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Faberge, one of the world’s most recognized fine artist jewelers, have unveiled a new creation of their iconic Imperial Eggs. The lucky attendees of last week’s Doha Watch and Jewellery Exhibition in Qatar witnessed the first debut of the extraordinary masterpiece: the $2 million Pearl Egg.

Using a combination of white and yellow gold, the meticulously crafted egg features a total of 139 natural white pearls, gleams with a mother-of-pearl finish and adorned with over 3,300 diamonds and hand-carved rock quartz. The centerpiece is an incredibly rare, unique 12.17-carat natural grey pearl sourced from the Arabian Gulf. To reveal it, the outer egg shell is rotated on the base which allows the six sides to flower open simultaneously to reveal the treasure; reminiscent of how an oyster opens to reveal its’ cultured pearl.

The House of Faberge collaborated with the Al-Fardan family to create this egg in honor of the upcoming centenary marking the last Imperial Egg ever made. A renowned pearl collector and connouisseur, Hussain Ibrahim Al-Fardan personally hand-selected each pearl from his family’s collection to be used in making the Pearl Egg.

The Pearl Egg is the first imperial class egg made in almost a century – the last imperial class egg was created in 1917, under the supervision of Peter Carl Faberge himself. The Karelian Birch, also referred to as the “Birch Egg”, was commissioned by the last Tsar of Russia Nicholas II, intended as an Easter gift to his mother, the Empress Maria Feodorovna. The February Revolution began before the egg could be delivered, signalling the end of the imperial era of Russia and subsequently, Faberge’s eggs.


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CitrineWith its range in color from sunny yellow to bronze deep orange hues, what better stone to represent the falling leaves of autumn than citrine? One of the official birthstones of November, citrine is a member of the mineral family quartz.

Currently the world’s largest faceted citrine resides in the “Special Exhibit Gems” of the Art Natura museum in Spain, a natural science museum that is home to an extensive collection of colored gemstones. Known as “The Malaga” in tribute of its host city, this oval shaped gem is an enormous 20,200 carats – equivalent to 4 kilos! It neighbors another gemstone of gigantic proportions: the “Eldorado”, a 31,000 carat imperial topaz which also happens to be the other birthstone of November.

Despite its size, “Malaga” has very minor imperfections and is considered nearly flawless. Along with its exceptional color, even distribution, transparency and purity, “Malaga” is truly a world-class gem. Citrine crystals that are found usually measure only a few cm across, and the ones that are larger in size generally lack in quality and are used for decorative purposes rather than jewelry.

The rough that formed “Malaga” was originally discovered in 1990 in Brazil. Due to the complications of the process of cutting and polishing a stone this large, the rough was left untouched for nearly two decades until 2009 when a team of gem cutters took on the challenge. With all of the special considerations needed for a stone of this size, it took over a year to bring to its polished form.

Brazil is the largest producer of the world’s supply of citrines; other important sources include Bolivia, United States, and Madagascar.

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GemsParaiba tourmalines are only mined in one region in the whole world: the state of Paraiba, Brazil that is its namesake. These beautiful stones come with an unusual history, and might not have been discovered at all if it were not for one man. Heitor Dimas Barbosa was a man with a sixth sense – he knew that there was “completely different” below the Paraiba hills (home of the famous mining site today) without having proof anything even existed under them.

Barbosa started the first excavation preparations in 1981, and eight years later his hunch had paid off. The fall of 1989 was when the first handful of the finest tourmaline crystals were brought up from one of the many galleries in the mine. They were unlike any gemstones the world had ever seen; they possessed a green to turquoise color with astonishing vividness and brightness that remains almost unduplicated. Coupled with the scarcity of supply in the small Paraiba region (which is now almost entirely depleted) these gemstones are among the rarest and most expensive in the world.

How is it that while tourmalines come in all colors of the rainbow, none come close to having the same look as Paraibas? The secret is small amounts of copper in the crystal composition, which lends the stones their characteristic neon glow. Tourmalines of this type are denoted as “cuprian” tourmalines.

In the early 2000’s, tourmalines of a similar vivid turquoise blue hue started showing up in copper-rich regions in Nigeria and Mozambique. While some of the best quality ones can look similar to the original stones from Brazil, they generally possess a slightly lighter hue and saturation – many lack that “neon glow”. The African stones also are available in much larger sizes than the Brazilian ones. There is an existing debate about whether these African tourmalines can ethically be marketed as Paraibas; there is a significant price difference between them as supply for true Paraibas are very scarce. For those seeking the lovely color, African tourmalines can be a nice compromise between value and beauty.

Paraibas continue to be well-sought after for collectors and dealers, and prices have risen continuously over the last decade with no indication of slowing down.

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Ever since Mr. Big gave Carrie a stunning black diamond engagement ring in the iconic television series Sex and the City, black diamonds have gained much more interest in brides-to-be and fashionable women alike. These dark, opaque stones have a mysterious and provocative quality about them. Why black? As Big explained to Carrie, “Because you are not like anyone else”.

Colored stone jewelry can create a more personalized and unique look than the traditional diamonds. They can complement an outfit subtly, or pull together a look with a statement. With black stones, there are three main types that are made into jewelry: black diamonds, onyx, and spinel. Some very, very dark sapphires can also pass, but they will generally be off-black with hints of their base color. For truly black stones, opt for one of the three above.

Black StonesThe most common no doubt is onyx. Onyx is actually a type of quartz that is black in color and extremely opaque. Quartz is relatively inexpensive, which makes onyx the black stone commonly used in beading and costume jewelry – however, if made well it can also be incorporated into fine or fashion jewelry. Out of the three, onyx is the softest (least durable) rating a 7 out of 10 on the Moh’s hardness scale. That is not to say it is fragile, however, it would be best suited to a necklace or earrings instead of a ring or bracelet, which is exposed to more wear and tear.

Black spinel is not widely known, which makes it all the more unique. It also possesses qualities that make it great for use in jewelry – it has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale, uniform in appearance, high reflectance and lack of cleavage (mineral lines in the stone that makes it prone to chipping). Unlike onyx, sapphire, and black diamond, black spinel is rarely heat-treated for its color. Price-wise, it would be somewhere between onyx and our next option, sapphire.

As sapphires are prized for their vivid colors, very dark almost black sapphires are priced more favorably than their lighter counterparts. Dark sapphires and black diamonds will tend to be more included than not, so be sure to buy from a reputable, experienced jeweler who knows and can tell you the difference between stones. Some inclusions could have a negative effect on the stone’s durability – making sapphire’s 9 on the Mohs scale less important in regards to that stone.

Good quality, natural colored black diamonds are hard to find. Most black diamonds in the commercial market have undergone irradiation or heat treatment to get to that color. This treatment is permanent, and is done usually on “white” diamonds that are heavily included – which as stated previously may or may not affect durability, depending on the inclusion type and location. Diamond is the hardest material on Earth at 10 on the Mohs scale.

The appearance varies only slightly between these types of stones, but keep in mind 1) type of jewelry – a necklace, ring, earrings? 2) type of setting – does the stone stick out or is it protected by metal/other stones? And 3) budget. The general rule of thumb for engagement rings would be either diamond or sapphire, for fancier fashion or fine jewelry black spinel, and for costume jewelry opt for onyx.

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