Coin collectors are no strangers to many of their most prized possessions being made up of precious metals like gold and silver. It's not quite as common though to find golden coins crafted with something as rare as a pink diamond.

Naturally colored pink diamonds, are some of the rarest gemstones on the planet, and can exceed the values of equivalent-quality colorless diamonds of the same size. These coveted stones are often hard to find, but Australia's Argyle mine has been known to produce many of history's most brilliant pink diamond specimens.

Here, Perth Mint unveils the most expensive collector's coin in the country to date. Let's take a look.

The entire piece weighs about two kilograms and is separated into two parts; an outermost ring and an inner core. The design emulates traditional and historical motifs from Australia, paying homage to the culture, nature and wildlife. The entire coin is made up of 99.99% pure gold, and features not just one, but four beautifully selected pink Argyle diamonds from the country's own soil.

This collector's coin has been named the Discovery Gold Coin, and inspiration for it was inspired by the holey dollar (1814, introduced by Lachlan Macquarie). The diamonds that are part of the coin, are accompanied by a document from Argyle speaking about their authenticity.

If the Philippines ever gets to have its own commemorative gold coin, perhaps the design impart some of our country's jewelry-related heritage as well, maybe elements of the gold-lipped Pinctanda maxima pearl will be added to the theme.
Many of you are more familiar with the typical round brilliant cut when it comes to diamonds. Some of you probably collect fancy cuts, with trade-popular names like the 'Princess' cut, 'Asscher' cut or 'emerald' cut. Well, today we'll take a look at the history of the diamond industry's most elongated fancy cut- the Marquise.

So what makes a marquise cut diamond? Basically this shape resembles an oval- in the sense that length and width are not with equal values. Unlike an oval however, the stone terminates into sharp, elegant points on opposing ends.

There is an old legend that's circulated through the gemstone industry for centuries regarding the origins of the marquise cut. It centers around a french monarch called King Louis the 15th, who ruled France during the 1700's. He had asked his royal jewelers to fashion a stunning diamond cut that would reflect upon the beautiful smile of his chief mistress, Jean Antoinette Poisson (the Marquise de Pompadour). They obliged his request, and went to work on it straight away.

Despite the curious relationship between the two characters, the royal jewelers were able to pioneer the creation of France's first marquise cut diamond based off of that commission. It was certainly a marvel to all who set their gaze upon it. The marquise soon became a symbolical shape for feminine beauty across the land. Many also call it the 'navette' cut, which is the french word for 'little boat' or 'little ship'.

Marquise cuts are indeed very beautiful, and can create an impactful visual aesthetic for many jewelry pieces, but their graceful slender often comes at a price. The two sharp points must be well-protected, usually by v-shaped prongs or similar holders. These are the areas most likely to acquire damage should you accidentally knock the stone on something hard.

Well-loved for center-stone purposes, the marquise cut is a favorite choice for large diamond rings and pendants. Many more modern couples also prefer it to the standard round-shaped diamonds on engagement rings, saying that the shape brings out more flair for the proposal's ambience.
We all need to take a breather from work every now and then, but it seems that some jewellers can't even sit down to have a relaxing cup of coffee without worrying about theft- from all directions.

This tiny ant was caught on camera attempting to 'steal' a large diamond that was probably about 5 times its size. Luckilly for the ant, the owners have not reported it to the local authorities (or decided not to pummel it).

The viral video of this small insect is quickly spreading through the internet, making both jewellers and jewelry collectors laugh out loud at the curiosity of the situation. Once in a while we have to take a step back and enjoy the small moments in life.

Although numerous videos have surfaced on youtube about this little guy, here's one from the New York Post, as we're not too sure who the original jewelers who filmed it were. They might be thinking about pest-control now at their offices. Either that or this could have possibly been one really interesting marketing stunt!

In Arizona (US), there are ants out in the wild that have been known to "push out" red pyrope garnets from their hill mounds. The ants hate these gems because they can't break them apart with their mandibles. Sometimes prospectors find these red pebbles on the arid ground, and end up calling them anthill garnets.

Anyway, if an ant can do this- maybe your own pets and creepy crawlies could be considered as potential culprits for gem and jewelry disappearances at home! I's possible, as far as we saw through the video anyway (although incredibly unlikely).

It's somewhat interesting to note that occasionally certain gems can also "carry" ants, judging from this piece of baltic amber. Fossilized plant resins millions of years old have been known to harbor insect inclusions, especially in their collector-qualities.

Cheers everyone, have a good week ahead.
n the world of blue gems we all know sapphire is the one name to remember, but for those who prefer the lighter pastel shades of blue, it might have dawned on you that not all sapphires can achieve this look well.

Enter the most famous sky blue gemstone traded today; aquamarine. It's a chemical cousin of emerald, belonging to the same gem species known as beryl. The gem's name is a direct reference to the greenish blues of crystal clear ocean water. It's been prized by nations as the second most expensive beryl species used for jewelry in modern times.

Aquamarine, though beautiful in its own unearthed state, is often heated to remove yellowish modifying colors in order to portray a more pure blue body. This is most often undetectable even by many gemological instruments, and is commonly practiced by a vast majority of gem dealers today. Despite this treatment's presence, it does not mean that aquamarine's colors have no hierarchy. The treatment removes yellow colors, but a gem's star-quality potential still has to be present in its original crystal. Some aquamarine specimens will look dull and grayish no matter what degree of heat is applied to it. This fact means the variety's top colors can hold high values due to rarity, demand and exclusivity.

Darker toned aquamarines with higher saturations are much rarer and much more valuable than lighter ones, even with both having been heat treated. The gemstone's finest locality source is the Santa Maria area of Minas Gerais in Brazil, which is famous for producing many of the world's top quality blue beryls.

On the other side of the fence, another popular sky blue gem has been making waves for the past several decades. Blue topaz can come in an entire range of tones and saturations due to advancements in irradiation and annealing treatments. Topaz typically comes out of the ground in warmer or grayish colors, but the most popular trade varieties today are 'London Blue', 'Swiss Blue' and 'Sky Blue', all priced affordably in most countries.

Depicted in the picture above is the 'Ostro Stone' topaz, the biggest of its kind- weighing in at around 9,381 carats. As you can see, due to the industry being able to mine topaz specimens in large sizes, candidates for heating are not in low supply. Add to this the possibility of high-saturation color treatments and you acquire marvels like this specimen.

The difference between aquamarine and topaz (aside from obvious chemistry), is that blue topaz' colors don't have much of a hierarchy. Yes, topaz is a natural gem mined from the earth, but its bluish hue is completely re-creatable even in near-colorless parcels. This is very different from aquamarine's limited supply of high-saturation stones (especially in smaller carat sizes).

The supply of blue topaz has quenched the increasing demand for pastel blue hues, bringing it to be one of the most popular gems for the color palette used today. The question is, who wins? Aquamarine with more rarity and monetary value, or blue topaz with more affordability and diversity of color tone?
Even in the earliest of ages, gold has been put on a pedestal for its beautiful, malleable and stable properties. As a very rare metal, with a concentration of only 4 parts per billion on the earth's crust, gold captures the desires and wants of people enough to consider it a hard-asset currency. Bank notes and paper money forms were developed as easy-to-trade representations of gold ownership stock long ago.

In terms of material elemental rarity, gold wins hands down. Diamonds are made up of carbon atoms- which are not inherently rare as an element, because you can find them everywhere- even in your own body.

Why is it thought that based on weight, gem-quality diamonds are much more expensive to buy today? Well, aside from the various quality factors that create a value-hierarchy in the diamond trade, this gemstone species has to go through a lot of rare environmental conditions to manifest.

What makes diamonds truly rare, is the specific manner in which they form or crystallize. Highly pressurized carbon (under the correct ratio of temperature) can turn into diamond. Without this extreme pressure, another material may form instead. You know this as graphite, which is so very dark and soft that artists use it to create drawings and portraits.

While diamonds can only form deep below, in the earth's mantle regions, the geological journey that brings them to the surface can also sometimes destroy them. An imbalance of heat and pressure for prolonged periods of time can graphitize the carbon mass in diamond.

Because of this, only a (relative percentage) few transparent, fine crystals of diamond ever make their way up to an extractable level for miners to acquire it. There are a lot more low-quality diamonds out there though that people can still mine for use as abrasive material, but these aren't counted in our comparison because their prices are very different from gem-quality samples.

Today though, there is a great amount of concern in the diamond industry. While rare conditions create natural diamond deep beneath the earth's surface, man can now replicate those conditions in a lab. This technology- once proprietary in the ownership of a view, is spreading so that many companies around the world can now 'create diamond'. Chemically equivalent in its composition and structure, man-made diamond has finally gotten to the point that normal vision cannot always separate it from its natural counterpart.

Advanced gemological instruments that make use of spectrometric data, can separate the two kinds of diamond, but not everyone has access to these machines. This begs the question- are diamonds still rare? Many people are on opposing sides of the debate. Natural earth-mined diamonds cannot be created, because by definition they are products of nature. Man-made diamonds will only grow in potential quantity over the next decades, due to the propagation of technology. It's really up to you to decide where you stand on the matter.

Man-made versions of rubies and sapphires have existed since the 1800's, but while they are very cheap today, they haven't really affected the values of natural rubies and sapphires in the long run of history.

Gold is finite here on earth, the reserves can't be man-made or replicated, from what we know. It's an element, and there is a specific amount of it that has yet to be extracted from the earth's soil. Once that's dug out, what then?

Natural diamonds are very rare and expensive. Gold as an element or material is more rare, but currently less expensive. The question of rarity does not have a cut-and-dry answer, but we hope that this article has shed a bit of insight on the matter.
Most of you know picture a scintillating, vibrant blue stone when you hear the word "Sapphire", don't you? It's not always common knowledge that sapphire is actually very similar to ruby on the atomic level. They're both varieties of a mineral called corundum that are simply colored by slight traces of other elements.

Sapphires are actually not all blue- it's just that the blue variety became the most famous due to demand, treatment procedures and historical usage.

Many patrons of old used to associate blue sapphire with the traits of faithfulness, sincerity and truth. Royalty and clergy both admonished themselves with this precious gemstone for centuries. Blue sapphires became the ultimate standard for the vibrant saturations by which every other blue gemstone was compared against.

Britain's most beloved princess- Lady Diana Spencer was proposed to by Prince Charles using a pristine blue sapphire ring, which was passed on to their child Prince William when the time came for him to get married as well.

The most famous source for blue sapphire is the mountainous Kashmir region, where the best qualities were touted as 'Cornflower Blue' sapphires. This trade label became quite famous and is still used today to depict some of the finest sapphire color profiles. The Kashmir mines though did not last for more than a few decades. Quite short in comparison to the long-drawn production timelines of other sources like Australia and Sri Lanka.

Other varieties of corundum aside from blue sapphire and ruby, are all called 'fancy sapphire'. These can be pink, orange, yellow, green, purple, black, or even colorless. Another high end corundum variety is called Padparadscha sapphire- inspired by the pinkish orange colors of a certain lotus flower. This relatively new variant has taken the gem world by storm and can match the finest blue sapphire for value in top market tiers.

It's interesting to note that before the Roman empire, sapphire was not actually known. Many of the gem's iterations in scripts and ancient text actually refer to lapis lazuli, being described as 'the night sky spangled with stars, or spotted with gold'.
During the past year, we've observed a very common occurrence here from different visitors at the laboratory- public over confidence and a misinterpreted understanding of the results produced by some inexpensive, DIY diamond home testers. What we specifically mean, are those pen-hold type testers from unknown brands that for one reason or another, keep giving our visitors the initial idea that what they have is immediately a natural diamond.

This article is only based on the opinions of our gemologist, as he has been steadily observing the habits and results of Filipino visitors who make heavy use of these instruments, and then bring their items to the laboratory due to their own uncertainty. You are free to conclude your own opinions regarding these testers, but the record below constitutes our experience of these portable machines.

It should be said that these types of pen-hold testers are also often called thermal testers as they are created to measure the thermal conductivity of a gemstone. In our own experience, we have had some consistent performance when using certain brands of testers that were manufactured by well-established companies, to separate regular cubic zirconia from diamond- however even these products (which may cost upwards of 14,000 Php) still made mistakes on certain stones like diamond-coated CZ or some other species of non-diamond gemstones.

In the past, we have also conducted experiments using diamond thermal testers that cost about 2,000-4,000 Php that were being sold here in the country, and also being imported from China-based manufacturers- a number of these testers occasionally failed on items like quartz, glass and cubic zirconia, passing them off as diamond. In terms of consistency, they were not dependable for our laboratory purposes. We purchased them strictly for the experiment only, and never put them into daily operational use here at the laboratory. (No specific brands or names will be mentioned to preserve objectivity and neutrality)

No standard diamond tester based on thermal conductivity (or even electric conductivity / multi-test pen-hold tools) has been known to be capable of separating synthetic or man-made diamond from natural diamond. These grown diamonds are also made up of carbon, with the same structure as natural diamond- but are grown by people in a factory. Only advanced spectrometric testing can detect the newest versions of these (proprietary CVD origin, 2018). Some natural diamonds may show inclusion-evidence of their unearthed-origin, and many older versions of synthetic diamonds may also show visual evidence of their man-made origin, however technology is getting better at a rapid rate, which causes alarm for many in the jewelry trade. Gemcamp's laboratory uses advanced gemological equipment, spectrometry-based instruments and modern software developed by our gemologist's alma mater; the Gemological Institute of America for detecting synthetic diamonds.

We hope that the general public here in the Philippines will use whatever personal tester they have with care, and a cautious, skeptical mind. The lab has seen too many obvious imitations brought in, mentioned as diamond by their owners, all because something beeped or a light flashed on their personal gadget.

In the end, if you would like to use these instruments on your own, spend the extra money to buy the more (or most) expensive ones. They aren't perfect by any means- and have also been known to provide some mixed / wrong results, but if used properly can help you at least with separating some types of lower-tier / cheaper imitations from diamond. This is still much better than buying the cheaper DIY testers that seem to cause a lot of unnecessary confusion.

It's been notoriously known that many shady manufacturers of jewelry these days tend to con people by mixing both natural and man-made stones into the same piece of jewelry. Sometimes they use a lab-created diamond for the center stone, but other times people want to hide the deception much better.

Here at the laboratory, we have seen some people bring jewelry pieces (to be examined only), where up to 34% of the melee accent-stones turned out to be lab-grown diamonds. It should be noted that most of the pieces were purchased by their owners from sellers outside of the Philippines. This can be quite a concern though, as the value of an entire jewelry piece changes once you know that many of the stones came from being grown artificially at a lab or factory. Likewise the demand for a certain piece can also change once this realization comes into play.

Diamonds with sizes like the ones above, are more easily replaced with man-made stones due to people not being as paranoid over them.

Side stones are generally melee-sized diamonds, often times not getting larger than .10 carats (in weight). These stones are often overlooked by clients, however the trends in jewelry design currently favor pieces that are highly encrusted by rows and rows of pave-set diamonds. Just imagine the cost that manufacturers would save if they used lab-created stones for 30-40% of the diamond melee batch.

Some of the newest CVD synthetic diamonds to hit the market are virtually inclusion-free (Internally Flawless), and therefore may require advance laboratory testing to differentiate from natural diamonds.

Man-made or lab-created diamonds, again have the same chemical composition and structure as natural stones. The words "real", "authentic" and "genuine" do not really define the difference anymore between these stones and natural earth-mined stones. Despite this though, man-made diamonds can be easily detected and separated by experienced gemologists that possess the proper scientific equipment setup.

These stones are also cheaper than their natural counterparts, by anywhere from 40-60% at wholesale, but sometimes 30-40% through retail as far as we've observed during our research trips to country fairs like those held thrice a year in hong kong.

If you're particular about whether or not your diamond is man-made or naturally mined from the earth, feel free to set an appointment with our gemologist via our facebook page. Gemcamp Laboratories use advanced luminescence spectroscopy, aside from other gemological techniques and practices to differentiate between these two kinds of diamond.

Needless to say, we are also capable of separating imitations and simulants from diamond. Imitation generally means something that is not a diamond, in crystal structure and essential chemistry. The only similarity it has to diamond is in visual semblance.
As gem enthusiasts and jewelry collectors, we're sure that at least some of you have encountered this label before. Watermelon tourmaline is a very unique variety of the gem group that showcases a lovely pairing of fertile greens with vivid red cores. The curious ratio of color gave the variety its name, but did you know that a long time ago, the first green tourmaline gems discovered in Brazil were initially confused with emeralds?

Tourmalines are mixed crystals of aluminum boron silicate that also contain elements such as iron, manganese, sodium, lithium, or potassium. Today, they can be distinguished by their chemical composition, and by the optical and physical properties observable by gemological testing.

The gem got its name from the Sinhalese word "Toro Mali" meaning mixed stones of many different colors. Back then, gems were usually just identified by their hues, and so many people weren't really aware that many species of tourmaline actually belonged to the same gem group. The species called "Elbaite", although not as popular a label, is actually the one we most often see when we buy rubellite, paraiba (copper-bearing neons) or even watermelon varieties of tourmaline.

What causes the color in watermelon tourmaline? As the raw tourmaline crystal grows larger and thickens out, it's exposed to different elements such as manganese and lithium, which consequentially cause the gemstone to change color from a pink core through a pale zone to the outer green rind, creating the duo-color we're all familiar with.

Despite first being discovered in the state of Maine in the U.S., watermelon tourmaline can also be found in Brazil, Nigeria, Madagascar, and Afghanistan among other localities. Miners sometimes refrain from sending the rough stones off to cutting plants, as certain specimens can be worth more in their natural uncut state. This is only true for well-formed crystals that are hard to find and extract safely from their host matrix rock.

A lot of gem cutters like to 'slice' rough stones like loaves of bread, in order to fully exhibit the beautiful medley of color that makes it so unique. These tourmaline slices often become the centerpieces of pendants or earrings for designer jewelry pieces.
Despite being one of the world's go-to cutting centers for diamond, India has also had some bad experiences with undisclosed man-made stones. In Chennai, a growing concern over the rise in usage of synthetic diamonds have caused some traders to worry. For most people who are familiar with artificially grown diamonds, they're aware that prices for these materials are not nearly the same as their natural counterparts. In an article by Firstpost, about awareness and cautions of jewellers regarding this matter, a Mr. Padmanaban from N.A.C. Jewellers has mentioned an interesting observation: "In overseas markets, jewellers declare it as synthetic diamond. Also, a synthetic diamond in itself is a separate market there. But, here they sell it for the price of an original diamond."

In countries with less specified regulations for the sale and description of a man-made stone versus a natural stone, it can be quite difficult to responsibly purchase such expensive items. A lot of small-time jewellers seem to rely on an old technology of testing diamonds- these small instruments held like pens are usually a bit smaller than a standard TV remote, but they're currently the most affordable tool that can be bought over-the-counter. These machines use thermal conductivity to rule out cubic zirconia and glass from diamond. Some other versions also make use of electrical conductivity to try and rule out moissanite as well. Regardless of whether or not you think these instruments show any consistency, the fact remains that because man-made diamonds share the essential atomic structure of natural diamonds, they can in fact, bypass these instruments with complete ease.

Diamond dealers should sell their items responsibly, disclosing to buyers if the diamond they're selling was grown in a factory or mined from the earth. This would be the case in an ideal business setting, but since the world isn't always full of ethics or honesty, buyers must take it upon themselves to gain awareness on the differences in price and status between these two very differently sourced products.

Gemologists now have to rely on spectrometers that study the luminescence patterns of gemstones in order to differentiate a man-made diamond from a natural one. Telling by eye is possible, especially for older types of synthetics, however the newer variants can sometimes come completely eye-clean due to better improvements in technology. Here at our laboratory we make use of spectrometric instrumentation imported from California to help the Filipino people gain more information about their stones. We function as a third-party assessor and give our opinion on the identities of gemstones after subjecting them to a number of non-destructive laboratory tests.

One study has shown that the market for synthetic or man-made diamond in the Asia-Pacific region has been estimated at about $7,496 million dollars. While this continues to grow in the east, the market in the west is still considerably higher, due closer proximity to technological pioneers.