Gemstones

Burmese Sapphires and Rubies

One of the benefits of online business is developing relationships with good people from all over the globe. This allows me to bring you the rare and formerly unobtainable except by developing discreet, potentially unfortunate connections in far-flung places. I’ve always studied gemology in order to serve my clients from a place of knowledge and now, I can use that knowledge to develop new connections with confidence.

As a lover of sapphire and ruby, I sell a lot of these stones to people interested in buying durability along with gorgeous color. The sapphires and rubies of Burma (Myanmar) are considered the finest in the world for pure color. For many years, our trade borders were closed due to the military “leadership” of this country. Those sanctions, lifted with the release from home confinement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, allowed us to reconnect and import from Burma. The latest military coup has caused disruption once again and forced some of our miners and gem dealers there back into isolation.

For all of my life as a jeweler, I’ve focused on buying stones from ethical sources and have scoured the industry for those whose stones were mined responsibly and who paid a fair price at the local level. Much to my delight, I’ve formed a connection with a woman specializing in Burmese sapphires and rubies at very advantageous prices. I have been buying them straight from the miners and their local representatives so that all of the money from my purchases goes straight to the miners’ villages and families. It has been a blessing for all of us and I am more than glad to help them by buying their beautiful, rare stones. I don’t know how long that will continue, though, with the internet shut down created by their totalitarian government.

A little-known fact: the business side of the Burmese gem trade is primarily run by women. The men do the mining…

My Burmese connection reports “Banks have not been opened so no funds are able to go through. There's talk about stopping an outpour of money being withdrawn through the ATM as people are starting to panic.

The poor are being supported by the rich for the moment in Mogok. I was told that people that have are helping those that don't. And they were giving out water and food in the past few days. With no outside help it must be really worrying for so many of the people we know.
We're talking about what we can do in terms of helping. The biggest worry right now is the length of time it takes for services to resume as many of the bank staff are on strike. People are living day to day not knowing when everything is going to become peaceful again.” Something very important comes up again and again in our conversations.

The Burmese people themselves are incredibly kind, honest, and hardworking. I’ve been treated ethically and honestly and am very happy to create jewelry with such good vibes in it. Look for these stones to make their debut and do call if you want first pick. I’ve had a lot of interest and no stone is repeatable. In this world of mass merchandise, Burmese sapphires are all the more precious because they are rare, and each stone is a rich color unto itself.

Burma Round Blue Sapphire Burma Sapphire Burma Teal Sapphire Burma Sapphire

Burmese Sapphires and Rubies: Political and Market Updates

One of the benefits of online business is developing relationships with good people from all over the globe. This allows me to bring you rare and nearly unobtainable gems at very advantageous prices. I’ve studied gemology and obtained by Graduate Gemologist certification in order to serve my clients from a place of knowledge and now, I can use that knowledge to develop new connections with confidence.

As a lover of sapphire and ruby, I sell a lot of these stones to people interested in buying durability along with gorgeous color. The sapphires and rubies of Burma (Myanmar) are considered among the finest in the world for pure color. For many years, our trade borders were closed by sanctions due to the military takeover of this country. Those sanctions, lifted in 2016 with the release from home confinement of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, allowed us to reconnect and import from Burma. The latest military coup has caused disruption once again and cut off some of our miners and gem dealers.

For all of my life as a jeweler, I’ve focused on buying stones from ethical sources and have scoured the industry for those whose stones were mined responsibly and who paid a fair price at the local level. Much to my delight, I’ve formed a connection with a woman specializing in Burmese sapphires and rubies at very advantageous prices. I have been buying them straight from the miners and their local representatives so that all of the money from my purchases goes straight to the miners’ villages and families. It has been a blessing for all of us and I am more than glad to help them by buying their beautiful, rare stones. I don’t know how long that will continue, though, with the internet shut down, bank staff strikes, and scrambled mail created by this latest coup. It is likely that the prices for these stones will rise.

A little-known fact: the business side of the Burmese gem trade is primarily run by women. The men do the mining…

My Burmese connection reports “Banks have not been opened so no funds are able to go through. There's talk about stopping an outpour of money being withdrawn through the ATM as people are starting to panic.

The poor are being supported by the rich for the moment in Mogok. I was told that people that have are helping those that don't. And they were giving out water and food in the past few days. With no outside help it must be really worrying for so many of the people we know.
We're talking about what we can do in terms of helping. The biggest worry right now is the length of time it takes for services to resume as many of the bank staff are on strike. People are living day to day not knowing when everything is going to become peaceful again

The Burmese people themselves are incredibly kind, honest, and hardworking. I’ve been treated ethically and honestly and am very happy to create jewelry with such good vibes in it. Look for these stones to make their debut and do call if you want first pick. I’ve had a lot of interest and no stone is repeatable. In this world of mass merchandise, Burmese sapphires are all the more precious because they are rare and each stone has a depth of color that pulls the eye in and keeps it there.

Burma Bright Blue Sapphire Burma Teal Sapphire

BlogBurma6caratoval web Burma Round Blue Sapphire

Cluster Necklace

Some people just love color. It makes them buoyant. They are unafraid to wear it and when they do, they just feel “right.” Cue the autumn color palette: butterscotch, pumpkin, wine red, deep yellow, bright green… In the front pendant, we combined cinnamon color garnets with diamonds from an old bracelet of hers. She wears this torsade with her sunstone, sapphire, and brown diamond earrings. 

 The client tells me that she "wears it all the time and whenever I do, I get compliments. It goes with nothing and everything, so it's a neutral as far as I'm concerned."

Razzaq April Sunstone Earrings

What people are saying:

"Inspirational"

"Glorious"

"Beautiful necklace Diana... love your use of color and the unique look in this piece "

"I think the world is hungry for information about gemstones and jewelry..... sharing knowledge about gems and jewelry Is a great thing !"

"L O V E. A smorgasbord of gems Absolutely stunning "

"Gorgeous Workmanship"

"So wearable and versatile. Loving the use of all the color and shapes of stones. Well done."

Colored Gem Bracelet

Delicate, hand made 18Kt gold bracelet packs a punch with its tutti frutti assortment of sapphires, rubies, diamonds, and tsavorite garnet. See color combinations you never thought of. Wear this delicate bracelet with your other gold chains or tennis bracelet and enjoy the custom-made clasp set with more coored gems. Approximately eight carats of gemstones. 

Elegance for Every Day.     Length: 6.5"

Colors of Summer

You can probably tell that I’m in a sapphire kind of mood these days, particularly exploring the subtleties of multicolored single gems. I’m buying gems from Burma, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Montana and combining them as they speak to me. Admittedly, the Burmese stones usually end up surrounded by diamonds, as their provenance is so rare. 

What attracts me overall is the calming palette of blue and green. These colors remind me of ocean, sky, celadon, leaf green, and forest green. The round green sapphire in the lower right corner is called a "Pharoah's Eye," because of its centered golden hue. These are very rare. This sapphire is from Montana, as is the bi-colored oval in the top row.  One stone I particularly love is in the lowest row, center. This stone has a naturally occurring, strong division of color, as do several others in this collection. Some classic blue, round Ceylon sapphires and a pair of icy green, "Coke Bottle" colors are some other standouts. 

 
Which ones do you want to play with?
 
Happy summer!

Sapphire Tray

Cookie Monster’s Gem Debut

Jewelry is a serious business because we deal with high value, very personal merchandise. But sometimes, nature makes us laugh.  Herewith, a natural agate geode, which when split, revealed Cookie Monster, who is apparently thousands of years old although his fur is only 47 years old. Someone offered $10,000 for this geode, which under normal circumstances, might cost around $150. Gotta love it.

From Under the Sea to Under the Sun

While sheltering in place,  I'm taking the opportunity to learn something new every day. Yesterday, I spent an hour on a Zoom conference with one of the world experts on coral, Enzo Liverino, from Torre del Greco, Italy. This town, near Naples, was the center of coral harvesting in Italy and still is a center for Italian coral-jewelry making and cameo carving. The locals are sometimes called "corallini" after this gem.  We were told that jewelry coral is "precious coral" and not endangered because controlled harvesting protects this group. Precious corals occur in deep red oxblood (Mediterranean), white (Shiro:Japan), deep peach (Momo-Japan,) and pale pink (Angelskin : Japan and Taiwan.) Common coral, however, can be dyed, impregnated with resin for stability, and is often spongy. Black, blue, and yellow coral is dyed. 

For thousands of years, coral has been collected and prized by global civilizations, from the Bronze Age  ancient Mediterranean, to China, Africa, and Japan. Japan and Taiwan began farming coral in the 1870's and are known mostly for the angelskin, the Shiro (porcelain white), and Momo coral, a deep peach color that forms in large pieces. Momo coral is often carved into decorative objects like boxes, clocks, and other pieces. Museums have beaded works from the Neolithic Mediterranean, which were traded into Equatorial Africa by the Portuguese. 

Garnet Cluster Necklace

Some people just love color. It makes them buoyant. They are unafraid to wear it and when they do, they just feel “right.” Cue the autumn color palette: butterscotch, pumpkin, wine red, deep yellow, bright green… In the front pendant, we combined cinnamon color garnets with diamonds from an old bracelet of hers. She wears this torsade with her sunstone, sapphire, and brown diamond earrings. 

 The client tells me that she "wears it all the time and whenever I do, I get compliments. It goes with nothing and everything, so it's a neutral as far as I'm concerned."

Razzaq April Sunstone Earrings

What people are saying:

"Inspirational"

"Glorious"

"Beautiful necklace Diana... love your use of color and the unique look in this piece "

"I think the world is hungry for information about gemstones and jewelry..... sharing knowledge about gems and jewelry Is a great thing !"

"L O V E. A smorgasbord of gems Absolutely stunning "

"Gorgeous Workmanship"

"So wearable and versatile. Loving the use of all the color and shapes of stones. Well done."

Gold Filigree ring with Tsavorite Garnet SOLD OUT

The Gold filigree ring makes a gorgeous wedding band. Shown with  rare, green tsavorite garnet on 18KT green gold.  Ring has a small space at the bottom to allow for comfort and size adjustments. This ring can also be set with diamonds a

Green Sapphire and Diamond Pendant: SOLD

This four-carat, forest green wonder of a sapphire is ringed by tonal hues ranging from teal to celery green sapphires and, of course, white diamonds. The back is filigreed to allow light and so that the piece can actually be worn on either side.  Private Collection. 

Happy February to the Amethyst Babies!

Your purple birthstone ranges from rich plums to pale lavender. It is the most beloved of all the quartzes and mined worldwide. Amethysts appear in royal jewel collections as well as in most of our personal jewelry collections.

DWDAmethystFlowerdrop web DWDamethysttwr er grad web

The word amethyst comes from the Greek “amethystos” which means “remedy against drunkenness.” The very literal (in this case) Greeks figured that a purple, wine-colored stone should relate to Bacchus, the god of wine and profligate living. Since they did have a sense of proportionality, they assigned amethyst as a preventative against the consequences of too many bacchanalias. I’m not sure how the stone got assigned to February, but that’s another topic.

Other presumed amethyst powers: The wearer obtains personal empowerment, intelligence, and gets rid of evil thoughts.

The original source of amethyst was Russia. In the 19th century, a huge stash was found in Brazil, which is where we get most of our material from now, although Africa and other parts of South America (Uruguay, Bolivia) have gorgeous material. Amethyst resides in geodes that can be so large we can stand in them! Not to be outdone, Arizona has its own amethyst supply at Four Peaks.  There is amethyst in Arizona at Four Peaks, too.

BlogAmethystGeode

Colors: rich purple with red or blue undertones, depending on the origin source, Brazil’s southern deposits contain lavender material as well as ametrine, the combination of amethyst and citrine that is really stunning in its most beautiful form.

BlogAmethystDyberAmetrine

Amethyst, like the other quartzes (citrine, rose quartz, crystal quartz) is relatively inexpensive on the gem price continuum, occurs in large, juicy sizes for jewelry, and complements every skin tone. You don’t have to be a February baby to love and enjoy it. I know lots of great carvers who use it with stunning results.

Best regards from the studio,
Diana

Dianawithroseqtz web

Inner World: Crystal with Skid Marks

This photograph (by a fellow gemologist, Laurianne Lognay) made me laugh. Snugged into a sapphire, this crystal made marks like an ice skater doing practice turns. It’s another example of how heat, pressure, and time create random, spontaneous patterns, colors, and moods that we have above ground. This crystal probably does not impact the brilliance of the stone and we can’t even see it without a microscope, but just knowing it’s there gives a gem identity and character.

This little capsule crystal and its attending lacy skid marks show us that at some point over thousands of years, this tiny crystal moved into position amidst the blue material, perhaps during a volcanic eruption. This itty bitty thing traveled a bit, looking for just the right spot to land. This little crystal is a good illustration of why we call these “inclusions” and not flaws. These inclusions are formed during Earth’s constant state of renewal and creation and they imply activity and energy in a now-still gem.

I hope you are all well. More sapphires are in! Bring me your jewelry and we can look for inclusions. It’s free and fun!

Sparkles from the studio.
Diana

Inner World: Life inside a Gemstone

In my last newsletter, I wrote about Burmese sapphires and their legendary beauty. I’ve created a new series called “Inner World” so that you can see what makes these stones so special. Most Burmese are not heat treated and this letter explains what goes on inside a stone when it comes to us straight from the ground after faceting. (Most other sapphires receive heat-treatment, which is commonly used to dissolve internal inclusions and enhance color.) There are no heat-treating facilities in Burma as of this writing, so when we are presented with a Burmese stone, we see, through its inclusions, all the ways in which it formed over millennia.

This “Inner World” series will cover the presence of inclusions in colored stones and diamonds. Informed purchasing benefits you and, besides, the existence of natural growth indicators over millennia is just cool.

Unheated sapphires and rubies are rare in the jewelry world and their value rises accordingly. My clients generally embrace the existence of inclusions and love the fact that nothing, but faceting has been done to their stone. Many of the inclusions are downright beautiful in their own right.

First, a common misnomer that needs to be cleared up. An inclusion in a gemstone is not a “flaw.” Rather, inclusions are natural indications of the gem’s growth over millions of years and their presence allows us to identify them correctly. Inclusions confirm the species of gem (Sapphire? Garnet? Peridot?) and sometimes, the geographical origin. The latter can be very important.

To be clear, however, some manufactured gems contain inclusions and sometimes, it takes a trained gemologist with high-level equipment to differentiate natural from lab grown. That’s what you hire me for when we are going into the market to buy you something special.

The diamond industry has educated the public to put a premium on brilliance. However, inclusions are omnipresent in natural diamonds. For instance, the popularity and public awareness of diamond grade criteria, most particularly “color” and “clarity” have educated the buying public to the visible existence of micro-crystals and growth markers. To be sure, value is affected by how visible these inclusions are and how they affect light transmission in your diamond A trained jeweler-gemologist can help you find a stone that is bright and lively, despite internal inclusions. When shopping for diamonds, we explore a series of stones and choose the one that gives the most value for your budget. It’s a delicate balance, but the world is full of beautiful stones that each have a singular reason for their beauty. Like people.

The same is true for colored gemstones, although we are less obsessed about clarity and more tuned into color.

6 Carat Oval Burmese Sapphire

Burma 6 carat oval sapphire

Recently Sold


Let’s talk about what we call “silk” in sapphires and rubies. Silk is actually a system of tiny, needle-like platelets that float in sapphire. Under the microscope, they appear like gossamer clouds, and lattice. The existence of silk proves that a stone has not been heat treated, which is desirable in the marketplace. Silk also allows the purity of the stone’s color to consolidate and send back to us a deeper, rich hue.

Inner World Silk Inclusion

 Inner World Silk Rutile Inclusion

 

 

 

Inner World: Sapphire Fingerprints

Fingerprints. The inclusions with a descriptive, poetic name, are common in Corundum (sapphires and rubies.) They resemble pieces and parts of a human fingerprint and float inside the stone. Fingerprints are actually fluid-filled inclusions or natural internal healing patterns from the crystal’s growth. When sapphires are heat-treated, much of the fingerprint dissolves and is no longer visible. Therefore, the presence of fingerprints is a good indicator that the stone has not been heat-treated. Depending on where they are located and how dense the group of pinpoints, we might be able to see fingerprints with our eye, however, fingerprints are much easier to spot with a loupe or microscope and good lighting. That’s what you have me for. Fingerprints are beautiful, delicate, lacy patterns and nothing to fear.

Inquiring Mind: Garnets for January Babies

Garnets: Not Just Dark Red

Garnet, I serenade thee… Very few know your true glory as a gem is revealed in a breathtaking palette of hues. Citrus orange, sherry red, honeyed gold, raspberry, olive, plum, spearmint, lime, basil, blue, and pale, sea green and near-black. Fewer still realize that your sparkling radiance is higher than that of diamond...  In fact, one of the garnet species called "demantoid," means “diamond-like.” Although demantoid garnet is generally bright green, under light, it dances with abandon. One of my favorite things about garnets is that, like other gem species, they are not heat-treated to enhance or clarify them. They are simply Mother Nature’s gift to appreciating eyes.

For the Scientifically Curious

The deep red variety of garnet is most plentiful, occurring all over the world. Jewelry-grade garnets are most often found in the Earth’s crust. They can also be found in streams, in deep-source magma formations, and in weathered soil erosions. In fact, the presence of garnets is used as an indicator of diamonds during the diamond mining process.

Garnets are Diamonds’ Best Friends

Since they occur in the Earth’s mantle as well as its crust, a deep volcanic eruption sends rough garnet and diamond crystals up toward the Earth’s crust in a series of xenoliths, which are large clusters of rock that coalesce into “pipes.” These deep-source garnets are often huge and not the more refined variety found in the crust. Geologists use deep-source garnet clusters, as markers on the search for diamonds.

Industrial Use of Garnets… But I Digress

For the past 150 years or so, low-grade garnets have been used as industrial abrasive material. Garnet granules used with forced water offer an effective sandblasting media, which is used to smooth out brick, stone, and remove oxides from metal. Tiny garnet particles also act as effective filtration material.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some glorious examples of cut garnet.

Demantoid Earrings

Demantoid Ring

Garnet Cluster Necklace

Jewelry Auctions and Hot Commodities: Part 1

An industry magazine recently featured an interview with Francois Curiel, the international director of the luxury division of Christies and its Chairman for Europe. I thought I’d share some interesting bits with you since this is an area most of us never get to know well.  The most relevant parts of the article for you were his comments on the collections of famous people.

In 2011, Christies handled the sale of the estate of Elizabeth Taylor, who had a dream collection of diverse, ultrafine examples of gems in every category. Curiel tells us that “every piece was the best of its kind—the brightest gems, the richest natural pearls, many high-quality diamonds and Kashmir sapphires, Burma rubies, vintage, and contemporary signed pieces."

BlogAuctionETaylor web

Provenance plays a huge role in establishing auction prices, though, and the fact that these jewels belonged to one of the world’s most famous actresses added huge monetary value to the lot.  Elizabeth Taylor knew a lot about gems and jewelry, and she chose her pieces according to the same standards someone in the business would use if purchasing for a particular client. Curiel cites this auction as a high point in his 50-year career.

He also talks about the auction of two diamond bracelets belonging to Marie Antoinette which sold at Christies for $8.2 million with an opening estimate of $2 million to $4 million. Curiel tells us that “previous ownership by royalty, aristocrats or celebrities enhances authenticity and gives the piece a persona. It can dramatically multiply the piece’s value beyond its physical worth.”

BlogAuctionmarieAntoinette web

Marie Antoinette bought these bracelets in 1776 and had them delivered to her daughter, Madame Royale, who lived from 1778-1851.  Since then, the bracelets had been passed down through the family line until they were sold recently at the auction. Curiel told us that the stones themselves were probably worth around $100,000 but the provenance created the price.

Best regards from the studio. Spring is coming!

Diana

Long Sapphire Earrings

Simple in design but complex in color mixing, these sapphire drops hold approximately 7 carats of sapphires in teal, green, and multi colors. Lightweight yet stunning, these earrings are a wardrobe staple.  Elegance for Every Day.  Approximately 2.25" long. 

Contact Diana

+1.312.346.2363

5 South Wabash Ave
Suite 411
Chicago, Illinois 60603

Please Join Our Mail List

© 2022. Diana Widman Design