Hello February, Hello Amethyst!

Are you ready to welcome a purple haze?! February’s birthstone is Amethyst, a stunning purple gemstone that has a lot to say for itself!

The name Amethyst actually comes from the Greek word ‘amesthystos’ which means ‘not intoxicated’ or ‘not drunk’!!  It was believed that this stone prevented people from getting tipsy when drinking alcohol, we can’t promise that this is true!! As well as being February’s birthstone it is also Pisces’ traditional birthstone, and traditionally given for 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries, as it’s said to contain the energy of passion and love!

What is Amethyst and where can it be found?

Amethyst is the most valuable crystal in the quartz family.  It is formed inside igneous volcanic rocks called basalts, which are created by volcanic lava. These rocks act as vessels that contain minerals and water over time, creating the well-known white-purple crystal formation. The inside walls of the basalt become the base for how Amethyst forms. Amethyst is relatively softer than most precious stones allowing cutters more room for creativity with their artistic designer cuts.  Amethysts are also classified as a type 2 gemstone meaning they are usually found with few inclusions. Inclusions within gemstones can be described as any material that is trapped within a mineral at any point of the mineral’s formation. Inclusions can range from gas filled bubbles to insects to fractures and much more.

The intensity of the colour purple, determines its value.  Those that are rich and deep in tone are more valuable.  The most prized amethyst is a Siberian deep purple with red and blue flares.

Amethysts can be sourced in most continents but Brazil is one of the most active locations for the mining and faceting of this semi precious gemstone.  Other places it can be sourced are Africa, United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Russia and Madagascar.  

In the Brazilian town of Ametista do Sul, St Gabriel’s Church is decorated with 40 tons of amethyst crystals covering the walls. The baptismal font is crafted from a large amethyst geode.

Amethyst and Royalty.

Amethyst is one of the most adored gemstones by royalty.  From ancient times till today, members of royalty from all over the world have used amethysts in their collections.  We know that amethysts were Queen Catherine the Great of Russia and Cleopatra’s favourite gemstone, so if you love it you are in good company!!  One of the oldest sets of jewels in the Windsor Collection is the amethyst ‘Demi-parure’, which belonged to Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.  

Caring for Amethyst.

Amethyst is fairly durable, and will wear down slowly over generations as the dust in the air is quartz too.  The stunning colour is stable but it is best to avoid high heats. To keep rings clean don’t wear them when applying lotions or creams or when using cleaning products.  Clean with a mild dish soap and a soft brush behind the stone where dust can gather.  

Amethyst’s energy.

Amethyst is said to be balancing and harmonising. A natural tranquilliser, relieving stress, soothing irritability, balancing mood swings, dispersing anger, alleviating sadness and grief, and dissolving negativity. Who couldn’t do with a little bit of amethyst energy in their life!!! Amethyst is also known to have healing powers especially for headaches, back pain and for the pancreas.  

If you are a believer in Feng Shui,  the amethyst is typically used in the knowledge and wisdom area to increase self love, reduce stress, enhance meditation and promote healthy sleep.

Apparently amethyst was also used for love spells!  It was believed that if someone spoke the name of their love into an amethyst stone, their love would be summoned. Let us know if you give this a go!  

Why we love Amethyst!

Amethyst comes in a range of hues from the lightest pastel purple to an intense rich vivid purple with rose coloured flashes inside.  It complements both warm and cool colours so it looks right set in both yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and silver.   It is such a joyful gemstone to work with, it brightens up any day!

To visit our Amethyst pieces click here, and keep watching, there is more coming soon!!

Amethyst ring, birthstone stacking ring, February birthstone, sarah hickey jewellery
SHJ amethyst leaf hoop earrings

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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 Leaf Hoops

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 ring uk

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.

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.

January Garnet

Did you hear about the ant and the garnet?! The most fascinating garnets are the incredible Anthill Garnets. These garnets come from the Native American Navajo Reservation in Arizona, and are not mined, but gathered! The red ants on this reservation bring them up in their ant hills! The Navajo people go out and rake the desert, once or twice a year, after the snow in the spring the snow melts and washes the dust and dirt off these special garnets! Then the people from Navajo Reservation spend time mindfully gathering the garnets that have been brought to the surface, respecting the earth that have provided these gemstones. These are generally small garnets, small enough for the ants to bring them to the surface.

What a beautiful story!

The History of Garnet

Garnet is an incredibly durable gemstone, and pieces of garnet jewellery have been found from the Bronze Age.  Egyptians also used to use garnet as inlays in their jewellery and carvings, believing that garnet was the symbol of life.  Garnet was also very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Centuries, frequently being used to decorate sword hilts and gold jewellery.  

During Victorian times people loved gemstones, and the one that completely stole the hearts of the Victorian era was the garnet.  It wasn’t uncommon for Victorians to make doublets out of garnet and glass.  A doublet was the practice of fusing together a piece of genuine garnet with a piece of glass to make the gemstone appear much bigger.    

The rare and valuable green demantoid garnets were prized by Russian Czars and the famous Russian jeweller Gustav Faberge often used them in his work.

Where are garnets found?

Garnets are one of the most widespread gemstones.  Found in multiple locations, but the highest quality garnets are found in East Africa, particularly Tanzania and Kenya.  In the 1990s a deposit of rare blue garnets were found in Madagascar.  Green garnets have been found in Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya, Pakistan and Antarctica.  

Garnets are often found near the Earth’s surface, within pebbles in riverbeds or deposited on beaches.  

Colour

Garnet is most well known for its deep red colour.   

Garnet ring, tsavorite garnet ring, green garnet, January birthstone ring, January birthdays, stacking ring, birthstone ring, sarah hickey jewellery ring.

Garnet is actually the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colours, from the deep red of the Pyrope garnet to the vibrant greens of Tsavorites.

Some garnets have inclusions that add to the beauty of the stone, giving them a very distinctive look.  

Some Garnets have the ability to change colour!  Colour changing garnets have been found in Kenya, Madagascar and Tanzania.  These incredible gemstones change colour depending on different light conditions.  They can appear blue in fluorescent light and turn into a deep red/purple in incandescent light.  

What do garnets signify?

Garnet is the stone of lasting friendship and can be a symbol of peace, health and deep friendship.  Spiritually it represents love and legend says wearing garnet can give you the strength you need to take charge of your life.  Helping the wearer release negative emotions and live a more peaceful and happy life.  

They are a great gift to give someone who has been a loyal friend.

Garnet jewellery

Garents can be cut to almost any shape or size, so lend themselves to any application in jewellery.  They are often set in gold to highlight their most commonly found deep red colour.  Cost of garnets varies depending on its size, cut, colour and clarity.  But garnets are less expensive than many other gemstones due to its abundance.  Garnets have a very high hardness and refractive index, which means they are very difficult to damage, making them a durable and eye catching gemstone to use in jewellery.

Garnet is also the gemstone for 2nd wedding anniversaries.

Slender garnet bangle, sarah hickey jewellery, January birthstone bangle, red gemstone bangle
Slender garnet bangle

Garnet studs, January birthstone, triangle studs, gemstone studs, red studs, sarah hickey jewellery studs
Garnet trilliant studs

MOZAMBIQUE GARET RING. Sarah hickey jewellery
Marquise cut Mozambique garnet ring

December Birthstones

TANZANITE

The gemstone was said to be discovered by a man named Manuel De Souza, an Indian tailor who had travelled to Tanzania to search for gemstones and gold. It is said that he was walking through the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro when he spotted something glistening in the ground. He deduced that the stone was too soft to be sapphire, and it was later categorised as a variety of the mineral Zoisite.  Another theory is that the gemstone was actually first discovered by the native Maasai Cattle Herders after a fire. The fire turned the brown zoisite crystals into deep blue-purple gemstones. 

The rough form of tanzanite is a reddish-brown colour. In order to become tanzanite, the mineral must contain traces of Vanadium. The stone needs to be heated to 600˚C for 30 minutes in order to transform into the vibrant blue colour that is associated with tanzanite. The deeper the blue of the tanzanite, the more desirable and expensive it will be.

Tanzanite is only mined in Tanzania.  The mining and selling of tanzanite are regulated by the Tanzanian government to ensure it remains ethical and sustainable.

Tanzanite is said to generate calmness and compassion.  Tanzanite has a trichroic, which makes it unusual.    Some crystals, such as tanzanite, have trichroism. This means that the crystals exhibit a perceptible difference in colour when looked at under different lights, or from different angles. When tanzanite catches the light in different ways, it can appear blue, purple, red, or even yellow. This unusual property makes tanzanite all the more appealing for jewellers as the finished item will be incredibly eye-catching.

As well as being the birthstone for December, Tanzanite is also the gemstone for 24th wedding anniversaries.

Shop Tanzanite at SHJ here

Sarah hickey jewellery, tanzanite bangle, December birthstone
Slender Tanzanite Bangle, £69
Tanzanite pear studs, sarah hickey jewellery
Tanzanite Pear Studs, £60
Tanzanite ring, sarah hickey jewellery, tanzanite, December birthstone
Tanzanite Solitaire Ring, £140

TURQUOISE

From the Persians to the Ancient Egyptians to the Native Americans, its striking blue hue with rich varieties of brown and black veining – also known as the matrix – has caught the eye of many a discerning lover of high-quality gemstones.  

The name turquoise comes from the french term ‘turquois’ which simply means ‘Turkish”.  The gemstone was named after Turkey because even thought the gem was found in Iran, it was brought to Europe via Turkey.

Turquoise is the only gemstone that has a colour named after it!

Turquoise needs a very specific environment for its formation.  It is only found in areas where the land is dry and barren.  The formation starts when acidic copper rich water seeps into the barren ground and reacts with the minerals containing phosphorus and aluminium. 

For centuries Turquoise was considered to be a holy stone and a carrier of good fortune by people all over the world.  Some cultures believed that the stone had the ability to change colour and warn its wearer of an impending danger.  The Ancient Egyptians held the gemstone in high regard because Pharoh Tutankhamun’s iconic mask features Turquoise.  

Turquoise is the gemstone for 11th wedding anniversaries.

Shop Turquoise at SHJ here

Bronze Infused Turquoise and Diamond Bangle, £165
Turquoise Leaf Hoops, £59
Turquoise Teardrop Bracelet, £89

November Birthstones

November babies have the joy of having 2 gorgeous gemstones to brighten up their days!!

CITRINE

Citrine is a gorgeous sunshine yellow gemstone. It is a quartz crystal and can range from very pale yellow to deeper dark orange. It owes its colour to iron impurities within the quartz at the time of formation. Did you know can create a fake citrine by heating amethyst above 300-400C, in which it looses its violet hue and becomes a shade of orange or brown?! Real Citrine tends to be much lighter in colour.

Citrine is currently mined in Brazil and Uruguay. The name citrine comes from the Latin word ‘citrina’ meaning yellow, or the french ‘citron’ meaning lemon.

The largest Citrine in the world, the Malaga citrine, weighs 20200 carats.

Citrine was known as as the merchant’s stone or the money stone, throughout the Middle Ages as it was believed that the stone would bring prosperity and wealth to those who wore it.

In Ancient China Citrine was often worn by the Emporor as it was seen to be the ‘success stone’. It was thought to bring success to thre wearer. They also believed it to open the mind and broaden one’s perception. Citrine is also believed to be linked to ones intuition. Wearing citrine is said to revitalise the mind and sharpen focus, raise self esteem and self confidence, thus releasing negative traits and phobias.

Citrine was populised by Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s where actress Greta Garbo had a large collection of jewellery containing several citrines. After she was seen wearing the gemstone, the gemstone rocketed in popularity. It’s resurgence in the Art Deco era made it amongst the most sought after crystals at that time.

Shop SHJ Citrine here!

Sarah hickey jewellery, slender gemstone bangle, citrine slender bangle

TOPAZ

Topaz is believed to have been named after a small island in the Red Sea named ‘Topazos’ where golden stones were found. What’s interesting is that the stones found were actually peridot! Another theory is that Topaz is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘tapas’ which means fire.

Topaz is most commonly found in brown or blue, however they can come in a rainbow of colours!

The Imperial Topaz is one of the most valuable varieties of this gemstone. It was used in the jewels meant for the Russian Czar’s family in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was strictly restricted for use only by the Czar, his family and those who were gifted with it.

Ancient Greeks believed that wearing topaz could increase strength and prepare you for future hardships. They also thought this gem could grant the wearer the power of invisability. Other beliefs include this gem could treat low immunity, obesity, enxiety. This stone was said to not only heal all these issues but also prevent death?!

Topaz has a history of producing large crystals. Their sizes can reach up to 4 feats and can weigh hundreds of pounds. The Museum of Natural History in New York is home to the heaviest topaz weighing around 600 pounds.

Topaz represents love and fidelity and is the traditional gem for 4th and 9th wedding anniversaries.

Shop SHJ Topaz here!

Topaz ring, November birthstone, sarah hickey jewellery
Topaz bangle, sarah hickey jewellery, November birthstone

October Birthstones

October is lucky to have 2 beautiful gemstones as its birthstone, Opal and Tourmaline.

Opal

Opal solitaire ring, opal, sarah hickey jewellery

The name Opal is believed to originate in India, where in Sanskrit it was called unpalatable, “a precious stone” and then becoming opalus in Ancient Rome.  

Opals “play of colour” describes the enchanting shifting colours visible as you move the gemstone in the light.  This play of colour has led to opals having an interesting history.  Bedouins once thought opals held lightening and fell from the sky during thunder storms.  Ancient Greeks believed opals bestowed the gift of prophesy and protection from disease.  Europeans valued opals to be a symbol of purity, hope and truth.  Opals were once believed to embody the virtues of all coloured stones.

Owing to its signature play of colour, every opal is 100% unique and can be as diverse as a fingerprint or a snowflake. This is what makes opal jewelry a great present for someone you love (yes, that includes yourself).

It takes 5 million years to produce 1cm of it.  Opal is a type of quartz with tiny silicon spheres inside it.  These spheres contain a little water which help the spheres reflect light in different ways.  The high water content means that opals can crac or dry out.  

As light travels through the spheres, all colours on the visible spectrum may appear.  By moving the opal to different angles it will display brighter or darker colours, people compare the colours that opals make to fireworks or lightning.

As seen in Sarah’s own incredible Opal ring here!

Opals are found all over the world, however the fields of Australia are the most productive.  Lightening ridge, a small town in New South Wales is famed for producing prized black opal.  Where as white opals are found in the white cliffs area of New South Wales, as well as Mintabie, Andamooka and Coober Pedy in South Australia, and boulder opal only comes from one location in the world, in Queensland.  

Opals may be treated by impregnating with oil, wax or plastic.  Opal doublets or triplets are fine slices of opal glued to a base material and covered with a thin dome of clear quartz.  The safest way to clean opals is with warm soapy water.  Opals are fragile and can easily fracture. 

The opal is also the gemstone to celebrate 14th wedding anniversaries.

Shop SHJ Opal here!

Tourmaline

The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli which means “stone with mixed colours” as it often has multiple colours in one crystal.  

Ancient mystics believed that tourmaline could inspire artistic expression.  Among the most popular colours are the pink and red, the emerald green ‘chrome’ tourmalines and the neon green and blue to violet ‘paraiba’ tourmalines.  Ancient Egyptians believed that tourmaline had such an impressive variety of hues because it broke through a rainbow while pushing its way up to the Earth. During this journey, it gathered all the beautiful colours.  Because of the vast array of colours found, tourmaline was often mistaken for other gemstones.

The different colours are thought to have their own healing properties.  Black is believed to protect the wearer and give a sense of self confidence.  Pink embodies love and is associated with compassion and gentleness,.  Green promotes courage, strength and stamina.  

Pleochroism:  This is a unique characteristic that sets Tourmaline apart from other gemstones. When viewed from different angles, the colour in a single gemstone can appear to be completely different and may even showcase a separate set of hues.

Complex molecular structure:  This gemstone becomes electrically charged when rubbed or warmed by heat. When charged, it can attract dust and small paper scraps. When Dutch traders discovered this property, they used warmed Tourmaline to draw out ashes from their pipes and named the stone ‘Aschentrekker’, which meant ‘ash puller’.

There is a rare variety of tourmaline which exhibits a special reflection of light that resembles the eye of a cat. Due to this unique feature, this gemstone is known as ‘cat’s eye tourmaline’.

Tourmaline is most commonly found in Brazil, but is also found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique, California and Maine in the USA.

Gems with abundant liquid inclusions can’t withstand heat treatment. Color changes due to irradiation can fade with exposure to heat or bright light. Warm, soapy water is the best method for cleaning tourmaline. The use of ultrasonic and steam cleaners is not recommended.

Tourmalines are also given to celebrate the 8th wedding anniversary.

Shop SHJ Tourmaline here!

September Sapphires

September Sapphires, has traditionally symbolised sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility. Sapphires also celebrate the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.

The word ‘sapphire’ comes from the Latin ‘sapphirus’ which means blue. It has language roots in Ancient Greek and the Middle East as well. Although sapphires are famous for their beautiful blue hue, they actually come in almost any colour! Red sapphires have their own name though, ruby.

Sapphire close up, sarah hickey jewellery

Through out history sapphires have been the gemstone of choice nobility. The elite of ancient greece and rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy. In the middle ages clerks wore sapphires because they symbolised heaven. Ancient Persians believed the earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, and it was its reflection that made the blue sky!! Sapphires are regarded as one of the most valuable gemstones. As such, they are some of the most expensive, next to pearls, rubies, and diamonds. 

Sapphires were believed to have healing powers too. medieval Europeans believed that sapphires cured plagues boils and diseases of the eye, and it was also thought to be an antidote to poison. At this time it was also thought that blue sapphires could not be worn by adulterers, because the stone would change into another colour!

Where are sapphires found? Kashmir, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are three historically important sources. They are also found in Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar and the United States (Montana) among others in Asia and Africa.

Sapphires were discovered in Kashmir around 1881 when a landslide high in the Himalayas exposed a large pocket of velvety, ’cornflower’ blue crystals. The stones faceted from these crystals established Kashmir sapphire’s reputation as one of the worlds most coveted gems.

Some Sapphires exhibit a phenomenon known as the ’star effect’, caused when inclusions within the sapphire create a star pattern of light on top of the gemstone. A highly sought after and prised gemstone.

How to look after a Sapphire.

Sapphires are relatively hard, has excellent toughness and no cleavage (a tendency to break when struck.) Making it a perfect choice for rings, and other pieces of jewellery subject to everyday wear.

Warm soapy water is the best way to clean sapphires, although they are tough so can withstand ultrasonic cleaning.

Sapphires, sarah hickey jewellery

Famous sapphires include the Rockefeller Sapphire, a 62.02 ct rectangular step cut stone unearthed in Myanmar and acquired in 1934 by financier and philanthropist john D Rockefeller. There is a famous sapphire called ‘Star of India,’ which is the world’s biggest sapphire gemstone found to date. It resides in New York’s Natural History Museum. More recently the most famous sapphire is the 12 ct sapphire surrounded by diamonds in the sapphire engagement ring first worn by Princess Diana and then given to the now Duchess of Cambridge.

Here at SHJ, Sapphires are a firm favourite! Click here to visit our Sapphire collection.

The magic of Birthstones!

There’s a lot of magic in the world…

You know that feeling when you look at a gemstone and feel like it’s talking to you? Or when someone gives you a necklace with a certain stone in it and suddenly everything just feels right? It’s like they were able to see into your soul and pick out exactly what would make you happy.

Well, maybe they didn’t pick out the gemstone themselves—maybe they just picked up something they knew was already magical. We’re not saying we believe in magic… but maybe we do! And if we do: birthstones are probably the most powerful kind of magic there is.

People believe that gemstones can be traced back to the biblical times. In Exodus 28, Moses gives instructions to make special garments for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews. The breastplate was to contain 12 precious gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Later these stones were likely to be linked to the 12 signs of the zodiac, eventually being associated with the 12 months of the year.

Through out history there have been many myths and legends associated with birthstones. Many believing they had mystical powers or brought good luck. Not everyone agreed on which stones corresponded to which months so the list can vary through history but today there is agreement on a basic set or birthstones.

Ultimately, your birthstone’s qualities should be meaningful to you. Whether you choose a birthstone based on its qualities, or the month it is associated with it doesn’t really matter; the point is that your birthstone has value to you. People often buy birthstone jewellery as a meaningful birthday gift, or to acknowledge another meaningful date such as remembering a loved one. Enjoy wearing birthstone jewellery, here at SHJ we have quite the collection!! Click here to see our birthstone collection!

August brings Peridot and Spinel

August is lucky to have 2 beautiful birthstones, Peridot and Spinel, that we use here at SHJ.

Let’s dive in and learn some facts about these 2 underrated gemstones!

First of all Peridot, the word Peridot comes from the Arabic word ‘faridat’ meaning ‘gem’. It is the only gemstone that only comes in one colour, green, however the shade can vary from a pale yellow green to deep olive green, depending on how much iron is present. Peridot is formed in the earth’s mantle, rather than in the crust like most other gemstones and are therefore also found in lava deposits. It has also been found at meteorite crash sites, meaning it must exist in space! Peridot is mined in countries all around the world including the USA, South Africa, China, Norway, Myanmar, Tanzania, Australia, Kenya and Pakistan.

Peridot has a long history, often associated with the play of light in these gorgeous stones. There is historical evidence of peridot being mined as early as 1500BC. Egyptians used peridot in their jewellery referring to them as ‘gems of the sun’. Peridot was also named by the Ancient Romans rather beautifully as ‘evening emeralds’ due to the fact that peridot does not darken at night, but continue to glisten in candlelight. In Hawaiian folklore, peridot gemstones were believed to be the tears of Pele, the goddess of the volcano. Her temper was said to be as dangerous as lava, though her tears were thought to have powers to heal and bring wealth and growth

Some of the most famous Peridots are those that decorate the shrine of the three kings, in the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Cologne, Germany.

People believe that peridot can ward off evil sprits and aid in the success of marriages and relationships, encouraging positive energy and surpress jealousy.

New birthstone on the block, Spinel was officially added in 2016, when the American Gem Trade Association and Jewellers of America named it as a birthstone for August.

Spinel occurs in every colour of the spectrum, and has brilliant lustre! Lustre is the intensity and quality of light that is reflected from the surface of a gem. Spinel is one of the hardest and hard wearing gems, making it perfect for a lifetime of wear. Many are now choosing coloured stones for engagement rings, spinel would be an ideal choice!

One way to distinguish raw spinel from ruby is its cubic structure (similar to that of garnet and diamond) which commonly displays twinning crystals. Spinel, which individually can be found in a range of colours, tends to be one colour all the way through. Rubies are always a shade of red, but are dichromatic meaning you can usually see a separate hue when viewed from another angle.

Spinel is sometimes called ’the great imposter’ as it has been confused with rubies and many other gemstones throughout history. The large red centrepiece of the British state crown, The Black Prince’s Ruby, has been discovered to be a spinel and not a ruby as previously thought.

Spinel is said to have refreshing properties and can renew ones energy to continue further attempts after failing at difficult tasks.

Both are beautiful gemstones that we enjoy working with here at Sarah Hickey Jewellery. If you were to choose, which one do you prefer?

The History of Wire Wrapping

Wire jewellery has been around for millennia. Historians agree that it’s been a feature of human civilisation since the Mesopotamian Ur Dynasty around 4,300 years ago and certainly since the Ancient Egyptian times, where there was evidence of wire wrapped pieces found in tombs of the Ancient Pharaohs.

Gold, silver and copper were the most common used metals to make wire jewellery due to them being easy to hammer into thin sheets, then cut into strips and roll into tubes to form the wire. This was achievable even without electricity and modern technology, meaning ancient civilisations were able to create beautiful work entirely by hand, to be excavated by archaeologists centuries later.

Wire wrapped jewellery is an intricate art, one of the most historic methods of jewellery making, however this doesn’t mean it is stuck in the past!!

The wire, pliers and hands do all the work, following a instinctively fluid movement to skilfully wrap the chosen gemstone. It may look simple however this art takes both practice and precision, a skill that takes time to master.

Intuitive, meditative, creative, versatile and low-tech, we celebrate this ancient skill with our colourful gemstone quartz collection, wrapped by hand, by our skilled makers in our workshop here in Hexham. Wire wrapping is one of the oldest techniques for making handmade jewellery,and we think every jewellery box needs a piece!

Ruby Ruby Ruby!!

July’s birthstone is the passionate Ruby!

Ruby is also traditionally a gift given for those celebrating 15th or 40th anniversaries. The name ruby comes from the Latin word for red, rubeus. The rich red colour of the ruby is caused by the element chromium, which also makes the gem glow from within when exposed to sunlight due to UV rays interacting with this element. However Chromium also causes cracks and fissures which is why it is very rare to find large rubies. The tone of red found can vary from dark rich red to a more pink red and the most desirable shade is rather creatively called ‘pigeons blood’. Rubies are part of the corundum family. Corundum gemstones are only classified as rubies if they are red, if they are any other colour they are categorised as sapphires.

One of our favourite rubies here at SHJ, is a Thai ruby. They are a beautiful pink shade of red and is really highlighted by sparkling white diamonds in the band of this ring.

Rubies were regarded by ancient Hindus as the “king of gems.” It was believed to protect its wearer from evil. Today, the ruby’s deep-red colour is a symbol of passion, protection and prosperity. The gem is believed to amplify energy, heighten awareness, promote courage and bring success in wealth, love and battle. In ancient times, a ruby was worn as an amulet to ward off the plague and diseases.

Click here to explore Sarah Hickey Jewellery’s collection of ruby jewellery!

June – Moonstones And Pearls

June is very lucky with possibly two of the most magical gemstones as its birthstones.

Moonstones are an incredibly unique gemstone. The Roman historian Pliny named moonstones and poetically wrote that the gem’s shimmery appearance shifted with the phases of the moon.

They can be found in a variety of colours, from white to blue-grey to yellow and orange. Each colour is caused by different amounts of iron or titanium in the stone, which also causes their appearance to vary depending on how they’re cut. Composed of microscopic layers of feldspar that scatter light, thin layers of Moonstone produce a bluish sheen, while the thick layers look white.

They are found all over the world, but they’re especially popular in India. They have been discovered in every major era of human history: from prehistoric times to modern day times.

Moonstones are known as a “lunar gem” because of their ability to capture light and reflect it back at you. It is a member of the feldspar family, and is named after the moon because its colour changes depending on the light. The way they do this is similar to how moonlight reflects off the surface of water, making them a beautiful addition to any jewellery collection.

As its name implies, moonstone is closely associated with lunar mystery and magic. Its balancing energies can supposedly sync with the rhythms of nature, igniting passion between lovers.

Moonstone’s are known as the Traveler’s Stone, because it’s believed to provide protection at night for people on a trip. Some credit the stone with helping to provide a good night’s sleep and beautiful dreams as well as treating insomnia and sleepwalking.

The ancient Romans and the Greeks treasured the moonstone for it’s connection to their lunar gods. They believed the stone was formed from moonbeams.

Pearls are the only gem that is created by an animal. They are produced by oysters and mussels, who coat a grain of sand with layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl. These layers form a protective barrier around the grain and make it smooth and round. The name pearl originates from the Latin word for leg, perna. It rather imaginatively is a reference to the leg-of-mutton shape of an open mollusk shell.

Pearls can be found in many colors, including white and black. The most common color for pearls is pink, but other shades include cream, yellow, green and blue. The rarest pearls are black pearls, which are found in Tahitian black-lipped oysters.

Pearls are believed to create a sense of balance and provide emotional healing. The gem is also associated with faithfulness, loyalty, modesty and purity. They have been used throughout history to help treat the digestive tract, maintain strong bones and brighten skin in the form of pearl powder.

Pearls have been used as jewellery for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks believed pearls were tears of the gods. Hindus thought pearls were tears of the moon. Tudor England became known as the Pearl Age, because the gem was so popular with nobility. In Ancient China, people believed that pearls had magical powers that could bring them wealth and good luck if they wore them just before going to bed at night or when they woke up in the morning. In fact, there’s an old Chinese saying that goes “A pearl at night ensures a dreamless sleep.”

At SHJ we love the magical world of moonstones and pearls click through to explore this world with us!!