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Gemstone for a 5th anniversary: sapphire

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Congratulations to all of you celebrating a 5th anniversary, the anniversary of sapphire!  Symbolising love and fidelity, sapphire is a beautiful gemstone that’s tough enough to withstand a few knocks – just like a good marriage.

5th anniversary gemstone | www.gemstonedetective.com

Though blue is the most popular and well-known colour, sapphires occur in a wide range of pretty hues: blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, black and even colourless.  There’s no such thing as a red sapphire though.  Know why?  It’s because a red sapphire is known as a ruby.  Sapphire and ruby are both varieties of the mineral corundum, and the variation in colour is caused by different chemical elements within the gemstones’ structure. 

I’ve come across some phenomenal sapphires on my travels, and I don’t just mean that they made my jaw drop!  The term ‘phenomenal’ in gemmology refers to gemstones that have fascinating optical properties. 

The most well-known type of phenomenal sapphire is probably the star sapphire.  Star sapphires exhibit a property called ‘astersim’, which means that they seem to have a star shape floating across their surface.  Asterism happens when light bounces off dense, linear inclusions of titanium dioxide (also known as ‘rutile’ or ‘silk’) in the gemstone’s body.   In black star sapphires, the rutile is hematite and some Thai sapphires contain both titanium dioxide and hematite.  As well as causing the floating star effect, the rutile gives the star sapphire its milky, opaque appearance.  Depending on the nature of the rutile, a sapphire may exhibit a four, six or twelve-rayed star.

You probably know that alexandrite is a colour change gemstone, but did you know that it’s possible to buy a colour change sapphire?  Colour change gemstones appear to be different colours in natural and artificial light because the gemstone’s chemical makeup means that particular ranges of wavelength (i.e. colours) in the light spectrum are absorbed more intensely under one light source than another.  The colour change in sapphires is most commonly a subtle but pretty change from blue to violet. 

Bi-coloured or ‘parti’ sapphire displays two different colours (usually blue and greenish yellow) within the gemstone no matter what the light source.  Though found in Tanzania, Madagascar and Nigeria, the world’s main source of parti sapphire is Australia.  I was lucky enough to find a few myself, when fossicking in the outback on my travels down under.  These intriguing and unusual sapphires certainly make for a striking piece of jewellery!

Happy 5th anniversary! Let’s not forget that sapphire is also September’s birthstone!

Kim Rix GG, GIA

Gemstone Detective

Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence

September’s birthstone: Sapphire

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September’s birthstone is sapphire.  If you’re a September baby, then lucky you – regal and stylish, there’s a variety of this gorgeous gemstone to suit everyone.

September's birthstone sapphire | www.gemstonedetective.com

The word sapphire comes from the ancient Greek sappheiros meaning ‘blue’, which itself comes from a Hebrew word meaning ‘precious gem’ and possibly from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘dark coloured’. 

It’s probably the case that when someone says ‘sapphire’, you think of a deep blue gemstone, but did you know that sapphires occur in many different colours?   With blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, purple, black and even colourless to choose from, you won’t be stuck for a sapphire to match your favourite outfit.

September’s birthstone doesn’t come in red, though, and that’s because red sapphires are actually…rubies!  Both sapphire and ruby are varieties of the mineral corundum and all corundum’s various colours are caused by different chemical elements within it.  For example, titanium and iron in the corundum give rise to an intense blue sapphire, and trace amounts of vanadium produce sapphires of a purple hue.

September's birthstone sapphire | www.gemstonedetective.com

After blue sapphires, the padparadscha is the most prized ‘fancy’ sapphire.  Padparadscha means ‘lotus flower’ in Sinhalese, one of the native languages of Sri Lanka and was named because the gem has the same gorgeous salmon-pink colour of the blossom. 

Corundum is the second hardest mineral after diamond—9 on the Mohs scale of hardness—which makes it a great choice of gemstone to wear in rings that are prone to knocks and scratches

If you’ve chosen sapphire for an engagement ring, you’re in famous company.  The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, wears the engagement ring that famously once belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales—a 12-carat, cornflower-blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. Princess Eugenie’s engagement ring too, is a sapphire – a stunning, peach-coloured padparadscha.

Another reason to slip a sapphire on your beloved’s finger is that sapphire symbolises fidelity and sincerity when used in an engagement ring!

Star sapphire | www.gemstonedetective.com

Sapphire can occur as a phenomenal gemstone—a gemstone that displays certain optical effects. A sapphire with asterism (a so-called ‘star sapphire’) will seem to have a six-rayed star floating across the surface of the stone; a colour-change sapphire will appear to turn another colour in different lighting conditions and a bi-coloured or ‘parti’ sapphire (typically found in Australia) displays two colours within the stone regardless of the light source.   

September's birthstone | www.gemstonedetective.com

Not only September’s birthstone, sapphire is also the traditional gift for a 45th wedding anniversary and a 65th jubilee. 

Some practitioners of alternative therapies use sapphire to promote the immune system and impart clarity and wisdom to their patients.  Whether or not you believe in the healing properties of gemstones, September’s birthstone certainly makes it a wise choice!

Kim Rix, GG (GIA)

Gemstone Detective

Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence

Who is author Kim Rix – Part 3

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I hope you were able to find a few minutes to read Who is the Author – Parts 1 & 2. This is the final Who is the Author Q&A blog post.

What is the biggest mistake people make when buying a gemstone that you tackle in the books?

The biggest mistake I think people make is being too trusting.  One thing that I have learned through my travels is that not many people working in the gem trade have real knowledge about what they’re selling.  They might talk the talk – but how much do they really know about gemstones?  You have to be so careful about who you buy from!

Unfortunately, it often comes down to survival.  Competition is cut throat, there are bills to pay and families to feed.  It’s a dog eat dog world out there and many people are willing to be dishonest to make money.

But that’s why it’s so important to take care and buy from people who can advise you properly – people with real knowledge and if you’re buying a precious gemstone, can give you a certificate from a reputable laboratory.

Who is the Author, Kim Rix | Gemstone Detective | Buying Gemstones in...

Who is the Author – Part 3

The Worldwide book offers the widest, most general appeal, to anyone interested in buying a real gemstone – it looks set to be very popular.  What led to the creation of this book, what sort of topics does it cover and who do you hope will read it?

After I had written the first few books, it became apparent that there was a market for a more general book on buying and caring for gemstones.  It’s great for people who want to know more, but haven’t booked a holiday yet, or who want to buy a gemstone in their home country.  I’ve taken out the country-specific detail, which has enabled me to add a few new topics.

I think the most helpful knowledge I share will be about choosing a diamond engagement ring.  It was my husband’s idea to include an easy-to-follow guide to buying a diamond after confessing that he wished he’d known more about it when he chose our engagement ring 12 years ago.  It’s written to help those who find themselves in a similar position – not knowing anything about diamonds but wanting to put a carat or two on their loved one’s finger.  I talk about the 4Cs in relation to diamonds, the different ring styles and gemstone cuts, and I share some tips on making your holiday proposal one to remember!

There’s a handful of other new topics in the book, but I don’t want to spoil all the surprises!

Who is the Author | gemstonedetective.com

Who is the Author – Part 3

What are your top tips for anyone who wants to buy a real gemstone, such as a diamond, in the UK?

It doesn’t matter where in the world you are buying a diamond from, the exact same rules apply – make sure you buy from a reputable jeweller, and make sure it comes with a certificate – preferably a GIA lab report.

My other suggestion is to buy only what you can afford.  Don’t listen to all the hype about how many months salary you should spend on a diamond – that was a line made up by a well-known diamond company to boost sales in the 1930s!  Buy something that your loved one will enjoy wearing and that will suit the lifestyle you live.

Kim Rix GG GIA

Gemstone Detective

Be sure | Be smart | Buy with confidence

Who is author Kim Rix – part 2

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I hope you enjoyed reading Who is the Author – Part 1. In this post, you will discover more about the book series.

How would you describe the Gemstone Detective series to anyone who has never heard of it before?

It’s a simple travel guide to buying gemstones abroad.  It’s a bit like a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide – but it’s just about holiday experiences with gemstones & jewellery.

Most of the books are country specific. The books are for tourists and travellers, whether they are gem collectors, jewellery lovers, jewellery designers, hobbyists, or just holiday makers who want to take home a special souvenir.

Because I’ve been out there to research the gem trade in each of the countries featured, the information is real, up to date and you can trust it.

Who is the Author – Part 2

Your first book, Buying Gemstones and Jewellery in Sri Lanka, first launched in October. Tell us about how that went and what sort of feedback you’ve had on the first book?

The launch was very successful and those who were there have told me they had a great time.  I certainly did – the food was great, and both conversation and bubbly were flowing!

We’ve had some excellent feedback from readers of the book.  We’re racking up more 4 and 5 star reviews from readers on Netgalley, and there is a growing number of equally glowing 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon – 15 and counting…

It’s been great to see that several people have read the first book and then pre-ordered the rest of the series.  It never even crossed my mind when I began this project that people would want to collect every book!

You’re launching three books in one night tonight – quite an impressive feat!  Why is it important for you to offer such a wide range of books within the series?

Well, when someone refers to a ‘series’ I think there’s an expectation that it’s going to be more than a few books… Of course, I want my books to help as many people as possible.  Offering such a wide range reflects how many options we now have as tourists to travel and explore.  

How long does it take you to write each book? What is the process in terms of choosing a destination?

Each book is a combination of 2-3 research trips, which adds up to about 4-6 weeks research in that country.  I’ve often been to a country a couple of times even before I go back for these research trips. My most recent trip was to India, and that book is now with the printers, ready to hit the shelves in May.

It’s easy to choose countries for the series because I know exactly which tourist destinations have a well-established gem trade.  Not all gemstone-producing countries are suitable, so I won’t be writing a book for Cambodia, Afghanistan or Madagascar just yet – the gem trade is too young and underdeveloped.

Who is the Author – Part 2

Where are you travelling to this year?

I’m heading off to USA next week for a 6-week trip, and I’ll be returning to the USA in May for a further two weeks.

I’m not quite sure how the rest of the year looks yet because I want to fit in a trip to Mogok to finish researching the Myanmar book, and then there’s the possibility of combining a trip to several countries in Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zanzibar.

When will the next books be released?

India will be published on 14 May 2019, and USA will be published in September 2019. I’m not yet sure about Myanmar but hopefully it will be sometime this year – if I can squeeze in that second trip to Mogok.  It’s going to be a very busy year!

I hope you will join me again for Who is the Author – Part 3

Kim Rix GG GIA

Gemstone Detective

Be sure | Be smart | Buy with confidence

Who is author Kim Rix – part 1

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Who is the Author? Over the next few weeks I will tell you a bit about myself and why I am writing the Gemstone Detective series.

Who is Kim Rix?  Why are you the right person to write this book?

I’m a wife, daughter, aunty, cat-lover, gin-drinking, sun-worshipping, 4 ft 11 Ninja!  I’m also a professional photographer, a gemmologist and I love to travel.

Who is the Author, Kim Rix | Gemstone Detective | Buying Gemstones in...

I have a very well-travelled family, who now live all over the world.  Over the years I have listened to their stories, admired their photos and wished my lottery numbers would come up so that I too could pack my suitcase.  As time went on, I found it harder and harder to ignore my wanderlust and realised that I couldn’t just wait for that lucky ticket – I had to get out there and do it for myself.

Something else that had been brewing up inside me for a while was the urge to learn everything I could about gemstones. I had fallen in love with gemstones as a young girl.  At that tender age, all I knew was that my birthstone was amethyst, and that diamonds were a girl’s best friend.  From then on, I grabbed every available opportunity to look at gemstones.  It became a bit of an expensive hobby and maybe even a bit of an addiction!  One day, I decided that I should turn my hobby into something more serious – so I signed up for a course at the GIA.

Then there’s my photography. I’ve had a passion for photography since my twenties. I love capturing the beauty of life in all its guises.  On holiday that usually means wildlife, people, street photography and occasionally landscape photography.  Something that not everyone knows is that 99% of the photography in each book was taken by me on my research trips.

When I had the idea to write this series, it just felt perfect.  I knew the books could help people like the young me – people who loved gemstones but didn’t know much about them. It’s not just my expertise in gemmology that makes me the right person to write these books – I’ve had the bad experiences, myself.  Several years ago, I got caught out in Egypt.  I thought I was buying a real ruby at a bargain price, when in fact it was just a cheap synthetic, made in a lab. If I knew back then what I know now, that wouldn’t have happened!  I don’t want other people to make that same mistake…

You’ve combined three passions into a career – that’s really inspirational!  How did you do it?

It’s easy. Once I came up with the idea, I made a commitment to myself to do it.  About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with heart disease.  I made a few lifestyle adjustments and I’m fine now, but it was a pretty scary realisation. It really brought home to me how precious life is.  I was determined to get this series underway quickly, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. I believe you have to grab life with both hands and make the most of it while you can.  I’m cramming each day with the things I love!  I’m a self-taught photographer, I’ve always loved things that are shiny and sparkly, and I love travelling and exploring the world.   Writing books which help people avoid buying a fake gemstone lets me do all these things.  Now I life my life with passion, purpose and I’m getting an enormous amount of pleasure doing it!

What do you love most about photography, gemstones/jewellery and travelling?

What do I love most about it all? It’s hard to put in to words – I just love the freedom. I meet so many interesting people. I get to look at lots of lovely shiny things. And I’m seeing the world.

Who is the Author – part 2, will follow in a few days.

Kim Rix

Gemstone Detective

Be sure | Be smart | Buy with confidence

Reader review Sri Lanka

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I am delighted to have received yet another Netgalley reader review for Buying Gemstones & Jewellery in Sri Lanka. Thank you to the reviewer for your kind support! It is appreciated.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Full Text:
The Gemstone Detective is the nom de plume of Kim Rix, and this instalment of Buying Gemstones and Jewellery is aimed at tourists who are travelling to Sri Lanka. This colourful and informative 100 page book was released 4th October 2018 by Filament publishing and is available in paperback and ebook formats.

For a relatively short book, it covers the basics of sourcing and buying gemstones and jewellery in Sri Lanka. The author describes the methods and basic etiquette involved to hopefully help the tourist buyer avoid the worst and most costly pitfalls.

The layout follows a logical progression. It begins with background and definitions. It covers what corundum (ruby/sapphire) is, a very little bit about Mohs hardness scale, along with some mineral terms like asterism and chatoyancy. Defined terms are in bold typeface and are written for the layman. There’s a fair bit of fun factoid information included like famous sapphires in history and crystal ‘meanings’. There’s not too much non-scientific crystal trivia included. I would estimate the filler info (crystal ‘meanings’ and supposed properties) takes up less than 5% of the total content.

The next chapters include a very rough description of valuation and the attributes which make a stone more (or less) valuable. The options for sourcing and buying gemstones, both rough and cut stones as well as finished jewellery are written clearly and in terms that the average layman can understand. This book is aimed firmly at the layperson. This is not an instruction manual for buying professionally or breaking into the gem trade on a wholesale level.

The discussion on treatments and enhancements for stones is worth the price of the book, honestly. (And not just for tourists to Sri Lanka! This info is good for -anyone- considering a stone purchase).

Reader review | gemstonedetective.com

Although the guide is slanted mostly toward the sapphire buyer, many of the Sri Lankan gemstones are included in shorter descriptions (moonstone, beryl, chrysoberyl including Alexandrite, some quartz (amethyst), and a few others). I liked it very much that the author mentions in several different places that it’s easy for the unwary to get carried away and be sold iolite as sapphire (it’s emphatically not the same thing).

There is a fair bit of repetition in the chapters, but that could be intentional; to help the tourist who intends to read the salient bits which apply to their situation instead of reading it from cover to cover like a novel (or like an average reviewer 😉 ).

I worked as a metal artist, goldsmith, and certified gemologist for over 16 years and I actually did learn some things from this book. The text is also peppered with a large number of internet links which provide a good reference for the buyer.

Four stars. If it saves just one person from the heartache of being cheated it’s well worth it.

Thank you once again for this reader review from Netgalley. To get your copy of the Sri Lanka book, visit the Gemstone Detective web site at www.gemstonedetective.com. Just ask if you would like it signed!

Kim Rix

Gemstone Detective

Be smart | Be sure | Buy with confidence