Pronounced "vermay," vermeil is an electroplating process in which 14K gold or higher is coated over sterling silver. Officially designated by the jewelry industry, items may only be sold as vermeil if they have a minimum thickness of 100 millionths of an inch (2.5 microns) of gold over the silver. Regular gold plating is less than 2.5 microns.
The "vermeil" technique of plating sterling silver with gold originated in France in the 1750s. It differs from "gold filled" or "gold plated" in terms of the thickness or thinness of the microns over sterling silver. "Gold filled" pieces have a much thicker layer, between 15 and 45 microns, which is mechanically bonded to the base metal with heat and pressure. Vermeil is a more expensive version of "gold plated". It does not wear off as quickly as gold plating does. However, over time, vermeil wears off and therefore will require re-plating.
Gold/Platinum Embraced Silver or Bronze:
Our platinum and gold embraced collections feature layers of platinum or gold over sterling silver or bronze for a lustrous, radiant finish everywhere you look and touch.
To care for your plated jewelry items:
With its uniquely mystical appearance, quartz was the “rock crystal” used in ancient times to make crystal balls. It was believed to attract energy and is still considered to be spiritual today. The gemstone was once believed to be a compact form of ice. In fact, the Greeks originally named quartz “krystallos,” meaning ice, but this terminology soon applied to any type of crystal.
Often identified by its six-sided prism shape, quartz is the most common mineral on Earth, found in nearly every environment throughout the globe. With a ranking of 7.0 on the Mohs Scale, it is a component of almost every rock type and occurs in virtually every color imaginable. Quartz has a great amount varieties that are well-known by other names, including amethyst, citrine, ametrine, rock crystal, agate, druzy, chalcedony, tigers eye and many more. There are also several varieties that hold the name “quartz,” including rose quartz, smokey quartz and rutilated quartz.
The pale pink color of quartz is known as rose quartz, the traditional gift for couples celebrating their 2 nd anniversary. It is a delicate powder pink color that ranges from transparent to translucent. Transparent rose quartz is quite rare and is usually so pale that it does not show much color, except in large sizes. The translucent quality of rose quartz is much more common and is used for jewelry and carvings.
Rose quartz is probably one of the most prized stones for its mystical properties. Known as the “Heart Stone,” it is believed to have incredible powers to balance emotions and open the heart. Folklore says rose quartz can comfort brokenhearted people, bringing healing and clarity to the heart and allowing the wearer to learn to trust again. The stone is also said to foster happiness and the joy of life by bringing about contentment in love and filling one with optimism, tenderness and gentleness.
In addition to helping with romantic love, rose quartz is believed to enhance all other forms of love as well, including self-love, platonic and maternal. Its loving, nurturing energy is said to take away fears, resentment and anger and replace them with feelings of higher self-esteem and confidence. This soothing stone is also thought to balance emotions and heal emotional wounds. It is said to be especially powerful in times of stress or loss, bringing peace and calm to the wearer.
Ranging in color from nearly black to smoky brown, smoky quartz is transparent and owes its warm earthen hue to exposure to natural radioactivity. Care must be taken since its rich color will fade in the sun. Spelled either “smoky” or “smokey,” this variety of quartz is often incorrectly called “smoky topaz.”
Smoky quartz is believed to help dissolve negative energy and release stress. It is said to be a mild sedative with a relaxing effect that calms, soothes and restores balance and harmony. Folklore says the gem can embrace dark areas with light and love and therefore clear and cleanse the body both physically and emotionally. Smoky quartz is thought to be a warm, friendly and down-to-earth gem.
Rutilated quartz is a type of transparent rock crystal that contains long, fine needles of rutile crystals (titanium dioxide). These highly valued inclusions form a landscape of shining gold needles in an array of patterns that is breathtakingly beautiful. These golden inclusions are also known as Venus hair, Cupid’s darts and fleches d’amour (“arrows of love”). There is a less well-known variety called tourmalinated quartz that, instead of golden rutile, forms black or dark green tourmaline crystals.
Although rutilated quartz is usually cut as a cabochon, it can be a difficult stone to attain a smooth surface without pits. This is because rutile ranks a 6.0 on the Mohs Scale , while quartz ranks 7.0. The difference in hardness between the two materials, and because of the way rutile forms inside, causes problems when cutting. Each final cut piece is unique, with no two being exactly alike. Modern folklore says rutilated quartz brings forth each person's strengths, originality and ability to relate to others.
Tourmalinated quartz is a clear form of quartz with silver-tone filaments and threads of black tourmaline running through it. Because tourmalinated quartz is a combination of quartz and tourmaline, it has influences and characteristics of both these gems.
All quartz rock that is absent of color is deemed rock crystal. This category of quartz has the clarity of pure water, without as much as a hint of pigment. While this colorless quartz is too common to be considered a precious gemstone, it is still beautiful, as well as affordable. Rock crystal is commonly used in decorative carvings, figurines and chandeliers. It is also easy to cut, making it well suited in the creation of eye-catching jewelry.
Phantom quartz is a variety of quartz which, over the course of millions of years, forms over existing rock crystals. It takes its name from the particular structure of the trigonal crystals that form within its shape, known as the phantom. Found mostly in Austria, Brazil, Madagascar, Switzerland and the United States, phantom quartz can also be found in smoky quartz, citrines and amethysts. These phantoms, or the inner crystals, are usually composed of other minerals such as chlorite, goethite, hematite or even other kinds of quartz like the smoky and milky quartz.
Mention of phantom quartz is found in 2000-year-old texts where it was believed to have formed on ice hidden in dark caverns for millions of years. This ice, when exposed to extreme cold, got encased with the quartz, thus trapping the phantom within. Perhaps because of their elusive beginnings, phantom quartz are sometimes referred to as ghost crystals, specter crystals or even shadow crystals.
An ancient Persian legend states the Earth rests on a gigantic sapphire that gives its blue reflection to the sky. The most popular colors for sapphires range from light blue to a blue that appears black. Hence, the name was derived from the Latin form of the Greek word for blue, "sapphirus." These blue colors are caused by iron and titanium in the stone. Bright daylight makes most sapphires shine more vividly than the somewhat muted artificial light. So the most highly cherished color for blue sapphires is not the darkest blue, but a deep and satiated blue, which even in dim, artificial light remains to appear blue.
While sapphires are best known for being velvety blue, it was decided long ago to consider all gemstones of the mineral family corundum to be sapphires. Non-blue sapphires are termed "fancy" and can be nearly any color, including yellow, green, white, pink, orange, brown, purple and even black. Red corundum is the exception, however, and was given the special name of "ruby."
In lighter-colored sapphires, the shade of color is determined by how the stone is cut. A cutter must take special care with sapphires. Not only do they rank a 9.0 on the Mohs Scale, second only to diamonds in hardness, but they display a different coloring and satiation depending on the perspective. The cutter must align the orientation of the stone in such a way as to bring about the best possible display of color.
There are a great number of varieties of sapphire, many of which are quite rare and highly sought-after in the gemstone market. A rare orange-pink variety, known as padparadscha, can be even more valuable than blue sapphire. Given the poetic name meaning "lotus blossom," it features a delicate orange color with pink undertones
Another rare variety of sapphire is known as the color-changing sapphire. This stone exhibits different colors in different light. In natural light, color-changing sapphire is blue, but in artificial light, it is violet. This effect is the same phenomenon seen in alexandrite.
For experts and connoisseurs, the Kashmir-color is considered the most beautiful and valuable shade. It features a pure and intensive blue, which is enhanced by a fine, silky gloss. Its color does not change in artificial light, but remains intense with a deep, velvety sheen. Setting the standard for the color of top-quality sapphires, Kashmir sapphires were found in 1880 after an avalanche. They were intensely mined for only eight years until the source was depleted. The Burma-color is also considered especially valuable, ranging from rich royal blue to deep cornflower blue. Ceylon sapphires are prized as well for the luminosity and brilliance of their light to medium blue color.
There is a translucent variety of sapphire, called star sapphire, which displays a six-point star when cut into a smooth domed cabochon. The mineral rutile is embedded in an asterisk-shape within the stone, causing light to reflect in a phenomenon called "asterism." Six- or twelve-ray stars appear to magically glide across the surface of the stones as they are moved. Star sapphires and rubies are expensive rarities and should always display the stars exactly in the center of the gem. The star stone is said to be the home of each person's angel, who lives there in contentment with the sapphire's spirit.
White sapphires have become a very suitable diamond substitute. With their high light refraction and level of hardness, they provide a less expensive alternative that is still very capable of turning heads with a very convincing sparkle.
The oldest sapphire mines are situated in Ceylon, where gemstones were mined in ancient times. Most blue sapphires today come from Thailand or Australia, but sapphires from Kashmir and Myanmar are highly prized. A large sapphire occurrence stretches across several miles in Madagascar. There are also two large occurrences in Tanzania, where smaller, yet high-quality sapphires are found. The stone is also mined in many other parts of the world.
Sapphires are readily available in sizes of up to 2.00ct, but gems weighing 5.00-10.00ct are not unusual. The cushion-cut Logan Sapphire from Sri Lanka weighs an astounding 423.00ct and can be seen at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. There is also a 258.00ct stone set in the Russian crown, which is kept in the Diamond Fund in Moscow.
Because the gem has long symbolized sincere love and enduring faithfulness, blue sapphires are often given in engagement rings to express commitment and loyalty. Many women throughout the world decide on the blue stone for their engagement rings, as the gem also represents truth, friendship, harmony and consistency. Sapphire blue has become a color related to anything permanent and reliable, making it an ideal stone to symbolize the promise of marriage.
Often referred to as "Gem of the Heavens," sapphire also symbolizes a noble soul. It is September's birthstone and is traditionally given as 5th and 45th wedding anniversary gifts. Star sapphires are given for the 65th anniversary. The color sapphire-blue is known for representing clarity and competence. In fact, the first computer to ever declare victory over a chess grandmaster and world champion was named "Deep Blue."
Sapphires have been associated with magical powers throughout the ages. The Greeks identified white sapphires with Apollo and the oracles at Delphi used them to tap into the subconscious and super conscious. In the 13th century, it was said that when worn, sapphires cooled the inner heat of anger. Soldiers wore them to prevent capture by enemies and kings wore the gemstone to defend against harm and put themselves in divine favor. This supposed "divine favor" is why sapphires were often the gemstone of choice for high priests and royalty throughout history. In fact, the British Crown Jewels contain a number of notable sapphires.
During the Middle Ages, sapphires symbolized the tranquility of the heavens and wearing them was thought to bring peace, happiness and purity of the soul. Medieval priests and monks would wear sapphire jewelry believing it had the ability to quell wicked impulses and impure thoughts. The color blue became the symbol of the union between a priest and the heavens, so sapphires came to be adorned on the rings of bishops.
Today, sapphires are still believed to hold special powers. It can be considered an aid to psycho kinesis, telepathy and clairvoyance, while providing spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. White sapphires, like diamonds, are considered the guardians of love, enhancing it and ensuring fidelity in marriage. The most powerful type of the gem is said to be the star sapphire. They are believed to protect against negative energy and have a calming effect that allows the mind to experience tranquility, joy and clear thinking.
Tourmaline occurs in virtually every color of the spectrum, with an unlimited range of solid and mixed colors in all imaginable shades. According to an ancient Egyptian legend, this is the result of the gemstone traveling along a rainbow from the Earth's heart, up to the sun. On its journey, the legend says that tourmaline collected all the colors of the rainbow, which is why it is called the "Rainbow Gemstone."
The gem is found in hues of red, pink, green, blue, yellow, black, brown and colorless. It also can be bi-colored or multi-colored. Some tourmalines are very faint in color, while others are so dark that the color is only discernible when light is shone through the stone. There are even tourmalines that change their color from daylight to artificial light.
Tourmalines displaying just one color are quite rare since one crystal usually shows two or more shades or colors. In fact, the name "tourmaline" has been derived from the Singhalese expression "tura mali," which translates to "stone of mixed colors." Even two stones cut from the same rough mother crystal will often show different colors, a characteristic that makes tourmalines so attractive and sought-after.
Tourmaline also shows a remarkable dichroism. This means that when viewed from different directions, the stone will display different colors, or at least show different intensities. The deepest color always appears along the main axis, a fact that is important for the gem cutter to focus upon when cutting the stone. Tourmalines rank a hardness of 7.0-7.5 on the Mohs Scale and may be as small as a knitting needle or as thick as a thigh. They are easily available in sizes of up to 5.00ct.
Different shades of colored tourmalines have been assigned specific names in the gemstone world. Bi-colored and multi-colored tourmalines have several names for the common combinations of colors. Crystals with red or pink cores and green borders are called watermelon-tourmalines. Stones with colorless crystals and black tips are called Maur's Head or Moor's Head, while colorless crystals with red tips are called Turk's Head. If the color zones are arranged one on top of the other, the stone is considered a rainbow tourmaline.
The red variety of tourmaline changes its name based on the coloring in different types of lighting. Deep red tourmaline named rubellite shows the same fine ruby-red shade in daylight and in artificial light. Should the color change when the source of light changes, the stone is simply called a pink tourmaline. With its exquisitely intense coloring, rubellite was once the victim of misidentification for rubies in the Russian crown jewels.
Green tourmalines come in a variety of shades, including leek-green, intense yellow-green, olive-green and brownish-green. Chromium-tourmaline is the trade name for the emerald-green variety. Its beautiful color is strikingly similar to the fine color of emeralds. Blue-green and dark bottle-green are the most rare and highly coveted green hues.
Perhaps the most beautiful variety is the Paraiba tourmaline. It ranges in color from electric blue to neon blue-green to sizzling turquoise. Discovered in the Brazilian state of Paraiba, its vivid color has not been consistently seen in any other gemstone variety. Its spectacular color is due to the presence of a small amount of copper. A study by the German Foundation for Gemstone Research also discovered a surprisingly high content of gold in the stones.
Until recently, there was one striking gap in the range of colors displayed by tourmaline. Pure yellow shades were missing and most of the yellow tourmalines that were found showed a slightly brownish tinge. In the year 2000, however, electric yellow tourmalines were found in Malawi in East Africa. With a clear and pure color, they were deemed "canary tourmalines" and the formerly missing color of yellow was added in excellent quality to the unlimited range of tourmaline colors.
Larger yellow tourmalines rarely occur. Only 10 percent of all the mined yellow stones are gem-quality and when cut, more than 95 percent of the harvest will weigh less than 1.00ct. Regardless of their smaller size, experienced cutters love working with the stones. Not only do they have brilliant color, yellow tourmalines are considered to be the only gemstones that have a fine scent. This is because in the place of their occurrence, tourmaline crystals are often embedded into black material that must be removed before the stones are cut. An owner of a Malawi gemstone mine discovered the black matter was easily removed when the rough crystals were boiled in water and lemon juice. Ever since then, yellow tourmalines from Malawi not only resemble fresh lemons in color, but also in their scent before they are cut.
Other tourmalines are called "indigolith" if they are blue and "dravite" if they are golden to dark brown. Black tourmalines are known as "schorls" and are mainly used for engraving. Although they were used as mourning jewelry, ancients believed black tourmalines to be stones that protected against negativity and strengthened the heart.
Tourmalines are piezoelectric, meaning they can generate electrical charges when heated, compressed or vibrated. They then become polarized crystalline magnets and can attract light objects. The Dutch knew about this effect and used heated tourmalines to extract ashes from their pipes. The stones were even favorite toys of Dutch children before their gem quality was established. Because the gem's electrical charges attract dust and small materials, some believe that wearing pink tourmalines will attract love and green ones will attract success.
Tourmaline has often been called the "muses' stone" because it is believed that its imaginative colors contain inspirational powers that grant enlightenment, enable creativity and express an artist's mood. Due to the stones' energetic conductivity and vast array of elements, they are thought to have powerful healing abilities and protect against many dangers. Tourmaline is supposed to be an especially powerful influence on love and friendship, fostering compassion and cool headedness. It is considered the traditional gift to give couples celebrating their 8th wedding anniversary.
Ever since the ancient days, the gem has been attributed with magical powers. Today, specific colors of tourmaline are thought to hold individualized powers. Black is believed to bring luck and happiness when rubbed. Green is said to encourage communication and bring success, while blue is a balancer that stimulates other tourmalines' effectiveness. Watermelon tourmaline is believed to increase perception and creativity, while balancing passivity and aggressiveness. Pink is thought to promote peace, increase spiritual understanding and bring forth love and friendship.
A selection of our jewelry is made of sterling palladium alloy. Palladium is a member of the platinum group of precious metals. By replacing a portion of the copper content used in standard sterling silver with palladium, this proprietary formula renders a precious metal with superior performance attributes. Sterling palladium is five times more tarnish-resistant than standard sterling silver and has strength similar to that of 14K gold.
Palladium has been used as a precious metal in jewelry since 1939, originally as an alternative to platinum for making white gold. Its naturally white color requires no rhodium plating. Additionally, palladium is proportionally much lighter than platinum and is ideal for use in heavier gemstone jewelry. It is a more expensive alloy than nickel, but it seldom causes the allergic reactions that nickel alloy can.
To care for your plated jewelry items: