Category Archives: birthstones

January Birthstones-Garnet-Give me strength

Weary or rested from celebrating or resting over the December break, January may feel like a rough month to have a birthday. But these January folks are not down-hearted. They are ambitious leaders, who love to learn new things and take living seriously. They also have a cracking birthstone in garnet to back them up, thought to bring strength, good health and prosperity.

This beautiful rock can be found in many colours but most commonly in the red of almandine and pyrope garnets. Iron and magnesium cause the colour differences in these stones.

Garnet has been used in digit decoration from Romans times, with these simple styles still holding their own in contemporary adornment as we see here in this mercury ring by Astley Clarke.

It is thought that the name garnet derives from the Latin for pomegranate ‘granatum’, due to the similarities of colour of the fruity innards. This is a possibility explored in detail by ‘Winged Lion‘ jeweller Sergey Zhiboedov with their garnet pomegranate pieces.

 

Another fruity offering comes from Alison Maclead with this ring that suggests a cluster of berries or grapes.

 

London Jewellery School tutor Helen Walls often illustrates the point that a single gem against silver is a winning combination and proves this again with a simple blood-red garnet droplet from a textured hoop.

So if it’s a little or a lot of your birthstone you wish to pin down to your crown. Have no fear to start the year, take the lead and get some inspiration in one of our classes.

Birthstones for December-Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise-Wild blue yonder

As the year draws to an end sometimes we start to question things. Reflect. What will we do next year? What is the meaning of life? Why is the sky blue (or probably grey)? Well sorry, haven’t got the answer to those, ask google maybe. But we can round off the year by discussing why Turquoise is blue and sometimes greener and why Tanzanite is called Tanzanite.

So, you fun December kids have a deep pool of blue shades to choose from as birthstones in these three.

Turquoise gets its name from the Turkish stone-trade route that brought it to Europe. Sky blue is the rarest colour and is caused by the presence of copper in its composition, or, alternatively when there is more of a tinge of green, this is due to iron. Veins of the ‘host rock’ can be seen in many stones. Turquoise was one of the first stones to be mined and was mined and traded in many countries around the world. Turquoise has been used in ornamentation in ancient cultures including Egypt and is a respected gemstone in Native American culture, used by tribal healers and worn by warriors wishing to succeed in battle.

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Pamela Love

Zircon can come in many colours, its blue variety is created through heat treatment. The naturally brown zircons are the most common and the red variety is the most rare and expensive. Zircon was used for centuries in Indian and Sri Lankan jewellery. It is said to give a restful night’s sleep, absorb negative vibrations and have strong healing properties. Not bad for a stone that can be confused with the completely man-made, however useful, cubic zirconia.

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Mark Nuell

Tanzanite was discovered in Tanzania, as late as 1967, hence the name. The blue of tanzanite is a unique colour, different to other blue gems and was introduced to the world of mainstream jewellery by Tiffany and Co. This stone is thought to cleanse the chakras and help the wearer pursue their dreams and seek their purpose in life. Who said jewellery wasn’t the answer?

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Tiffany & Co

So, whether you chose Turquoise, Zircon or Tanzanite to guide you. Wishing you a restful end of the year, the renewed energy to pursue your dreams in the new year and success in any battles you may encounter. Maybe you could start by pursuing one of our courses.

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

 

Birthstones for October-Opal and Tourmaline-Fruity favourites

If you are born in October you are peace loving characters who wish to be surrounded by beauty. So it’s fitting that your birthstones are the ones with magical rainbow shades, Opal and Tourmaline.

Tourmaline is best known for its green and pink shades but it is the gemstone found in the greatest range of colours. The watermelon effect of the stones that present with two-in-one colouration are clearly the most delicious. Here they are celebrated together, although not as one, nestled in these stunning orbs by master jeweller Friedrich Becker.

tourmaline

The internal structure of an opal causes multi-coloured light diffractions to occur and these characteristic rainbow effects can be found in stones of very different tones too. For jewellers it is both an inspirational friend and technical foe with its softness and tendency to expand and contract according to temperature fluctuations. This makes it a very difficult stone to work with.

Kimberlin Brown uses opal to very different effect in her work that references nature and organic forms. As we can see here in these two rings, the delicate ‘anemone’ contrasts with the intergalactic beast ‘galaxy’ without sacrificing her signature style.

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October child, whatever your flavour, you won’t fail to find a tempting juicy delight in one these fruity pieces using these dynamic stones. But be sure to give one, or five, of our classes a try if you feel the need for more jewellery nutrition.

Birthstone for September-Sapphire-Barnacles of Bling

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and is famous for its deep blue colour, caused by the presence of iron and titanium. But these stones can be found in almost every colour and when non-blueness occurs they are termed ‘fancy’. A nice compliment, although it makes the gemstones less valuable.

It’s tough to write about sapphires without mentioning ‘that ring’ (you know, the one that now belongs to Kate). However, I intend to sidestep it to not seem like a big fawning royalist and just say it’s iconic. (Iconic enough that my American brother-in-law thought it might be mandatory to propose to British ladies with a blue-stoned ring. He didn’t, but I like the story.)

If you are born in September you are graced with the qualities of tolerance and wisdom. You are also inspirational. The thing is with these gemstones, they do lend themselves to be used in significant pieces of jewellery on account of their value. So they may be better for inspiration rather than aspiration for now.

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Even this little skeleton merperson brooch by Lydia Courteille has an indicator of once being a marine monarch in its dinky crown.

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Yet jeweller Polly Wales has left no stone un-cast in these two examples of her signature technique of casting stones in place rather than setting. The skull encrusted with sapphires of different sizes could be the remnants of an underwater pirating accident producing a facial of sparkling barnacles of bling.

Maybe Leo wouldn’t have come to such a sticky end if (the other) Kate’s blue diamond necklace had been a sapphire instead. That ‘heart of the ocean’ could have gone for a light dip in a pool with a parrot rather than being brutally chucked into the waves by old lady Kate.

Anyhow, all’s well that ends well. And even if it’s not your birthday, don’t get the blues. Give yourself a present and join us on one of our stone setting courses and learn techniques to bring your own inspiration to the nation.

Stone setting in silver (2 days)

Intermediate stone setting

Channel setting in silver

Collet setting in silver

Grain setting in silver

Stone setting in metal clay

Introduction to gemstones (evening taster class)

Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.

August Birthstones-Spin Spin Spinel

Well, August child, not much to live up to here, but you are the best person anyone will ever know!

Your birthstones are Peridot, Sardonyx, Spinel, so you are spoilt in this area as well as having a splendid personality. Peridot will protect you from evil with its greeny magic and bring you good fortune. Spinel can masquerade as Ruby (which can only be a good thing). In fact, the Black Prince’s Ruby that dominates the front of the Crown, of the Crown Jewels fame, is a sneaky little (or not so little) Spinel (it weighs 34g). And Saydonyx with its layered formation, which is traditionally crafted into cameos could be used to capture your no doubt delightful profile.

Only the most fabulous of jewels could be appropriate for you August lion kings and queens. Go wild with the possibilities of summer colour as here with Solange Azagury’s marvellously fruity ring brings us an opal sandwich with spinel bread.

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Lil Adams is the London Jewellery School Sundays Studio Manager. Lil studied Fine Art in Leeds and lived in Melbourne before travelling about and settling in London. She now works at the British Architectural Library and enjoys making jewellery with found and natural objects and is shamelessly addicted to casting.