Author Archives: Sarah Hickey

Opals

Opalus – the Roman name for opals, means ‘Precious Gemstone’. One could argue that all the gemstones are present in opals, the ruby, the emerald, the amethyst, the citrine. The flashes of colour truly do ‘play’. You can look at an opal you’ve seen a hundred times and still see something different and new, that draws you in once again. Opal jewellery is a matter close to our heart here at Sarah Hickey Jewellery.

Opals Sarah Hickey Jewellery
One of a Kind: Opal Ring

I absolutely love to work with Opals. They’re not always the jewellers best friend, certainly not the hardest stone and sometimes when you set them you have hold your breath! Opals are a truly a magical stone, and it requires a ‘sleight of hand’. However the dexterity and skill involved in setting opals, is part of the challenge and the fun.

The first known source of opals was from the ancient mines of Slovakia, a source that has long been depleted. The opals that we use here at Sarah Hickey Jewellery are from South Eastern Australia, most particularly the mines of Coober Pedy and Lightening Ridge. A rich source of opals, a land of underground houses, deep opal mines in an arid landscape.

Opals Sarah Hickey Jewellery
The arid landscapes of Coober Pedy, where many of the resident miners live in underground homes where they are protected from the relentless sun.

What exactly are Opals?

An opal takes about 5-6million years to form – yes, read that sentence again! The process involves a hardening of silicon dioxide and water.

As water runs down through the earth it picks up silica from sandstone and carries this silica-rich solution into cracks and natural faults in rocks. The water evaporates and the silica is left behind. Most of the opal that is formed is called ‘potch’ or ‘common opal’ by miners, the same physical composition as the opal gemstone, but without the beautiful colour play. The opals who’s magical dancing fire is visable from their white snowy bases, are the opals that are mined for the unquestionable beauty, and the ones that I love to work with. 

Opals Sarah Hickey Jewellery
Claw Set Opal Pendant: One of a Kind


We have many opal pieces in the collection that you can explore here, the one of a kind, opal necklaces are some of my favourites and I wear one along with the gold letter pendants of my childrens names every day. 


Opal is the birthstone of October, but it can most certainly be enjoyed by all. It makes a beautiful gift, and there is much lore in it’s history to know for those who went to take a deep dive. The Romans believed it would bring the wearer good luck, and we certainly like to think that’s true.

Opals Sarah Hickey Jewellery
Round Opal Ring

Tanzanite

There is a 20 square mile stretch of land near the foothills of  Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, it is the only source, in the entire world, of what we know as the gemstone Tanzanite.

In 1967, truly a recent date in the gemstone world, local tribesman stumbled upon a deposit of this majestic blue, violet stone, a local prospector Manuel d’Souza quickly thought a vein of sapphire had been found and lay claim to mining in the area. It was in fact not Sapphire but a deposit of Blue Ziosite and what we now know as Tanzanite, so named by Tiffany and Co after they struck a deal to be its main distributor in jewellery.

Tanzanite Sarah Hickey Jewellery

Tanzanite Leaf Hoops

Tanzanite Sarah Hickey Jewellery

Tanzanite Solitaire Ring

In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose tanzanite as a December birthstone, the first change to their birthstone list since 1912!

I’ve enjoyed working with Tanzanite for a number of years, it’s a truly arresting colour, I would describe it as blue with flashes of indigo but as with all colours, and gemstone, the hue is in the eye of the beholder. 

What particularly interests me about Tanzanite are the gorgeous speckled inclusions present, although you can buy it almost eye clear, but I prefer when a gemstone almost wears it’s formation on on it’s sleeve, showing the tiny speckles and deposits as the crystals have grown over the years, to be precise, wait for it…………….. 585 Million years!

That’s correct, Tanzanite was formed 585 Million years ago, by massive plate tectonic activity and intense heat in the area that would later become Mount Kilimanjaro. The mineral is located in a relatively complex geological environment. Deposits are typically found in the “hinge” of isoclinal folds. 

It’s always fascinating to know the back story of such gems and I hope it enhances your enjoyment of the pieces of Tanzanite Jewellery we have available in the collection. 

Salt and Pepper Diamond

salt and pepper diamond ring uk

Salt and Pepper Diamond Engagement Rings UK

Salt and Pepper Diamond engagement and promise rings are a movement that have grown in recent years, the are a personal favourite of mine and have thus become a mainstay of the collection. Lets discuss them in all their beauty, Salt and Pepper diamonds are a trend that’s here to stay.

Browse the Salt and Pepper Diamond Ring Collection Here
Salt and Pepper Diamond Sarah Hickey Jewellery
Salt and Pepper Diamond Sarah Hickey Jewellery

The eternal nature of a diamond, a stone that really will last forever, beyond all of us, has made them the favourite for engagement rings for many years. The first being given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he proposed in 1477, what a trail blazer!

More recently though people are keen to express the individuality of their love through a stone with a difference, and what better way than through a salt and pepper diamond.

There are actually no two ever alike, each with its own, tone of light and dark, unique inclusions, size and shape. From palest smouldering grey, to dark as night, there’s much to catch your eye and heart.

Salt and Pepper Diamond Sarah Hickey Jewellery

What exactly is a Salt and Pepper Diamond? Salt and Pepper Diamonds have all the qualities and hardness of a regular diamond but they have inclusions, dark carbons spots, clouds, feathers, sprinkles of tiny milky way type peppered patterns that create their unique look.

Salt and Pepper Diamonds lend themsleves to a rose cut, and the nature of the stones own character often informs the shape it’s not one size fits all, look at these breathtaking pieces in the rough, ready to be cut and shaped into their glory on the polishing wheels.

Salt and Pepper Diamonds go someway to proving beauty doesn’t always lie in perfection. they are more affordable and frankly often a lot more interesting than a classic diamond, a little bit of edge, certainly a talking point. I work closely with diamond dealers who supply these stones to me, deciding cuts and colours. I rest in the knowledge that they are conflict free, and I can pass that on to my customers. My sources are Botswana and Canada. If you have any questions or would like to chat about a salt and pepper diamond ring, welcome, and be my guest, I’d love to help.

Salt and Pepper Diamond Sarah Hickey Jewellery

Moonstone, a life long love affair…

Where to begin! Rainbow moonstone appears time after time in my collection, and that’s because I love working with it, and I love wearing it myself. For almost 15 years now I have been working with the same moonstone dealer, knowing the source, is knowing the stone, the provenance and traceability of this stone are important to me, and this notion speaks with in the pieces I make with moonstone. I know this bewitching gemstone in and out, I take pride in the quality of moonstone that I offer in my jewellery.

Moonstone, a life long love affair... Sarah Hickey Jewellery

Here’s a little bit about the history of Moonstone; it isn’t difficult to see where it gets it’s name. Hindu mythology believed moonstone was literally solidified moonbeams, the dancing light and glow of moonstone can definitely be likened to the lunar light, as seen through a thin veil of cloud. A glow from within.

Moonstone, a life long love affair... Sarah Hickey Jewellery
Moonstone, a life long love affair... Sarah Hickey Jewellery
Moonstone, a life long love affair... Sarah Hickey Jewellery

The glow, or ‘blue fire’ as it is sometimes called, is actually caused by the stones internal structure which scatters and refracts as the light hits it. This phenomenon is known as adularescence. The most marvelous thing, as all moonstone lovers know, is there are no two pieces a like, the refractive structure of the mineral changes from one cm of material to the next, so the light play and the look will also change – magical.

Moonstone is a really beautiful bridal choice, it’s white, light, delicate and whimsical, and wearing moonstone on your big day will also mean you’ll have those moonstones to wear throughout the years, it doesn’t age or fade, it’s sparkle within the stone always stays alive.Rainbow Moonstone, like labradorite is a feldspar gemstone, formed from lava seeping upward in veins through the earths mantal thousands of years ago.I work with so many shapes and sizes, cuts and finishes, it’s always a delight just to see the raw product though too, above is some being cut by the gemstone dealer before it wings it’s way to me. Fascinating…

Countdown for the opening of our Jewellery Studio…..

queenshall

Not long now, we hope to be open for the beginning of November. Much excitement, it will be absolutely marvelous to see everything laid out in cabinets on the first floor of the Queens Hall.

Our open studio hours will be:

Monday – by appointment only
Tuesday 12 – 3pm Open Studio
Wednesday 12 – 5pm Open Studio
Thursday – by appointment only
Friday 12 – 5pm Open Studio
Saturday 1 – 4pm Open Studio
Sunday – Closed

Address: Queens Hall, Beaumont St, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 3LS, see the Queens Hall website here for directions.

We will also be open for special events, if you’d like be informed of these via email please do sign up at the bottom of the page here

We will be offering a full bridal service, during studio hours or by appointment, stocking a gorgeous range of wedding jewellery, bridal necklaces, bracelets and earrings, if you would like to book a private appointment for your bridal session please don’t hesitate to get in touch.