Somewhere in Brazil in the 1500s, a Spanish conquistador washed the dirt from a green tourmaline crystal and confused the vibrant gem with emerald. His confusion lived on until scientists recognized tourmaline as a distinct mineral species in the 1800s. The confusion about the stone’s identity is even reflected in its name, which comes from toramalli, which means “mixed gems” in Sinhalese (a language of Sri Lanka). It’s a term Dutch merchants applied to the multicolored, water-worn pebbles that miners found in the gem gravels of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
It’s easy to understand why people so easily confuse tourmaline with other gems: Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling range of colors. From rich reds to pastel pinks and peach colors, intense emerald greens to vivid yellows and deep blues, the breadth of this gem’s color range is unrivalled. Brazilian discoveries in the 1980s and 1990s heightened tourmaline’s appeal by bringing intense new hues to the marketplace.
People have probably used tourmaline as a gem for centuries, but until the development of modern mineralogy, they identified it as some other stone (ruby, sapphire, emerald, and so forth) based on its coloring.
One of the earliest reports of tourmaline in California was in 1892. In the late 1800s, tourmaline became known as an American gem through the efforts of Tiffany gemologist George F. Kunz. He wrote about the tourmaline deposits of Maine and California, and praised the stones they produced.
In spite of its American roots, tourmaline’s biggest market at the time was in China. Much of the pink and red tourmaline from San Diego County in California was shipped to China because the Chinese Dowager Empress Tz'u Hsi was especially fond of the color. There, craftsmen carved the tourmaline into snuff bottles and other pieces to be set in jewelry. San Diego County's famed tourmaline mines include the Tourmaline Queen, Tourmaline King, Stewart, Pala Chief, and Himalaya.
The miners became so dependent on Chinese trade that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, the US tourmaline trade also collapsed. The Himalaya mine stopped producing large volumes of gemstones. Other mines in San Diego County, like the Stewart Lithia mine at Pala, still produce sporadic supplies of gem-quality tourmaline.
More info @ www.gia.edu
Birthstones & Anniversaries
Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gem of the 5th and 45th anniversaries.
History & Lore
Traditionally, sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. It has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. Its extraordinary color is the standard against which other blue gems—from topaz to tanzanite—are measured.
For centuries, sapphire has been associated with royalty and romance. The association was reinforced in 1981, when Britain’s Prince Charles gave a blue sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer. Until her death in 1997, Princess Di, as she was known, charmed and captivated the world. Her sapphire ring helped link modern events with history and fairy tales.
In ancient Greece and Rome, kings and queens were convinced that blue sapphires protected their owners from envy and harm. During the Middle Ages, the clergy wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and ordinary folks thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. In other times and places, people instilled sapphires with the power to guard chastity, make peace between enemies, influence spirits, and reveal the secrets of oracles.
In folklore, history, art, and consumer awareness, sapphire has always been associated with the color blue. Its name comes from the Greek word sappheiros, which probably referred to lapis lazuli. Most jewelry customers think all sapphires are blue, and when gem and jewelry professionals use the word “sapphire” alone, they normally mean “blue sapphire.”
A special orangy pink sapphire color is called padparadscha, which means “lotus flower” in Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Stones from Sri Lanka were initially the only ones labeled with this marketable name. There’s no telling how many padparadschas have been sifted from Sri Lankan river gravel throughout history. Sri Lankans have a special affection for the color that’s traditionally been linked with their country.
Kuhn's Sapphire Collection
View Engagement Rings
Know what you want to spend
You will be confronted with a dizzying array of choices when it comes to engagement rings. Have a price range in mind. Going in with fairly specific parameters will help your jeweler find the right engagement ring to fit your budget.
What kind of jewelry does she already wear? Is she more classic or modern? Feminine or sophisticated? Does she wear more silver or gold? Do her pieces tend to be more delicate or chunky? Simple or ornate? Have these preferences in mind when you set out to shop. If you buy something similar to what she already likes, you can't go wrong.
Know her ring size If she wears rings, borrow one she already owns. Trace the inner circle on a piece of paper, or press the ring into a bar of soap for an impression. You can also slide it down one of your own fingers and draw a line where it stops. A jeweler can use these measurements to identify her approximate ring size.
If she doesn't wear rings, estimate in the following manner: The average ring size in the US is 6 (based on the 'average' US female being 5'4" tall and weighing 140 lbs.) If she's more slender, or fine boned, her ring size is probably in the 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 range. If she is heavier, larger boned or taller, her ring size is probably in the 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 range. It's always better to buy a ring a bit bigger than you think she'll need, because sizing a ring down is much easier than increasing its size.
Are her preferences hard to pin down? Consider buying an unset diamond. If you choose the diamond first and have the setting made later, you can include her in selecting the style and final details of the ring (always a good idea) and avoid the awkwardness of choosing a ring that's more to your taste than hers.
Know what diamond shape suits her If she hasn't made it easy for you by already voicing an opinion on the subject (or admiring someone else's engagement ring), here are a few things to keep in mind when considering shape:
She will be wearing this ring 24/7 every day of your married life. It will need to go with everything from jeans to evening wear. If you're uncertain about her shape preference, it's sensible to stick to the classics. They became classics because they appeal to most people most of the time.
Shapes with fewer facets, such as emerald or square, require higher clarity. The fewer the facets, the more visible any inclusions will be.
Certain shapes pair more successfully with other gems in multi-stone rings. Round, Oval and Marquise all work well. Pear and Heart shape are more challenging.
Taste in shape is often reflected in other tastes a woman has. If she prefers clean, modern lines in furniture, for example, it's likely she'll react well to the same aesthetic in Emerald or Square shapes. If she tends towards the traditional, a round shape rarely misses. More bohemian types tend to favor more unusual shapes, like Trilliant or Marquise.
What Setting Makes Sense? While there are an unending variety of patterns, details and metal choices, there are four basic types you are likely to encounter:
Solitaire - A single stone. Still the most popular choice in engagement rings. The head secures the diamond. Prongs allow the diamond to catch the most light. A four-prong-setting shows more of the diamond, but a six-prong setting is often more secure.
Sidestone - Diamonds or other gemstones, flank the main stone for additional sparkle or color. Popular sidestone settings include 'channel', which protects stones by keeping them flush, and 'bar-channel', which allows more light to enter the sidestones.
Three Stone - One diamond for the past, one for the present, and one for the future. Typically, the center diamond is larger than the two side stones.
Pave (pah-vey) - The main stone is surrounded by tiny diamonds to add sparkle and the illusion of greater size. As to actual setting design, consider her lifestyle, and how well a certain setting will fit into it. If she's more active or outdoorsy, look for lower profile, less ornate, more sturdy choices, which are less likely to get knocked or caught on things. If she's more of a glamour girl, look for statement settings, with a higher stone profile and more intricate ring detailing or unique motif.