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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Coral Jewelry

Did you say coral? Yes that's right coral, while not a gemstone coral is a great natural material that can be cut and polished into beautiful jewelry. Some may ask, isn't coral endangered in certain areas? Yes it is but coral that is used for jewelry is not harvested in locations where reefs are endangered and in the past it may have been harvested by large nets killing the whole tree, today it is done by individual divers that only take parts of the trees and leave the rest to continue to grow, making it a very renewable resource.

Corals are a living organism that secret a carbonic substance that hardens and grows in a tree like fashion. The scientific name for the type of coral used for most jewelry is corallium rubrum, it is used in several homeopathic remedies for ailments from coughs to digestion problems.

Red is the most popular coral color for jewelry making but comes in many shades from pink, salmon, orange, black, and very rare a blue. In the ancient world coral has often been used as a protective force, and was often given to young girls as their first piece of jewelry. Coral in all colors looks wonderful against the skin especially in the reds and oranges; its semi-luster glow enhances the natural beauty of your skin.

While coral can be used as carvings for cameos it is usually made into beads of various styles, size, and polish, we mostly use it in its bead form and have the following pieces we'd like to share.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Garnet Jewelry

Garnets are one of the most common gemstones used in semi-precious jewelry. They range from a 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness where a diamond is a 10. The most common garnet throughout the ages is the deep ruby red variety, although garnets come in ever color except blue, and there is even a green variety called Demantoid Garnet that has more brilliance and is rarer than most diamonds. While we unfortunately don't use this type in any if our pieces we do use lots of the red, orange, and some of the green varieties.

Garnets have a history dating back several thousand years to the Bronze Age where they were used as gemstones and as an abrasive, when ground to a powder due to their hardness they make a great abrasive and are even used today in modern tools that combined with a powerful water jet stream can effortlessly cut steel. The word garnet comes from the Latin term, granatus and most likely from the term punica granatus, meaning pomegranate, a fruit that contains a deep red seed that is often the same size and naturally found garnet crystals.

Throughout history many gemstones have taken on different meanings and properties depending on culture and availability of the gemstones within the region. However garnets has generally carried on the same meanings and ideals 5,000 years ago that they do today. Chunks of deep red garnets were found in tombs dating back to 3,000 BC. Garnet is said to offer protection both in this life and the next. Many early explorers would carry garnets with them for protection from evil and disaster, it was believed that at night it would glow with power, and in fact it may seem to glow as it has a very high refractive index creating a brilliant luster even under marginal lighting conditions.

Here are a few of our favorite pieces that use garnets in them:
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