Know Your Gem (Part 1)

I have made a lot of noise about my next collection – La Vida – which is both precious and significant to me. It will be my 4th collection since 2011. 90% of this collection is made with semi precious gems, while 10% is made with interesting and endearing beads and materials like lampwork, acrylic, pebbles and wood. Because of its precious properties, I figured it will be nice for you to know what you will be buying. I believe that an informed buyer is a happy and satisfied one. So, here are a few things you need to know about semi precious gems.

Precious or semi precious stones or beads are small pieces of precious mineral that have been polished and then used in making jewellery, accessorize cloths and homes. However some rocks like lapis-lazuli and organic materials like jet and amber are not minerals, but they are also used in jewellery and therefore they are also considered as gemstones -http://www.glitteringstones.com

There are a lot of semi precious gems but only 4 precious gems which are diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire, but some include amethyst which today is both abundant, and more affordable than the other 4 gems. Some semi precious gems are more expensive than others because of their rarity, clarity, purity, weight or difficulty in synthesizing thus they are in grades – A, AA, AAA, the more As, the higher the quality.

banded agatebluelace agateRed agate 8mm - £3.25Blue agate beads 8mm - £17AGATE: There are different types of agate, lace agate, banded agate etc but in general, Agates tend to be clearer and more colorful than Jasper and patterned or banded. Agates are typically very finely crystallined with impurities for coloring. This makes Agates not only beautiful but in general, quite durable. It is said that Agate is the birthstone for people born in May, September, Aquarians, Capricorns, Geminians and Virgos, it brings good luck to you. We have blue and red laced agates and red banded Agate in this collection.

 

Mined in: USA, India, Brazil, Scotland, England, Italy, Germany and some other countries.

Coraloil dye bamboo red coral beads 2 strands -£6.98Coral: Long a highly prized gem and also known as the garden of the sea, *Coral in today’s market is usually dyed. But you can still get NATURAL Mediterranean Red and Pink Coral but it has recently been banned* and so is likely a good investment when you can find it. There are Bamboo, Blue, Natural, and Sponge coral beads. The most expensive are Natural (red and pink) and Blue while the bamboo, and sponge are relatively affordable. The coral we have in this collection are bamboo oil dyed. It is the birthstone of Aires, Taurus, Libra, Scorpio and thus it is said to bring good luck and peace to you.

Mined in: Mediterranean sea, Australia, South Pacific, waters of Japan and Africa. *http://www.luckygemstones.com/coral-varieties.htm

 

 

howlite01howlite semiprecious bead - £2.20Howlite: Howlite is a soft, opaque snowy white semi precious gemstone with pastel gray streaks. It is one of the most affordable gemstones because of its softness. Howlite takes dye well and is very often used to cheaply imitate other, more expensive stones, such as Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli. Because it is soft, care should be used when wearing and cleaning Howlite jewellery as it is not durable enough for every day wear. It is a calming stone and regarded as a beauty stone as well because of its incredible snow-white beauty and delicate nature. It is the birthstone for Pisces.

Mined in Nova Scotia, Canada and California.

 

 

lapis LazuliLapis Lazuli: Lapis Lazuli is one of the most popular of all semi-precious gemstones and probably one of the most faked of all gemstones we see. Very often dealers will dye lower grade Lapis to improve the navy blue coloring. Lapis will ALWAYS have golden Pyrite flecks, the look-a-likes will not. It is an ancient gem that dates as far back as 5000BC and at that time was valued more than gold. It is one of the most expensive semi precious gemstones. It is graded according to how close to the rock it is mined from. It is said to bring love and is the birthstone for people born in December, Aquarius, Taurus and Libra. we have grade A in this collection.

Mined in Pakistan, Chile, Russia, USA, Angola, Burma, Canada, India but most significantly, the mountains of Afghanistan.

 

 

 

 

 

MalachiteSemi-precious beads malachite 6mm - £6.65Malachite: Malachite is a banded, swirled or striped green semi precious gemstone taking its name from the Greek word malache or mallow, it has also been called the mirror to the soul, the businessman gemstone. It is said to bring good luck, love and wealth. Malachite is an important Copper ore, so true Malachite is quite heavy. Because Malachite is quite soft, it should be worn with care. Use extreme caution in cleaning this gemstone as it is easily broken down by some solvents. It is the birthstone for Pisces, Sagittarius and Scorpio.

Mined in Zambia, Namibia, Russia, Mexico, Broken Hills, New South Wales, England, Tsumeb, Ural mountains, Lyon.

 

 

 

 

 

onyxonyx-marbleSemi-precious Beads BlackOnyx 4mm - £8.99Onyx: Onyx comes in a wide range of colors but by far, the most popular is classic Black Onyx. Banded Onyx is referred to as Sardonyx. Beware of Calcite being passed off as Onyx. True Onyx is quite hard, whereas Calcite can easily be scratched with a fingernail. Said to bring happiness and a sense of awareness. It is the birthstone for people born in December and Capricorn. We have Black Onyx in this collection.

Mined in India, Brazil, Uruguay, China and California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sleeping_beauty_turquoisechinese_turquoiseSemi-precious beads Turquoise 6mm- £5.98Turquoise pillow - £3.99Turquoise: Please be aware this is undoubtably one of the most faked of all gemstones. Less than 25% of the Turquoise mines in the Southwest USA are still operating, the most famous being the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Mine. Genuine Turquoise is rather light in weight and derives its name from Turkish Stone, after the Turks, who considered it lucky. It comes in blue and green. The highest grades are “robin’s egg blue,” and the color of the blue sky. Chalk Turquoise is the term for low grade Turquoise which has been ground into a powder, mixed with dye, then reconstituted. Most Turquoise sold in jewellery stores or departmental stores is Chalk Turquoise. It really is Turquoise so they can sell it as such but it is not natural. The result is a beautiful robin egg blue or green gemstone that resembles Sleeping Beauty Turquoise, the best natural Turquoise in the world. If you like the look of bright, top grade Turquoise, but balk at the price (a top grade turquoise pendant alone costs about N165,000), Chalk Turquoise (which costs relatively less) is your best bet. If the Turquoise is cheap, be very, very cautious. Stones such as Howlite which easily take dye, are often used to cheaply imitate Turquoise. If a sample stone is broken, the blue color should run throughout the stone. If it doesn’t it is probably dyed with no hint of turquoise. Chalk Turquoise that has white spots are fakes. Synthetic Turquoise or dyed Turquoise can be quite lovely and won’t break your budget but if you’re in the market for the higher grade ones, note that it will be an investment. This collection features Chalk turquoise. It is said to bring luck, love and friendship. It is the birthstone for people born in December, Aquarius, Pisces, Sagittarius, Capricorn and Taurus.

Mined in Afghanistan, Australia, Northern Chile, India, Turkey, China, USA and Mexico.

 

gem-redjasper2-b-1rainbow jasper semiprecious bead £2.94jasper-rainforestJasper: Jasper is a term which generally refers to opaque semi-precious gemstones, usually quartz based. This term is sometimes interchangeable with Agate, however Agates tend to be clearer and/or banded. It is one of the oldest gemstones and is mentioned in the Bible several times. It is said to bring sability, courage, good luck, and express beauty. Jasper comes in different types and colours: Rainbow Jasper, Leopard Skin Jasper, Red Jasper, Mookaite Jasper, Polychrome Jasper, Ocean Jasper, Yellow Jasper, Leopardite Jasper, Rainforest Jasper. It the birthstone for people born in October, Virgo, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Leo . This collection features Rainbow and Red Jasper.

Mined in France, Germany, India, Russia, Venezuela and USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

freshwater potatoe pearl 8mm £11.99PotatoPearls-freshwater-Gold-brown £12.99Purple swarovski pearls 6mm- £7.50 Pearls: Pearls are timeless, classic and very, very beautiful. You will find the Freshwater Pearl Jewellery extremely affordable and, in our opinion, just as beautiful as their expensive saltwater cousins. Pearl is the oldest known gem, and for many centuries it was considered the most valuable. Unlike all gems, the pearl is organic matter derived from a living creature – oysters and mollusks. It is very hard and Indians regard it as a precious gem not a semi precious. Many say that how you know the real pearl is by scratching them together and if it brings out a powder form, it means that it is real, not entirely true as freshwater (as the name suggests, is gotten from freshwater mollusks), saltwater (as the name suggests, are gotten from saltwater oysters) and Swarovski pearls have that attribute. Yes, all three are real pearls as the Swarovski pearls are made by blending freshwater pearls and crystals together. The highest grade of pearl is the saltwater pearl which is also very rare, highly expensive and is sold in carats just like gold, next to it is the freshwater pearls which is just as beautiful pricey but relatively more affordable, then there is the swarovski pearls which are sort after because of its crystal luster and is more affordable than freshwater pearls. Then there is the fake pearls made with glass or plastic and is as light as air. Pearls come in many colours like pink, black, grey, brown, rose, pink, silver, bronze, orange, blue, gold, purple but the classic pearl colours are white and cream. It is said to bring calmness, beauty and success. It is the birthstone for Gemini, Cancer and people born in June & November. This collection features freshwater pearls and Swarovski pearls.

Mined in Asia – India, China and Japan.

 

crystal-roughswarovski crystal bead clear 5pks- £11.40 Crystals: Rock crystal is a clear variety of quartz that was first found high in the frozen mountains of the Alps. Ancient people believed it was a form of ice crystals that would never melt. It is said to have cooling powers and is a romantic stone. The most popular crystals are the Swarovski crystals and the Chinese crystals both of which are pricey because of its clarity. Fake crystals are made out if glass (and not crystal glass) and then polished to give it the crystal look. Crystal is a common stone. Swarovski crystal gives the impression that it is luxurious, sophisticated, and elegant while allowing the person wearing it or the item it is garnishing to display eye-catching beauty. Swarovski is a brand name for a range of precision-cut crystal glass which is made only by its producers in Austria. Swarovski Crystal does not occur naturally in the earth. They are made from natural rock crystals and then cut with precision that gives it it’s world renowned look. It has rich beautiful details and often mistaken as diamonds. While Chinese crystals are mined from China. Although natural crystals like the ones swarovski crystals  are made from, they don’t have the same brilliant look as Swarovski crystals. It is said to be the birthstone for Pisces, Leo, Capricorn and people born in April. This collection features Swarovski Crystals and Chinese Crystals.

Sources of Rock (quartz) crystal include Brazil, Madagascar, India, Pakistan, Switzerland, China, Austria, France and parts of Russia.

 

NOTE: The above semi precious stones or beads are in our next collection. So don’t forget to check out the collection when it is done. Part 2 of KNOW YOUR GEM will be published once we are done working on this collection. Ok, got to run, have a collection to package. See you!

The Myth of White Gold

NOTE: All pieces shown in this article are complete manufactured pieces from Igl&I (New Delhi, India).

 

When I got married, I wanted WHITE GOLD and nothing else so my husband and I went around looking for the best quality piece of White Gold we could afford; after all, it is an investment. Eventually, we found one but we were also told that “there is nothing like White Gold because ALL White Gold is Yellow Gold dripped i.e. plated in rhodium.” The point the guy was trying to make is that at some point, my ring will change colour and will begin to have hints of yellow on it so I shouldn’t feel like I bought a fake but I will then have to bring it back for it to be re-dripped. I trusted him, I mean, why would I be paying a lot of money to a reputable jeweller to lie to me.

 

Well recently, after my grilling course in India as a Jewellery Designer, I discovered that he didn’t exactly lie to me but he isn’t well informed. All White Gold is derived from Yellow Gold, and adding different alloys to the metal to produce the white colour (TRUE). Some people believe that White Gold has to be plated or ‘dipped’. This is true of production and it is done to hide off-grey colours and imperfections. But, if you use 75% yellow gold with 25% other metals such as silver and palladium, you will have 19k white gold and will remain white through and through.

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At Iris By Hazel, we advise our clients to use this higher quality metal because it never needs to be plated, it always stays white! Rhodium plating your jewellery is like painting your nails… eventually you have to take it all off and do it again. If you begin with quality, you end with quality.

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NOTE: ALWAYS ask for a certificate while buying any precious jewellery because it is an investment. Merely weighing it and putting some chemical to test it isn’t enough. I mean, it could be some heavy metal that was plated with high purity gold so when checked, it looks real but it actually isn’t. Like all investments, you should have a proof of quality, as shares have certificates, so should your precious jewellery. So, always ask your jeweller for the certificate showing the karat (purity/clarity) and the carat (the weight) of the precious metal – GOLD; or the precious stones like Diamonds, etc. Internationally, you won’t be able to sell precious jewellery at the current market value without a certificate from a reputable issuer. 

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My name is Patricia Ihidero, jewellery designer, jewellery maker, CEO of Iris Jewellery (Iris By Hazel & Iris Jewellery Institute), lover of beads, fashion/costume jewellery and all things precious (metals and stones). I believe that Nigeria should be THE jewellery hub of Africa and one of the jewellery capitals of the world. Take my hand and we can do it together.

The Genesis of Iris Jewellery

Vietnames Tassel

Silver with rhinestone cross with antique silver knotted chic chain

The classics are back
Three strand necklace made with Swarovski Pearls

Go Native but elegant
Colourful Yo-Yo Ankara and Button choker

For weeks now, I have toiled with the best way to start this blog. What possible way can I begin the story of my journey to Iris By Hazel. This blog will be more pictures than stories after all we are talking about precious pieces of items you had rather see than hear them described to you but first, you will also get to know IRIS JEWELLERY. So, let’s get to it.

“AH! Thank God! Cos you done dey talk too much grammar. We know you go school but abeg talk sharp-sharp, na the photo we come see. ”

I have always loved accessories especially as I needed to find a way to express myself. It started with designing my own dresses which by the way my sister believes belong on the runway and not the streets of Nigeria.

“Ah! Wahala dey o!”

Anyway, designing my dresses didn’t do it for me so my search continued until 2003 in my 3rd year in school when I discovered that I could actually make my own jewellery and that was the beginning of my love for beads.

“Ggan-gban!”

So, one weekend we weren’t doing any rehearsals (I studied Theatre Arts) I went to the market and bought all kinds of beads, tiger-tail (a type of stringing material) and my tools which consisted of scissors and razor blade. Came home and started stringing. I had no basic training, no books or magazine to copy from, I just knew what I wanted to make and I sat down and started making it. The result?

“A couple of idiotic designs wey even you sef no fit wear. Pssseuw! Rubbish! Who you be! Na magic? If na so e bi, all of we go done dey make bead sinnnnnnce before them born you sef, next thing now she go tell us say she was born to make bead, Commot fo road jo!”

Some really simple necklaces and earrings! I had made really long illusion and spike necklaces (at that time I didn’t even know that was what they were called). Yes, the finishing was horrible! It wasn’t as posh as I had imagined. Yes, I didn’t get that warm feeling in my stomach that I had created a wonderful piece of art but I was very happy that I had made it myself. My first handcrafted jewellery. I was pumped, thrilled and overly excited so I wore them with all the pride in the world!

“ROTFWL! LMAO! LWKMD! #Laughingandpointingatyouandyourhillariousjewellery#”

I made a few more pieces and all of them had the same issue, horrible finishing. Say what you may, think what you may but even Tiffinay, Cartier, Harry Winston, Buccellati etc all had bad days when they started out, when they tried to figure out where they belonged. 2003 was mine.

“Hmmmm”

I think I was brave enough to wear them for a couple of months and then I abandoned both making and wearing. I didn’t make another piece of jewellery again till 2011. Between 2003 and 2011, Iris By Hazel was gearing up for an entrance! I have always been a believer in ‘if you don’t like something, don’t moan about it, get off your butt and do something about it. This is my bus-stop for now, will see you all next week, until then…

My name is Patricia Ihidero, jewellery designer, jewellery maker, CEO of Iris Jewellery (Iris By Hazel & Iris Jewellery Institute), lover of beads, fashion/costume jewellery and all things precious (metals and stones). I believe that Nigeria should be THE jewellery hub of Africa and one of the jewellery capitals of the world. Take my hand and we can do it together.