If cold December gave you birth, the month of snow and ice and mirth, place on your hand a turquoise blue; success will bless whate’er you do. Unknown Author
Blue turquoise has been found on artefacts dating back 5000 years, in ancient Egypt, Sumeria and Mesopotamia. The word Turquoise is derived from the Greek word “turkois” meaning “Turkish” because it was first brought from Turkey to medieval Europe. Perhaps the oldest stone in male history, the talisman of kings, shamans, and warriors. Warriors in both ancient and medieval times wore Turquoise as a protection from death before their time. If the warrior looked down and saw a crack in the stone they would believe that the Turquoise took the blow instead of them, thus enabling them to fight another day.
For all the stone’s history, turquoise as a luxury gemstone is a relatively recent concept. Although it was long associated with royalty in Asia and the Middle East or with Southwestern American tribes. Now however, turquoise is enjoying a huge revival in expensive designer jewellery and current high-street fashion. You can see it being used in rings bracelets, earrings, and especially in the very popular charm bracelets. And the glitterati appears to agree. Turquoise has been seen on Eva Mendes, Cameron Diaz, Penny Lancaster; and the models Heidi Klum, Bar Refaeli and Bianca Balti. Ms. Balti’s turquoise and diamond de Grisogono necklace which she wore at the Cannes, later sold for about 500,000 Swiss francs, or $550,000.
An alternative birthstone for December, but not necessarily a less costly alternative is the stunning Tanzanite. In 2002 the American Gem Trade Association officially added this beautiful gem as a December birthstone. Tanzanite is a blue-lavender stone primarily mined in Tanzania – hence the name, and was discovered in 1967. The tanzanite is said to have better fire, and therefore more sparkle, and it is hard and durable enough to use in many kinds of jewellery settings. It’s immediate popularity was immense, thanks largely to a very extensive campaign by Tiffany and Co in 2002 to promote their own Tanzanite jewellery.
As the days turn decidedly cooler those with birthdays this month can find warmth in their beautiful birthstone Topaz. This beautiful and inviting gem comes in an array of colours, however the tone to represent this month is warm honey, it is no wonder that it represents lasting friendship and trust. Topaz is the one of the hardest minerals in nature with its large crystal formations exceeding most other crystals in size, making it perfect for setting in this seasons “must have” oversized cocktail ring.
The word ‘topaz,’ birthstone for the month of November, comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “fire.” And in ancient lore, the topaz could be used to control heat. It was said to have the power to cool boiling water, as well as excessive anger. As medication, topaz has been used to cure illness, as it was placed upon the fevered brow of the sufferer. During the Middle Ages, topaz was used mostly by royalty and clergy. A 13th century belief held that a topaz engraved with a falcon helped its wearer cultivate the goodwill of kings, princes and magnates.
Pure topaz, when brilliantly cut, can be often mistaken for a diamond. Because of its rarity, topaz is an expensive gem. The most valued and rarest colour is red. Imperial topaz-sherry coloured varieties of brownish-yellow, orange-yellow and reddish brown-are the most popular topaz stones.
An alternative, and much more affordable birthstone for November is the Citrine – sometimes confused with Topaz at it shares the same warm honey tones. Citrine is said to bring the bearer light-heartedness, protection and joy, while also proving a soothing balm to dispel anxiety. This beautiful gem was became very popular in the Art Deco period, no doubt with the help of its biggest fan at the time, Greta Garbo. Its use did decline for a while, however with the return of large statement jewellery and Art Deco designs coming back onto fashion citrine has seen a huge revival. It is perfect for use in cocktail rings and long very trendy pendant necklaces – recently seen being worn by the gem’s latest celebrity fan – the Duchess of Cambridge!
October is a dazzling month, as the leaves start to turn from green, we are treated to scenery that holds a kaleidoscope of colours, a true feast for the eyes. Perhaps this is why the beautiful opal, the rainbow gem, has been used as October’s birthstone for thousands of years. The name opal is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious stone,” and later the Greek derivative “Opallios,” meaning “to see a change of colour.”
Opals have a very long and chequered history. I am sure you will have heard at some point that opals bring bad luck or that they are a sign of evil. This mistaken belief has stemmed from many different sources over the years. The wife of Napoleon III of France, refused to wear the stones, as she referred to them as pebbles of evil. However this beautiful gem has been treasured far more than it has been feared. Queen Victoria laughed in the face of suspicion and gave each daughter an opal for a wedding gift. In Asia today as well as in ancient times, opal is viewed as a symbol of hope. The Greeks and the Romans believed that the opal was a symbol of fidelity and assurance, and in later history it became associated with religious emotional prayer, and used to decorate temples. Today the opal is popular once again, being used in many different types of jewellery. The cost of the opal will not break the bank, of course, as always, there are s few exceptions to this. However the closer to white the opal is the cheaper it tends to be as that is the most common type mined.
An alternate birthstone for October, and just as affordable, is the Pink Tourmaline. This gem has been highly valued by ancient alchemists who, perhaps because of its pyroelectric effect, believed it to be related to the philosopher’s stone. This was said to be the substance that would grant enlightenment, give power over spiritual affairs, reconcile opposites and change base metals to gold. Today the Pink Tourmaline is very much back in fashion, as its colour being pink, coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness month, which is also October, and has been put in many pieces of jewellery to promote the cause.
Have you ever noticed that the sky is always at its bluest this time of year? Perhaps this is why September’s birthstone is the stunning blue Sapphire. Since antiquity, the colour blue and September have always been connected. Even the word “Sapphire” derives its name from the Greek “sapphirus” meaning blue, a word which itself comes from the Hebrew ” sappir” which means to shine.
In western Europe, medieval clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven, while commoners thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. The sapphire was said to represent the purity of the soul. Before and during the Middle Ages, it was worn by priests as protection from impure thoughts and temptations of the flesh. Medieval kings of Europe valued these stones for rings and brooches, believing that it protected them from harm and envy. Warriors presented their young wives with sapphire necklaces so they would remain faithful.
Blue sapphires are reassuringly expensive, no matter where they find themselves on the colour spectrum. However as always, some are more costly than others. The biggest price tags are placed upon medium to medium dark blue stones. Sapphire’s do come in a variety of colours. Pink, purple, green, orange, or yellow and are known by their colour, e.g. pink sapphire, green sapphire etc. However for this month’s birthstone, the sapphire has to be blue!
An alternative and more affordable birthstone for September is the lapis lazuli. It has been mined from around 4000 B.C. and is still in use today. This beautiful blue stone was a very much rare and prized gem of the ancient world. The golden sarcophagus of King Tutankhamen was inlaid with lapis lazuli, as were other burial ornaments of Egyptian kings and queens. This blue gem of lazurite came only from a mine in northern Afghanistan, and was given mystical and magical properties in ancient Egypt and medieval Europe. In the present day Lapis luzuli is known to represent truth, and the wearer of this gem is meant to be awarded enhanced wisdom and good judgement.
It’s been a particularly active year so far for jewellery heists. Not since the words “stand and deliver” were originally uttered has jewellery theft been more prolific, or brazen! One may be forgiven for thinking that jewellery theft is the latest in criminal trends, and perhaps it is! There is something very alluring and fascinating about this type of crime though isn’t there? Many a literary best seller has been based around jewellery thieves, and Hollywood is already clamouring to make a movie about the latest robbery in Cannes. And reports in digital-spy last week said that there are T-Shirts are being worn around New York saying “I’m a Pink Panther” referring of course, to the international crime ring of said name – who are incidentally are meant to be getting their own Hollywood film! So what is it about this, the most sexy of crimes? Is it because when you read the news reports diamond heists always have a cinematic feel to them? They are always painstakingly planned, there is high drama, and the chance that if one little thing had gone wrong the whole plot would be a bust.
Trendy or not, sexy or not, this type of crime doesn’t seem to be waning, and every month the swag seems to be getting bigger. So, let’s look at some of the evidence. Firstly these crimes usually cross national boundaries and secondly they are increasingly committed by organized criminal enterprises or “theft groups” the latest and most famous being the Pink Panther Gang. In fact Interpol have suggested that The Pink Panther gang is behind many of the recent jewellery crimes, they suspect that in the past 13 years the gang has managed to steal diamonds gems worth a staggering £330 million. However it is hard to know what happens after the initial robbery as in almost every major heist, the diamonds are never to be seen again! Do they sell them on, and if so who buys them? Surely they don’t wear them themselves, that would be breaking the burglar rule 101.
So the best of 2013 so far? Firstly it has to be the most recent, a lone gentleman, masked and armed, breaks into the Carlton Hotel, and, while brandishing a pistol, calmly orders staff to fill a small case with £89 million worth of jewels. Making this the biggest heist in French history!
Let us not forget that although this was arguably the most notorious robbery this year, this was in fact the 3rd jewellery robbery in the same town in a matter of weeks. The Cannes film festival, which attracts celebrities from around the world, was also hit by two jewellery thefts. A necklace by Swiss jeweller De Grisogono reportedly worth 1.9m euros ($2.5m; £1.6m) vanished after a celebrity party at a five-star hotel in the resort town of Cap d’Antibes. A week before, more than 777,000 Euros ($1m; £650,000) worth of jewels were taken from the hotel room of an employee of exclusive Swiss jewellers Chopard. And in February, armed robbers made off with a “gigantic” haul of diamonds after a rapid raid at Brussels Airport. Disguised as police, they broke through a fence and broke into the cargo of a Swiss-bound plane to take the gems, estimated to be worth $50m (£32m; 37m euros).
Of course all this glibness highlights the real issue of theft, and as we are all in the jewellery trade ourselves this is a major concern in our trade and something that we want to avoid at all costs. Thankfully there are ways to make sure your travel is safer with the valuables that you are carrying, because getting robbed is a traumatic event that no one wants to experience. Anglo Belge Special risks insurers have come up with a tips list of precautions and things to do and look out for when you go away. Primarily paying attention to your environment and always staying discrete, using your hotels safety deposit box and making sure and when visiting new clients, be careful not to display too many valuables at one time. For a full printable list of these tips follow this link www.anglobelge.com/pdf/TTUK.pdf
Oh and just in case you do come across those missing Cannes gems…………… a reward of $1.3 million has been offered to the first person who provides information that leads to the recovery of the jewels stolen in the Cannes jewellery heist! Perhaps for this, it would be prudent for us all to become detectives?
August is the month when nature is at its most green, which is perhaps why the gleaming green peridot stone has been attributed as this month’s birthstone since antiquity. It is one of the oldest known gemstones, with records documenting its mining since 1500 B.C. It is especially connected with Cleopatra, as many historians believe that her emeralds were actually peridots!
The Greek’s believed that the peridona – as it was referred to then – gave protection and richness of character to the bearer. However, the Romans called peridot the “evening emerald” because of its enhanced colour in lamplight. Over a thousand years later pirates used it, to dissolve enchantments and ward off the evil eye in the night! And medieval priests used peridot for protection and to ward off evil by putting it in chalices!
Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one colour, green. The tint of which, however, depends on how much iron is contained within. Perhaps it has been used by jewellers so much for thousands of years because its fine pistachio to deep olive green tones is the perfect complement to any colour of precious metal used to house it.
Customers will be pleased to know that not all peridot gems will break the bank, thanks to the rich deposits discovered in both Kashmir and Afghanistan in the 1990’s, there are enough peridot stones on the market, so the right stone can be sourced for anybody no matter the depth of their pockets!
Jade, which has become very popular of late, is an alternative birthstone for August. When given as a gift, it is believed to bring the owner wealth, health and good fortune. Far eastern cultures, most notably the Chinese, have been giving jade jewellery for thousands of years, and now due to Chinese prosperity the price for jade has been climbing sky high! In the past Jade was best known for being made into solid pieces; such as pendants, bangles and figurines. However now, due to jade becoming more sought after in the west it is being used within settings as a single gem or combined with other gems and set in both silver and gold as each metal compliments every tone of green to perfection!
An indispensable jewellery retailer is a person that is absolutely necessary to sells goods to the jewellery minded consumer, as opposed to a wholesaler or supplier, who normally sell their goods to another business. Here are 8 steps on how to be one.
Here are 8 ways you can become indispensable to your customers
Help customers plan for the gifts they need.
Invite customers in for a consult. Take dates of birthdays and anniversaries for everyone they might need to give presents to in a year. Do this while there is no time pressure let them think about what they would ideally spend given the right amount of time. What type of pieces would they like to buy for each person? Style, designs, etc. when they would like to be reminded of the upcoming event to start reviewing gift choices. Offer them final reminders, running out of time ideas if they don’t mind. Help them set up a wish list. Show them that you can make buying gifts a stress free and affordable process.
Help your customer’s budget.
Sometimes the hardest part of getting your customers to dig deep is them being ready to spend a big chunk of money in one go. Help your customers save with you. Get them to set up a monthly standing order of £50 with you so that when they have a big purchase to make they can use that money to cushion the blow or spread the payments over time.
Be a jewellery retailer consultant.
Educate your customers about how and where they can wear different types of jewellery. Smart, casual, holidays etc.
Give their old jewellery a new lease of life.
Many people inherit jewellery that they’ll never wear because it’s just not them. Either that or they grow out of jewellery and might want to remodel it. Offer that service. It’s not always profitable or practical, but gives your customers the opportunity to bring something back to life if they’re not ready to make a purchase. Do it well and they’ll come back to you for their next purchase.
Be the jewellery service centre
Tell your customers to bring their jewellery in for a free MOT when you have times where demand is low, say in the morning between 10 and 12 tell your customers they can have their jewellery looked at and cleaned even if it’s not from you. You’ll clean it, check the settings and make it look new and give them a reason to keep coming back to your shop.
Sell complimentary products and services
Think of products you could sell to them to when they come in for the ‘MOT’. Cleaning equipment, jewellery boxes, insurance (third party). There are plenty of add-ons that other jewellery retailers would happily help sell your customers.
Sell them a safe.
As crime is on the rise more and more people are realising the need for secure storage of their jewellery. They don’t feel comfortable looking in the yellow pages and wouldn’t necessarily be able to get a word of mouth recommendation, but if their jeweller recommended a safe fitter it would be different.
Give them a gift if they introduce someone to your business.
Referrals are a proven way of growing a business. If your customers provide you with solid referrals, say thank you with a gift. Make it relevant and they will keep doing it.
The Thinkers Stone
Apart from July representing the height of the summer season, with everyone’s thoughts on taking a break, the month is made even more special by one of the most special birthstones there are. The magnificent glowing red ruby is a stone whose origin straddles the world, with stones coming from Thailand, Mozambique and most importantly Burma.
Nobody really knows where the origins of the birthstone came from. Rubies have been found in both western antiquity and in ancient far eastern traditions. But many believe that the idea of the birthstone was inspired by the book of Exodus, where there is a list of twelve precious stones, one for each tribe of Israel – here is the first time Ruby is put against the month of July.
Rubies used to be worn and given this month as they were thought to enhance the wearer’s decision making powers and to give the wearer physical energy – hence why they were worn and still are by many a monarch! People also used to believe that if the ruby you were wearing turned dark red it meant that you were in mortal danger! In the last hundred years however the ruby has taken on a much more romantic meaning as it has been given to enhance passion, vitality and confidence by lovers wooing their intended! Perhaps this is why rubies are becoming popular once again to have in an engagement ring, either by itself or as a centre piece.
Rubies are of course very expensive, often even more costly than diamonds, thus not all pockets run deep enough. With the popularity of fine rubies growing, and their supply not keeping up with the demand, the price of high grade, clean rubies is proving to be an amazing investment opportunity.
A more affordable alternative for July’s birthstone is the deep red Carnelian, traditionally given in India as the birthstone for July. Carnelian is thought to give the wearer inner strength and boosts energy.
Actually June is a bit of a greedy month in that rather than just having one birthstone it actually has three! The Pearl, the Alexandrite and Moonstone, so anyone who is born in this month is in luck as they can choose which gem they prefer, or have all three – and change as the mood suits!
The Pearl has been used in Europe as a birthstone for over 1000 years to symbolise loyalty, faithfulness and friendship, it was held in very high esteem by ancient Egyptians, Persians and Hindus. Early Chinese myths told of pearls falling from the sky when dragons fought. And Greek legend says that pearls were the tears of the gods. The Greeks also gave pearls if the wedding took place in June to promote marital bliss and to prevent newlywed women from crying! More recently however the pearl birthstone has been associated with affection, happiness, love and generosity.
But if Pearls are not to your customers taste, there are two other stones that are birthstones for this month that you can offer. Alexandrite, a very rare stone, was named for Alexander 2nd of Russia. This haunting stone actually changes colour, many people consider Alexandrite to be a lucky stone, while others think it brings the wearer love.
And finally the Moonstone, which is also known as the “dream stone.” This gem was made very popular during the Art Nouveau period, and is now coming back into fashion, especially among younger customers.
I don’t have any pearls, Alexandrites or Moonstones to sell, but if you do please post the details below…..
Do you know what your birthstone is? For that matter, do you even care? Well for those of us in the Jewellery trade sit up and take note, the sale and desirability of Birthstones are once again on the rise.
For anyone who was born in May they are in luck, because, oh what a lovely month May is! It’s the start of spring, the grass is beginning to grow and there are leaves on the trees, everywhere you look is glowing vibrant green. All this makes May the perfect month for the beautiful birthstone Emerald; the ancient symbol or rebirth and eternal spring.
Emeralds have been a favoured gemstone for thousands of years. Cleopatra prized hers more than any other gem, and the Moguls of India loved Emeralds so much they inscribed them with sacred text and wore them as talismans. These beautiful green gems speak of health, faithfulness, fertility and if you need glasses to read this apparently they improve your eyesight too! And furthermore, the sales of Emeralds have risen exponentially over the last few years with no sign of slowing down.
You probably don’t need to paint your window green, but it’s certainly a good opener for when a customer comes into the shop asking for a suggestion.
If Emeralds aren’t their thing, then try Agate and Chrysoprase, as these have significance in other cultures.