Wednesday, 26 October 2011

JEWELLERY - Chatting Gemstones With Astley Clarke

I don't think there are many women who don't like jewellery. Most of us love it, but I'm not sure I will ever want (or could afford) to be covered in diamonds, as pretty as they are. That's why an event to look at coloured gemstones with Astley Clarke appealed to me. It's not just rubies, emeralds and sapphires, there are a plethora of beautiful gemstones in all sorts of colours just waiting to be discovered.

One of the women who helps bring these jewels to our attention is gemstone trader and expert Amanda Good who spoke of her travels across the world finding and dealing in beautiful stones. If anyone could inspired me to become a complete gemstone geek it's her. Her experience was impressive from living in Sri Lanka dealing in sapphires for two years to working in London's Hatton Garden, well known and respected for its fine craftsmen and women.

Here are a couple of key points that came out of our discussions...

Inclusions: These are the imperfections through the stone. In diamonds, inclusions are generally bad, however in coloured stones they can actually add to the beauty, and, therefore, the value. Some stones are even defined by the inclusions within them, sometimes other gems are even found within stones. Emeralds have a lot of inclusions which means they are prone to breakages while being worked with.

Carats: 1 carat is 1/5 of a gram. With coloured gemstones, sometimes a smaller carat gem can actually be more valuable than a larger one depending on how practical and desirable it is for jewellery making.

Astley Clarke gem event

With coloured gemstones the citeria for what makes one great isn't the same as diamonds. Each stone cannot necessarily be judged against another of a different gem family because they vary so much. This is what makes shopping for gems so fabulous. You get to just choose something you love, a colour that stands out for you or a style that gets you excited rather than having to worry too much about carats and clarity.

We had the opportunity to take a close look at a selection of gems at the event set in different types of jewellery from delicate bracelets to statement rings. The most surprising part of the session was seeing that many gems which are known for being a particular colour can also be found in many different colours.

I loved far too many of them! But the bright blue Lapis Lazuli styles were a highlight. I also discovered Spinel, which I had never heard of before but after looking on the website the ring I've fallen in love with is this Cadenza ring by Astley Clarke Colour. I'm going to read the Gemstones book that we were given, it really is a fascinating subject which I would love to know more about.

Astley Clarke gem event
Astley Clarke gem event
Astley Clarke gem event
Astley Clarke gem event

At the event, it was great to meet Bec, the founder of Astley Clarke who spoke about the business. We were invited to a small, beautifully decorated showroom in London but this is not how most of their customers shop - Astley Clarke is an online business. The website is lovely with clear and effective product photography and great inspirational content too. It would be easy to get carried away and go on a gemstone shopping spree, especially as a lot of the prices are really reasonable.  The great thing about Astley Clarke is that they not only design and create their own collections, they selectively edit a range of other jewellery designers to be stocked on their website too.

Do you have any coloured gemstones? Which are your favourites?

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