Tag Archives: birthstones

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.


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.


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?


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.


November Birthstones-Citrine and Topaz-a tragic love for a play on words

Topaz and Citrine are hot stones to keep you November babies warm if you choose to stand on balconies to watch any fireworks or family feuds unfold.

Sometimes misidentified as each other in their yellow form, Citrine is a yellow variety of quartz and Topaz is a silicate mineral and a more valuable gemstone. Topaz can display similar strength to corundum (the gem family that includes Ruby and Sapphire) but can fracture under excessive pressure. To add to the confusion Amethyst, after heat treatment, can be turned yellow masquerading as Citrine in disguise. These ‘burnt amethysts’ or artificial Citrines can be identified by a tinge of red. Citrine can be found in a range of yellow to dark reddy/brown shades. While Topaz has a wider colour palate of yellow, green, pink, orange and the rare blue with its purest form occurring as a colourless stone.

Two gemstones, both alike in clarity, in fair November where we lay our scene.

Many a jeweller tells their own story of love for these gems, though with the potential mistaken identity, the makers’ tale doesn’t have to have to have a Shakespearean tragic ending.


Earrings and ring in Citrine by Chris Boland. With his bold yet transparent technique of setting, what you see is what you get and what you get is a neat treat.

bee cuff amq

The honey coloured hexagonal topaz formations for this Alexander McQueen beehive cuff would make any worker feel like a queen.

topaz ring ryan nelson

Ryan Nelson has pincered an icy blue Topaz in place at opposite corners to look create this industrially striking ring. Whereas this roughly set pink topaz ring with rose gold from by Angeline has a softer appearance.pink topaz ring

Please excuse one last attempt at wordy theatricals for these two heroes of our romantic tale, if I conclude with…

Never was a story of more glow than this of Citrine and Topaz(eo).

If you feel like these gems in any other frame should surely be as sweet, try one of our stone setting courses.




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.


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.

opal anemone kimNEW_3_Opal_slim

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.


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


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.


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.

Diamonds are a girls best friend…

Hello April! A new month means it is time for a new birthstone. And this month it is one of our favourite gemstones – Diamonds! Happy birth month to all you April babies!

One of the most coveted gemstones in the world, most natural diamonds are between one to three billion years old.

The word diamond comes from the Greek word “adamas” which means invincible or indestructible. This is very fitting as diamonds are the hardest natural substance. The only thing that can scratch a diamond is another diamond. So it is easy to understand why diamonds have been incorporated into beautiful and meaningful pieces of jewellery throughout the ages.

Most people are aware that the value and price of diamonds are heavily influenced by the 4 Cs – Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat with the primary focus being on the clarity and carat weight of the stone as the factors that influence the price of the diamond. However, in recent years a large body of diamond connoisseurs have favoured ideal cut round brilliant diamonds which are diamonds that have been precisely cut according to mathematical formula developed by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919.

This formula prescribes a very tight range of angles for each part of a diamond that are meant to create the maximum brilliance and fire in a diamond.  The term Hearts and Arrows is often used to describe the pattern created in a diamond cut with perfect symmetry and angles.


Chart created by IdealScope.com that shows the light return within an ideal cut diamond.

A special viewer called an ‘Idealscope’ was developed by Garry Holloway that allows you to see these wonderful patterns in a diamond. Customers are willing to pay a premium price for what is considered to be a perfectly cut diamond.

However a growing body of jewellery designers are breaking all the rules and incorporating ‘imperfect’, and ‘organic’ diamonds such as rose cut, or rough cut diamond beads into their designs.  And the effect can be quite stunning!  These diamonds tend to ‘twinkle’ rather than sparkle and are often know as candle-light diamonds as they can look truly beautiful in low lighting.   And the great news is that these diamonds can be more affordable than their traditionally cut counterparts.

Here are some examples…

Rose Cut Diamond_Deb Cadby

A gold rose cut diamond engagement ring by Deborah Cadby.

Rose Cut Diamond Necklace_Alexis Dove

A grey teardrop shape rose cut diamond pendant by Alexis Dove.

Embers Jewellery


A selection of beautifully organic diamond jewellery by EmbersJewellery.

And the trend for antique cuts looks only set to continue with a number of diamond cutters now cutting modern antique cut stones that are cut for light return and sparkle so you can get the best of both worlds!

Rose cut and organic diamonds are still relatively difficult to source here in the UK, but our friends at Kernowcraft have recently started selling some beautiful ones in a range of colours if you want to incorporate diamonds into your designs.  Do check them out!

So what kind of diamond makes your heart sing? The perfect ideal cut diamond or a diamond with natures fingerprints and birthmarks??

Turquoise – the true colour of this time of year

While our colour pallets tend to be dominated by gold, green and red in the run up to Christmas, the traditional birthstone colour for December is blue – in particular turquoise.

We’ve picked out a few pieces to inspire you.

turquoise jewellery

Because of the graduations in colours and veins in turquoise it is a stone that can stand out even when used very simply as here with silver focal point in a necklace by Pamela Lauz


turquoise jewellery

Here Blue Skies Jewellery has used irregular slabs of turquoise to naturally create a statement with some beads as spacers.


December birthstone jewellery

In this turquoise and wire ring the stone does the talking with the setting being as unobtrusive as possible. Ring from Khum Wieng Kham


turquoise brithstone december

But you don’t have to go big with turquoise. In this ring by Charlotte’s Web, the small stone adds a highlight to the silver.


december birthstone jewellery

Turquoise also works well with other strong colours such as lapis lazuli or coral, as seen above in a necklace from Making a Statement Jewellery


turquoise jewellery

You can also find turquoise druzy stones – the glittery blue looks great in a simple gold setting as in this pendant by Lovely Leffler

Do you use turquoise in your jewellery – share some pictures with us on Facebook and Twitter.


February birthstone jewellery

We love gemstones at London Jewellery School so we have gone looking for some fabulous jewellery made using the February birthstones, which differ according to which category you look at.

Traditional: Amethyst, Hyacinth and Pearl

Modern: Amethyst

Mystical: Bloodstone

Ayurvedic: Amethyst

This give you a good variety of options and you could think of combining stones.

February birthstone jewellery

This Victorian insect brooch does just that combining amethysts with natural pearls for the wings.


February birthstone jewellery

Gemstones don’t always have to be polished. Rougher finished stones can make striking jewellery. This pendant by Cynthia Down uses sterling silver and a rough amethyst crystal point in an unusual setting.


February birthstone jewellery

When thinking of pearl jewellery you don’t need to just consider perfect rounds. As this exquisite necklace, ‘Liquid Love’ by Nadia Newman of Mondial, shows itrregular shapes can create interesting effects. This piece was a finalist for the Pearl Design Award at the Jewellery Association of Australia Awards in 2008.


February birthstone jewellery

We love the use of hyacinthe cristalline in this unusual mixed media brooch using heather and grape wood, silk, silver, amethyst by Terhi Tolvanen. It really shows that jewellery inspiration can come from anything.


February Birthstone Jewellery

Bloodstone looks magnificent sent in this men’s ring, by Skylight Jewellers

You can learn more about these wonderful stones in our Introduction to Gemstones class – information, dates and all booking details can be found here.