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Akoya Pearls Defined. Akoya pearls are bead-nucleated cultured pearls produced in the Pinctada fucata martensii and Pinctada fucata chemnitzii primarily in Japan, China, Vietnam, South Korea and Australia, with the majority of production (>95%) taking place in Japan.
Akoya pearls are the classic white saltwater pearls. They are known for extremely high luster and perfectly round shape. In size they are often seen in small pearls about the diameter of the eraser of a pencil, which is between 6 and 7mm.
Stabilized does not mean dyed, it means the color has been stabilized, but you DO need to be very careful. Armed with a little bit of information, you can protect yourself against buying turquoise that is not the real deal.
In truth, *about 97% of all (I’m not kidding… all) turquoise on the market today is stabilized. Stabilization is necessary in order to maintain the beautiful color of your turquoise and harden the stone. Turquoise changes color over time because it gradually absorbs oils from the skin as it is worn and as it comes into constant contact with the natural elements. The colors in stabilized turquoise, however, are permanent. The color is stabilized.
Another reason for stabilizing turquoise is that turquoise is a relatively soft stone. Stabilizing hardens the stone so we can easily cut and drill it. (By drilling I mean the little hole we put in the bead so you can string it.) The hardness of gemstones is measured on what is called the Mohs (sounds like hose only with an M) hardness scale measuring from 1 to 10. As a comparison, diamonds are a 10 on this scale; turquoise is a 5 or 6.
Now here is where some of the mis-information comes in. Many people associate stabilization with dying and treating the stone. We (meaning our shop) stabilize our turquoise under pressure using a clear organic process that absorbs into the rock, permanently hardening it and deepening its color. Sort of the way a sponge turns a darker color when you put water on it. We use a proprietary colorless process, meaning we created our own closely guarded formula that stabilizes without the use of dyes. All of our turquoise beads are natural color and you will get that in writing when you purchase from us.
Just so you know… it is during the stabilization process than many other processors use dyes to color the stone to make it more blue, which provides a higher perceived value to the stone. In other words, it is very easy to take a stone that is not turquoise (like Howlite for instance) and make it look like turquoise to an unsuspecting buyer. It is also easy to enhance cheap turquoise to make it look like the more expensive Sleeping Beauty turquoise or other American mined turquoise. Those who dye and enhance turquoise know that American turquoise is more valuable and a true investment turquoise that has steadily increased in value over the years, and they know they can put a higher price tag on their turquoise, thinking you won’t know the difference.
If you prefer natural color turquoise, my advice is that you make sure if you are buying stabilized turquoise that the process did not include dyes of any kind. Stabilized does not mean “dyed“. This is another misconception floating around in the public domain. When in doubt about anything during your turquoise purchase, insist on getting it in writing from the seller. Ask them to certify the turquoise as natural (not stabilized and not dyed) or natural color turquoise (stabilized but not dyed or enhanced in any way). You can see some examples of dyed turquoise on our website at http://www.theturquoisechick.com/examples.htm to help you discern your purchases online or in person.
Also, please check out our reference guide to the five kinds of turquoise as described by law available on our website. Here is the link: http://www.theturquoisechick.com/kinds.htm Remember, knowledge is the best way to protect yourself when buying turquoise online or otherwise.
Until next time…
What is the difference between silver, white gold, and platinum?
Silver, platinum, and white gold are considered “white” metals when used for jewelry, although they are all silver in appearance. The three metals may look similar, but they are very different in content. Sterling silver is the least expensive of the three metals and is comprised of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. It is the softest of the three metals and tarnishes over time, but with frequent and proper cleaning, it serves as an alternative to platinum and white gold because of its lower price.
White gold is a harder metal than silver and is often used for settings of precious stones. White gold is more durable than silver, it does not tarnish, and it holds its shine very well. Like yellow gold, white gold holds up fairly well over time under normal wear. However, it is considerably more expensive than sterling silver and is typically reserved for more elegant jewelry such as engagement and wedding rings.
Platinum is the “premium” white metal. It is the hardest and most durable white metal and is often chosen for rings and ring settings by people who appreciate the wear and tear to which hand jewelry can be exposed. Platinum can take much more day-to-day abuse before needing to be repaired, whereas silver and white gold need more care. Platinum’s durability and longevity is reflected in its cost, however. A $20 sterling silver ring would cost about $200 in white gold and the same ring might cost around $600 in platinum.
How to clean silver jewelry?
The best way to keep your silver jewelry clean is by wearing it often. However, humidity and storing the silver can tarnish the piece, also known as oxidation, which will give the silver a darkish black color. Tarnish is most easily removed when it first becomes visible.
There are several methods to clean your tarnished silver. A popular method is to use a liquid silver cleaner (which smells like rotten eggs) that you can purchase at a jewelry store or a Walmart or Target. Put the piece of silver in the little tray, swish it around, and the original beautiful silver shine is restored.
A silver polishing cloth formulated specifically to remove tarnish is effective in cleaning silver jewelry.
Another great method for cleaning sterling silver jewelry, especially when you don’t have silver cleaner or a polishing cloth at home, is toothpaste! Put some toothpaste on an old toothbrush and gently rub the toothpaste into the silver. Let it sit for a few minutes and wash it off. If you’re trying to shine a chain, put toothpaste on the chain and pull it through a wash cloth or paper towel. You’ll see the cloth turn black and you’ll know you’re cleaning the piece.
The aluminum foil method also works great. Fill a bowl or jar halfway with hot water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the bowl or a little more, depending on the size of the bowl. Mix the salt until it dissolves. Add a few strips of aluminum foil to the bowl. Add the silver jewelry to the bowl. Stir it around and let it sit for a few minutes. The aluminum foil interacts with the salt and removes the tarnish off the silver. Rinse the jewelry with water. This process may need to be repeated a few times, but it is very effective in restoring your silver jewelry to its original shine.
Particularly valuable or antique pieces of silver should always be hand-polished, as buffing can permanently damage such a piece.
How do you care for silver jewelry?
Care should be taken to avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.