Egyptian influences

 Egyptian Influences


Egyptian faience amulet built in to a Victorian brooch. Lot 110 in the Dupuis Fall 2016 Important Jewels Auction

Did you know that the world has been fascinated with the world of ancient Egypt since it was not ancient? Every time someone uncovers a tomb or grave in ancient Egypt, we see Egyptian influences flowing in to the art, architecture, and jewels of the modern world.

Pre Tutankhamun

Before the tomb of Tutankhamun was uncovered, tourists, archaeologists, and grave robbers visited the Valley of the Kings, and explored the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx, the tomb of Ramses and all the important sites of ancient Egypt. Exploration uncovered tombs and artifacts regularly.

Sometimes whole tombs were discovered, and sometimes small decorative artifacts were found. Both architectural style and decorative elements found their way around the world.

Nineteenth century explorers and travellers returned to show what they had found in Egypt. Often collected or purchased artifacts were incorporated into decoration and jewellery.

After Tutankhamun

Sometimes there were blends of styles and influences. We see elements from many cultures, styles and geographies influencing each other, more and more as travel and communication became easier in the 19th century.

After the tomb of Tutankhamun was re-discovered in 1922, the world sat up and paid attention, and the Egyptian influences became even stronger.


Art Deco brooch, Circa 1930, with obvious Egyptian influences after the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, Lot 363, in the Dupuis Fall 2016 Important Jewels Auction



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Did You Know? Tanzanite is a one source gem

Tanzanite: A One Source Gem



Tanzanite 23.5 carats, lot 323 in the Dupuis Fall 2016 Important Jewels Auction

Did you know, Tanzanite is a one source gem?  This remarkable blue to purple blue gem comes from one place in the world.

The gem is mined in Arusha, near Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. There are some tiny amounts found in a neighbouring Kenya. Geology doesn’t recognize political boundaries, I guess.

Tiffany & Co introduced the lively blue gem to the jewellery world in 1967. Before that, it was not known in the gem world.


Tiffany & Co Tanzanite and diamond bracelet, Lot 353 in the Dupuis Fall 2016 Important Jewels Auction

Tanzanite is most prized for bright blue colour and for being very free from visible inclusions.

Because it is a one source gem, we always wonder when the source will run out.

There are hardly any gems that are only found in only one place, making tanzanite genuinely remarkable.



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Did You Know? Royal Provenance

Royal Provenance

This antique brooch, Circa 1850, is accompanied by a notarized letter indicating that it is from the estate of His Imperial Highness, Archduke of Austria, Luis Salvador of Habsburg-Lorraine and Borbon. Royal Provenance makes everything more interesting.


Lot 325, in the Dupuis Fall 2016 Important Jewels Auction

It is a beautiful emerald in a lovely brooch with an interesting story. We can’t verify it ourselves, but the background certainly makes this beautiful jewel even more interesting.

Who doesn’t want to be able to tell the story of an Imperial personage and imagine the lifestyle that would have accompanied such a jewel? What tales it could tell.

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Auctions Simplified



Bidding at an auction, or even attending an auction, is an adventure that’s entertaining and fun.

Some people wonder if going to an auction might see them leaving with treasures they didn’t mean to buy. The idea of bidding on something because you winked your eye or coughed does make some people a little nervous. The auctioneer works hard to recognize real bids, so a laugh or a raised eyebrow likely won’t generate a bid.

Dupuis provides you with the opportunity to acquire beautiful jewels through the highly respected centuries-old process of auction.

Buying at auction is simple, you can bid and buy with confidence and comfort. At auction, we aim to provide as much detail and information as possible.



All Dupuis auctions have a catalogue that includes a photo of each jewel, a title, and a  description. Catalogues are issued in print for Dupuis Live auctions, and catalogues are on line and on phone and tablet apps for all auctions.



In many cases, there is an additional “condition report” to make you a well-informed bidder. Condition reports may include measurements, ring sizes, colour descriptions, and other pertinent details.



If you need additional details that are not included in catalogues or condition reports, Dupuis is happy to answer to your questions.  We can provide more information or photos.



Previews allow anyone to try on any of the jewels in the auction. Dupuis Auctions features a gallery with all of the jewels displayed in showcases. Dupuis knowledgable staff are on hand to assist. Previews are free, and no bookings are necessary to visit.



Dupuis live auctions are held on one Sunday in November, and one Sunday in June. Online auctions last for one week.

In order to bid at the auction, you do need to register. The process is very simple, there is one form to fill in, it can be done in advance, on line, or on auction day at the venue.


Each item in the auction is offered for bidding. There is a pre-auction estimate stating the estimated selling price range. The estimate serves as a guideline to bidders, items may sell within the range, or sometimes for more.


There is a “reserve”, or minimum, on most items at auction. Items offered at auction are not for sale below a reserve. Reserves are confidential. You could assume that the lowest selling price might be the low end of the pre-auction estimate.



Once you have found what you absolutely must have (very likely at a Dupuis auction), you will want to think about how much you want to spend. Successful bidders have so many things to choose from. You may want to provide yourself with some alternatives in case you find that someone wants it even more than you, and bids beyond your limit.

If you are bidding, a bid is an offer to buy. If you are the highest bidder, the jewel is yours (once you pay). You will be required to pay the bid amount plus a buyer’s premium of 25% and appropriate sales tax. Remember this when planning your budget.




Some people will lead off on the bidding, others will hold back to see what’s going to happen, jumping in at the last minute. Some nod their head or scratch their ear, it’s easiest for the auctioneer to see a paddle held high. There’s no correct way, but auctioneers prefer that you bid high and bid often.



If you are the successful bidder, you have 5 days to pay for the jewel that you have purchased. Payment can be made by bank draft, wire transfer, or credit card.


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Award Winning Jewels

Diamonds International Award winning jewels: Lot 297 Bick & Ostor maple leaf

Diamonds International Award Winning Jewel, 1960, by Bick & Ostor, Montreal. Lot 297 in the Dupuis Fall 2015 Auction


Jewels are small works of art. Each is designed and planned by an artist who has the ideas to create a small wearable artwork. Jewellery design competitions are a place for artists to shine. The designer uses precious materials and creativity to produce a jewel that makes us sit up and pay attention.

INSPIRATION for Award Winning Jewels

Award winning jewels are the result of the artist’s imagination, plus competition guidelines, and materials that provide inspiration.

A designer will have their own ideas and style that set their jewel apart from the competition. There are judges for competitions who will decide which designs stand above the rest. Those selected will be featured as the award winning jewels.

Award Winning Jewels: Lot 297 Fall 2015 Diamonds international winner 1960

Original Watercolour Rendering (Left), and the Finished jewel (Right), Diamonds International Winner, 1960, by Bick & Ostor, lot 297, Dupuis Fall 2012 Auction


Jewellery designers will use competitions to express themselves in ways that may not be possible in day to day work. It is a little like clothing design: Runway fashion shows express the pure art of the designer, but may not show the regular day to day designs. Award winning jewels will be one-of-a-kind, and use the finest materials and artisanship.

Many industry groups hold design competitions. The jewellery world has these contests in many specialty areas.

The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has the annual “Spectrum Competition” for designs featuring coloured gemstones.  AGTA Spectrum Awards

Award Winning Jewels: lot 388 Fall 2012

Cultured pearl brooch, Lot 338, sold in the Dupuis Fall 2012 Jewels Auction, was an Award Winner in a Pearl Jewel Design Competition

The Cultured Pearl Association of America selects award winning jewels from entrants to its competition for cultured pearl jewellery design.  Cultured Pearl Association of America design awards


Diamonds International Awards catalogue 1960

Diamonds International Awards Catalogue from 1960, featuring the Bick & Ostor Maple Leaf Jewel

The BIG one in the world of international jewellery design competitions is the Diamonds International Awards. For decades, designers from around the world have sent their best diamond jewel designs to the contest by deBeers marketing office, the “diamond is forever” people. The award winning jewels were selected by specialists, and travelled the world to show what amazing things could be done in jewels featuring diamonds.

Award Winning jewels: Jane Parker seejane draw design Diamonds International Winner Speckled Trout

Diamonds International Award Winning Jewel by Jane Parker, 1990 (made by Birks, not sold at Dupuis Auctions)

At Dupuis, we are proud to be able to offer a Diamonds International Award winning jewel in the Fall 2015 Auction.

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Internally flawless D colour, 3.15 carat

Internally flawless 3.15 carat emerald cut, D colour diamond ring, lot 420, in the Dupuis Fall 2015 Jewels Auction


The word “flawless” means one thing.  “Flawless” indicates that an item is without imperfection or blemish. It conveys the impression of something very special, out of the ordinary.

Sports and Arts

Only the rarest of things is flawless. In the sports world, a baseball pitcher with a “perfect game”; not allowing any opponents to reach base has certainly done something flawless. In music, a singer hitting every note and conveying every emotion through an opera has perhaps given a flawless performance. In gems, flawless has a very particular meaning.

internally flawless 3.23 carat fancy intense yellow

Internally flawless 3.23 carat, fancy intense yellow diamond in a ring, Lot 419, in the Dupuis Fall 2015 Jewels Auction


Gems are traditionally examined under a standard ten times (10X) magnification. If a gem is examined under a microscope or with a jewellers “loupe” at 10X and absolutely nothing is found in that precious stone, then it is considered flawless.

Gems occur in nature and form under all sorts of conditions, and among all sorts of other gems and minerals. It is highly uncommon to find a gem that has no other crystals or other tiny features inside, these common features are called “inclusions”.

Often the inclusions in a gem are so tiny that you can only see them by using a microscope or jeweller’s loupe. Sometimes an inclusion may be large enough to see with the naked eye. As a gemologist, I find crystal and mineral inclusions fascinating, but while the big and interesting inclusions make a gem a curiosity to a gemologist, they do certainly decrease the value.

Internally flawless 1.12ct diamond

Internally flawless 1.12 carat fancy yellow diamond, lot 417 in the Dupuis Fall 2015 Jewels Auction


A flawless diamond is extremely unusual. Due to the conditions of the formation of these gems, it is extremely rare to find a gem that is considered “flawless”. Only occasionally will a diamond receive such a grade. It makes them particularly valuable.

An “internally flawless” gem has a total lack of internal features that might be seen under 10X magnification, but may have some very tiny surface feature that doesn’t enter into the gem at all.

In the Fall 2015 auction, we have a number of these important gems. It takes a long time to grade these gems, because you really have to be completely thorough in examining them to  ensure that they really are flawless. These have all received the grading through the independent and internationally recognized grading laboratory at Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

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Presentation Jewels

Through history, jewels and items of precious metal have been given as tokens of recognition. These tokens are sometimes made as presentations to people who have achieved something of note.

Presentation: A Gold Watch For 25 Years of Service

Presentation items are given in recognition of service to a company, for years of service, goals reached, contracts clinched, and many other possible achievements. A brooch or plaque honouring ten years of service, or gold watches for 25 years of service are common presentation jewels.

Spring 2013 lot 526 presentation jewels

Eaton 1/4 century presentation watch, given for 25 years of service to a Eaton department store Lot 526, Dupuis Spring 2013 Auction

Sometimes a presentation jewel may be a token of appreciation for work well done, or for contribution to an achieved goal.

Presentation Jewels: A Case in Recognition of Service

Presentation jewels are often plaques, plates, cups or boxes, frequently made of precious metal.

Cartier W.H. Manton 141 presentation jewels

Silver and gold presentation compact given by Queen Elizabeth, Lot 141, Spring 2015 Auction

At Dupuis we are honoured to have had the opportunity to offer such an item. This silver and gold compact was commissioned on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  It was given to a loyal subject in recognition of service to the Commonwealth. It was presented in a red leather box bearing the Queen’s QEII cypher, and signed by Cartier.

Thought in almost new condition, this box appears to actually have been lightly used by its recipient, which is good: There are so many presentation items that are put on a table and never used again. These are items that deserve to be worn, carried, or used with pride.

One type of presentation jewel that is usually worn with pride is a championship sports ring. These rings are given to the victorious team members in annual championships. Championship rings are given for the World Series, Super Bowl, Grey Cup, or of course, the ever elusive Stanley Cup (at least to Toronto fans).

Jewels of Achievement: Championship Rings

Championship rings have a special meaning, and like all presentation jewels, each is unique, bearing the name of the person or organization presenting it, or the person receiving it.

duncan 2008 pictures 2587 presentation jewels

A Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Ring (1967) One of the rarest of Presentation Jewels (this one was not sold at a Dupuis Auction, but if you have one…)

Presentation jewels are very specialized, and Dupuis Auctions is always interested in considering items for possible consignment:

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Tiaras and crowns

Conch pearl and diamond tiara

Offered in Spring 2015 Dupuis Fine Jewels Auction

Tiara: A Jeweller’s Crowning Achievement

Exceptional antique diamond tiara

Antique with Diamonds, Offered at Dupuis Spring 2008 Auction, Sold for $230,000

Once in a rare while, a tiara becomes available to the auction bidder. Tiaras are the essence of elegance, and always turn a gathering into an event. They convert a dance into a ball, the downtrodden Cinderella into Prince Charming’s sweetheart (snow-white horses, a golden carriage and glass slippers help, too).

Moon stone tiara, Circa 1900

Antique, With Moonstones, Sold in the Dupuis Fall 2011 Jewels Auction

A tiara is a crown worn high on the head, and usually has a semi-circular shape. Tiaras have been worn, in one form or another, for thousands of years, but the 19th century produced some of the most beautiful and ornate of these jewels. The finest tiaras are decorated with gems mounted in precious metal.

Diamond Flower tiara

Victorian Flower Form with  Diamonds, Sold in the Dupuis Spring 2005 Jewels Auction

Royal heads around the world are regularly adorned with tiaras for special events and public appearances. Similarly, women with a complete and elegant jewellery wardrobe have a tiara for special occasions. However, even royalty may not wear a tiara every day, so we find it helpful to have a tiara that can be converted to other uses.

Small sapphire and diamond head top tiara

Set with Sapphire and Diamonds, Sold in the Dupuis Spring 2012 Auction

Many exquisite Victorian tiaras were convertible to necklace use, or could be taken apart to become earrings, bracelets, brooches, pendants (with additional fittings), greatly expanding their function in the owner’s jewel collection. Originally, these jewels would have been mounted in fitted boxes, sadly these boxes are often lost to history.

Modern reproduction ruby, diamond and sapphire tiara

Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond Tiara, Sold in the Dupuis January 2008 Jewels Auction

A charming use of a convertible tiara is to wear it on your head at a dinner, and wear the same jewel as a necklace at the dance afterwards. It won’t fall off while you’re dancing.

The tiara in the Dupuis Spring 2015 auction is adorned with diamonds and pearls, and it features a very rare collection of beautiful pink conch pearls. With the original accompanying diamond-mounted attachment, it easily converts to an elegant and stunning necklace. The set is offered with the original fitted box.

If there is a tiara around, everyone wants to try it on. I certainly do.

IMG_2636 duncan tries on a tiara

Everyone wants to wear one


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Inclusions in Gems, a view of the inner world of gemstones


A view of the inner world of gemstones

"Three phase" inclusions

“Three phase” inclusions in a emerald

The inner world of gems is fascinating. Inclusions found within gems are the things that get gemmologists hooked on this science. We love to look at the fascinating crystals, growth features and strange structures in gems. Many inclusions are crystals of minerals.


An emerald may be identified as natural if it has three-phase inclusions (a solid, a liquid and a gas; with the solid being a crystal of some kind, and the gas being a bubble that sometimes can move around in the liquid). Emeralds originating from Colombia are particularly noted for three-phase inclusions.


Diamonds can have lots of interesting inclusions, sometimes another diamond inside a diamond, but often a crystal of an entirely different mineral. We often see reddish garnet crystals in diamonds.

Diamond  with bright red inclusions 5

Diamond with bright red garnet inclusions

Sometimes we might see several different colours of inclusion in the same diamond. This one has an inclusion of garnet that is orange brown colour and another that is green and is possibly diopside:

Diamond 0.33ct orange brown and green crystals

Diamond with orange-brown garnet, and green (possibly diopside) crystal inclusions

Sometimes we don’t know what an inclusion is, being inside another gem makes it hard to get at, and complex to test, but it’s still really interesting to look at. This orangish inclusion in the corner of a diamond looks a bit like a lighthouse floating in space, or a Dalek (ask a Doctor Who fan). It isn’t either of those things, it’s a mineral, however, we’re not sure what that mineral is.

Diamond inclusion hexagonal crystal pinkish brown (9)

Pinkish brown crystal inclusion in a diamond

There are naturally occurring fractures in gems, they are often called “feathers”. I guess the reason for calling them “feathers” is because they can sometimes look like that. This one in a diamond really looks like a feather:

Diamond inclusion feather incident light

“Feather” in a diamond


Sometimes we see inclusions of one colour mineral in another colour of gem. Here is a red crystal of a mineral called rutile in a blue sapphire. If it is placed just right (or wrong) the colours can combine to create a new colour to the eye (more purplish, in this case, with red mixed with the very nice blue)

Corundum sapphire with red crystal inclusion no heat 8

Blue sapphire with a red rutile crystal inclusion

Emeralds can have some very interesting inclusions, apart from three-phase ones. Here we have opaque cube shaped yellow metallic pyrite inclusions that are of a size that can be seen with the naked eye. Emeralds usually have eye-visible inclusions of some kind.

Beryl emerald with pyrite inclusions 8 copy

Emerald with pyrite cube crystal inclusions


Among the most commonly seen gems in the world are those of the quartz family. There are so many varieties, colours and textures of quartz found all around the world, and each can have distinctive inclusions. Often, quartz is a modestly priced gem, and specimens with noticeable and desirable inclusions are often available. This example of “rock crystal” quartz features dark reddish-black needle-like inclusions, scattered like pick-up-sticks.

Quartz rock crystal with orangish brown needle inclusions 2

Rock crystal quartz with scattered needle-like tourmaline crystals

Inclusions are such an interesting feature of gems, and for any gemmologist with a microscope or a loupe, they’re among of the most fascinating features of a gem. While most people tend to think of inclusions in a negative way, they make gems unique, and give each its own fingerprint, providing hours of distraction for a gemologist, or anyone else.




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ABC of Gems


A collection of many different gems in a bracelet

There is a beautiful and interesting gem for almost every letter of the alphabet. We all had an A B C book when we were little, why not carry this forward into our adult life (or our continued childhood) with an ABC of Gems? (All of the items featured in the photographs in this ABC of Gems have been offered in Dupuis Fine Jewellery Auctions, with the exception of those at U, V, W, X, and Y).

Amethyst, the February birthstone, has a very long history, and is a lovely violet gem, here is an example of some violets carved from amethyst:

714 copy

Amethyst flowers

Beryl is a gem found in many colours including blue (aquamarine), and green (emerald). These golden beryls are specially cut and matched for this brooch:


A fan of custom cut golden beryls

Coral is found in the Mediterranean Sea, and forms in branch-like shapes with red, orange and pink colours:


Coral stems on a flower brooch

Diamond, the world’s best known gem, is the hardest substance in nature. It forms deep in the earth, and is carried to the surface by volcanic activity. We need to move tons of rock to extract a single carat of this exceptional gem. Diamond is the birthstone for April.


diamond solitaire pendant 9.38 carats

Emerald is a green gem, with a very long history from “Cleopatra’s emerald mine” in the ancient world, to the famous source of emeralds in Colombia. The fresh spring-like green of an emerald makes it a calming and refreshing gem. Emerald is the birthstone for May.


Emerald and diamonds in a ballerina ring

Fibrolite, is a less common gem, and is often found exhibiting a clear and sharp “cat’s eye”. The colour is often grey.


Fibrolite cat’s eye ring

Garnet is a gem found in every colour of the rainbow. Best known as a brownish red gem, garnet is also found in rare yellowish green Demantoid, and brilliant green Tsavorite. Garnet is there birthstone for January.


Very fine tsavorite garnet

Hematite is a bright, shiny grey metallic gem, often used as beads, or in men’s jewellery.


Hematite in cufflinks and tie tac by Schlumberger for Tiffany

Ivory is a gem principally from the tusks of elephants. There are some beautiful gems and carvings made from ivory. It is from an endangered species, trade is restricted, and is no longer offered at auction by Dupuis.


Ivory netsuke carving

Jadeite jade is a gem principally found in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and is most prized in a rich uniform green colour and with a high degree of translucency.


Fine jadeite jade and diamond ring

Kunzite is a pink to purple gem found in the United States and Afghanistan, and it is named after a gemologist and friend of Louis Comfort Tiffany, George Kunz.


Kunzite and diamond ring

Lapis lazuli is a rich blue ornamental gem. The most famous source is Afghanistan, and the gems from there can be a vivid blue unlike any other gem.


Lapis Lazuli and gold necklace

Moonstone is a mysterious gem that has a silvery “moon” that floats around as the gem moves.


Antique moonstone necklace

Nephrite jade is one of two gems named jade. Most notably in an olive green colour. It is found in countries around the world, including in Canada’s British Columbia.


Nephrite jade leaves and coral beads in a brooch

Opal is famous for its flashes of the colours of the spectrum. It is most valuable if it has bright flashes of all colours of the spectrum. The best known source is Australia. Opal is the birthstone for October.


Black opal and diamond ring

Pearl was likely used as an ornamental gem before almost anything else. Pearls were the first “free prizes” in the history of food. Biting into an oyster and finding a pearl was a pretty nice bonus for our ancient ancestors. Natural pearls are very rare today, but are still sometimes found. Pearl is the birthstone for June.


Cultured pearl necklace in a rainbow of colours

Quartz, truly an ABC of gems in itself, is a gem that has colours and textures to suit all styles and tastes. Quartz has been found in ancient jewels, and it is found in every continent. Amethyst is the most precious variety, Citrine follows closely behind, carnelian is a translucent orange variety that has been used for thousands of years.


Citrine bracelet

Ruby is a red gem, most famously found in Myanmar (formerly Burma). it is the birthstone for July, it is associated with Power and passion. The inner glow of a fine ruby is unlike any other gem. Ruby is the birthstone for July.

287 copy

Ruby and diamond ring, “pigeon blood” colour


Sapphire is another ABC of gems because it can be any colour except red (red colour of this mineral is called ruby). The most sought after sapphire is a rich velvety blue colour that is now depleted, but was found in Kashmir until the mid-20th Century. Currently sapphires are found in Myanmar (formerly Burma), Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, and even in Canada’s Baffin Island. Other highly desired colours are pink, and yellow.  Sapphire is the birthstone for September.


Antique sapphire and diamond ring

Topaz is best known in two main colours, yellowish orange (sometimes called “imperial topaz”), and blue. but it is found in pink, colourless, and others too. Found in many countries including Brazil and Russia, it is the birthstone for November.


Topaz necklace

Uvarovite is a variety of garnet that usually forms in tiny crystals, sometimes used as “drusy” (clusters of tiny crystals covering a surface) in finished jewellery. Very rarely it is large enough crystals to facet (but still very small)

DSCN9976 copy

Uvarovite garnet (0.50mm in diameter)

Vulcanite was produced in the 19th Century as an inexpensive alternative to the organic gem, jet. Vulcanite is an opaque black vulcanized rubber compound that is hard, and was usually moulded into what appeared as carved forms.


Vulcanite cameo mounted on mother of pearl

Welo Opal is named after its source in Ethiopia. It is opal from a new source, and is noted for bright colours.

african opal rough

Welo opal (rough – unpolished)

X-Ray (some letters in an ABC of Gems are more difficult) Used in the identification of pearls, X-Ray testing can assist in separating natural pearls from cultured pearls. X-rays are also used in separating diamonds from ore at diamond mines.

DSC05008 copy

X-ray of cultured pearls showing mother of pearl beads inside the cultured pearls


Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG) is a laboratory grown material originally used as a diamond simulant, it is now produced in many different colours. It is hard and durable, and serves as an inexpensive imitation of other gems.

Yttrium Aluminium garnet (synthetic)

Laboratory grown YAG

Zircon (we can finish an ABC of Gems with a genuine gem): Zircon is a natural gem that is found in yellow, brown, green, blue and colourless. Zircons can be very pretty and dispersive, showing sparkles of colour you might expect in a diamond.


Zircon and diamond ring

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