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Last updateThu, 22 Feb 2018 4pm

Diana Jarrett


The Story Behind the Stone: Rings and things

Love stories are often as colorful as the lives of the couples who live them. Why then can’t the engagement rings be more in line with their unique story? While diamonds still account for the lion’s share of all bridal jewelry, there actually is more than one way to tell a love story through rings. Thinking white equals bridal in both rings and gowns? Not so fast. Colorful engagement and wedding bands are fast gaining market share both here and abroad.

The Story Behind the Stone Sometimes beauty is only skin deep

All naturally colored diamonds are rare. In an ideal scenario, diamonds are formed from a single element, that being pure carbon - rendering them exquisitely colorless. Their tint can come from a variety of trace elements that intrude into the molecular structure of the mineral. But color can also result from mechanisms not fully understood. How are color-change diamonds created exactly - or pink, for that matter? The jury is still out on that mysterious transpiration.

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.

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