NewslettersRuby Lane's newsletters are designed to celebrate the antiques and art, vintage collectibles and jewelry communities around the world. Our Past Times newsletter focuses on antiques and collectibles. Our Creative Hands newsletter celebrates fine art and handcrafted jewelry on Ruby Lane. Our shop owners are frequent article contributors, sharing their expertise and their passions for the items they collect and create. Enjoy!
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Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for January 2008
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Announcing Ruby Lane's New Blog: Notes from The Lane!
- January's Birthstone: Garnet
- Renovating Your Jewelry by Baya Gatter of Eternal Fine Jewels
ANNOUNCING RUBY LANE'S NEW BLOG: NOTES FROM THE LANE!
Happy New Year to all! Ruby Lane is pleased to announce the launch of its new blog: Notes from The Lane. This new blog is designed to complement the Ruby Lane site, offering articles on topics relating to antiques & art, collectibles, jewelry and everything vintage, as well as loads of tips on how to succeed as a seller in the online marketplace. It is designed to increase traffic and awareness of Ruby Lane and its shops and their items, and to serve as a participatory venue for all visitors, both Ruby Lane sellers and shoppers. Register on the blog and you can join in and comment on articles and add your own opinions and insights. We hope you'll stop by. Visit http://blog.rubylane.com
JANUARY'S BIRTHSTONE: GARNET
The warm and fiery glow of the traditional Garnet makes it a perfect birthstone for the wintry month of January. But if red is not your color, don't worry: Garnet comes in a wide variety of colors. You will find this stone in antique, vintage, and contemporary jewelry pieces, in a wide variety of forms and fashions.
Garnets are actually a large family of related silicate minerals. The name itself is based on the Latin granatus, meaning grain. This is probably a reference to the pomegranate, which has red seeds which resemble some Garnet. The Garnets which are most familiar to most of us are two of the traditional reddish varieties, pyrope and almandine.
PYROPE GARNET: This is the traditional "Bohemian Garnet". With a name which translates as "similar to fire", some of these dark red garnets just glow. The material occurs in darker color ranges as well, even black. While lots of good gem quality material is available in sizes under 5mm, larger specimens, especially in better colors, are rarer. Some of the best specimens show a color which rivals Ruby or Red Spinel, and these are sometimes referred to as Chrome Pyropes. Found in the Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia, and the United States, these aluminum-magnesium garnets are sometimes marketed as Colorado Ruby, Cape Ruby, and Arizona Ruby, all improper misnomers.
ALMANDINE GARNET: This variety, also known as Almandite, is the most common of the gem Garnets. The iron-aluminum garnet is named after the city of Alabanda, where they were cut in ancient times. They are sometimes referred to as "carbuncles", a name which means "little spark". India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Brazil are major sources for the stone, but they are found in other areas, including the United States. These red gems are sometimes marketed as Oriental Garnets or Almandine Ruby, which is an inappropriate term.
Moving away from the fiery red varieties, we discover a rainbow of colors.
RHODOLITE GARNET: Pure Pyrope or Almandine Garnets are rare. Most are combinations of the two minerals to some extent, with iron and magnesium atoms substituting for one another. Rhodolite Garnet is such a hybrid, with about 2 parts Pyrope to 1 part Almandine. The violet-reds and lilac-reds exhibited by this stone have made it very popular. Found in Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and the United States, this Garnet is sometimes incorrectly represented as Cape ruby, Arizona ruby, California ruby, and Rocky Mountain ruby.
TSAVORITE GARNET: This gem variety of Grossular Garnet has been popular since it was discovered near Tsavo National Park in Kenya in 1967. Tiffany & Company was very instrumental in introducing this gem to the buying public. It has a distinct clean, crisp green appearance, which can be confused with some of the finest Green Tourmaline.
Another gem variety of Grossular Garnet is known as Hessionite. The reddish yellow stone may have been referred to as jacinth or hyacinth in some older gem references.
Varieties of Grossular Garnet are found primarily in Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Tanzania, but also in Brazil, Canada, India, and the United States.
DEMANTOID GARNET: Traditionally found in the Ural Mountains, this brilliant green Garnet was favored by Peter Carl Faberge, master of Russian Goldsmiths. Until recently, this stone was rarely encountered outside of the realm of antique pieces. Recent finds in Nambia have made more stones available. The Russian stones often exhibit a signature "horse tail" inclusion, absent from the newer African material. This gem is a variety of Andradite Garnet. Other gem varieties of Andradite include a yellow variety, Topazolite, which may show a chatoyant cats-eye effect, and Melanite, a black variety.
SPESSARTITE GARNET: Originally found in Germany, near Spessart, this gem was rather rare until larger finds turned up in Africa, where Namibia, Angola, and Nigeria have all produced some nice orange and orange-red stones. Sometimes this material is marketed under the acceptable trade name of Mandarin Garnet or Mandarine Garnet. This magnesium-aluminum garnet is also found in Brazil and Sri Lanka.
MALAYA GARNET: This variety was first identified as Garnet in the 1960's when large finds on the Umba River in Tanzania and Kenya were reported. This orange variety is considered a mix of Pyrope and Spessartite, but may include a little Almandine and a touch of Grossular in the mix. This variety is nearly a "night stone", as its appearance is often better in incandescent light than in natural sunlight.
BLUE GARNETS? For years it was accepted that garnet came in all colors except blue. This is no longer true. Blue Garnets, which appear to be a Pyrope and Spessartite mix, have been documented, with Madagascar listed as a source.
HYDROGROSSULAR GARNET: This green variety, with a resemblance to Jade, is sometimes used in jewelry. The material is sometimes incorrectly identified as South African Jade or Transvaal Jade.
Uvarovite is a green variety of calcium chromium Garnet which sometimes sees use in jewelry pieces.
SPECIAL EFFECTS: If all the variety in color is not enough for you, garnet also exhibits some special effects. Garnet may exhibit the star-like effect of asterism or exhibit the cat's-eye effect known as chatoyancy. Star garnets are found in India and Idaho, with stones producing a four-rayed star under strong proper lighting. Idaho seems to be the only source for the six-rayed stones. The effect is produced by inclusions of rutile needles. The cat's-eye effect is very rare, and seems to only occur in the Topazolite variety of Andradite Garnet.
Garnet may also exhibit a color change which mimics that of Alexandrite. Some stones will change from a grayish-green or purplish green to a reddish-pink or reddish-purple or lavender. This change seems limited to the variety of pyrope-spessartine Garnets known as Malaya Garnet.
SYNTHETIC GARNET: There are two man-made Garnets which have seen use in jewelry. Neither actually has a natural counterpart, so man-made is probably a more appropriate term than synthetic. Yttrium aluminum garnet and gadolinium gallium garnet have both been used as Diamond simulants.
IDENTIFICATION: While it is sometimes possible to identify garnet with reasonable certainty by some natural inclusions in the stone, most definitive Garnet testing involves measuring the refractive index of the stone or an analysis of the absorption spectra of the stone. Since some varieties are a hybrid mixture of various Garnets, separation of individual varieties is a little problematic without gem testing equipment. It is quite acceptable to describe any known garnet simply as Garnet, without identifying the particular variety.
Garnet is one of few gemstones which is not being enhanced to improve its color, with no known treatments currently.
In addition to its use as a gemstone, low quality garnet has found use as an industrial abrasive. Garnet is also used in specialized fields of geology to obtain clues about the heat and pressure history of surrounding materials. In some parts of the world, the presence of certain varieties of Garnet indicates the presence of Kimberlite, which indicates the possibility of Diamonds in the area.
CARE: The hardness of Garnet varies a bit, due to the differences in actual composition, ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 on the Moh's Scale. Steam cleaning should never be done to garnet jewelry. Ultrasonic cleaning is considered to be normally safe, but the presence and type of inclusion in the stone may have an effect on durability, and we do not recommend the practice.
SHOPPING FOR GARNETS: You will find Garnets available in a wide range of styles and prices. From Classic Victorian pieces featuring Pyrope "Bohemian Garnets" or Demantoids to contemporary Artisan pieces featuring some of the less well-known members of the Garnet family, pieces are available on Ruby Lane in all styles, and in a wide range of ages and prices.
RENOVATING YOUR JEWELRY BY BAYA GATTER OF ETERNAL FINE JEWELS
Have you ever opened your jewelry box and wondered what you were going to do with that odd half pair earring, or the ring with the missing stone, or that broken chain?. What about those pieces of jewelry that you received as gifts over the years or a piece that you inherited and never wore because it was not your taste, or simply outdated. You may also have jewelry that you have worn for many years but are bored of now--styles and tastes change over the years.
Renovating your jewelry, also known as remodeling, can add new life to an odd or older piece of jewelry, or create an entirely new piece from scratch. Sometimes it's as simple as replacing an old gemstone with a more vivacious gem. Your great grandmother's favorite piece may not be your favorite one, but certainly can be revived back to life with some modifications. You can also increase the value of a piece, but most importantly, you can wear something that you will treasure and truly appreciate that much more.
Over the years, our clients have brought in pieces, literally thrown into a small jewelry bag and emptied out as if they were junk. Once you start looking at each individual piece, it's amazing what can be re-created from certain pieces, updated or converted. Many clients that have no emotional attachment to a piece(s) will have everything melted down to have something entirely new made.
One of our clients recently brought in her "goody bag of gold". She had rings from the Victorian era and Art Deco period, an older brooch she never wore and a very heavy plain gold bangle bracelet, as well as many odd and broken pieces. We created an entirely new brooch from her existing brooch by cutting off the settings from the rings and adding them to the brooch as well as adding diamonds throughout. Her plain gold bangle bracelet became an "eternity" bracelet because we set it with diamonds. Her reaction when she saw the finished pieces were, AWE, SPEECHLESSNESS AND OVER THE MOON. She was one happy lady.
I wish to share some ideas with you that may inspire you to "renovate" a piece(s) in your jewelry collection.
If you have an odd ½ pair of stud earrings, you can have it modified to wear as a pendant or ring. If the earrings are a simple solitaire stone, why not have it reset into a nice gold frame. If you don't want to wear them as studs, why not convert them into a dangling pair.
Rings seem to be everyone's favorite. How about adding diamonds to your plain gold wedding band--all of a sudden you have an eternity band. If you have two or more narrow wedding bands, (perhaps they belonged to cherished family members and are very sentimental to you) they can be soldered together at the seams, to create 1 band. You could wear it with your wedding band or on your other hand.
A larger wedding band, such as a gentlemen's, can have a gemstone set into the center, a bale added and worn as a pendant.
Do you have a favorite gemstone ring that you would like converted but don't want to tamper with the setting? Why not have a new shank remade, or have the setting made into a brooch or pendant. An older ring can be updated by adding additional stones or replacing existing stones.
If you owned a childhood treasured favorite, a charm bracelet, and have not worn it for years, you can wear it as a necklace simply by having a chain soldered to the end--that's how I wear my own charm necklace now. You can also have the charms removed and wear them as individual pendants, or have them individually soldered to a chain with larger links. Now not only do you have a new neckpiece, but a new bracelet.
If you have several narrow bangle bracelets, why not have them soldered to make 1 wider bracelet. Why not add some gemstones to a simple gold bangle bracelet--or for real sparkle--diamonds.
Link bracelets, depending on the size and thickness of the links can also have gems set into the links. A link bracelet can also be converted to an I.D. bracelet by adding the I.D. bar to it. If you have an existing I.D. bracelet and do not want to wear it as a bracelet, then have the I.D. bar removed have a chain attached to it and wear it as a pendant.
Brooches can be made more versatile by adding a bale to it so it can be worn as a pendant and visa versa. Pendants can have a pin and barrel attached to the back. Depending on the size of your brooch, you can have a beautiful clasp made that could be added to your fine pearl necklace. You could also have a ring made from it especially if it is a very unique design. They can also be modified by adding a couple of rings and a chain so they can be worn as lavalieres.
Do you have a very, very long necklace? Why not have it cut so you can wear it as a shorter necklace and have a matching bracelet, or you can have two bracelets made and keep one for yourself and give the other to your daughter.
If the gentlemen in your life no longer wear his cufflinks, you can have them easily converted into a pair of earrings by having the cufflink backs removed and having a post added for post and butterfly earrings. If he only has an odd ½ pair, why not have a ring made. The shank could compliment the style of the cufflink. If he doesn't wear his tie clips any more, they can be made into a classic bar pin.
In closing and on a personal note, my most cherished and favorite piece of jewelry is a diamond ring that my jeweler custom made for me. The setting was originally removed from an antique brooch and was made into a beautiful ring. The ideas are endless, the imagination unlimited.
Open your jewelry box and discover your hidden treasures!
Important Caveat from Ruby Lane:
We would like to make it clear that it is not necessarily a good idea to rip apart, melt, or restyle a quality antique or vintage piece on a whim. Some jewelers actually refuse to redo some pieces and tell the client they should trade the piece instead. If it is still functional, and they are redoing the pieces for style, not sentiment, they may want to think twice. A quality piece with some age should be preserved, in our opinion. If the owner doesn't like it, trade it. If the piece is worn to the point where it has lost any collectible value, that is another case, and anything is acceptable. If it has sentimental value and the customer wishes to convert it into a piece they can actually use, that is also quite acceptable. But once altered, the value as a collector's piece is gone.
Stones can also be removed and reset while leaving the original mounting relatively intact. Then the jeweler can restyle the piece for future use, or the mounting can be retained by the owner, in case of "remount remorse".
We invite you to visit Eternal Fine Jewels.
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