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Aquamarine, the Benefits for Believers.

I popped into the showroom last week and discovered some new additions to Afrogem collection. My favourites are these gorgeous aquamarine, sterling silver and cubic rings. I can’t decide if the design is modern or vintage. Perhaps it’s both.

The rings are perfect for a woman like me who is in love with these sea blue crystals but doesn’t have Jessica Biel’s bank balance. The star, a March-born creature so it’s no surprise, has been pretty vocal about her love of the stone.

We’ve looked at various aspects of these gemstones here and here. But these beauties have inspired me to take a look at some of the more esoteric benefits of owning an aquamarine. Whether you choose to believe is entirely up to you.

A Gemstone for Communication

For centuries, people have used the crystalline powers of gemstones for healing, both the physical and matters of the heart. Aquamarines are imbued with the powers of water and of the colour blue, and are considered powerful stones for the throat chakra. They are excellent stones for anyone involved in public speaking, as they can help overcome the anxiety most of us, with the exception of Barack Obama, feel when getting up onto a podium to address a crowd. They’re also thought to enhance intellectual reasoning, and emit a compassionate energy, promoting tolerance. Perhaps everyone at the U.N. should wear an aquamarine in order to bring about world peace.

Healing Energy

Aquamarine has long been considered a stone for breath, so is used for healing respiratory tract infections and the lungs.  I’ve also read it’s effective for hay fever, which plagues so many Capetonians in spring. Next time you’re hit with a pollen count that makes you sneeze, reach for an aquamarine instead of the antihistamines. Our sparkling prescription won’t make you drowsy.

Emotional Healing

Aquamarine is a water element gemstone. As with all water elements, aquamarine is great for detoxifying the emotions. It can bring harmony into the home by opening up paths of communication. Plus, it’s long been thought that aquamarines absorb the atmosphere of young love, so place one under your pillow to keep your romantic relationship constant.

 

Believe it? I’m not sure I do, but that’s not going to stop me slipping one of these beautiful rings onto my finger. And neither is the price. For more information contact Afrogem.

 

Which diamonds make great investments? A guide to diamond buying.

Diamond Rings set in white, yellow and rose gold. For more information call Afrogem.

Diamonds are a good option if you’re looking to diversify your portfolio in an aesthetically pleasing way. An estimated 93% of couples that marry do so with a diamond. Demand for them is ever present. However, no matter their sentimental value, not all diamonds have a resale value. Here, we take a look at the kinds of diamonds that make a good investment.

Loose Cut Diamonds

The most important thing to consider when buying an investment diamond is the quality of the stone. Quality is commonly expressed as the ‘4 Cs’. The 4 Cs are Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat . The 4 Cs have a direct impact on the worth of a diamond, the acquisition price and its resale value over time.

Go big and go pure when investing in a loose stone. Larger diamonds are rarer, and large pure diamonds are the heavyweights on the investment market.

Expert Tip: Protect yourself from fraudulent sellers or appraisers. Make sure all the investment diamonds you buy are certified.  International certification by an organisation like the highly respected EGL (European Gemological Laboratory) is crucial. All Afrogem diamonds come with EGL certification.

 

Pink Diamonds

Many people are unaware that diamonds exist naturally in a range of colours from clear to black! However, coloured diamonds are extremely rare. The more intensely coloured the diamond is, for example a deep pink, the more valuable it is.  Only 1 out of every 10,000 diamonds is a coloured one. Demand for them rises yearly. Recently, the Asian markets have shown a particular interest in coloured diamonds. If you come across one that scores high in the 4 Cs, snap it up immediately.

Pink diamonds are prized for the romantic connotations they hold. Celebrity Jennifer Lopez was given a 6.1 carat pink diamond estimated at $1.2 million at the time of her engagement in 2002.

Expert Tip: Not all yellow diamonds are created equally. Fancy yellows are good investment diamonds. Discoloured diamonds that reflect a yellow hue are not.

 

Solitaire Diamonds

The term solitaire refers to a single, cut diamond.  Solitaires are a good investment choice for a couple of reasons. If a diamond is in a ring setting, most sincere diamond buyers will ask for the setting to be removed to thoroughly inspect the stone. Since a solitaire diamond is unset it avoids this extra step.

In addition, buyers view them as versatile.  Prospective buyers can imagine them in a pendant, as a ring or gracing a crown. Plus, solitaire diamonds can be cut into a variety of shapes.

Rough and Uncut Diamonds

As the name suggests, these diamonds have been neither polished nor cut. They may look like dirty or glassy stones to the untrained eye. The investment strategy is different for rough diamonds as most do not go on to be jewellery. They are more commonly used for industrial purposes, like being placed in machinery to cut materials. So their strength and size are valued over their looks.

Unfortunately, uncut diamonds often enter countries illegally and have murky origins. They may not have been handled according to The Kimberley Process. These could still be a good investment option but require more expert knowledge than a first-time investor usually has. Rather buy your investment diamonds from a reputable company that guarantees conflict-free stones. Like Afrogem.

 

Overall, diamonds make a lovely tangible mid to long-term investment. They can be worn and enjoyed while accumulating value and have a good return on investment (ROI). When you buy a quality gem, you also have the security of knowing it has universal value and can be traded internationally.

 

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Aquamarine: Birthstone of March Born Creatures

“A Mermaid” by John William Waterhouse (1900)

 

Aquamarine belongs to the beryl family, a precious mineral found in a spectrum of colours. Aquamarine is Beryl’s second favourite child. Emerald remains more popular, but this cyan gem is no wallflower to her green sister. Just ask any contemporary queen or princess swanning about a state gala in an aquamarine tiara.

 

“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
The Four Chambered Heart, Anaïs Nin

 

The name comes from the Latin phrase aqua marinus meaning “waters of the sea”. Owing to its colour – which ranges from the water off Bakhoven beach where the sand meets the sea, to the hint of a storm off Simon’s Town –  aquamarine has always been tied to the ocean. Once it was thought that aquamarine had the power to calm wild waters and tame the waves. Mariners kept the stone with them on long voyages as a form of protection. Even ancient myths tell of aquamarine-bejewelled mermaids enticing sailors into watery love affairs.

Bespoke Handcrafted Wedding Ring. For more information contact Afrogem.

Qualities

Aquamarine’s main attraction is its water-like beauty. The best aquamarines are a fresh blue, think the skyline in Kalk Bay on a September morning.  Many buyers favour the lighter cyan, cerulean or tropical ocean blues for this jewel. However, a hint of seafoam green can give the gemstone a wonderful extra dimension. Add aquamarine’s startling clarity, and you begin to understand what makes this stone so desirable. But, you’d mistaken to think colour and clarity were all this oceanic gem has to offer.  Trace elements of iron make them hard and extremely durable, adding longevity to the jewel’s list of attributes. Hence, it’s a gemstone that can be handed down through generations and never lose its beauty.

 

It is an easy stone to wear, suiting all skin tones. However, blue-eyed people will find its vitreous lustre especially complementary. Because aquamarines form in the earth in such large sizes they can be cut to whatever shape one’s heart desires. Certain cuts, however, really show off the gemstone’s transparency and make for more striking jewelry. One of these was created by a South African master gem-cutter, Basil Watermeyer and is known as the Barion cut.

On a more esoteric level, aquamarine is believed to release anxiety and fear through its general calming effects.

Gifting

Aquamarine jewellery is the perfect gift for anyone born in March.  The Romans considered it an appropriate morning gift from a groom to his bride upon consummation as they believed it absorbed the atmosphere of young love: a romantic notion that passed into medieval times when it was thought to reawaken the love of married couples. For modern couples, it is the traditional gem to celebrate a 19th wedding anniversary.

 

 

Aquamarine, Ten True Blue Facts

The Bigger Splash, David Hockney (1967)

The Bigger Splash, David Hockney (1967)

A pool of clear blue you can fall into forever. That is what having your own aquamarine means. Just ask Queen Elizabeth II. The people of Brazil gave HRM  some truly exquisite blue bling in 1953 for her coronation – a giant emerald-cut aquamarine that is at the centrepiece of her diadem, along with a matching diamond and aquamarine necklace and bracelet. When worn together the whole effect was that of a fountain of light.

We’re can’t all be queens, but that doesn’t mean one can’t have an aquamarine of one’s own. Like any gemstone, an aquamarine is an investment.  Immerse yourself in knowledge by reading our ten true blue facts before you buy.

 

1. What is Aquamarine?

Aquamarine is the name given to the blue coloured variety of the mineral, beryl. Emeralds are beryl too. So you’re in good company! Aquamarine contains trace elements of iron. As a result, is a very hard beryl and therefore extremely durable.

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2. The Mythology of the Stone.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for those born in March. Closely affiliated with love and long-lasting marriage, it’s the traditional gemstone for celebrating a 19th wedding anniversary. In ancient times, it was thought to have the power to calm stormy waves and was given to sailors to protect them on lengthy voyages. The stones are said to be the prized by mermaids as well.

 

3. Location, location, location.

Mines in Brazil and Argentina give birth to the majority of aquamarines on the market.  However, Africa produces some of the world’s most intense stones from mines in Kenya and Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania. Reputable dealers will be able to provide proof of origin for your aquamarine.

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4. Colour.

Aquamarine gets its name from the Latin word for water – aqua marina. Look for that watery quality when selecting your stone. A clear strong blue with a hint of sea foam green is perfect. Some gemstone aficionados prefer a light sky blue, cerulean or swimming pool blue. The most valuable colour is dark blue to slightly greenish blue with a moderately strong intensity. A good rule of thumb is the purer and more intense the blue, the more valuable the stone. Any cloudiness is undesirable.

 

5. Natural vs Heat Treated

These gemstones are sometimes heat treated. The heat causes a chemical reaction that removes any naturally occurring green tones. If you’re after a greener aquamarine ask for an “unheated” stone.

 

6. Clarity

The best quality Aquamarines are eye-clean transparent gems. As they’re part of the beryl family, some gems may have hollow tubelike inclusions (like peppermint crisp), known as rain. Inclusions can inhibit transparency and sparkle and therefore devalue the stone.

 

7. Choosing the setting.

As aquamarine is cool toned, it is best complemented by silver, platinum and white gold. However, if you prefer a yellow gold setting, look out for deeper blue-green aquamarines as opposed to lighter ones. An aquamarine of that shade is better flattered by golden hues.

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8. The Emerald Cut

Certain cuts enhance the natural colour of aquamarine. One of these is the emerald cut. The emerald cut’s broad facets produce a hall of mirrors effect that results in startling vitreous or glass-like colour.

 

9. The Barion Cut

The Barion cut, created by a South African cutter Basil Watermeyer, is  also well-suited to aquamarine. It combines a round brilliant cut for the pavilion (or face) with complex step cutting of the crown. Round brilliant cut stones produce an intense sparkle, while the step cutting enhances the stone’s clarity.

 

10. Is Size Important?

That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a showy piece on a budget, these blue beauties represent great value for money. Unlike diamonds, their price does not rise incrementally depending on carat size. This is because they’re found in nature in much larger sizes.

Smaller stones are rarely saturated enough to be attractive. However, some mines in Africa produce aquamarines known for their intense colour in sizes under 5 carats. These stones can sell for more per carat than larger stones of the same colour.

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Battle of The Blues: Sapphire vs Tanzanite

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If your preferred hue in jewels is blue there are a range of special stones available to buy. Here we take a look at Tanzanite and Sapphire, what sets them apart from each other and how they can set you apart from the crowd.

 

Sapphire, the Regal Classic

Blue sapphires are the most well-known colour variant of the sapphire family. The best sapphires are an intense velvet, royal or cornflower blue. Deep without being dark, they seem illuminated from within and sparkle brightly. Some blue sapphires exhibit more complexity, with shades of green or even a little purple present. Saturation is an important term when buying sapphires. It refers to the purity of the colour. The best sapphires are often described as possessing vivid saturation.

Durable Enough for Daily Wear

Sapphires are exceptionally durable. Their natural hardness makes them suitable for daily wear. They are  a popular choice for engagement rings as the stone symbolises faithfulness and truth in ancient lore. The12-carat Ceylon sapphire given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles is perhaps the world’s most iconic engagement ring.  Prince William, their eldest son and heir to the British throne, also gave the ring to his love, Kate Middleton, upon their engagement.

Sapphires are the birthstone of the September-born as well as a celebration jewel for both 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.

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Experts consider Kashmiri sapphires to be the most stunning. They come from high up in the Himalayas and can only be mined seasonally, making them quite rare. Luckily mines in Nigeria, Australia, China and Thailand produce to incredible sapphires too.

Versatility

Remarkably versatile, these blue-green gems suit all kinds of cuts. This means the buyer can control the final style of the piece quite easily.

Like most gems, sapphires are prone to mineral inclusions. Some are harmless and look like tiny needles under a microscope. These are referred to as silk. Silk inclusions can sometimes throw coruscating light which can enhance the unique sparkle of a sapphire. Sought after Kashmiri sapphires often have silk inclusions. However, any inclusions that can be seen with the eye will affect the clarity of the stone and should be avoided.

Expert Tip: Sometimes coloured stones are heat treated to enhance colour and minimise inclusions. A trustworthy dealer should be able to tell you whether or not your sapphire has been heat-treated.

 

 

Tanzanite, the Rare African Beauty

Tanzanite is definitely the newer kid on the block.  It was discovered in the 1960s by a Masai tribesman and is the purple variety of a stone called zoisite. Purple has been associated with royalty and luxury from the earliest days of human civilization and Tanzanite imbues the wearer with these qualities. After sapphires, it is the most popular blue gem.

Tanzanite owners are part of an exclusive club. The rare gemstone is found only in Mereleni, at the base of the mighty Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Reserves of Tanzanite are thought to be finite and this increases the value of the stone.

The most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in 2000 years.

Tanzanites unique colour range appeals to many buyers. The iconic jeweller Tiffany & Co described it as “the most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in 2000 years.” One stone, when tilted to catch the light, displays an enchanting range of purples, violets and deep inky blues. Some have compared the wondrous effect to staring into Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes. Before buying Tanzanite, even if it is in a setting, be sure to rock the stone or piece of jewellery back and forth in your palm to see the light show! Tanzanite is one of the few gemstones to display a quality called pleochroism. Some exceptional examples of Tanzanite even give off a flash of red at certain angles.

December girls will be delighted to know that this purple prize is their birthstone. It is also used to celebrate a 24th wedding anniversary.

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About Colour, Shape and the all important Size.

Watch out for lighter Tanzanite! Pale Tanzanite has less value. Sometimes these stones are specially coated to improve the colour of the gem and make it look deeper. This coating wears away with time, so be sure to ask your dealer if the stone has been coated in any way.

Tanzanite can be cut into any shape your heart desires. Cushion and oval cuts are the most common because they highlight Tanzanite’s clarity and colour the best. Tanzanite is on the softer side for a gemstone is best suited for dress wear.

Size does matter when it comes to Tanzanite. The colour of a smaller stone is unlikely to live up to the drama this gem is famous for (think Beyonce’s ring). Upwards of 5 carats best displays the fine range of colours this stone has to offer. Although with skillful cutting, smaller periwinkle blue or lavender stones can hold a certain charm.

Which diamond cut has the most sparkle?

“True friends are like diamonds – bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style.” – Nicole Richie

 

A great diamond is all about fire. But when they come in so many different cuts, it can be difficult to know which one will make the brightest impact and gleam most prominently on your finger. Here are some pointers to guide you to the fairest and fanciest diamond of them all.

 

On Clarity and Cut

Diamonds get their sparkle from the way that they are cut. It takes finesse and skill to cut a glorious diamond so that it reflects light intensely. A thick girdle, a large table and exaggerated angles all decrease a diamond’s ability to reflect light, resulting in an inferior diamond. An expert cutter is adept at the art of shaping light. This is why South African Ideal Cut Diamonds are so sought after by diamond connoisseurs. They’re cut to maximise their sparkle.

Clarity is also important. Internal flaws in the diamond can lead to a stone looking cloudy or dull. The right combination of the cut and clarity create a stone with brilliant sparkle.

Experts describe three components that contribute to the light-filled beauty of a diamond. The first, “fire” refers to how the white light scatters into all the colours of the rainbow. The second, “scintillation”, comes from the internal pattern of light and dark found naturally in the diamond’s structure.  Finally, there is “brightness”, the diamond’s ability to create deep internal and external reflections of pure white light.

  • Round Cut

It is well-known that round brilliant cut diamonds have the greatest sparkle. The cut’s numerous facets  bounce light from the bottom tip (the cutlet) of the diamond all the way to the top (the table), back and forth for a dazzling appearance.

 

However, other cuts of diamonds also have their charms and should not be overlooked.

 

  • Oval Cut

Similarly shaped to the round cut diamond, oval cut diamonds give off ample sparkle. Plus, their length can elongate the fingers of the wearer.  You stand out from the crowd when wearing an oval cut diamond. The majority of diamond rings sold are round cut, so the oval cut is a great alternative that doesn’t compromise on sparkle factor.

 

  • Princess Cut

Diamonds cut in this fashion gain their sparkle from the light that refracts spectacularly in the corners of the jewel. Princess cut diamonds have numerous facets which make their fire comparable to that of a round cut diamond. Since princess cut diamonds can be more affordable than round cut diamonds they represent a good balance of sparkle and value.

 

Expert Tip: The more facets a diamond has, the more it sparkles as the light has more faces to bounce off. Depending on the individual jewel, round brilliant cut diamonds have about 58 facets and oval cut diamonds around 56. On the lower end of the scale, emerald cut diamonds have around 49 facets.

 

  • Cushion Cut

Cushion cut diamonds could be called  “fire and ice” diamonds. They are renowned for their intense fire yet have the look of classy crushed ice. For nearly 200 years this was the standard ring cut, so today it evokes a bygone glamour and classic romance. Shape-wise, cushion cut diamonds combine the best of two cuts as they have rounded edges and are rectangular in shape.

 

  • Emerald Cut

These diamonds combine a lean rectangular shape with graceful lines. The emerald cut is the best way to showcase the clarity of a diamond. Plus, it happens to make any stone look larger. Although an emerald cut diamond has less overall brilliance, a hall of mirrors effect is created with flashes of brilliance off the long facets. The effect is that of subtle elegance. Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, Grace Kelly and Amal Clooney have all been gifted show-stopping emerald cut engagement rings. So if you choose this cut you will certainly find yourself in good company.

 

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Which engagement ring is right for me?

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but any woman worth her salt has a couple of other jewels that she goes steady with. Your engagement ring is possibly the dearest piece you’ll wear in your life so its style should be chosen with care.

Pick an engagement ring that delights you so you can gaze upon it fondly every day. It’s a symbol of the love you share with your partner so shop around and consider a fair amount of options before settling on the right one.

Diamonds are traditional. But a woman’s engagement ring should reflect her personality, and although we change over time, every woman has some fixed defining character traits. Here are some engagement ring suggestions to suit your kind of phenomenal woman:

Classical

Classical Engagement Ring

Diamond and White Gold Engagement Ring

The woman who embodies the classical is steady and classy. She loves a well cut Chanel suit and the red soles of a pair of Christian Louboutins. Look for an engagement ring that will endure in style, the same way she does.

A round brilliant cut diamond in a traditional gold or white gold setting will suit the classical woman perfectly. Round brilliant cut diamonds are the most popular for engagement rings as they have 58 facets for light to bounce off of, making for the most generous sparkle.

Quirky

Quirky Engagement Ring. 

Citrine Cabochon and White Gold Engagement Ring.

The Quirky Woman lives in her own fantastical world, disinterested in modern trends. For Miss, well soon to be Mrs. Quirky a vintage ring is perfect. It has the timeless style of a bygone era and she can be sure that no one else will have a love and an engagement ring like hers.

The Art Deco period from jazzy 1920s gave rise to some stylishly complex rings with gracious lines. Think the splendour of The Great Gatsby. Engagement rings from the Edwardian period (La Belle Époque) are known for intimate filigree details, while Victorian engagement rings are full-on romance with hearts, floral patterns and lovebirds featuring in ring design.

These types of vintage rings are hard to come by, but if you see something you know she’ll love while trawling Pinterest, bring the pic to Afrogem. One of our experienced goldsmiths would be delighted to recreate it for you.

Bold

Bold Engagement Ring

Aquamarine and White Gold Engagement Ring

Bold women are often mistaken for show-offs but surely, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Right? These women are striking, powerful and hard to miss in a crowd.

A large diamond will reflect her bold personality the best. As legendary actress and jewellery connoisseur Elizabeth Taylor put it, “Big girls need big diamonds.”

A grand princess cut ring has several corner facets that reflect light intensely. And nothing draws attention to your lovely hands like a princess cut solitaire. Ladylike, romantic and stark it is the perfect choice for the bold woman. The clarity of a polished Aquamarine is another great choice for the bold woman, should you love a bold lady yet not have the pocket for the three carats she’ll need to make her say yes.

Rebel

Rebellious Engagement Ring

Tanzanite and Rose Gold Engagement Ring

The Rebel woman bucks the trend. While other women may want diamonds, The Rebel will be more impressed by your imaginative choice of a coloured gemstone. Princess Diana chose a Sapphire engagement ring, whereas emeralds were known to be a favourite of Cleopatra. Like them, The Rebel is one of the daring women of history.

Tanzanite is perfect for her as the stone comes from a small strip of land at the foothills of the Kilimanjaro. They are about 1000 times rarer than diamonds and with their shades of purple, violet and blue are exceptionally alluring. Their out of the ordinary colour pairs them fantastically well with the warm tones of rose gold for an unforgettable engagement ring.

If your Rebel woman has a wild hippy soul, consider an unpolished precious stone.

Mysterious

Mysterious Engagement Ring

Peridot and Silver Engagement Ring

Not all women covet jewels. Our mysterious woman values subtlety. In a modern twist and a show of affinity she may desire a ring that looks quite similar to her groom’s simple band. For contrast it might be nice for him to have a gold band while you have a delicate silver engagement ring. A silver band can be minimalistic while possessing small details that stop it from being plain. A private quote engraved or initials on the inside of the ring is incredibly romantic. And embossing on the face of the band can bring some charm and design to the engagement ring as well.

Expert tip: If you have shorter fingers try on elongated styles such as a pear, oval, or marquise cut gemstone, and avoid wide bands that could make your fingers look even shorter. If you have larger hands to bring more proportion and delicacy to them try a heart, cushion or round cut diamond.