February Birthstone: Amethyst

Amethyst was as expensive as ruby and emerald until the 19th Century, when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered. It was believed to prevent intoxication—amethystos means “not drunk” in ancient Greek. Today, as the most valued quartz variety, amethyst is in demand for designer pieces and mass-market jewelry alike, and its purple to pastel hues retain wide consumer appeal.





Amethyst is the purple variety of the quartz mineral species. It’s the gem that’s most commonly associated with the color purple, even though there are other purple gems such as sapphire and tanzanite. Its purple color can be cool and bluish, or a reddish purple that’s sometimes referred to as “raspberry.”

Amethyst’s purple color can range from a light lilac to a deep, intense royal purple, and from brownish to vivid. Amethyst also commonly shows what is called color zoning, which in the case of amethyst usually consists of angular zones of darker to lighter color.

Image result for amethyst gemstone


Amethyst is the birthstone for February and the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.



January Birthstone: Garnet

Wide Variety of Garnets

Most people do not realize garnets come in a wide variety of gem types and colors, with many cutting options.
Garnets are a set of closely related minerals that form a group, resulting in gemstones in almost every color. Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues.

Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems, found in metamorphic rocks (which are rocks altered by heat and pressure) on every continent. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, also occurs in metamorphic rocks, but it’s rarer because it needs unusual rock chemistries and special conditions to form.

Demantoid is a rare and famous green garnet, spessartine (also called spessarite) is an orange garnet, and rhodolite is a beautiful purple-red garnet. Garnets can even exhibit the color-change phenomenon similar to the rare gemstone alexandrite.

All garnets have essentially the same crystal structure, but they vary in chemical composition. There are more than twenty garnet categories, called species, but only five are commercially important as gems. Those five are pyrope, almandine (also called almandite), spessartine, grossular (grossularite), and andradite. A sixth, uvarovite, is a green garnet that usually occurs as crystals too small to cut. It’s sometimes set as clusters in jewelry. Many garnets are chemical mixtures of two or more garnet species.

Understanding Group, Species, and Variety Chart

Garnets are a group of closely related mineral species with many different color varieties.
For more info on Garnet, please click on link:

December Birthstone: Turquoise


18-karat Gold Collar with Turquoise Cabochon

This 18-karat gold collar, designed by Pierre Touraine, is set with a turquoise cabochon of fine texture and color. – Gift of Touraine Family Trust
Turquoise is found in only a few places on earth: dry and barren regions where acidic, copper-rich groundwater seeps downward and reacts with minerals that contain phosphorus and aluminum. The result of this sedimentary process is a porous, semitranslucent to opaque compound of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate.
Turquoise is a prime example of an opaque colored stone that can be marketed both as a gem for jewelry and as an ornamental material.The Abdurreza Turquoise Mine

The Abdurreza turquoise mine lies in a dry, remote area of Iran.

Turquoise might lack the sparkle and clarity of transparent colored gemstones like ruby, emerald, and sapphire, but its multi-layered history and soul-satisfying color make it a desirable gem. Its color can range from dull greens to grass greens to a bright, medium-toned, sky blue. People value turquoise highly for its combination of ancient heritage and unforgettable color.

The traditional source for the top color, sometimes described as robin’s-egg blue or sky blue, is the Nishapur district of Iran, the country formerly known as Persia. So, quite often, you’ll hear people in the trade call turquoise of this beautiful color “Persian blue,” whether or not it was actually mined in Iran.

Top-quality turquoise has inspired designers to create elegant jewelry. It’s most often cut into cabochons, but it might also be cut into beads or flat pieces for inlays.

Although much turquoise jewelry is sleek and modern, many US consumers are familiar with the traditional jewelry of Native American peoples such as the Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo. People interested in Native American arts and crafts frequently collect this stylized silver jewelry.

Silver and Turquoise Squash Blossom Necklace

Elaborate silver and turquoise squash blossom necklaces like this are prized by collectors of Native American jewelry. – Courtesy Jaime Steelman

Turquoise is relatively soft, so it’s ideal for carving. Artists in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas choose turquoise as a medium for carved jewelry and art objects. It’s often fashioned into talismans with Native American significance, such as bird and animal carvings, called fetishes.


Native American jewelry often features carved turquoise birds and animals, called fetishes. Courtesy Jaime Steelman.

Turquoise owes its texture to its structure and composition. It’s an aggregate of microscopic crystals that form a solid mass. If the crystals are packed closely together, the material is less porous, so it has a finer texture. Fine-textured turquoise has an attractive, waxy luster when it’s polished. Turquoise with a less-dense crystal structure has higher porosity and coarser texture, resulting in a dull luster when it’s polished.

Ornate Turquoise Vase

Turquoise is soft enough to be carved. This turquoise from China was crafted into an
ornate vase. – Courtesy Geological Museum, Beijing, China

Porosity and texture don’t just affect appearance: They also affect durability. Turquoise is fairly soft—it ranks 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. Turquoise with a coarse texture might have poor toughness, too. Samples with finer texture have fair to good toughness.

Van Cleef & Arpels Ballerina Brooch and Matching Clip Earrings

This Van Cleef & Arpels ballerina brooch and matching clip earrings are designed with gold, diamonds, turquoise, and ruby. – © GIA & Tino Hammid, courtesy private collector

In turquoise, low porosity and fine texture are more valuable than high porosity and coarse texture. Coarse, porous stones are usually treated to make them smoother, shinier, and more marketable.

Sky-blue Turquoise

The smooth, waxy luster of these turquoise earrings results from closely grouped crystals that lessen porosity. – Courtesy GLEAM

Turquoise deposits usually form in iron-rich limonite or sandstone. Limonite creates dark brown markings in turquoise, while sandstone creates tan markings. These markings are remnants of the host rock within the turquoise, and can resemble splotches or veins. They’re called matrix.

Turquoise in its Host Rock

Turquoise is generally embedded in its host rock, like this specimen from Iran.

Manufacturers try to fashion turquoise so that no matrix is visible, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Small amounts of turquoise might be scattered through the host rock in such a way that the rough material can’t yield any cut specimens large enough to fashion into gems without including some matrix.

Matrix in Turquoise

The matrix in spiderweb turquoise is attractively arranged in a network of thin lines.

The presence of matrix can lower the value of turquoise, but that doesn’t mean turquoise with matrix is worthless or unmarketable. Some buyers actually prefer the presence of matrix in fashioned turquoise if its effect is attractive and balanced.

This is especially true if it’s a type of turquoise known in the trade as spiderweb turquoise. It contains matrix in thin, delicate, web-like patterns across the face of the gemstone. The patterns provide a dark contrast to the gem’s bright blue.

In the market for top-quality turquoise, stones with no matrix at all command the highest prices. Gems with attractive spiderweb matrix rank second in value.

Courtesy of GIA  https://www.gia.edu/

November’s birthstone: Topaz


london blue topaz

Many consumers know topaz as simply an inexpensive blue gem. They’re surprised to learn that its blue color is hardly ever natural: It’s almost always caused by treatment. They might also be surprised to know that topaz has so many more colors to offer gem lovers, including pinks and purples that rival the finest fancy sapphires. Topaz 3

Topaz is allochromatic, which means that its color is caused by impurity elements or defects in its crystal structure rather than by an element of its basic chemical composition. The element chromium causes natural pink, red, and violet-to-purple colors in topaz. Imperfections at the atomic level in topaz crystal structure can cause yellow, brown, and blue color. Brown is a common topaz color, and the gem is sometimes mistakenly called “smoky quartz.” topaz 2

The color varieties are often identified simply by hue name—blue topaz, pink topaz, and so forth—but there are also a couple of special trade names. Imperial topaz is a medium reddish orange to orange-red. This is one of the gem’s most expensive colors. Sherry topaz—named after the sherry wine—is a yellowish brown or brownish yellow to orange. Stones in this color range are often called precious topaz to help distinguish them from the similarly colored but less expensive citrine and smoky quartz.

Topaz is also pleochroic, meaning that the gem can show different colors in different crystal directions.

topaz range

October birthstone: Opal

"The Path of Enlightenment" Necklace

Opal is the product of seasonal rains that drenched dry ground in regions such as Australia’s semi-desert “outback.” The showers soaked deep into ancient underground rock, carrying dissolved silica (a compound of silicon and oxygen) downward.

During dry periods, much of the water evaporated, leaving solid deposits of silica in the cracks and between the layers of underground sedimentary rock. The silica deposits formed opal.

How Opal Forms
Opal is known for its unique display of flashing rainbow colors called play-of-color. There are two broad classes of opal: precious and common. Precious opal displays play-of-color, common opal does not.

Play-of-color occurs in precious opal because it’s made up of sub-microscopic spheres stacked in a grid-like pattern—like layers of Ping-Pong balls in a box. As the lightwaves travel between the spheres, the waves diffract, or bend. As they bend, they break up into the colors of the rainbow, called spectral colors. Play-of-color is the result.

Black Opal

This black opal exhibits exceptional play-of-color. – Courtesy Cody Opal

The color you see varies with the sizes of the spheres. Spheres that are approximately 0.1 micron (one ten-millionth of a meter) in diameter produce violet. Spheres about 0.2 microns in size produce red.  Sizes in between produce the remaining rainbow colors.

Fine-quality Light Opal

This fine-quality light opal is from Mintabie, South Australia. Almost all of its spectral colors are visible from a variety of viewing angles. – Courtesy Cody Opal

Although experts divide gem opals into many different categories, five of the main types are:

  • White or light opal: Translucent to semitranslucent, with play-of-color against a white or light gray background color, called bodycolor.
  • Black opal: Translucent to opaque, with play-of-color against a black or other dark background.
  • Fire opal: Transparent to translucent, with brown, yellow, orange, or red bodycolor. This material—which often doesn’t show play-of-color—is also known as “Mexican opal.”
  • Boulder opal: Translucent to opaque, with play-of-color against a light to dark background. Fragments of the surrounding rock, called matrix, become part of the finished gem.
  • Crystal or water opal: Transparent to semitransparent, with a clear background. This type shows exceptional play-of-color.

Light Opal

This exceptional light opal is from South Australia’s Coober Pedy opal fields. – Courtesy Cody Opal

3.47 Carat Boulder Opal Tablet

The rough specimen is a thin seam of boulder opal on sandstone host rock. The 3.47-carat boulder opal tablet was cut from a similar piece of rough.

September birthstone: Sapphire

Sapphire is a popular gemstone – and comes in a rainbow of colors. It’s also been long prized, from Ancient Greek rulers to the clergy of the Middle Ages. But where does the September birthstone come from?

A Little Bit about Sapphire

Sapphires in a range of colors

Before we embark on our journey to find the September birthstone, let’s start with a little gemological background.

The September birthstone, sapphire, comes in a range of colors: blue, violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple and intermediate hues. The gem belongs to the mineral species corundum: corundum is colorless, but trace elements or color centers (small defects in the atomic structure of a mineral that can absorb light and impart color to the stone) can turn colorless corundum into colorful sapphire. Red corundum is the only color not called sapphire; corundum with this color is ruby.

Where Sapphires Come From: Kashmir

3.08 ct unheated Kashmir sapphire

Blue Kashmir sapphire is legendary among gem collectors and jewelry connoisseurs. However, its reputation for gems of unsurpassed beauty rests on stones mined from 1881 to 1887; very little has been produced since then. Sapphire from the mines after this brief window in time varied greatly in quality.

Finding the September birthstone in Kashmir reads like a chapter from an adventure book: we go to northern India, past the picturesque Dal Lake and its famous houseboats, beyond fields of wildflowers and head up into the Himalayas. Our journey takes us on treacherous roads to, as 18th-century explorers described, a “region beyond the snows.” In these remote hillsides, some of the world’s most beautiful sapphires were unearthed.


Fine blue Kashmir sapphire is said to resemble the color of the feathers of a peacock’s neck. Tiny inclusions give gems a velvety appearance. This can look like an extremely fine haze.

A few last facts about Kashmir sapphire: perpetual snow cover makes mining extraordinarily difficult; the mines are exceedingly remote; the weather is severe; and the area is politically contested. Few stones sporadically emerge, and fewer gemologists have researched the mines. That means you’re highly unlikely to find Kashmir sapphire for sale, and if you do, you’ll want a GIA Colored Stone Identification & Origin Report to verify its country of origin. Fine pieces are occasionally sold by leading auction houses.

Blue sapphire

Where Sapphires Come From: Myanmar

rough sapphire crystal

The land north of Mogok, a city in Upper Myanmar. Blue sapphires mined in Mogok tend to have a rich, intense hue; the best of these September birthstones maintain their appearance under all lighting conditions: incandescent, daylight and fluorescent.

Miners outside of Sapphire mine in Mogok

The sapphire mines of Mogok share some similarities with the ones from Kashmir: they are remote, hard to reach and are in a politically-charged land. Sapphires from this locale are also rare; they are found near many of the ruby deposits. Mogok is also famed for producing some of the finest pink sapphires in the world.

oval shape 6.39 ct pink sapphire

Where Sapphires Come From: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka can poetically be called “Treasure Island”. All colors of sapphire, ruby, cat’s-eye chrysoberyl, spinel, garnet, tourmaline, topaz, quartz and many other gems can be found in the Highland Complex, a wide band that runs roughly down the middle of the island. Some of the finest sapphire is also found here, and in riverbeds scattered across the country.

Miner searching in river gravel

33.16 ct blue sapphire

6.66 ct padparadscha sapphire

Sri Lanka is perhaps the most famous source for padparadscha sapphires; they are found in river gravel throughout the country. Padparadscha means “lotus flower,” in Sinhalese and this name has been given to the pinkish orange to orange-pink variety of corundum. This sapphire’s color has been likened to the color of salmon, sunset and ripe guava. The cause of color for padparadscha sapphire is due to either trace amounts of iron and chromium or color centers. Fine specimens can sell for as much as a ruby.

Sri Lanka is also a source of the September birthstone in many of its colors: green, yellow, pink, purple, and virtually any color in between. Many in the trade consider Sri Lanka to produce the best range of fancy color sapphires in the world.

Where Sapphires Come From: Thailand

Thailand is an important source of sapphire. Gem fields in Chantaburi, in southeastern Thailand, were mined from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Sapphire now mostly comes from Kanchanaburi (western Thailand), where it is found in rivers and streams. Most sapphire mined in Thailand is heat-treated to improve its color.

Sapphire mines in Kanchanaburi

Thailand is one of the world’s major cutting and treatment centers: sapphire from Myanmar, Cambodia, Australia, Madagascar and Sri Lanka are sent here, and end up in jewelry stores in the United States, Japan and Europe.

Art Deco bracelet

Where Sapphires Come From: Cambodia

On the western side of Cambodia—in the Pailin Province, near the border with Thailand—sapphire rough lies in riverbeds. Miners sift through the gravel, looking for “Pailin sapphire,” which is understood to be fine-quality blue sapphire that is typically water-worn, rounded and hexagonal in shape. Stones are regularly heat-treated to lighten color and remove or reduce inclusions.

Pailin, Cambodia

Mining for sapphire in Pailin is extremely demanding. Deadly malaria and a hot climate are working conditions that require muscle and grit. The Khmer Rouge, an oppressive regime that ruled Cambodia from the 1970s to the 1990s, left a legacy of poverty and landmines that still take lives and limbs. Still, in the midst of these most difficult circumstances, miners search for a piece of rough that can change their fortunes.

Two 11.48 carats blue sapphires

Where Sapphires Come From: Madagascar

Three blue sapphires

Madagascar, an island off the southeastern coast of Africa, is a rich source of gems: garnet, aquamarine, tsavorite, rubies and of course, the September birthstone. Rough sapphire was found in 1993 in the Andranondambo region of southern Madagascar; and in 1998 in IIakaka – a remote, arid land of plains broken by lonely mountains. A new source was found in January 2016 near Andranondambo in an extremely remote and dangerous location. The mine is accessible only by foot, and the area is rife with bandits.

Sapphire mining in Madagascar

Many people rank the color of Madagascar’s blue sapphires between Kashmir and Sri Lanka in quality. Rough is often heat-treated to improve color. Slight inclusions are common, as well as color zoning (bands of color).

Two heat-treated Madagascar sapphires

Madagascar is another source for fancy color sapphire: it produces pinks, blue-violets, yellows, oranges and greens.

Range of different colored sapphires

Where Sapphires Come From: Other Sources

The September birthstone can also be found in other areas of the world. Australia produces blue, yellow and green sapphires. It is primarily a source of commercial-grade sapphire, and occasionally produces high-quality rough suitable for use in fine jewelry. Commercial-grade sapphire is also found in Montana. Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya – countries in East Africa – are other sources of pink, blue-violet, yellow, orange and green sapphires.

Heat treated yellow sapphire (left) and untreated yellow sapphire (right)

18K yellow and rose gold flower pin


Courtesy of GIA


August Birthstone: Peridot



https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/94/69/fe/9469fe404de5864cf64ef23d75dab79c--raw-diamond-rings-peridot-rings.jpg   Peridot is a well-known and ancient gemstone, with jewelry pieces dating all the way back to the Pharaohs in Egypt. The gem variety of the mineral Olivine, it makes a lovely light green to olive-green gemstone. The intensity of color depends on the amount of iron present in a Peridot’s chemical structure; the more iron it contains the deeper green it will be. The most desirable color of Peridot is deep olive-green with a slight yellowish tint. Deeper olive-green tones tend to be more valuable than lighter colored greens and yellowish-greens.

               https://bradyjewels.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/e241a-rrstonebefore.jpg?w=234&h=250                                   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/77/6a/e9/776ae93e41bb3333891e41f9db2c78ed--peridot-jewelry-peridot-earrings.jpg

More info on peridot, click on…



peridot claddagh ring

July Birthstone: Ruby

Ruby is the birthstone for July, and the 15th and 40th year anniversary gemstone.

Undoubtedly one of the rarest gemstones. This aluminum oxide gemstone can certainly protect itself, as it is the second hardest gemstone behind the diamond. The ruby’s extreme durability allow it to be cut into every size and shape, creating unique examples of fine jewelry.  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/30/b7/c3/30b7c3085f2d8796b86c0d2ca4aea912.jpg

Corundum is the host mineral in which ruby deposits are found; the trace elements introduced into the corundum determine whether or not a ruby is formed. When the coloring agent chromium is introduced, a ruby is produced, while other trace elements will produce the gemstones known as sapphires (iron, for example, is the element responsible for blue sapphire).



Historically the leading ruby-mining countries have been Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka. Today, rubies are found in Thailand, Madagascar, Africa, and Vietnam. Due to the U.S. moratorium on gemstones and pearls from Myanmar, fine rubies are particularly difficult to obtain. Natural rubies are a very slow-growing crystal, making it rare to see a large ruby of almost any quality.



Image result for ruby eternity ring


For more info, click on…   https://www.gia.edu/ruby

round ruby ring

The Crown of Princess Blanche

The oldest surviving crown of England and has been described as one of the finest achievements of the Gothic goldsmiths…

                                                    The Crown of Princess Blanche

Made of gold with enamel, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls, the Crown of Princess Blanche, also called the Palatine Crown or Bohemian Crown, is the oldest surviving royal crown known to have been in England, and probably dates to the years after 1370.

The crown came to the Palatinate line of the House of Wittelsbach in 1402 as a dowry of Princess Blanche of England, a daughter of King Henry IV of England, on her marriage to Louis III, Elector Palatine.


It is most likely, but not certain, that the crown belonged to Queen Anne of Bohemia, the wife of Richard II


However, it is not thought that the crown was made for Blanche because it was first recorded in a list of 1399, recording the movement of some royal jewels in London, some two years before the marriage of Princess Blanche.

Experts believe that the crown probably belonged to King Edward III or Queen Anne of Bohemia, the wife of King Richard II, whom she married in 1382.

In 1402, Princess Blanche, the daughter of King Henry IV of England, married the Palatine Elector Ludwig III and the crown passed to the Palatine Treasury in Heidelberg as part of her dowry

Detail of the circlet. Two of the rings surmounted with hexagons, with alternating arrangements of jewels and pearls

The crown is in a fleur-de-lis (lily flower) shape, popular for medieval crowns, with twelve lilies rising from the circlet.

The circlet’s design is based on twelve gold rings beneath the lilies, mounted with hexagonal shapes in enamel and gold openwork.


 The crown is today displayed in the treasury of the Munich Treasury

The lily stems are detachable, and the places on the crown where they fit are numbered I to XII so they can be re-attached correctly. Its height and diameter are both 18 cm. It has been described as “one of the finest achievements of the Gothic goldsmiths”.

Since 1782, the crown is displayed in the treasury of the Munich Treasury with other jewels belonging to the Palatine branch of the Wittelsbach family.


Courtesy of the Vintage News, David Goran 2017

Beach Kiss poem



Crumbling, crushed seashells
lining my salty coast
An aching arm of whirlwind washes
odd-shaped pieces of driftwood, floats

Reflected from my coral etched sunglasses
kites, seagulls,  surfers everywhere
surfing the deep blue-green, water crashes
swirling foam turning into smiling, bubbling air

Smooth-tanned beach sand, pepper-like flecks of gold
absorbing loving, warm summer rays
Listening to my moody waves unfold

These endearing memories
of all my San Diego beaches, I really do miss
onto the next season of my life..
Never forgotten, strongly sealed with a kiss!

beach kiss poem© susan brady

June’s Birthstone: Alexandrite


Besides Pearl being June’s traditional birthstone, “Alexandrite” is a lovely alternative.

Those born in June are lucky to claim their birthstone as the beautiful precious gem alexandrite. This exciting gem may appear to be magic when it appears in shades of green and blue or yellow and structure; absorbing light wavelengths within the yellow spectrum, making the gem appear to change color in different light sources.

The Alternative Birthstone for June is Alexandrite Alexandrite rose to prominence in 1830 in the Ural Mountains of Russia. Tied to the czar, Alexander II, the gem gets his name from him. The colors of the stone, which change from green to red due to light source, were the Russian flag’s colors at the time. The Ural Mountains were quickly depleted of the gem due to over mining. Russian royals were gifted with alexandrite jewelry in the forms of necklaces and rings.

Alexandrite can be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa.

light alex

These changes in color occur in chrysoberyl (alexandrite’s family), wherein aluminum is replaced by chromium ions in alexandrite’s structure; absorbings light wavelengths within the yellow spectrum, making the gem appear to change color in different light sources.

alex 4


Notable June birthdays include actors Johnny Depp and Chris Evans, musicians Lana Del Rey and Ariana Grande, sports legends Lou Gehrig and Joe Montana, and Hollywood stars including Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, and cutest wargamer Colin Brady 🙂 .                                   

 For more info, click on link below






Care of Pearls

Pearl is traditionally June’s birthstone

Natural Pearls are very delicate gems and can be easily damaged by the surrounding conditions. It is extremely important to care for pearl jewelry. With proper care the gems will last for centuries.

1) When pearls are worn very often and close to the skin they get eroded or damaged with contact with even the mildest of acids given out by the skin. Hence the use of pearl jewelry very often in humid places is not advisable.

2) Pearl jewelry like pearl earrings, pearl rings etc should not be kept in cotton wool as it contains small amounts of acids that may damage the pearl in the long run.

3) String of pearls or pearl jewelry should not be kept in polythene bags as there isn’t enough moisture for the pearls in these bags, which will create a water loss and damage the outer surface of the pearls.

4) The best way of storing pearls would be to keep them well wrapped in white linen cloth or pure silk.

5) Cosmetics and perfumes must never come in contact with pearls as the acids and chemicals most certainly will damage them.  


6) Restringing of pearls that are very often used is a very good idea as many a times the string may absorb the perfume of cosmetics used and in turn damage the pearl. The string used (if silk) by itself may wear out or may break. It is advisable to restring regularly used pearls once every six months.

7) The best way of stringing pears is to have a knot at the end of each pearl so that in case of breakage of the string only one pearl is lost.


Pearls are categorized as organic gem material and are amongst the oldest of precious gems. In history pearls have been very valuable, second only to the diamond. The first record of the use of pearls in history is the fishing of the famous orient Basra pearl around the year 300 B.C.


Giant Gold Nugget Found in California

Gold nugget weighing 70 ounces found by an unidentified man in Butte County in California

The “Butte Nugget” was recovered sometime in the summer of 2014 by an unnamed prospector in California using a metal detector. He was expecting to dig up a piece of iron rubbish, but unearthed the find of a lifetime when he unearthed this monster nugget.

It is a spectacular nugget, weighing over 5 pounds of solid gold. It is believed to be one of the largest gold discoveries in California in the past century.

The confirmed weight was 75 troy ounces. The nugget itself has no quartz inclusions and gold from this area is generally very high purity.

Although the exact location of the discovery was not revealed, it was found somewhere in Butte County, which has always been a major producer of gold in the state. Many millions of ounces in gold have been found here since the early days of the gold rush.

Both placer and lode deposits account for the production, but placers account for the largest production records.

Some of the primary mining districts in Butte County when it comes to producing gold are Magalia (Tertiary placers), Yankee Hill (mostly lode, some tertiary placers) and Oroville (Quaternary Placers).

Gold nugget weighing 70 ounces found by an unidentified man in Butte County in California

(courtesy of GeologyIn)

May birthstone: Emerald


The gemstone Emerald is the green variety of the mineral beryl. Emerald is the May birthstone.

The wonderful green color of emerald is unparalleled in the gem kingdom. Emerald’s precious green color is caused by small amounts of chromium and enhanced by traces of iron. Unlike other beryls, emeralds usually contain inclusions and other flaws. These flaws are not looked on as negative aspects for emerald like they would be for other gemstones. Indeed, these flaws are considered part of the character of the stone and are used to assure the purchaser of a natural stone.

Even artificial emeralds often contain flaws, however, as the process of growing artificial emeralds mimics the way nature does it (slow crystal growth from a molten mix).

Nearly all emeralds, even many “natural” stones, have been treated to improve clarity, generally by immersing them in oil. For gemstones, a green colored oil is sometimes used, “improving” the color as well. Unfortunately, this oil may evaporate over the years, making flaws appear where none were visible at the time of purchase.  A high-grade mineral oil may be used to improve the appearance again.

For more info on Emeralds, click on:   https://www.gia.edu/emerald



Keeping your Diamond clean

https://i2.wp.com/www.boldsky.com/img/2014/02/20-ring2.jpg   https://i0.wp.com/www.sunshinepolishingcloth.com/graphics/sunshine%20replacement%20tubes%202.jpg

In (basic) cleaning my diamond ring, I like to use Dawn dish soap (works great at cutting out grease/oil )  in a small bowl with some warm water, using a baby toothbrush, getting into all the crevices of the ring underneath (where grime usually builds up and “hides”) then I rinse ring with water in a separate bowl. After rinsing, I lightly pat dry with soft cloth. After ring is dry, I use jewelers’ polishing cloth on metal part of ring. I highly recommend using “Sunshine” polishing cloth (works great!) .

For thorough cleaning, click on link…




March Birthstone: Aquamarine


aquamarine crystal   If you were born in March, you’re lucky enough to have aquamarine as your birthstone. Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, which also includes emerald. Aquamarine exists in many different shades, from pale blue to greenish-blue shades. Deeper colored aquamarine stones have the highest value, and connoisseurs typically prefer a pure blue stone with no green or gray in it. However, aquamarine is stunning regardless of the shade.  aqua ring

Characteristics of Aquamarine

Aquamarine is unique in that it never has inclusions, meaning that it’s flawless. In very rare cases, the stone will have inclusions that are only visible through magnification. Aquamarine stones are available in various shapes similar to diamonds but is often found in oval or emerald shapes.

Aquamarines vary in color from pale blue to greenish-blue. The varying intensity of the color is due to the quantities of iron in the beryl crystal. Naturally occurring deep blue aquamarine stones are rare, expensive, and in high demand. Aquamarine with a greenish color is often heated to remove the yellow component of the color. You can still find aquamarine that’s greenish in color, and these stones will be less expensive than aquamarine that has more blue to it. The icy blue color of aquamarine is flattering to a variety of skin tones, making this stone a timeless classic in the gem world.

Where Aquamarine is mined

Aquamarine is mined in Nigeria, Zambia, Pakistan, Brazil, Mozambique, and Madagascar. The largest source of aquamarine is Brazil.

Cleaning and care

Aquamarine has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, meaning that it is a durable gemstone that’s perfect for everyday wear. Heat exposure is not recommended for aquamarine, but the color will remain the same even when exposed to light. To clean your aquamarine jewelry, use mild dish soap and a toothbrush to clean behind the stone where dust can collect. Cleaning aquamarine using ultrasonic and steam cleaners is usually safe unless the stone has liquid includes or fractures. This is rare, but if your aquamarine stone has fractures, you should only clean the stone using warm, soapy water.

 *** For more Aquamarine info, click on… GIA Aquamarine


Dom Pedro Aquamarine Obelisk


Queen Elizabeth wears her beautiful aquamarine stones..for more info, click on…Queen’s aquamarine jewels




February Birthstone: Amethyst


Amethyst was as expensive as ruby and emerald until the 19th Century, when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered. It was believed to prevent intoxication—amethystos means “not drunk” in ancient Greek. Today, as the most valued quartz variety, amethyst is in demand for designer pieces and mass-market jewelry alike, and its purple to pastel hues retain wide consumer appeal.





Amethyst is the purple variety of the quartz mineral species. It’s the gem that’s most commonly associated with the color purple, even though there are other purple gems such as sapphire and tanzanite. Its purple color can be cool and bluish, or a reddish purple that’s sometimes referred to as “raspberry.”

Amethyst’s purple color can range from a light lilac to a deep, intense royal purple, and from brownish to vivid. Amethyst also commonly shows what is called color zoning, which in the case of amethyst usually consists of angular zones of darker to lighter color.

Image result for amethyst gemstone


Amethyst is the birthstone for February and the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.

source: https://www.gia.edu/amethyst


January Birthstone: Garnet


Garnet’s Origin & Etymology

First things first, let’s find out where these abrasive stones come from. Originally found in America, garnets are widely produced today in Sri Lanka, India, and Africa. Tanzania, Australia, Argentina, and Myanmar are also noted as some of their most important sources.

As concerns the etymology of the January birthstone, the word “garnet” derives from the Latin “granatum”, which stands for “seed”. As the most familiar shape of garnets is roundish, and most of them are vividly red hued, these gems are reminiscent of pomegranate seeds.

Are there other birthstones for January? Well, although there are months that have multiple representative gemstones, Garnet has always stood as the birthstone for the first month of the year, at least in Western cultures. According to Eastern traditions, however, the birthstone for January is Serpent Stone.


October’s Beauty

‘Virgin Rainbow’ Opal Literally Glows In The Dark


The ‘Virgin Rainbow’ is one of the world’s rarest and most expensive opals. This extremely rare opal exhibits incredible fluorescence with a rainbow of different colors that make opal so distinctly unique. The opal was found in Coober Pedy of southern Australia by miner John Dunstan, working solo in the opal field. It is worth over $1 million and is now owned by the Southern Australia Museum in Adelaide.

“That opal actually glows in the dark – the darker the light, the more colour comes out of it, it’s unbelievable.” John Dunstan told ABC.

Opals are a form of amorphous hydrated silica with up to 20% water locked within the silica structure. The mineraloid, similar to a mineral but without a crystalline structure, is formed from mineral precipitation at low temperatures. The process is similar to the salt left behind when sweat or salt water dries. The complex internal structure of opal diffracts light differently depending on which angle light hits the opal. This imparts a rainbow of colors, from milky white, to red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, black, etc.

The Virgin Rainbow is an opalized fossil, which means the shape and initial formation of the opal replaced a fossil, likely from an ancient ancestor of today’s cuttlefish. The very generalized evolution of the opal started with an aquatic cuttlefish dying and sinking to the seafloor. As sediment buried the fish, the surrounding sediment began to lithify into rock as the shallow sea dried and became a desert. Meanwhile, silica rich pore fluids within the rock deposited opal in the cavity where the cuttlefish once remained. This is a similar process to how petrified wood is formed, whereby mineral precipitates replace organic objects.

Opals form as microscopic spheres composed of silica and other minerals, closely packed together to form a lattice framework. The order and variability in size of silica spheres determines the degree and type of diffraction of light as it passes through the opal’s structure. More regular-sized silica spheres provide more intense diffraction and are thus more desirable.

Australia has the world’s largest supply of opals, accounting for 95-97%, with most of them found in southern Australia. Of the prolific South Australia mines, Coober Pedy is the most famous, claiming many of the world’s famous opals.

 written by Trevor Nace , geologist, Forbes contributor, and adventurer.

October Birthstone: Opal



While the colorful glory of the opal is undeniably striking. Opals range in color from white to black, with glints of yellow, orange, green, red and blue. They derive their name from the Greek word Opallos, which means “to see a change (of color).” Opals were formed by non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices within sedimentary strata. Over time the gel hardened to form opals. They’re essentially composed of particles closely packed together in delicate arrangements. When these particles are packed together in a regular pattern, they create a three-dimensional array of spaces – which create the opal’s unique radiance.

For more info: http://www.gia.edu/opal


September Birthstone: Sapphire

Blue is a color beloved by many. My passion for the color blue spans a wide range of blue tones, from  light pastel Sweden Princess blues to the rich and velvety Royal Blue sapphires.

To the right is a tone scale for degrees of lightness & darkness. Rather than absolute starting and stopping points, the color groups overlap and can blend into one another.

The shade of navy to many people appears too dark. A simple test is to hold a sapphire at arms length under normal lighting conditions. If it’s difficult to see the blue then it’s too dark. (these darker gems are very common in many stores)


After color, cutting is the most important factor in a colored gem. When discussing cut, I’m not talking about shape (round, oval, etc.), but rather the proportions and angles of a gems facets. Precision cutting brings a sapphire to life. A Royal Blue sapphire poorly cut could be far less valuable than a Prince of Wales sapphire with an excellent cut.  A stone cutter must take great care when selecting sapphires because cutting is important. The cut grade is determined by the brightness and evenness of the gems brilliance. The cut scale is as follows for all faceted gems:

• Excellent
• Very Good
• Good
• Fair
• Poor

A sapphire with a color designation of Royal Blue and a cut grade of Excellent would indicate the gem to be a wonderful medium to medium dark blue with extraordinary brilliance that’s evenly distributed throughout the sapphire.

If you see a sapphire that you like, but would prefer a different shade of blue in the sapphire   I would be happy to work with you to achieve a ring you’ll love.

Sapphire is the second hardest gem after diamond and has long been a popular alternative choice for engagement rings.


Princess Di ring

 the late Princess Diana wearing her 12 carat Ceylon sapphire engagement ring, now worn by Princess Kate



August Birthstone: Peridot

Peridot belongs to the forsterite-fayalite mineral series, which is part of the olivine group. It is one ofPeridot the “idiochromatic” gems, meaning its color comes from the basic chemical composition of the mineral itself, not from minor impurities, and therefore will only be found in shades of green. As a matter of fact peridot is one of the few gemstones found in only one color.

The name peridot most probably derives from the Arabic word “faridat” for gem. It’s also called chrysolith (derived from the Greek word “goldstone”) and olivine, because of its color and membership to the olivine group.
Historically the volcanic island Zabargad (St. John) in the Red Sea, east of Egypt, was the most important deposit that was exploited for 3500 years. Today’s main deposits are in Arizona, China, Vietnam and Pakistan. The Pakistani peridot in particular is very fine, and a new find in Pakistan in the mid-1990’s has made peridot available to a wider market.

Peridot colors
Peridot is one of the few gemstones, which exist only in one color. Its color agent is iron that accounts for the deep green color with that slight golden hue. Chemically Peridot is just an iron-magnesium-silicate, and the intensity of color depends on the amount of iron contained. The color as such can come in any variation from yellow-green and olive to brownish green.

Peridot is not especially hard – 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale — and tends to burst under great stress and therefore is sometimes metal-foiled. Peridot has no resistance to acids.

An intense, deep green color is the favorite. The best colored peridot has an iron percentage of less than 15% and includes nickel and chromium as trace elements that may also contribute to the best peridot color.

Peridot looks best in daylight. Its brilliant green sparkle does not change in artificial light.

Peridot is commonly a transparent stone. Inclusions can create a cloudy nature in larger stones. Peridot cat’s eye and star peridot (showing four rays of light) are known, but a rarity.

Table and step cuts are popular. Sometimes peridot gets a brilliant cut especially if to be set in gold.

Peridot location and deposits
Historically the volcanic island Zabargad (St. John) in the Red Sea, east off Egypt, was the most important deposit that was exploited for 3500 years, abandoned for many centuries, rediscovered only around 1900 and has been completely exploited since. The most important deposits nowadays are found in Pakistan (Kashmir region and Pakistan-Afghanistan border region) and is regarded as being of the finest quality. Beautiful material is also found in upper Myanmar and Vietnam. Other deposits have been found in Australia (Queensland), Brazil (Minas Gerais), China, Kenya, Mexico, Norway (north of Bergen), South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the United States (Arizona and Hawaii).
There are no treatments known that could enhance the quality of peridot.

World-famous Peridot
Peridot is mentioned in the Bible under the Hebrew name of “pitdah”. Peridot gems along with other gems were probably used in the fabled Breastplates of the Jewish High Priests, artifacts that have never been found. Legend has it that peridot was the favorite gemstone of Cleopatra. Crusaders brought peridot to Central Europe where it is found in many medieval churches such as the Cologne Cathedral. In the Baroque era the deep green gemstone experienced another short flourishing, before it became forgotten again.
Napoleon used peridot to assure the empress Josephine of his undying love and admiration, which, of course, happened before he had their marriage annulled.
Throughout time, peridot has been confused with many other gemstones, even emerald. Many “emeralds” of royal treasures have turned out to be peridots.
The largest cut peridot was found on the island Zabargad, weights 319ct and belongs to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
In Russia there are some cut peridots that came out of a meteorite, which came down in eastern Siberia in 1749.




July birthstone: Ruby

custom ruby ring

Since ruby has been used as a gemstone for centuries, it can be seen in a variety of styles, from Indian jewellery to Art Deco and contemporary fine jewellery. Ruby is a durable material that can be worn daily as rings, earrings, necklaces and so on. In Indian style jewellery, rubies are often mixed with emeralds and diamonds. Gold settings provide a striking contrast to the red of ruby. Modern jewellery settings for ruby include white gold and platinum, whereas traditional settings tend to be gold. Small rubies can be set closely together in an intricate style such as bead setting or “pavé”, which was made famous by jewellery designers such as Joel A. Rosenthal, known simply as JAR, who created exquisite flower jewels from colored gemstones.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.

round ruby ring



Ruby Gemstone Jewellery Care and Cleaning

Rubies are tough and durable, so they do not require any special care. To clean your rubies, simply use warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Fracture-filled and diffusion-treated gemstones should only be cleaned with a damp cloth. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewellery or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sport. Do not expose rubies to acid and store rubies away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewellery box.

ruby set

For more info on Ruby, click on link below:

ruby rough



June birthstones: Alexandrite, Pearl or Moonstone?

alex stones

 alexandrite ring

Various birthstone lists have been used in different cultures for thousands of years.

The traditional birthstone list is based on birthstone traditions from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. Since then, many of the traditional stones on the list were changed to correspond with stones that were more commercially available. In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers adopted a list which included alexandrite and that was accepted as the standard in the United States and many other countries. In 1952 the American National Retail Jewelers Association, the National Jewelers Association and the American Gem Society approved a variation of the list. In this list, alexandrite is offered as an alternative to pearl and therefore associated with the month of June. It is also suggested as the gemstone for a 55th wedding anniversary (sometimes also the 35th or 45th in place of emerald).

Certain months offer various options for the modern birthstone. For example, for those who want to purchase the birthstone for June, alexandrite, pearl or moonstone may be chosen. Pearls are a classic choice, while natural alexandrite is expensive and rare. In response to the costs associated with alexandrite, some retailers have selected their own stone to represent the month of June, including green tourmaline to represent the green color of alexandrite, or pink tourmaline to represent the red, or color change garnet because of the change.

Alexandrite alex 3
Pearl   dark pearls

moonstone Moonstone


Susan Brady
A.J.P. , G.I.A.
serving York County, SC

 *Personal Consultation/Evaluations:

A thorough evaluation of your jewelry will be conducted privately and professionally,  with the greatest concern for your safety. Under no circumstances would your valuables need to be removed from your sight. The tools and gemological equipment I use are portable, so you may choose to have your jewelry evaluated in your home or at my office. Appointments last approximately an hour and half. 

What does an Evaluation entail?
* A thorough evaluation of your jewelry, colored gemstones and pearls.
* Gemstones and pearls can be identified using the latest Gemological tools.
*  Gemstones can be weighed and measured. 
The total weight of gem set in mounting    can be estimated.
*  The design style and time period of each piece can be identified.
* Instruction on the proper care and maintenance of your jewelry will be provided.

*Color Consulting:

Whether your taste runs towards trendy or traditional, as your jewelry consultant I can create colorful jewelry that will enhance any fashion design, taking in one’s features. Your favorite color may be blue; but what is the best blue on your skin tone? All colors have undertones that may not be apparent to most people.  As your jewelry consultant I can correctly identify which undertones are compatible. As your jewelry consultant, I understand the psychology of color, I know how to achieve the highly desirable and harmonious color flow you seek for your style. Colors look different under different lighting conditions. As your jewelry consultant, I consider this an important factor and I will make sure that the romantic red you pick does not end up looking orange.


                                    2018 Pantone’s Fashion Spring Colors

*Custom Design

Using my design skills and knowledge of jewelry manufacturing, I invite you to consider my services as a jewelry designer/communicator of your creative ideas for a special one of a kind piece of jewelry. Custom jewelry is the perfect gift for any occasion.
Create a one of a kind treasure: consider a Mother’s ring, a Sweetheart ring or pendant, updating into custom wedding bands, mark a milestone with a custom necklace, or choose custom earrings with interesting colored stones for a thoughtful birthday gift. 

*To set an Appointment or Questions , please email me via contact page.

Jewelry Consulting by Susan Brady A.J.P., GIA
serving York County, SC