GemSelect Newsletter - The Matrix and Gems
Before we all succumb to daydreams of Keanu Reeves kicking butt in black and bullet time, let’s rein our minds back to gemstones here. The matrix, in geological terms is the finer-grained, solid matter, or "host rock", on or in which a gemstone is formed or embedded. Some gemstones are finished along with matrix, which can make them interesting and unique. You may have noticed some turquoise gemstones have brown, gray or black, veiny inclusions on them. These inclusions are matrix and can detract from the value of turquoise, which is most prized when a uniform robin’s egg blue. However, some matrix is admired in turquoise, such as "spider web turquoise", which has beautiful veined patterns of matrix that look like cobwebs. A little matrix in turquoise also enhances the natural, tribal look of turquoise jewelry. A gem that has a similar appearance is howlite, which is white with dark veins of matrix running through it. Howlite can be easily dyed to look like turquoise, but in its natural form, howlite looks a lot like marble and is sometimes misleadingly sold as "white turquoise".
Boulder opal is another valuable gemstone that contains matrix, in this case, ironstone. Since the precious opal tends to form in thin veins, it is difficult to yield pure opal gemstones from the material, so gems are cut along with the ironstone and sold as boulder opal. Since boulder opal is cut with ironstone, boulder opal gems are more durable than pure opal. Also, brightly-colored precious opal against the dark body color of ironstone makes for an attractive contrast. Boulder opal is unique to Australia and can be described as "opal in matrix", but there is another opal that shares this name. Opal in matrix, or "Honduran black opal", as the name suggests, comes from Honduras and is a black stone with beautiful, multicolored spots of opal dispersed throughout. Unlike boulder opal, which forms with veins of precious opal, Honduran matrix opal forms with tiny fissures of opal in the host rock, giving the finished gemstones an attractive random scattering of opal spots.
Tiger's eye is another gem that is often finished with matrix. Tiger’s eye matrix also contains ironstone, and when tiger's eye, red jasper and black hematite are all finished together, it is also called "tiger’s iron". In tiger's eye matrix, the tiger’s eye and iron oxide form in alternating layers, giving us cabochons that are a lot more colorful than golden tiger’s eye, with yellow, red and black swirls, stripes or spots, making them ideal for bold jewelry designs.
The matrix is clearly featured in gems such as geodes and druzies, where crystals form on the surface or with the cavity of the host rock. In this case, the matrix is the glue which holds the gemstone together and without it, the crystals would be loose. Such gemstones can be displayed as ornaments or used in jewelry and are admired for their raw, natural look.
It is not only in the collector’s world of mineral specimens where the matrix can be seen, but also some finished gemstones; the matrix is "out there… and it will find you if you want it to". If you are interested in gemstones that may not be conventionally attractive, but have their own unusual beauty, then gemstones with matrix could be perfect for you. After all, variety is the spice of life and if everybody expressed themselves in the same way with the same jewelry, the world would be a dull place.
The August birthstones are peridot and spinel. The traditional August birthstone is peridot and spinel was added to the birthstone list later. Peridot is always green, but spinel has many color choices, including purple, pink, blue, red and black spinel. Fine spinel gems have been mistaken for rubies and sapphires in the past. These stunning gems are unheated, durable and brilliant. No wonder they were added to the official birthstone list.
Our recent acquisitions include round blue sapphires. These rich blue sapphires from Madagascar are available in eye-clean single stones that weigh 0.5 to 1 carat. Round sapphires of such sizes can be difficult to find, since many sapphires are given oval cuts to maximize carat weight. Measuring 5-6 mm, these classic, diamond-cut blue sapphires are perfect for rings or earrings that will stand the test of time and be admired by all.
The most popular zircon color is blue, though zircon gems are available in several colors, including golden, white, red and pink zircon stones. Some of our favorite zircon colors are peach-pink, orange and rose-pink hues, which can be hard to find in the gemstone world. We have recently been lucky enough to obtain some beautiful peachy zircon gemstones that would look great in rose gold settings.
A lady in Yunnan Province of China accidentally broke a $44,000 jade bangle after trying it on in a Ruili shop. When she tried to remove the bangle, it fell to the floor and broke into two pieces. Upon being told the price of the bangle, the lady began to panic and then fainted in shock. A third party appraisal set the value of the bangle at $26,000.
Actress, Emma Watson appealed to Facebook friends and fans to help find her silver gemstone rings that she removed before a spa treatment. A reward is offered for anyone with information leading to the return of the rings, one of which holds great sentimental value to the Harry Potter star.
In order to warn white diamond buyers of other gemstones being sold as diamonds, HRD, an Antwerp gemology lab has reported that two gemstones believed to be diamonds were actually identified as topaz. The large rough gemstones showed topaz growth lines, revealing their true identity.
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Happy Gem Hunting!
Your friends at GemSelect
- First Published: July-25-2017
- Last Updated: July-05-2018
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