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Gems Demystified

When I changed media from sculpture to silversmith, my vision included incorporating gemstones in my work.

That’s when I realized I did not have a clue! I found out very early in my quest it would be impossible to determine what type of gemstone I was about to use. A facet pink topaz looks very similar to tourmaline.  So many specimens look alike!  And the created gems! Tanzanite, for example, seems very similar to synthetic forsterite! I found myself emerged in a complex universe entirely unprepared.

Gemstone identification requires plenty of skills, acquired through specialized training. That’s why I ended up back in school to become a registered gemologist. I learned that every type of gemstone has a distinctive set of physical and optical properties. Besides, some optical properties are similar for different specimens. That’s why to identify a single gemstone, you need to use several tests. By the analysis of the combined tests result, you finally can identify the gem. It’s a kind of detective work!

There are many reasons why it is essential to know the type of gemstone I set on my work. First, there is you. You must know what you are purchasing. The type of gem and the quality of the formation affects the price. Then, there is me. I need to know what kind of gemstone I am about to set. You see, setting stone is tricky and requires a certain amount of pressure. Different specimens have different hardness. That’s why it is essential to know what you have when you are setting a gemstone.

Testing the gemstones, I set in my pieces is extra work. But is part of our voice as a studio and you are worth it!