Jewelry Judge Blog
December 1st, 2021
Back in 2002, tanzanite joined turquoise and zircon as an official birthstone for the month of December. The occasion was momentous because, up until that point, the list hadn't been amended since 1912. The gem you see here is an extraordinary example of tanzanite from the Smithsonian’s National Gem Collection at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

The 18.56-carat, emerald-cut stone was purchased for the Smithsonian with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2011. This is significant because 43 years earlier Tiffany played a vital role in making tanzanite a household name.

It was 1967 when Maasai tribesmen discovered a patch of shockingly beautiful bluish-violet gems in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Samples were entrusted to a prospector named Manuel d’Souza, who shared the crystals with distinguished gemologists. Originally thought to be sapphires, the gems turned out to be a totally new, vibrant blue variety of the mineral zoisite.

A year later, Tiffany looked to feature the gemstone in a broad-based advertising campaign, but its marketing team had to overcome a branding hurdle. The name “blue zoisite” sounded very much like “blue suicide” — and that alone could have tanked the campaign. So, the team at Tiffany decided to promote the gems as “tanzanite,” a name that would honor their country of origin.

Tiffany’s marketing campaign was a huge success and tanzanite would eventually earn the title of “Gem of the 20th Century.”

In 2002, a jewelry-industry trade organization — the American Gem Trade Association — designated tanzanite as an official birthstone for the month of December.

Tanzanites are said to be 1,000 times more rare than diamonds due to the fact that the blue-violet gem is mined in only one location on Earth. The area measures 2km wide by 4km long and the remaining lifespan of the mine is less than 30 years.

According to the Smithsonian, tanzanite exhibits the optical phenomenon known as pleochroism. This is when a gemstone presents multiple colors when observed at different angles. A tanzanite could appear intense blue, violet or red depending on the direction through which the crystal or polished gem is viewed.

Credit: Photo by Greg Polley / Smithsonian.
November 30th, 2021
Actress Lindsay Lohan’s Thanksgiving weekend ended on a spectacular note, as the Mean Girls star turned to Instagram on Sunday to announce her engagement to fund manager Bader Shammas.

Lohan’s 9.8 million Instagram followers were treated to an unpretentious, four-pic gallery showing her and her new fiancé enjoying their special moment. The new engagement ring can be seen in all four photos, which shared the caption, “My love. My life. My family. My future.” She punctuated the post with the hashtag “love” and a diamond ring emoji.

Because the ring is a bit blurry in the series, jewelry-industry experts were hard-pressed to lock down the shape, size and value of the ring. The diamond certainly has a squarish shape, so the experts narrowed down the possibilities to radiant, cushion or princess cut.

The metal type is likely platinum or white gold and the thin band seems to be adorned with diamonds.

The jewelry-industry insiders couldn’t agree on the size of the center stone, with estimates ranging from 3 carats to 6 carats. The same experts placed the value of the ring in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $250,000.

The 35-year-old Lohan and 34-year-old Shammas were first spotted together at a Dubai music festival in 2020 and have been dating ever since. According to The Independent, Shammas holds the title of assistant vice president at Credit Suisse and the couple has been living in Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.

The Freaky Friday actress was previously engaged to Egor Tarabasov in 2016. Her previous engagement ring was similar to the current one in that it also featured a square-shaped center stone and thin band. 

Lohan will return to the big screen in 2022 with a starring role in a Netflix romantic comedy that is still untitled. She will play a newly engaged, spoiled hotel heiress who loses her memory after a skiing accident. Her co-star and love interest in the film is Glee alumnus Chord Overstreet.

Credits: Images via Instagram / lindsaylohan.
November 29th, 2021
A new "Engagement Expectations" study conducted by The Knot and De Beers Group reveals that 96% of pre-engaged women want to have some involvement in the selection of the engagement ring and would not want the proposal to be a total surprise.

Carried out just ahead of "engagement season," the period between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, the study reveals new insights into marriage proposals in a post-COVID environment. Nearly 300 women in a serious relationship were surveyed about expectations related to the proposal process — from where and how it takes place, to the selection of the engagement ring.

Three-fourths of pre-engaged females have thought a lot or some about their engagement ring and most are increasingly preferring more personalized and unique engagement rings.

The primary choice for an engagement ring center stone remains a diamond, with the majority citing this as their first choice. But contrary to popular opinion, pre-engaged women are less focused on carat weight and more concerned with the shape, style and setting of the stone.

The majority (68%) also believe that ring designs today are more unique than in their parents' generation, and one in five feel the exchange of rings has more meaning and significance today.

When it comes to purchasing the ring, about 2 in 10 respondents expect both partners to contribute to the cost; most women (76%) expect their partner will pay.

The findings also highlight an increased interest in intimacy and connection when it comes to the proposal itself.

While most pre-engaged women still want their partner to propose to them, they want the experience to be more personal and unique. Grand gestures and elaborate public displays were less appealing to respondents, with a solid majority saying the ideal way to pop the question would be one person proposing to the other (98%), planned ahead of time (66%), and in a private place (66%).

While females desire more intimate proposals, the majority (85%) feel there is more pressure on their partners to plan a unique proposal than in their parents' generation.

The Knot and De Beers Group Engagement Expectations Study was fielded on Instagram in October 2021 among 296 females in a serious relationship. A majority of female respondents (77%) participating in the survey believe they will be engaged within the next two years. Most were between the ages of 18 and 34.

Credit: Image courtesy of De Beers Group.
November 24th, 2021
More than a week after accepting a romantic marriage proposal from Twilight star Taylor Lautner, newly engaged Tay Dome was still basking in the glow of her oval-cut diamond engagement ring.

"I can get used to this view," she captioned an Instagram selfie of her outstretched left hand, against the backdrop of her famous fiancé.

The 29-year-old actor had popped the question to his registered nurse girlfriend on 11.11.21 and celebrated a few days later at the DAOU Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. Both Lautner and Dome shared photos of their romantic getaway, and in a number of photos the ring was front and center.

In one photo, Lautner is holding a wine glass with his left hand while pointing at the 23-year-old's ring with his right hand. His fianceé smiles as she looks straight into the camera with her ring finger extended straight up. In his caption, Lautner shared with his 7.1 million Instagram followers just how much Dome has changed his life.

He wrote, "Cannot wait to spend forever with you @taydome You love me unconditionally. You don't put up with my [stuff]. You calm me when I'm anxious. You make me laugh way too much. You make every single day spent with you so special. And most importantly, you make me a better person. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve brought to my life. I love you forever."

The November 11 proposal took place at Lautner's home in a room strewn with rose petals and lit by a fireplace and white candles. A pink neon sign above the fireplace spelled out "Lautner" in script.

Lautner posted a pic of the scene and captioned it, “11.11.2021 … And just like that, all of my wishes came true.”

According to, Lautner and Dome went public with their relationship three years ago during the Halloween season. Lautner posted to his Instagram page a photo of the couple wearing matching costumes.

Credits: Images via / taydome.
November 23rd, 2021
In April 2019, Botswana's state-run Okavango Diamond Company unveiled the largest blue diamond ever discovered in that country — a 20.46-carat oval gem with Fancy Deep Blue color and VVS2 clarity. At the time, the company's managing director called the gem "a once-in-a-lifetime find."

Earlier this month, the "Okavango Blue Diamond" made its New York City debut as the centerpiece of a spectacular display at the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, the newly renovated, 11,000-square-foot section of the American Museum of Natural History.

The vibrant gem occupies the lead showcase in a presentation about the wide variety of natural diamonds found in Botswana — from more common industrial diamonds used in construction, manufacturing and other sectors to gem-quality ones. More than 1,000 rough natural diamonds are included in the gallery that explains the different characteristics of diamonds, including size, shape, quality and color. There is also an emphasis on the unique way that Botswana runs its diamond industry.

Botswana is the second-largest producer of natural diamonds in the world and a major source of gem-quality, ethically sourced diamonds. The "Okavango Blue Diamond" was sourced at one of the world’s largest open-pit diamond mines, the Orapa Mine.

It was cut from a 41.11-carat rough diamond and its name honors the world heritage site known as the Okavango Delta. The lush delta is the home of hippos, elephants, crocodiles, lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos. It's an area of exceptional biodiversity and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The government of Botswana established the first of four large diamond mines shortly after it attained independence in 1966. At that time, lawmakers entered into agreements with tribal leaders to make certain that the country's valuable diamond resources would always benefit the people.

“Our natural diamond resources are managed responsibly in a manner that puts the people of Botswana first,” said Okavango Diamond Company Managing Director Mmetla Masire. “There is a strong sense of local pride knowing that these diamonds are improving the lives of Batswana with profits directly reinvested in education, infrastructure and public health. We are so pleased to share with the world the larger story of the diamond industry of Botswana.”

The "Okavango Blue Diamond" and the other diamonds of Botswana are on loan from the Okavango Diamond Company. Visitors will find the gems within the museum's Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery, which is specifically designed to accommodate rotating exhibitions at the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals.

Credits: Diamond photo courtesy the Okavango Diamond Company. Display photos by D. Finnin/©AMNH.
November 22nd, 2021
Lawmaker Thomas Mahaffie is advancing a bill to make amethyst the official gemstone of Pennsylvania. Twenty-seven of the 50 states currently have a gemstone to call their own, and the state representative from Dauphin County believes that The Keystone State deserves one, as well.

In a legislative memo, Mahaffie outlined why amethyst is the best choice.

"Pennsylvania is well known for its variety of vast mineral deposits and the mines that work them," he wrote. "Among these is quartz, the most beautiful type of which is the vibrant, purple gemstone, amethyst."

Mahaffie also noted that amethysts are featured in the tiara used to crown the winner of the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. The tiara boasts 92 carats of amethysts, including a keystone-shaped primary jewel weighing 37 carats. The tiara is the subject of great pride because the gems and gold used to fabricate it were contributed by jewelers throughout the state.

"The official symbols of the Commonwealth are important because they help to differentiate our state from others," he continued. "Most states have an official state dog, tree and flower, etc., all of which help to show what is important to that state."

Mahaffie added one more piece of purple passion to his argument.

“Coincidentally, the state plant of Pennsylvania is Penngift Crownvetch, commonly known as “‘Purple Crown,’” he wrote. “How fitting that Pennsylvania is represented by the beauty of the attractive purple blooms of the state plant ‘Purple Crown’ and the radiant purple amethyst gemstones of the ‘Purple Crown’ worn by Miss Pennsylvania.”

According to, 27 states currently claim an official gemstone. New Hampshire has smoky quartz, Idaho has star garnet and Maine has tourmaline, to name a few.

If the measure — HB 777 — passes through the House and Senate, Pennsylvania will become the second state to anoint amethyst as its official gemstone. The other is South Carolina.

Also included in Mahaffie's bill is a proposal to make celestite the state's official mineral. First discovered in Pennsylvania in 1791, the pale blue mineral gets its name from the Latin word for "celestial."

"I believe that denoting celestite, more commonly referred to as celestine, as the state mineral will not only pique the interest of school children across the state to learn more about Pennsylvania and its rich environment, but will also help educate the public about a uniquely beautiful mineral," Mahaffie wrote.

Celestite has been found in Pennsylvania's Blair, Juniata, Lycoming, Northumberland, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties. Deposits of amethyst are present in the state's southeastern counties of Lancaster, Chester and Delaware.

Credits: Amethyst image by Marie-Lan Taÿ Pamart, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Celestite image by Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
November 19th, 2021
Welcome to another Music Friday Flashback, when we bring you classic tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature Seals & Crofts performing their Summer of ’73 hit, “Diamond Girl.”

Using gemstone imagery to describe a girl who is perfect in their eyes, Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts sing, “Diamond Girl – you sure do shine / Glad I found you – glad you’re mine / Oh my love, you’re like a precious stone / Part of earth where heaven has rained on.”

The Texas-born Seals and Crofts are famous for their lush harmonies, spiritual lyrics and a string of chart-toppers in the 1970s. Their songs are said to be influenced by the teachings of the Bahá’í faith.

Coming off their success with “Summer Breeze” in 1972, the duo was back in the studio one year later with “Diamond Girl.”

Released as the title track of Seals & Crofts' fifth studio album, the single reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album also was a huge success, as it rose to #4 on the Billboard 200 chart. A second charting single from the album was “We May Never Pass This Way Again,” which topped out at #21.

The duo had a strong run through the 1970s, but disbanded in 1980. They reunited briefly in 1991 and then again in 2004, when they released their final album, Traces.

Seals & Crofts’ fans may not know that Jim Seals is the brother of Dan Seals, who was “England Dan” in the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley (“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” 1976). In the early and mid-2000s, Jim Seals toured with his brother under the name, Seals & Seals.

Another interesting bit of trivia: Seals and Crofts both belonged to the group The Champs (“Tequila,” 1958) in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before going out on their own.

Jim Seals turned 80 on October 17. Dash Crofts celebrated his 81st birthday on August 14.

Please check out the video of Seals & Crofts performing “Diamond Girl” live on The Midnight Special in 1973. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Diamond Girl”
Written by Jim Seals and Dash Crofts. Performed by Seals & Crofts.

Diamond Girl – you sure do shine
Glad I found you – glad you’re mine
Oh my love, you’re like a precious stone
Part of earth where heaven has rained on

Makes no difference where you are
Day or nighttime you’re like a shinin’ star
And how could I shine without you
When it’s about you that I am

Diamond Girl – roamin’ wild
Such a rare thing – radiant child
I could never find another one like you
Part of me is deep down inside you

Can’t you feel the whole world’s a-turnin’
We are real and we are a-burnin’
Diamond Girl now that I’ve found you
It’s around you that I am

Diamond Girl – you sure do shine
Diamond Girl – you sure do shine
Diamond Girl – you sure do shine
Diamond Girl – you sure do shine

Credit: Image by Warner Brothers Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
November 18th, 2021
More than 50 gem dealers from the four corners of the Earth are participating in the first-ever global auction of Australian sapphires. On Monday, mining company FURA Gems began unveiling 900,000 carats of natural sapphires in a wide range of colors, including blue, teal, yellow, green and "parti," a unique and popular multi-hued variety. The event is taking place through November 23 in Bangkok.

"Discovered in Queensland a century and a half ago, sapphires have since been unearthed by Australian miners in a rainbow of colors that buyers around the world rarely get to see," said Dev Shetty, Founder & CEO, FURA Gems. "Exploring the enormous range of Australian sapphires has been a journey of discovery for FURA Gems.”

By establishing this global auction, FURA Gems is setting into motion an organized way to present and distribute Australian sapphires to the marketplace.

“The auction in Bangkok will be historic as the market will get a first look at our graded, unheated and versatile range of colored sapphires. It presents a unique opportunity for the industry to explore different colors in sapphires on one single platform,” said Shetty.

The nine-day event will see auction tables covered in 275,000 carats of rough blue sapphires, 300,000 carats of rough green sapphires and more than 300,000 carats of rough teal, yellow and polychrome sapphires.

FURA's global sapphire production was 5.5 million carats in 2021 and the company is looking to boost production to 10 million carats in 2022. The company owns 20 square kilometers of mining area in Australia, and claims to be the largest supplier of sapphires in the world. It had recently acquired two Queensland-based mining operations — Capricorn Sapphire in 2019 and Great Northern Mining in 2020.

With its new claims in Central Queensland, FURA is hoping to bring back the glory days of Australia's sapphire mining industry. In the late 20th century, Australia accounted for more than 90% of global sapphire production, according to FURA.

The mining company is collaborating with the Gemological Institute of America to establish "mine of origin" reports for the sapphires produced by FURA. The company also has established a proprietary color-grading initiative that will help buyers determine the quality and value of the precious stones.

FURA noted that the "pièce de résistance" of all its colorful selections is the parti sapphire in both bi-color and tri-color combinations. These polychrome sapphires display the complementary colors of either blue, green or yellow in a single stone.

In addition to its sapphire operations in Australia, the UAE-based FURA Gems owns ruby mines in Mozambique and emerald mines in Colombia.

Credits: Images courtesy of FURA Gems.
November 17th, 2021
When an amethyst ring dating back 1,500 years was unearthed in Yavne, Israel, near the site of the largest winery of the Byzantine period (330-1453 AD), archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority were quick to point out the obvious connection.

You see, in ancient times it was believed that amethyst jewelry could protect its wearer from intoxication and ward off the effects of a hangover. The word "amethyst," in fact, comes from the Greek word "amethystos," which literally means "not drunken."

"Did the person who wore the ring want to avoid intoxication due to drinking a lot of wine?" asked Dr. Elie Haddad, the director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. "We probably will never know."

The director noted that the ring was found just 150 meters from the remains of a long warehouse, which was used to store tall wine jars, called "amphorae." These jars had long, narrow necks and handles on each side.

Weighing 5.11 grams, the gold ring is bezel set with a cabochon cut amethyst. Despite being buried for more than 1,500 years, the ring and the stone are in remarkably good shape.

The popularity of amethyst dates back thousands of years. The pretty purple stone is mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the 12 precious stones worn by the high priest of the Temple on his ceremonial breastplate.

“The person who owned the ring was affluent, and the wearing of the jewel indicated their status and wealth,” noted Dr. Amir Golani, an expert on ancient jewelry at the Israel Antiquities Authority. “Such rings could be worn by both men and women.”

It is possible that the impressive ring belonged to the owner of the warehouse, a foreman, or simply to an unlucky merchant, who dropped it en route to the winery.

The researchers are still debating when the ring was actually fabricated. The material at the a dig site dates back to the 7th century AD, but it is possible that the ring, due to its beauty and prestige, had been handed down from generation to generation over the centuries. Gold rings inlaid with amethyst stone are known in the Roman world, and it is possible that the ring had belonged to the elites who lived in the city as early as the 3rd century AD.

“The small, everyday finds that are discovered in our excavations tell us human stories and connect us directly to the past," said Eli Eskozido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority. “It is exciting to imagine that the man or woman to whom the ring belonged, walked right here, in a different reality to what we know in today's city of Yavne.”

Credit: Image courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority/Dafna Gazit.
November 16th, 2021
Weighing in at 277.9 carats, this yellow-orange citrine from the Smithsonian's National Gem Collection is a head-turning, sun-kissed example of November's alternative birthstone.

Sourced in Brazil, the round modified brilliant-cut citrine seen here is currently displayed in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

Citrine gets its name from "citron," the French word for lemon, and can range in color from the warm hues of golden champagne to the deep oranges of Madeira wine. Most gem-quality citrine is mined from Brazil, but other important sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California).

Citrine is the golden-yellow-to-orange variety of quartz and gets its color from trace amounts of iron in the gem’s chemical makeup. Quartz, which is composed of silicon and oxygen, is colorless in its pure state. The Greeks referred to the material as “krystallos,” or “ice.”

But when trace amounts of impurities invade its chemical structure, nature yields a wide range of vivid hues. Citrine, for example, is a near-cousin chemically to February’s purple birthstone, the amethyst.

In fact, some quartz specimens display a fascinating transition from yellow to purple and nature's mashup is aptly called ametrine. The gems in the photo, above, were sourced in Bolivia and weigh 55.68 and 24.15 carats, respectively.

National Museum of Natural History is the most-visited natural history museum in the world and the National Gem Collection consists of approximately 350,000 mineral specimens and 10,000 gems.

Citrine is a relative newcomer to the official birthstone list. The National Association of Jewelers added it in 1952 as an alternative to topaz.

Credits: Photos by Chip Clark / Smithsonian.