Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Rose (quartz) By Any Other Name...

...would still be rose quartz! Today I'm tackling the subject of those confusing names of stones that you may run across when searching for jewelry or supplies.

Just like "pate de foie gras" sounds much more palatable and decadent than "fatty ground goose liver", Mont Blanc Ruby sounds much more appealing (and expensive) than rose quartz. In reality, they are one and the same. In an attempt to romanticize gemstones and make them sound more alluring to potential customers, the jewelry industry has come up with an incredible list of confusing misnomers for gemstones. Add to that the fact that we have come to associate certain colors with the gemstones we originally named them for and it can make one's mind reel!

So... a few things to keep in mind when you're shopping for jewelry or supplies to create jewelry-

  • the use of a color in a description does not necessarily mean that it is made of that gemstone. For example, amethyst is a gemstone. It is also a shade of purple - although the gemstone is not always purple... and it is also a form of crystalline quartz. But amethyst crystal is - (drum roll please) - glass!

  • just like plant and animal life, minerals are classified by families. For those of you who may not be quite sure of what I'm talking about, it's kind of like a family tree. Take Mookaite (you) for example. It is a form of Jasper (Dad), which is a form of Chalcedony (Grandpa Jones), which is a form of Quartz (Great Grandpa Smith). While each level of the family has specific characteristics which differentiate it from other levels, all of the levels do have some of the same basic characteristics - just like you retain some of Great Grandpa Smith's genetic makeup. Chances are good tho, that you'd rather be labelled with his qualities that are more appealing or positive. You probably won't see many jewelry sellers labeling that piece of Jasper as quartz, but if they did, they would still be correct!

  • the use of a place name with a gemstone name in a description does not necessarily mean that it is either from that place or is that gemstone. A good example of this is Amazon Jade, which is neither from the Amazon, nor is it Jade. It is actually Amazonite which belongs to the Feldspar family and, by the way, also does not come from anywhere near the Amazon.

  • an exotic sounding name is often just that. Don't be afraid to ask the seller about the actual composition of the stone. They should be able to provide that information easily and if they can't, do some research on your own. There is a wealth of information available on the internet, at your library, or even at your local bookstore.

  • cultured pearls are real pearls. Freshwater pearls are real pearls. Tahitian black pearls are real pearls, although they're not always black (they get their name from the black lipped oyster that produces them). Faux, glass, mother of pearl, and Swarovski pearls are not pearls...it doesn't mean that they aren't beautiful, inexpensive and durable, tho. It just means that they are not real pearls!

  • Here's the links to a few websites with some interesting information, if you're inclined to learn more about the wonderful gifts from Mother Earth that we call gemstones.

    Misleading Gem Names - http://www.gemscape.com/html/misnomer.htm
    Pure Pearls -http://www.purepearls.com/pearls-2.htm
    Gemstone Characteristics - http://www.csgnetwork.com/gemchar.html
    Gemological Institute of America - http://www.gia.edu/research-resources/gems-gemology/index.html

    Starting Friday, I'm going to start doing a short daily "feature" of some great Etsy shops. I'm working on setting up something in the sidebar to give this feature a home, but I will keep you posted. I will continue to be using images from a variety of stores to illustrate my articles, but it's fun to get to know the "people behind the photos" on Etsy as well!

    1 comment:

    Glitzer said...

    Thank you for featuring my earrings! :o) Your post is interesting! Neat Post!

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