Ruby

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Throughout most of recorded history, ruby has been the world’s most valued gemstone. Even diamond was considered common in comparison to the supreme beauty and value of this glowing red gem. Named from the Latin word for its hue, ruber, ruby is the epitome of the boldest of colors: the gem of desire, passion, courage, and emotion.

In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” In the Bible, only wisdom and virtuous women are “more precious than rubies.”

Early in the eleventh century, Persian sage al-Biruni was only conveying the popular wisdom of the time when he wrote that ruby has “the first place in color, beauty and rank” among all gems.

Nine centuries later, British author Max Bauer, in his 1894 Masterpiece Precious Stones, writes: “A clear, transparent, and faultless ruby of a uniform red color is at the present time the most valuable precious stone known.”

Granted, the value of fine ruby relative to other highly prized gems wasn’t as extreme in Bauer’s day as it had once been. Around 1550, Italian goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini reported that the finest one-carat ruby cost eight times more than a comparable-quality one-carat diamond. By Bauer’s time, the same ruby was only two times as expensive as its diamond equivalent.

Nevertheless, a 2:1 value ratio between fine rubies and diamonds is impressive. Certainly, ruby’s status as the most valuable gem of the age helps to explain why England took the rather drastic step of invading and annexing Upper Burma in 1885 when it learned a French company would begin mining of this gem at the famed Mogok ruby tract—the most celebrated source for ruby ever known and still the most important today.

Although certain color tones are associated with different country’s mines: Burma, now known as Myanmar, with pure reds, Vietnam with vivid pinkish rubies with exceptional clarity, Sri Lanka with more pastel softer pinkish reds, Thailand with dark red to burgundy, Kenya with translucent stones with juicy pure reds, Madagascar with pure transparent reds, color alone cannot tell you where a stone was born: a laboratory report may be required. When confirmed, stones from Burma’s famed Mogok mine command a premium, particularly if the color is natural.

Most rubies are heated almost to 2,000 degrees in order to maximize the red and remove secondary colors of blue and brown. Some rubies are also heated to improve clarity. Sometimes glassy residue can be trapped in fractures when the ruby cools. Heat enhancement is stable, does not require special care, and does not reduce the stone’s value unless significant residue is present.

If ruby shows no signs of heating, it is very rare. The stone’s natural color must be confirmed by a laboratory report if it is to command a premium. The ruby must also possess a pleasing color and appearance.

Ruby is most common in oval and cushion shapes. Other shapes may be difficult to find in sizes above a carat. Rubies above five carats are extremely rare and valuable.

Ruby, like sapphire, is the mineral corundum, one of the most durable minerals, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. Corundum has a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale and is also extremely tough. In its common form, it is even used as an abrasive. As a result, rubies are the most durable of gems. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect.

 Moonstone – the other June Birthstone

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

The ancient Romans theorized that moonstone, with its unearthly shimmer, was formed from frozen moonlight. This appealing gem variety does shine with a cool lunar light but it is the mineral feldspar, quite terrestrial in origin. The shimmer, which is called schiller or adularescence, is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of feldspar, with different refractive indexes.

Moonstones come in a variety of colors. The body color can range from colorless to gray, brown, yellow, green, or pink. The clarity ranges from transparent to translucent. The best moonstone has a blue sheen, perfect clarity, and a colorless body color.

Sometimes moonstone will have an eye as well as sheen. Another related feldspar variety is known as rainbow moonstone. In this variety of labradorite feldspar, the sheen is a variety of rainbow hues, from pink to yellow, to peach, purple, and blue. Sometimes one gem will show all these colors.

Fine moonstone is quite rare and becoming rarer. It is mined in Sri Lanka and Southern India. The rainbow variety can be found in India and Madagascar.

Moonstones are usually cut in a smooth-domed oval cabochon shape to maximize the effect. Sometimes they are carved to show a man-in-the-moon face.

Eichhorn Jewelry, Inc. recently acquired from Eichhorn-Gems of San Jose an 18K white gold fine moonstone bracelet with black and white diamonds. It is truly a beautiful example of moonstone at it’s best! You must see it to appreciate how spectacular it really is…

Alexandrite: JUNE BIRTHSTONE

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

If you love magic, especially the magic of science, you’ll love alexandrite, the color-change gem. Outside in daylight, it is a cool bluish mossy green. Inside in lamplight, it is a red gem, with a warm raspberry tone. You can watch it flick back and forth by switching from fluorescent to incandescent light. Alexandrite is a gem variety of the mineral chrysoberyl discovered in 1830 in Czarist Russia. Since the old Russian imperial colors are red and green it was named after Czar Alexander II on the occasion of his coming of age.

How does the color change work? Most gems transmit and absorb light throughout the visible spectrum and we interpret the mixture of the transmitted wavelengths as the gem’s color. Alexandrite transmits light only in two discrete windows of the spectrum, in the blue-green and red regions. The rest of the spectrum is absorbed. When viewed under light sources active in those particular regions of transmission, you see one of the two colors. In daylight, or in artificial light that simulates it, like fluorescent light, light waves in the green region predominate. In candlelight, or artificial light that simulates it like incandescent or tungsten light, light waves in the red region predominate. The gem is displaying changes in the light, not changing itself.

Today, fine alexandrite is most often found in period jewelry since newly-mined gems are extremely rare. You’ll see fine gems offered at auction with impressive estimates. The original source in Russia’s Ural Mountains has long since closed after producing for only a few decades and only a few stones can be found on the market today. Material with a certificate of Russian origin is still particularly valued by the trade. Some alexandrite is found in Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and Brazil but very little shows a dramatic color change. For many years, alexandrite was almost impossible to find because there was so little available.

Then in 1987, a new find of alexandrite was made in Brazil at a locality called Hematita. The Hematita alexandrite shows a striking and attractive color change from raspberry red to bluish green. Although alexandrite remains extremely rare and expensive, the production of a limited amount of new material means a new generation of jewelers and collectors have been exposed to this beautiful gemstone, creating an upsurge in popularity and demand.

When evaluating alexandrite, pay the most attention to the color change: the more dramatic and complete the shift from red to green, without the bleeding through of brown from one color to the next, the more rare and valuable the stone. The other important value factors are the attractiveness and intensity of the two colors, the clarity, and the cutting quality. Due to rarity, large sizes command very high premiums.

APRIL BIRTHSTONE – Diamond

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

As the April birthstone, diamonds are the ideal gift for a loved one.  And now you have more choices than ever. Get creative and give the ultimate gift of beauty: a fancy-color diamond. Fancy-color diamonds are natural, rare and truly exotic gems of the earth.  Diamonds in hues of yellow, red, pink, blue, and green range in intensity from faint to vivid and generally the more saturated the color, the higher the value. In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense color are rare and may be priced higher than a colorless diamond of equal size.  Because fancy-color diamonds are very desirable, color is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called color-treated diamonds. When purchasing a fancy-color diamond, ask if any enhancements or treatments were used to improve its color and/or clarity.

Exceptional fancy color diamond jewelry can be seen at Eichhorn Jewelry. Always fashion forward, Eichhorn’s has the most unusual styles in rings and pendants. A rare natural pink diamond set in a platinum ring designed by Somos© is truly a sight to see!

A dramatic teardrop pendant with an array of many spectacular color-treated diamonds is an eye catching design. To justify such a purchase, learn how to wear in more than one way by just changing the style of the neck chain. One of the new stainless multiple wire necklaces can even be used to totally transform the look.

Now in our 50th year, Eichhorn Jewelry is proud to feature a natural cognac color diamond ring. Surrounded by white diamonds, this ring could be a milestone anniversary ring or engagement ring for the discriminating woman.

Why not get creative and add one or more fancy color diamonds to your collection? Stop in today in the Heart of Downtown Decatur or visit us at http://www.eichhornjewelry.com.