Website Developments

December 27, 2009

Just reminding everyone that this blog is no longer maintained.

The Aussie Sapphire blog is now at

However, for more active discussions, we suggest you check out our new forum ALF (Aussie Lapidary Forum) which is growing day by day and has lots of great information on gems, fossicking, lapidary and more.



We are moving again !

December 15, 2006

Just letting you know that we have moved our blog again – still a WordPress blog but hosted on our own website.  Have moved all the posts over and the new blog gives us much more flexibility and functionality.

The RSS newsfeed is now located at:

Please update your bookmarks and/or newsreader program and we hope to see you over at our new digs.

cheers from Aussie Sapphire

Website Problems

November 22, 2006

Just a short note to alert website visitors to some problems on our website with display of images.  Have managed to get small images showing but still having problems with large image pop-ups.  We are working on the problem right now and hope to have things back to normal asap.

In the meantime, if there are any items that you would like access to large images for, just email us and we will arrange this.  Please bear with us while we sort this problem out.   If you know of any other little glitches, please let us know and we can try to solve them while we we are troubleshooting.

thanks for your patience from Aussie Sapphire

UPDATE (23/11/06): I think we have this problem sorted out now (hopefully).  All images should be now displaying normally.  If you see a glitch, please let me know so I can chase it up.  Sometimes computers can be very frustrating !!

Christmas Sale on Gold Jewellery

November 12, 2006

clip8_7b.gifThose stuck for Christmas present ideas need look no further.  Aussie Sapphire is offering a fantastic 25% off our already discounted internet prices on all Gold Jewellery.

We have just received some new pieces in 18k white and yellow gold – these look fantastic and would make someone special very happy.

Here is a lovely 18k Ring with sapphire and diamond

Aussie Sapphire - 18k White Gold ring with sapphire and diamond

Click here to see more Gold Rings

These Triangular Sapphire & Diamond Earrings look great!

Aussie Sapphire - Sapphire & Diamond Earrings

Click here to see more Gold Earrings

Last example is our Sapphire/Diamond Circle Pendant

Aussie Sapphire - Sapphire & Diamond Circle Pendant

Click here to see more Gold Pendants


Hope this has given you some gift-buying inspiration.  These discounts will last until Christmas Eve but remember, these are one-off pieces so dont wait too long.  If your tastes run along more practical lines, please view our range of other products including rough and faceted gems, blank jewellery settings, gem storage and lighting and more.

NEW:  Fossicking at home with our Bag a Beauty Sapphire Gravel and Concentrated Gravel packs – check out the Fossicking section for more information.  Great gift idea!!

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Gem of the Month – Yellow Topaz

November 12, 2006

imperial.jpgYellow topaz is also known as the modern birthstone for November.  Although now probably overtaken by the more commonly used Citrine, Topaz is a particularly lovely gemstone which is deserving of more recognition in its “precious” form.

Photo at left from is a good example of Imperial Topaz from Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom

Gemmology Matters:   Natural Topaz is a fluro silicate with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH).  It is found in a variety of colors including brown, red, orange, pink, sherry, yellow as well as colourless.  Often the shades from yellow through to red are termed “Precious Topaz” with particular colour combinations described as “Imperial Topaz” – those gems denoted as Imperial and the very rare red varieties command the highest prices.  The definition of Imperial Topaz colour (reddish-orange?) can be quite complicated – see this Gemology Online thread for more discussion on this subject. 

sherry_topaz.jpg This example of a sherry coloured topaz crystal is from John Betts Fine Minerals (Gem Crystals catalogue) – this specimen is from Pakistan and shows the hexagonal crystal habit of topaz very clearly.

Green and blue topaz are naturally very pale, the very bright colours often found in jewellery today are the result in irradiation treatment – Sky Blue, Swiss Blue and London Blue are names used by the gem trade to refer to the depth of color.   See our Blue Topaz article for more information.   Please note that surface colour coatings are becoming more common in Topaz – starting with the multi-colour version of Mystic Topaz, but now also used to create other colours such as pink.  Gems treated in this way should be treated with care to avoid damaging the colour coating.  These types of gems should be far cheaper than naturally coloured stones so be wary when purchasing brightly coloured Topaz and ask about enhancement treatments first.

The principal sources for topaz is Brazil – also found in Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Africa, Mexico and Pakistan.  Topaz is an excellent gemstone for jewellery with a hardness of 8 – although it has perfect cleavage which may present some danger when setting in jewellery.  For this reason, topaz should be treated with care and protected from hard knocks.

Mythology and Lore:   While the blue variety of topaz is for those born in December, yellow topaz is the modern November birthstone.  Topaz may be given to celebrate the 4th, 19th and 23rd wedding anniversaries.

Most of the mythology for topaz relates to the yellow variety as natural blue topaz is quite rare and pale in colour.  The Egyptians believed that topaz was coloured with the golden glow of Ra – the sun god.  The importance of Ra made topaz a very powerful protective amulet for the faithful.  This link with the sun was also found in ancient Roman culture where topaz was associated Jupiter, also a God of the Sun.

Topaz was once thought to strengthen the mind, increase wisdom, and prevent mental disorders.  It was also thought to guard against sudden death.  Legend says that topaz has the power to dispel all enchantment and help improve eyesight.  The ancient Greeks used the gem to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of crisis.  Used in medicine in ancient time, topaz was said to cure insomnia, asthma, and hemorrhages.

imperial-topaz.jpg This imperial topaz photograph is from the Palagems Topaz Buying Guide which also has some excellent information on the famous Ouro Preto mine in Brazil (see link below).

Alternatives in Yellow:  The range of colour in Precious Topaz brings to mind the amber gold of fine cognac, the blush of a ripe peach and all the colours of a setting sun.   While its cheaper cousin, Citrine, is commonly used these days and is an alternative November birthstone, it is slightly softer and does not have quite the complexity of colour that is present in a particularly fine Topaz.  Sapphire is also found in yellow – while beryllium treated yellows now abound in the marketplace, a fine golden yellow sapphire of natural colour can command very high prices. 

Links of Interest:

Aussie Sapphire does not currently have any topaz in stock – we do have a small supply of good yellow sapphire (natural and basic heat only – no beryllium treatment).  None of this is currently listed but we invite you to contact us directly if you are interested.

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 – 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.

Glenreagh Mountain Railway

October 6, 2005

While we were on holiday last week, we spent a fantastic morning at the Glenreagh Mountain Railway – located between Coffs Harbour and Grafton in NSW. Please see their website for more information on timetables, the trains and the work of the volunteers.

While we were admiring the train, some of the fantastic volunteers offered Patrick (our resident train fan in the photo on the left) a look in the cab where he was thrilled to see the controls up close and pull the whistle. We cannot thank these people enough for making this the experience of a lifetime for Patrick who is still talking about how lucky he was – we really appreciate your generosity.

We had a very enjoyable ride on 1919 or “Betty”. This locomotive is currently 127 years old and was built by the Beyer Peacock Locomotive Company in Manchester, England in 1878. 1919 arrived in Australia in December 1878 and entered service for the NSWGR as No. A114 of the A93 Class. This loco worked at various locations including the Glenreagh to Dorrigo line from 1953 to 1958 – great to see this train working again on one of its old routes. Coincidentally, 1919 spent a number of years working the Oberon to Tarana line where Patrick’s grandfather grew up – as he knew the driver and fireman quite well, he used to be given rides many times as a small boy.

We recommend a visit to the GMR for anyone visiting the area. Working steam trains are not easy to find these days and a ride on this one is a very enjoyable outing (good value for money as well). We hope the volunteers of the GMR achieve their dream of repairing the line all the way to Dorrigo. We will certainly be back to see the progress.

However, we had to come back to work eventually so am in the middle of grading up the last few weeks of mine production and cataloguing some new jewellery just received. Please check our our websites in the next week or so to see the new additions online.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire.