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AGTA 2007 Spectrum Awards

Posted February 20, 2007 By AussieSapphire

Every year, the Amercan Gem Trade Association (AGTA) runs the Spectrum Awards which honours excellence and creativity in the lapidary arts.  Traditionally, entries have consisted of natural coloured gemstones and cultured pearls, carvings, other gem materials and objects of art.  This year, the awards have introduced categories for finished pieces of jewellery.

Entries in the AGTA Spectrum Awards are evaluated on the basis of overall beauty and wearability, innovative design, effective use of materials, quality of gemstones, quality of workmanship, broad-base consumer appeal and potential to generate positive publicity for natural colored gemstones.  Each year, the entries are spectacular and so we invite you to take a look at the winners:

2007 Spectrum Award Winners

The classic category contains entries for sapphire, ruby or emerald cut with traditional techniques and the winners are definitely excellent examples of this genre:

However, where this competition gets really interesting is the carvings and works of art categories.  These are really amazing creations that are a tribute to craftsmanship and creativity.

This one on the left came in second but I really like it – a 43 carat amethyst carving of a ladies face by Chu Alice Chan.  The photo on the right is from the Combination category – a 57 carat hand-carved free-form Aquamarine – 2nd place in this category by Michael Dyber.

Enjoy browsing these beautiful images. 

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

“Blood Diamond”

Posted February 19, 2007 By AussieSapphire

bdposter.jpgOk – this film came out last December so we are a little late but it takes a while for new release movies to reach us out here in the bush.  Anyway, we managed to catch “Blood Diamond” at the cinema last weekend.  I’m not sure that you can ever really say that you “enjoy” a movie like this one but it certainly was one to make you think about some important issues.   

Image at left is promotional poster for the movie available at the official movie site here.

Consensus of film critics listed on Rotten Tomatoes give “Blood Diamond” a rating of 6.3 out of 10 and comments that the movie “overcomes its flaws with biting commentary and fine performances” - probably a good way to sum up this film.  Plot summaries and other information for “Blood Diamond” are also available at Wikipedia.

I felt all of the main cast gave excellent performances and Leonardo DiCaprio did a good job with a somewhat unsympathetic character.  Although the film moved along at a rapid pace, the plot was clear with exciting (albeit violent) action scenes.  Perhaps the happy ending involving the Vendy family reunion was a little unrealistic given the grim tone of most of the film.

Of course, “Blood Diamond” is a film with a message and one that those of us in the gemstone industry must take very seriously.  It seems that the diamond industry are concerned at the possible negative effect on demand when consumers see some of the less pleasant aspects of the gemstone industry.  There is no doubt that some types of gemstone mining exploit local people and damage the local environment – informed consumers may wish to buy gems that are more ethically sourced but without a system in place that documents gem source, this is impossible for most buyers.  While the Kimberley Process has gone a long way to reduce the flow of diamonds from conflict areas, there is more to be done and consumer demand is the key to success.

Some further reading on the issue:

Remember, the issue is far more complex than either the movie implies or the diamond industry would have you believe.  Unfortunately, that is the nature of a global industry where there are many steps in the supply chain.  What can consumers do?  Asking for ethical gemstones will encourage suppliers to source them – the resulting demand and dialogue may not solve all the problems quickly but it must help a little.

We are proud of our ethically mined and environmentally friendly sapphires and encourage you to visit our good friends at Brilliant Earth – while you can definitely get a beautiful conflict-free diamond from Brilliant Earth, if you are in the mood for “blue” you just might find one of our own sapphires as well. 

cheers from Andrew and Leah (Aussie Sapphire)

Minerama 2007 Field Trips

Posted February 11, 2007 By AussieSapphire

sm_quartz.jpgMinerama is just a few short weeks away so keep your diary open for March 9th to 11th 2007 at Glen Innes for an action-packed weekend of everything gem-related.

See below for the final field trip program – note that the program is subject to change depending on weather and other factors.  Field trip tickets are on sale at the rear of the services club where Minerama is held from 8 am Thursday 9th.  Tickets are sold on a daily basis and are not available in advance. They will cost $10 for adults and $2 for school age children this year.

Thursday 8th March.
YARROW CREEK – Garnet Corner.  Field trips have been run here for the past 3 years and the gems are still coming out.  Expect to find sapphire, zircon and especially deep red pyrope garnets.

Friday 9th.
YARROW CREEK – The Cascades.  This is a location not previously visited on a Minerama trip. The area includes several deep pools and small cascades and should produce sapphire, zircon and garnet.
KINGSGATE.  Thanks to Ausex, the company exploring for minerals at Kingsgate, we are able to offer a visit to this classic location now off limits to mineral collectors. Limited to 20 people, this trip will run from 10 am – 1 pm. There will be limited collecting opportunities and all attendees must wear a hard hat. Bring yours with you if possible.
SWAMP OAK.  A new location on Horse Gully near Billabong Blue, Inverell which should produce sapphires and zircons.  Numbers limited to 30 for this location.

Saturday 10th.
YARROW CREEK – Rocky Bend.  Another location on the creek which has been visited by Minerama only once before. Sapphire, zircon and garnet. Note there is a 20 minute walk to this spot.
KINGSGATE.  Details as for Friday – limit of 20 people so get in early.
REDDESTONE CREEK.  The same locality as last year. Best suited for those who don’t mind getting wet.  Several fine gems were found here in 2005 and nice colour last year.
SURFACE HILL (Near Emmaville). Same location as last year. An old tin mining area along the Gulf Road Emmaville which is good for topaz and perhaps beryl.

SUNDAY 11th.
YARROW CREEK - Across the Paddock.   Another spot visited only once by Minerama several years ago.  Involves a 30 minute walk but expect to find sapphire, zircon and garnet.
REDDESTONE CREEK.  Repeat of Saturday’s trip.
EMMAVILLE.  Various mineral collecting areas near Emmaville.

MONDAY 13th.
YARROW CREEK – Underground River.  A new area for Minerama but promising - look out for sapphire, zircon and garnet.
PRETTY VALLEY.  An area visited by Minerama for many years where even the most inexperienced fossicker can find sapphire and zircon here without having to get too wet. Limited to 30 people.

a-sieve.jpg

Check the Minerama website for updates to these details. 

Minerama will be open Friday 9th to Sunday 11th March at the Glen Innes & District Services Club – entry is free with a variety of items to peruse or purchase.  Aussie Sapphire is proud to be a sponsor of Minerama and will be attending as usual – hope to see you there!

Gems & Minerals as Art

Posted February 2, 2007 By AussieSapphire

A well cut gemstone or an unusual mineral specimen could be regarded as a work of art in itself.  However, these items have been the inspiration for many wonderful works of art in more traditional media.

Recently I came across a website which has just introduced a new section featuring a variety of art on the subject of minerals, gems and mining:

The Mineralogical Record – Museum of Art

Each artist has their own “gallery” and there are some fantastic images to browse through.

robinson-7-s.jpgwhite-06-s.jpgsinkankas-02-s.jpgwilda-02-s.jpg

The images above are just a small sampling of what is on offer here – click to see larger versions.  From left to right, the artists are a) Susan Robinson, b) William Davidson White, c) John Sinkankas and d) Frederick Wilda so please see the relevant galleries for more of their work or just browse at random.

cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire