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Costume Jewelry History
And Jewelry Marks

December 6, 2015

Vintage Silvertone Jet Black Marquis Cut by MidWestTreasureTrunk

Vintage Silvertone Jet Black Marquis Cut by MidWestTreasureTrunk

December 5, 2015

Raise: Buy and Sell Gift Cards - Exchange Gift Cards

Raise: Buy and Sell Gift Cards - Exchange Gift Cards

September 9, 2014

Make Easy Money With Sterling Silver.....

Do you hit the brakes every time you see a rummage sale sign? I have to say I'm an addict. I recently moved at bigger city and I have to say coming from a small town, that I love the the rummage sales!! Not to mention I have at least half a dozen thrift stores within a 20 min. drive. Even if you only stop occasionally to browse a rummage sale or thrift shop, finding easy money can be a lot easier than you think. Vintage jewelry is my passion but I have made a bit on sterling silver finds. It only takes a second to pick up a silver piece and check the bottom for the worn sterling mark. Most recently I went to the post office to ship some packages and right next door was a house with year round rummage sale inside 4 days a week. By now I have developed an eye for silver and sure enough I noticed a pedestal compote dish with what looked like sterling on the bottom. I purchased it for $7.50. I brought it home and when I had some time I grabbed a magnifying glass and jewelers loupe to read the markings. I went to the sterling silver website listed in my blog to match the marks and voila!! HUNT STERLING COMPANY. Based in the 1920-1930, hunt sterling company specialized in making sterling silver weighted items. Yes, this compote dish was weighted (meaning it wasn't 100% pure sterling) It weighed in at 7.9 OZ. That's over $100!!!  Remember that this piece is weighted so you shouldn't expect you sell it for that weight. I have to say quickly that I have come across many sterling silver weighted candle sticks that look like they were ran over by a car...are they still valuable?? Of course!! People sell these all the time assuming it's junk because no one would use it on there mantle at home because on the condition. The easiest way to sell these pieces at get the best value is to take your pictures first of course, so you have the maker's marks, then strip the silver off the weighted candle sticks, ect...then weigh it up and take pics of it right on the scale for buyers. By stripping the silver and removing the weighted (cement like) interior, you can get the correct sterling weight (this makes it easier to get the exact value of the piece and many buyers love it because you did the work for them and you nor the buyer have to guess at what the piece is actually worth). My particular piece was in such great condition and was a nice collectible piece so I didn't want to dismantle it. (A compote dish is a bit more desirable than sterling candle sticks) so....after researching the maker's marks I was half confident that it was original in age, and the condition was very nice, I decided to list it in one piece and hope for the best. In the end I made $67.00!!. You can list 50 items free every month on EBAY, so even if you just want to sell a couple things here and there it's free!! To find the value of your sterling silver weight, just google sterling silver calculator and it will bring you to the live silver prices for the day. Just enter your weight and either grams or ounces and hit enter to find the value of your sterling treasure!! Here's a picture of my treasure.....

September 6, 2014

Treated VS. Untreated Sapphires..

When it comes to easily-obtained information, the world of sapphire engagement rings is not as well-documented as that of diamond rings, for example. However, as the popularity of this precious stone continues to experience a second wind, more and more people are becoming savvy to the terminology used by experts in the field
One distinction, however, continues to baffle those less in the know  that between a natural  and an untreated sapphires. And with good reason: at first glance, the two would appear to be the exact same thing. There is, however, a very subtle difference, which it is important to be aware of when shopping for sapphire engagement rings.
On what, then, does the distinction between a natural and a untreated sapphires hinge? The answer lies with commonly used heating and clarity-enhancing processes. These are mostly well-accepted and rather common procedures, whereby a naturally mined gemstone is submitted to certain laboratory measures in order to enhance its look, clarity, brilliance, and other parameters customers often look for when purchasing sapphire engagement rings.
The hitch, then, lies with the fact that, by definition, these treatments automatically make any stone they are applied to cease to be an untreated stone. As such, a sapphire can only be called a untreated' when it combines the requirements of having been obtained from nature and never having been subject to any type of artificial enhancement treatment undertaken in a laboratory.
Stones that do come from nature but have been chemically treated to enhance smoothness or brilliance are often referred to as a natural. When compared to untreated sapphires, these will often have fewer imperfections or inclusions, much richer colors and added brilliance, making for an overall more attractive appearance.
As far as which of these variants is better, or even acceptable, the sapphire market is actually divided. While most jewelers and industry professionals have an accepting stance on chemical treatments in sapphires, there are, of course, those who advocate that the only stones of this kind worth having are those who are sold as they were plucked from the earth, entirely untreated. To those with this point of view, a natural sapphires are tantamount to synthetic ones, as they have been altered in a laboratory setting.
Couples buying stones for their sapphire engagement rings, however, are likely not to be too fussed about the distinction between untreated and natural sapphires. For them, it will be all about the brilliance and beauty of the stone. Still, this is an important subtlety to know about - as they say, the more you know...

September 5, 2014

All About Sapphire Jewelry Color

When purchasing gemstones in jewellery, such as Sapphire Rings, Sapphire Pendants and Sapphire Earrings, then the 4 C's of colour, clarity, carat and cut become relevant, with colour being first.
Sapphire Introduction
Corundum in its earth state is colourless, often called white, and although rare, tends to not be expensive because it does not show much brilliance.
The colour that is present in gemstones is down to the amount of trace elements in the form of metal oxides that are present in the stone as impurities. Titanium oxide is the element that brings about the blue hues, ferric oxide is for yellows and chromium oxides give the colour red as in the gemstone ruby.
Sapphires although found mainly in shades of blue, are also available in many other shades such as pink, yellow, orange, green and purple. These are known as fancy coloured sapphires. A pink/orange version is also found and called Padparadscha and are very collectable.
Sapphire Colours
Pink Sapphires - these are available in all shades of pink and range from deep luxuriant rose (sometimes mistaken for ruby) down to bright "hot" pink hues. These are usually sought after and valuable compared to most of the other blues.
Yellow Sapphire - these are found in shades of dark yellow and light yellow (canary yellows).
Green Sapphires - found in light green shades similar to peridot, through to much darker emerald shades, but are usually the least desirable of colours.
Purple sapphires - middle of the road in value and show a great colour scheme.
Star Sapphires - although found in all shades of blue, they are famed for their unique 6-star effect, known as "asterism".
Colour Change Sapphire - these will change their shade of colour depending upon the light. This is known as "pleochroism" and is also prevalent in such as tanzanite gems.
Cornflower Blue - Cornflower Blue is often cited as the best colour and most desirable to purchase.
Ceylon Blue - these are sapphires in the pale to middle blue shades. Unless the stone is known to be from Sri Lanka, it would be called "Ceylon-type".
Australian Blue - the majority of dark sapphires come from Australia, and the term "Australia Sapphire" is most often used to refer to dark-coloured sapphires.
Padparadscha - possibly the most expensive of the sapphires available to purchase today. They are found in quite unique pink-orange tones.
To Summarise
It is obvious (to most!) that you should really set your mind to a budget and then keep to it. Buy what you like, not what you are supposed to like!
Just because historically cornflower blue is said to be the most desirable, if you want a darker shade of blue Australia, these are for you. Buy what you really want, not what you are told..,
I sincerely hope you have found this short article interesting, and it may be of some use for you in the future.

September 4, 2014

September Birthstone Sapphire....

In folklore, sapphires are the gem of 'soul and autumn' which makes the the stone appropriate for September. Sapphire is said to preserve the wearer from envy and to attract divine favor which gave them the power to influence spirits. It is believed that "fraud was banished from its presence" and the stone enabled the ancient sages to hear and understand the most obscure of oracles. This may be the reason why the Bishop of Rennes used sapphires in ecclesiastical rings as late as the twelfth century. The star sapphire was called the 'stone of destiny' because the three crossed lines (which are small beams of light reflected from the stone) represented faith, hope and destiny. Some also refrence the star sapphire as referring to the lights from the Star of Bethlehem.
The oldest sapphire jewelry found dates back to the 7th century worn by the Etruscans. The Greeks, Egyptians and Romans later adopted the stone in jewelry. The mining of sapphires themselves in Sri Lanka is known to have been before the time of Buddha in 544 B.C. Marco Polo's travels took him to the 'Island of Serendb', or known as Sri Lanka, where he describes the beautiful stones. In the writings of DeBoot in 1609, the Germans revered the sapphire as a 'victory stone'.
The Hindus, Burmese and Sinhalese recognized that ruby and sapphire were of the same mineral long before the Europeans did. It wasn't until 1800 it was documented that ruby and sapphire are both gem varieties of the mineral corundum. This mineral is found in many different colors which are due to the traces of different metallic oxides incorporated in the stone as impurities. Sapphires can be yellow, pink, violet, green, brown and orange in addition to the classic varieties of blues. Padparadscha, a true orange sapphire, is named from the Sinhalese word for 'lotus flower' and are incredibly vibrant and rare.
Derived from the Greek word sapphirus, the word sapphire actually means blue. In the Middle Ages this term was applied to the blue stone lapis lazuli, which caused confusion between the two stones. It is said that the Ten Commandments were written on a sapphirus stone, which refers to the lapis lazuli.
The American Museum of Natural History houses one of the largest finest quality star sapphires including a 536 carat. example called the Star of India. One of the largest known rough sapphires is a 2,302 carat which Norman Maness spent 1800 hours carving the form of the head of Abraham Lincoln.
The most valuable blue sapphires have the color of an intense blue without color zoning and internal flaws. Color zoning refers to variation of intensity within the stone, exhibiting deeper blue hues while other areas in the stone may appear lighter. Many sapphires are too dark in color, especially those from Thailand and Australia. These are generally the least expensive. Sapphires which are too light in color are also inexpensive. The most valuable sapphires are well cut, intense but even color blue stones. A blue sapphire can often be confused with stones similar in color such as benitoite, iolite, kyanite, spinel, tanzanite, tourmaline, and irradiated blue topaz (originally white).
Since the early 1900's synthetic sapphires have been produced with properties identical to the natural mineral corundum and in 1947 synthetic star sapphires became all the rage and very popular especially for men's rings. Please refer to my earlier post on synthetic gems
Sapphires are formed in a syenite and pegmatite secondary deposits such as in the alluvial deposits from the weathering of the parent rocks which is called byon. Sapphire grows in the form of a hexagonal bi-pyramid of twelve triangular faces. With a hardness on the Mohs scale of a 9, the sapphire is quite durable. However, a sapphire should be handled with care because they are slightly brittle and if dropped on a hard surface they will develop internal cracks.
The most famous locality for fine sapphires is the district around Mogok in upper Myanmar. Other important sources for the stone have been Thailand and Cambodia. Gem deposits in this area are derived from basalt, an iron rich rock. Recently in 1980, gold miners found gem quality rubies and sapphires northwest of Hanoi in Vietnam. Sapphires of the magnificent fine 'cornflower blue' color come from India near the district of Kashmir. Sometimes this blue color is referred to as 'Ceylon Sapphire', but that may not be the source of the stone, rather a term used to identify the specific light violet blue color. Sapphires of many colors ranging from blue, violet, purple, yellow, orange, white, pink are found in Sir Lanka no other mine to date produces a greater variety of colorful hues. Sources of sapphires are found practically around the globe including: China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Australia, United States, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe, Brazil, Colombia, Norway, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Romania and Borneo.
Mining sapphires in Mogok, Myanmar
Sapphires may be faceted cut in many different styles. For fine stones the step cut, oval and round is mostly used. Flawed, poorer quality sapphires are often cut into beads or used for carving. An ancient practice originally from Sri Lanka, is setting the stone in a closed setting with the back of the stone covered with the blue part of a peacock's feather to make the pale blue sapphire stones look more even and intense
In 1894 sapphire deposits were discovered in Yogo Gulch Montana, USA. This soon became an important source until the end of the 1920's. The color of the Montana sapphires vary from pale blue, steel blue to a pale violet blue. Tiffany Jewelers was one of the first jewelers to use Montana Sapphires. The mixture of the blue hues is striking when used together in a monochromatic design. An example of this is the incredible butterfly pin created by JAR which was exhibited in the French Masters Jewelry exhibit.
Jean Toussaint, nicknamed 'The Panther', worked with Peter Lemarchand at Cartier in the design department and created the collection called 'Great Cat Jewels.' In 1949 the Duchess of Windsor acquired one of the most famous diamond and sapphire panther pins which she frequently wore. Envy from other famous jewelry collectors, Barbara Hutton being one of the first, prompted orders for the magnificent panthers in varying poses from Cartier. The panther is crouched in a life like pose on a large perfect round cabochon star sapphire weighing 152.35 carats. The Panther image has since become one of Cartier's most iconic designs and has been incorportated into jewelry and watches ever since.
One of the most famous art deco sapphire and diamond necklaces was owned and worn frequently by the owner of Palm Beach's Mar-A-Lago, Marjorie Merriweather Post. Called the "Blue Necklace", this Art Deco style piece was created by Cartier in 1936 and made with hundreds of square, round, and baguette cut sapphires and diamonds. The large and perfectly blue cushion shape central sapphire is set in a diamond deco motif. The necklace can be unclipped to two seperate bracelets and the center sapphire deco motif can be worn separately as a brooch. Mrs. Merriweather Post was known to have worn at least one of these pieces or the entire necklace everyday.
One of the most creative cabochon necklaces mixed with an interesting design and color combination was by Bulgari. Created to commemorate the exhibition of Tutankhamen treasures in 1972, this Egyptian style necklace is unlike any other sapphire jewelry. Using large cabochon cut blue sapphires, black onyx and salmon pink coral with sprinkles of diamonds this necklace is designed using the lotus flower motifs. I think it represents Egyptian art form both in colors and in the mantle style jewelry worn by the royalty. This is a fitting piece, with the Tutankhamen exhibit once again on display in 2009 at the de Young museum in San Francisco.
An interesting jeweled sapphire necklace was designed in 2005 by Bulgari for the movie
"My Super Ex-Girlfriend" Set with 169 natural different colored sapphires weighing a total
of 395.89 carats and small bars paved in diamonds at different angles.
Image credits:
Daisy ring: Alex Deleuse 2009
Cut sapphires: Gems and Crystals, From the American Museum of Natural History, Anna S. Sofianides and George E. Harlow. Photographs by Erica and Harold Van Pelt
Simon and Schuster, 1990 New York
Mogok mine: Mogok, Myanmar. Ein Reise durch Burma zu den schonsten Rubinen und Saphiren der Welt
Roland Schlussel. Photographs by Roland Schlussel. Germany 2002.
Sapphire Butterfly: Masterpieces of French Jewelry, Judith Price. Running Press 2006
Cartier Panther: The Jewels of The Duchess of Windsor, Johne Culme and Nicholas Rayner, Vendome Press 1987
Art Deco Necklace: Masterpieces of French Jewelry, Judith Price. Running Press 2006
Egyptian and jeweled sapphire necklaces: Bulgari, Amanda Triossi and Daniela Mascetti, Mondadori Electa 2007
Sapphire Briollet necklace: Alex Deleuse 2009
Additional Information Credit:
Gems, Their Sources, Descriptions and Identification, R. Webster 1962 Oxford
The National Gem Collection, Jeffry E. Post, Smithsonian Institution 1997
Famous Jewelry Collectors, Stefano Papi and Alexandra Rhodes, 1999 Thames & Hudson, London

September 3, 2014

What Is A Sapphire Gemstone?

What are Sapphire Gemstones?
Sapphires are the second hardest gemstone, after diamonds, and are very similar to, if not exactly the same as, rubies. Both sapphires and rubies are from the mineral corundum, but their colors are what separate them. Rubies are the red colored corundum, where all other colors of the mineral are the gemstone sapphire.
Sapphire Colors
Although all colors of the mineral corundum are sapphire, with the exception of red, the most common color of sapphires is a light blue tint. Other colors include dark blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange, and even green. Some are common, others rare, and some almost impossible to find.
The green and yellow colored sapphires are a result of iron that is mixed in with the stone. Most of the rough sapphires that are yellow are extremely light, but when treated with heat or beryllium become a much darker shade or yellow that is more brilliant. The green colors are a mix of the yellow and blue combined, and although it may appear green to the naked eye, up close there are bands of the two colors.
When the mineral in combined with iron and titanium it turns into a rare purple sapphire. When the stone is a padparadscha sapphire is a mixture of pink and orange giving it just a hint of pink in the light. This rarity is normally purchased for $5,000 per carat. Both of these colors are rare, but can be found in a few countries, especially in parts of Sri Lanka.
The rarest of all the sapphires are the darkest and lightest colors. The rich dark blue gemstones are referred to as the Kashmir and Burmese sapphires, and although some dark sapphires can be found, none of them display the same richness that theses sapphires do. Clear or colorless sapphires are the rarest of them all, and are almost impossible to find. In most cases there is a small hint of yellow or blue in them, but if they truly have no color, they are almost priceless. Colorless sapphires that you will find are generally synthetic and hold a much lower value than if you were to own a rough sapphire with no color or tint.

Where the Best Sapphires are Found
Sapphires can be found in several countries around the world including, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Kenya, and even in some parts of the United States, but not all sapphires are normal gemstones, but instead have become famous due to their impeccable beauty.
The largest sapphire ever found was 536 carats and discovered in Sri Lanka over 300 years ago. This gemstone is named the Star of India and in the recent years was donated to the American Museum of Natural History where it was stolen and then recovered only a few months later. Another large and incredible sapphire can be found at the Smithsonian Museum. This gemstone has been cut into 423 carats and made into a brooch.
If you are looking to mine a rough sapphire, you will find the most deposits in Asia. Here is where almost all the different shades of sapphires are found and where they are the most abundant. The top leading countries for deposits of rough sapphires are Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar, but the majority of all sapphires are shipped to Thailand to be polished and cut.
History of Sapphires
Sapphires have been associated with truth and peace for centuries, some myths have even developed about them that are still present in our society. It is believed that sapphires were once worn as shield of protection by travelers to protect themselves from dangerous creatures that lurked in the darkness of night. The sapphire was also believed to have powers to affect a person brain by licking the stone.
Although these beliefs are not around today, they are still present in our everyday life. The sapphire is the birthstone of a Taurus (someone born in the month of May) because it will bring the person protection and not allow the brain to lose its sharpness.
Sapphires have also been associated with wealth and power for even longer. Although diamonds are viewed as the most prized gemstone that can be worn, it was not always that way.
Diamonds must be treated, cut, and polished before it becomes the brilliance that you know, but sapphires are amazing straight from the ground. Before technology, unpolished or rough sapphires were some of the most valuable gemstones because they shined so beautifully in the light. Some sapphires even change colors slightly when place in different lights. This is apparent with the Stuart Sapphire that is found on the British Imperial State Crown. This rough sapphire once sat on the crown worn by Queen Victoria after being handed down from kings to cardinals.
Treatment of Rough Sapphires
Although rough sapphires that are mined are amazing gemstones that shine, they are usually treated to enhance their beauty, just as any other gemstone would be. Heat treatment is most commonly used, but sometimes beryllium is used. The treatment does change the color and clarity slightly, but sometime to make the color even more brilliant, lattice fusion is used. This adds natural chemicals such as iron and titanium into the gemstone to further enhance the beauty. It is often argued that any treatment for a rough sapphire makes it a synthetic sapphire, but some treatment must be used to polish and cut the stone.
Sapphires are brilliant and rare gemstones that have been worn for ages and still hold great value and meaning in our world today.