Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tessa - Custom Order

("Tessa" by Handmaden Designs LLC)
This was a custom order that I received this week.  It is a 40in copper wire-work lanyard necklace with blue Apatite and Black Onyx beads.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gemstone of the Week: Amber

(Amber image found on

Amber is a beautiful and well-loved stone.  It's classified as an 'organic gemstone' as it is essentially fossilized tree sap.  However, Amber is more than just hardened tree sap, the molecules in the sap resin also has to polymorize (bond together). This polymorization makes the fossilized sap resin a lot more durable and less soluble, so it will not become soft and sticky if gotten wet with alcohol, acetone, or gasoline (although you still should not get any of these on your Amber as it can still damage it). Amber has a hardness of only 2-2.5 so it is very soft and you do need to be careful with how you wear or clean your Amber jewelry.  Most often when you think of Amber, you think about the various shades of yellow, browns, and orange that you commonly see it in, however, Amber may also be green, dark red, purple, and even blue.  This is due to additional minerals that are present in the Amber causing it to turn colours other than its typical colouring.  Among the most collectable, and more valuable, are the pieces of Amber that have bugs or plant pieces (but particularly bugs or other creatures) inside of it.  However, when buying Amber with any object inside it you need to be extremely careful as there are a ton of fakes out there.  Often times and unscrupulous dealer will heat up the Amber until it softens and put the bug inside it and allow the Amber to re-harden, other times they've taken new sap, placed the object inside it, and made the piece harden, but this is not actually Amber at all as the polymorization has not occurred. Amber is really all over the map when it comes to value.  You can get nice pieces of it for only a couple of dollars per carat, while other pieces can be very expensive (I heard of one piece with a lizard trapped inside that sold for $75,000).  On average though you should expect to spend anywhere between $5-200 for Amber (again, prices vary greatly for Amber and be significantly higher than the average mentioned here). Amber is found in: Austria, the Baltic Sea, Burma(Myanmar), Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba), China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, England, Ukraine, and the U.S. (States of: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gemstone of the Week: Tinzenite

(Image found on

Tinzenite was  discovered in 1923 and is named after the locality of where it was found: near Tinzen,  Grisons, Switzerland.  Tinzenite belongs to the Axinite group of gems and has a hardness of 6.5-7.  It has a vitreous luster; may be translucent or subtranslucent; and its colour may be lemon-yellow, orange, or red.  Tinzenite has a composition of calcium, manganese, aluminum, iron, silicon, boron, hydrogen, and oxygen. it is often found inside Quartz veins in manganese deposits. Tinzenite is found in: Switerland, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, and the states of Nevada and Arizona.

Friday, March 15, 2013

European 4in1 Diamond (Earrings)(Gold-filled)

("European 4in1 Diamond" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

These are a very elegant pair of 14kt gold-filled earrings.  They are the classic European 4in1 diamond pattern chainmaille earrings. They measure at 2.25 inches long and (when hanging) are nearly an inch wide at the widest point.  European 4in1 is a classic and well-loved chainmaille weave.  It's beautiful in its understated simplicity and feels great when worn!

Liusaidh (Earrings)(Sterling Silver/Tantalum)

("Liusaidh" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Liusaidh is a very elegant Chelydra weave chainmaille design.  These earrings are made from sterling silver and tantalum wire with freshwater pearls and are entirely hand-made: every link and even the earring hooks themselves have been made by hand. Tantalum is a very rare, and absolutely beautiful metal.  It is naturally a gray-ish purple in colour, and is related to the better known, and far less rare, metal niobium.  These earrings measure at about 1.5 inches long and almost 3/4 of an inch wide at the widest point.

Chelydra weave and Liusaidh design are original creations by Handmaden Designs LLC.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gemstone of the Week: Zultanite

(Zultanite image found on

Zultanite is a beautiful gemstone and is the trade-name for colour-change Diaspore so while the name may be new, the gemstone is not at all new to the market having been discovered in 1801.  Diaspore has a harness of 6.5-7 which is quite good as that hardness is comparable to Tanzanite and Peridot. Diaspore has a vitreous or pearly luster and may be transparent or sub-translucent. In colour it may be white, colourless, brown, pale yellow, greenish-grey, lilac, pinkish, grayish-brown.  With colour-change Diaspore, the colour changes depending on if it is in natural/fluorescent lighting, incandescent lighting, or subdued lighting (think candles).  The colour-change will be more noticeable the larger the stone is. Diaspore is found in a great many locations spread across: Antarctica, Australia, Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Burma(Myanmar), Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Philippians, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Turkey, England, Scotland, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, and the states of: Alaska, Arizona,California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virgina, Washington, and Wisconsin. Zultanite, (gem quality colour-change Diaspore) can retail at between $500-$1,000 per carat, and I've even heard of prices going higher.  When buying Zultanite, be careful to make sure of the quality as non-gem quality colour-change Diaspore does not command the same value as the gem-quality Diaspore that retailers refer to as Zultanite.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gemstone of the Week: Phosphosiderite

(Phosphosiderite image found on
(Phosphosiderite image found on

Phosphosiderite, while a bit of a tongue twister, is a really a lovely gemstone.  Phosphosiderite was discovered in 1890 and its name is a combination of phosphate, due to its chemical composition, and the Greek word sideros meaning "for iron." Phosphosiderite is a hardness 3.5-4 and may be transparent, translucent, or, as evidenced in the above images, it may be opaque. It has a vitreous or resinous luster and may be purple to reddish-violet, rose red, peachy pink, brownish yellow, moss green, red, pink, or colourless. In transmitted light, it may appear rose to colourless. Phosphosiderite tends to form as either spherical, rounded aggregates, or as crust-like aggregates on a matrix. It may be found in: Australia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada (the Yukon Territory), Columbia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, England, Scotland, and the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virgina, and Wyoming.