Monday, 17 August 2009

Cubic Zirconia

Nowadays Cubic Zirconia is the most popular diamond alternative due to its affordability and similarity to diamonds. It has been used as a substitute for diamonds since the 1970s. There is no gemstone closer in likeness to diamonds. At a fraction of the cost, it has been widely and stylishly used in jewellery and fashion in general.


What is Cubic Zirconia


Cubic Zirconia is zirconium dioxide in its crystallised form. It is usually manufactured to appear transparent, as this is the nearest equivalent to diamonds.


History


Zirconium Oxide has been knows since the 1800 as baddeleyite. It was a rare naturally occurring mineral, and the first attempt to manufacture it artificially originated in France in the 1960. However, it was in 1973 that a perfect form of Cubic Zirconia was created in the former Soviet Union using a production method known as Skull Crucible. The initial aim was to develop a substance to be used as part of laser technology, but the end product was a marvellous-looking crystal very similar in appearance to diamonds. Commercial Cubic Zirconia has been present since then.

Nowadays, CZ is created as a substance with crystalline structure in the same production method.


Characteristics


Cubic Zirconia crystals are very similar to diamonds both in appearance and practical use. Like the natural diamond, CZ is an isometrically structured crystal. Both materials have a high refractive index and high dispersions, which makes them both alike in terms of the way they affect the light when it passes through them. With regards to hardness, CZ is a little bit softer than diamonds. In terms of colour, CZ, like real diamonds, can be produced in different colour tints.


Difference from real diamonds


The most striking difference between Cubic Zirconia and diamonds is that the former is synthetic, and has a perfect flawless shape. The latter usually have some natural flaw and cost a lot to produce. This disparity in production costs is reflected in their enormous difference in price. In terms of characteristics, CZ weighs 1.7 times more than diamonds of equal size, and it is practically zirconium oxide, while diamonds are mostly carbon. Due to them being chemically different, CZ is generally cut with differently shaped facets than diamonds, and also they react to heat in a different manner, i.e. CZ is a thermal insulator, whereas diamonds act as conductors of heat.

Related to the cost is the reputation. Namely, given the cost of their production and their scarcity, diamonds are more appealing and almost considered as a social status these days.

Nevertheless, due to its price and the inability to tell the difference with naked eye, Cubic Zirconia is gaining in popularity, and the last several years have seen their demand grow significantly as a result of the increase of consumers’ environmental consciousness.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Jewellery Trends Autumn/Winter 2009



Jewellery Trends Autumn/Winter 2009

This autumn it’s all about shape, size, gems and colour when it comes to jewellery. Flipping through the most popular fashion glossies, you just can’t get enough of the glamour, glitz and the statement that jewellery makes when combined with both simple or wildly bold and colourful clothing.

Autumn’s beautiful foliage colours provide brilliant inspiration to jewellery, and burnt oranges, yellows, reds and greens are so in. Combined with bold and oversized shapes, this is what statement jewellery is all about. The trends include:

v Geometric shapes of costume or silver and white gold jewellery

Silver jewellery is the favourite fine jewellery this autumn as well. It does look

very attractive especially when combined with gems and crystals in all sorts of sizes and colours. And even worn together with yellow gold jewellery, silver jewellery is a statement on its own.

Pearls are very back! Maybe not in the same way as our grannies and aunties used to wear them, but this time interspersed with chain, silver or gold, and gemstones, of course.

v Exotic and ethnic inspirations

The likes of Ralph Lauren and Anna Sui had their catwalks full of exotic jewellery with imperial-esque jewels and many different types of beads.

v Bold gemstones in colour and size

Combinations of muted and vibrant colours render a very dramatic and yet refined look. This is especially the case with fine jewellery pieces, which can be worn on more subdued occasions, or even jeans and a t-shirt. Word of caution must be given as to the number of bold and statement jewellery items to wear at the same time – one statement accessory is enough, and change them as often as you wish. This will give you a whole new and fresh look even though worn with the same clothing.

When it comes to individual jewellery pieces, you can’t go wrong if you follow these trends:

v Earrings: the bigger and the longer, the better. Chandeliers, large hoops, long and slim earrings look great and combined with matching necklaces can give you that wow look.

v Necklaces: statement necklaces, or their milder versions matched with other accessories, are very much in fashion.

v Brooches are back!

v Bracelets and bangles in different shapes, sizes and colours are in. The ornate cuff is especially popular worn on either the upper arm or wrist.

v Flower rings. The bigger the flower, the more chic the look is.

Follow these trend tips for a chic look this autumn and celebrate the beauty of this season’s jewellery.

Monday, 10 August 2009

7 Great Tips How to Look After Marcasite Jewellery

Marcasite jewellery usually refers to silver jewellery inlaid with small stones made of Pyrite. The most common precious metal used with Marcasite is sterling silver. Due to the contrast between the two metallic grey shades, the combination is very striking and it gives a special vintage look to silver jewellery. Nowadays Marcasite earrings, rings, pendants, and brooches are present on the market at very affordable prices and they have their own antique charm liked by people of all ages.

Properly maintained Marcasite silver jewellery actually improves with age and it develops a lush patina layer when treated well. Given the fact Marcasite jewellery is usually made of Sterling silver, most of the tips on caring for silver jewellery apply here as well. Here are some top tips about Marcasite jewellery care:

1. Store your Marcasite jewellery in a clean, dry place.

2. Keep your silver Marcasite in a fabric-lined jewellery case, or even better in a box with compartments and dividers. If you prefer to use ordinary boxes, wrap each piece individually in special plastic pockets or soft tissue paper.

3. Don't put together your jewellery pieces in a drawer or jewellery case. Pieces are prone to scratching.

4. Never leave Marcasite silver jewellery lying against bare wood. Wood, especially oak, contains an acid that will mar the surface of the silver. Paper and cardboard, since they are wood pulp products, have the same effect, so avoid paper envelopes or small cardboard boxes also.

5. The only way to clean and sanitise Marcasite jewellery is to clean it with mild soap and water solution, after which the jewellery should be gently wiped dry with a soft non-tarnishing cloth.

6. Don’t soak Marcasite jewellery in water.

7. Avoid steamers and ultrasonic jewellery cleaners as these may damage the Marcasite stones.

As with Sterling silver jewellery in general, taking good care will make Marcasite jewellery more beautiful and more vintage with time.

To have a look at our high-quality range of vintage jewellery, marcasite jewellery and silver cubic zirconia visit www.beautyandjewels.co.uk.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

About Marcasite Jewellery



About Marcasite

Marcasite jewellery usually refers to silver jewellery inlaid with small stones made of Pyrite. Pyrite is a naturally occurring mineral which can be commonly found in a variety of geological formations. Due to its brassy yellow colour it has been mistakenly mixed with gold, and hence its second name: ‘Fools Gold’. However, it is quite different from gold as it is much lighter and stronger, and as such more resistant to scratches.

Marcasite itself is another naturally occurring mineral very similar to Pyrite in colour and properties. The difference is that Marcasite is more difficult to shape as it is softer and often crumbles into dust. The name Marcasite in jewellery terminology stems from the Arabic word for Pyrite, Markaschatsa.

History of Marcasite Jewellery

Early traces of Marcasite jewellery have been found in ancient Greece and the burial grounds of the Inca people in Latin America. Cleopatra was also reported to wear Marcasite jewellery in order to preserve her beauty. Silver jewellery decorated with Marcasite was extremely popular in 18th and 19th century Britain, reaching its peak in popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria in England in the second half of 19th century. The Queen wore beautiful Marcasite jewellery as a substitute for diamonds, which were much more expensive.

Marcasite Jewellery today


The most common precious metal used with Marcasite is sterling silver. Due to the contrast between the two metallic grey shades, the combination is very striking and it gives a special vintage look to silver jewellery. Nowadays Marcasite earrings, rings, pendants, and brooches are present on the market at very affordable prices and they have their own antique charm likes by people of all ages.

Normally when used in jewellery the mineral is cut in a triangle or oval shape and can have a different colour – ranging from dark green to metallic grey (most common in jewellery). The most common method of inlaying Marcasite stones to silver jewellery is gluing them onto small holes, which is a reason why Marcasite jewellery should not come in touch with water. However, various types of gluing methods can be used, and these differ in quality.

The best tip for keeping Marcasite jewellery clean and fresh looking is to wipe it with a soft cotton cloth, which can be dry or slightly damp. Steamers or ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided, neither should it be soaked in water. As with Sterling silver jewellery in general, taking good care will make Marcasite jewellery more beautiful and more vintage with time.

All in all, Marcasite jewellery does make perfect vintage jewellery, it is a stunning value for money, it is beautiful, chic, elegant, stylish, and, what is more, it is said to have healing properties such as fending off negative energy.

Friday, 31 July 2009

22 ways to take care of silver jewellery

I love silver jewellery. I love white gold jewellery! I love platinum jewellery. That’s it! Out of all these three, silver is cheapest, and it can make lovely jewellery if designed beautifully. Being a precious possession that is designed and crafted to last for a lifetime, it needs to be taken care of otherwise it’s got a tendency to look dirty and tarnished. This is especially the case of Sterling silver jewellery because silver itself is a soft metal, which can goes out of shape quite easily. However, properly maintained silver actually improves with age and it develops a lush patina when treated well. In my first posting on this blog, I’m going to share my secrets about silver jewellery care. Please feel free to comment and add more points to the list.

Preventing and Limiting Tarnishing and Staining is the Best Approach

1. Store your jewellery in a clean, dry place

2. Keep your jewellery in a fabric-lined jewellery case, or in a box with compartments and dividers. If you prefer to use ordinary boxes, wrap each piece individually in soft tissue paper

3. Don't jumble your jewellery pieces in a drawer or jewellery case. Pieces can scratch each other

4. Hang them up – There are a variety of organisers that have a hanger like hook with numerous clear pouches. Those styles are a great way to keep your earrings separate and visible. Place one pair of earrings in each pouch to ensure that the posts will not scratch the other earrings

5. Be careful when removing your jewellery to wash your hands. Do not leave your jewellery on the rim of a sink where it can easily slip down the drain

6. See your jeweller at least once a year to have your jewellery checked for loose prongs, worn mountings, and general wear and tear

7. Use tarnish-resistant cloth and cases to store silver

8. Consider purchasing a jewellery box with a lock and key for extra security

9. Never leave silver jewellery lying against bare wood. Wood, especially oak, contains an acid that will mar the surface of the silver. Paper and cardboard, since they are wood pulp products, will have the same effect, so avoid storing silver in envelopes or small cardboard boxes also

After storage comes… cleaning and sanitising

10. There are many types of small machines on the market that will clean jewellery in a matter of minutes using high-frequency sound. These machines are called ultrasonic cleaners and are available in many different models and prices. They can be a convenient way to quickly clean your jewellery at home. However, ultrasonic cleaners can damage some jewellery and prolonged use may loosen gemstones from their mountings

11. Simply clean with a mild soap and water solution. Pat dry with a soft cloth. If dirt is more stubborn a silver cleaner is appropriate. But don't rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or fine piece of felt. Tissue paper or paper towels will cause scratches

12. Silver jewellery should always be cleaned with a soft cotton or flannel cloth. Synthetic materials can cause scratching. You can also purchase a silver cleaning cloth, which has anti-tarnish ingredients, and keep it inside your jewellery box for quick cleaning

13. You can also use a child's toothbrush to get into intricate scrollwork or patterns

14. For quick cleaning of silver, such as removing makeup or light dirt, use a small amount of liquid detergent or soap to about a half a cup of warm water. Using your cloth, wipe the solution the jewellery, rinse under clean warm water, and dry thoroughly. If using the toothbrush, scrub gently with the solution and rinse

15. To remove tarnish or heavier dirt build-up, you will need to use special silver cleaner. Silver cleaners come in both a paste and a liquid form. Liquids are also known as silver dips

16. To use a paste, the best method is to scoop a small amount on your cloth or brush and gently work it in to the crevices of the scrollwork or pattern. Work in a straight-line motion, as all cleansers include some form of abrasive and a circular motion may cause severe scratching. Allow the paste to dry then use another clean cloth to wipe the excess away. You can also rinse the piece under warm water and dry thoroughly

17. If your piece includes gemstones of any kind, cleaning requires much more care. Both forms of cleansers can dull the polished finish off the gemstone. Silver dips are almost out of the question for a piece that includes stones that are porous in nature, such as Lapis or Turquoise, as the stones will break down from the absorption of the chemicals. The best solution in this case is a paste, using caution not to touch the stones. Work in small areas until the piece is tarnish free. Rinse with warm water and dry immediately

18. Like other jewellery, avoid wearing silver in chlorinated water, as this will discolour it

19. If you have a dirty ring or jewellery including gold, soak overnight in the soft drink 7up or Coca Cola - but 7up is the best. It will come out sparkling. Leave longer and change liquid if very dirty. You will be amazed at the result, and it is safe

20. To clean Rhodium plated silver jewellery simply wipe with a soft damp cloth. Do not use a silver polishing cloth. Do not use a jewellery dip

21. There’ve been some reports on the vinegar method. Apparently soaking jewellery in vinegar leaves it sparkling! (Not tested by me, or anyone I know, though!)

Talking about shining…

22. Place a clean cotton sock on your polishing hand. Dampen the sock slightly under cool running water. Squeeze a pearl-size drop of toothpaste on your fingertip area. Apply the toothpaste to the silver using up-and-down rather than circular strokes until the tarnish is gone. Rinse the silver well and polish it dry with the clean side of the sock.

And that’s it! With proper care and storage, your silver jewellery will bring you many years of wear and enjoyment.