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Warranty: Limited one-year vendor warranty from the date of purchase. Please call 1-800-268-7962. Includes a gemstone romance card with purchase.
All weights pertaining to gemstones, including diamonds, are minimum weights. Additionally, please note that many gemstones are treated to enhance their beauty. View Gemstone Enhancements and Special Care Requirements for important information.
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:
Known for its fiery combination of colors, opal is called the "Cupid stone" because it was said to reflect the complexion of the Greek god of love. The ancient Romans believed the gem was the symbol of hope, good luck and purity. Today, it remains a symbol of hope and inspiration. With a name stemming from the Latin word for "precious stone," opal is considered October's birthstone and is traditionally given as a 14th anniversary gift.
Opals are luminous and iridescent stones with inclusions of many colors called "fire." It is sometimes called the "queen of gems" because it can flash patterns of color representing every hue of the rainbow. In fact, most stones are usually cut into domed cabochons to enhance the color play. The brilliance and pattern of an opal's fire determines its value. Opals with strong flashes of red fire are generally the most prized, while stones with blue or green flashes are more common and subsequently less valuable. Stone size also helps determine price, since the gem is very rare in larger sizes.
In order to produce a stone that is less expensive than a solid opal, an opal doublet can be manufactured. It is composed of a thin layer of opal glued on top of another mineral (usually a black onyx or ironstone, which enhances the opal's color). An opal triplet can be made with a thin layer of opal sandwiched between a layer of clear quartz on top and a layer of obsidian or ironstone on the bottom. The clear quartz top layer makes the gem harder and less susceptible to scratches. Since top-quality natural opals are extremely rare and expensive, many are treated with colorless oil, wax or resin to enhance their appearance. Ranking a hardness of 5.5-6.5 on the Mohs Scale, these treatments also fill cracks in the stone to improve durability.
A species of quartz, opal is one of the few gemstones that are sedimentary in origin. Millions of years ago, after ancient seas receded, silica-laden sediment was deposited around shorelines. Erosion made much of this silica into a solution that filled cracks in rocks, clay and fossils. Layers upon layers of silica jell were added to each other over millions of years and became precious opals. The stones still contain 6 to 10 percent water, a remnant of ancient seas. Because they have high water content, opals should be protected from heat and strong light in order to prevent them from drying out and cracking.
Opal is found in a range of hues, including white opal (the most common), black opal (the most valuable), boulder opal (black opal with iron oxide), crystal or water opal (which is transparent), and fire opal (which features a bright solid color). The body color determines the variety of opal and has a large impact on the value.
White opals tend to have more diffused fire due to their light background color. Rare black opals have a black to dark gray body color that allows for the fire to be the most noticeable, making them the most valuable type of opal. Boulder opals are cut with the natural host rock left on the back. They are found with interesting hills and valleys on the surface and inclusions in the foreground, forming odd shapes that make them a designer's delight. Crystal opal is transparent with flashes of rainbow colors, while fire opal only occasionally has this play of color. Fire opal's backdrop color is the main attraction. With bold yellows, oranges or reds, it is usually faceted to add sparkle and enhance the fabulous color.
The vast majority of the world's opal supply comes from Australia, first discovered there by gold panners in 1863. In addition to a small quantity of opal produced in Kenya and Canada, white opal is mined in Brazil, black opal is found only at Lightning Ridge in Australia, crystal and fire opal can be found in the United States and Mexico, and a blue-green opal is found in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
Opals have been treasured for thousands of years throughout the world. The gem was loved and highly valued by the Romans, who called it "opalus." In fact, a beautiful opal called the "orphanus" was featured in the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor and was said to guard the regal honor. The Aztecs mined opal in South and Central America and archaeologist Louis Leakey found 6,000-year-old opal artifacts in a cave in Kenya. Napoleon gave Josephine a beautiful opal with brilliant red flashes called "The Burning of Troy," making her his Helen. To this day, opals are still set in the crown jewels of France. Queen Victoria loved opals and often gave them as wedding gifts. She was one of the first to appreciate opals from Australia and, along with her daughters, created a fashion for wearing the gemstone.
There are also several literary references to the fascinating stone throughout history. Shakespeare regarded opal as a symbol of shifting inconstancy, comparing its play of color to play of mind. In "Twelfth Night" he wrote, "Now the melancholy God protect thee, and the tailor make thy garments of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is opal." In the 19th century, Sir Walter Scott caused a reputation that opals were unlucky. The heroine of his popular novel had her life force caught in the opal she wore in her hair and died when its fire was extinguished.
For thousands of years, opals have been revered for their supposed mystical powers. Romans thought the stone kept the wearer safe from disease and wore it near the heart on necklaces to ward off evil and protect travelers. Ancient Arabs believed that opals fell from heaven in flashes of lightning, which explained their fiery colors. During the Middle Ages, opal was called "ophthalmios," meaning "eye stone," due to a widespread belief that it was beneficial to eyesight. Some thought its effect on sight could render the wearer invisible, and the stone was even recommended for thieves. In medieval Scandinavia, blonde women wore opals in their hair to prevent it from going grey.
Today, opals are still believed to hold magical powers. White opals, when used in rituals on a full moon night, are said to bring the moon goddess' powers into full effect within the practitioner. Specially shaped black opals are often worn on gold jewelry to further enhance their magical properties and powers. A fire opal surrounded with 10 or 12 diamonds and worn on a gold necklace is said to have excellent money-drawing power.
Opals have been said to bring good luck, grant vigor and ideally protect travelers. The stones have long been believed to develop and increase mental capacities and open the unused powers of the mind. The colorful fire in opals is said to develop a more creative imagination and help recall past lives. It is believed that the most magically powerful opals come from Lightning Ridge in Australia and that the gem loses its power once its owner dies.
The great imposter of gemstone history, many famous rubies have been found to actually be spinels. Perhaps the most famous of which is the Black Prince’s Ruby. Once worn by Henry V on his battle helmet, this 170.00ct red spinel is now set in the British Imperial State Crown. Another famous misidentification is the Timur Ruby, a 352.00ct red spinel now owned by Queen Elizabeth. This particular stone is engraved with the names of the Mughal emperors who previously owned it.
History is unclear whether these mistaken identities were merely accidents or clever substitutions of rubies for the less valuable spinels by dishonest jewelers. In Burma, spinel was recognized as a separate gem species in 1587, but the masquerade lasted for hundreds of years after that in most other countries.
Spinel carries a considerable amount of worth not only based on its history, but due to its brilliance and wide range of spectacular colors. When interpreted by the Greek, the word “spinel” means “spark” in reference to its beautiful sparkle. While a rich red is the most common color, spinel can be found in shades of pink, purple, green, brown or black. An exceptional color from Burma is a vivid hot pink with an orange undertone. Spinel can also come in a beautiful blue hue, sometimes called cobalt spinel, but this color is quite rare.
The main obstacle holding back greater recognition for spinel is rarity. Fine spinels are now more rare than the rubies they used to imitate. Strangely, however, they are also more affordable, since too rare can be a drawback because such few people have the opportunity to grow to love them. The most beautiful colors of the stone are mined in Myanmar (formerly Burma), but spinels are also found in Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Russia. They have a hardness of 7.5-8.0 on the Mohs Scale and are traditionally given as a 22nd wedding anniversary gift.
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: