Hello, it’s been a while since I wrote any article here. Today I want to talk about the gemstone Garnet. It’s the January birthstone and it’s one of the most common and widespread gemstones. The name Garnet is derives from the Latin for grain because Garnet looks like the pomegranate kernels. The followings are what I have learned about this gem.
1. There are more than twenty types Garnet.
There are more than 20 different species of Garnet however the main representatives are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, andradite and uvarovite. Each type of species has different gem color for example pyrope and almandine are red while spessartite is orange.
2. One of precious gems by God.
Garnet is a gem that has been used as bead necklaces for over 5000 years. Garnets were thought to be one of the four precious gems given to King Solomon from God.
3. Garnet is harder than glass
Garnet’s harness is around 6.5-7.5. It’s harder than glass which the hardness scale is 5.5. I love to work with Garnet because it’s not easily scratched like Opal or Turquoise. It’s very easy to set prong with Garnet stone.
4. Find Garnet around the world.
You can find Pyrope Garnet in Myanmar, China, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, and the US. Almandite Garnet can be found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, US, Czech Republic and Austria. Spessartite Garnet can be found in Myanmar, Brazil, China, Kenya, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the US. Grossularite Garnet can be found in Canada, Kenya, Mali, Pakistan, Siberia Russia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania and Vermont. Andradite Garnet can be found in China, Korea, Russia, US, Zaire. Uvarovite Garnet can be found in Finland, India, Canada, Poland, Russia and California.
5. Red Garnet v.s. Red Glass
Many fashion jewelries use red glass and sell them as garnet jewelries. You can easily spot if the garnet jewelry is real or fake by using the magnifying glass to see if there is any bubble in the stone. If there is bubble in the gem, it means it’s a glass not a garnet.
This month I want to talk about yellow Citrine. It is November’s birthstone and also the gem of 13th anniversary. The followings are some facts about Citrine I think that are good to know.
1. Citrine is Amethyst.
The first time I came across this gemstone was when I did my internship in 2007 in a jewelry manufacture in Hong Kong. In the company’s showroom, they put Amethyst Geodes and Citrine Geodes next to each other. I asked my boss if they were the same type of gemstones since they looked identical. The only differences were their colors. Citrine is yellow while Amethyst is purple. My boss told me they were the same type of gemstone. I was really confused by his answer. Later I learned that Citrine is Amethyst. When Amethyst is heated, it turns yellow.
2. Natural Citrine is rare.
Natural Citrine is very rare and most Citrine in the market is heat treated Amethyst. The price is fairly reasonable.
3. Citrine is a type of Quartz.
This is where it gets confusing sometimes. So Citrine is a type of Quartz like Ruby is a type of corundum. Amethyst, Citrine, Rose Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Rock Crystal, and Aventurine are all Quartz.
4. Hardness 7
Citrine’s hardness is around 7. It is harder than Turquoise and softer than Topaz. Sometimes people use it as the medium for scratch test.
Okay, that’s all I know about yellow Citrine. I need to nap again as I am still struggling with jet lag. I want to post an article about my trip in October. I couldn’t post anything during my trip due to slow internet. Stay tuned.
I got so inspired after visiting the national palace museum in Taipei yesterday. It's one of the largest museum in the world that collects ancient Chinese artwork. The palace museum in Beijing forbidden city where I will go to visit at the end of this trip shares the same roots with this museum. Here are the pieces I found inspiring.
My first stop of this trip is my parent’s place in Taiwan. My mom took me to one of my favorite towns in Taiwan, Shanyi, where you will find a lot of artists making wood sculptures and pottery.
I found some amazing jewelry displays for my holiday show this year including hand painted ceramic dishes and one of a kind bamboo bowls which are made of one hundred year old bamboo roots.
When I was 12, the manager in my dad’s company gave me a white Opal for my birthday. It was the type of gift that changed my life forever. I was fascinated by its rainbow colors and my passion for gems and minerals have never stopped ever since then. I carried it with me when I moved to the states in 2002 as a reminder that the world is your oyster. Other than my personal connection with Opal, it’s one of top poplar gemstones in the jewelry industry. The followings are what I learned about Opal from Gem & Mineral Society.
1. Opal contains up to 20% of water
Opal is made up of silica (same as sand) and bonded with water. The lower the initial amount of water in the opal, the better it is. Loss of water or change in temperature can cause Opal to crack or lose play of colors. So soak your Opal in water when you are not wearing it. It will help to keep the water and the colors in the gem.
2. 5 types of Opal
3. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia
Australia is the world’s primary source for Opal. It produces over 95% of the world’s Opal supply. No wonder Opal is the national gemstone of Australia.
4. Opals are soft and easily scratched
Opal is soft and it’s very easy to be scratched. Its hardness is around 5 while finger nail is 2.5. It is challenging to cut a cabochon from the raw. I have seen many times in the gem lapidary that the opal just cracked after hours of polishing it on the wheels. It’s also very challenging to set Opal in the prongs due to its softness.
5. De Beer’s rumor
In early 1900, Opal became a popular gemstone and De Beer, a diamond giant, feared the Opal was going to take over the gem market and become more popular than Diamond. They started to spread rumor that Opal is a bad luck stone. I still remember when I received Opal as my birthday gift. My grandma told me it’s unlucky to own it. But I never listened.
6. Opal with supernatural powers from history
The Romans thought Opal is a stone of love and hope while the Arabs believed Opal fell from heaven in flashes of lightning. The ancient Greeks thought Opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease.
7. Soak Opal in the water
When you are not wearing your Opal jewelries, soak them in the water. It will prevent them from cracking or lose the play of color. Once the rainbow colors disappear, it’s very difficult to bring them back.
I hope you are learning more about Opal after reading this post.
I have recently come across natural Sunstone. For the longest time, I thought all Sunstones are man-made by glass fused with copper powder. Apparently, there are natural Sunstones that are widely used in fine jewelry. I will be going into detail about the Sunstone history and origin in the following lists.
1. Sunstone comes from Feldspar Family.
What is Feldspar family? Let's put it this way. When we think of Feline family, it's a term that includes cat, tiger, cheetah, puma and lion. Same as Feldspar family, it includes Moonstones, Sunstones, Labradorite and Amazonite. Feldspar minerals make up to 60% of the earth's crust. It means it's a common mineral that the supply is abundant.
2. Sunstone is Oregon state gemstone.
Oregon Sunstone is the most-well known among other areas that produce in the world. This area produces Sunstone that is reddish with copper crystal inclusions. (shown in the picture) You can also find Sunstone in Madagascar (shown in the picture) , Norway, Siberia and Tanzania.
3. Sunstone gives scared power.
In Native American legend tale, a great warrior was wounded by an arrow and his blood dropped onto pieces of Oregon Sunstone. The blood carried his warrior spirit into the stones coloring them with shades of red and giving them sacred power.
I hope this article will make you feel more familiar with Sunstone. They are one of my new favorite gemstone.
I recently found a meetup group that is for women in 3D printing. My experience with tech and 3D printing groups have been really positive but often time the people I talked to were men who didn't know much about jewelry design. I met some cool 3D modeler girls at 3D talk Panel - Modeling & Scanning event last Thursday through this meetup. I am so happy that I have finally found the right people for giving me advice to start designing my jewelry in 3D modeling program. The following are what I have learned from this event.
1. Start modeling with simple & free 3D program like AutoDesk's Tinkercad.
According to Christina Chun, a 3D printing instructor, she recommended me to start with AutoDesk's Tinkercad. She said it's very simple and easy to start. The only thing is that you will have to use it on their site and you will need to have internet access. I just signed up and made my first shape. It's easier than I thought.
2. Use 3D Hubs to find nearby 3D printer service to print out your design.
I asked Christina once I finish my first draft where will I print it at cheapest possible way. She said I can use 3D Hubs to find people in my area who will print out my project for reasonable price. It's often cheaper than all the online printing service and you save on shipping fee.
3. Use Resin to print jewelry project.
Christina suggests that I can use resin to print out my jewelry project because it can pick up a lot of detail because it's harder than others. It can be casted in lost wax casting. Once I get the metal mockup, I can refine it before I make a mold for production. I can also print it out in metal from Shapeways, an online 3D printing service. I have seen samples before and it's too grainy. I will use Resin for now for all my projects.
4. Suggestion to get started.
Christina told me I have to just start regardless if my first design is pretty or not. By doing so, I will have a good idea how to improve it for the next one. The more I make, the better I will get. I am so excited about using 3D printing to design my future jewelry. Now the pressure is on.
Christina is a SF 3D Modeler. Here is her website: www.christinachun.com
Today, I want to talk about September's birthstone - Sapphire. This gem has been a popular gemstone for centuries among Royal families. We all remember that blue Sapphire engagement ring which Prince Charles gave it to Princess Diana back in the 80's. It now belongs to Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William. This news made Blue Sapphire more popular than ever. There are 5 reasons why I love about this gemstone.
1. Sapphire comes in all colors but red.
Sapphire comes from corundum mineral, the same as Ruby. Any color but red of corundum is called Sapphire while the red corundum is called Ruby. Currently there is blue, purple, green, yellow, orange, and pink sapphire in the market. The most popular color is blue sapphire.
2. Sapphire symbolizes protection, truth and faithfulness.
In the first century, Sapphire was believed to protect Kings from harm and envy. It symbolizes protection, truth and faithfulness for the wearer. It's a popular gem among the royal families.
3. Won't be easily scratched.
Sapphire's mohs hardness is 9 while Diamond is 10. I love to work with hard gemstone. Its toughness makes it easy to set in prongs and not easily chipped. Sapphire won't be easily scratched for wearer.
4. Come from exotic places.
Currently, there are 6 countries produce Sapphire in the world including Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Kenya and Australia. Australia and Madagascar are the two leading producers of Sapphires in the world. In United States, Montana produces very little amount of Sapphire. When you go to Yellowstone National park, look for sign for Sapphire mine. You may get lucky to find some Sapphires there.
5. Meaningful gift for birthdays and anniversaries.
Sapphire is September birthstone and gem of 5th and 45th anniversaries. It's hard to go wrong with this type of gift.
That's all I have to say about Sapphire. If you want to learn more about Sapphire gemstone, you can go to GIA website for more information. http://www.gia.edu/sapphire#.V8yO4fL2bIU GIA is Gemological Institute of America.
Welcome to S for Sparkle blog. It's really exciting I finally am able to redo this website and have it up and running since yesterday. I have to thank SF Etsy team's recommendation to use Weebly. They are awesome! Check them out if you are looking for a platform to set up your online store.
I'm adding new item to this online shop every day. So come back and check it out what's new. You will find items which are handmade by me, vintage items from 1900s to 1960s and also some cool jewelries I found during my travels. This year I am going to visit the Silk Road and make it to Kashgar Bazaar where you will find merchants coming from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran selling their one of a kind handmade crafts. I cannot wait to treasure hunt at the bazaar.
In case you don't know me yet. I'm Kate. The creator of this company. I am a workaholic artist who still find time to play music and travel around the world whenever I can. I have been working in the jewelry and accessory world for the past 10 years. Trained as a wax carver, now I am exploring 3D printing to create prototypes. Gem & mineral junkie is who I am. This obsession can go out of control sometimes when I go to gem shows and during rock hunting. I feel lucky to be able to do what I love every day.
I hope you will find some useful information in my blog. See you around.