Monday, September 28, 2015

3 Reasons Why Sapphire is Queen Among Gemstones

As the last entry may have suggested, this author humbly admits to having a bias towards sapphire; one that is as flowery as it is scientific. However, it occurs to us that while focusing on the true beauty of blue sapphire, we have neglected to bring up crucial points, which in our opinion make sapphire arguably unbeatable among the rest of the world's gemstones. Here are three factors which plead this case:  

A collage of colored sapphire. Photos courtesy of Bergamot Gems, F. Barlocher,, &

While sapphire is best known and coveted for its blue variety, it is in fact a type of corundum that comes in a plethora of colors, each with their distinct beauty: tangy oranges, cool greens, bright yellows; every hue exists but red, which is reserved only for ruby. Simply put, regardless of personal preference for color, sapphire has got you covered. Just in case you thought that fancy-colored sapphires were common-place, consider Padparadsha: an orangey-pink variety of sapphire which is commonly described as a cross between a lotus flower and a sunset. Few people can properly distinguish a true Padparadsha and even fewer are found, making it arguably as rare as the blue variety.
A fantastic example of ''Padparadsha'' sapphire. Photo courtesy of

2) Durability
Bergamot Gems is often called on to provide guidance when buying stones meant for everyday wear (engagement rings for instance). We love recommending sapphire for this, since it's a highly durable material. What do we mean by this? For starters, it's incredibly hard, used for example as the crystal on watches and even industrially for the windows of aircrafts. Even further, this material has no cleavage; something that even diamond cannot boast. As mentioned in an earlier article, a diamond can easily break into two pieces if pressured on a cleavage plane, whereas sapphire does not. Therefore, it is much more likely to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life than most gemstones. 

An example of a color-change sapphire left (incandescent light) and right (daylight). Photo courtesy of
A diagram illustrating the reflection effect of rutile in sapphire. Photo courtesy of

A large blue star-sapphire. Photo courtesy of

3) Optical Phenomenon
Up until now, we've described tangible factors that make sapphire a very practical choice for a gemstone. But aside from that very responsible stuff, sapphire is also pretty cool because of the different optical phenomenons that it can display. For instance, sapphire has the capacity to display the color-change effect. As with alexandrite, sapphire can in certain cases display more than one color depending on the kind of light that is used to illuminate it. Though more subtle than with alexandrite, it is enough to distinguish it. Also, sapphire can also display asterisms, which are the result of reflections of the rutile needle inclusions inside the stone. As seen in the diagram above, the needles are long, numerous and fine; when intersecting with one another, their reflection appears to us as a star. Neat huh?

These are just a few simple reasons why we enjoy sapphire so much. Hold one in your hand and you'll see for yourself :-)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Romancing the Stone [Slideshare]

In keeping with the spirit of our last entry, we thought it would be fitting to speak about one of our authors' favorite stones. It also happens to be this month's birthstone. Yep, we're talking SAPPHIRE! But since sapphire could not possibly be encompassed in a single entry, we have decided to write things that will allow us to let the stone romance you, as it has for us. Stay tuned for more articles as we trail through the sapphire world.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Putting the Term ''Semi-Precious" to Bed. Once and For All!

Have you ever heard someone say that some colored gemstones are just ''semi-precious''? Because of our company's contact with various levels of the industry (retail and clients alike), I hear it all the time; but before I crawl out of my skin in annoyance when I hear this, I remind myself that it is hardly people's fault for thinking this way about stones outside of "the big 4". For instance, the marketing of diamonds (with slogans such as "diamonds are forever") has been so thorough that people are enticed to buy time and time again.

The four 'Cs's of diamond. Photo courtesy of
Furthermore, diamonds are categorized in an almost clinical fashion based on their weight, color, clarity and cut; which leaves very little room for interpretation. By comparison, colored stones have taken on a very mysterious quality (even with jewelers), which is why they are greatly misunderstood by many people today.

Our particular grievance with the term "semi-precious'' is quite simple; By virtue of its name, it has a connotation similar to the ''second-class citizen": one that is common, less valuable, less desired. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It is for this reason that we've decided to debunk the myth of this commonly-used misnomer. So what do people mean when they are referring to "semi-precious" stones?

A fantastic example of amethyst at its best. Ghirlanda Violet designed by Pasquale Bruni. Photo courtesy of
Many people say that these so-called "semi-precious" stones are less expensive and therefore less desirable. While it is true that some stones fetch a lesser price than other stones (based on factors such as rarity, durability etc), it must be remembered that all gemstones come in a variety of prices, all based on their spectrum of quality. As we saw in a previous article regarding the treatment of rubies, some extremely poor quality ruby have come to market and fetched prices far beyond their actual worth, simply because they are (hardly) ruby. While some stones can be worth as much a 500,000$ a carat, others can fetch as little as 0.99$ a carat. Similarly, there can be very commercial quality amethysts, just as there are also very fine quality amethysts on the market. We'll discuss more thoroughly the factors to pay attention to in a later entry.

Pinnacle-quality Paraiba tourmaline designed by Martin Katz. Photo courtesy of
Even if we wanted to entertain the notion of expensive being necessarily synonymous to precious, allow me to shed light on a few things: chrysoberyl, a name that might otherwise be forgotten because it is not one of the big 4, is actually quite expensive when considering the finest quality alexandrite (a variety of chrysoberyl). Similarly, tourmaline might be considered commonplace by some until one feels the electricity of Paraiba with its fabulous color and equally fabulous price tag.
Clockwise: 1) Cat's eye Chrysoberyl, photo courtesy of; 2) Rubellite pendant, photo courtesy of; 3) Imperial Topaz designed by Katerina Perez, photo courtesy of; 4) Iolite and Diamond gimlet ring, photo courtesy of
There are some people who would have others believe  that certain colored stones are less important or less desirable. We at Bergamot Gems respectfully disagree due to a simple school of thought that we prescribe to wholeheartedly. It is one that appreciates stones simply for what they are. As many colored gemstones enthusiasts and experts will say, colored stones have a very visceral quality that are not easily quantified, but should simply be appreciated and admired because they are. Now, more than ever, we are seeing people embracing gemstones outside of the conventional options offered to them, particularly in the bridal faction of the industry. This resonates rather significantly for us; because frankly, if a "semi-precious" gemstone is what speaks to you or is significant to you in that special life milestone, then it is in our opinion the most precious gemstone of all.

It's a big world out there; even the gem world has vast and stretching horizons. We invite you to discover it!