Friday, November 28, 2008

Diamond Series: Clarity

When the earth was born and it shivered and shook with the birth-pangs of formation, carbon was crystallized into the diamonds that have enthralled us all.

Nature did however, leaves its birthmark in the form of inclusions which reside in most stones. Inclusions appear as small black or grey specks which dot or streak through a diamonds interior.

The size, position, and number of inclusions will impact how well light will travel through the stone, how brilliant it will sparkle, and its clarity grade.

The most popular grading system in North America is that of the G.I.A (Gemological Institute of America) which uses a descending scale of Flawless, IF (Internally Flawless), VVS (Very Very Small Inclusions), VS (Very Small Inclusions), SI (Slight Inclusions), and I (Imperfect).

Alphabet aside, what does all of this mean?

We never want to hear about flaws when talking about our prized gems, but does a diamond have to be virtually flawless to be a beautiful stone?

Certainly not. We recommend diamonds within the range of VS-1 to SI-1, as the flaws in these stones are rarely, if not impossibly, detected with the naked eye, and the prices become more affordable (especially around the SI side).

Have questions about your diamonds? Send us an email, comment, or drop by if you are in the Toronto area at, 275 Dundas Street West.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Natural Sapphires?

In 1902, the first synthetic sapphire was grown by French chemist Auguste Verneuil using fine alumina powder and an oxyhydrogen flame. We have come a long way since then.

Sapphires have since proliferated in labs and factories, with over 250 tonnes flooding the gem market in 2003 alone. But synthetic gems are only the tip of this luxurious blue-violet iceberg. Almost all sapphires, 99%, are heat-treated in order to enhance their colour.

From Montana to Sri Lanka, Australia to China, these otherwise unattractive grey stones are mined from the earth and are heated at high temperatures in order to improve both their clarity and colour.

So, what does it mean when one stumbles across a 'natural sapphire'?

Firstly, the word 'natural' is in an of itself problematic, because in the world of gems it is not without its own specific interpretations. For most of us, 'natural' speaks to something created in nature without the heavy hand of man; something that exists separately from us. However, in this age of enhancement technologies, 'natural' is taken to mean something else.
For most of us who are new to the business of gems, it would seem obvious that a natural sapphire would be one which was neither synthetic nor heat-treated. However, for many in the jewellery business, a natural sapphire is one mined from the earth, regardless of whether it is followed by heat-treatment.

So, is the moral of the story buyer beware?

Yes and no. Natural sapphires are a rarity, but not an impossibility. Most stones claiming to be natural (mined and treatment-free) are accompanied by papers which support their claim, and this is something all consumers should look for if they are considering these stones, and their larger price tag. Consumers should also ask not only questions but also about what guarantee they will have that this stone is the genuine article.

But that is not to say that treated sapphires are to be avoided. Treated stones come with enhanced colour and clarity, not to mention a cheaper price range. I think the most important lesson to take from this is that regardless of whether the stone is "100% natural" or "a little bit treated", the consumer should know exactly what they are holding.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November: Featured Amethyst Earrings

With November being the official 18 Karat Month of Purple, it would only make sense for us to feature some of our favorite purple gems.

The first to make the list is this stunning pair of amethyst tear-drop dangle earrings. Made from the finest 18 karat white gold these earrings pack a passionate punch.

These stunning deep purple stones total 3.71 carats in total and are definite attention grabbers.

The earrings themselves measure approximately 1in in length.
These stunners are available at our shop, 18 Karat, at 275 Dundas Street West, Toronto - right next to the newly opened Art Gallery of Ontario.
Or, they can be purchased through our online store.

Friday, November 7, 2008

November: 18 Karat Celebrates the Colour Purple

Instead of keeping with the birthstone theme, 18 Karat has decided to break the mold. Instead we have chosen to celebrate the colour purple, and all the luscious stones who share this hue.

The word 'purple' originates in the Greek name for a dye manufactured in antiquity from the mucus-secretions of the spiny dye-murex. Glamorous.

This has a lot to do with why purple has long been associated with luxury and nobility – only the aristocracy could afford blue and purple dyes, while the peasantry was resigned to brown and green. (Purple was apparently Cleopatra's favorite colour).

This remarkable colour has long been associated with the supernatural. Perhaps because of its presence in all sorts of natural phenomenon: the Northern Lights and the fantastic floral arrangements of Mother Nature.

Some popular purple gems include Amethyst, Tanzanite, and Sugilite.

Amethyst comes from Greek, meaning 'not intoxicated'. It was believed that the wearer would be protected from drunkenness and seduction. An amethyst amulet was also worn by medieval knights who believed it would protect them during battle.
Amethyst ranges in hue, from a soft lilac to a deep purple. The ideal grade, "Deep Siberian", has a purple hue of 75-80% and a blue hue of 15-20%, with possible secondary red tones.

Tanzanite was only recently discovered in 1967 in the hills of Northern Tanzania by Manuel de Souza, and as a result, has been referred to as 'The Gemstone of the 20th Century'.
With its striking and alluring aura, combined with its rarity, Tanzanite has become a symbol for those wishing to set themselves apart from the rest.

Sugilite has also been a relatively recent discovery, discovered in Japan i 1944, but also found in Canada, Northern South Africa, and India. Sugilite isn believed to balance the mind and body, to protect the wearer against anger, anxiety, and other negative energies.

Go on, celebrate your favorite shade of purple, and stop by our store at 275 Dundas Street West, Toronto (Right next to the Art Gallery of Ontario) to see our lovely purples stones, or ask how we can build one for you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why 18 karat gold?

Let's briefly get to the basics: why choose 18K gold? What is the difference between 18K and 14K, or even 10K?

The main difference between 18K, 14K, and 10K is of course the amount of pure gold within the alloy being used. As we all know, pure gold is a very soft metal, prone to nicks and scratches which make that bling... not so blingy. To combat this, gold is mixed with other - tougher - metals which give gold the back-bone it needs.
In the case of 18K yellow gold, gold accounts for 75% (more gold, more shine) while silver (16.6% or 12.5%) and copper (8.4% or 12%) account for the rest. Contrary to popular belief, 18K is not a soft metal and with the above mentioned alloys, it can rival the sturdiness of a 10K.

The higher gold content in 18K also means that wearers are less likely to encounter an adverse reaction to the metal, which occurs with lower karats, especially 10K or less.

At 18Karat, we only deal in 18 karat white and yellow gold (or platinum) because we firmly believe these are of the finest quality and durability.

Have questions about gold or gems? Leave us a comment or send us an email!