Cultured pearls with thicker coatings are more fragile than most other gemstones, so you must handle them carefully to keep them in the best condition.

* Your pearls will stay cleaner if you put them on after you’ve applied your makeup and perfume.
* Be sure to take off your pearl rings before you apply hand and body creams.
* Wipe your pearls with a soft, lint-free cloth as soon as you take them off. The cloth can be dampened with water or it can be dry. If damp, allow the pearls to air dry before putting them away.
* Dirty pearls can be cleaned with a mild soap and water solution (try Ivory flakes).
* Never clean your pearls with solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents.
* Don’t put pearl jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner.
* Don’t use abrasive cleaners or rub pearls with abrasive cloth. Both can wear away the nacre coating, leaving you with a plain looking bead.

Storing Pearls

Don’t store your pearls with other jewelry, because they can be scratched easily when metal or gemstones rub against them. Find a special slot in your jewelry box for the pearls, or keep them in a soft bag made from chamois or another non-abrasive material.

Your fine pearl necklaces should be restrung periodically so that you’re sure the silk or nylon cord holding them is in good shape.

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The Pearl is the only gem that has been manufactured by a living creature other than man.

The Pearl is known as the Queen of Gems.

The Pearl is the oldest known gem in the world.

In 500 BC, an Indian poet wrote the “Hymn of Protection” to invoke the power of the pearl.

In the time of Julius Cesar, one pearl could finance an entire war.

Pearls are said to provide protection from enemies as well as illness. They signify purity and loyalty in marriage.

Eating pearls is said to keep one robust and healthy their whole life.

Rumor has it that Cleopatra, dissolved a pearl in wine and drank it, to prove her love for Antony.

The secret of creating cultured pearls was discovered in the early 1900’s in Japan.

Kokichi Mikimoto, on of the discoverers, bought out the rest and soon became known as the “Father of Cultured Pearls”

Saltwater, Akoya pearls, the premier Japanese brand, still carries the Mikimoto name.

Apparently Kokichi Mikimoto swallowed two pearls a day throughout his life, to maintain and improve his health.

Many pearl solutions are still used today to combat various illness’

Cultured pearls now account for 90% of all pearl sales.  Only the very rich can afford natural pearls.

The largest natural pearl was found in 1560, of the coast of Panama.  It has been owned by several kings and queens and is now owned by Elizabeth Taylor.  This large pearl is called “La Peregrina” .

The creation of cultured pearls as well as the many imitation glass pearls have made the natural pearl very expensive.    Today, they are rare and practically priceless.

All variations of the name Margaret as well as Greta, Gretchen and Rita mean pearl.  Those people are said to have the quality of purity, innocence, humility and sweetness.

Resources:  Wikipedia, Absolute pearls, Path of the Pearl,

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Here we go again with purl, perl and pearl.
Purl – a backward knit stitch
Perl – a computer  programming language
Pearl – the Queen of jewels, and what this article is about.

No wonder English is a hard language to learn.

Did you ever wonder how a Pearl is formed?  Most of us know that natural pearls are found in oysters.

Here’s this happy oyster swimming along the sea bottom when he brushes up against some organic matter that slips into his shell.  Much like getting a pebble in your shoe.  He tries his best to shake it off but it latches onto his inner shell and there it stays.

Now the oyster is very uncomfortable. ( bet you didn’t think mollusks had any feelings) To ease his discomfort, the oyster produces something called nacre and envelops the object in it.  Then as the oyster grows so does the pearl.  The nacre is what gives pearls their luster.

As wild oysters become rarer, so do natural pearls.   The solution to this are oyster farms, where farmers insert the organic matter into the oysters shell and so start the same progress as in the wild.   After several weeks the oysters are harvested and the pearls are gathered.

pearl in oyster

pearl in oyster

These pearls are called cultured pearls.  They are less expensive than natural pearls, but still expensive.

For mass markets, synthetic pearls are manufactured out of glass beads than covered with glossy ceramic.

Be very wary when purchasing pearls because they are very easy to imitate.
At the moment there is a shortage of natural pearls  which has made them very expensive.

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Sapphires: Stone of Magic – Stone of Mystery

Ruby:  Deep Red and Rare – more expensive than diamonds!

Sapphires and Rubies are the mineral corundum.  It comes in a variety of colors and is the hardest mineral next to diamonds.
Only the deep red corundum is called Ruby. All other colors are sapphires. They are: blue, pink, green, violet, yellow and colorless.  There are even some orange ones.

The most sought after  is the bright, cornflower blue, that comes from Sri Lanka.

Saphires from Montana

Saphires from Montana

Ancient Europeans considered the blue sapphire protection against evil and general misfortunes.  They were carried into battle as victory stones.

The Ruby had the same reputation.

Raw Rubies

Raw Rubies

However in India, sapphires were considered to either bring great wealth and success or great misfortunes.  This tended to off-set their popularity in that country.

The finest Rubies come from Burma. Lesser stones come from Thailand, Cambodia, Africa as well as Brazil and China.

Sapphires come from Australia, Cambodia, and even from the US state of Montana.  Some have been found in Northern Ontario, Canada.   But only in Sri Lanka and Cambodia will you find the cornflower blue.

IN 1947, the first synthetic sapphires were created. They are equal to the natural stones in the chemical make up. They are flawless. That is one of the only ways they can be detected.

Natural stones always have some defect. The synthetics are  less expensive and easily  come by.

Natural stones are prized for their beauty and the fact that they have never been touched by human influence. Being rare they are highly expensive, especially the ruby.

It is said that a person born in Taurus should wear SAPPHIRE BLUE to be protected from mental disorders and a Capricorn who wears RUBY will never know trouble. (Wish I had known that fact sooner, I am a Capricorn and could have really used that protection.)

I wonder if anyone has done a study on these superstitions…….



The Encyclopedia of Minerals and Gemstones,

Jewelry & Gems, The Buying Guide,  by Antoinette Matlins,

As well as:

If you are looking for loose stones or unique jewelry pieces, go to :

For designer jewels visit:

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A modern “Famous”  diamond is the “Taylor Burton”  Purchased in 1969 by Richard Burton for his wife at the time, Elizabeth Taylor.

This beautiful stone started life as part of a rough stone of 240.8 carats, owned by Harry Winston.  he and his cleaver studied the rough for six months before actually cutting the diamond. The cutting day was televised.  There was great interest because it was such a large stone, all wanted to know what would come out of it.

Two beautiful diamonds were created.The larger pear shaped one weighing about 75 carats and a smaller cut of 24 carats.

Harry Winston then sold the larger diamond to a Mrs. Harriet Annenburg Ames.  She was fascinated with  the stone but eventually her fear of being robbed overcame the fascination. The  large diamond ring was allocated to a bank vault for the next   two years.    It was eventually sent to auction..   it was just too large to be worn as a ring in public.

October 1969, at auction in New York with the understanding that whomever bought it could name it.
There were many bidders, including  Richard Burton.
When the stone reached the 1,000,000.00 dollar mark, Burton’s buyer dropped out and the stone  was purchased for the amount of $1,000,050.00 by Robert Kenmore, chairman of the board for Cartier Inc.He immediately named the diamond “The Cartier”

Richard Burton was not about to let this diamond slip through his fingers – so calling from a pay phone in a hotel bar, in England, he bargained with Kenmore’s agent.  All the patrons in the bar could hear his loud negotiating, as he kept dropping more coins into the phone slot.

In the end Burton won, by allowing Cartier to display the jewel in New York and Chicago. It now became the “Taylor-Burton” diamond.

It is said that Burton paid $1,100,000.00  for the diamond.  He proclaimed ” If ever the public ever tired of seeing him and Liz, they would be able to sell off some baubles.”

When the diamond went on display in New York, at Cartier, more than 6000 people lined up right around the block, just for a glimpse of the beautiful stone.  It had been reset as a pendent in a luxurious diamond necklace.

Elizabeth first wore the necklace to the 40th birthday party of Princess Grace of Monaco.  It had  been flown across the Atlantic, from New York to Nice, Italy in the company of two armed guards.

After  her divorce from Richard Burton, in 1978, Elizabeth Taylor put the stone up for sale, with the proceed going to build a hospital in Botswana, Africa.

In 1979, a New York jeweler  claimed he bought the diamond for $5,000,000.00, then sold it to its present owner Robert Mouawad, who had the stone slightly re cut. It now weighs 68.09 carats and has a slightly different shape than the original.

The Robert Mouawad Private Museum, located in Lebanon’s Beirut Central District, constitutes a perfect mix of artistic oriental and occidental cultures. It is a combination of objects of great value, be it unique collections of books, ceramics, historical columns, Pottery, ancient weapons, unique carpets or sophisticated Jewellery pieces, objets d’art and rare precious stones.

By choosing to restore a 110 year old palace and turn it into a private museum dedicated to works of art and to his own personal collection of jewelry , Robert Mouawad has shown both courage and foresight while remaining true to tradition.

A visitor to the palace is immediately carried back to the romantic epoch of oriental pomp and luxury, the era of subtle beauty, perfect harmony and good taste.

Resources:  Wikipedia

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Another  Famous Diamond is the “Regent” also known as the “Pitt” Diamond.  It has an interesting history similar to the “Blue Hope”. (Involving murder and mayhem)

Found by a slave in 1698 in India where he was working at the Golkonda mine, this large diamond, (410 cts before it was cut)  was hidden in the wrapping of a large  wound  in the slave’s leg, while he made off for the coast.  He bartered with a sea captain for passage, offering half of the stone’s profit once they reached land.
The slave was not too lucky.  Once under way the Captain murdered the slave so he could have all the profits.
This Captain managed to sell the stone to a diamond merchant for $5000.00.  He did not enjoy his riches long.  He squandered the money on wine, women and gambling, then fell into a deep depression and hung himself.

On the other hand, the diamond merchant sold the large stone to Governor Thomas Pitt for approx.$100,000.00.
Pitt sent the diamond on to London where he had it cut into a cushion shape brilliant, weighing 140.5 cts.
It took two years to complete the cut  and cost $25,000.00.  A number of smaller stones were also cut from the original, bringing in about $35,000.00. Some of these were sold to Peter the Great of Russia. The main gem has only one small imperfection and is considered one of the finest and most beautiful of all the known large diamonds.

In 1717 it was sold to Phillip II, Duke of Orleans,then Regent of France, for $650,000.00, since that time it has been known as the “Regent”.

This diamond passed down through the French Royalty till the French Revolution, when it was stolen along with the”French Blue”  However the “Regent” diamond was found and returned to the government.
Napolean had it mounted in the hilt of his sword. When he was exiled, the stone made it’s way to Austria and was later returned to France, where it became part of the crown jewels.

Many of the French crown jewels were sold at auction in 1887, but the “Regent” was reserved and put on display at the Louvre among other national treasures.

The "French Regent"

The "French Regent"

When the Germans invaded Paris in 1947, the “Regent” was sent to a rural hiding place and hidden behind a stone panel in a chalet in Chambord. After the war it was returned to the Louvre where it is today.

This diamond is still considered to be the most beautiful diamond in the world.



” Colored Gemstones” by Antoinette Matlins

“Encyclopedia  Of Gemstones and Minerals” by Martin Holden

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The Notorious Hope Diamond

The Notorious Hope Diamond

There are many famous diamonds. Some have been around for hundreds of years. That is what is so amazing about these gemstones. They have histories that have been traced down through the ages.

One of the most famous diamonds of all is the “Blue Hope” now on display in the Smithsonian Institute in the US state of Washington.

The “Blue Hope” has a notorious history.   It is supposed to carry a curse that anyone who owns or even touches the blue stone will live out their days in misery, poverty and sometimes unexpected death such as suicide.  This has happened to many of it’s owners, of course that could have happened naturally from poor business practices and bad habits.

The original stone, before it was cut weighed 3106 carats, the largest diamond ever found.  Rumor says that it was stolen from the eye of a Hindu  idol, and that the temple priests created the curse.  Modern experts believe the curse was invented by a diamond merchant to make the stone more interesting.

The original French merchant who acquired the stone either by theft or by legal means, did die in poverty.

The large diamond comes from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India. At that time it was crudely cut in a triangular shape, the cut diamond weighing just over 112 carats. The year was 1668, when That merchant sold what he called a” beautiful violet stone” (un beau violet) to King Louis XIV of France.

The King had the stone recut to a 67ct diamond and had it suspended on a neck ribbon which he wore on special occasions.

In 1749, King Louis XV, had the stone, then known as the “French Blue” reset into a piece of Royal Jewelry called the “Golden Fleece”. Then in 1791, in the French Revolution,King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette attempted to flee France with the Royal jewels but were caught.The jewels were handed over to the government and the fleeing monarch and his paramour were beheaded. In the upheaval of the revolution the “French Blue” was stolen.

History next notes a large blue diamond in the possession of a London diamond merchant in 1812;  it is believed to be the “French Blue”. The stone is then sold to King George IV of England. Upon his death in 1830 the diamond is sold to help cover his enormous debts.

Next we find the blue stone in the gem catalog of  diamond merchant Henry Phillip Hope. It is now called the “Hope” diamond. The diamond passes down through the Hope family, from Henry Philip to Henry Thomas Hope, to a Grandson, Lord Francis Hope. All died in bankruptcy. Again the stone was sold to pay off debts.

This time it crossed the Atlantic to Joseph Frankels of New York city, who also ended in debt.

In 1911 the blue diamond was owned by Pierre Cartier, who had the stone reset  as the middle stone of a headpiece of large white diamonds. This piece was sold to a Mrs. Walsh McLean of Washington  DC.

She eventually had the stone reset into a pendant, which is how we see it today.  It is said that she wore it always and would not take it off.  Mrs. McLean owned the “blue hope” until she died in 1947.   She also had many instances of bad luck but never attributed it to the diamond.

Harry Winston purchased her jewelry, “Blue Hope” included, at the estate sale in 1949.  Winston displayed the blue diamond in many exhibits, then in 1958 Winston Inc, of New York city donated the large blue diamond to the Smithsonian  Institute where it immediately became their star attraction……  It has since traveled four times,  in 1962 to France, to be displayed in the “Ten Centuries of French Jewels”, in 1965, to South Africa for the ‘Rand Easter Show” 1984 saw the Blue Hope at Harry Winston’s 50th anniversary exhibit and then in 1996 back to New York, to Harry Winston, for cleaning and minor restoration.

The modern weight of this famous  blue diamond is 45.5 carats.  The blue shade is the result of trace amounts of boron in the stone.

The pendant surrounding the “Hope” is made up of 16 white diamonds and the neck chain contains 45 smaller white diamonds.

Modern gemologists using a color-meter  found the stone to have a slight tinge of violet mixed in with the blue which takes us back to the original “un beau violet”  1668.

This famous diamond has had a fascinating life!

Resources: Wikipedia,, the Smithsonian Institute

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Karat is the Gold measurement. It is used to measure the purity of gold.

Carrots, of course, are bunny food and diet snacks.

Diamonds are weighed by the carat (ct)  One carrot weighs 200 milligrams or 1/2 gram.  This has been the weigh scale since 1913. Before that, the carat differed from country to country.  An older stone could weigh heavier than the modern weight.

Carat weight is often referred to as points. One carat = 100 pts.

A stone with 25 points = 1/4 carat.

This is weight not size.

Diamonds are priced by the carat and quality of the stone.  A very fine diamond weighing  1 carat would be much higher priced than one of poorer quality.

Another term used by jewelers is  “spread”  This refers to the  “look”  of the diamond.  A lot is determined by the cut of the jewel.

The way it is cut and set into a casing can make the stone appear much larger than it really is.

The carat weight is always determined before it is put in a setting. However some jewelers may price by the “look” of the stone.

To avoid this always by from reputable dealers.

When buying a very valuable diamond, you should always receive a certificate of worth.  You should also have it appraised by a certified gemologist.  Beware of scammers – even on New York’s famous 47th street.  Research and be knowledgeable.  take the time to get it right – after all a diamond last a lifetime.

For examples of settings and spread click here.

An excellent book for anyone thinking of purchasing precious stones is

“Jewelry and Gems” The Buying Guide – by Antoinette Matlins

Our resources: “Jewelry and Gems”  as well as Wikipedia, also” The Encyclopedia  of Gemstones and Minerals ” by Martin Holden.

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The hardest substance on earth!  A stone that men have killed for and women swoon over.  The subject of many movies as well as police reports.

In ancient times soldiers wearing diamonds in their shields were considered invincible.

The diamond is made out of four known polymers of carbon, accounting for its’ extreme hardness.  It takes  mighty strength to break a diamond and  they can only be scratched by another diamond.

The first diamonds came from India, they were uncut crystals. At that time their value was less than pearls or colored stones.  Then in the middle ages they became more popular being used mostly as talismans, granting the wearer supernatural powers and invincibility in battle. The wearer was thought to be more courageous as well as being protected from all sorts of illnesses.

Diamonds were credited with many magical powers, such as driving away the devil and other evil spirits, enhancing the love of a spouse and could even predict guilt or innocence when worn by a high priest in the Talmud.  The stone was said to glow brightly if the accused was innocent but grow very dim if guilty.

Diamonds come from very deep in the  earth, where temperatures reach 1000 degrees Celsius or more . The pressure is more than 50,000 times that of the Earth’s surface.  They are brought to the surface by eruptions of gases that explode into underground fissures called diamond pipes. The rocks that result from these explosions are called kimberlite and contain pieces of igneous rocks  in which the diamond crystals are found.

Most of these crystals are colorless, colored crystals do exist but are extremely rare.  Blue diamonds are found when crystals come in contact with the mineral boron.  Other minerals cause different tints.

Natural diamond crystals  can be transparent, translucent or opaque. Their luster is caused from being highly  refractive.  The variety of transparency is due to the strong dispersion of light.   These colors display best in a brilliant cut gemstone. ( the most common diamond cut)

India remained the main  diamond producer until the 1700’s, when a diamond discovery in Brazil took away some of the business.

Then in 1866, in South Africa, a little boy was discovered playing with a 21 caret stone.  This lead to the creation of the largest diamond mines  in the world.  Here, also  is where the” Cullinan” diamond, weighing in at 3106 carats, was found.  The biggest diamond ever.

There are other diamond deposits all around the world – the Ural mountains of Russia – Siberia – western Australia – Appalachian mountains in California – Pike County in Arkansas – the glacial morain around the great lakes area of Canada  and of course the search continues.


Raw Diamond

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This is a place to learn all about precious gemstones.  Where they are found and how they are made.

Which are the most sought after and the most rare.

We will look into the history of many of the gems and discuss their origins, colors, folklore and why they are prized by Kings and commoners alike.

many colors of garnets

many colors of garnets

Gemstones come from all over the world.  Some have even been found in Meteorites. (special kind of peridot)  Very Rare!  Some can be hand picked in National Parks, in the USA, or in private mines that have opened to the public such as the one below in Ontario, Canada


Amethyst Mine Panarama, Thunder Bay,  Ontario, Canada

Amethyst Mine Panarama, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada


Remember, A gemstone, by it’s nature, is a  “Forever” gift.

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