News Update

May 30, 2005

Just a quick post to keep you up to date with latest developments.

1. Remember we will be attending the Gold Coast Gem Show on the 25th June. Plenty of quality rough and cut gems along with a good selection of jewellery items. Hope to see you there.

2. We will be adding a search site function to our website to make it easier for people to find specific things. No problems if you want to just browse, but we want to make it a bit more efficient for those in a hurry. Please let us know if you have any other suggestions for the website to make it more user-friendly or if you would like to see more information on anything. You are welcome to email us or comment on the blog with any feedback or suggestions.

3. Next Gem of the Week article will be on Tourmaline – a fascinating gemstone with a spectacular range of colours.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

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Gem of the Week: Aquamarine

May 22, 2005

The second in a series of articles brought to you by Aussie Sapphire features Aquamarine, the blue variety of Beryl. Aquamarine is named for the latin phrase “water of the sea” after the typical blue-green colour of the ocean.

Gemmological matters: The mineral Beryl (Be3 Al2 Si6) comes in a variety of colours. While beryl is famous for the green variety of emerald, the blue variety of aquamarine is particularly beautiful and sought after. Ranging from very light pastel blue, blue-green to a deep sky blue, aquamarine derives its colour from variable trace amounts of iron. Aquamarine is 7.5 – 8.0 on the Moh’s scale of hardness meaning it is quite acceptable for most forms of jewellery although care should be taken to prevent from knocks to the stone. Cleavage is indistinct (unlike topaz which has perfect cleavage and so may split if handled carelessly). Unlike emerald, aquamarine is usually very clean with few inclusions and may be found in very large sizes.

Mythology and lore: Aquamarine is the birthstone for March birthstone and is associated with the zodiac sign of Scorpio. Aquamarine is suggested as a gem to give on the 16th and 19th wedding anniversaries. Legend says that aquamarine originated from the treasure chests of the mermaids and since ancient times, sailors carried this gem to keep them safe at sea and prevent seasickness. Aquamarine also protects against the wiles of the devil. Aquamarine has been said to exert a soothing influence, particularly on married couples. Its power to help husbands and wives work out their differences and ensure a long and happy marriage makes it a good anniversary gift. While aquamarine may not guarantee a happy marriage, long life and riches as legend suggests, giving one as a gift to a loved one certainly cant hurt.

Alternatives in blue: The most common alternative to aquamarine is blue topaz. This gemstone is quite similar to aquamarine but buyers should be aware that almost all commercially available blue topaz has been treated with radiation to create the blue colour. All major producing countries have strict guidelines in place to govern the use of radiation for gemstone treatments and cool down periods are monitored carefully so that unsafe gems do not reach the market. However, it is for buyers to make the decision whether they are prepared to wear a gemstone that has been altered in this way. Other alternatives include blue zircon (also heat treated), blue spinel and some varieties of sapphire.Since the price of aquamarine is higher for the deeper and purer colours of blue, many commercially available cut gems have been heat treated to reduce the green component of the traditional aquamarine colour. However, many sources of rough stone (including Aussie Sapphire) sell untreated stone so it is possible to purchase a totally natural gem if you are willing to search in the right place. The highest priced material is the “Santa Maria” aquamarine from this area in Brazil – this name has become synomymous with the deeper intense blue colour and may be used to indicate a colour. Some similarly coloured stone from Africa may indicate depth of colour by using the name “Santa Maria Afrique” type – see picture below of some rough of this type from Nigeria.

Some links of interest about the Aquamarine gemstone:
International Colored Gemstone Association article
Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom information guide
Bernadine Fine Art Jewelry – Gemstone information
University of Texas Gem Notes – Beryl

For those interested in buying rough aquamarine, Aussie Sapphire has a range of gems available – see our Other Gems catalogue for more information on what is available. We are expecting another shipment next month with some excellent Santa Maria Afrique aquamarine (great blue colour from Nigeria) – very sought after so dont miss out on this great product.

Here is an example of a good blue aquamarine over 50 carats in size available from our online shop – great!

Hope you enjoyed reading this article – please check back soon for more news and articles from Aussie Sapphire. As always, please feel free to contribute your comments and suggestions anywhere throughout the blog.

Cheers from Aussie Sapphire


Gem of the Month: Black Spinel

May 14, 2005

sr-a012.jpgThis is the first in a series of articles brought to you by Aussie Sapphire – this month, the featured gem is Black Spinel, the premier black gemstone.  Black spinel (9.3 carat emerald cut)

Black spinel is not well-known among the gem world, yet its outstanding features make it the ideal choice for an opaque black gem. These days, where most gems undergo routine enhancement treatments, black spinel can stand proud as a gem requiring nothing more than cutting and polishing to bring out its inner beauty. If you want a totally natural and untreated black gemstone – black spinel is the one!

Gemmology matters: Spinel (MgAl2O4) is a mineral similar to corundum (Al2O3) and is often found in ruby and sapphire bearing areas. Spinel comes in a variety of colours but the relatively rare opaque black variety is only found in a few areas – traditionally Thailand is the main source but Australia is also a major producer. With a hardness of 8.0, uniform nature, high reflectance and lack of cleavage, black spinel makes excellent gem material. Black spinel has been often called “black sapphire” or “nin” in Thailand. Miners here often call it Blackjack and regard it as an indicator of good sapphire being present in the wash. Let there be no confusion though as black spinel is an excellent gemstone in its own right.

Mythology and Lore: There is a wealth of mythology surrounding black spinel. It is believed to protect its owner from harm, to reconcile differences, and to console sadness. Some say that black spinel is the stone for people born on Saturday and it is the recommended gift for the 22nd wedding anniversary.  While in Western culture, black may be associated with evil or mourning; in other cultures, black may represent power, fertility or wisdom (source Wikipedia). In any case, black is the essence of style and sophistication with a timeless quality that means it will never go out of fashion.

Black Spinel Cab Earrings in SilverAlternatives in black: There are a number of alternative products to black spinel – all with a number of disadvantages.

(photo at left shows silver earrings with 6 carat cabbed black spinel).

Black Diamonds have become extremely popular in recent years with a price tag to match. Although diamond is the hardest material at 10 on the Mohs scale, the high level of dark coloured inclusions in black diamond weaken the stone making it difficult to cut and polish. Almost all commercially available gems have been heated and irradiated to produce a dark colour and larger gems are difficult to find.

Black Onyx is widely available but inferior for use in jewellery. With a hardness of only 6.5-7.0, onyx is susceptible to damage. Buyers must assume that all commercially available black onyx has been heated and dyed to achieve the black colour as naturally occurring onyx ranges from white to brown, often with striping. Black onyx is the easy option but it is not the best.

Jet was made popular by Queen Victoria who wore it as mourning jewellery after the death of Prince Albert.  Jet is really a form of highly compressed coal and is extremely soft (3.0-4.0 Moh) so should be worn with great care to avoid damage.

For those interested in how black gemstones might be used to make a striking fashion statement, here are a few links of interest:

The Rainbow Collection – black spinel/pearl necklace
Black Spinel choker from Novica
Bernadine Fine Art Jewelry – black gems

Of course, here at Aussie Sapphire, we have a range of exclusive jewellery featuring black spinel and loose gems which may be used in a jewellery setting of your choice. See our online shop to browse our selection of Black Cat Jewellery and Black Spinel gems.

We hope you found this article of interest – we welcome your comments so feel free to contribute. Stay tuned for the next article which we will probably do on aquamarine.
cheers from Aussie Sapphire


Celtic Festival Report

May 7, 2005

The Celtic Festival at Glen Innes has come and gone for another year. This was our first time as a stall holder at the Festival and we had a very successful weekend with lots of good interest in our jewellery. Around 5000 people attended the Festival and by all accounts, it was the best ever. In contrast to the more specialised gem shows, these visitors often did not have much experience with Australian gems and particularly appreciated finding out about the commercial sapphire industry.

For those of you who are considering visiting Glen Innes for the Celtic Festival next year, it is a fantastic event with heaps of entertainment – definitely not just kilts and bagpipes. Dont miss it!


“The calm before the storm” – the Aussie Sapphire team (including our youngest member Angus) preparing our display while Festival Visitors attend the Grand Parade.


The massed pipe band – but those who prefer bagpipes in small doses are catered for also with lots of variety in music, dancing and bush poetry all weekend.


Roman soldiers re-enacting a gladiators duel.

As expected, jewellery was the flavour of the month with very good sales of pieces featuring our own gems. We have received much feedback from customers who prefer to wear gold jewellery – we have taken this on board and we have some excellent designs in sapphire and black spinel being made as we speak. Stay tuned for more information on this in future posts. Cut sapphires sold quite well and our new range of small sizes proved very popular – certainly an affordable way of including some of the best gems available into your own designs. We also have some brand new products that have not yet been listed online so check back soon for new listings.

That’s all for now – please feel free to comment on any post or to contribute customer feedback using the link provided on the right. We appreciate hearing from our customers any time.
Cheers from Aussie Sapphire