Taking a Break

September 24, 2006

Just letting everyone know that we will be taking a short break in early October.  We will be away from the office from the 30th September and will be returning 9th October.

As usual, we will be checking our email daily while we are away but will not be able to despatch parcels or answer questions which need close inspection of the item.  Please feel free to contact us during this time – we may not answer with quite our usual speed but should be able to answer you within 24 hours.

Google Earth view of Iluka and YambaWe will be spending a week or so at the beach with the kids and plan to do lots of relaxing so we can come back to work fully recharged. 

See the image at left for a satellite view of our favourite holiday spot from Google Earth – about 29°24’S and 153°21’E if you want to check it out yourself.  We will be staying at Iluka just on the bay (centre of image – you can see Yamba in the lower right hand corner).

Last mail day is Friday – we suggest buying this week if you have your eye on anything so we can get it delivered promptly.  Remember, we have a Free Shipping promotion running at the moment for orders over $100 AU (excludes some heavier items) – see our last post for more details.

 cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire


Gourmet in the Glen

September 23, 2006

The New England region is starting to develop a reputation for producing quality wine.  Wine production is not new to the area with vineyards near Inverell dating back to the early 1900’s.  With this century, the industry has been reinvigorated with new vineyards and a vibrant wine show to discover and celebrate the best of the best.

Gourmet in the Glen
Saturday October 7th 2006 

After a modest beginning as “Grapes on the Grass”, this local wine festival now known as “Gourmet in the Glen”is a showcase for New England wine producers.

The day will include tastings of the local wine to enjoy while you sample wonderful culinary delights from local restaurants.  The festival also features a range of a range of local produce from regional food producers.  Many of the successful Wine Show exhibitors will also have stalls where you can purchase bottles of your favourite drop to take home.

Something new to the festival is the Cook-Off competition where two apprentice chefs from the town team up with invited chefs in a “ready, steady, cook” style of event – the teams of two will be put to the task of preparing a meal in twenty minutes from a mystery bag of ingredients.

Music will be provided by a number of talented young people from the district and beyond.  All you have to do is choose a mouthwatering dish and a suitable wine from the wide range on offer and enjoy the music during a beautiful spring day in Glen Innes.

Please see the New England Wine Show website   or the  Gourmet in the Glen website  for more information about this great event.  Please note that entry to Gourmet in the Glen (held at the Glen Innes Showground) is free.  If you wish to taste the wines entered in the wine show (150 of them!), this costs $20 and includes a souvenir tasting glass – great value for the opportunity to sample the best wines of the region.

The festival finale is the Glen Gourmet and Grape Ball.  Held at the Showground on Saturday evening (October 7th 2006), you will be treated to a fabulous night of wonderful food, exceptional local wine and fantastic entertainment.  Dress is Black Tie with music provided by Maxwell Street (from Armidale) who will keep the party atmosphere well and truly jumping.

Next post will look at some of the local wines in more details so stay tuned for more on this subject.  Cheers from Aussie Sapphire.

Free Shipping Offer

September 20, 2006

Hello to all our valued customers and friends.  In appreciation of your continued support we are now offering Free Shipping for any order over the value of $100 AU.  This offer does not apply to items in our Tools-Other category (the heavier and/or bulky items) but is valid for all gems and blank jewellery settings where total parcel weight is less than 250 grams.  This code may be used multiple times and is available for anyone to use so please feel free to tell your friends about this deal.

To take advantage of this offer, simply enter Free_Shipping into the Discount Code box at the checkout (Step 2) and if the total exceeds $100 AU, shipping costs will be waived. 

We are adding stock as requested by you with an increase in our Sterling Silver blank jewellery settings (we can get other designs and order 14k gold in so just ask).  We are also carrying more tools and accessories to assist – we have just been successful in becoming a distributor for the famous Gemmasta faceting machine and can offer good deals on these proven popular machines along with almost any other tool or part (happy to quote).  Jewellery/Gem scales for under $40 AUD have just been added so please take a look. 

We have had good production from the mine in the last week so we will have some new sapphire rough on soon.  As always, we do not have everything listed so please enquire if you dont see what you need.  And remember to check here for any news, announcements and articles or subscribe to our newsfeed so you dont miss anything.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Vale Steve Irwin

September 20, 2006

Like many around the world, we were saddened to hear of the untimely death of Steve Irwin and our heart goes out to his wife and children.  Both our kids were big fans of the Crocodile Hunter.  As a husband and wife team who work closely together every day ourselves, we know it must be incredibly hard when you lose one member of that team.  Our thoughts are with Terri during this difficult time.

A memorial service will be held today and broadcast worldwide.  For those wanting to honour his memory in a more tangible way, we suggest a donation to Wildlife Warriors.

Got Gems – What Next?

September 17, 2006

There are lots of people who have gems of various types sitting in a plastic bag at the bottom of a drawer.  They looked great in the shop window or at the gem show but when you get them home, you have the problem of what to do with them.  Not to worry, we can offer some useful suggestions.

You may have one or two special gems or a whole collection.  It is important to store them properly.  There are two types of gem boxes available in our Online Shop – affordable plastic gem boxes and black covered glass window boxes – both types have white inserts. 

These are a great way to store your gems – make sure to write the important details of the gemstone on the box.  We recommend identifying each gem with a id number and record all relevant details in a log book and/or computer spreadsheet or database.

However, the best way to really appreciate your gems is to wear them.  Make a piece of jewellery for yourself or a loved one – it is much easier than you might think.  If you have a very important or expensive stone, we recommend you have a custom made piece created for you by a manufacturing jeweller (we can make some suggestions here).  A more affordable option is to use an “off-the-shelf” blank setting.  These are a great way to use those inexpensive gems or as a temporary setting for more expensive gems while you decide on a custom-made design.

Aussie Sapphire can supply a range of blank settings for pendants, earrings and rings – these are stocked in sterling silver in a range of shapes, sizes and designs.  Most silver designs are also available in 14 carat white or yellow gold (as a special order) so if you see a design you like, just contact us for a quote.

These are very easy to set using just a minimum of tools – please see our gem setting page for some handy instructions.

Dont let your gems gather dust or lie forgotten in a drawer somewhere – get them out on display so you can really enjoy them.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Gem of the Month: Agate

September 7, 2006

The modern and traditional birthstone for September is Sapphire – covered in a previous article.  While sapphire is our primary interest, we also enjoy and appreciate the many alternative birthstones for each month.  The mystical birthstone for September is Agate – a stone of amazing variety and colour.

Gemmology Matters:  Agate is the name given to a very large family of quartz gemstones of which Sardonyx – subject of our last Gem of the Month article – is a member.  Agate is a type of chalcedony or fibrous cryptocrystalline quartz (SiO2) and is found in a variety of colours, may be translucent, transparent or opaque and has a hardness of 6.5 to 7. 

Agate used for ornamental or in jewellery is often treated by dying to enhance or alter colour.  Since quartz is a very abundant mineral on Earth, agate is quite inexpensive.  Some particularly attractive and unusual varieties may command a higher price but this stone is still a great way to start an affordable gem collection.  Moss agate and Plume agate are two varieties which are priced higher due to beauty and demand.

Agate is found throughout the world in a huge variety of form.  Probably every country has a particular area that yields stones of a particular type of beauty and Australia is no exception.  Here in Queensland, there is an area (surprisingly called “Agate Creek”) which is rich in these gems which are available for anyone to find for just the price of a fossicking licence and a few hours of digging.

Mythology and Lore:  The name agate derives from the Greek for stones found on the Achate river in Sicily.  Agate has been used for thousands of years – examples have been found with other Stone Age relics dating back to as early as 20,000 BC.  Agate was also used by early civilizations for talismans, amulets, seals, rings and vessels.

People in medieval times wore agate to bring God’s favor, enhance persuasiveness, increase courage and strength and protect against danger.  Agate was also used to promote pleasant dreams and cure insomnia.  Early Greeks made amulets of agate for protection from the elements of the sea.

Agate is associated with the zodiac sign of Gemini and for those born in the month of May.  Agate may also be given to celebrate the 12th wedding anniversary.

qldagate1.jpgAlternatives for Agate:  Due to the extremely wide variation in colour and form, there is really no alternative for this unique gem.  Added to this, the fact that it is very affordable, there is no excuse for you not to have at least one attractive piece in your collection. 

Links of Interest:

  • Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry – article on Agate
  • Mineral Miners – Fact sheet on Agate
  • Wikipedia article on Agate
  • Agate on Mindat.org – Minerals Database
  • Agate Creek area – Australian Gem Gallery
  • Fossicking information for Agate Creek – Queensland

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

And remember, if you are looking for the traditional September birthstone of sapphire, we can give you lots of choices in our online shop.

New Listings

September 5, 2006

Just a quick announcement to let customers know we have a number of auctions running at the moment.  A few of our regular customers are already on to these but there are a few days remaining so get your bids in now so you dont miss out.

Dont forget we have many more items in both our Ebay Store and the Main Website so please check out these great products as well.

Click here to see our current auction listings including some excellent sapphire facet rough, some good spessartite, zircon and a special item containing one very nice pink tourmaline and a good fanta orange spessartite.

As a promotion, we have listed two items in the UK – please feel free to bid on these also. If you win items from separate Ebay sites, we cannot automatically combine them due to currency differences but you are still entitled to combined shipping so make sure you only pay one lot of postage ($6 AU within Australia or $17.50 AU for airmail anywhere in the world).

Good Luck
Cheers from Aussie Sapphire