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Archive for March, 2012

Native Indian Jewelry of the Navajo and Zuni

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Native Indian jewelry, especially of the Navajo and Zuni variety,is generating increasing interest for its beautiful and stunning design and workmanship. It is based on a tradition that is not that long, going back to about the middle of the 19th century. The emphasis here is on the silverwork that is employed in the making of the jewelry. There is a fascinating history which is worth looking into. It is an American legacy of the native Indians, from the time of the Spanish Conquest. So in that sense it is a tradition that goes back to the founding times of America.

Native American Indian jewelry was, and is, generally classified into two main types – beadwork and metalwork. Beadwork has a longer history stretching back to pre-Colombian times. It concentrated on the use of natural materials, and semi-precious gemstones, such as shells and turquoise, animal bones and ivory.

The Navajo are credited with being the tribe that helped spread the craft of silversmithing. Being of a nomadic nature, the Navajo came frequently into contact with the Spanish in the south-west from about the late 16th century. There were clashes and sometimes friendly association. The Spanish personal ornaments and adornments fascinated the Indians. And they began to copy or assimilate the Spanish style and began to wear ornaments made from so-called German silver. But silversmithing, using real silver, was not yet within their grasp.

In the early days, the source of silver was Mexican and U.S. coins. The U.S. coins, being readily available and of good quality, were often used. In 1890 a law was passed prohibiting the melting of U.S. coins, but that was more often honored in the breach than observance.

The emblematic piece of Navajo or Navajo-style jewelry is the squash blossom necklace. This was actually adopting the Spanish crescent-shaped “naja” as the centerpiece of the necklace. The crescent was itself a legacy of Moorish influence upon the Spanish. Muslim Spain had a history of almost 800 years from 711-1492, with a flourishing culture.

Handmade Gemstone Alexandrite Jewelry in Russia

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Alexandrite is a variety of chrysoberyl that displays a color change depending on the nature of the ambient lighting under which it is shone. Alexandrite is on of the few semi-precious gemstones discovered that displays a color change. The stone is hard and tough, so it is perfect for handmade gemstone jewelry.

This semi-precious gemstone is the result from small scale replacement of aluminium by chromium ions in the crystalline structure. This causes the stone to take in and absorb light over a narrow range of wavelengths.

Alexandrite is a hard stone and looks very elegant set in a ring or a pendant. Its color change distinguishes it from other gemstones.

Some of the less valuable Alexandrite gemstones are blue/green in the daytime and purple/red in incandescent light. Alexandrite has also been found in Brazil, Burma, India, but these gemstones have been found to be not quite as good as the Russian and should hopefully cost less.

Alexandrite has a hardness of 8.5 on the Moh’s scale. It is a hard gemstone and is often carved into an oval, pear or cushion to be set in a silver or gold gemstone ring.

It is a good idea or important to check the carat weight of your Alexandrite. 1 carat is about 0.20 grans. Usually, a ring or pendant is sold with 0.75 of a carat. Two carats are very rare and usually quite expensive.

It is crutial to check the stone and the band’s thickness. A ring and stone must be the same thickness. Alexandrite goes very well with gold, but can also look nice with white gold or silver. When purchasing a silver gemstone ring it is important to look at the back of the ring to make sure it has a finished look. The back of the band and stone should be just as well polished as the front.

The purest Alexandrite still comes of the Ural Mountains in Russia. It is very rare. However, there are mines in Brazil, Burrma, and Tumndura who also mine alexandrite, but this Alexandrite is a blueish green and dark purple.

Once you have bought your Alexandrite it is very important to look after it. If looked after properly it can be treasured for a life time. Try to get it remounted as little as possible. As any other gemstone, it is important to keep it away from other chemicals and hard solutions. Do not expose it to sharp blows and heavy scrubbing, which would very likely affect the color.

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