Mills Jewelers Notebook

Articles in October 2019

October 1st, 2019
Tourmaline comes in a wide variety of fiery, vibrant hues, such as red, green, yellow, orange, brown, pink and purple. October's birthstone is even available in bi-color and tri-color versions. But, the most coveted tourmaline of all is the neon blue variety that was originally unearthed in Paraiba, Brazil, in 1987.



Gemologists learned that Paraiba tourmalines were distinctly different from the rest because they owed their intense blue color to trace impurities of copper. Other tourmalines got their color from the presence of iron, manganese, chromium and vanadium.

Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil are extremely rare, especially in sizes larger than a few carats. That's why the pear-shaped specimen, above, is so remarkable. It weighs 6.69 carats and is the first Paraiba tourmaline to join the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

The popularity of Paraiba tourmaline sparked a mining frenzy in Brazil, and within five years, the supply was largely tapped out, according to the Smithsonian. In 2001, new Paraiba-like tourmalines were discovered in Nigeria. Interestingly, the vivid blue-green gems boasted the same color and chemistry as the Brazilian-sourced goods. Then, only one year later, miners in Mozambique reported a similar find.

Today, gem dealers refer to neon blue or green, copper-infused tourmalines as "Paraiba," regardless of their origin. Tourmalines range from 7 to 7.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, which makes them durable enough to be used in any type of jewelry. According to gemstone.org, a small, vivid-color Paraiba gemstone will have a greater value than a larger one of lesser color, all other factors being equal.

The name “tourmaline” is derived from the Singhalese words “tura mali,” which mean “stone with mixed colors.”

Tourmaline has been an official birthstone for October since the original list was published by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Opal is the month's other official birthstone.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley/Smithsonian.
October 2nd, 2019
Johnkoivulaite, a mineral that changes from deep violet to near colorless when viewed with polarized light, is the newest member of the beryl family, which includes emerald, aquamarine and morganite.



The mineral is named after gemologist and author John Koivula, who is best known for his contributions to inclusion research and photomicrography.



The 1.16-carat crystal, shown above, was discovered in the Mogok Valley of Myanmar by local gemologist Nay Myo and confirmed as a new mineral species by the Gemological Institute of America and the International Mineralogical Association.

GIA Senior Research Scientist Aaron Palke unveiled the newly named mineral at the Geological Society of America (GSA) conference on September 25 in Phoenix.

“We are privileged to be able to name this mineral after John Koivula who has contributed so much to science and the gem and jewelry industry as a prominent gemologist and innovator in photomicrography,” said Tom Moses, GIA's executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer.

The GIA reported that johnkoivulaite has a hardness of 7.5 on the Mohs scale and a hexagonal crystal structure that is very similar to beryl and other members of the beryl group. But, what makes the mineral especially unique is the way it changes from a deep violet to near colorless when subjected to polarized light. This optical phenomenon is called pleochroism.

The johnkoivulaite specimen has found a new home in the GIA museum collection, located at the Institute’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. Established in 1931, the GIA is recognized as the world’s foremost authority in gemology.

Koivula has more than 40 years of industry experience in research and photomicrography. In 1986, Koivula co-authored with Edward J. Gübelin the immensely popular Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, followed by two additional volumes. Koivula also wrote The Microworld of Diamonds and co-authored Geologica with Robert Coenraads.

Credits: Photomicrographs by Nathan Renfro/GIA; John Koivula photo by Kevin Schumacher.
October 7th, 2019
The average American man knows after seven months of dating if his partner is "the one" and nearly half received not-so-subtle hints encouraging the proposal, according to a survey conducted for the Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group.



Two of the top five methods of dropping hints included forwarding emails from jewelry websites (45%) and stopping in jewelry stores to look at rings (40%). Other key signs that a partner was looking to tie the knot included watching TV or movies that involved weddings (54%), discussing other people’s engagements and marriages (52%), and leaving wedding magazines out to be discovered (50%).



The survey also revealed that it took an average of two months to find the perfect diamond. Of those who proposed with a ring, three in five noted that they were guided by their partners about ring preferences.



After purchasing the engagement ring, nearly half of the men kept it in a home safe while 30% put it in a shoebox. A quarter of the men kept the ring with them all the time, while 27% gave it to mom and dad for safekeeping. The survey also found the most common methods to protect the investment were a jeweler’s warranty (56%), specialty jeweler’s insurance (43%) and manufacturer’s warranty (42%).

Nearly eight in 10 men (79%) said their proposal went exactly as planned and 85% revealed that their proposal actually surprised their partner. We had previously reported that when it comes to getting engaged, nearly half of American brides-to-be want their engagement rings to be a surprise.

Followers of this blog know all too well that the best laid proposal plans sometimes go awry. We've reported on major snafus that nearly thwarted their engagements — including rings getting flushed down the toilet, trapped in lost luggage, falling into city utility grates, and even being washed out to sea during the proposal.

Luckily, all had happy endings.

“Popping the question and finding that perfect ring to symbolize your love are huge decisions,” said Jessica VandenHouten, brand communications manager for Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group. “Deciding how to protect the ring should be equally important. Given the time, financial and emotional investment, you want to protect the ring for all its worth.”

The survey results are based on responses from 2,000 engaged and married American men and was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group.

Credits: Top image by BigStockPhoto.com; Infographics courtesy of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group.
October 8th, 2019
About five weeks ago, Alrosa surprised its Instagram followers with a video that seemed to show a tiny rough diamond rattling around in the cavity of a larger one. The caption read, "A diamond in a diamond? We couldn't help but share this very special find with you."



At the time, Alrosa wasn't quite sure what to make of the phenomenon. Nobody at the mining company had ever seen anything like it.

Despite weighing just 0.62 carats, the tiny specimen became the focus of a series of elaborate tests to determine exactly what it was.

"We are not sure if the smaller one is a diamond," Alrosa wrote in the Instagram caption. "Our scientists are looking forward to studying the crystal. It will be researched with non-destructive methods."



Alrosa is now reporting that by utilizing Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and X-ray microtomography, its researchers are able to confirm that both the smaller crystal and its host are diamonds.

The larger one measures 4.8 mm x 4.9 mm x 2.8 mm, while the smaller, tabular-shaped crystal weighs .02 carats and measures 1.9 mm × 2.1 mm × 0.6 mm.

Alrosa is calling the curious double-diamond "Matryoshka," which is a nod to the popular Russian nesting dolls. The diamond was discovered in Yakutia at the Nyurba mining and processing division of Alrosa.

Explaining the extreme rarity of this find, Oleg Kovalchuk, deputy director for innovations at Alrosa's Research and Development Geological Enterprise, said, "This is really a unique creation of nature, especially since nature does not like emptiness. Usually, some minerals are replaced by others without cavity formation."

"The most interesting thing for us was to find out how the air space between the inner and outer diamonds was formed," he said.

Alrosa's scientists believe there was an internal diamond at first, and the external one was formed during the subsequent stages of growth.

Please check out Alrosa's video here...


Credits: Images courtesy of Alrosa.
October 9th, 2019
The Diamond Producers Association (DPA) is launching an $11 million ad campaign that is an unprecedented, cinematic telling of the natural diamond story. Titled "The Diamond Journey," the video chronicles the history of a beautiful rough diamond from its fiery subterranean origins to its place as the ultimate representation of love, commitment and meaningful moments.



At the epicenter of the campaign is a three-minute hero film that could be mistaken as the trailer for a major motion picture, due to its impressive special effects, period costumes, cast of characters and engaging score by Oscar-winning musician, Atticus Ross.

As the newest part of the “Real is Rare, Real is a Diamond” platform, the campaign was developed in partnership with creative agency BBH London. The film was directed by Ian Pons Jewell, whose impressive client list includes Nike, Audi, Lexus and Michelob.

“We know from research that the majority of consumers are unaware that diamonds are the oldest thing they will ever touch or own," noted Jean-Marc Lieberherr, CEO of the DPA. "It’s a powerful message that resonates and one this campaign celebrates with the tagline ‘Three Billion Years in the Making.’"

The campaign also uses the phrase "Before there was life, there were diamonds."

Elements of the three-minute hero film have been edited into 60-, 30- and 15-second videos, which will be seen on social media platforms. The DPA is also producing striking portrait and landscape still visuals of an embracing pair of hands emerging from a natural scene. One of the hands is adorned with a diamond ring (See image, above).

The featured item in the campaign is a 2-carat cushion-cut diamond engagement ring, set in yellow gold. It was chosen because it evokes a classic, timeless quality with eternal appeal.

The advertising campaign, which has a primary target audience of 21-39 year olds, launches digitally on October 15 with Condé Nast, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated, among others. The creative ads also will be posted to Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

"The Diamond Journey" commercials will be seen during NFL games on ESPN, holiday movies on the Hallmark channel, and The Today Show on NBC.

The DPA is also targeting high-impact placements in transit hubs and key cities during the busy holiday travel and gifting season. Expect to see "The Diamond Journey" messaging in New York's Grand Central Terminal, JFK and LAX airports, and select in-flight TVs.

Check out the full-length version of "The Diamond Journey" here...


Credits: Image courtesy of the Diamond Producers Association.
October 10th, 2019
L.J. West Diamonds recently granted CNBC unprecedented access to its New York City cutting facility to witness the re-polishing of a 5-carat pink diamond — a risky procedure that, if successful, would more than double the stone's value from $3.2 million to $7 million.



The father-son team of Larry and Scott West were betting that the pink diamond they had purchased at auction could be elevated from a from a "fancy pink" to a "fancy intense pink."



All it would take was a master diamond cutter and six painstaking hours at the polishing wheel. The cutter would remove a few micro millimeters of material from key points around the diamond and alter the angle of a few facets. Based on the Wests' computer modeling, the result would be a diamond that would better reflect the light and magnify its natural pink hue.



The re-polishing process took 10 sessions that extended over two weeks. The cutters were careful to keep each season on the wheel to less than 30 minutes. The grinding creates a lot of heat, so the diamond is allowed to "rest" and cool down while the experts evaluate their next move.

Overall, the calculation is simple: More color equals more value.

Scott emphasized that the procedure did come with a scary downside. At any time during the process, the diamond could shatter and their investment would go completely down the drain.

The younger West explained how a huge yellow perished during a similar process.

“We had a 20-carat yellow diamond that busted on the wheel," he told CNBC. "It went from $600,000 to $100,000 — just like that. It’s the unlucky lotto."

In this case, the 5-carat diamond survived its "surgery," but it was still unclear whether it would earn a high color grade at the Gemological Institute of America.



Two weeks later, the Wests invited CNBC back again to view GIA's grading report. The Wests were thrilled to learn that the gem did, indeed, earn a jump from "fancy pink" to "fancy intense pink."



"It was a big risk, but it really paid off," said Scott, who believes the $3.2 million gem is now worth $7 million.

The gem was recently set in a platinum ring flanked by two white diamonds. The Wests will be traveling with the stone to a number of VIP events, where they hope to match it up with a buyer.

Read the CNBC's story and see the network's video coverage at this link...

Credits: Screen captures via cnbc.com.
October 11th, 2019
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you hit songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Mario tells his new love interest why she deserves a fistful of diamonds and a handful of rings in his 2004 blockbuster hit, "Let Me Love You."



Written by Ne-Yo, Kameron Houff and Scott Storch, "Let Me Love You" is the story of a young woman with relationship problems. She has to choose between a cheating boyfriend who comes home with makeup on his shirt and a sweet-talking suitor who promises to show her the way love's supposed to be.

Mario sings, "You're the type of woman (deserves good thangs) / Fistful of diamonds (handful of rings) / Baby you're a star (I just want to show you, you are)."

The song, which appears on Mario's second studio album, Turning Point, was an instant hit, as it zoomed to #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained there for nine consecutive weeks. It was also an international hit, charting in 19 countries. Billboard named "Let Me Love You" the eighth most successful single of the decade. It even earned Mario a Grammy award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2006.

Trivia: Mario's "Let Me Love You" is one of the top-selling ringtones of all time with 1.6 million downloads.

Mario Dewar Barrett was born in Baltimore in 1986. At age four, Barrett told his family that he wanted to be a singer, and to support his dream, his mother bought him a karaoke machine. At age 11, Barrett signed a record deal after being discovered at a Coppin State College talent show by producer Troy Patterson. Three years later, the talented teen signed a new deal with Clive Davis' J Records.

Please check out the video of Mario's duet with Zendaya. The live performance of "Let Me Love You" is from the short-lived television show called Greatest Hits ABC, which ran in the summer of 2016. The lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Let Me Love You"
Written by Ne-Yo, Kameron Houff and Scott Storch. Performed by Mario, with Zendaya.

Baby I just don't get it
Do you enjoy being hurt?
I know you smelled the perfume, the make-up on his shirt
You don't believe his stories
You know that they're all lies
Bad as you are, you stick around and I just don't know why

If I was ya man (baby you)
Never worry bout (what I do)
I'd be coming home (back to you)
Every night, doin' you right
You're the type of woman (deserves good thangs)
Fistful of diamonds (handful of rings)
Baby you're a star (I just want to show you, you are)

You should let me love you
Let me be the one to give you everything you want and need
Baby good love and protection
Make me your selection
Show you the way love's supposed to be
Baby you should let me love you, love you, love you"

Listen
Your true beauty's description
Looks so good that it hurts
You're a dime plus ninety-nine
And it's a shame don't even know what you're worth
Everywhere you go they stop and stare
'Cause you're bad and it shows
From your head to your toes, out of control, baby you know


Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.