VIX Jewellery

gemstones

General Gemstone Buying Advice or The Hard Truth about those Pretty Coloured Rocks

Vicki IoannouComment

Gem buying is an expert’s game. This applies to anyone in the world who is considering buying a lovely gemstone, or two, or more. Rule of thumb:  if you have no experience in the business of gemstones, the odds are stacked firmly against you.  You’ll run into all types of scams and scammers in the gem world, even in shops, trading areas and at mines. 

Let’s get one thing straight : Gemmology, as opposed to Geology, is a b-u-s-i-n-e-s-s.  Its sole purpose is to make money for the vendor.

That said, there are many vendors who are really good people.  They don’t want to scam you because they want repeat business.  But don’t get side-tracked or deluded into thinking they are your friend.  They are business owners, which does not mean they are scam artists, they are in the trade for a living income. 

Are you travelling? Well, keep in mind that if you’re a tourist in a foreign country, you will be perceived as a rich outsider. That is, you’re considered fair game, the proverbial sucker, if you like … you know, there’s one born every minute. Don’t be deluded or romanced into the notion of fair play.  You will find that local business customs may differ from what you are used to, back home. If you’re going to play the game, you can’t just take people’s word for it!

But you can’t resist that huge emerald at a steal! Or the rubies that are priced too good to be true! Sorry to be the one to burst the bubble… the other mindset is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

Negative information is rarely volunteered, in fact, you need to stay in the buyer beware mindset.

Already bought gems before you read this article?  No problem.  Have the gems carefully examined at a gemmology lab.  I’m guessing there is one in every major city, so get into the yellow ages and look it up.  This is good practice.  Human error occurs in even the best situations, even the vendor may have been not enough on his game and may have been tricked.  Very occasionally, you can get gems checked before even making the purchase.  Not often, but it has been known to happen. 

If you want to test the gemstones on your own, you need to use tried and true methods. These are the tools of the trade that you will require, plus the knowledge of how to use them and what you are looking for.

Dichroscope - Spectroscope - Microscope - Refractometer - Specific Gravity Liquids

Oh, and by the way, the gadgets you purchase on eBay or the dollar shop by means of a shortcut to gem identification, don’t work - save your money.

Tourmaline Bi-Colour Crystal from Afghanistan

Tourmaline Bi-Colour Crystal from Afghanistan

Aquamarine crystal from Afghanistan

Aquamarine crystal from Afghanistan

Treasures of Israel

Vicki IoannouComment

There is no perfect time for travel.  I know this now.  As long as I possess the energy, a valid passport and have the appropriate transport, then travelling will always be something I will have to do.  My most recent trip abroad consisted of alternating cold and hot climates which resulted in my carrying two suitcases - albeit small ones - but that there is a lesson and quite possibly, another blog post.

I am a big fan or archaeology, and decided to add Israel on my itinerary this trip.  Having not been there before, I wasn't sure what to expect.  However, I have to admit, a couple of days in, I fell in love with it.  My stay in Israel was essentially two weeks of sun-soaked, peaceful days wandering and exploring flea markets, Old Cities, driving around the countryside and seeing stunning landscapes, ancient city ruins, eating delicious food and meeting lovely people.  

My favourite way to eat:  small plates of delicious food!

Among the ruins of Susita in the Golan Heights, Israel.

Among the ruins of Susita in the Golan Heights, Israel.

On golden stones.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:   http://tinyurl.com/zjyebfp

On golden stones.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:  http://tinyurl.com/zjyebfp

Mosaics, palace interior, Masada.

Mosaics, palace interior, Masada.

Stunning landscapes and historical sites have always held a fascination for me.  Since way back in the day, as a student of history and art to now, as an adult and a jewellery designer, they still have the same allure.  I made the trip out to the Dead Sea and Masada one day, on one of my driving jaunts.  Wheeling past banana farms, long stretches of desert roads, date plantations and even a pack of gazelles, I arrived at my destination around lunchtime.  Once there, I had to forego the pleasure of hiking up to the top (no appropriate attire, you see) so hopped aboard the waiting cablecar instead.  I was not disappointed.  Wandering around the ruins of the fortress reminded me just how fortunate I am to be able to do this. For me, this place is mysterious and stark.  Seriously, if I was asked to pitch a tent there and stay a while, I would have done so, no question (well, ok, maybe I would ask for a generator, a well stocked bar fridge plus some gorgeous cushions and pashminas!)   I observed the raptors that circled overhead and plummeted to some unsuspecting prey in the valley below.  More closely, small dark starlings flitted amongst the stony ruins at the Byzantine Gate and took off once I got too close.  I also took the opportunity to photograph some of my jewellery there.  The light was fantastic at that hour in the afternoon - gold on gold but with definition.  The Greco-Roman-inspired styles of my handcrafts lend themselves perfectly with the backdrop of the fortress ruins and ancient mosaics.  It wasn't at all difficult to imagine that these necklaces could have been worn in that era by ladies bedecked in flowing stola, elegant palas and ringleted up-dos. 

Handcrafted necklace inspired by ancient Rome.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  Necklace inquiries:  http://tinyurl.com/hurw4af

Ancient styling in a modern made necklace.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:   http://tinyurl.com/htuxtka

Ancient styling in a modern made necklace.  Shot on location at Masada, near the Dead Sea, Israel.  For more information:  http://tinyurl.com/htuxtka

Sweet, icy, nutty and fruity way to end a meal.

Sweet, icy, nutty and fruity way to end a meal.