Stones & Other Materials

What non-metal materials are often used in jewelry?

Diamond | Your public library couldn’t hold all the literature written about this stone. It is the hardest natural material known to man, and a symbol of a bond that does not break. What you need to know when it comes to choosing one are the 4 c’s: carat, color, clarity, and cut.

  • Carat refers to the weight, and incidentally the size, of the diamond. The bigger, the better? Depends on whom you ask.

  • Color refers, in fact, to the absence of any color. And although any hue typically lowers the value of the diamond, some wearers prefer a tint of blue or yellow or red in the diamond.

  • Clarity is measured by the number of inclusions inside or blemishes outside the diamond, or the lack thereof. Few diamonds are absolutely flawless.

  • Cut quality is determined by how well the facets of a diamond refract the light that enters it. It is different from shape, such as round or pear, emerald or baguette. The craftsman cutting the diamond is an artist. His goal is to produce a symmetry of shape and weight, a brightness of white light reflected and transmitted, and a fire of that white light refracted into all kinds of colors from the visible and invisible spectrum. What results is indeed a work of art.

Opal | Naturally-occurring opal is made up of planes upon planes of silica spheres, and typically contains 6% to 10% water locked within this special molecular structure. There are two types of natural opal: precious (which refracts light into an iridescent fire) and common (which is not iridescent). The history of the opal is absolutely intriguing. In the past, it was believed to act as a good luck charm, an evil eye, or even a cloak of invisibility to whoever possessed it. The price of 1 carat of opal can run anywhere between about $10 and $300. Synthetic opal, on the other hand, allows its wearer to enjoy this mysterious beauty at a fraction of the cost. Unlike natural opal, however, synthetic opal does not fluoresce under UV black lights. Sorry, ravers.

Pearl | It’s hard to compete with the classic elegance of pearl. Because of their uncommon beauty, the pearl has historically been a symbol of rarity and value. Natural pearls, typically found in salt water mollusks, are significantly more expensive than pearls that are cultured or farmed in a freshwater environment. Even more affordable, however, are simulated pearls. Upon close inspection, however, simulated pearls don’t generally exhibit the same iridescence as natural or cultured pearls.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) | Due to its brilliance, color, clarity, and cost, cubic zirconia (CZ) is an extremely popular synthetic gemstone alternative to diamonds. It is optically flawless, and can be produced is a broad spectrum of colors to simulate various natural gemstones.