Designer of the Month: Julie McKenzie

Julie McKenzie likes to make use of semi-precious stones in her designs, especially Koroit Opals which feature in her collection of cuff bangles. She shared a bit more about her time in jewellery making in the following Designer of the Month interview, including her top tips for running a successful jewellery business and more. Let us know a bit about yourself, detailing … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: Hematite

Hematite is an opaque stone which has a wonderful dark metallic lustre, similar in many respects to iron pyrite. They both have an iron based composition which can be differentiated by the presence of oxides in the case of hematite, and sulphides in pyrite, or fool’s gold as it is sometimes known. Both can be easily mistaken for precious metals because of their unusual metallic … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: What is amber and how is it formed?

Natural Amber, Round Cabochon (61AB BPMA) Amber is probably one of the most easily recognisable ‘gemstones’ in existence – and I use the term ‘gemstone’ very loosely, because amber is in fact not a stone at all but an organic plant resin which has become fossilised over millions of years. The distinctive warm yellow/orange colour of the raw amber stone is quite unlike any … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia, or CZ as it is widely known, is a man-made diamond substitute which displays many of the desirable features of a diamond without the expensive price tag. It was first developed in the 1970s and has since gone on to be exceedingly popular with consumers wanting a little bit of sparkle. White CZ Stones CZs are actually a little heavier than diamonds (in fact … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: Tanzanite

Tanzanite is a comparatively new gemstone to the market, having only been discovered in 1967. What makes it unique is that so far it has only ever been found in one location, the Mererani Hills of the Manyana Region of Northern Tanzania, which is situated near the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Tanzanian government nationalised the mines in 1971 and later split them into … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: Turquoise

Turquoise was one of the first gemstones ever to be mined and has been treasured for centuries for its intense colour, which varies from sky-blue to sea-green and is quite unmatched by any other stone. Comprising of hydrated copper aluminium phosphate, turquoise gets its strong colour due to the presence of copper and iron in its composition, with the most desirable, the … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: Topaz

Topaz, in its natural form is colourless; however the shade we associate with November is the yellow/orange variety which is sometimes known as ‘sherry topaz’ or ‘precious topaz’. It is one of the most valuable colours of topaz along with the pale pink variety which is rare and usually heat-treated yellow material. Sherry Topaz Crystal Within the jewellery industry, the … [Read more...]

Autumn/Winter Trends 2015: Geometric

The ‘Geometric Trend’ is one which lends itself particularly well to jewellery. Whether it is translated via colour or shape, the raw materials of precious metals and finely cut gemstones are the perfect ingredients to create an item of geometric beauty. Stylistically, most of us tend to think of pieces from the Art Deco era when referencing geometric jewellery. The brooch … [Read more...]

Products of the Sea

Aside from pearls, (which I have covered in previous articles), the rich minerals and deposits found in our oceans produce a range of unique materials perfect for use in jewellery making: Coral: Coral is basically the skeletal remains of a marine organism known as coral polyps. It grows into vast tree-like structures forming branches of vivid red, pink, white and blue which … [Read more...]

Gemstone Focus: Opal

Opal is a non-crystalline substance quite unlike other gemstones. It is composed of hardened silica gel which occurs naturally, as well as being a widely used man-made product used in many household cleaning products. Many people consider Opals to be unlucky but personally I think this has more to do with their fragility than anything else. Opals contain between 5 and 10% water … [Read more...]