Celtic Festival 2006

April 30, 2006

Have just returned from a very successful and enjoyable weekend at the Standing Stones of Glen Innes – the site of the annual Celtic Festival. This year's festival was better than ever despite a little rain on Sunday at lunchtime which put a bit of a dampener on some of the activities. We enjoyed chatting to many visitors to the town who were very interested to learn more about sapphire mining in the local area.

The Celtic Festival is a celebration of Celtic heritage and culture through song, dance and entertainment. The festival is held at the Australian Standing Stones, comprising 40 granite monoliths set in a circular array orientated to mark the summer and winter solstices. This setting is entirely appropriate to the many activities on offer this weekend – a number of pipe bands and other musical entertainment, dancing (Scottish and other forms) and re-enactments from relevant historical eras.

The soldiers in red are from the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment. The warriors in action in this photo are from the 9th Roman Legion – very entertaining to see how the gladiatorial battles of old might have looked. Toss in a few Medieval Knights in shining armour and the spectacle is complete.

The Festival also features traditional Strongman events, sheep dog trials and many interesting market stalls. If you havent been to the Celtic Festival yet, mark it in your calendar for next year. A great weekend for all.

Of course, bagpipes and kilts are in abundance and Glen Innes has a very fine pipe band seen here in full voice.Thank you to all those visitors who made our weekend a success. We made many sales of jewellery and it makes us very proud to see people from all over Australia wearing our unique and beautiful gems.

Remember, if you missed us at the Celtic Festival, check out our website or contact us anytime with your enquiry.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire


New Listings

April 25, 2006

Just a quick post to let customers know that we have listed a few new auctions – starting as usual at 99 cents. Some quality blue-on-blue sapphire and some very nice parti sapphire here – any or all of them may go at bargain basement prices so get them on your watch list so you dont miss out. Check out our Ebay Store for details of the auctions and other great items on offer.

Will try and get some other good rough on soon.
Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Back to work

April 24, 2006

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we are back on deck. We really enjoyed our week off at the beach and got back today ready to get stuck into work again.

Had lovely weather all week while we were at Coffs Harbour and we all had a great time. Did quite a bit of relaxing and some shopping (including checking out the many jewellery shops). However, no visit to Coffs Harbour would be complete without a visit to the Big Banaa (see photo at left).

While we did check our email while we were away and tried to answer most enquiries, there is the possibility that some messages may have slipped past us (our email access was a little difficult with either excruciatingly slow mobile phone dialup or having to head down to the internet cafe). If you have not received a response from us, please send your message again and we will attend to us asap.

We have spent the afternoon preparing the next lot of mail to go on Wednesday morning – no mail tomorrow due to Anzac Day. We will also be listing some new items so look out for those on the Ebay Shop soon. We will also be attending the Celtic Festival at Glen Innes this weekend so for those of a Celtic bent, hope to see you there.

All online sales from the Ebay Store are now back to normal so feel free to purchase or ask any questions – your enquiries and orders will be attended to promptly as usual now that we are back on deck.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Happy Easter

April 11, 2006

Aussie Sapphire would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter – if you are travelling over the break, have a safe and enjoyable trip.

As announced on our Ebay Store, we will be taking a short break ourselves to recharge the batteries and enjoy some quality time at the beach with the kids. As we now have quite a large number of items on offer via our Ebay Store, it is impractical for us to "take the shop with us" as we have done on previous holidays. Therefore, we will be closing the Store while we are away for the period 14th to 24th April 2006 so that customers do not purchase and then experience unexpected postage delays.

If you have transactions yet to be finalised, we recommend that you make payment this week so we can arrange postage before we leave on Friday.

However, as always, we will be checking email frequently while we are away so if you have any questions or enquiries, please feel free to contact us. We may not answer emails with quite our usual speed but we will respond to your email as soon as we can.

We love our work but one of the facts of running an online shop is that you are open for business 24 hours a day – we find that we need an occasional break to rest and rejuvenate. This year, we are heading to Coffs Harbour and are looking forward very much to some sun and sand.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Club Fossicking

April 10, 2006

Aussie Sapphire were very pleased to host the New England Lapidary and Fossicking Club last weekend for some sapphire fossicking on the Reddestone Creek.

About 30 Club members made the trip up from Armidale & Uralla to enjoy a pleasant Autumn morning at Glen Innes looking for sapphires. As always, some were luckier than others but most went away with a touch of colour.

The visitors were very interested to see the mine plant (not working for safety reasons) before getting stuck into the digging. The photo at left shows Andrew describing how the plant works to a group of visitors.

Unfortunately, for insurance reasons, we cannot allow visitors on to our property unless they are affiliated with a group which can cover the activity under their own insurance. The Minerama guided tours and occasional Club visit fall into this category and we are very pleased to be able to assist where we can.

Down to the business end of things now, you can see that serious fossickers come prepared to get dirty. The photo at left shows our 2 boys having a go themselves – and yes, they got very dirty and had loads of fun in the meantime.

For those interested in learning how to fossick for gemstones such as sapphire, see the Fossicking Page at our website. If you have an interest in gems and minerals, joining a club is an excellent way to meet with like-minded people and have the opportunity to go on field trips such as this. See the Australia Facetors Guild website for a list of clubs in your area.

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire

Regular visitors to our Ebay Store will have noticed the announcement regarding our upcoming Easter Break. There will be a blog post dealing with this in the next day or so – we'll be away 14-24 April but will be checking emails while we are away so feel free to contact us during this time. Parcel delivery will be delayed until we return.

Gem of the Month: Diamond

April 2, 2006

The gemstone for April is diamond – truly the “King of Gems”. Also representing a 60th anniversary, diamond is given as the birthstone for April or the zodiac stone for Taurus.

Gemmology Matters: With a chemical composition of C, diamond is simply a transparent crystal of the element Carbon. The very strong network of tetrahedrally bonded carbon atoms is the reason for the hardness of diamond. Measuring 10 on the Moh Scale, diamond is the hardest naturally occuring substance and is ideally suited to jewellery, particularly when worn everyday.

Diamond is an excellent gemstone with with a wide range of colour (white or colourless being most popular), excellent lustre and high refractive index meaning a well-cut diamond will show great fire and brilliance. Having said that, diamond is not invincible and can be damaged. Diamond has perfect cleavage and so is vulnerable to splitting along a cleavage plane if hit in the right spot. Good cutters will orientate the crystal to minimise the chance of this happening.

Diamonds are predominantly mined in Africa although other countries also have significant deposits. Australia is also a major producer with the main area being the Kimberly region of northern Australia – the Argyle Mine being most famous for its unique natural colour pink diamonds. Diamonds are also found, although in only very small quantity, in the New England region of NSW (near Copeton and Bingara) – this area is currently subject to commercial testing by Cluff Resources.

Diamonds are valued according to a grading system based on the 4 C’s – Colour, Cut, Clarity and Carat (or weight). There are many resources on the internet describing this system and many expensive diamonds will be sold with a grading certificate as price is largely determined by the grading results. The links above provide a starting point for researching diamond grading.

Mythology and Lore: The name diamond derives from the Greek work “adamas” meaning invinvible. Many ancient cultures have sought to explain diamond’s superlative properties through divine or mystical affiliations. Perhaps the earliest symbolic use of diamond was as the eyes of Hindu devotional statues – these diamonds were cherished as gifts from the gods. It is not known when diamonds were associated with divinity but early texts indicate that it was recognized in India since at least 400 BCE. It is said the Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the gods while the Romans believed they were splinters of fallen stars.

Western cultures have used diamonds to symbolise fearlessness and virtue although they are also associated with power and wealth due to their high value. Today, diamonds are used to symbolize eternity and love – accordingly, they are a popular choice for engagement rings. The popularity of this modern tradition can be traced directly to the marketing campaigns of De Beers, starting in 1938. Prior to the De Beers marketing campaign, engagement rings had no one particular stone associated with them.

Alternatives in White: Although diamonds come in a variety of colours, white (or colourless) is still the most popular. There are a number of alternative gemstones in white – these are all more affordable but all are inferior in some way to diamond. Gems used as alternatives to diamond include sapphire (or colourless corundum), zircon, topaz and quartz. Diamonds also have a number of synthetic imitations of which cubic zirconia is the most commonly used (not to be confused with zircon which is a natural gemstone). Moissanite is a newer synthetic used in place of diamond. Beware of misleading names such as “Killicrankie Diamond” or “Alaska Diamond” – these refer to topaz and quartz respectively . See here for more information on diamond simulants.

Links of Interest:
A comprehensive article on diamond at Wikipedia
Argyle Diamonds from Australia – company website and gemmological information.
Diamants Infos – the Universe of Diamond
Emporia State University – Everything about Diamonds

Remember that while we unfortunately do not produce diamonds from our own mine, we can source diamonds to your specifications if you would like to add diamonds to your order. Just contact us for a quote anytime.

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire

Blue Sapphire Treatment Issue

April 1, 2006

Just a quick post to inform our customers of the latest news in the Blue Sapphire Beryllium treatment issue that has been influencing the sapphire market recently.

Hot off the press from the AGTA GTC's Laboratory is this update for March 29, 2006:
Beryllium-Treated Blue Sapphires by Garry Du Toit, Richard W. Hughes & John I. Koivula

Unfortunately, it appears that our previous hopes that the presence of beryllium in some blue sapphire was the result of contamination appear to be wrong. Concentrations of beryllium in many of the tested stones were high enough to indicate deliberate introduction of this checmical and not accidental contamination. The disappointing thing about this affair is that once again, disclosure in the marketplace was inadequate and the labs had to play a catch-up game to deal with this new treatment issue.

The AGTA is now stating that where evidence of long term/high temperature treatment is found that further testing is required to detect the presence of foreign elements (such as beryllium).

For more background on this issue, we recommend readers look at the AIGS article published in March 1, 2006 by Vincent Pardieu – Understanding blue sapphire heat treatment: Introduction to the beryllium issue.

Both articles have a number of links to other pages containing relevant information – great reading for those interested in this subject.

Here at Aussie Sapphire, we would like to assure customers that we will always disclose details of treatment status of all gems from our own mine (and imported gems where this information is available). We sell our rough fully natural (unheated or otherwise enhanced) and cut gems will be sold fully natural (unheated) or with basic heat treatment only.

We should point out that basic heat treatment is done at a lower temperature and for only a short time compared with the long term/high temperature treatment (sometimes called UHT or ultra-high temperature) involved in the latest controversy. No chemicals are introduced during the heating process and we believe that this method which has been used for centuries on sapphire is an acceptable form of treatment if fully disclosed to the customer.

We plan to keep the Treatment Page of our website up to date with these developments so customers can learn more about this issue – breaking news will be published here on the Blog first and moved to the Treatment Page as time permits. This new issue has already had a significant impact on the sapphire market world-wide and we will keep you informed as we learn more about this.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire