Thursday, May 3, 2012

SABOS Spring Bead & Jewelry SHow

For SABOS Members, be sure and pick up your 2012-2013 Membership Card at the door this weekend at the LIve Oak Civic Center.  The current SABOS Membership card will be needed to get your member discount at many of the vendors.  Be sure to ask and present when so advised.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"FIESTA SAN ANTONIO" - What is it ?

100 Events - 11 Days - 1 Fiestival

Fiesta San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event. A group of ladies decorated horse-drawn carriages, paraded in front of the Alamo and pelted each other with flower blossoms. It evolved into one of this nation’s premier festivals, with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City.

The funds raised by official Fiesta events provide services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year. So you could say that Fiesta never ends! Fiesta really is one of America’s truly great festivals. It began as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. That commemoration still takes place. But over the past century and more, Fiesta has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures.

2012 marks Fiesta’s 121st anniversary.

All Events 2012

Go to the following Web-site for an alaphabetical listing

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 FIESTA SAN ANTONIO ! - April 19th - 29th

Fiesta Spirit Seed-Bead Necklace and Earring Set .

Be prepared to shine during Fiesta San Antonio 2012 with a "Fiesta Necklace and Earrings".

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PEDDLER's SHOW - Fredericksburg, TX

Yes, for those of you who are interested, a few miles away from the Texas Topaz Day festivities in Mason, Texas, this same weekend you will find the Peddler's Show at the Gillispie County Firgrounds in Fredericksburg, Texas. The Peddler's Show runs Friday afternoon and all day on Saturday and Sunday. Fredericksburg is also where you may find hotels or motels available if you are planning on staying overnigh for the festivities going on in Mason.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Topaz Day - Mason, Texas 24-25 March

For those that have asked for additional information concerning Texas Topaz Day in Mason Texas on 24 March and the Faceters Day on the 25th, go to Google or Yahoo and enter 'Texas Topaz Day'. You will get about 5 pages of listing concerning the events, including lists of motels (not many) and restaurants and directions as well as the times of different events.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Texas Topaz Day - Mason, Texas - Mar 24-25, 2012

This coming weekend the Southwest Gem and Mineral Society in San Antonio and the World Gem Society invites everyone to come to Mason, Texas, to join in the Texas Topaz Day festivities on Saturday, March 24th, followed by the Texas Faceters Guild Seminar Day on Sunday, March 25th. Mason, Texas, right in the heart of the Texas Hill Country is located in some of the most interesting geological formations to be found anywhere in the world. The festivities and events start at 10:00 am on Saturday and run all day with gemstone cutting and faceting demonstrations, jewelry and arts shows, and contests and music events to cap off the day. Then on Sunday you can join the Texas Faceters Guild for a day of learning about the latest in gemstone cutting and faceting. From novice to expert all are welcome.

The Blue Topaz was adopted as the Texas State Gemstone as a result of legislative approval on March 26, 1969. Petrified Palmwood was also named the State Stone by the same legislation. This Swiss Blue Topaz just above has been given a special cut to show the Texas Lone Star. A limited supply of these will be available over the two days in Mason, Texas.

Topaz occurs naturally in many colors including blue, orange, brown, green, pink, beige and red. Naturally occuring Blue Topaz is quite rare. Colorless topaz, the most common variation, can be treated by irradiation to produce a wide range of shades of blue, which are known as Sky Blue, Swiss Blue and London Blue. This treated, Blue Topaz is one of the most popular and widely used of all gemstones. London Blue is the most famous and most highly prized, but takes over 18 months to produce. Radiation scares have centered around the process and lasting effects from the making London Blue Topaz.

Some clear topaz crystals from Brazilian pegmatites can reach boulder size and weigh hundreds of pounds. Crystals of this size may be seen in museum collections. One famous Topaz is The Topaz of Aurungzebe and weighed 157.75 carats. Colorless and rarely light-blue varieties of Topaz are found in Precambian granite in Mason County, Texas, within the Llano Uplift in the Streeter, Grit, and Katemcy areas. It is usually found in streambeds and ravines but occasionally can be located atop the ground. Currently, only three Mason County ranches offer the public the opportunity to go Topaz hunting. They charge by the day, you keep what you find. You can enjoy Topaz hunting throughout the year except during the months of November, December and early January, when the ranches are closed for the deer season. There is currently no commercial mining of Topaz in that area. The natural Blue Topaz found in this area is the scarest of all the Topaz varieties.

Topaz is also the Birthstone for the month of November.

So as not to confuse the Lapidary enthusiasts, the Official State Rock of Texas is also Petrified Palmwood.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Benitoite" - the Blue Diamond of California !


Sometimes called the " blue diamond", it was first discovered near the headwaters of the San Benito River, in San Benito County, California in 1906, from which it derived its name. It was at first thought to be a varirty of Sapphire, because of it's blue color. The gem is extremely rare and ranges in color from a light transparent blue to dark, vivid sapphire blue, and occasionally it is found in a violet shade. Benitoite is a somewhat obscure, but it is a wonderful gemstone. Benitoite was designated as the Official State Gemstone of California in 1985.

Benitoite is associated with a few rare minerals such as black-red Neptunite, snow white Natrolite and brown-yellow Joaquinite . The only source of this rare combination occurs at San Benito, California. A rare cluster of blue Benitoite and black Neptunite on top of a crust of white Natrolite is a treat for collectors. Gems much over one carat are uncommon. The sapphire-blue or colorless crystals are small. Gem quality specimens larger than two carats are rare. Faceted stones are usually under 1 carat, the largest documented stone is 7.8 carats and resides at the Smithsonian. Benitoites sell for over $1000 per carat and the price has been raising rapidly as the deposit has been largely worked out and available gems sold.

In 2000, Brian Lees of Colorado purchased the site from the long time owners. He brought in a mining crew and worked the mine for five winters. The current owner is now Dave Schreiner who bought the mine from Lees in 2005. Dave's vision was to open up the mine to collectors, since it is probably the most famous gem location in the world, and is on everybody's list of "places to collect." So now thanks to Dave Schreiner, gemstone and mineral collectors alike have that rare opportunity to come and try and find this unique and rare genstone.

California is a virtual cornucopia of gems, with the best known being Tourmaline, Kunzite, Serpentine and Topaz, all available to the public at open mines where you can buy buckets of dirt to dig through. In recent years, top-notch finds have helped restore the region’s splendor.

Serpentine, a green Jade looking material, is considered the State rock and of course Native Gold, a picture of which is shown at the right, is the Official State mineral. Of all the states where gold is found, only Alaska also considers Native Gold to be its State mineral.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I have been recently asked if I can again list what Diamond Simulants are on the market today and how do you tell if you have a simulant or real diamond. The problem is, new ones are appearing at regular intervals and it is very hard to stay current. Well the oldest test, but not totally conclusive is to run the diamond (or rock) across a piece of glass and if it scratches it, it is probably a diamond. As seen on TV you could hit it with a steel hammer ,and if it isn't ruined, it may be a diamond. Yea, but what jeweler or vendor in his or her right mind is going to let you do either of those two tests. So your best bet is to completely trust your gemologist or jeweler that what you are being sold is genuine. And if you bye a diamond from someone you don't know, you probably better make sure you can return it, because if you have it tested and find it is not a diamond, you want some recourse on what you spent. And of course the best saying is, "If it is too cheap for what it is suppose to be, it probably isn't what it is advertised to be!" The following is a chart of some simulants if you want to test for yourself.
Common Diamond simulants and their gemological properties
Material. Formula..Refractive Index.Dispersion.Moh's Hardness.Density.Thermal.Cond


Artificial Simulants:
Glass.......Silica...............~ 1.6................> 0.020.............6.............2.4-4.2........Poor

White Sapphire .Al2O3....1.762 ................0.018.............9.................3.97.........Poor
Spinel...MgO·Al2O3.........1.727.................0.020............8................~ 3.6..........Poor
Rutile......TiO2.................2.62 ..................0.33.............~ 6................4.25.........Poor
Strontium Titanate.SrTiO3.2.41................0.19.............5.5...............5.13.........Poor


GGG.... .Gd3Ga5O12..... ..1.97.................0.045.............7................7.02...... ..Poor

Natural minerals that (when cut) optically resemble white diamonds are rare, because the trace impurities usually present in natural minerals tend to impart color. The earliest simulants of diamond were colorless quartz, topaz and beryl (goshenite); they are all common minerals with above-average hardness (7–8), but all have low RIs and correspondingly low dispersions. Well-formed quartz crystals are sometimes offered as "diamonds," a popular example being the so-called "Herkimer diamond". Topaz's SG (3.50–3.57) also falls within the range of diamond.
From a historical perspective, the most notable natural simulant of diamond is Zircon. It is also fairly hard (7.5), but more importantly shows perceptible fire when cut, due to its high dispersion of 0.039. Colorless zircon has been mined in Sri Lanke for over 2,000 years; prior to the advent of modern mineralogy, colorless zircon was thought to be an inferior form of diamond. It was called "Matara diamond" after its source location. It is still encountered as a diamond simulant, but differentiation is easy due to zircon's anisotropy and strong birefringence (0.059). It is also notoriously brittle and often shows wear on the girdle and facet edges. Much less common than colorless zircon is colorless scheelite. Its dispersion (0.026) is also high enough to mimic diamond, but although it is highly lustrous its hardness is much too low (4.5–5.5) to maintain a good polish. It is also anisotropic and fairly dense (SG 5.9–6.1). Synthetic scheelite produced via the Czochralski process is available, but it has never been widely used as a diamond simulant. Due to the scarcity of natural gem-quality scheelite, synthetic scheelite is much more likely to simulate it than diamond. A similar case is the orthorhombic carbonate cerussite, which is so fragile (very brittle with four directions of good cleavage) and soft (hardness 3.5) that it is never seen set in jewelry, and only occasionally seen in gem collections because it is so difficult to cut. Cerussite gems have an adamantine luster, high RI (1.804–2.078), and high dispersion (0.051), making them attractive and valued collector's pieces. Aside from softness, they are easily distinguished by cerussite's high density (SG 6.51) and anisotropy with extreme birefringence (0.271).
Desert Diamonds are also known as Saudi Diamonds, or sometimes Qaysumah Diamonds. They are natural, semi-precious stones from the same micro-crystalline family as Amethyst, smoky Topaz and Citrine. These unique, high-grade stones have physical properties that produce the appearance of the expensive carbon-based diamonds! DESERT DIAMONDS are FOREVER, just like their carbon diamonds cousin. They are guaranteed not to discolor or break with age. This is the huge advantage of owning Dessert Diamonds vs. cubic zirconia. Compared with the carbon-based stones, which have a hardness factor of 10 on the Mohs scale, the Desert Diamond are only rated at a mere 7.0 on the Moh's Scale!
Due to their rarity fancy-colored diamonds are also imitated, and zircon can serve this purpose too. Applying heat treatment to brown zircon can create several bright colors: these are most commonly sky-blue, golden yellow, and red. Blue zircon is very popular, but it is not necessarily color stable; prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light (including the UV component in sunlight) tends to bleach the stone. Heat treatment also imparts greater brittleness to zircon and characteristic inclusions. Another fragile candidate mineral is Sphaerite (zinc blende). Gem-quality material is usually a strong yellow to honey brown, orange, red, or green; its very high RI (2.37) and dispersion (0.156) make for an extremely lustrous and fiery gem, and it is also isotropic. But here again, its low hardness (2.5–4) and perfect dodecahedral cleavage preclude sphalerite's wide use in jewelry. Two calcium-rich members of the Garnet group fare much better: these are grossularite (usually brownish orange, rarely colorless, yellow, green, or pink) and andradite. The latter is the rarest and most costly of the Garnets, with three of its varieties—topazolite (yellow), melanite (black), and demantoid (green)—sometimes seen in jewelry. Demantoid (literally "diamond-like") especially has been prized as a gemstone since its discovery in the Ural Mountains in 1868; it is a noted feature of antique Russian and Art Nouveau jewelry. Titanite or Sphene is also seen in antique jewelry; it is typically some shade of chartreuse and has a luster, RI (1.885–2.050), and dispersion (0.051) high enough to be mistaken for diamond, yet it is anisotropic (a high birefringence of 0.105–0.135) and soft (hardness 5.5). Discovered in the 1960s, the rich green tsavorite variety of grossular is also very popular. Both grossular and andradite are isotropic and have relatively high RIs (ca. 1.74 and 1.89, respectively) and high dispersions (0.027 and 0.057), with demantoid's exceeding diamond. However, both have a low hardness (6.5–7.5) and invariably possess inclusions atypical of diamond—the byssolite "horsetails" seen in demantoid are one striking example. Furthermore, most are very small, typically under 0.5 carats (100 mg) in weight. Their lusters range from vitreous to subadamantine, to almost metallic in the usually opaque melanite, which has been used to simulate black diamond. Some natural spinel is also a deep black and could serve this same purpose.
Because Strontium Titanate and glass are too soft to survive use as a ring stone, they have been used in the construction of composite or doublet Diamond simulants. The two materials are used for the bottom portion (pavilion) of the stone, and in the case of strontium titanate, a much harder material—usually colorless synthetic Spinel or Sapphire—is used for the top half (crown). In glass doublets, the top portion is made of almandine Garnet; it is usually a very thin slice which does not modify the stone's overall body color. There have even been reports of diamond-on-diamond doublets, where a creative entrepreneur has used two small pieces of rough to create one larger stone. In Strontium Titanate and Diamond-based doublets, an epoxy is used to adhere the two halves together. The epoxy may fluoresce under UV light, and there may be residue on the stone's exterior. The garnet top of a glass doublet is physically fused to its base, but in it and the other doublet types there are usually flattened air bubbles seen at the junction of the two halves. A join line is also readily visible whose position is variable; it may be above or below the girdle, sometimes at an angle, but rarely along the girdle itself. The most recent composite simulant involves combining a CZ core with an outer coating of laboratory created amorphous diamond. The concept effectively mimics the structure of a cultured pearl (which combines a core bead with an outer layer of pearl coating), only done for the diamond market.
So again, get to know your jeweler or gemologist and don't be fooled by unknown vendors, salespersons and especially eBay and other auction sellers without having a chance to check-out the item completly yourself, with return rights.

Friday, January 27, 2012

BLUE AMBER - a Total Surprise !

Typical rough Amber pieces from the Baltic

Amber, that strange material that hardened from several species of tree resins from several hundred million years ago. The best known Amber is from the Baltic Region, but it also comes from Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, North and South America and some Islands in the Caribbean. But do not confuse Amber with Copal, Copal is the new kid on the block being only a few million years old and in most cases much softer, coming from Columbia and a few Caribbean Islands.

Piece of Dominican Blue Amber as seen in the rough

Amber is supposed to be amber color, right? Not exactly. There is the original colors of Amber, yellow, orange, honey, cognac or similar. A new delight among jewelry designers is Butterscotch Amber, found in the Baltic as well as the Middle East. But there also is cream, cherry, red, green and even blue, which is by far the rarest of all the Ambers. Up to this day many people do not believe in the existence of "BLUE" amber. Must be something in the air or in the ground, since two of the more highly prised gemstones that come from the Dominican Republic are both "BLUE" - Blue Amber and Larimar.

Chunk of Dominican Amber with Reds-Cognac-Yellow coloring.

Is Blue Amber Truly Blue? No. It is not. And yet, it is. Confused? Blue Amber is a result of fluorescence and no solid color exists. Ultra-violet or violet light is re-emitted as blue or green light, attributed to the presence of poly-nuclear aromatic molecules. Therefore, Blue amber is blue, but not the way you might think.

When sunlight strikes the Blue Amber on a white surface the light particles pass right through and are refracted by the white surface. Result: the Blue amber looks almost like any other Amber, only with a light blue hue. But when the light particles can't pass through and refract back, the hydrocarbons in the Blue Amber turn the sun's ultraviolet light into blue light particles. The result: the famous blue glow of Blue Amber. This effect is only possible with Dominican Blue Amber pieces graded within the Blue Amber category. Any other Amber (like Baltic and others) will not display this blue phenomenon at all. And, on top of that other Dominican Amber will show this blue efraction only in concentrated UV light, and not in natural light. Light passed through the Blue Amber from a flashlight, will also result in the normal looking cognac amber color.

Example of same piece of Blue Amber with front lighting, then looking as same piece lighted from the reverse

Thanks to The Amber Ranch for the pieces of and the info on Dominican Blue Amber

Sunday, January 22, 2012

LARIMAR - Jewelry of the Caribbean ! is blue, and a very pretty blue at that. It is more durable and longer wearing than many of the other non-faceted gemstone or mineral on the market. It makes up into beautiful beads and great pendants. Sometimes called Pectolite, Larimar (many times misspelled: Lorimar) is a rare blue variety of the mineral Pectolite, and is found only in the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Although Pectolite is found in many locations worldwide, none have the unique volcanic blue coloration of Larimar. This blue color, distinct from that of other Pectolites, is the result of cobalt substitution for calcium. Its coloration varies from white, light-blue, green-blue to deep blue. This stone is cut into cabochons and carved into shapes for setting to a variety of jewelry items throughout the Caribbean islands. Its a must buy if you are planning a cruise any time soon.

The most important outcropping of Larimar is located at Los Chupaderos, in the section of Los Checheses, about 10 kilometers southwest of the city of Barahona, in the south-western region of the Dominican Republic. It is a single mountainside, now perforated with approximately 2,000 vertical shafts, surrounded by rainforest vegetation and deposits of blue-colored mine tailings.

Quality grading is according to coloration and the typical mineral crystal configuration in the stone. Larimar can also be found with green and even some with red spots and brown stripes, due to other chemicals and/or oxidation. But the more intense the blue, and the contrasts in the stone, the higher and rarer is the quality. The blue color is photosensitive and fades with time if exposed to too much light and heat. So when wearing Larimar Jewelry, one must be careful to keep it away from intense sunlight so as not to ruin that very expensive piece of Nature you just bought.


However, be careful and do not let anyone sell you the cheaper but also very beautiful blue, many times called Caribbean Blue or Paraiba Blue, Chalcedony, which looks very much like very high quality Larimar. At recent shows, slabs of true rich Larimar a few inches in each direction and 1/4 inch thick can be seen going for $100 or better.