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Diana Jarrett

The Story Behind the Stone: Inside the Appraisers Lab

Everyone loves to daydream over beautiful jewelry store displays, catching a glimpse of baubles they’d otherwise never see - or even dream of owning. However for top notch jewelry appraisers, viewing beautiful jewels is the norm rather than the exception.

Charles Carmona of Los Angeles is one of a handful of distinguished jewelry appraisers who has pretty much seen it all in his nearly 30 year career. Ever wonder what comes across the desk of such an expert? And having seen so many magnificent creations, does he still favor certain gemstones?


The Story Behind the Stone: Precious little

Shoppers at Tucson GemFair and other trade shows this year gave us a glimpse into where the market may be headed by resourceful merchants aiming to offset sluggish sales. Several exhibitors at these trade shows servicing all ends of the market voiced the same scenario. Sales were good in the bargain box and the super-upper tier. Everything in between was pretty much stagnant.

The busiest booths at Tucson had off beat or undiscovered gemstones. Maybe the prices weren't high, but interest was; because the more exotic stones that have yet to make a household name for themselves stand a pretty good chance of drawing in that customer who can turn a blind eye to the more well-known when it comes to jewelry these days.

One rarity orbiting the gem world in the last few years is a member of a recognizable gem species - the beryl family. That's emerald, aquamarine, heliodor and others. Within that sub-set lies red beryl, just waiting for someone to make a big deal of it.

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Designer Terri Garcia selects an interesting mix of red beryl (bixbite) and opal to create this original contemporary slide.

Red Beryl is officially named Bixbite, yet more often it's referred to simply as red beryl. It is rare in occurrence in nature, and oddly enough also in its source. Those that do know about it understand that the Wah Wah Mountain range in Utah is the site most associated with its deposits, although a couple of other places in the US have produced a bit of it. Its discovery a century ago makes it a relative newcomer in the beryl family. The gem is thought to develop along fractures in the host rock. Still, you are most likely to get small finished stones of under .50 carats, although larger goods occasionally appear on the market.

Brenda Reichel, owner of Carats and Karats Fine Jewelry says, "I've loved the color of red beryl since early 1978 when I first saw that bright cherry red color. It's such a rare and hot electric pinkish red - often like fuchsia pink!" Reichel keeps red beryl in her personal collection including a marquise stone.

The crystal sizes of red beryl are always small in contrast to other beryl, and so jewelry made from this material will contain small carat sized stones. The best use then is for solitaires where the stone tells the story of its rarity, or clustered in a designers' tour de force. Some of it can be very pricey due to its transparency, quality and saturation of red. But not all of it on the market is priced out of reach. These gems present opportunities to entice your clients with rare stones. Thy are American-origin rarities to boot and you can price them attractively for our times.



Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She's a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.

The Story Behind the Stone: Heavenly Stars

Savvy collectors often turn heavenward for inspiration with their jewelry collections:

Inspiration - the motivational word for designers and jewelers means looking outward or upward for clues to creating a new collection. That's not such a recent device, and actually heavenly bodies of the stellar kind have been the source of motivation for designers for quite some time.

The Story Behind the Stone: The legacy of Emeralds

Some gems came into popularity with the advent of global travel via the Grand Tours of the mid nineteenth century. And the ferocious interest in past cultures such as ancient Egypt made popular by Dr. Howard Carter's persistent archeological efforts which uncovered King Tutankhamen's booty opened up new avenues for exotic gems.
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Roman era 250 - 400 AD gold bracelet with emerald, sapphire and glass cabochon. Courtesy J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, CA.

Emerald claims a pedigree nearly as old as recorded history however. Nearly two millennia prior to when the renowned ruler Cleopatra walked the earth; emerald mines in the Middle East gave up these green stones which adorned royal jewelry and artifacts. Ruins unearthed in early cultures of Central and South America also produced these nearly transparent verdant stones which were featured in regal wear of their day.

For modern jewelry lovers, the trinity of colored stones has remained at the top of colored gem sales; these are ruby, sapphire and emerald. Of course some of the interest in this lies with the fact that emeralds are universally understood as being valuable. Also green is appealing to the eye - in every culture. It is subliminally associated with rebirth - new life and the spring season.

Classic old diamond graders, using a northern exposure to assist their accuracy in grading diamonds, will not grade past noon - as they determined that the eye is not so "fresh" then and will not be as sensitive to detecting the ultra-subtle differences in color grades. It is also known that these old timers would keep an emerald in their pocket to occasionally view it, thus resting the eye from the tensions accumulated in diamond grading.

The modern collector finds emerald to be soothing to look at all the time. But they may not know much about their composition or what makes them unique. A member of the colorful beryl family, emeralds' composition is aluminum beryllium silicate. Experts separate the true emerald from green beryl - which in some instances may be difficult to determine. However, vanadium contributes the green coloring for gems categorized simply as green beryl.

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Important couture emerald ring set in 18k yellow gold and platinum from Philip Zahm Designs features a 4.63 ct Zambian Emerald and 1.28 cts total weight diamond accents including half moon diamonds on each side. Courtesy Philip Zahm; Photography: Mark R. Davis.

Emeralds stand out for certain inclusions that are normally associated with the beryl variety. That sounds like an unattractive trait of course, but the Jardin (garden in French) is such an expected characteristic of emerald, jewelers would be suspect if it did not occur in the stone they are inspecting. These naturally occurring branch-like internal inclusions signify that the stone in question grew naturally in the earth. Of course there will always be the rare emerald nearly void of such inclusions, and its value will reflect such rarity.

Columbia is considered to be the top site producing the world's finest emerald; however Brazil is a large producer of beautiful quality crystals as well. For those born in May, their birthstone is emerald, and it couldn't fit the season better - nature is also turning green all around.


Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She's a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.

The Story Behind the Stone: What one man decides

The power of one - an over used phrase perhaps, but one which demands we quash all devotion to obstacles about why something can't be accomplished all by ourselves.

Jarrett-beggar-July
Young Kashmiri girl sits begging outside a
temple in Srinagar. Courtesy Ed
Cleveland.

 

 

Jarrett-family-July
Tribal men along the Kashmir trading
route sporting traditional red dyed beards
take a break for afternoon tea. Courtesy Ed
Cleveland.

 

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Volunteer doctors make regular medical
missions to remote villagers in
mountainous Kashmir, India. Courtesy Ed
Cleveland.

Atop the Himalayan Mountains, away from public scrutiny, one man, a Kashmir Sapphire trader, goes quietly about his business far from any outside notice. Almost ten years into his unusual life choice, American Ed Cleveland, owner of Kashmir Blue, (www.kashmirblue.com) settles in to life high in these remote and forbidding hills as though he were born for the experience. When asked why he chose of all places the troubled Jammu and Kashmir state in which to live, he responded that when he got there - it seemed like a natural fit for him. There is something to be said for that feeling of being in the right place at the right time. For anyone fortunate enough to experience such a sensation - it makes one feel as if they are at the center of the universe.

Cleveland has made deep inroads into the local life of the lands' tribal cultures living often less than harmoniously in this ancient locale. Serendipity brought him to the area a decade back after he completed his military service. Interested in off the beaten track destinations, Cleveland investigated this Indo-Pakistani region as a cultural vacation of sorts. But the populace, their exotic lifestyle and rich culture, and the breathtaking beauty of nature all around captured his heart. The harsh realties of struggling to live in this foreboding corner of the earth fraught with political strife, desperate poverty, and a grueling terrain also took Cleveland's attention. And so he decided to stay and do something about it.

Learning the sapphire trade provided him the means to stay - having a heart for the tribal communities gave him a cause. First off he built a small school near Lake Dal and became its initial teacher. Today though, his gaze is firmly fixed toward the many practical needs of all the inhabitants there. One of his projects, Agape Kashmir provides a safe haven for orphaned or abandoned children in which to flourish. He also organizes several regularly scheduled medical missions to remote villages along the sapphire trading route. Long harsh winters can drop 25 feet or more of snow around the region. The isolated inhabitants are offered medical aid and other practical support through Cleveland's efforts. All this resulted from one man simply looking around, seeing a need and then responding by putting one foot in front of another.

Cleveland gets around. He navigates a complicated route across the nation calling on cutters and dealers when he comes back to the US each year. And he can be spied at trade shows, particularly the annual Tucson GemFair. Dealers, designers and couture jewelers have learned to trust him. Bumping into Cleveland at an ultra-high end booth at Tucson, the proprietor declared, "If you want to know anything about Kashmir sapphires, Eddie's the man." I suspect he's also expert on some other treasures as well.

 


Graduate Gemologist and Registered Master Valuer Diana Jarrett is also a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA). She's a frequent lecturer at conferences and trade shows. Jarrett serves as Colored Stone Editor for Rapaport Diamond Report; with other works regularly appearing in trade and consumer publications. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website: www.dianajarrett.com.

The Story Behind the Stone: Inside the designer’s mind

Every jewelry designer started somewhere - but they don't always have the same starting point. They come from myriad life experiences, and disciplines. Their source of inspiration can be very personal - while some began their journey early in life, others built upon a portfolio career whose roots had nothing at all to do with jewelry.

The Story Behind the Stone: Sweet Sky - Blue Stone

Jarrett-Norton-MayGone are the days of finding the ancient turquoise stone solely mounted in a ubiquitous piece of Navajo jewelry - but you knew that. However, many modern jewelry lovers got their first glimpse of the tremendously popular turquoise from southwest Native American decorative objects. That turquoise does have its charm. But other regions around the world yield a completely different blue stone, also called turquoise. (image 1: Turquoise pendant with 18kt yellow gold chain. Courtesy of Nancy Norton.)

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