The Death of the Blood Diamond

There is only one gemstone that has cost almost 4 million people their lives. It has funneled billions of dollars to terrorist organizations and rebels. It has funded conflicts in multiple countries. This same stone has also given 5 million people access to healthcare. It has enabled every child in Botswana access to free education until they’re 13. It has led to 1 million jobs in India. It is also on almost every woman in America’s engagement ring. The diamond is the most controversial stone in the world, due to a rough history, and a lack of good press about the end of blood diamonds.

blood diamonds

Diamonds were first discovered in South Africa in the mid 1860′s, when a teenage boy found a shiny stone on his father’s farm. After the stone passed hands a few times, someone discovered that it was a diamond. Within 15 years, diamond mines in Africa outpaced India’s diamond production over the last 2,000 years! In 1880, De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. was founded, and they began mining in Africa. At its peak in the late 1980′s De Beers controlled 90% of the diamond trade. Today, that number is down to 45%. De Beers has been heavily criticized due to their monopoly, price-fixing, and unethical, immoral mining practices.

The fall of De Beers was due in part to public awareness. In addition to blood diamonds, many people refuse to buy diamonds from De Beers after their dark history has become well known. Besides public awareness, diamond mines have opened in Canada, Russia, and Australia, further impacting the monopoly. Israeli diamond companies have also opened competing mines in Africa.

Diamond panning in Africa

The history of blood diamonds begins in Sierra Leone. In 1935, De Beers took over the diamond mines in Sierra Leone. Soon afterwards, traders discovered they could make a larger profit if they bypassed De Beers and smuggled diamonds from illegal mines. This was the first step in what eventually led to diamonds being used to fund the civil war. Sierra Leone became independent in 1961, and in 1968 Siaka Stevens became their prime minister. He supported the illegal diamond trade to help gain support for his political campaign. He also nationalized both the illegal and De Beers diamond mines. In under 20 years, De Beers diamond exports from the Sierra Leone went from two million carats to less than 50,000 per year.

On March 23, 1991, 100 rebels who called themselves the Revolutionary United Front took over eastern Sierra Leone. This began a civil war lasting until 2001 that was mostly fought over control of the diamond mines. The exports from these mines were used to fund the continued conflict, which was the first use of diamonds to fuel a civil war.

Revolutionary United Front soldiers

Blood diamonds first gained international attention when Global Witness, a non-profit human rights organization, published reports in the late 1990′s on the use of diamonds to fund the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. This news shocked many, as diamonds were, and still are, the most beloved gemstone in the world. At the time, nearly 20% of all diamonds imported to Europe and North America were used to fund civil wars. Something had to be done, so, in 2003, the Kimberley Process was enacted to stop the sale of blood diamonds around the world. The Kimberley Process has 54 members who represent 81 different countries. The reason for the large difference is that the EU is counted as only one member.

There are five main goals of the Kimberley Process.

  1. First, in memory of those who died in Sierra Leone, in Angola, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other African countries in conflicts fueled by rough “Conflict’ Diamonds;”
  2. Second, to end the killing in on-going conflicts in Africa;
  3. Third, to save the children of Africa whose lives would be threatened by future conflicts fueled by conflict diamonds;
  4. Fourth, to ensure those countries which depend on diamonds for their development and economic well-being will benefit from their patrimony; and
  5. Fifth, to assure consumers the diamonds they wish to enjoy are without the taint of conflict.

The Kimberly Process has its critics, but research by American University has concluded that overall it has been incredibly successful. In 10 years, the export of blood diamonds has gone from 20% of the diamond industry down to less than 1%! While there have been a few cases of fake certifications, the regulatory bodies have been very proactive in ending them. In addition, this is the first time in history an international regulatory method has been implemented to this extent. The success of the Kimberly Process could lead to other industries following suit.

At Renaissance Jewelers, we understand the issues involved in the sale of diamonds, and we are very careful to make sure our diamonds are only morally obtained. Our diamonds come from Eknam Diamonds, Inc.. Eknam is a member of The Jewelers Board of Trade, and all of their diamonds are certified to be conflict free. On every sale, they sign this pledge:

The diamonds herein invoiced have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with the United Nations resolutions. The seller hereby guarantees that these diamonds are conflict free.

While diamonds are a very controversial gemstone, they are finally coming out of the darkness. Between the Kimberly Process, better awareness, and many of the conflicts ending, blood diamonds will soon be a thing of the past.

You can view our diamond catalog here. If you are someone who is still skeptical of the Kimberley Process, we also have diamonds that are certified to have come from Canadian mines.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at (352) 335-7188, or email us at jewelery@gator.net.

 

Sources:
http://www.stanford.edu/class/e297a/Conflict%20in%20Sierra%20Leone.htm
http://www.american.edu/sis/ipcr/upload/THE-KIMBERLEY-PROCESS-An-Evaluation-of-its-Effectiveness-and-an-Assessment-of-its-Replicability-in-the-DRC.pdf
http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/en/faq
https://kimberleyprocessstatistics.org/public_statistics
http://www.diamondfacts.org/
http://diamondfacts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=134&lang=en
http://www.diamondfacts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130&Itemid=168&lang=en
http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/business-and-human-rights/oil-gas-and-mining-industries/conflict-diamonds
http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/05/world/africa/conflict-diamonds-explainer/
http://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/conflict/conflict-diamonds
http://realhistoryarchives.blogspot.com/2007/02/brief-history-of-blood-diamonds.html
http://www.economist.com/node/2921462
http://www.kitco.com/ind/Zimnisky/2013-06-06-A-Diamond-Market-No-Longer-Controlled-By-De-Beers.html

 


Obama has Banned the Sale of Antique Ivory

Obama signed an executive order which will effectively end the trade of antique ivory. Previously, ivory that was imported before 1989 could be sold. Due to increased poaching activity, Obama has decided to ban the sale of all ivory unless there is written proof that it was legally obtained.

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) went into effect July 1, 1975. It is a treaty that was signed by 179 countries to ensure that the trade of endangered plants and animals doesn’t threaten their survival as a species. In the United States, the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) covered everything that was required by CITES, acting as our implementation. The ESA covers more species than CITES; it is currently protecting 626 foreign species. Biologists who work as part of the Division of Scientific Authority decide which species should be added or removed from the list. African Elephants, Asian Elephants, and the five extant rhinoceros species are all on this list.

Ivory carving at the United Nations – it was a gift from China

In 1990, CITES banned the international trade of ivory from after 1989. Any pre-1989 ivory could still be bought and sold. This was done to help prevent poaching. While this ban was mostly effective, poaching is still widespread. In addition, it was up to the prosecutor to prove that the ivory was illegal. This made it very difficult to prosecute cases. This ban was very effective for two reasons. First of all, it brought awareness to how cruel the ivory trade is. Once there was widespread coverage of the ivory trade, ivory was vilified. It became taboo to own ivory. Second, it gave the people who collect ivory anyways an avenue to do so without hurting more animals. Ivory carvings are beautiful, and this gave people a great way to collect some of the art without having to worry about more elephants being killed. Ivory poaching has heavily declined since this ban. Most of the poaching today is smuggled to Asia.

Ivory carving of an African elephant

On February 11, 2014, Obama signed an executive order that effectively bans the sale of all ivory. Although most of the poached ivory today is exported to Asia, there is still a large market in the United States for illegal ivory. The new order doesn’t actually ban the sale, but it may as well have. First of all, imports are banned. This used to be the case for new ivory, but now antique ivory is included in this ban. Exports are also banned unless the seller can prove in writing that the ivory is over 100 years old. In addition, interstate sales are now banned unless there is written proof that it was imported before the 1990 CITES ban. This proof usually doesn’t exist, because the ivory trade was unrestricted so documentation was unnecessary. Even if there was written proof when the ivory was first purchased, it was probably lost long ago.

Elephant tusks being prepared to be sold. All of the elephants these tusks came from were killed.

The biggest problem with these new measures is that they do not do anything to combat the illegal ivory trade. There is a large black market presence for post-1990 ivory, and pre-1990 ivory doesn’t sell often. Banning the legal ivory will only increase the market for illegal ivory. As the supply of illegal ivory is decreased, the price will increase. Without legal ivory to satisfy the demand, the profit from illegal ivory will increase. Similarly to how the Mexican cartels profited from the “War on Drugs,” this executive order will most likely lead to massive profits for the poachers.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for enforcing the ESA, CITES, and this new executive order. They have received huge budget cuts over the last few years, limiting their ability to effectively combat the illegal ivory trade. The Obama Administration has denied their request for an increased budget, and instead decided to impose rules that will increase the illegal ivory trade. Forbes contributor Doug Bandow put it very well:

The mass killing of elephants is tragic. But demand for new ivory, not items legally imported decades or centuries ago, fuels the trade. Governments should penalize poachers and their seller allies—not responsible collectors and dealers who have followed the rules.

Indeed, the administration’s new policy is worse than unfair. They are counterproductive. They will expand the illegal ivory market, divert enforcement resources, and push owners of legal ivory into the illegal trade. Which means more elephants are likely to die. Surely that is not the legacy desired by President Obama. – Doug Bandow

An elephant calf with its mother

While something needs to be done to help end ivory poaching, banning the sale of legally obtained antique ivory is not the right answer. For one, the hunting of elephants is still legal! Big game hunters can obtain expensive permits to hunt a limited amount of elephants. This number was recently lowered to two a year, but that is still two too many. In addition, if a mother is killed, her calves will usually be unable to survive. Second, effort should be put into awareness and conservation rather than prosecuting antique stores for not having documentation for their 100 year old ivory. Last of all, more work should be done with the African governments to help end this awful practice.

We would love to hear your opinion on this issue:

Do you think this executive order will help decrease poaching?

Do you think ivory from before 1990 should be allowed to be sold?

What do you think should be done to help conservation efforts?

Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry. You can also reach us by email at jewelery@gator.net, or call us at (352) 335-7188. Have a wonderful day.

References:

Fish and Wildlife Service

http://www.fws.gov/home/feature/2014/trafficking/national-strategy-wildlife-trafficking.pdf

http://www.fws.gov/endangered/laws-policies/

ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/SpeciesReport.do?lead=10&listingType=

https://www.fws.gov/international/cites/

https://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/endangered-species-act.html

Forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2014/02/17/obama-administration-treats-antique-collectors-and-dealers-as-criminals-new-ivory-rules-put-elephants-at-increased-risk/2/

National Geographic

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140211-united-states-rules-wildlife-trafficking-ivory-science/

Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/new-rules-will-ban-import-and-export-of-ivory-and-make-it-harder-than-ever-to-sell/2014/02/11/de666c5a-934e-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html


Birthstones — March

Aquamarine and Bloodstone

 

Birthstones are a western tradition dating back to ancient Judaism. They are different stones that represent each month of the year. These stones are often used in personalized jewelry. The birthstones for March are the aquamarine and the bloodstone.

The first known reference to birthstones was by the 1st century historian Josephus. He stated that there was a connection between birth month, twelve gemstones, and the zodiac. Which twelve gemstones were the originals is subject to debate. In Exodus, there are 12 stones on the Breastplate of Aaron, which was historically worn by the high priest of Judaism. Each stone was said to represent one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. However, there are various different lists of which stones were used, and even Josephus had two different sets of gemstones he used.

By the 20th century, everyone had their own set of birthstones for each month. To correct this issue, In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas to establish a standard, making an official birthstone for each month. Today, most months have more than one birthstone, and they can be used interchangeably. March has both the aquamarine and the heliotrope, or bloodstone.

Aquamarine is a blue beryl, making it in the same family as the emerald. It gets its color from iron impurities in the beryl. The largest source of aquamarines comes from Brazil, but the more valuable deep blue aquamarines are from Madagascar. This dark blue variety is known as maxixe. Maxixe is unique because it turns white in the sunlight. Exposure to radiation will restore its color.

There is a legend behind aquamarines that says the stones were originally found in mermaids’ treasure chests. In the legend, anyone who carries an aquamarine with them will be protected from the hazards of the sea. Many sailors in Greek and Roman times carried them in the belief that the stone would help keep them safe. Today, it is believed by some that carrying aquamarines can help treat arthritis.

The world’s largest cut aquamarine is the Dom Pedro. It was mined in Brazil in 1980. It is 14 inches tall, and it weighs over 10,000 carats! The gemstone was named after the first and only two emperors of Brazil. It can be seen at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

The Dom Pedro aquamarine

The Dom Pedro aquamarine

This ring is a great example of aquamarines. Although the deep blue ones are more valuable, this lighter blue is the color the stone is most well known for. This beautiful ring can be viewed and purchased here. If it doesn’t appeal to you, we have a large selection of aquamarine jewelry.

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aquamarine ring

 

Heliotrope, or bloodstone, is the other birthstone for March. Bloodstone is a chalcedony. Chalcedony is natural mix of quartz and moganite. Bloodstones can be found in a large variety of colors, but the most traditional bloodstones are dark green with red spots that are formed from either jasper or iron.  The most valuable bloodstones will be dark green with easily visible red spots. Stripes diminish the value.

There are many fake bloodstones on the market, but it is extremely easy to tell if a stone is genuine. Simply rub it on porcelain! Real bloodstones will leave a red marks on porcelain, whereas fakes will not.

The legend behind the bloodstone is the reason for its name. Some Christian’s in the medieval era held the belief that the bloodstone was formed by Jesus’s blood falling onto jasper that was under the cross. Because of this, the stone has been used for religious carvings. The stone has been nicknamed the martyr’s gem because of these carvings.

There is also a story behind it being called a heliotrope. The ancient Greeks believed that the sun would turn red if the stone was submerged in water. The word heliotrope is a combination of the Greek words for sun and turning. In addition to these legends, a bloodstone is a major feature in a story arc of Boccaccio’s Decameron. Some people also believe that this stone can help stop bleeding. They are used heavily by shamans in India due to this belief.

This ring is the only piece of jewelery we currently have with a bloodstone. If you would like something else with this stone, we make custom jewelry. The ring can be viewed here.

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bloodstone ring

 

If you have any aquamarine or bloodstone jewelry that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it! We are also glad to any answer any questions you may have. Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry.

If you have any interest in either pre-made or custom designed jewelry, please call us at 352-335-7188, or email us at jewelry@gator.net. Have a wonderful day.

 

 

 


A Short Guide to Colored Gemstones

Gemstone
Details
AmberAmber is fossilized tree resin. While it is usually a dark yellowish-orange, it can also be found in other colors such as blue green or black. Amber is one of the only stones for which inclusions increase the value. Real amber floats while fakes will sink. Amber scratches easily.
AmethystAmethyst is a purple quartz, and an individual stone is more valuable the redder and more even the color is. Don't leave the stone in sunlight for long as it can cause the color to fade.
AquamarineAquamarine is a blue beryl. The bluer the stone, the more valuable it will be. It is a very durable stone.
EmeraldEmerald is a green beryl. A deep green is the most valuable color of emerald. Emeralds are very fragile, as they easily chip or crack, they are sensitive to heat, and can lose color in sunlight.
GarnetGarnets are gemstones that can be found in many colors. Red and brown are the most common, and blue are the rarest. Garnets are very durable.
JadeJade is a green stone that mostly comes from Asia. It is most valuable if it is semi-transparent and free of inclusions. It is extremely durable.
PearlPearl are stones produced in the mantle of an oyster. Natural pearls are extremely rare and are the most valuable. Cultured pearls are the most common and are come from oysters in pearl farms. Irregularly shaped pearls are less valuable than spherical pearls. Pearls scratch rather easily.
RubyRubies are bright red corundum stones. The most valuable rubies are blood-red. They are extremely durable.
SapphireSapphires are corundum stones that are any color besides red. The most valuable sapphires are orange. Sapphires are extremely durable.
TourmalineTourmaline is a stone that comes in many colors. The most common tourmaline color is emerald green. The most valuable color is red with a hint of purple. They are very durable stones.
TurquoiseTurquoise is a blueish green opaque stone. The most valuable turquoise is sky blue. They scratch easily and the color is affected by heat and chemicals.

Birthstones – Amethyst

Birthstones are a western tradition dating back to ancient Judaism. They are different stones that represent each month of the year. These stones are often used in personalized jewelry. The birthstone for February is the amethyst.

The first known reference to birthstones was by the 1st century historian Josephus. He stated that there was a connection between birth month, twelve gemstones, and the zodiac. Which twelve gemstones were the originals is subject to debate. In Exodus, there are 12 stones on the Breastplate of Aaron, which was historically worn by the high priest of Judaism. Each stone was said to represent one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. However, there are various different lists of which stones were used, and even Josephus had two different sets of gemstones he used.

By the 20th century, everyone had their own set of birthstones for each month. To correct this issue, In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas to establish a standard, making an official birthstone for each month. Today, most months have more than one birthstone, and they can be used interchangeably. February, however, only has the amethyst.

Example of an amethyst ring.

Amethyst is, in the simplest terms, a purple quartz. Amethysts are quartz that grew near irradiated iron, and therefore they have irradiated iron impurities in them. This iron is what gives the gemstone its purple hue. The stone used to be considered one of the “cardinal gemstones,” along with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Amethysts have lost this status after large deposits were found in Brazil, destroying its value. The majority of amethysts in the world now come from Brazil. The most valuable amethysts are deep purple with hints of red. These usually come from Russia.

The word amethyst comes from the Greek word amethustos. This word means not intoxicated. The name comes from the ancient Greek belief that amethysts would prevent them from getting drunk, so they made drinking glasses out of the stone. Amethysts were also used by ancient Egyptians and Romans for engravings.

Intaglio_Caracalla_Cdm_Paris_Chab2101

Roman engraving of Emperor Caracalla

In the medieval era, a belief was held in Europe that amethysts had powers of healing and protection. Knights and lords would wear them into battle to help protect them. They were also used during the Renaissance to protect against diseases. Even Leonard da Vinci believed in the powers of the amethyst; he believed amethysts would do away with evil thoughts and increase his intelligence. Today, some people believe that amethysts have powers of calming and purifying. They are also heavily used in Feng-Shui.

At Renaissance Jewelers, we are very familiar with amethysts. Besides our multitude of geodes, we have a great selection of amethyst jewelery. If the ring above is out of your price range, we also have this unique piece.

Sterling silver amethyst leaf ring

If you have any amethyst jewelry that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it! We are also glad to any answer any questions you may have. Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry.

If you have any interest in either pre-made or custom designed amethyst jewelry, please call us at 352-335-7188, or email us at jewelry@gator.net. Have a wonderful day.


Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly! This wonderful holiday is only a few weeks away on February 14. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love dedicated to Saint Valentine. While Valentine’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays globally, very little is known about the man and the history behind the holiday.

The most famous story is that Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men from marrying, because he believed men who weren’t distracted by marriage would make better soldiers. A priest named Valentine married young men anyways, until he was imprisoned for ignoring the law. While in jail, he healed the jailor’s sick daughter Julia and the two of them fell in love. On the night before his execution, he wrote her a letter that was signed “Your Valentine.”

Another story was that Valentine was imprisoned for providing aid to Christians who were being persecuted for their beliefs. While in jail, he was brought to the emperor Claudius II for interrogation. Claudius II was very impressed by Saint Valentine, and he told Valentine that he would spare his life if he forsook his religion. Rather than appease the emperor, Valentine attempted to convert him to Christianity. Valentine was sentenced to death for this. On the night before his execution, he performed a miracle and cured his jailor’s daughter of her blindness. Afterwards, he converted the jailor’s entire family to Christianity.

There have been many additions to these legends over time. One of these is that Saint Valentine wore a purple amethyst ring. An amethyst ring was traditionally worn by bishops at the time. Valentine’s ring also had an engraving of cupid because it was one of the only legal symbols of love in the Roman Empire. He had this done so that soldiers could identify him as the priest who would marry them. This is said to be why amethyst is the birthstone of February. Another story is that he cut hearts out of paper and gave them to persecuted Christians to remind them of God’s love. While these legends make for great stories, there is no proof that any of them actually happened. They could be entirely true, or only small details could be. It is also possible that they are simply stories to add to the legend of Saint Valentine for the sake of the holiday, similarly to the stories behind Santa Claus. Sadly, much less is known about the true history of Saint Valentine.

The known history of Valentine’s Day is that there were many early Christians named Valentine, and three of them were executed on February 14 due to persecution by the Romans. The executions were held centuries apart, so the three Valentine’s never met. Saint Valentine refers to any of them, as they are used interchangeably. One of them was a Roman priest, one was a Bishop in southern Italy, and all that is known about the third is that he died traveling in Africa.

The holiday of Valentine’s Day was a Christian celebration of these saints until 1382. Until then, the holiday was not associated with romance. Chaucer, author of Canterbury Tales, wrote a poem to celebrate a royal engagement. The poem was first recited at a royal feast for Saint Valentine’s Day on February 14, 1383. This is considered to be the day that Valentine’s Day became associated with romance. This tradition was expanded, mostly due to writers and poets, throughout the medieval era and Renaissance.

Modern Valentine’s Day began during the Industrial Revolution. This is when factories began producing cards. Today, Valentine’s Day has led to multiple billion dollar industries. Some of the most common gifts include chocolate, flowers, cards, and jewelry. 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, 189 million roses and 1 billion candy hearts, are sold for Valentine’s Day every year!

Valentine’s Day is celebrated around the world today. The traditions are very similar in most countries, but some have unique traditions. In China, men give the woman they love chocolate and flowers. In Iran, it is a day to express love to mothers and wives. In South Korea and Japan, the women give men chocolate! This is due to a translation error when they brought the Western holiday to Japan, and it stayed as a tradition there. South Korea adopted the holiday from Japan, so they follow this same tradition.

While traditional gifts also include chocolate and flowers, jewelry is usually given to loved one when in a long term relationships. This is because chocolate and flowers will only last for a week, but jewelry lasts forever. They say that love also lasts forever, but you should get him or her some jewelry just in case!


How diamonds are graded

Diamonds, being the world’s most popular gemstone, have very meticulous guidelines as to how they can be graded. There are four main measures upon which they can be graded, cut, clarity, color, and carat. While there are many other measures that determine the value of a diamond, these are the most important. (If you are unfamiliar with the Four C’s of diamond grading, please view our diamond guide here.) These grades must be determined in a controlled environment to ensure quality control. Due to this, the same diamond would receive the same grade from someone in New York or someone in Israel.

The Gemological Institute of America developed the International Diamond Grading System in 1953 to produce a standard for which diamonds are graded. This standard is followed by most of the world today. The grading standards are:

1.   A diamond must be graded in natural northern sunlight between the hours of 10 A.M. and 2 P.M., or in artificial light simulating these conditions.

2.   A diamond must be graded with 10x magnification.

3.   A diamond’s color must be graded by comparing it to a set of master diamonds.

I took a trip to Ramat Gan, Israel to see for myself the largest diamond exchange in the world. The Diamond Tower in Ramat Gan is where many of the world’s diamonds are graded. Here are some of the pictures from my trip:

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A desk used for sorting diamonds

Scan0006

A diamond about to be cut

Scan0007

A diamond grader at work

Scan0011

Diamond bruting – a process used to create a round girdle by grinding two diamonds together

Scan0008

Diamond cutting machine

Scan0010

Two workers cutting a diamond with a programmable machine

 


Jade

Jade, known in China as “the stone of heaven,” is a beautiful stone that is widely used for jewelry and decorations. While it is traditionally a shade of green, it can also be found in red, orange, brown, white, blue, lavender, and pink. Jade has been used since prehistoric times. Besides decorations, it was used then for knife blades, axe heads, and wood carving tools. This is because jade is a very hard stone, similarly to quartz. In the 1800′s, it was discovered that there are actually two different stones that are referred to as jade, nephrite and jadeite.

Nephrite is the more common  jade stone, and it is most commonly green, but it can also be found in white. Jadeite is much rarer, and comes in many colors. The most highly prized jade is emerald-green jadeite. The two main sources of jadeite are Guatemala and Burma. Guatemalan jade was historically used by ancient Mesoamericans, and Burmese jade was used heavily in China.

China is the country most people think about when they think of jade. Jade has more history in China than in any other country. It has been used for decorations and ceremonial purposes in China as far back as 6000 BC! Jade was a symbol of wealth and prosperity in China, and owning white jade was a symbol of nobility. The Chinese believed jade help brought about immortality, and royalty in the Han Dynasty were buried in a suit of jade. Jade in China has the same connotations as gold and diamonds in the West.

In Gainesville, FL, where our store is located, the Harn Museum has recently unveiled a beautiful jade collection as part of their Asian Art wing. They have some great pieces from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

One of our favorite Jade pieces in our store is this simple gold and jade necklace. We also have some jade rings, pendants, bracelets, and carvings.

If you have any jade jewelry that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it! We are also very happy to answer any questions you have about jade or anything else jewelry related. Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry.


NEW Website Additions

Good afternoon,

We have added a few new sections to our website that we hope you will all appreciate. First of all, we have finally added our long awaited diamond catalogue! This is just a small sample of the hundreds of diamonds we have available, so if you don’t see what you are looking for give us a call. To supplement this, we have also added a diamond guide. This guide walks through everything you need to know to buy a diamond, following the four C’s of color, clarity, cut and carat. You can view it here. We will also be blogging on a semi-weekly basis, talking about everything from historical jewelery trends to discussing the birthstone for each month. You can view our blog here.

As always, you can follow us on Twitter @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or Like us on Facebook. We hope you have a wonderful day!

-Robby Renaissance


Birthstones – Garnet

By her who in [January] is born
No gem save garnets should be worn;
They will ensure her constancy,
True friendship, and fidelity.

-Unknown Gregorian Poet

Birthstones are a western tradition dating back to ancient Judaism. They are different stones that represent each month of the year. These stones are often used in personalized jewelry. The birthstone for January is garnet.

The first known reference to birthstones was by the 1st century historian Josephus. He stated that there was a connection between birth month, twelve gemstones, and the zodiac. Which twelve gemstones were the originals is subject to debate. In Exodus, there are 12 stones on the Breastplate of Aaron, which was historically worn by the high priest of Judaism. Each stone was said to represent one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. However, there are various different lists of which stones were used, and even Josephus had two different versions.

By the 20th century, everyone had their own set of birthstones for each month. To correct this issue In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas to establish a standard, making an official birthstone for each month. The only addition since then was tanzanite for December.

The birthstone for January is the garnet. This beautiful stone comes in many different colors, including red, orange, brown, pink, yellow and green. Some garnets also change colors between natural and incandescent light, a rare and fascinating quality in gemstones. Garnet is known to have been used as far back as 3100 B.C.. It’s earliest known use was by Egypt, who used it for jewelry. Most garnets today still come from Africa.

Garnets are considered to be a symbol of friendship and trust, making them a great gift for a close companion. In addition, in many legends, garnets are believed to help the circulatory system, especially the heart and lungs. In addition, January’s birthstone is said to increase love, passion, and intimacy.

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Garnet pieces from our store in Gainesville.

If you have any garnet jewelry that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it! Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry.

If you have any interest in either pre-made or custom designed garnet jewelry, please call us at 352-335-7188, or email us at jewelry@gator.net. Have a wonderful day.


Art Deco

Art Deco, a style of art made between World War I and World War II, is just as popular as ever. Inspired by both Native Americans and the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, it is best known for bright colors and geometric patterns.

The opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 is considered to be the beginning of the Art Deco movement, and it became popular in both North America and all over Europe. Some of the biggest jewelers of the time made Art Deco designs in London. A great example of Art Deco Jewelry is this 14kt Diamond and Sapphire Ring.

 

It is made from 14kt yellow gold, and has a .50ct center cut European diamond. It was made in the 1940s, and we are very proud to be able to feature it in our shop.

Art Deco represented the luxury and glamor of the roaring Twenties; it is a wonderful way to add some flash to any outfit.

If you have any Art Deco jewelry that you would like to share with us, or if you have any questions, Tweet us @rrenaissance, Instagram @rrenaissance, or post on our Facebook Timeline at https://www.facebook.com/renaissancejewelry.


Diamonds

Formed solely by carbon, Diamond is the purest of all gem stones. The carbon bonds in a repeating cubic pattern of eight carbon atoms. The way in which the atoms attach to each other make the stone extremely hard and durable.

The diamond has a very long journey from the magma in the earth’s center to the fingers, necks and wrists of the world’s fashion conscious population.

Since there are so many sources from which to purchase a diamond, more and more it seems each year, it really pays to be an informed consumer. The wisest way to proceed would be to acquaint yourself with the elements that determine the value of the gem. The most important determinants of value are the four C’s. They stand for Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat. These are the things with which the prudent buyer should acquaint him or herself with. While only four C’s are traditionally taken into account, there should be a fifth C – Confidence. No purchase of such importance and expense should be made without knowing the credentials, honesty, reliability and skills of the jeweler. Once rapport is reached between you and your jeweler, the confidence generated will do wonders in making your purchase a wise one.

Once you have decided the shape of the diamond ( Round, Pear, Oval, Square, Rectangular or Marquise) you want, we can obtain a diamond for your price. The color, clarity, cut and carat weight can be combined in a way to fit your individual budget.