.
All the crystals in this set are made of leaded crystal.

Friday, July 29, 2011

KYANITE - A Unique Gemstone !

Kyanite is named after the Greek word for "blue". Its color indeed can make it a lovely gem with a near sapphire-like blue. Usually its color is blue but also can be colorless, white, gray, green or yellow. Color is most often not consistent throughout the crystal, often showing white streaks in a medium blue. Luster is vitreous to almost pearly. Its variable hardness is a significant characteristic that has to be taken in consideration by the gem-cutter. It is one of only two gemstones where the same crystal can have two distinct hardnesses, called anisotropic. Hardness is 4- 4.5 when cut parallel to the long axis of the crystal and 6-7 when cut perpendicular to or across the long axis. It is a very nice gemstone for earrings or pendants, but does not do well in rings.


Deposits of Kyanite are found in Austria, Brazil, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Serbia, Switzerland, United States and Zimbabwe. There are two well known outcrops of Kyanite-bearing pegmatite along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, one of which lies within the National Forest boundary. The location is often erroneously refered to as the Balsam Gap Kyanite fields or the Parkway Kyanite location. The site has to some extent been reclaimed by the National Park Service.


Kyanite is a member of the aluminosilicate series, which also includes the polymorph Andalusite and the polymorph Sillimanite. Kyanite's anisotropism can be considered an major identifying characteristic.


Currently there are no known treatments for enhancing this gemstone. Kyanite is primarily a collector's mineral, but is used in jewelry and once in a while, especially out of Brazil, there are finds that can be faceted.


The following is a Necklace and Earring Set combining Kyanite Barrels and Round Beads, with Mother of Pearl Beads and Silver highlights.


Thursday, July 28, 2011


SOLD Almost all of the colors one can find in jewelry from the Southwestern United States has been combined into this one necklace. The blue-green of Turquoise, the gold of Amber, the red of Sponge Coral, the blue-green of turquoise colored Magnesite, the black of black Agate (Onyx) and of course Silver.

All of this is found in the 17 inch necklace with a S-hook clasp and 2 inch chain extender. Matching French Hook loop earrings complete the set.

Turquoise comes in many colors and types in today's market. To help understand a bit, the following is provided----

Natural - This comes directly from the mine. It is cut shaped and polished and set into jewelry. It has no man made treatment or additives other than a polishing compound that adds to its luster. Several pieces of natural Turquoise from Arizona, can be seen to the right and are beautiful with very little polishing. Most stones in this state are very close to gem quality. The coloration of natural Turquoise can darken as oils from the skin work its way into the stone over the years, especially of not properly cleaned.

Stabilized – This is a natural turquoise usually in nugget form, but does not hold a luster. It is submerged into a stabilizing compound and dried, cut and prepared for jewelry. The turquoise has not been altered. The pores of the stone have been filled with a clear resin that makes the stone usable. This process allows for diversity of shapes and possibilities in jewelry making. Color Stabilized stones are considered altered and sometimes color has been added in this process. This in not necessarily bad, but it has less value than a piece that is naturally colored. Stabilized Turquoise usually does not change color with wear and because of its hardness, wears better in jewelry.

Treated - This form of color enhancement has been used for thousands of years. It is done as discussed earlier by submerging Turquoise stones into animal fat or vegetable oil and later air dried. Normally the color will not last very long. A new variety on the market, called "Motaska" and "Majave" Stone is much more stable and retains its color as well as being infused with gold, silver and copper.

Fake and Synthetic – Ceramics, bone, celluloid and plastic are used to imitate turquoise. Synthetic turquoise has a very natural matrix that is produced by placing stones in the synthetic “batter”.

Imatations - Then there are the imatations, in many cases natural gemstones that are beautiful in their own right, but due to the fact they accept dyes, many times are dyed the various turquoise colors and then are sold by unscrupulous dealers as real Turquoise. Price becomes the real determining factor when it comes to seperating real Turquoise from dyed Howlite, Magnesite or Ivoryite.

Magnesite occurs as veins in and an alteration product of ultramafic rocks like serpentinite, turquoise and other magnesium rich rock types in both contact and regional metamorphic terranes. These Magnesites often are cryptocrystalline and contain silica as opal or chert. Magnesite is also present within the regolith above ultramafic rocks as a secondary carbonate within soil and subsoil, where it is deposited as a consequence of dissolution of magnesium-bearing minerals by carbon dioxide within groundwaters. Some of the best Magnesite deposits that can produce gemstone quality material are co-located with Turquoise deposits in the southwestern United States. Magnesite like Howlite, can be died to look like actual Turquoise.

Black Agate (Onyx) which is truely a died black Agate, is more common and perhaps the most famous variety, but not as common as natural Onyx. Onyx is a crypyocrystalline form of Quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color (save some shades, such as purple or blue). A picture of a true Black Onyx specimum is seen below. True specimens of Onyx contain bands of colors of white, tan, and brown. As stated, the pure black form which most people know as Onyx, is not a naturally occuring variety. Black Agate or poorly colored Onyx is heated and dyed black to come up with the pure black form so well liked within the jewelry industry.

Amber - The Baltic region is home to the largest known deposit of Amber, called Baltic amber, with about 80% of the world's known amber found there. It dates back some 44 million years ago. It has been estimated that these forests created over 105 tons of amber. Because Baltic amber contains about 8% succinic acid, it is also termed succinite. It was thought since the 1850s that the resin that became Amber was produced by the tree Pinites succinifer, but research in the 1980's came to the conclusion that the resin originates from several species. Numerous extinct genera and species of plants and animals have been discovered and scientifically described from inclusions in Baltic Amber. Do NOT confuse Amber with Copal. Copal is not the fossilized, but rather an immature recent resin. Increasingly, Copal is being offered for sale, via the online auction services, gem shows, and shops, misrepresented as "Amber." The commercial value of Amber is related to its scarcity, age, inclusions of extinct species, and durability. Unfortunately, some dealers are more preoccupied with high economic returns, rather than whether or not their resin is fossil or recent. The age of Copal can vary from 50 years to 1.6 million years in age. It can be considered a semi-fossilized resin or an immature amber.

Sponge Coral is a natural organic substance that is considered a newcomer to the jewelry industry. It is related to the more traditional red/pinkish coral, thus Sponge Coral is not on the endangered species list, plus it is a sustainable product. Sponge Coral is a farmed product and thus is not removed from the Coral Reef and does not cause the environmental damage associated with traditional corals. Traditional coral is usually used in its natural shape which resembles a twiglet whereas Sponge Coral is reconstituted into different shapes.

This specific jewelry piece was designed and based on a specific request from a customer in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The ELEGANCE COLLECTION -- Copper and Gold !

A Golden/Copper Foil Glass bead with Czech Crystals combine with Fresh Water Cultured Pearls and Crystals in sheer elegance in this 20 inch necklace with a golden Toggle clasp.

Details of the Golden/Copper Foil Glass Center Bead.

Golden ornate Toggle Clasp.

Matching cluster French Hook earrings complete the set.

Freshwater cultured pearls and crystals are used in this set.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

PYRITE - The "Fools Gold" Stone

Lets start by how you may see Pyrite when looking for it. First it could be a 'cube' attached to a host rock, or a bunch of small 'crystals' in amoung other crystals such as Quartz, or maybe the real fooler, a Golden Pyrite "clump'. These are not the only way Pyrite appears however, as can be seen in several of the following pictures.

There are several shiny brassy yellow minerals, but pyrite is by far the most common and the most often mistaken for gold. Whether it is the golden look or something else, pyrite is a favorite among rock collectors. It can have a beautiful luster and interesting crystals. It is so common in the earth's crust that it is found in almost every possible environment, hence it has a vast number of forms and varieties. During their search for forture, many infamous shouts ocurred amid the Old West propsectors "There's Gold in that Riverbed !" only to be disappointed in finding Pyrite or as the golden rock quickly became known as "fools gold". Many a gold seaker was fooled by this shiny yellow mineral that looks so similar to gold.

Pyrite is a polymorph of Marcasite, which means that it has the same chemistry, FeS2, as Marcasite; but a different structure and therefore different symmetry and crystal shapes. Pyrite is difficult to distinguish from marcasite when a lack of clear indicators exists, as can be seen by the following picture of a piece of Marcasite.

Almost any rock that looks a little rusty will mostly likely contain some pyrite. Pyrite is cubic crystals composed of iron sulfide; spherical and bulbous pyrites also exist; it is found in large quantities, mainly in coal mines and near clay workings. It comes in a vast number of forms and varieties, but the most common crystal shapes are cubic and octahedral.

. ..

One sought-after form is flattened nodules found in chalk, siltstone and shale called “pyrite suns’ or ‘pyrite dollars’. These nodules are usually made from thin pyrite crystals radiating from the center.

Enourmous amounts of small Pyrite crystal clusters come from Oruro and Colavi, Bolivia. In Navajun (Logroño), Spain, large cubic crystals, are abundant. They are frequently embedded in a light brown matrix, and are occasionally twinned.


Perfect crystals occur in Rio Marina on the island of Elba, Italy. In the U.S., there are also many fine localities. In Park City, Bingham Co., Utah, very large, well shaped Pyritohedrons and Pyrite Cubes have been found, as well as in the American Mine in the Bingham Canyon, Salt Lake Co., Utah. Large, intergrown cubes, many times partially octahedral, occur in abundance at Leadville, Lake Co., Colorado. Pyrite "Dollars" are mostly found in Sparta, Randolph Co., Illinois. The French Creek Mine in Chester Co., Pennsylvania is famous for the octahedral crystals that occur there, although most are distorted. Many interesting nodules were recently discovered in Alden, Monroe Co., New York.

The use of Pyrite in decorations is also quite common. How many times have you visited a mine to see mining scenes in Pyrite avaiable on the sales counters.

And more recently, Pyrite has been faceted so that it can be made into jewelry such as rings, pendants or earrings.

Monday, July 25, 2011

CARIBBEAN DELIGHTS - Green Forests, Cool Beaches & Red/Yellow Sunsets !

As one visits the Caribbean, the vibrant colors that are seen in the Ocean, on the Islands and in the Sunsets inspired this jewelry collection called "Caribbean Delights". This set encompases the green of the forests, the white and tan of the beaches and the reds and yellows of the sunsets.

Cool greens provided by a Dichroic glass teardrop pendant centered between green, yellow and tan Lampwork beads, Magnesite discs, Cats-eye and Czech glass beads and a white Coral highlight bead. This 20 inch necklace closes with a gold plated S-hook clasp and a 1 1/2 inch chain exension.

Dichroic glass is glass containing multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which give the glass dichroic optical properties. The invention of dichroic glass is often erroneously attributed to NASA and its contractors, who developed it for use in dichroic filters. However, Dichroic glass dates back to at least the 4th century AD as seen in the Lycurgus cup. Dichroic glass is an example of thin-film optics.

Lampworking is a type of glasswork that uses a gas fueled torch to melt rods and tubes of clear and colored glass. Once in a molten state, the glass is formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements. It was also known as flameworking or torchworking, but the modern practice no longer uses oil-fueled lamps. Although the art form has been practiced since ancient Syrian (1 Century B.C.E.) times, it became widely practiced in Murano, Italy in the 14th century. In the mid 19th century lampwork technique was extended to the production of paperweights, primarily in France, where it became a popular art form, still collected today. Lampworking differs from glassblowing in that glassblowing uses a blowpipe to inflate a glass blob known as a gob or gather, whereas lampworking manipulates glass either by the use of tools, gravity, or by blowing directly into the end of a glass tube.

Magnesite occurs as veins in and an alteration product of ultramafic rocks like serpentinite, turquoise and other magnesium rich rock types in both contact and regional metamorphic terranes. These Magnesites often are cryptocrystalline and contain silica as opal or chert. Magnesite is also present within the regolith above ultramafic rocks as a secondary carbonate within soil and subsoil, where it is deposited as a consequence of dissolution of magnesium-bearing minerals by carbon dioxide within groundwaters. Some of the best Magnesite deposits that can produce gemstone quality material are co-located with Turquoise deposits in the southwestern United States. Magnesite like Howlite, can be died to look like actual Turquoise.

Matching French Hook earrings with a 2 1/4 inch drop made of Lampwork beads, Coral and glass beads, complete the set.

Crystals and glass beads are also used in this set.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Beautiful BALTIC AMBER !

or is it ?

When one goes to a jewelry show, jewelry market, gemstone show, flea market or maybe even a jewelry store looking for true Amber, be it Arabian, Baltic, Dominican or Russian, do you know you are getting the real thing. There are many web-site explaining and showing how to tell real Amber from the fakes, as well as Copal or Gum. But beware, even some dealers don't know how to tell the difference. The picture above that looks like real Baltic Amber with it's air bubbles and little ants, well it is actually a man-made LUCITE piece that has been created to look like real Baltic Amber.

This posting is not going to try and make it so you can quickly identify real Amber, but to expose you to the types and that all which is called Amber, may not be Amber, but could also be Copal, Gum or even a total fake made out of Lucite as shown above.

Amber is fossilized tree resin (not sap), which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. True Amber is 40 to 60 Million years old. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents --

Baltic Amber - found along the shores of a large part of the Baltic Sea;

Blue Amber - a rare coloration, most commonly is found in the Dominican Republic and highly valued by collectors;

Delatynite - a variety of amber found in Delatyn, Ukraine;

Dominican Amber - nearly always transparent;

Oltu stone - black, shiny, dense and homogenous. It can be easily polished, and as such is called "oil amber".
Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions. Amber is globally distributed, mainly in rocks of Cretaceous age or younger. Historically, the coast around Königsberg in Prussia was the world's leading source of amber. About 90% of the world's extractable amber is still located in the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia on the Baltic Sea. Pieces of amber torn from the seafloor are cast up by the waves, and collected by hand, dredging, or diving. Elsewhere, amber is mined, both in open works and underground galleries. Then nodules of earth have to be removed and an opaque crust must be cleaned off, which can be done in revolving barrels containing sand and water. Erosion removes this crust from sea-worn amber. Heating amber will soften it and eventually it will burn.

Amber occurs in a range of different colors. As well as the usual yellow-orange-brown that is associated with the color "amber", amber itself can range from a whitish color through a pale lemon yellow, to brown and almost black. Other more uncommon colors include red amber (mainly from the Arabian Peninsula), green amber (from the Baltic and Dominica ), and even blue amber (especially Dominican blue amber), which is mined through bell pitting, which is dangerous due to the risk of tunnel collapse. Dominican amber is also fluorescent in long-wave UV light and has a very strong reflection, almost white. Much of the most highly-prized amber is transparent, in contrast to the very common cloudy amber, which is many times called"butterscotch amber". Opaque amber contains numerous minute air bubbles. This kind of amber is known as "bony or white amber".

Rare Blue Amber from the Dominican Republic

Copal is a name given to tree resin that is particularly identified with the aromatic resins used by the cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as ceremonially burned incense and other purposes. More generally, the term copal describes resinous substances in an intermediate stage of polymerization and hardening between "gummier" resins and amber. Copal has been found to be a young a several hundred years, but most of the true Copal is considered to be 1.5 to 3 million years old. The word copal is derived from the Nahuatl language word copalli, meaning "incense".

To the pre-Columbian Maya and contemporary Maya peoples it is known in the various Mayan languages as pom (or a close variation thereof), although the word itself has been demonstrated to be a loanword to Mayan from Mixe-Zoquean languages. Copal is still used by a number of indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America as an incense and during sweat lodge ceremonies.

Copal is available in different forms. The hard, amber-like yellow copal is a less expensive and most common version. East Africa apparently had a higher amount of subfossil copal, which is found one or two meters below living copal trees from roots of trees that may have lived thousands of years earlier. This subfossil copal produces a harder varnish surface. Subfossil copal is also well-known from the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Madagascar. It often has inclusions and is sometimes sold as "young amber". Copal is also faked and sold as "true amer", but copal can be easily distinguished from genuine amber by its lighter citrine color and its surface gets tacky with a drop of acetone or chloroform.

Kauri Gum is a fossilized resin detracted from kauri trees and used for chewing, tattooing, and were often made into jewellery. The gum came from kauri trees found in forests that once covered much of the New Zealand North Island, before Māori and European settlers caused deforestation, causing several areas to resort to sand dunes, scrubs, and swamps. The ancient kauri fields continue to provide a source for the gum. Kauri gum formed when resin from a kauri trees leaked out through fractures or cracks in the bark, hardening with the exposure to air. Lumps commonly fell to the ground and became covered with soil and forest litter, eventually fossilising. Other lumps formed as branches forked or trees were damaged, which released the resin. Kauri gum is the youngest of the fossel resins, some being less than 50 years in age.

One of the best web-sites for pictures of all the kinds of Amber, Copals and Gum is

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Keeping with the classic materials used in jewelry from the Southwestern United States, it can still be made to have a more modern look.

A pear shapped Turquoise Bead dangles as a pendant from this 20 inch necklace. Ivoryite barrels and Turquoise oval beads provide the bold dynamic look while black Agate (Onyx) chips are interspirsed between more Turquoise oval beads. All are highlighted with silver beads and the necklace is finished with a Hook Clasp.

Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminium. It is rare and valuable in its finer grades and has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. In recent times Turquoise, like most other opaque gems, has been devalued by the introduction of treatments, imitations, and synthetics onto the gemstone marketplace. The substance has been known by many names, but the word Turquoise was derived around the 16th century from the French language 'turquie', for a Central Asian material which was a very early imported through Turkey from Persia. Today, Persian and certain southwestern United States Turquoise, especially Sleeping Beauty, commend some of the highest prices paid for this gemstone. Many times on the edges of the Turquoise fields, other minerals and stones become interwined into the Turquoise or Turquoise pieces are encapsulated into the surrounding rock, thus creating unique and interesting patterns.

Ivoryite is a great substitute for ivory. It is a sedimentary precipitate of magnesium, calcium and silica. It is 5 to 5-1/2 on the Moh's scale, which makes it slightly harder than ivory. Ivoryite can be worked with metal tools, but cuts effortlessly with diamond tools. Polishes well with diamond, tin oxide, cerium oxide or white rouge. Excellent material for inlay, cabochons and small carvings. Do not confuse Ivoryite with Ivorite, whic is a black tektite material from Africa. The majority of Ivoryite currenly comes from the western United States, especially Colorado and California.

Black Agate (Onyx) which is truely a died black Agate, is more common and perhaps the most famous variety, but not as common as natural Onyx. Onyx is a crypyocrystalline form of Quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color (save some shades, such as purple or blue). A picture of a true Black Onyx specimum is seen below. True specimens of Onyx contain bands of colors of white, tan, and brown. As stated, the pure black form which most people know as Onyx, is not a naturally occuring variety. Black Agate or poorly colored Onyx is heated and dyed black to come up with the pure black form so well liked within the jewelry industry.

Matching Turquoise oval dangle Leverback Earrings complete the set.