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Caring & Cleaning

Caring for your Gold
Caring for your Silver
Caring for your Diamonds
Caring for Gemstones
Caring for Pearls

purity is measured by karats. Karat, sometimes represented as; "K" or "Kt." should not be confused with "Carat" which is the unit of measure for diamond and gemstone weight. Solid gold as it is found in nature is 24 karat gold. Unfortunately, solid gold is far too soft for use in most jewelry and requires additional metals, called alloys to be mixed in to make it suitable for jewelry manufacturing. 18 karat gold has 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts alloy, 14 karat has 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy and 10 karat gold has 10 parts pure gold and 14 parts alloy. 18 karat gold is still very soft and not ideal for everyday wear, 14 karat gold is ideal for bridal jewelry as it is durable yet soft enough to allow the jeweler to create fancy settings such as channel and invisible settings. The desire to own gold dates back as far as the history of mankind itself. The place of gold has been extraordinary in every society. In earliest times, it assumed magical importance.

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Of all the world's precious metals, only Gold combines the four basic characteristics that make it a universally and eternally treasured possession.

The naturally intense color and distinctive luster of gold combine to give this precious metal its unique and lasting beauty. Gold's natural beauty is further enhanced by the soft and exquisite shades of color achieved by combining it with small amounts of other special metals.

Yellow, pink, green and white gold's - each exquisite in its own right. There is always fashion acceptance of all the colors and color combinations of gold. One of today's most popular trends features combining colors of gold - yellow, white and pink - in jewelry.

Gold lasts, and lasts. Since it does not rust, tarnish or corrode, gold virtually lasts forever. An example of this incredible durability is witnessed in the gold coins found in sunken galleons centuries-old - they're as bright and shiny as the day they were cast!

Today, when you buy gold jewelry, you are buying enduring beauty. Reflecting the properties of the precious metal itself, a gift of gold has always been the symbol of lasting love and devotion.

Ease of Workability - Gold has the best working qualities of any metal, thereby making it the ideal precious metal for fine jewelry whose designs are meant to reflect and appeal to so many different personalities.


When buying gold jewelry, always look for a Karat such as 14k, & 18k stamped somewhere on each piece to ensure yours is real gold. Europeans sometimes stamp their gold pieces with 500 representing 14k or 750 representing 18k.

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Always separate your gold jewelry in a compartmentalized jewelry box or keep them individually wrapped. This protects against scratching.

Remove all jewelry before showering or cleaning. Soap can cause a film to form on karat gold jewelry, making it appear dull and dingy. By preventing the formation of this film, you immediately reduce the occasions your pieces will need to be cleaned.

To clean your jewelry at home, you'll find many commercial cleaners available. In addition, you will find a soft chamois cloth from any hardware store an effective and inexpensive way to keep your pieces lustrous and shining.

For certain gold jewelry, an 'ultrasonic' cleaning machine may be appropriate. The machine can be purchased in many retail outlets.

Remove tarnish with a prepared jewelry cleaner or by using soap and water mixed with a few drops of ammonia.

Brush with a soft bristle brush. An old toothbrush is perfect. After the soaping, simply rinse with lukewarm water and allow to dry.


Grease can be removed from karat gold jewelry by dipping the jewelry into plain rubbing alcohol.

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Useful Tips:

Remove jewelry when applying makeup and face powder.

Wash hands after applying makeup and powder and before putting on jewelry. Keep your jewelry in a dry place.


As with other precious metals, sterling silver will oxidize with time. Properly maintained, silver improves with age and develops a lush patina. Treat your silver well, care for it properly and it will reward you with a long life and lustrous look.

Do clean with a mild soap-and-water solution, allow water to bead up, and pat dry with a soft cloth. For more stubborn dirt, a jewelry cleaner labeled for silver use is appropriate.

Store your silver in a cool, dry place, preferably in a tarnish preventative bag or wrapped in a soft piece of felt or cloth. Store pieces individually so that they don't knock together and scratch.

Don't rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or fine piece of felt. Use of tissue paper or paper towels can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products.


Don't expose to air and light when storing because it will cause silver to tarnish. And, don't wear sterling silver in chlorine water.

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The Diamonds Quality Pyramid is a framework to help you compare diamonds. While all diamonds are precious, those closest to the top of the pyramid -- possessing the best combination of cut, clarity, carat weight and color -- are the earth's rarest, most valuable and most beautiful to the eye.

CARAT - The Larger a Diamond, the More Rare

Larger diamonds are found relatively infrequently in nature, which places them at the rarest level of the Diamond Quality Pyramid. What also makes a bigger diamond so desirable is that it shows off a stone's fine color and cut, and therefore its brilliance, to its best advantage.

A diamond's size is measured in carat weight, and each carat is equal to 100 points. A .75 carat diamond is the same as a 75-point diamond or a 3/4 carat stone.

While larger diamonds are highly prized, diamonds of equal size may vary widely in value and brilliance, depending on their qualities of clarity, cut, and color.

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CLARITY - The Purer a Diamond, the More Brilliant

The greater a diamond's clarity, the more brilliant, valuable and rare it is -- and the higher it is on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

Virtually all natural diamonds contain identifying characteristics, yet many are invisible to the naked eye. Under the scrutiny of a jeweler's 10x-magnifying loupe or microscope, natural phenomena -- called inclusions -- may be seen. These are nature's birthmarks, and they may look like tiny crystals, clouds, or feathers.

Diamonds categorized as internally flawless reveal no such inclusions. Flawless stones are at the peak of the Diamond Quality Pyramid and are treasured for their rarity and beauty. Diamonds with very, very small inclusions are graded as VVS1 or VVS2. The larger the inclusion, the lower the grade and the less rare the diamond. Inclusions that can be seen with the naked eye are graded I1 or I3.

The number, color, type, size and position of surface and internal birthmarks affect a diamond's value. Major inclusions can interfere with the path of light that travels through a diamond, diminishing its brilliance and sparkle and therefore its value.

COLOR - The More Pure the Color in a Diamond, the More Rare

Diamonds are graded by color, starting at D and continuing through the alphabet. Truly colorless stones, graded D, treasured for their rarity and value, are highest on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

While many diamonds appear colorless, they may actually have subtle yellow or brown tones and these color grades include P and Q. Although still beautiful, they will be less rare and therefore less valuable. To appreciate the simple beauty of each individual stone, you should compare diamonds side by side with a jeweler.

"Fancy" diamonds -- in well defined colors that include red, pink, blue, green and canary yellow -- are highly prized and particularly rare.

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CUT - The Better Cut a Diamond, the More Brilliant

A well cut or faceted diamond, regardless of its shape, scintillates with fire and light -- offering the greatest brilliance and value.

While nature determines a diamond's clarity, carat weight and color, the hand of a master craftsman is necessary to release its fire, sparkle and beauty. When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light will reflect from one mirror-like facet to another and disperse through the top of the stone, resulting in a display of brilliance and fire.

Diamonds that are cut too deep or too shallow lose light that spills through the side or bottom. As a result, poorly cut stones will be less brilliant and beautiful -- and certainly less valuable -- than well cut diamonds higher on the Diamond Quality Pyramid.

For centuries, men and women have found that the sparkle and brilliance of a quality diamond expresses their deepest emotions and symbolizes their enduring love. Yet with many beautiful diamonds to choose from -- and no two alike -- how do you pick the right diamond while spending wisely? The Diamond Quality Pyramid and the 4Cs, along with the guidance of a trusted jeweler, will lead you to the answer.

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THE 4Cs - Key to the Diamond Quality Pyramid

To establish a diamond's quality, jewelers examine each of the 4Cs -- cut, clarity, carat weight and color. The combination of the 4Cs determines the value of a particular diamond. For example, a colorless diamond is at the top of the Diamond Quality Pyramid in color ... but if it lacks clarity, is small, or not well cut, it will be of a lower value. The finest stones possess the rarest quality in each of the 4Cs, and are the most valuable.

Strive for a stone that offers the best combination of the 4Cs. Knowing a diamond's place in the Diamond Quality Pyramid will help you to make an informed decision. Ultimately, you'll discover the unique combination of the 4Cs that makes a particular diamond the right choice for you. Its beauty and brilliance will capture the true sentiment of the occasion.

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Even though you may wear your diamond engagement ring 24 hours a day, you should still give thought to its care.

Don't wear it when you're doing rough work. Even though a diamond is durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow.

Don't let your diamond come in contact with a chlorine bleach when you're doing household chores. It can damage and discolor the mounting.

Do see your jeweler at least once a year and have him check your ring and other precious pieces for loose prongs and wear of mountings. He'll usually give them a professional "shine-up" too.

Putting Diamonds Away -- When you're not wearing diamonds and precious jewelry, they still require attention. Keep your precious pieces in a fabric-lined jewel case, or a box with compartments or dividers.

lf you prefer to use ordinary boxes, wrap each piece individually in tissue paper.

Don't jumble your diamond pieces in a drawer or jewelry case, because diamonds can scratch other jewelry-and can even scratch each other.

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Traveling With Diamonds -- The packing of your diamonds and other precious pieces for travel should be given care.

There are many types of carry-alls, especially designed for jewelry travel, available in all price ranges. They come in all sizes, shapes and patterns. Most have velvet pads inside to attach pins and earrings, and special compartments for bracelets and necklaces. Pack a small plastic bottle of prepared jewelry cleaner with your cosmetics. Then you can give your precious pieces a quick "shine-up" any time.

Don't leave your ring on the rim of a sink when you remove it to wash your hands. It can easily slip down the drain.

Cleaning Your Diamonds

Diamonds get smudged and soiled and dusty. Lotions, powders, soaps, even the natural skin oils, put a film on diamonds and cut down their brilliance. Chemicals in the air can discolor the mounting of precious jewelry. Clean diamonds "glow" because the maximum amount of light can then enter and return in a fiery brilliance. It takes just a little care to keep them that way. Here are four ways to clean diamonds. One of them is pretty sure to fit the time, place, and the job.

Detergent Bath

Prepare a small bowl of warm suds with any of the mild liquid detergents used in the home. Brush the pieces with an eyebrow brush while they are in the suds. Then transfer them to a wire tea strainer and rinse them under running water. Pat dry with a soft lintless cloth.

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Cold Water Soak

Make a half-and-half solution of cold water and household ammonia in a cup. Soak the pieces 30 minutes. Lift out and tap gently around the back and front of the mounting with an old soft toothbrush. Swish in the solution once more and drain on tissue paper.

Quick-Drip Method

Buy one of the brand name liquid jewelry cleaners, with its kit, choosing the kind most useful to you. Read the label and follow its instructions. Don't touch your clean diamonds with your fingers. Handle your jewelry by its edges.

Ultrasonic Cleaner

There are many types of small machines on the market that will clean, in a matter of minutes, any piece of jewelry that can be dunked in a liquid. They consist of a metal cup which you fill with water and detergent. When the machine is turned on, a high-frequency turbulence creates the cleaning action. Since each machine is slightly different, read the instructions very carefully before use.

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Your desire to own or wear a colored gemstone isn't new or unique. Throughout all civilizations, gems have held a fascination - sometimes even a legendary power - for man.

The mystery and romance of Gemstones goes back as far as we can trace - to those primitive days when man coveted these beautiful stones as "charms" or "amulets" to ward off evil. And later, as man became more sophisticated, the rarity and beauty of gems established them as the ultimate symbol of status to the rich and powerful. Today, the pride of possessing a rare and beautiful gemstone is as great as ever.

Most simply stated, the majority of gemstones are minerals. (Important exceptions: pearl and coral are animal origin; jet and amber are vegetable.) These minerals have been crystallized as a result of the high temperatures and pressures exerted by nature on the elements that form the earth's crust.

Of the more than 3,000 minerals found on earth, only a small percentage qualify as "gemstones" due to their beauty, durability, color and rarity. The most sought after are transparent gems, drops of pure color cut from single crystals. These gems were once divided into precious and semi-precious categories, but this is no longer true today. Gem discoveries have added new varieties to the traditional selection of ruby, emerald and sapphire. Some of these more unusual gemstones command higher prices than more well known gemstones due to their beauty and rarity. For example, fine jade and fine opal, tsavorite or alexandrite would be more valuable than lesser quality diamonds or emeralds.

The selection of fine-quality gemstones includes such stones as alexandrite, amber, amethyst, aquamarine, chrysoberyl, citrine, garnet, iolite, jade, kunzite, lapis lazuli, moonstone, opal, peridot, sugilite, spinel, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline, tsavorite, turquoise and zircon. Each of these gemstones has a particular charm, color and identity.

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There are several factors that determine the value (and price) of a gemstone:

Color - The strength and purity of a gemstone's color is of prime importance. There is no established "right" or "wrong" color, and there are literally thousands of shades of red, blue and green, for example. Therefore, you should make your selection according to your own personal taste.

Cut - The cut of a gemstone is of extraordinary importance. The proper cutting emphasizes the richness of the gemstone's inherent color, which is the focal point of the gem's beauty that attracts the eye.

Clarity - While the clarity of a gemstone is an important feature, it is equally important to remember that completely "flawless" gemstones scarcely occur. Inclusions are inherent to practically every gemstone and are nature's way of adding variety and individuality to a gemstone. Even the most expensive contain some inclusions.

Carat Weight - Obviously, the size or weight of a gemstone also affects its value.


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January February March April May June July August September October November December

January - Garnet

Garnet is the accepted birthstone for the month of January. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage.

When most people think of garnet, they picture the dark red bohemian garnet that was popular in Victorian times. You may be surprised to learn that garnets are found in every color except blue, including brilliant green tsavorite garnet, raspberry pink rhodolite garnet, and orange malaya garnet. Bright red "anthill" garnets are found in Arizona. The Tsars of Russia favored rare green damantoid garnets.

Garnets offer enough variety in appearance to suit every taste, as well as an outstanding price range to suit every pocketbook.

Legend holds that Noah hung a large garnet in the ark for illumination. It reportedly also gives its wearer guidance in the night, protection from nightmares, and according to the Egyptians, is an antidote for snake bites and food poisoning. It was also thought to have a special affinity with the blood.

Garnets are durable and brilliant and will give years of pleasure.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, and extreme temperature changes.


Garnets are found in the U.S., Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil and India

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February - Amethyst

Amethyst is the recognized birthstone for February and the accepted anniversary gemstone for the sixth year of marriage.

Amethyst is a variety of quartz, and comes in pale lilac to rich, deep purple shades. Ideally, it is a deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes that give amethyst its beauty and fire.

Because of its abundance, it is readily available in all sizes and shapes. It is durable and can be worn every day. Coupled with the folk legend of the Greeks that it will prevent intoxication when worn, it becomes a most desirable gem!

Amethyst was said to have a sobering effect on the wearer-not only those who indulged but on those over-excited by love's passion as well. It has symbolized peace, protection and tranquility. Some say it will prevent baldness and improve the complexion, as well as protect from treason and deceit. Because royalty has always adored the color purple, Amethyst abound in the ornaments of ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and in the British Crown Jewels.


It is found mainly in Brazil, Uruguay and Zambia.

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March - Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the traditional birthstone for March. It is also the accepted anniversary gem for the 19th year of marriage.

The ideal color of aquamarine is a refreshing pastel sea blue. Stones with a clear blue color without green or gray are generally the most valuable.

If you are looking for a big, durable gemstone, Aquamarine is readily available in larger sizes and is truly dramatic when cut in rectangular or oval shapes. It is a member of the important beryl family, which also includes emerald.

In ancient times, the stone was said to aid seafarers; thus it is an excellent gift suggestion for sailors or one who takes frequent cruises! To dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends; to wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection. It is a universal symbol of youth, hope and health.

As part of the normal finishing process, some aquamarines are heated to remove traces of yellow.

To maintain the brilliance of this beautiful gemstone, it should be immersed in jewelry cleaner or in lukewarm soapy water and cleaned with a small bristle brush.

Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.


Aquamarine is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar and Ukraine.

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April - Diamond

Diamond is the birthstone for the month of April. Besides being the most popular gemstone for engagement rings, diamond is the accepted anniversary gem for the 10th and 60th years of marriage.

The name "diamond" comes from the Greek word "adamas" meaning unconquerable-suggesting the eternity of love. In fact, diamonds have been the traditional symbol of love since ancient Greece. Discovered about 2,500 years ago in India, the ancients believed they were splinters from the stars, perhaps crystallized lightening or hardened dew drops.

Although diamonds are associated with being a colorless stone, they are occasionally found with a strong, bright color-green, red, pink, blue, canary yellow and amber. These "fancy" colored diamonds are highly-prized.

Occasionally, to improve appearance, diamonds are laser-drilled and, sometimes, a foreign substance is used to fill surface cavities or fractures. Diamonds may also be irradiated and/or heated to induce "fancy" colors.

Even though it is the most durable of gemstones, care should be taken to protect a diamond from sharp blows. Household chemicals may discolor or damage the mounting. To clean, you may use a jewelry cleaner, lukewarm soapy water and a small bristle brush, soak in a half-and-half solution of cold water and ammonia for 1/2 hour, or use a home ultrasonic machine with its recommended cleaner.

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May - Emerald

Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May. It is also the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage.

Emerald is one of the most highly-prized of all the gems. The name comes from the Greek "smaragdos" which means green stone. The most prized is pure grass green.

Emeralds are often characterized by a garden of included crystals trapped within, known as the "jardin", because under magnification you will see all sorts of lovely patterns resembling foliage in a garden. A flawless, clear emerald is very rare and is usually found in only small sizes. Small to medium sized stones are often faceted in the "step" or emerald cut. The gem is also lovely when cut into a cabochon or dome shape. Sometimes emeralds are even carved.

According to legend, the wearing of emerald not only cured a wide range of ailments, including low I.Q., poor eyesight and infertility, but also enabled the wearer to predict the future.

As part of the normal fashioning process, most emeralds are immersed in colorless oil or resin so small voids are not as noticeable.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.


Emeralds are found mainly in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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June - Pearl

Pearl is the birthstone for the month of June. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th years of marriage.

A pearl is the product of an oyster's defense mechanism. When a foreign irritant is introduced either by man (cultured) or naturally, the oyster immediately surrounds it with layers of a substance called nacre. This forms the exquisite gemstone know as pearl.

Pearls come in a wide range of colors. They should be relatively free from skin blemishes. The more perfectly round the shape the better. The higher the luster, or "orient", the more valuable the specimen. The larger the pearl, the greater the value.

Besides the popular round shape, there are stylish mabe (large hemispherical cultured pearls), fresh water (elongated in interesting shapes and colors), and South Sea (large cultured pearls 10mm and up from Australia's and Indonesia's waters), to name a few.

Pearls have been recognized as the emblem of modesty, chastity and purity. They have come to symbolize a happy marriage.

Avoid household chemicals, cosmetics, hair sprays, and perfumes. Don't use ultrasonic cleaners. Wash with mild soap and water and store in a protective chamois pouch or tissue paper.


Moonstone is sometimes used as an alternative by those born in June since it physically resembles some pearls.

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July - Ruby

Ruby is the accepted birthstone for July. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 15th and 40th year.

Ruby is known as the "Lord of the Gems" because of its rarity and beauty. Derived from the Latin word "ruber", it simply means red. Ruby, like sapphire, is a variety of corundum and only exists as a true red in color. The finest color is a vivid, almost pure spectral red with a very faint undertone of blue, as seen in Burmese rubies which are considered the finest.

The highest quality rubies are said to protect their owners from all kinds of misfortune. A fine ruby assured the owner he would live in harmony with his neighbors. It would protect his stature in life, his home and land. Its protective powers were intensified when set in jewelry, and worn on the left side. Many believed rubies possessed an inner flame which burned eternally.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all rubies are heated to permanently improve their color and appearance.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.


The finest rubies emanate from Burma, having been mined there since ancient times. Other sources include Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, Afghanistan and India.

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August - Peridot

Peridot is the accepted birthstone for August. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage.

Peridot should be a lively lime green, without a brownish or olive cast.

Peridot is the child of volcanic action. Tiny peridot crystals are sometimes combed from the black sands of Hawaii.

Peridots were favored by pirates, considered powerful amulets against all evil, and when set in gold, were said to protect the wearer from the terrors of the night. They had medicinal uses, too. If fashioned into a chalice from which medicines were drunk, they intensified the effects of the drug.

Care should be taken to protect peridot from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine for cleaning.

The peridot is abundant, and is available in larger sizes. It is found in Burma and the U.S.

The most important source of peridot in the world is the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation near Globe, Arizona, where it is mined by native Americans.


Large sizes are mined in Myanmar (Burma) and peridot is also found in China.

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September - Sapphire

Sapphire is the September birthstone, as well as the accepted anniversary gem for the 5th and 45th years of marriage.

Sapphire, a variety of corundum, comes in all colors except red (the red variety being known as ruby), but is especially popular in deep blue. Fancy colored sapphires-including pink, green, orange, and golden yellow-are magnificent when combined in a necklace or bracelet.

Prince Charles chose a blue sapphire for Princess Diana's engagement ring. The stone's durability, combined with its beauty, makes it the perfect alternative for an engagement ring.

Ancient priests and sorcerers honored sapphire above all gems, for this stone enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Ancients believed the Ten Commandments were written on a sapphire tablet. Marriage partners put great faith in the stone. If its luster dimmed, one knew his or her spouse had been unfaithful. Sapphire refused to shine when worn by the wicked or impure.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all blue, yellow and golden sapphires are heated to permanently produce or intensify their color.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.


Sapphire is found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Kasmir, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, China and the U.S.

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October - Opal

Opal is the October birthstone, as well as the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 14th year of marriage.

The well-known Roman naturalist Pliny described opal as "made up of the glories of the most precious gems... the gentler fire of the ruby, the rich purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, glittering together..."

White opal has a white or light body color with flashes of many colors. Black opal has a black, dark blue, dark green or gray body color with vivid flashes of color such as red, pink and bright green.

Opal has symbolized hope, innocence and purity through the ages. In the Middle Ages, young, fair-haired girls wore opals in their hair to protect its lovely blond color. Medieval writers believed opal could render its wearer invisible when the need arose. It was also said to have a beneficial effect on eyesight. It was thought to banish evil spirits and favor children, the theater, amusements, friendships and feelings.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. To maintain the brilliance of opal, it should be wiped clean with a soft cloth. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine or jewelry cleaner.

Opal sources are Australia, Mexico and the U.S.

Sometimes tourmaline is used as a birthstone for October and spans the spectrum from red to violet. It also occurs in color combinations in one stone which accounts for its popularity. It is not as fragile as opal and is sometimes selected by those who prefer faceted stones.

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November - Topaz

Topaz is the accepted birthstone for November. Blue topaz is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 4th year; Imperial topaz for the 23rd year of marriage.

Most people think of topaz as a transparent golden yellow gemstone. However, this gemstone occurs colorless, as well as orange-yellow, red, honey-brown (dark sherry), light green, blue and pink.

The name topaz is derived from the Greek word meaning "to shine" and also implies "fire". Orange-red "Imperial" topaz and pink colors are rare and most valuable.

The lore, magic and romance of topaz goes back many thousands of years. It holds the distinction of being the gemstone with the widest range of curative powers. The Greeks felt it gave them strength. In addition, it supposedly cooled tempers, restored sanity, cured asthma, relieved insomnia and even warded off sudden death. Topaz is said to make its wearer invisible in time of emergency. It proved the loyalty of associates by changing color in the presence of poison.

As part of the normal fashioning process, most brownish to sherry brown topaz are heated to produce a permanent pink color. Certain types of topaz are irradiated and heated to produce shades of blue.

Topaz is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China.


Citrine is often used an alternative to topaz because it appears in many of the same colors as topaz. Unlike topaz, citrine is readily available and inexpensive even in large sizes.

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December - Turquoise

Turquoise is the accepted birthstone for December and is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 11th year of marriage.

Colors in turquoise range from sky blue (most desirable color) to blue green and apple green.

The name means "Turkish stone" because the trade route that brought it to Europe used to come via Turkey. The best qualities are found in northeast Iran (Persian turquoise). However, the United States southwest is now the world leader in production.

The deposits in Sinai were already worked out by 4,000 BC. At that time the stone was used for jewelry, amulets and in the preparation of cosmetics.

During the 16th century turquoise was used as currency by the Southwest Indians. They believed the gemstone could bring spoils to the warrior, animals to the hunter, and happiness and good fortune to all.

Although large quantities of beautiful turquoise which have not been color enhanced are available, today's turquoise is commonly stabilized with plastic to improve its color and durability. Chalky varieties of turquoise are normally impregnated with oil or wax to enhance color. This color change may not be permanent.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, hot water, and household chemicals. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.


Blue topaz has become a popular alternative in recent years for those who prefer faceted stones.

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Do wipe your precious gemstone jewelry thoroughly with a clean, soft, damp cloth after wearing. This will enhance the luster and assure that your jewelry is clean before being stored. Store in a soft pouch when not being worn.

Don't expose your precious gemstone pieces to salt water and harsh chemicals, such as chlorine or detergents. These chemicals may slowly erode the finish and polish of the gems. Use of hair spray, perfume and the presence of perspiration may cause jewelry to dull. Also, do not subject gemstone jewelry to sudden temperature changes. There are so many different types of colored gemstones, some of which require specific care and cleaning procedures, it would be impossible to enumerate all in this text.

Buying a gemstone is your investment in lasting beauty. Treat it accordingly. A gemstone's durability makes it capable of lasting for generations - but it must be handled with care.

Keep your jewelry separated when you put it away. Never let one item touch another, and always put it on soft fabric.

Apply your colognes and toiletries before you put on your jewelry.

Clean your jewelry regularly. Ask your jeweler to recommend the proper cleaning methods.


Bring your gemstones to your jeweler every year. He can give them an expert cleaning, and also check that the stones are secure in their settings.

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A cultured pearl is a pearl formed by an oyster, composed of concentric layers of a crystalline substance called nacre deposited around an irritant placed in the oyster's body by man.

Natural pearls are formed by deposits of nacre around an irritant which accidentally lodges within the body of an oyster.

Anything else which resembles a pearl but has a surface created by a manufacturing process is an imitation or simulated pearl - and must be labeled as such!

The value of a pearl comes from the unique ability of the crystalline nacre to absorb, refract and reflect light, imparting a distinctive quality, termed orient, to natural and cultured pearls.

Orient is the deep inner glow and shimmering iridescent characteristic of sea-grown pearls. The deeper the luster and iridescence, the more precious the pearl.

Size contributes to the price of a pearl. As it is more difficult for oysters to grow large pearls, they are scarcer. But two pearls of different sizes may be valued the same if the smaller pearl is superior in orient to the larger.

Shape determines value, too. The more symmetrical the shape, the more valuable. Examples of symmetrical pearls are: round, pear shape, tear shape, oval. Pearls of irregular and asymmetrical shape are termed baroque. Oysters grow pearls in many different shapes, from perfect spheres to long flat angel wing pearls.

Surface perfection contributes to value. The surface of a perfect pearl appears satiny smooth. But when viewed closely, natural or cultured pearls may appear to have irregular surfaces which do not detract from value, as do disfiguring blemishes. You need no magnifier to detect blemishes; when present, they are readily apparent to the naked eye.

Rarity increases the value of any jewel. Cultured pearls themselves are relatively rare, as they can only be grown in limited areas of the world's oceans and take years to grow. A perfect pair of pearls are very rare, because nature makes few pearls exactly alike in orient, size, shape and color.

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Types of pearls

Akoya - The most familiar type of cultured pearl, grown in true pearl oysters off the coasts of Japan. Akoya pearls are known for their lovely orient and warm color. They rarely grow more than 9 mm in size.

South Sea - Large cultured pearls (10 mm and larger) grown in large oysters off the coasts of Australia. Usually silvery in appearance, and sometimes not as lustrous as fine Akoya pearls, South Sea pearls are rare and costly.

Burmese - Large cultured pearls (10 mm and larger) grown in large oysters off the coasts of Burma. Warmer in color tone than South Sea cultured pearls, rare and costly.

Mabe - Large hemispherical cultured pearls grown against the inside shells of oysters instead of within the body. Less expensive than regular round cultured pearls and, because of their hemispherical shape, used mounted in such jewelry as earrings, rings and brooches.

Biwa - A fresh water pearl cultivated in a mollusk only in Japan's Lake Biwa. Smoother and more lustrous than fresh water pearls from China.

Fresh Water - Pearls cultivated in mollusks, not oysters, found in fresh water lakes and rivers. Fresh water pearls generally are elongated in shape and have a milky translucent appearance. Their wide range of interesting shapes and colors make up in fashion appeal for their relatively low value.

Keshi - Tiny pearls, some a little bigger than a grain of sand, which form naturally in many cultured pearl oysters.

When choosing cultured pearls, look for luster and orient in the shadow area of the pearl, not in the area upon which the light is shining. Clear color tones, not dull or muddy. Cracks, chips or disfiguring blemishes.

In addition, all pearls in a strand should blend well together, particularly in regard to luster, orient and color. Roll a strand of pearls along a flat surface to determine if all pearls are strung through their exact centers. All pearls should roll evenly, without an eccentric wobble.

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Selecting necklaces

Choose a cultured pearl necklace for its effect on your appearance and personality. Long necklaces are slinky and sexy. Short necklaces can be demure or sophisticated. Dog collars enhance a long neck. Longer strands slenderize and appear to elongate the neck. For fair skinned women, roseate hued pearls are most flattering. Cream and gold color pearls set off darker skin tones best. Here is a guide to necklace lengths and terminology:

Choker - 15" to 16" in length. Should nestle around the base of the neck.

Princess - 18" in length. Halfway between choker and matinee length.

Matinee - 22" to 23" in length. Should fall to the top of the cleavage.

Opera - 30" to 36" in length. Should fall to the breastbone.

Sautoir or Rope - Any pearl necklace longer than opera length.

Dog Collar - Multiple strands of pearls fitting closely around the neck.

Bib - Multiple strands of pearls, each shorter than the one below, nested together in one necklace.

Graduated - A necklace composed of pearls which taper downward in size from large pearls in the center.

Uniform - A necklace which appears to be composed entirely of pearls of the same size, though there generally is a slight difference in size between the center and the end pearls for a more proportionate look.

Let your expert jeweler customize your necklace so that its proportions and color tones are exactly matched to yours.

Your cultured pearl wardrobe should consist of matching pearl necklace, earrings and bracelet. Add to it with a ring, a variety of clasps, brooches and a tiara or hairpiece. A long strand of cultured pearls, with invisible clasps at several points along its length, is very versatile. It can be shaped into many different styles, such as a dog collar, a choker, or a bib.


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Cultured Pearls are precious jewels and should be treated as such.

Don't toss them carelessly into a purse or jewel box where they can become scratched by hard metal edges or harder stones.

Don't expose them to acid-based hair sprays, cosmetics, or perfumes.

Don't clean them with chemicals or abrasives.

Do treat pearls gently. Place them in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away.

Do put on pearls after applying cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume.

Do wash your pearls with mild soap and water after taking them off. This will remove all traces of perfume, cosmetics or hair spray from the pearls.

Do bring your pearls back to your jeweler for restringing once a year. Cosmetics and ordinary wear weaken and stretch the nylon threads on which the pearls are strung. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Do have pearls strung with a knot between each pearl. This will prevent loss of pearls if the string should break.


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