Amber Jewelry

Amber stones from the beach of the Baltic Sea, Germany Fashion jewelry is not merely the custom to wear certain gems or metals. It refers to much more than that: to fulfilling one’s fantasies and enriching lives by satisfying psychological needs, to peppering existence with a variety of colors, shapes, and textures, to tickling senses and giving wings to dreams. Considering this, let’s take the example of amber jewelry, one of the oldest and most astonishing creations of beauty lovers. Fashion has a strong word to say in sustaining amber jewelry and every year new beautiful creations are available on the market. Combined with precious metals, amber can become an exquisite jewel. The beauty of amber jewelry is a result of good polishing and the precise cut of a variety of amber stones. The color of the stones used to make amber jewelry is often gold, but amber can also come into many various unusual colors like: black, green, ivory, yellow, red, orange and even white. Natural amber may contain insects, feathers or flowers. Its colors are a feast to the eye and it is unique because it imprisons something, unlike other precious stones. There are amber stones 30-90 million years old and they represent frozen moments in time. Those treasures are a way to look back into well preserved moments of a life that existed in the past. Amber jewelry is an original choice also because it has some interesting properties. It has a nice pine smell when you rub it on a piece of cloth, it’s warm and it contains succinic acid (a substance known for its therapeutic properties). The stone is not really a stone, but a resin that can become soft and malleable when heated and that can be chiseled very easily by jewel makers. Amber can be shaped in the most wonderful ways of creating unique pieces. This unusual stone is not used only for jewelry. It is in fashion and, therefore, artists use it to create amber sculptures and to decorate beautiful unique items with it. Amber jewelry is often used as magical amulets that protect from bad luck. It is also thought that amber jewelry can heal diseases from sore throats to anxiety. So, amber is an organic gem that people love not only for decorative purposes. Amber jewelry was not always in fashion. A long time ago, the amber stone was considered to have flaws and was rejected from an esthetical point of view. Although it had periods in which its beauty was denied, there were moments in time in which amber jewelry was used as a diplomatic gift for princesses and princes. In the meantime, people used it in powders for curative purposes. Because it began to be much appreciated, people started faking amber jewelry and they created quite an industry. Fake amber jewelry is everywhere nowadays, but there are some inexpensive ways to see if your stone is man-made or not. You can test your amber gem’s authenticity by putting a heated needle on it. If the smoke smells like pine the gem is amber, but if it smells like plastic it’s fake. For a nondestructive way of testing, you can also rub the amber gem with a piece of cloth and smell it. If it smells like pine, it is a natural resin. The bad taste can tell you whether it is made of plastic not. If obtained through a chemical process, the just washed amber can taste poorly. Some other clues can also tell the truth about it. Amber does not melt, but it will burn. It will float in a bowl where you put one part salt and two parts water, while plastic and copal will sink. If you do own real amber jewelry, you have to know how to protect it and save its value for many years to come. To clean your amber jewelry all you need is warm water and a clean piece of cloth. You mustn’t use any soap or detergent on it because they might ruin the amber’s structure. Even salad oil, butter or lard can destroy the resin. Amber jewelry has to be protected from heat or excessive cold because extreme temperatures may deteriorate it. A soft cloth is needed for wrapping each piece of amber jewelry to avoid contact, get scratched or become dirty. There are many legends built around amber. It is said that the yellow resin is made of tears from the sun or (in Greece) from a nymph. Amber is also present in Ovid’s work as an incredible god-like material that is out of this world. Even if you don’t believe that amber has incredible powers, there is no possibility of denial that amber jewelry is special. Wearing amber jewelry will give a more mysterious and unique look because the amber stone is itself an enigmatic gem that preserves history and charms the...

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Are all Tahitian pearls black? What’s the difference between a cultured pearl and a natural pearl? Are freshwater pearls inferior to saltwater pearls? Are South Sea pearls really golden? Good questions. With all the different pearl colors and types out there, it can be difficult to know just what you’re looking at. For those interested in buying pearls, or for gem enthusiasts who wish to learn more, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about pearls. Are All Tahitian Pearls Black?Not only are Tahitian cultured pearls not exclusively black, but they’re also not grown in Tahiti. Called “black” because of their exotic dark colors, Tahitian cultured pearls can also be gray, blue, green and brown. And they’re grown in the lagoons of small islands that are part of a group known as French Polynesia. Tahiti, the largest island, serves as the group’s center of commerce, and not as a pearl growing mecca. Tahitian pearls are cultivated for about two years in Pinctada Margaritifera Cumingi, a large mollusk native to French Polynesia. One of the ways this unique oyster differs from other species is its interior shell color, which is dark. This so-called “black lipped” oyster also has black mantle edges—the “lips” that give this animal its descriptive name. Today, the most sought-after Tahitian cultured pearls are dark green-gray to blue-gray with rosé or purple overtones. Pearl colors are determined by several factors, including variations in the host oyster, color variation of the implanted donor mussel tissue, the number and thickness of nacre layers, and variations in growing environment such as temperature and water quality. Tahitians are most often variations of gray, black, green and blue, but other colors exist. At an average size of 8mm-14mm, Tahitian cultured pearls—especially those specimens that are gem-quality and round—are very expensive. According to the latest information from the Gemological Institute of America, up to 40 percent of implanted black-lipped oysters produce a gem-quality cultured pearl, but only about 5 percent of the pearls they produce are round. And only 1-2 percent of the entire crop will result in round cultured pearls of the finest quality. No wonder a Tahitian pearl strand is so costly! If you want to wear Tahitian cultured pearls, one way to do so without breaking the bank is to choose a pendant-style necklace with a single pearl, pearl stud earrings, a single pearl ring, or baroque (non-symmetrical) pearls. These designs are every bit as exotic and a lot more affordable than a matched strand. What’s the difference between a cultured pearl and a natural pearl? Natural pearls are formed when an irritant, such as a parasite, makes its way into a pearl-producing animal such as an oyster or mollusk. To protect itself, the animal coats the irritant in nacre—a combination of organic substances that also makes up what we call mother-of-pearl. Over time, the layers of nacre build up around the intruder and eventually form the organic gem we all know as the pearl. Cultured pearls are formed in the same way as natural pearls, with one big difference: they get their start not by chance, but deliberately, when man intervenes with nature. To produce cultured pearls, a skilled technician, called a nucleator, induces the pearl-growing process by surgically placing an irritant—a mother-of-pearl bead and a piece of mantle tissue, usually—into a mollusk. The animal is then placed back into the water and monitored, cleaned, etc. until the pearl is ready to be harvested. The Chinese have been culturing freshwater blister pearls (pearls that grow underneath the mantle on the inside of the animal’s shell) since the 13th century, but Kokichi Mikimoto, a Japanese man, is credited with developing modern pearl culturing techniques. By the early 1920s, Mikimoto was selling his cultured pearls worldwide. Natural pearls can be very beautiful, but due to overfishing, pollution, and other factors, they are a rare find indeed. Thus, nearly all pearls sold today are cultured pearls. There are two main types: freshwater and saltwater. South Sea cultured pearls, Tahitian cultured pearls, and Akoya cultured pearls are all types of saltwater pearls. Cultured pearls of all types can be found in jewelry stores worldwide. Are saltwater pearls better than freshwater pearls? It depends on who you ask, but many pearl experts today agree that freshwater cultured pearls can rival the beauty of their saltwater cousins. Due to improvements in culturing techniques, freshwater pearl farmers are producing beautiful, round, lustrous pearls that are a vast improvement over the wrinkled, rice-krispie-shaped gems that typified the freshwater pearl crop of the not-so-distant past. Produced mainly in China, freshwater pearls are often nucleated, or implanted, with mantle tissue only (rather than a mother-of-pearl bead). Because they do not contain a starter bead, tissue-nucleated freshwater pearls are 100% nacre. This gives them a beautiful luster and a durable surface that won’t easily flake or peel to reveal the inner bead. By contrast, pearls that are bead-nucleated and harvested too soon often have only a thin coating of nacre that will flake or peel. This is a major problem: Unlike many other gemstones, pearls cannot be polished back to perfection. Freshwater cultured pearls come in many beautiful natural pastel colors including cream, white, yellow, orange, pink and lavender. (Universally flattering lavender pearls are very popular right now.) White pearls are bleached to enhance their natural shine. Black freshwater cultured pearls are treated with dye or heat to produce their inky color. Overall, freshwater pearls are more plentiful than other pearl types, thus they are generally more affordable. Are South Sea pearls really golden?Yes. Pearls produced in the aptly named “gold-lipped” oyster (P. maxima) can be a gorgeous creamy yellow, referred to as “golden” in the trade. (The silver-lipped variety of P. maxima produces beautiful silver or white pearls.) Grown in the South Seas—which stretch from the southern coast of Southeast Asia to the northern coast of Australia—these pearls are grown in one of the biggest oysters used in pearl culturing. Because they can accept a...

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