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Archive for July, 2007

Gemstone Photography

Posted July 28, 2007 By Admin

Gemstone photography is one of the most critical aspects of selling gems online.  While our own photography has improved markedly since starting the website, we know there is plenty of room left for improvement.  Even with the best equipment and photographic skills, this particular area is incredibly specialised and very few people can do it well. 

One of the best photographers around for this type of work is Jeff Scovil – his work is incredible and his photo gallery shows just a few examples of his work – Jeff Scovil Photo Gallery


There are lots of great shots here of gemstones, minerals and the like.
One I particularly liked was this rutilated quartz from Brazil.
(copyright J.Scovil at www.scovilphoto.com)

As for our photography, we are currently using a Fuji Finepix 9500 digital camera with a Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro lens.  Camera is held steady with a heavy microscope base which allows some fine adjustment for manual focusing.  Cool white flourescent lighting is used to approximate daylight in a standardised set-up.  Even with all of this, a good shot can take many attempts and much time.  

To the casual observer, it might seem an easy job just to shoot off a few snaps but it is not unusual to spend some hours on getting a shot we are happy with.  The tiny size of a gemstone (usually much less than a centimetre) and many facets where light can reflect and glare creates a number of photographic challenges.  And just when you have the camera set up for a cut sapphire for example, switching to a rough aquamarine means adjusting all the settings.

Professional photographers who are skilled in gemstone photography are very difficult to find and justifiably charge a lot for their specialised skills.  We have made the decision to do this job ourselves so we can pass these cost savings on to our customers.  Hopefully our customers will allow for the fact that we are doing the best we can with the limited resources at our disposal.

For those interested in doing this kind of photography, be prepared for lots of trial and error.  These websites have a lot of great information that can help you get started:


cheers for now from Andrew and Leah Lane (Aussie Sapphire)


Fantastic Selection of Rare Gems

Posted July 22, 2007 By AussieSapphire

The recent decision of an opal miner/dealer to sell his entire coloured gemstone collection in order to concentrate on the opal business presented us with a great opportunity last week.  When we took a look at this lot, it was just too good to pass up with an incredible variety of rare and unusual gemstones on offer.  Consequently, we now have a much larger variety of cut gems in stock.

We have only just started to go through it so it will be a big job to catalogue and photograph all of the stones but just to whet your appetite, the list includes (in no particular order):

  • andesine (green)
  • bastnasite
  • benitoite
  • chrysoberyl
  • tanzanite
  • tourmaline (large sizes, bicolor and other types)
  • kornerupine
  • kyanite
  • hauyne
  • kunzite
  • scapolite
  • pezzotaite
  • sinhalite
  • garnet (spessartite, colour change, rhodolite, demantoid, tsavorite)
  • spinel (pink and red from Burma)
  • zircon (various colours, large stones from Cambodia)
  • beryl (aquamarine, heliodor, morganite)
  • colour change and star sapphire (from Sri Lanka)
  • blue sapphire (Sri Lanka) and various colours (Songea)
  • hackmanite
  • emerald (Siberian and Columbian)
  • danburite
  • alexandrite
  • peridot
  • ruby (Songea and Burma)
  • and a few other bits and pieces (large size amethyst and citrine, various cabochon material – moonstone, carnelian and labradorite, etc)

We will be tied up with the Lightning Ridge Gem Show over the next week or so but we plan to get started on the photography as soon as possible after returning home.  If you are looking for anything in particular, please contact us and we can look through our now expanded inventory.

cheers for now from Andrew and Leah Lane (Aussie Sapphire)

Gem of the Month: Carnelian

Posted July 16, 2007 By AussieSapphire

carnelian.jpgThe July birthstone is well known as Ruby but for those looking for an unusual alternative, the ancient gem Carnelian may be of interest. 

(Image from OldenWisdom)

Gemmology Matters:  Carnelian is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz and is a translucent, semiprecious variety of chalcedony that owes its red to reddish brown colour to the presence of dispersed hematite (iron oxide) within the silica mineral.  As with other varieties of chalcedony, hardness is 7 on the Moh’s scale.  The stone is closely related to Sard which is a brownish colour – see here for more information.

Most commercially available carnelian has undergone some enhancement treatment.  Yellow/brown chalcedony has been routinely heat treated at low temperatures to create red carnelian stones for many centuries.  Carnelian is mostly cabbed or formed into beads and is an inexpensive stone with warm and attractive colour.

Mythology and Lore:  Carnelian has been valued for many centuries and is mentioned as a birthstone in ancient Arabic, Herbrew and Roman tables.  The stone is named after the Latin word “carneus” for “flesh” because of its reddish colour. 

As a healing stone, carnelian may be used to treat blood disorders, menstrual problems and back pain.  Continuing with the theme, carnelian has been thought to help with infertility and may be worn to enhance passion.  Carnelian is associated with the zodiac signs of Leo and Virgo.

Carnelian seal ring - copyright VRomaLike other forms of chalcedony, carnelian is well suited to intaglio work, engraving/carving and for seals.  This fine example of a seal ring depicts an actor holding a tragic mask and is held in the British Museum (image from VRoma, copyright Barbara McManus 1999)

carneliangem.jpgThis second example is a carnelian carved gem inscribed in Greek – this one is from Hixenbaugh Ancient Art and may be purchased through their website if you would like to own a piece of history from Ancient Greece.

Alternatives in Orange/Red: Obviously the king of red gems is Ruby but there are many other alternatives in red.  For transparent gems, red spinel is increasingly popular and some species of garnet provide a range of colours from red to orange.  Carnelian is generally more translucent than these alternatives and does have a “waxy” look that is quite distinctive. Carnelian with its affordability and warm colour should give collectors a reason to have at least one example of this ancient gemstone.

Links of Interest:

Unforunately, we have no carnelian listed online although we do have some small cabochon carnelian in stock – if you want reddish orange, we also suggest some natural colour zircon. Both gems are very affordable so why not get some of each.

Cheers for now from Andrew and Leah Lane (Aussie Sapphire).

Sapphire Crystals

Posted July 14, 2007 By AussieSapphire

We sometimes get some interesting enquiries and a recent one was for a few small sapphire crystals to be cut into a sharp pointed shape.  Due to the natural shape of the crystals, this is not a difficult job so we picked out a few “dog tooth” sapphire crystals (so called for the shape).  The photograph included one of an unusual colour so thought we’d put it up for everyone to see.

various_dogt.jpgThese ones are nothing too special as this specific job was industrial and did not require gems of particular beauty but are a good example of the variation to be found even in just one small area.  We have a couple of collectors who like to get their hands on nice examples of this type so we are always looking out for good ones.

We have been listing quite a bit of cut and rough sapphire so please check our catalogues for these new items.  Next on the list is to get into some of the good imported facet rough (tourmaline in particular) as well as some nice faceted aquamarine and spessartite.

cheers from Andrew and Leah Lane (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)

Natural Unheated Sapphire

Posted July 6, 2007 By AussieSapphire

After getting back to work earlier in the week, we spent a couple of days photographing and cataloguing some of our natural and heated sapphire.  We now have a good range of both types on our website:

2.2 carat Blue Sapphire from Australia4mm round blue sapphire0.6 carat blue sapphire Reddestone Creek, Australia

These gems are now divided into shape categories to make it a little easier to find exactly the right gemstone for your next project – simply go to our Cut Sapphire page and select the appropriate sub-category.  To select natural unheated gems only, use the filter at the top of the listing page or use the advanced search function.

Most types are blue but we have a small selection of parti and yellow sapphire that will be listed as soon as possible.  There is also some new emerald (from Zambia) for you to browse with many more interesting and beautiful gemstones to be added as time permits (eg. aquamarine, spessartite, tourmaline, etc).

Remember that free shipping may be claimed for orders over $100.  If you are in the trade, please contact us for details on special trade pricing.

Cheers for now from Andrew and Leah Lane
Aussie Sapphire – the natural choice in gems