Thursday, June 7, 2012

Victorian Charm: Kashmir Sapphire amidst Diamonds

It was a weekend afternoon when the ladies decided to meet for some lunch. The driver was early so I figured a short stroll in the mall wouldn't hurt anyone...

A hour later, I found myself in an old dusty shop with a tiny old Indian lady selling some hand made quilts and cushions. It started with a diamond ring that I was wearing... after comparing rings and exchanging tips on cleaning jewelry, she took out a stash of rings and bracelets from a tiny drawer in her shop.

When I saw it, I felt like I was in love. Tiny though it may be, this is a kashmir cabochon sapphire set with diamonds, said to from the Victorian age. I couldn't bear leaving that poor thing in the shop and now, I am happy to say that it has found a new home amidst my other babies.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jade: The Stone of the Son of Heaven

For thousands of years now, the Chinese have been obsessed with a gem, or some call a stone by the name of Jade... but little do many know that there are 2 sisters in the family of Jade. One is called Jadeite and the other is called Nephrite! So what is the difference?

Jadeite is the kind of jade many tai tais adorn on their fingers that come in the colours of green. They range from Imperial Jade (which simply put, is the colour of a Heineken Beer Bottle) but there is apple green, "vegetable" green, "Pea" green and the list goes on... but, there are other colours of Jadeite. Lavender, red, yellow, brown, blue and even pink. I will touch on this rather sticky topic in detail on another occasion...

Nephrite on the other hand is very understated. It is a stone that many who are inexperienced easily mistake as marble or stone... BUT IT IS JADE! Chinese Jade!

The picture above is a little nephrite seal that dates back to the Qing Dynasty. Just to illustrate how a nephrite might look like...

Jadeite on the other hand looks much more like a gem...

I have chosen to feature a little dainty ring that was given to me by my grandaunt... a proper teochew lady of good family, she was always seen in jade, platinum and diamonds and nothing else. I remember she would always tell me, "A respectable lady must have her jade and she must have a respectable collection!"

The ring is made up of 5 cabochons of Apple Green Jade flanked with tiny little pointer diamonds on the side... 4 to be exact. Though my grandaunt could well afford a bangle made of Imperial Jade quality, she would always say that elegance must be shown in an understated manner. Those who understand it will get it, the old rich, she would say, those who dun, will never get it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Light Padparadscha Diamond Lotus Ring from the Edwardian Period

A Lotus in Sunset... in more ways than one

I have been an absolute sinner for not being persistent in my blogging... realization came only when a reader wrote to me to ask for tips for buying a ruby in Myanmar... I wish him my very best in finding the gem of his dreams.

Not that I am finding excuses but much has been happening on the personal and "professional" front. Nonetheless, I still found time to pick up delightful pieces like this Edwardian piece from the States (god knows how it ended up there but who cares right?)

It is a collapsable lotus diamond ring with a light padparadscha center... I don't think anything gets more exciting than this. How apt in terms of symbology and gemological meaning... brings a smile to my face.

Every collapsable petal of the lotus has 3 flower cut vintage diamonds and there are about 24 petals... so there are a whole lot of old diamonds. The center has been changed because it is new... the person that has changed the center must have been someone who knows about gems because Padparadschas' colour is "Lotus in Sunset". I think the rest should remain unsaid.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gems: Colour, Clarity, Cut & Carat

I was having tea with some friends when the subject of the 4 Cs came up. Mind you, we were not talking about the 4 Cs in the male species of homo sapiens but the 4 Cs of Gems!

I chose this gem to illustrate the 4 Cs because it is a classic dilemma for many...


Colour is extremely important. A good colour... though this gems is not Kashmir Blue, it is a decent cornflower blue from Ceylon. What is most important is that the colour is natural. With the wide array of treatments available for gems these days, I would prefer something natural but not as saturated in its colour. If I were so caught up with have the right colour, I would just buy a lab created one with the perfect colour.


Many collectors are happy with a gem that is eye clean. Meaning that you cannot see any visible flaws when you look at it with your naked eye. For me, Colour and clarity are very important factors to pick up a stone (besides the obvious: That it should be natural). Many collectors also look at gems with a lens that has a 10 times magnification. I use a 20 times magnification lens. Which shows how clarity is important to me. I go for stones that are loupe clean. Meaning that you cannot see any prominent inclusions in the stone.


Different gems have different classic cuts to me. For rubies: Cabachons are the best. Mind you, many have the impression that cabachons are mean for gems that are not gem quality or this is a cut meant for gems that are inferior quality. I for one have seen gem quality cabachons and that are mind blowing. Why do you think premium grade rubies are called pigeon blood red? Have you seen a faceted drop of blood from a pigeon?

I prefer sapphires to be in cushion cut. Cushion cut is the classic cut for Sapphires while emeralds should be in table or emerald cut. For emeralds to be cut in the emerald, they have to be of a certain quality in colour and clarity. For those who know their gems, they will understand that it is hard to find an emerald that is a rich colour and clear enough to be cut in the emerald cut.

Another point that I think is important is the proportion of the cut. To me, it is important that the cut is proportionate and there is a decent thickness for the girdle of the gem. Otherwise, the gem gets damaged easily during setting.


For this C, I only have one motto: The larger the better! Provided they satisfy all of the above Cs because at the end of the day, Size is important is to many women.

Many collectors have an unspoken rule... that is stones that are worthy of collection should be 3 Carats and above. Now, the reason why I chose this particular stone to feature is because:

Colour: Cornflower blue, from Ceylon (Natural)
Clarity: Loupe Clean
Cut: Cushion (excellent proportion with a nice thick girdle)
Size: 2.94 Cts

My point is... there is no hard and fast rule to collecting stones. They are products of nature so they almost never fulfill all of the required factors. Like men!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fancy Sapphire - Fancy As Can Be

Just when you thought you have seen all of the colours fancy sapphires come in, pop appears another one that you have to have! This 5.52 Carat Sapphire is Lilac! (A little dusty in the photo but it is loupe clean... ) How amazing is that!

It is times like this that one has just got to go with the flow of what nature brings into our lives! Sometimes, it comes all set with pretty diamonds that accompany it but other times, it comes alone, unset but beautiful. It was acquired on one of the lazy weekend afternoons at a friend's shop when this came in a shipment... so when life presents you a gift of nature on a sliver platter right at your face, all you need to do is accept graciously and say thanks!

Don't be surprised to see a bubble gum pink sapphire or a light yellowish green sapphire or a even teal colour sapphire. Even white sapphires have colour hints or tinges in them while others have more than one zone of colours residing in one gem... I have a friend now in Beijing who owns an old ring with an amazing teal sapphire. She loves it to death!

I am still toying with ideas on how this one should be finished finally and how much diamonds or other stones i should set it with which is really fun and I am very sure that many out there have just about the same amount of fun if not more, deciding how their jewelry should look!

Have fun!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Padparadscha - The Legend of the Lotus in Sunset

We are all fascinated with legends, fables and stories... I am not exception. I remember my ex telling me about this extremely rare coloured sapphire that is very highly coveted: the Padparadscha which means the Lotus in Sunset. My ex heard it from an old indian man he met during a flight who was wearing this gem. Apparently many hail this as a legendary colour...

What is the colour of Padparadscha? The Lotus in Sunset?

"It is neither pink nor orange but it is both! Once you see the colour, you will never forget the colour, it is a colour that will capture your heart!" the old Indian man said. After that incident, my ex visited many jewelers. One day, several year later, he finally found one...

My Legend

The two pictures that you see are photos of one stone. Unfortunately, my ex did not give me his Padparadscha, I had to search for my own legend. This one weighs 2.94 carats and it has been certified to be natural. After seeing the one that my ex owns, it took me 7 years to find this one... one fateful day, I wandered into a shop that was selling gemstones but I could only see this particular gem amongst many many fancy coloured sapphires in the display case. I also remember telling myself that I want this regardless of its price.

Fake Legends? Legend-wannabes?

I have seen many "so called Padparadschas" that are deep pink and intense orange in colour and I have also seen orange sapphires that have a pink hint in them and vice versa... there are some that are pink in colour with zones of orange whilst others are orange sapphires that have areas that have pink and all of the above have been named "Padparadschas"...

If you ask me, I will say that the Padparadscha should be neither pink nor orange but both pink and orange. Most importantly, like all legends, it should capture your heart.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sapphires: Kashmir Blue

It is always nice to be able to retreat, once is a while, from my tai tai duties, focus over a cup of good tea and do some serious business: Blog! Of late, I have been feeling a little blue... thinking a little blue. To be more precise, Kashmir Blue!

Once upon a time, there was a man called Alexander II who happened to be a Russian Emperor, he bought a 260.73 carat Sapphire for his wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna. If this is an expression of love, he must then really love his wife. Sapphires have been, since anyone can be bothered to remember, been coveted gems. These stones that conjure up brilliant images of blue... Kashmir Blue, Cornflower Blue, Ceylon Baby Blue, Royal Blue...

At the top of my list would be Kashmir Blue:

Kashmir Sapphires were discovered in 1889 in a small Indian state northwest of the Himalayas! Apparently, these sapphires were so abundant that they have been once used as flint stones. (What were they thinking!) Unfortunately by the early 1900s, the mines were plundered to their deaths and depleted of their gems. Hence, it is only natural that their value multiply. Stones from 2 - 3 Carats have become items much sort after by collectors and large ones can only be found in museums, at once in a while, at auctions.

If one is so fixed that the gem is born from that particular Indian state, then be disappointed to know that it is almost impossible to prove the origin of the gem with a simple Lab report. Having said that, Sri Lanka, one of the world's most respected sources of Sapphires, does produce a gems that have the "Kashmir Colour" and it is regarded by many as being collection worthy and is almost identical to a stone from Kashmir.

Qualities of Kashmir Sapphires:

Despite the fact that I do not own a Kashmir Sapphire, at least not yet, I understand that they have amazing, legendary qualities. These gems are a velvety, soft, lazy luxurious cornflower blue. Imagine a premium grade cornflower blue sapphire that has a velvety quality to its luster, a soft, lazy, sleep glow. It does not scintillate like most sapphires do, instead it has a idlic lazy glow. Well, nothing beats seeing the real thing but unfortunately, I do not have any to show. (Not yet, at least) but here are some famous Kashmir Sapphires! Enjoy!

Hill's Kashmir Sapphire: 22. 66 Carats
(Photo Credits: Christie's)


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