Very Beautiful Things

Very beautiful Things - Phillipe Marcou

I am very happy to be launching this webite for you - Let's exchange ideas, questions and comments about what you love most: your jewels! I will also use this website to keep you informed of my travels and great cultural exchanges thanks to which I bring you home the most desired pieces of jewelry.
- Philippe Marcou

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Your Birth Stone

Birthstone is a gemstone associated with the date of one's birth. The wearing of Birthstone is commonly thought to bring good luck and health. Before mineralogy had progressed to the point of chemical analysis, color was of greater importance than some of the other physical characteristics, and little distinction was made between emerald and chrysoprase, for example, or between ruby and garnet, or between citrine and topaz. When it came to the ability to heal or bring good luck, the actual stone and the look-alikes were regarded as equally effective.


Gem Color
January garnet Dark-red
February amethyst Violet
March aquamarine Pale Blue
April diamond Colorless
May emerald, malachite Bright green
June alexandrite Reddish green
July ruby, spinel Crimson
August chrysolite, nephrite Yellowish green
September sapphire, lapis lazuli Dark-blue
October opal, jasper Multicolored
November topaz, amber Yellow
December turquoise Azure

What you need to know

There is no scientific or geological definition for ''gem'' or ''jewel''; these are human concepts. Minerals are formed by geological processes which happen continuouslydeepinside the Earth. When Gemstonespeople excavate certain minerals and cut them into specific shapes, they become gems. When placed in a decorative setting for wearing, they become jewels. Factors determining the value of any gem or jewel are rarity, durability, beauty, size and color.

The geological processes create an astonishing variety of beautiful gemstones. Only a few are ready for jewelry in their natural state, so, many companies treat their stones to enhance their color and brilliance or stabilize their chemical composition, making more high-quality gems available to the public. It has been estimated that 80-percent of all gemstones are treated in some way before reaching the retailer.

Gemstone buying tips

Colored gemstones, like diamonds, are classified and evaluated by the ''Four Cs'': color, carat weight, cut and clarity.


The most important factor in evaluating gemstones; those with the brightest, most vivid colors usually command the highest price. Specific gemstonesonly occur in certain color ranges, based on their chemistry. When evaluating color (and all other factors, for that matter), evaluate each stone against others of its kind. For example, you can't call a peridot a weak green just because it isn't the same green as an emerald.

Carat Weight

Heavier gems are more rare and expensive than smaller ones; in fact, there's no bulk discount in gemstones--for every $1.00 per carat a small stone might cost, a larger stone might be $1.25, $1.50 or more per carat. Rarity of large stones also depends on the type: The world's largest cut ruby is just over 23ct, while the largest cut topaz is just under 23,000ct! Carat measures the stone's weight, but the crystal structural and other chemical properties can affect density, meaning two stones of the same size may have different weights. For this reason, colored gemstones are often listed by size instead of weight. (By the way, 'carat' measures weight; 'karat' measures gold's purity--24k is 100-percent gold.)


Determining the final beauty of a stone means picking precise angles and proportions. Diamond cutting focuses on maximizing brilliance (reflected light), while in colored gemstones, it's about maximizing color. There are many traditional cuts--round brilliant, oval, emerald, square, princess, cabochon, pear, marquise--and jewelers continue to look for better ways to show off their gems. A quality cut can be the difference between a good stone and one that is breathtaking.


Describes the ''inclusions'' or flaws existing in all natural stones--it's part of the proof of their natural origin. Fewer flaws mean a more valuable stone. Inclusions can also help determine if a gemstone has been treated. As with other factors, clarity is related to type. Some gems usually occur with few or no inclusions, while others are known for them--a flawless emerald would be nearly priceless while flawless aquamarines are fairly common. As with diamonds, 10x magnification and a well-trained eye are used by gemologists to evaluate clarity.

The jewelry industry is heavily regulated to prevent misrepresentation or fraud. By law, every object must be clearly and obviously described as to gem type, cut, weight, etc., following regulations set down by the US Federal Trade Commission. All jewelry sold at VERY BEAUTIFUL THINGS.COM conforms to these regulations.

Gemstone care

Avoid wearing fine jewelry in activities that could damage them--yard work, sports or around harsh chemicals. The best way to clean fashion jewelry is a warm water rinse. If needed, gently scrub the stones with a soft brush, like a toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and lay on a soft cloth to dry. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise and malachite should just be wiped clean with a moist cloth. These gems can be porous and may absorb soap or chemicals, which can discolor them.

Visit your jeweler at least once a year to have your jewelry professionally cleaned. The jeweler can also check the settings to make sure prongs haven't been bent or weakened. You'll find that clean stones heighten the sparkle of your jewelry.

Artificial gemstones

"Not all that glitters is gold" wrote J. R. R. Tolkein; he might have added, ''Not all that sparkles is a gem.'' Imitations of various qualities and costs are available, and consumers should not pay for what they are not getting. The FTC defines two types of non-natural gems:

"Lab-created…has the same chemical, physical, and optical properties of the natural ruby, emerald, diamond, etc." Minerals have a specific composition which can be duplicated; these are real rubies, sapphires, etc., in every sense--identical to natural gemstones the way cultured pearls are identical to natural pearls. Natural stones have inclusions or flaws because of impurities in the rocks in which they formed, lab-created gems have few, if any. Some people think this should make them more valuable, but the fact that they are not natural, combined with the lower cost of production, makes some lab-created gemstones far more affordable than natural stones.

"Simulant (or imitation) merely resembles the natural stone" Crystals that look like gems but do not share the same composition are simulants. For example, a diamond is pure carbon; a lab-created diamond is also pure carbon. A cubic zirconia (CZ) is zirconium oxide. CZs can look so diamond-like that only an experienced jeweler can tell the difference--in the stone, that is, anyone can tell a diamond from a CZ by looking at the price tag. There are numerous types of simulated gems, each with characteristics that set it apart from real gemstones. These faux treasures look real, are more affordable than real gems and are perfectly acceptable to wear in any jewelry.


What is a semi-precious gemstone?

There really isn't any such thing. Traditionally, rubies, emeralds and sapphires have been the most popular gems, so they came to be called the ''precious stones'' by jewelers and have commanded the best prices as much for their popularity as for any other factor. Some jewelers took to calling other gemstones ''semi-precious.'' This was a mistake; they are not 'half-precious.' In fact, a prime chunk of amethyst jewelry or agate jewelry can be much pricier than medium-grade rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

Should I get my gemstones appraised?

When making any major purchase, an independent appraisal (an estimate ofvalue by a third party) is a good idea. Unlike many other countries, the US has no national registry nor certification process for gem appraisers; it is done by industry organizations. Certificates from these groups are reliable, but frauds and forgeries abound, as in any industry where serious money is involved. So, buy a beautiful gemstone, not a piece of paper. gemstones do keep their value; a necklace, earrings, brooches, lockets, even small charms are excellent ways to pass wealth from generation to generation--becoming estate jewelry then antique jewelry. Appraisals are usually required for tax or insurance purposes, but don't think of jewelry simply as an investment or an heirloom; fine jewelry is fashion jewelry--wear it and enjoy it!

Happy anniversary!

Not to be outdone by the birthday traditionalists, gem sellers have come up with an anniversary gemstone list. Perhaps they thought you didn't already have enough good excuses to buy gemstone jewelry for that special someone (notice that the so-called precious stones show up several times!):


[gold jewelry]




[silver jubilee]






pearl jubilee








blue topaz
















[gold jubilee]












diamond jubilee


lapis lazuli




sapphire jubilee






ruby jubilee




imperial topaz





Everybody is getting into the act

Several states have designated official gemstones. If your wife is Utah-born, consider a topaz ring for her. If you’re husband is a native New Yorker, a set of garnet cuff-links might remind him of home. And no one can visit Arizona or New Mexico without considering some spectacular Native-designed turquoise earrings, necklaces, etc.

Learn more

If you'd like to learn more about gemstones, visit the American Gem Society or International Colored Gemstone Association websites. For a more educational or scientific take on the subject, The Mineral and Gemstone Kingdom is a fun place to get acquainted with crystals.

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