Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Gorgeous Garnets

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“Darn It, Another Garnet” necklace. Copyright: Eve Alfillé, Photo credit: Matt Arden

The garnet: an ancient gem, it has been seen adorning the fashionable ever since the pharaohs! Today, the stone is hailed as the birthstone for the month of January; a precious element of warmth and color during the depths of winter, but also an excellent way to celebrate each new year as it arrives!

This stone is both diverse and of great historical significance. It is largely known for its “carbuncle” shade, a term which once referred to just about any red gem, but today means the species of garnet called “Almandine.  ” Carbuncle”, from the Latin term for “live coal” denotes its inner warmth, and is also the most common type of gem garnet. This is the shade which we see most often in art of the ancients,  from the jewel-encrusted weaponry of the Anglo-Saxons to the garnet-encrusted crown of such illustrious royalty as King Otto of Germany, with a famous garnet called the “Wise One.”

In religion, this stone is known to be a root chakra stone. According to some beliefs, it can be used to gain access to ancient memories, and is a recommended stone to use for past life regression. In Indian mythology, the garnet is called the “Kundalini fire,” or ‘fire of eternal metamorphosis.’ It is also believed to have an energizing effect in the bedroom!

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Like sapphires, which are known for being blue (but actually come in an entire rainbow of colors), garnets are much more “multi-faceted” than given credit for! For instance, the red “carbuncle” shade is the most well known, and yet these diverse stones come in colors ranging from greens to oranges, pinkish oranges to deeply saturated purplish reds. These colors can be classified by a whole family system, dictated by each garnet’s chemistry as well as by its color. The garnet group breaks down into species such as pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, and andradite. These species break down into varieties, such as the exquisitely green and sparkling “demantoid” garnet from the Andradite species.

Demantoid garnets were also a favorite of 19th-century jewelry designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, and can often be seen in his American Arts & Crafts-style jewelry. And, as great minds think alike, demantoid garnets are not infrequently seen in Eve’s work! Her fondness also extends to a whole color palette of tsavorite garnets (deep green), mandarin garnets (rich orange,) and a myriad of others just waiting to be set into a project! Come in and see!

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Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Zircon Zeal

 

With enough fire to have been confused with diamonds for centuries, these outstanding gems will set your heart ablaze! The zircon shines all on its own: these stones have a fantastically high refractive index, and are valued for their rainbow-like sparkle. Each gem’s spectacular “double refraction” actually means that you can see twice as much fire and twice as many facets! So much so, in fact, that famed gemologist George Kunz once proposed changing the name to “starlite” to highlight the gem’s incredible sparkle.
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These gems are also astonishingly tenacious, and can come into being in a wide variety of elements and locations. Some forms of non-gem grade zircon even contain traces of uranium: the radiation of which causes the crystal-structure of the zircon to become amorphous…essentially melting the stone down from the inside!*

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“Le Soliel” zircon ring, copyright Eve Alfillé, photo credit Matt Arden

Zircon is only one out of three birthstones for the festive month of December, along with turquoise and tanzanite. Both of these stones typically remain married to some shade of blue, blue-green, or purpley-blue, but zircon really stands on its own as a stone of many colors! In fact, many scholars believe that the stone’s name comes from the word
“zarkun” which is Arabic for ‘cinnabar’ or ‘vermilion,’ while others theorize that the term is from “zargun;” the Persian word for ‘gold colored.’

The stone itself comes in colors that range all the way from yellow to green to red and reddish-brown to blue! During the Victorian era, blue zircon was especially favored. Colorless forms of zircon are often referred to as “Matara” after the city in Sri Lanka where they are

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Oldest mineral in the world

mined. Australia, however, has produced an even more magnificent specimen: at 4.4 billion years old, a single piece o zircon has been found to be the oldest mineral on earth (the earth itself, for scope, is 4.5 billion years old)! Talk about looking good for your age!

Be sure to swing by Eve’s this holiday season, and let us help you pick out the perfect zircon for those lovely December birthday-havers in your life so that they can have a stone just as classic and timeless as they are!

*All Eve jewelry is guaranteed non-radioactive.

Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Opalescent Opulence

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pin17033lrg_0They may be made of hydrated silica, sometimes containing up to 20% water, but opals sure aren’t watered-down! These flashing, fiery October birthstones are highly valued both for their exquisite beauty and their fantastically diverse range appearances. Opals were even considered the penultimate gemstone by ancients such as Pliny the Elder, who lauded them for the belief that they were composed from bits of every other type of precious gem.

This kaleidoscopic array of color can often be seen in the form of “fire,” or floating shards of visible colors varied and splendid, suspended within the translucent body of each opal. These fractured colors come to be when lightwaves pass through the infinitesimally tiny spheres that make up the structure of the mineral opal.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.48.09 PMOpals are relatively soft gemstones; about 5.5-6 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and should be treated with care as much as worn with pride. If you are lucky enough to own this shimmering gem, we recommend keeping it away from harsh cleaning chemicals, and opting instead to clean it with water and a soft-bristled brush. Bezel-set opals, and opals worn as earrings and necklaces are also fantastic ways to keep your precious gem away from hard knocks.

The Virgin Rainbow, the world’s finest opal, recently made headlines upon its discovery in Australia. It was ultimately valued at over one million dollars for its exquisitely lustrous fire that the discoverer, John Dunstan, claims can even glow in the dark! Now that’s an illuminating ore.

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Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio

Pleased as Peridot

A sizzling summer stone, the birthstone for August is none other than peridot! These delightful gems are best known for their “olive complexion,” which can be attributed to the fact that they all come from the mineral ‘olivine!’ Peridots are also known to be one of the only gemstones that appear in only one color…in this case, a bright green (though shades can range from brownish-green to the much more common yellow-green.) The most valuable shade is a rich, ‘freshly-mown grass’ shade of green, appropriate for their summery birthstone month!

Eve Alfille’s “Water Nymphs” bracelet: sterling silver, peridot & freshwater pearls. Photo credit: Matt Arden.

The peridot comes from a couple of hot sources, ranging all the way from lava erupting from the bed of the sea, to burning meteorites that have crashed into the Earth from space! Unfortunately, not many celestial peridots make the ‘cut’ for use in jewelry.

Throughout history, these gems have always been a favorite for those with an eye for gems. Unfortunately for Cleopatra, the Cologne Cathedral, and a few others, many of the famous “emerald” collections of antiquity were actually probably peridots as well! The stone has also been associated with the sun since ancient times, continuing the gem’s association with heavenly bodies!

Famous peridot tiara of the Austrian Archduchess Isabelle

The Egyptians, who referred to the peridot as “the gem of the sun” preferred to capture their wild peridot specimens on an island in the Red Sea that has gone by the names Topazios, St. John’s Island, and Zabargad, and legend has it that all of the snakes were driven from it by the Pharoh at the time…possibly a previous incarnation of St. Patrick!

Make sure that you don’t forget to get your fill of the “other” sun stone this summer! We’d be more than happy to help you find your perfect match right here at Eve’s, but hurry…you’ve only got one month to celebrate this beautiful birthstone…waiting too long would be a big peri-don’t!