Monday, January 4, 2016

01.04.16 Changing of the Garnet

Tanzanite pendant
Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs
Happy New Year – and welcome to the start of Year 2 on the blog!

The end of last year I was so busy writing about opportunities to shop local, that I totally dropped the ball on December birthstones…despite having two children with December birthdays.  I do have a lovely Pinterest board devoted to them – and with apologies to the December babies - I’m going to take a little time to talk about them now, before moving on to January.

According the American Gem Society, December has three birthstones – turquoise, blue zircon and tanzanite.  A broader search on the term “December birthstones” yields an even wider array of blue stones including topaz and lapis lazuli.

Blue zircon pendant
Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs
Over the years I’ve bought a lot of blue zircon jewelry – for myself (because, as I mentioned I have two kiddos with year-end birthdays) and my daughter, who shares my love of jewelry.  Every year since she was a pre-teen, we have given her a piece of blue topaz or zircon jewelry.  Last summer I asked her if she was tired of it – and would like something different this year.  Her response was NO! – she loves getting a new piece of birthstone jewelry every year, so the tradition continues.

The most recent of these gifts came from Yvonne Raley at Cecile Raley Designs.  I am especially fond of her engraved settings, and this pendant is no exception.  Delicate petals encircle one of the brightest zircons I’ve ever run across, and made a perfect 20th birthday gift!
Photo credit: American Gem Society

Unlike the plethora of options available for December, January has but one stone – the garnet - but it does come in a rainbow of colors.  There are also "color change" garnets.  Stones that exhibit color change are also called "phenomenal gems" and have been highly prized since antiquity.

Because my non-December child has a birthday in June, I've long known about alexandrite, and it's color change properties...but that garnets can also show color change was news to me.
Color change garnet - showing purple
Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs.

Once again, Yvonne was my information source.  She posted a beautiful color change garnet in her shop, at a fraction of the price for a comparable alexandrite.  She had also just introduced a new pear shaped setting - so it seemed like perfect time for me to add a new piece of her jewelry to my growing collection.

The result is the gorgeous pendant you see below - with the same garnet, but showing more blue than red.
Garnet pendant
Photo credit: Cecile Raley Designs

Gem Select provides an excellent explanation of why certain stones show these effects: color change gems have two, approximately equal-sized transmission windows. A red gemstone appears red because it absorbs all frequencies of light except for red. A gemstone that absorbs all frequencies except for blue and red light will appear blue when the light is rich in blue wavelengths (e.g., fluorescent light) and red when the light is rich in red wavelengths (e.g., incandescent lighting).

While this one is mine, Yvonne does still have some beautiful color change stones in her store, and I have another Pinterest board devoted to garnets, with lots of inspiration for January gifts.

With that, dear readers, I am off - but I'm so glad you are back with me for 2016, and hope that your year is off to a sparking start.

Until next time.

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