Reasons Why Pearls Are A Girl’s Best Friend

From prehistoric eras to ancient cultures and modern times, humans have consistently adorned themselves. Regardless of religion, culture, class or gender, people have fashioned materials into necklaces, bracelets and other ornaments to decorate their bodies.

Archaeological finds include jewellery made from animal hides, leather and plant materials that were decorated with animal teeth, feathers, shells, pebbles, bones, seeds and flowers. Later, as human technologies advanced, metals and gems began appearing in the archaeological record. A natural gemstone fished from the sea, pearls have been revered for thousands of years as a prized embellishment for their shape, lustre and colours.

From India to China, Egypt to Rome, and throughout the modern world, we give you six reasons why pearls continue to be a girl’s best friend.

  1. PEARLS ARE TRADITIONAL

Coming of age, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, milestone achievements and special occasions are marked with the giving and wearing of pearls. Every pearl is unique and its shape is natural and without artificial modification. Worn as a simple string, an embellished brooch or a delicate bracelet, pearls are, as Jackie Kennedy famously declared, always appropriate.

  1. PEARLS REPRESENT LOVE BONDS

Like a baby that develops in the belly of its mother, pearls are formed within the soft tissue of molluscs like oysters and mussels. Pearls represent the love bond between you and your loved ones like the essential relationship between the strong, resilient, and iridescent mother of pearl of the inner shell and the pearl created within.

  1. PEARLS ARE INSPIRING

When small particles, parasites or organisms gain entry to the shell of certain molluscs, they respond by creating a ‘pearl sac’ to defend themselves against the threatening irritant. Over and over the mollusc secretes calcium carbonate to cover the irritant. With time, these layers build up and result in the formation of a smooth, beautiful pearl.

Keynote speaker and change expert, Susan Young eloquently challenges us to consider changes in our lives – from adversity, difficulties and experiences – through the metaphor of an oyster and its pearl. She says: “As a pearl is formed and its layers grow, a rich iridescence begins to glow. The oyster has taken what was at first an irritation and intrusion and uses it to enrich its value. How can you coat or frame the changes in your life to harvest beauty, brilliance, and wisdom?”

  1. PEARLS ARE FOR GOOD HEALTH

The same elements that make pearls iridescent and strong make pearl powder a beauty ‘superfood’. The fine, white powder of ground pearls is rich in calcium as well as magnesium, amino acids, and trace minerals. Served up by Chinese herbalists as a medical remedy for eons, pearl powder has entered the Western wellness arena as a nutritional supplement for women. Although research and information are limited, pearl powder supplements reportedly help to prevent skin discolouration, digestive issues, and osteoporosis.

Pearl powder has also stepped into the limelight as a star ingredient in cosmetics (which the Chinese already knew about millennia ago!). It is often incorporated into exfoliants, masks, and shimmering finishing powders and eye shadows.

  1. PEARLS ARE FROM WATER

Environmentally friendly and grown in water, pearls are a gift from nature. Water is considered one of the ‘classical elements’ in ancient Greek philosophy and is associated with the qualities of emotion and intuition. As a classic gemstone often gifted and worn for special occasions, pearls are synonymous with memories and emotional experiences. Blessedly, pearls suit all styles and add a touch of elegance to every occasion.

French style guru Genevieve Antoine Dariaux favoured pearls. “There is just one piece of jewellery that is equally becoming to everybody, lovely with almost every ensemble, appropriate for almost any occasion, and indispensable in every woman’s wardrobe… long live the pearl necklace, true or false, from our first date until our last breath!”

  1. PEARLS ARE TO BE GIFTED, WORN OFTEN AND NURTURED

Pearls are often given as a considered and thoughtful gift. The buyer spends time to choose the most appropriate jewellery type, and they weigh up the size, colour and shape of the pearls with the gift recipient in mind.

Like relationships that are nurtured over time, pearls have to be cared for by their wearer to maintain their warm glow and lustre. Acids in perfumes, lotions, hairspray, makeup and swimming pools can damage the pearl’s iridescent coating and dissolve its beautiful shine over time.

Aside from diligently waiting to put on your pearls after applying cosmetics and always removing them before swimming and showering, you can nurture your pearls in a number of ways.

Wear your pearls often to improve their lustre as the oils from your skin keep them moisturized. Always wipe off traces of perspiration, cosmetics and lotion using a soft cloth. It is best to have your pearls cleaned by a reliable jeweller to keep them in perfect condition for generations.

You can’t ever go wrong with pearls. Perhaps pearls are a girl’s best friend after all.

 

All about garnets….

Garnets are beautiful gemstones that are found in several colors including red, pink, yellow, blue, black, purple, colorless, orange, and brown. Of these, blue garnet is the rarest. It was discovered much more recently compared to other colors – in Bekily, Madagascar in the late 1990s. It was successively discovered in the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Tanzania, and Kenya.

The blue garnet has a special property. The blue-green color changes to purple as it is taken from daylight to incandescent light. This color changing property is also found in garnets of other colors. What are green, brown, beige, blue, and gray in the daylight turn to a shade of red, pink, or purple. This phenomenon often leads people to mistake garnet for Alexandrite, a rare gem.

Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that include a range of impurities, which result in a whole umbrella of shapes, sizes, and colors. Although all garnets have the same crystal forms and physical properties, they have different chemical formulas depending on the trace elements or other rocks they have.

There are so many varieties that the sheer number can be bewildering. It helps to sort them out on the basis of color. Let’s take a look at the different colors of garnet and their value.

Pyrope and Almandine: They are found in colors ranging from purple to orangy red. Almandine is an exceptionally hard variety of garnet which is used in making abrasives.

Spessartine: They are found in myriad shades of orange.

Andradite: They are found in shades of yellow and yellowish green.

Grossular:  The largest varieties of colors are found in grossular species – from colorless to yellowish and reddish orange, from orangy red to a brilliant green. Grossular has two varieties – greenish tsavorite and reddish hessonite.

Demantoid: It is a vibrant green garnet that is highly prized for its rarity.

Rhodolite: It is a purplish-red variety of garnet.

Clarity, Cut, and Carat

Typically, clarity of garnets depends on their color. For example, red garnets like almandine and pyrope do not have inclusions visible to the eye. On the other hand, orange garnets such as spessartine have visible inclusions. The grossular variety is generally translucent.

Expensive garnets are cut into shapes suitable for jewelry making such that minimum wastage takes place. Red garnets are usually cut into beads and cabochons of high clarity and transparency. Demantoid is cut in a way that maximizes the display of its “fire” or its signature internal turbulent design.

Garnets are available in a wide variety of sizes and weights. Demantoid and tsavorite are usually found in small sizes, so large-sized ones are considerably expensive. However, others such as almandine are commonly found in large sizes and therefore, there is no special value for large stones.

History and Folklore

From the excavations at Egyptian tombs and pyramids, it has been found that ancient Egyptian pharaohs were fond of garnets. Red ones adorned their necks as they were mummified for their afterlife.

Ancient Romans used to stamp important documents with signet rings with carved garnets. The Roman scholar, Pliny, wrote in his book “Natural History” that red garnets were among the most traded gems. In the Middle Ages, garnets were favored by the clergy and nobility.

Around the 1500s, there was a discovery of huge deposits of garnets in the Bohemian kingdom in Central Europe. It led to the establishment of a regional jewelry industry that reached its zenith in the late 19th century.

Role in Astrology

Garnets are associated with bringing balance in life and eliminating the impact of negative energies. It is said to improve confidence, strength, contemplation, composure, and generosity in the wearer. It is especially helpful in fostering strong friendships. It is recommended for frequent travelers for keeping them away from accidents.

Businessmen are recommended to keep a few loose garnets in their cash box to boost their income. It is also useful in attracting good deals.

The stone is also considered to have healing properties. For example, it soothes a troubled mind, bringing calm to a person suffering from depression and mental stress. It is helpful in improving the blood circulation and levels of hemoglobin.

Garnets are special stones that add a special beauty to any jewelry. Their deep red color is especially beautiful when used in wedding jewelry such as engagement rings. To really experience the attractive charm of a garnet, you need to see one for yourself.

How gemstones are actually formed……

Minerals form under various conditions in the earth. Most gemstones form in the Earth’s crust; the top layer of the Earth, with a depth of 3 to 25 miles. Only two gemstone varieties – diamond and peridot – form in the Earth’s mantle, which represents 80% of the Earth’s volume. The mantle consists mostly of molten rock called magma with a solid upper layer.

The Rock Cycle

A few gemstones form in the mantle, but all gems are mined in the crust. The crust is made up of three kinds of rock, known in geology as igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rock. These technical terms refer to the way in which the rock is formed. Some gemstones are associated with one kind of rock in particular; others with several types.

The igneous process involves the solidification of magma. Magma from the mantle can rise to the crust, usually through volcanic pipes. If it reaches the surface of the earth, it solidifies as lava. However, if the magmatic mass cools slowly in the crust, it can crystallize and form minerals. Increases in pressure can also cause this pegmatitic fluid to infiltrate surrounding rocks, often making chemical exchanges with them. The long list of gemstones formed from igneous rock include the chrysoberyl group, all quartz (including amethyst, citrine and ametrine), beryl (emerald, morganite and aquamarine), garnet, moonstone, apatite,diamond, spinel, tanzanite, tourmaline, topaz and zir-con.

Once the igneous rock reaches the surface of the earth, the forces of erosion and weathering produce smaller particles, which accumulate on the surface or are moved by wind and water. As time passes, layers of these sediments build up on land or under water. The pressure from the upper layers causes compaction in the lower layers, along with various chemical and physical changes such as lithification, which lead to the creation of sedimentary rock. Evaporation is another process that produces sedimentary rock, such as the rock found in deserts. Gemstones associated with sedimentary rock include jasper, malachite, opal and zircon.

The presence of intrusive magma in an area (known as contact metamorphism), or of tectonic plate interactions on a larger scale (known as regional metamorphism) puts igneous and sedimentary rock and minerals under heat or pressure that may cause changes in their chemistry and crystal structure. The result is the creation of metamorphic rock. Gemstones associated with metamorphic rock include beryl, jade, lapis lazuli, turquoise, spinel, ruby, sapphire and zircon.

Rocks and minerals are in a constant state of change, which is referred to as the rock cycle. Igneous rock can change into sedimentary or metamorphic rock. Moreover, sedimentary rock can change into metamorphic or igneous rock. Furthermore, metamorphic rock can change into igneous or sedimentary rock. But you have to be patient.

Excerpt:  GemSelect

A Timeline of Jewellery

110.000 – 73.000 BC – Decorative sea shell beads found in the archaeological digs in Morocco. They were probably used as amulets. Drilled shells have also been found in Israel, Algeria and South Africa.

38.000 BC – Beads made from bone and animal teeth found in France.

28.000 BC – Fossilized shells and ivory beads found in the East Gravettian culture, located in modern Czech Republic.

4400 BC – Around the time of first domesticated animals and invention of wheel, ancient Thracian civilization produced oldest known objects made from gold.

5000- 30 BC – Use of copper starts a new era in jewellery production, and secrets of alluvial gold gathering arrives in Egypt around 4000 BC. They quickly start producing glazed steatite beads and countless jewellery designs based on scarab beetles, scrolls, winged birds, tigers, jackals and antelopes. Popular gemstones of that time were carnelian, feldspar, amethyst, chalcedony, lapis lazuli and turquoise.

2750 – 1200 BC – Ancient Mesopotamia produced wide range of jewellery based on the design of lives, grapes, cones and spirals. Gemstones that they used were agate, lapis, jasper and carnelian.

1400 – 30BC – Greek jewellery was made in the style of animals and shells and was infused with the amethysts, pearls, chalcedony, cornelian, garnet and emeralds.

500 BC – 400 AD – Ancient Roma preferred seal rings, brooches, amulets and talismans that were infused with the designs of animals and coiling snakes. Most popular gemstones were sapphires, emeralds, pearls, amber, garnets, jet and diamonds.

400 – 1000 AD – In European Dark Ages use of jewellery was not common, except among higher nobility and royalty.

1066 – 1485 – Medieval jewellery finally become widespread by the help of religion. The most famous designs of that time were hair and cloth jewellery that was worn during religious ceremonies. They were adorned with gemstones such as rubies, sapphires, pearls, emeralds, semi-precious stones and diamonds.

1500 -1830 – Arrival of Renaissance and Georgian time period brought rise of jewellery use in entire Europe. Necklaces (single or multi strand), earrings (ordinary or with chandeliers), and many other designs were decorated with the images of animals. Intricately designed gemstones became very popular to the point that diamond jewellery became commonly used as a part of evening attire.

1835 – 1900 – Reign of English Queen Victoria had a profound effect of fashion and jewellery tastes in Europe.

Early 1900s – These years were remembered for the Art Noveau and Edwardian styles.

1920 – 1935 – Roaring Twenties brought the rise of the Art Deco, which introduced jewellery of vibrant colours, filled with geometrical shapes, abstract designs, cubism, modernism and oriental art. It also popularized wearing of wristwatches.

1939 – 1949 – Because of influence of World War II and widespread embargoes on gemstones, popular jewellery shifted to the more metal based designs adorned with patriotic motifs and semi-precious and synthetic gemstones.

1950s – Post war years saw the return of brightly coloured jewellery, heavy use of rhinestones and big beads. Diamonds solidified its spot as the most popular gemstone.

 

 

Where do precious and semi-precious stones come from?

Precious and Semi Precious Gemstones:

Myth and Reality

Precious Blue Sapphire

The idea that some gemstones are precious and others are only semi-precious is familiar to every buyer of colored stones. Precious stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds – traditionally command high prices due to their extraordinary color or brilliance and extreme rarity.

While the precious stones are deservedly famous, the conventional distinction between precious and semi-precious gems is laden with myth and misconceptions. Let’s try to sort out some of the myths from the reality.

One common misconception is that the distinction between precious and semi-precious gemstones is traditional, going back many centuries. In fact it is a recent innovation, dating only to the nineteenth century. The first use of “semi-precious” to mean “of less commercial value than a precious stone” can be traced back to only 1858.

Tsavorite Garnet

Another misconception is that the list of four precious gems has a long history. In fact the traditional list of precious gemstones is rather longer and includes some surprising members. Pearl was considered to be precious; so was opal. One of the most traditional precious stones with a history going back to ancient Greece is amethyst. Amethyst was reclassified as semi-precious after large deposits were found in Brazil and Uruguay in the first half of the nineteenth century. The introduction of the term semi-precious into the English lexicon corresponds with the new amethyst discoveries.

Of all the precious stones, diamond is the most subject to myth. It is interesting that the myths are of modern rather than ancient origin. Historically, colored gemstones such as ruby and sapphire were more highly valued than diamond, mainly because diamond was not particularly rare. But the twentieth century saw a major change. The first thing that happened is that very large finds in South Africa created an even more abundant supply of gem-quality diamond. At the same time, the perceived value of diamond has risen to the point where it’s fair to say that diamond is at the top of the list of the precious stones in the mind of the buying public. What happened? Aren’t precious gems valued particularly for their rarity?

Rare Red Spinel

In the 19th century, the collective worldwide production of diamond only amounted to a few pounds per year. After the discovery of the huge South African diamond mines in 1870, diamonds were being dug out of the ground literally by the ton. There was such a glut of supply and so little demand that the British financiers of the South African mines were in danger of losing their investment. Their solution was to create the powerful De Beers cartel that to this day controls worldwide diamond production and supply. Quality diamonds are actually not scarce at all. But De Beers controls how much supply comes on the market and that keeps prices high.

The De Beers consortium also mounted a concerted advertising campaign that spanned decades, in order to create an association of diamonds with love, courtship and marriage, under the now familiar slogan “Diamonds are Forever”. The diamond engagement ring, once unknown in most parts of the world (including Europe), is now considered an essential part of the ritual of marriage. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that diamond’s special position as a precious stone is largely due to monopoly economics and social engineering.

Natural African Tourmaline

These days a number of rare semi-precious stones such as alexandrite, demantoid garnet, tsavorite garnet and tanzanite can be just as expensive as ruby and sapphire. Very fine tourmaline, spinel and large aquamarine gems also command very high prices. It is fair to say that we have now reached the point where the distinction between precious and semi-precious gemstones has become meaningless. The US Federal Trade Commission periodically considers banning the use of the terms altogether to reduce consumer confusion. Indeed, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has already added the following text to their Code of Ethics; “Members should avoid the use of the term ‘semi-precious’ in describing gemstones”.

Excert:  Gemselect