No hassle Tassels

Tassels are always in vogue, always soft, always effective at the end of a necklace or as a pendant. And dramatic on an earring if you don’t want to wear a necklace. I love using them and have a number of pieces shown here using mainly pearls but also emeralds and sapphires. Perfect for dressing up or dressing down.

The cinnamon stone

January’s birthstone is garnet

Do you think of a rich, red gemstone when you think of a garnet? You’re not alone.
Over 2,000 years ago Aristotle the Greek Philosopher wrote “The garnet is a red gem, but not like the ruby, its red is much more like that of a flame
Indeed the name garnet comes from the 14
th century Middle English word “gernet” that means dark red.

But don’t be misled. It’s a misnomer, as garnet is actually a name used for a larger group of minerals that share similar physical properties and crystal form, but have a different chemical composition. And that different chemical mixture means garnets occur in multiple colours, including green, yellow orange, peach, green, purple, brown and pink.

Not rare, but beautiful
As well as coming in a variety of beautiful different colours, garnets are also one of the more numerous gem stones. However that doesn’t distract from their beauty, and people have been attracted and fascinated by them since the dawn of civilisation. Which is why you’ll find examples of garnets throughout human history, in everything from ancient gold rings to modern bijouterie.

Garnets features in folklore throughout the ages
Garnets are considered to be traveller’s stones, and Noah’s Ark is said to have a Garnet lantern to help navigate during the night. The Romans also believed the gem protected travellers, and if it sparkled it meant approaching danger.

The ancient Chinese said red garnet gems represented the soul of a tiger that had been transformed to the stone after death. And Navajo Indians in Utah, USA, believe the gems bring luck and protection to the wearer.

Garnet in ancient civilisations
Garnet has been valued as a beautiful and precious stone from the very beginnings of human civilisation. In Egypt, for example, garnet amulets have been unearthed by archaeologists in the tombs of the pharaohs.

While in ancient Persia, garnets were deemed so precious, that only kings were allowed to own or wear them. The patriarchs of Rome had carved signet rings made from garnet. With red garnets the most commonly used gemstones in the late antique Roman world and after them the “barbarian” peoples who took over the territory of the Western Roman Empire

A popular gem stone in the 16th and 17th century too
Because of its widespread availability in later times, it’s also often found set into medieval rings and ornaments. And by the late 16th and 17th century it was used throughout Europe in everything from rings and earrings to pendants, frequently accompanied by colourful, polychrome enamel and gold mounts.

Many of these Renaissance and later garnets were polished into large and irregular-shaped hollow-back shaped and polished gems known as ‘carbuncles’. If you’re interested, today you can see many of these garnets on display at the Museum of London.

Still in great demand today
The affordability and abundance of garnets has meant that they have never fallen out of fashion. And today they are still as popular as they have ever been.

For example, before she got engaged to Prince William, Catherine Middleton often wore a pearl and garnet gold ring. The press frequently speculated whether it was a gift from Prince William.  And a garnet cabochon set into a flower brooch from Jackie Onassis’s estate sold for over $100,000 at auction.

How garnets are formed
Garnet is a dense and hard silicate mineral which occurs in many rock types.
But like many other gems, it’s typically created by immense heat and high pressure within the earth’s crust that, over millions of years, transforms original igneous or sedimentary stone into denser, more compact metamorphic rocks.

Heat and pressure and aeons of time
Most garnet forms where the earth’s plates combine and shale is impacted by regional metamorphism. The heat and pressure of metamorphism breaks chemical bonds and causes minerals to recrystallize into new structures.

It creates gemstones made up of silica and oxygen with an assortment of elements and minerals creating numerous variations.

Many different varieties
These are broken into six different varieties, Almandine, Pyrope, Spessartite, Grossular, Andradite and Uvarovite. These are then divided further into group depending on factors like colours, sources or and blends of type. In other words, there’s a lot of choice of garnet

Hessonite garnet
However we’re going to focus on hessonite garnet, one of the most affordable and popular types. It was highly regarded in the 1960s and 70s, and a recent demand for earth tone jewellery has seen a resurgence in popularity.

The cinnamon stone
It’s also known as the “cinnamon stone” not only because of its colour, but because it originated in Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, the land of spices. Typically, it’s a yellow-orange to reddish orange variety of grossular garnet, although it can also be found in other colours like pink and orange.

Softer but not lesser
It’s less transparent than other gemstones of the same colour like topaz and citrine, and it also has a lower manganese content and specific gravity than other varieties of garnet.
Hessonite has a lower density and hardness than other garnets too – indeed the name Hessonite comes from the Greek word ‘hesson’ which means inferior, although in this instance it does not imply that the stone itself is inferior to other garnet, merely that it is formed of softer material.

Look for the swirl
Hessonite is an easy stone to identify, because of a visual effect that resembles disturbed water within the stone. This roiled appearance has also been referred to as a “heat wave” or “swirl” effect with liquid currents. As a detail, they are visible only under the lens, but give the gem an overall treacly glowing character.

Close-up-images reveal swirls that can range from thick and heavy to delicate and barely perceptible.

Hessonite stones, perennially in fashion
Garnets made from hessonite have been popular for hundreds of years.
From the 16th to the 18th century hessonite (known in those days as ‘Jacinth’ or ‘Hyacinth’) was in great demand as a stone for fashioning into cameos or setting into bracelet clasps.
And it’s still as loved today as ever.

Which is why you’ll find celebrities like Cate Blanchett, Jessica Lowndes, Kelly Osbourne, Amy Adams, and Christie Brinkley all wearing hessonite jewellery.

Found all over the world
Today the best-known hessonite deposits are in Sri Lanka but hessonite is also mined in Brazil, India, Canada, Madagascar, Tanzania and the United States.
And hessonite garnet is valued the same way as many other gem stones – by the four Cs.

Hessonite colour
Traces of manganese are responsible for the colour of hessonite garnet can range from deep yellow or golden orange to cinnamon brown. It also often contains tiny honey-coloured inclusions, although these inclusions don’t detract from the value of the stone.
The most sought-after colour is bright golden orange and lighter stones tend to be more brilliant too.

The clarity
Inclusions won’t normally detract from the value of hessonite, but the stone should be transparent or translucent. If the garnet is opaque it will be worth less.

Does it make the cut?
Hessonite garnet should be cut to enhance the stone’s colour.
If it’s not well cut the colour will be too dark and decrease value. The most common shapes are oval and cushion, then pear and emerald.

Carats add to value too
Like all other gemstones, carat weight adds to price too.
Garnet crystals are usually small, from microscopic up to about 6 inches in the case of grossular. Many deposits are small grains of crystals in or on their host rock. A typical garnet crystal is about half an inch to an inch in diameter.

Turn to a traditional jeweller
January’s gemstone is beautiful and affordable, whether it’s in a bracelet, a ring, necklace, pendant or other jewellery.

If you’re interested in hessonite garnet or any other kind of gem or attractive stone, it’s always safer to seek the advice of a traditional jeweller like John Lloyd Morgan for guidance.

Terrific Trio

December has three gemstones: zircon, tanzanite and turquoise
As well as sharing the same calendar month, these three gemstones are all predominantly recognised for their blue tone.

But there’s little else they have in common.

One was mined and valued by ancient civilisations in both the Middle East and the Americas.

Another is almost as old as the planet itself, and has been known by mankind since the earliest civilisations.

And the last is a relative newcomer at only several hundred million years old, and was only discover by men in 1967.

Let’s look at all of these beautiful gemstones in a little more detail.

Ancient turquoise
Turquoise is one of the oldest gemstones known to man, and one of the first gems to be mined. It’s believed to have been discovered in what was then north east Persia (today Iran, Turkistan and Turkmenistan) around 4,000 BC.

The Iranians initially called the mineral pērōzah which means victory. And used it in their architecture to cover the domes of palaces because of its intense blue colour. For the same reason, they thought it was a symbol of heaven on earth.

A stone for the Ancient World
Since, at least, 3,000 BC (at the time of the First Dynasty), the ancient Egyptians have been mining and using turquoise too.  It adorns the funeral mask of King Tut who ruled Egypt over 3,000 years ago
Many other ancient civilisations have been drawn to its beautiful colours. It was also worn and loved by the rulers of Persia, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and China.

And a stone for the New World
It’s been mined and used in the New World too, long before Columbus landed. Deposits have been found in California and New Mexico that have been mined by Native Americans, using stone tools. The Aztecs and Native Americans wore it as a decorative stone too.
The Apaches thought turquoise could be found at the end of a rainbow, as well as that attaching it to a bow made their aim more accurate

The Pope didn’t like turquoise though
However, despite being introduced into Europe via the Silk Road hundreds of years
previously, turquoise didn’t become popular in the West until the 14th century – probably as a result of the decline of the Roman Catholic Church’s influence which had forbidden the use of turquoise in secular jewellery.

The country named the stone that named the colour
It was when turquoise came into the west via Turkey, that it gained its name, derived from – the French who calling it “pierre turquois” (or Turkish stone). And it’s the only gem stone to have a colour named after it. Turquoise was first used as the name of a colour in English in 1573.

Mix and match
It’s frequently set with other gems or precious metals.

In the Georgian era, turquoise was set together with clusters of rubies and gems in sentimental gold padlocks, hearts and friendship rings. In the Victorian age its popularity soared higher as it became fashionable to mount it in gold. Then in the 20th century, it became known as an Arts and Crafts Jewel, widely used by designer craftsmen like Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co. Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom King Edward VIII gave up his throne, wore a famous amethyst and turquoise necklace made by Cartier.

How turquoise is created
Turquoise forms typically when rain or snow infiltrates the earth’s surface and filters through copper crystals, which then form into veins that later turn into turquoise. It’s a process that normally takes around 30 million years or so, and in arid environments such as Egypt or the southwest United States.

A host stone makes the difference
Turquoise is always formed on another, completely different material, such as limestone or sandstone, called a host rock.
This host rock gives the turquoise values of its own that can either increase or decrease the worth of the stone. It’s also the reason no two turquoise stones are alike, with the host rock leaving an imprint of unique colours and patterns.

Today turquoise is still mined in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. Although the world’s largest producer is China.

Hard or soft
Turquoise is an opaque stone that’s found in shades of blue and green. It’s about as hard as glass, varying between 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. It’s harder the closer it is to the earth’s surface, as it’s had longer to dry. Softer turquoise discovered lower down is like chalk, too soft and porous to be used without further treatment.

How much?
Its value varies enormously, from a few pennies to almost one thousand pound per carat, although the stones typically on sale are around £5 to £10 per carat.

The bigger the better
Because, as with many gemstones, bigger rocks are rarer, the price per carat increases with the size of the stone too. The composition of the stone will affect its price too.

The rarer the better
Generally speaking, the more grainy or powdery it is, the less it’s worth. Cut too, is important, but unusually for a gem stone so is the mine in which it was un-earthed.

Large mines such as those found in China produce a lot of turquoise, but smaller ones, for example those found in Nevada, produce just a handful of nuggets. So small, in fact, that they are called “hat mines” – the amount of turquoise that comes out the earth can only fit in a miner’s hat. But because this turquoise is so rare, it’s more valuable than mass produced turquoise gemstones.

Everyone has a favourite colour
The colour is the most controversial indicator of the stone’s value, because the best colour is subjective and goes in and out of fashion. The ancients said blue, moderns tend to prefer green. That’s why clarity trumps colour – so the colour’s purity and clearness is what to look out for.

Amethyst and turquoise earring

Tanzanite – old as the hills but only discovered recently
Colour brings us neatly onto December’s next gemstone: tanzanite.
Its vivid blue makes it popular with many.

It was formed around 585 million years ago, created by massive plate tectonic activity and intense heat. As pressure mounted, very hard granular rocked called quartzites, were pushed into isolated hills or inselbergs. And the pressure, together with the soaring temperatures caused crystals of tanzanite to grow. The longer the process took, the bigger the crystal.

Only available in one place
Unlike most precious stones that can be found all over the world, tanzanite only comes from one small area. It’s found exclusively in a place called Merelani, in Tanzania, in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. And it’s only found here in a very small area, approximately 4.3 miles or 7km long and 1.2 miles or 2 km wide.

A new and different gemstone is discovered
As well as having exceptional geography, only being mined in one tiny part of the world, tanzanite also has a very brief history in comparison to other gemstones.  It was only discovered very recently – in July 1967 to be precise.

Tiffany & Company recognised the potential of the stone. When one of the newly discovered gemstones was taken to New York and shown to Henry Platt, Chairman of Tiffany and Company and grandson of the founder, he immediately fell in love with it.

He described it as “the loveliest blue gemstone discovered in over 2,000 years” and successfully bid to become its main distributor.

Tiffany’s named it
Tanzanite is named after the country it is found in, Tanzania, by the company Tiffany, who had exclusive marketing rights to it, for the first few years after its discovery. It was to rapidly become one of the world’s most popular coloured stones next to Blue Sapphire – some rise to ascendency for such a young gemstone.

Tiffany’s original marketing also had the memorable campaign line that tanzanite could only be found in two places “in Tanzania and in Tiffany’s”.

Rare but affordable
All tanzanite found on the market is natural, as the stone has not yet been successfully synthesized.  It’s all heat treated too, a process that produces a stronger violet-blue colour.

Because this heat treatment is universal, it won’t affect the price of the stone.
Called a “geological phenomenon”, because it can only be found in one small area of just one country, the gem is 1,000 times more rare than diamonds.

Yet its scarcity is not reflected in its price, and it remains one of the more affordable gemstones.

Three in one
It’s one of the only trichroism gemstones , where trichroism is an optical phenomenon in which a substance has three different colours when observed at different angles – in tanzanite’s case alternatively appearing blue, violet or reddish burgundy depending on crystal orientation.

But blue is best
It’s this property that makes the cutting of the stone so important, and much more complicated than for most other gemstones. A skilled cutter will always try to shape the gemstone in a way to accentuate the blue, as vivid-blue is tanzanite’s most sought-after colour.  Tanzanite has such a reputation for the depth and hue of its blue, that even the most stunning sapphires can look pale in comparison.

Size matters
Other factors affecting tanzanite’s value, include its carat weight.
And, like many other gemstones, the price of the stone increasing with how heavy it is.

Large tanzanite gems however are extremely rare, as larger crystals take millions of years longer to grow than less sizeable stones. The size also influences colour, over five carats they tend to be deep blue or violet, and over 100 carats dark black-blue. These latter stones are the rarest tanzanite crystal of all, and consequently most valuable, extremely popular with investors and collectors.

You might also be interested to know, that the largest tanzanite officially listed in the Guinness book of records and the world’s largest rough tanzanite was a 16,839 carat (3.38 kg, or 7.46 lb) stone mined in 2005.

Clearly better
Good clarity is essential if you want a quality coloured gemstone, and tanzanite is no exception.

Inclusions should not be visible to the naked eye, or the stone will decline in value.
The location of the inclusion plays an important part in tanzanite’s clarity grading.  If it’s in a relatively inconspicuous place such as the girdle of the stone, it will affect the stone’s quality less than somewhere more prominent.

Celebs who are feeling blue
Tanzanite’s deep blue hue makes this relatively recent addition to the gemstone family popular amongst celebrities.

Shaun Robinson, Kate Middleton and Penelope Cruz are regularly seen wearing tanzanite for special appearances.

When Beyonce was seen wearing a blue tanzanite, the rumour was that it was a gift from the husband Jay Z to celebrate the birth of her daughter. Sarah Jessica Parker, sported a round tanzanite and diamond pendant paired with a tanzanite ring at the 2013 Tiffany and Co Blue Book collection.

Anne Hathaway wore tanzanite and diamond earrings at an Oscar award ceremony, and Cate Blanchett was seen wearing a tanzanite and diamond necklace in the 2011 Oscars too.

Blue sapphires are not us
Tanzanite looks very similar to blue sapphires in appearance. Indeed, it’s hard to tell them apart, unless you are an expert. However, when you explore deeper the two stones are very different to one another.

The hard facts
And perhaps the main point of difference is their relative hardness.
Sapphires rank 9 on the Mohs scale, which shows a stone’s propensity to scratch.

It’s the third most durable gemstone used in jewellery after diamonds and moissanite. Which is why sapphires are excellent for everyday wear, and so often used in engagement rings.

Tanzanite, in contrast, is much softer, and ranks only 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. That means it’s easily damaged, and can break if hit. So it needs to be put into a secure setting if worn regularly, and carefully looked after.

A beautiful gemstone? Or an investment opportunity?
Price is the other main point of difference.

If all other things are equal, such as carat weight, colour, clarity and cut, sapphire is considerably more expensive than tanzanite.
Which is good news if you want the sapphire look without the high price tag.
Also, although it is impossible to predict how the cost of gemstones will change over time with certainty, consider this.

Hurry while stocks last
At the current rate of mining it’s estimated that the world’s known available supply of tanzanite will be exhausted within 25 or so years.  And when tanzanite has been mined out, who knows how high its price will rise?

So whether you’re buying for yourself, or a friend, tanzanite might not just be a beautiful gemstone, but also an investment opportunity.

Z is for zircon, the third of December’s gemstones
Zircon is the last of the three birthstones for December.

And also the oldest in terms of geology. Many gemstones first began forming hundreds of millions of years ago, but zircon is in a class of its own.

Much, much older than life on earth
Recently in 2014 a piece of zircon that was found in Australia dating back nearly 4.5 billion years, making it only (and we say only!) 1.5 billion years less than the planet itself. It’s formed over time by the weathering of carbonated and other types of rock due to the movement of heated water beneath the surface of the earth. The most likely reason being volcanic magma heating surrounding water.

Zircon features in ancient history too
Zircon has also featured in human history, since the beginning of civilisation. It’s mentioned in the bible under the name of hyacinth or jacinth and a variety of zircon was one of the 12 stones of Israel mentioned in the bible.

Not a diamond, but not man-made either
However, zircon’s image has suffered in recent years, firstly because in its clear form it as used as a cheap substitute for diamonds, and also because of confusion with a man-made diamond substitute, cubic zirconium.

Look what you’ve dredged up!
Zircons are a common constitute of most sands and more easily found in sedimentary deposits, so over 2000 years it was mined from stream gravels that extracted the beautiful gemstone. But now the gem is sourced by dredging.

Not rare, but still a stunner
Because of its ubiquity, zircon tends to be less precious than most other gem stones.
But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

It’s a stunning gem that comes in an array of colours from golden yellow to deep red, green, blue and black. The rarest and one of the most valuable is green, although vivid blue is very popular and commands a similarly higher price.

The 4 Cs are still relevant
Zircon’s price is still determined by the four Cs, colour, clarity, cut and carat and can cost anywhere around $50 to $400 per carat, depending on the quality factors of the stone.

But if you’re thinking of buying a piece bear in mind that large zircon stones are particularly valuable too. That’s because they nearly always naturally occur as small grains in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

And as with all precious stones, if you’re sensible you’ll want an expert to evaluate it to make sure that it’s worth the asking price.

Turn to a traditional jeweller
Whatever type of precious stone or gem you’re interested in, it’s always safer to seek the advice of a traditional jeweller like John Lloyd Morgan for guidance.

Unique tanzanite bead necklaces

A little while ago I was sitting in my workshop in Jaipur playing with some stones when I saw tucked away at the back of the table a bag of extraordinary beads – graduated faceted tanzanite and aquamarine beads. Matching in graduation and matching in faceting. A truly exceptional collection. They went straight into my pocket.

I was working at the time on a tanzanite and moonstone ring and I realised that, instead of a ring, this combination would make the perfect clasp for these beads. So the ring was stopped and the clasp was started and here we have it! A unique necklace which I have never seen before and which I don’t think I could ever repeat.

Tantalizing Tanzanites

We’ve created bracelets and earrings in a number of different coloured stones but the tanzanite are a really wonderful blue stone, very beautiful and a really terrifically rich colour. Very wearable all year round but especially good for those wintery nights.

Engaging Diamonds

As you know, we have always worked in jewellery using semi-precious stones rather than the classical precious. Partly for the obvious reasons of cost but it does also mean that we are playing with colour and hue rather than simply cost and value. It would also be impossible to carry in my stock every diamond that might be required for every enquiry; we couldn’t hold stones of every weight and cut and quality. So, for that reason we have a small number of diamond-set jewels in our collections – and the diamonds are used for design or enhancement rather than as a rock of formidable quality.

But that having been said, I am asked a lot to help with classical diamond engagement rings and I am always able to find a diamond as and when it is needed. And to find a stone that fits the requirement of size and shape and, perhaps most importantly, budget. So. if you would like a ring or a pair of diamond solitaire earstuds or a single diamond in a pendant, do ask me for help and I can find exactly what you might want.

The ring that we are showing in this video uses Indian diamonds which are definitely not of the best quality. The centre stone is off colour and that is done on purpose. I find it far more interesting as a stone and it keeps the price down. And by having the cluster of diamonds going ACROSS the finger rather than DOWN the finger, I think it gives the whole ring a far more contemporary feel. And in the eardrops that are shown, we have used a cluster of diamonds in the circle in the drop rather than one single stone. That gives the same effect but keeps the price down.

So, please continue to be dazzled by the colours of the semi-precious stone world but do remember that I am very happy to find you a diamond – of ANY size!