News & Press: Jewelry and Industry

It's Only Natural

Monday, November 20, 2017  
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Not all gemstones are minerals with a crystalline structure. In fact, some were formed through biological processes of living organisms, such as plants and animals. These natural beauties are referred to as organic gemstones and include several varieties that are important to the gem trade. We’re talking about pearls, coral, amber, ammolite, and shell, just to name a few.

 

Pearls

Pearls are pretty much perfect for any occasion. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed in silks and satins or khakis and jeans, they go with everything! There are several types to choose from, like freshwater or saltwater, natural or cultured, with such varieties as Akoya, Keshi, South Sea, and Tahitian.

Mastoloni

White Keshi freshwater pearl earrings with diamonds by Mastoloni.

ASBA USA

Tahitian drop earrings with cognac diamonds by ASBA USA.

 

Coral

There are hundreds of species of coral throughout the world, but only a few are used for fine jewelry. Corallium japonicum and Corallium rubrum are two varieties of red coral commonly used to produce jewelry, and Antipatharia, a species of black coral prized for its lustrous, black appearance after polishing.

Gleim the Jeweler

Carved salmon coral flower with a sprinkling of diamonds, from Gleim the Jeweler’s Estate collection.

Sharon Wei

Coral and freshwater pearl “Pearl-On-Poppy” necklace by Sharon Wei.

 

Amber

Amber had its moment in the spotlight when it appeared as a source for “Dino DNA” in the movie, Jurassic Park. This fossilized resin of ancient tree sap dates back 25 to 50 million years, with some of the oldest known material dating back 290 to 350 million years ago. Amber comes in over 300 different shades, with the most common colors being honey, green, cherry, cognac, citrine, and butterscotch.

Long's Jewelers

Cabochon amber earrings from Long’s Jewelers Estate collection.

Goldstein Diamonds

Amber beads from Goldstein Diamonds Estate collection.

 

Ammolite

Ammolite is an iridescent gemstone material that comes from the fossilized shell of extinct squid-like creatures called ammonites. They only come from one place: Alberta, Canada. Although they have been forming for millions of years, ammolite first appeared in jewelry in the 1960s and was recognized in 1981 as an organic gemstone.

Lika Behar Collection

Ammolite, emerald, and diamond pendant by Lika Behar Collection.

Lika Behar Collection

Another view of ammolite pendant.

 

Shell

Shell has been used for decorative purposes for centuries and was most likely the by-product of the search for food. It’s been used for everything from buttons to knife handles, from cameos to necklaces. In jewelry design, the two most familiar types of shell are abalone and mother-of-pearl.

Interesting facts: Abalone is composed of mother-of-pearl. Mother-of-pearl is called nacre, which makes the outer layer of pearls.

Doves by Doron Paloma

“White Orchid” ring featuring checker-cut clear quartz over white mother-of-pearl, from Doves by Doron Paloma.

Stuller, Inc.

Abalone doublet ring with checkerboard white quartz by Stuller.

 

Visit an AGS-credentialed jeweler near you and ask them to show you some organic gemstones!


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The American Gem Society (AGS) is a nonprofit trade association of fine jewelry professionals dedicated to setting, maintaining and promoting the highest standards of ethical conduct and professional behavior through education, accreditation, recertification of its membership, gemological standards, and gemological research.

The Society is committed to providing educational products to inform and protect the consumer and to contributing to the betterment of the trade by creating industry standards to protect the jewelry-buying public and the fine jewelry industry as a whole.

AGS Laboratories, founded to support the AGS mission, is a nonprofit diamond grading laboratory with a mission of consumer protection. Adhering to the AGS Diamond Grading Standards, AGS Laboratories is dedicated to offering diamond grading reports that provide consistency and accuracy based on science.

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