Belated April Fools.

With the much awaited Avengers: Infinity War being released in Philippine theatres tomorrow, we thought it might be a fun, light-hearted post to show you what jewelry fans around the world were creating in support of their favorite cosmic gemstones.

It would be an interesting scenario if Thanos brought the infinity gems to our gemologists here at Gemcamp Laboratories. Our director would probably take a good long look at the gauntlet and say something like.. "Okay, the red one's flame fusion ruby, the purple one's hydrothermal amethyst, the green one's quench crackled quartz, and the blue one... that one's just cobalt glass."

Thanos: "These are the most powerful gems in the universe. I will obliterate your world."

Our gemologist: "You were swindled. These are fake."

Thanos: "When I'm done, half of humanity will still exist. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be... I hope they remember you."

...

Then maybe he gets vaporized by the power stone or something, but at least there was honor in the effort.



Mind you, we are kidding. -and most definitely, this is the farthest thing from gemology, but every now and then, it's nice to find yourself immersed in the world of fantasy, heroes and epic stories.

In the movies leading up to Infinity War, the avengers, played by Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chadwick Boseman, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner on screen, have been involved with plots to take over the earth, time and time again. Each film circling around an individual infinity stone, with a specific theme and power. The time stone for example, is a green gem called the "Eye of Agamoto" that allows the user to manipulate the fabric of time itself, was last seen around the neck of Dr. Steven Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch who will be joining the Avengers along with Tom Holland as Spiderman and the Guardians of the Galaxy.



In light of the fans' clamoring for more marvel-inspired trinkets, jewelry craftsmen from different parts of the world are gathering up their creative juices to manifest ideas that reflect on the diversity and significance of the movie, especially in superhero culture.

The Bee Hive, a craft store from America, created a custom chain-based infinity gauntlet, woven with multicolored fashion-gems that each symbolize the different infinity stones wielded by Thanos in his universal conquest.



Other interpretations show different golden rings, portraying the five cosmic stones in faceted form to be worn by each of your puny human fingers. There are also some jewelry pieces, like this Tesseract pendant, that take directly after designs from the movie, tailoring its physical appeal to the fandom of superhero culture.



A custom chain-mail gauntlet created by The Firefly Path, shows a more feminine, yet mythically eerie take on Thanos' gauntlet, providing us with yet another creative interpretation of the artifact.



Avengers Infinity War hits theatres this Wednesday, and a lot of the staff here at Gemcamp will be watching some of the late night showings.

All Avengers images and content are owned by Marvel Studios 2018. We are just fans who love their movies.
Here in Metro Manila, Feng Shui has become an influential part of many peoples' lifestyles, especially when it comes to the things they own and show. Despite this being outside of the realm of scientific gemology, we curiously wanted to understand how the mentality of Feng Shui affects Filipinos and Chinese jewelry buyers today. What does it mean when you purchase a diamond for the cultivation of good harmonious energy, as they would say?


 

We asked a local Feng Shui expert on what he thought of giving diamond rings as a gift, especially for people looking towards an engagement. In response to this question, the long-time practitioner of Feng Shui told us that diamonds for him symbolized a strong and lasting energy, that protects the couple for their entire lifetime, instilling fidelity and trust into the birth of a new committed relationship.

Apparently, he mentioned to us that when choosing a diamond engagement ring, the traditional solitaire or solo stone is by far the best choice, as it promotes the notion of "one and only", fortifying the strength and bond of a marriage.



The Feng Shui energy that emanates from a diamond is also heightened with single larger stones, rather than several smaller ones of the same total carat weight. He mentioned that one large stone, surrounded by several smaller melee stones is a better channeler for this energy compared to three medium-sized stones mounted side-by-side. It's often said that the number three is not good for relationships, and not a good number for any included property to be placed in a couple's bedroom.



Wedding bands are a trickier topic for Feng Shui practitioners, as the popular trend of "stackable" diamond wedding rings seems to cause trouble with the harmonic energy they prescribe. The fact that a single design is halved into two, creates a sense of tension and separation. This is highly dependent on the type of design in place though.

Aside from talking to us a bit about diamonds, he mentioned that many other popular crystals play a large part in driving good and positive energy (chi) around the household. Sapphires for example, promote devotion and loyalty, rubies increase one's sense of passion, and emeralds allow the induction of vitality into life.



Citrine has also been famously said to symbolize abundance, wealth or fortune. Despite it being a relatively affordable stone, the golden color of this quartz variety bodes well with the energies that many Chinese businesses seem to desire.

In any case, it was quite interesting to see how gemstones and crystals play a role in this practice that has captured the lifestyles of so many people here in the Philippines.
Freshwater pearls are very well known for their affordability and variety, especially in a tropical country like ours. These products come mostly from China's provincial regions, grown and harvested from river mollusks by the thousands.



It's a common assumption to believe that freshwater pearls are not as beautiful as those produced by saltwater mollusks, like the famed Pinctada maxima (South Sea) or the Pinctada margaritifera (Tahitian).



The pearls derived from freshwater sources are often very plentiful, as the culturing process for their types of mollusks allows you to produce anywhere from 20 to 40 pearls in a single mussel. This is a stark advantage over saltwater cultured pearl production, where mollusks typically only produce few or a single pearl at a time.




Freshwater pearls here in Metro Manila, are probably known by most as the hanging strands of keshi (rice-shape) and coin pearls situated on the bazaar space of tiangge's like the one in Greenhills shopping center. Although these pearls are very cheap and often used in costume jewelry, it should be noted that some producers are now making efforts to create freshwater pearls in larger and more round variations.



China's foray into cultured freshwater pearl farming has allowed them to develop their products to great extents in 2018. We've seen apricot and champagne colored freshwater pearls that looked perfectly round, grown using a bead nucleus like traditional saltwater pearl culturing. Of course, these types would not be as affordable as their keshi cousins, but their prices were remarkably only a fraction of those asked for south sea pearls at the same fair. It's not very easy for non-gemologists to tell the difference between the two types anymore, given their similarities, but proper testing at a laboratory can still tell the difference.



The freshwater pearl market is growing, due to a more constant supply and varied progress in quality improvement, however the top of the cultured pearl market still belongs to the golden and silver south sea pearls, to which the Philippines is famous for producing.

*Please note that Gemcamp laboratories does test for pearls, but only those used in traditional jewelry- nacreous small pearls like akoya, south sea and tahitian species. We DO NOT perform tests for large pearls that are suspected to belong to the giant clam species or Tridacna gigas.

The well-known auction house Sotheby's will be putting two flawless white diamonds up for auction during the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels events in Geneva on May 15, 2018.




Each legendary diamond specimen weighs over 50 carats, and both are estimated to fetch a combined price of over 15 million dollars. Apart from Christie's, Sotheby's is most likely one of the most well-known auction names in the world today, managing the sale of world-record diamonds and jewelry owned by famous personalities throughout history.

This follows the company's sale of a 102.34 ct. diamond last February 8 and 9 at the New Bond Street Salon. This particular stone set for sale at Sotheby’s retail store in London is the largest Type IIa, D-color, flawless, round brilliant cut diamond over 100 carats to ever be put on record.



The two-diamond suite was unveiled in London at a preview event on April 6 for the company's clientele. It was also noted as of recent news, that Sotheby's had just sold a 102.34 carat white diamond during one of its private sales, though no names were revealed regarding the final buyer. The current standing record for a white diamond is $260,252 per carat according to their database.

It's no easy feat to find gigantic stones at these quality levels, even for established mining companies, so when news arrives, it spreads like wildfire and the entire connoisseur community starts to buzz with guesses on who would be the eventual owner of such grand natural treasures.
In every part of the world, you'll notice a specific trend that governs the tastes of people who see themselves as serious jewelry collectors. Many nationalities differ in their own preference of what gemstone provides the most satisfaction in a wholesome sense- appeal, investment, cultural significance. Filipinos undoubtedly have ties to two of the gem world's front runners in the trade, pearls and diamonds.

Pearls have been revered by Philippine culture for decades, due to the archipelago's deep-rooted connection to the Palawan and South China seas. The golden south sea pearl (Pinctada maxima) is one of our country's premier luxury exports, and is indeed one of the world's most beloved gems.



The majority however, would primarily choose to purchase diamonds over any other precious or semi-precious gemstone. The culture of giving diamonds as gifts, not only during engagement ceremonies and weddings, but also during many other family-oriented occasions, is quite prevalent among much of the population today, especially in the bigger cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Filipinos have a penchant for selecting investment grade diamonds, possibly stemming from international influences that have westernized our tastes in jewelry. Diamonds after all, are the world's most widely marketed fine-gemstone, and account for more than 76% of the international gem-trade's business activity.


If you take a look at other countries, you'll find that each has its own specific gem of choice among their societies. China has a great admiration for jade, which can come from either the jadeite or nephrite species. Colombia puts importance on Emerald, as the Muzo and Chivor areas remain to be some of the planet's best sources for the finest green gems.



Our history of being a modern, partially westernized country in Asia, promotes a population where choices tend to agree with global preferences and selections. Most of the younger generation follow the habits of their predecessors, and today's millennial population also believes in the symbol of commitment and eternity that diamonds convey. We are indeed, romantics at heart, and a stone that can travel through centuries unfazed, would genuinely appeal to that part of us.

After diamonds, pearls are the most widely purchased gem in the country, followed by a three-way tie between ruby, sapphire and emerald. These fine varieties are directly above popular more affordable stones like amethyst and citrine.
Have you ever wondered how diamonds became the symbol for love, marriage and commitment? There are so many gemstones in the world, some with dazzling and vivid colors that can captivate the eye, but why did diamond of all these gems, gain the spotlight of an entire world's jewelry industry?

There's a company called De Beers, that was founded back in the 1800's by Cecil Rhodes in South Africa. Diamonds at the time, were very precious already and highly sought after, but they weren't the sparkling investment commodities they are today.




Rhodes went from renting water pumps to investing in the claims of small mining operators across the rich diamond-bearing fields. His ambition quickly grew bolder with each passing year, eventually pushing him to consolidate the country's entire mining industry, and De Beers Consolidated Mines was born.

This company has had a long history, but at one point they controlled the vast majority of diamonds on the international market, distributing raw, rough stones to manufacturers and "sightholders", who were all clients that bought De Beers' products through termed contracts or auction sales.

The ingenious branding of the diamond came about much later, with the advent of one breathtaking tag line, "A diamond is forever." Leveraging on the perfect 10 hardness possessed by the stone, as well as its intense scintillation, fire and brilliance, the company's marketing arm slowly created an association between diamond and romance. The captivating traits of endurance and beauty were linked to how marriages should stand the test of time, just like nature's strongest gemstone.



De Beers paved the way for the modern diamond industry, now more diverse in its sources, retail avenues and public reach. It's highly doubtful that even Cecil Rhodes had the foresight to predict how great of an influence his company would have on the world, but to this day, De Beers is probably the most famous name associated with the diamond trade.

With the rise of other mining companies like Rio Tinto and Alrosa, De Beers' share of the rough diamond market is not nearly as big as before, but it has ventured out into the retail world as well, vertically scaling to reach consumers on a whole new level.

With their help and guidance, laboratories were able to develop gemological programs to study and grade diamond qualities, as well as distinguish fake stones from real ones.

In this day of man-made synthetics, the dependency on scientific methodologies grows even more important for the battle against diamond fraud.
Before anything else, we advise you to proceed with caution when doing your own evaluations of gemstones. These items have values that can vary greatly depending on things like color intensity, treatments, nature and of course authenticity. Many specimens will resemble others visibly, but then turn out to be something else, and therefore it is always best to have your sapphire checked with proper instrumentation at a professional gemological lab for assurance.



 Sapphire, especially the blue variety, is one of the most popularly traded gemstones anywhere in the world. Today, we'll teach you some helpful tips and tricks to differentiating precious sapphire from some of its more common imitation counterparts. Even some less expensive natural gems are used today as imitations to trick the inexperienced buyer.



1. Check For the Presence of Gas Bubbles.

Although many people confuse mineral or crystal inclusions with gas bubbles, only synthetic gems and glass imitations will possess raw bubbles within their material. Natural sapphire can show gas bubbles, but only when they are contained within "negative crystal" inclusions, which are basically mineral-shaped holes that have liquid suspended within them, and pockets of trapped air.



2. View Your Stone's Blue Color Under Reflected Light.

Blue sapphire will only show hues of violet, blue and dark green. Many imitations like glass and synthetic alexandrite, will show you a reddish or reddish purple color when you shine light against the stone. If you see any color other than those mentioned for sapphire, it might be best to have a gemologist look at your material. Just because a stone shows the proper color though, does not automatically mean it's authentic. Ever gem identification is a step-by-step process of deduction.



3. Look For a Colorless Plane in Sideview.

Some imitations, called assembled stones, will show you their true nature when viewed from the side. Assembled stones are comprised of two or three fused sections that are usually not of the same material. A green sapphire crown is often fused with a synthetic blue sapphire pavilion to create the deceptive look of natural blue sapphire. Likewise, colorless beryl or spinel are often fused with blue cement to create triplets that can imitate precious sapphire specimens. The colorless plane on this triplet is tricky, as the entire assembled stone's color actually comes from a colored cement layer at its mid-point.



4. Look for Intersecting Needles at 60, 120 and 180 degrees.


Sapphire is a variety of the mineral known as corundum, and some specimens tend to have inclusions of rutile, which we call "silk". These can help you determine their natural origin. Be very careful though, as many other stones can also possess needle inclusions- garnet often has needles that intersect at slightly different angles to sapphire. Assembled stones can trick you with needles on a thin crown, and glass can sometimes have elongated inclusions that one might confuse with silk.



5. Watch for Nearly Perpendicular Cleavage Directions.

Examine your stone under magnification. Sapphire does not possess any cleavage directions (planes of atomic weakness), but a close visual cousin does- Kyanite. This gems species can look extremely similar to blue sapphire in color, and is often confused with it. One big difference is that kyanite possesses nearly perpendicular cleavage directions and will often have very straight "breaks" or fractures that follow this property. Do not confuse intersecting cleavage breaks with the intersecting needles found in sapphire. If you are unsure about the inclusions found within your stone, ask a gemologist to properly check it.

Lastly, glass and plastic are often used to imitate sapphire, so check for heft. Sapphire is much more dense than either of those two imitation materials, so you'll feel a distinct difference bouncing it on your palm. Many glass gemstones will also have highly abraded facet edges, because the material is much softer than sapphire, and can be victimized by wear and tear quite easily.
Diamonds have been revered as the world's hardest natural material for as long as we've known. Nowadays, with the trend of synthetic diamonds growing in reach and influence, many industries are also trying to gain an edge from the ability of man to artifically produce this material.

Take a break from worrying whether the diamond in your ring is man-made or natural for just a bit, and hear about this new innovation coming to the smartphone industry. If you're familiar with proprietary names like "gorilla glass" for iPhones, then just wait till 2019. The world is getting ready for the usage of diamond glass in their technologies.



One company; Akhan Semiconductor (unaffiliated mention), is developing something called Miraj Diamond Glass, which uses actual laboratory-grown synthetic diamond to create a transparent shield that will surpass the scratch resistance of other materials. The company is researching to create products aimed for several different markets, hopefully bringing the diamond revolution to a wide variety of products in the near future.

Synthetic diamonds, while most heard of in the jewelry trade, are actually being used in many different industries already. This news just sheds light on synthetic diamond products that are so clear and transparent, that you use them for applications previously unheard of before.



CVD and HPHT man-made diamonds are currently detectable by knowledgeable and properly equipped gemological laboratories. Here at Gemcamp, we often see clients who bring in stones that were made by one of these two processes. Sometimes, even the vendor who sold them the stone does not know about its synthetic origin. Diamonds whether natural or synthetic are often passed down a pipeline and exchanged through many hands. Their durability and status dictates re-sale and re-investment quite often, and somehow people can lose track whether the item is real or just a hoax.

Despite these discoveries, the most concerning topic regarding synthetic diamonds is their usage in the jewelry industry. How do we know that the precious gemstones we buy are indeed mined from the earth and not created in some factory? No one can tell the difference without training and specialized equipment. Couple this with the fact that diamonds are small, high value assets that are easily transported, and you immediately feel an impending worry in your mind.

Our jewelry trade requires that all gemstones, natural or man-made should ethically be disclosed to the full detail, but many individuals do not prescribe to this degree of ethics or fairness. Others take advantage of gray-areas and confusing terminologies to make a quick sale.

Here at Gemcamp, we neither sell nor buy loose diamonds. We also don't recommend any vendors to you, so objectivity is assured for your peace of mind. Have your own diamond checked at the lab for proper, third-party assurance. You can also learn a bit more about synthetic diamonds by inquiring for our upcoming gemology classes this 2018.
In the world of fancy-colored diamonds, many gemstone collectors are already familiar with the trending pink, blue and yellow hues that are often accentuated into high-fashion showcases. The trade is highly focused on the supply of these colors, as they are relatively easier to come by compared to the rest.



Of course, gemstones were not made famous by historically common supplies. Exclusivity, rarity and beauty all come together to define what makes a gem precious and coveted. Red diamonds, hold this type of indescribable allure over only the most discerning clientele in our society.

Out of all the colors that diamonds can come in, red is by far one of the most highly sought after, and extravagantly paid for.


Several of the most famously expensive small-sized diamonds at auction possess a pure red hue. Even the famous Argyle Tender, hosted in Geneva, takes a lot of pride in presenting any red diamonds they mine during a season.



It's not easy to get your hands on one, as most jewelry stores will only sell colorless, near-colorless, yellow, and brown stones. Some other boutiques into rarer tastes may stock pinks and blues for their customers, but not many carry the scarlet reds that have captivated most of the high-end diamond collecting industry.

Rio Tinto, the company that owns the Argyle mine in Australia, is probably the world's largest mining company that focuses their efforts on fancy-colored diamonds. The Argyle mine mainly produces pink, colorless and brown stones due to its unique geological environment. The company has progressed with the marketing of their brown stones as chocolate diamonds, but concentrates most of their efforts on spreading the image of their exclusive pink stones.



Usually, fancy colored diamonds do not go as high up in saturation as rubies, emeralds or sapphires. They're typically more muted in intensity, showing a pastel beauty combined with diamond's illustrious brilliance and scintillation. Every now and then though, a lucky miner may come across a stone of incredible rarity, a diamond with enough color to rival even that of other gem species. When this happens, the trade talks. Conversations start to buzz, and people start bidding.

"Look for the things that make your heart go thump at first sight. The mysterious wonders of nature that are not burdened with twins or equals." What a diamond represents is commitment, beauty and timelessness. We encourage everyone to view their different colors and to appreciate the diamond species in its full spectrum of grandeur and elegance.

Photography credits to Rio Tinto Corporate Media
It's no secret to the jewelry-buying community that synthetic (a.k.a. man-made, cultured) diamonds have been growing in market reach, with more and more producers creating lab grown diamonds every year. The challenge of gemological institutes grows stronger as time passes, due to the barriers of entry weakening for this industry.




(These are different from simulant diamonds, which atomically, are not diamonds at all. Simulants, or imitation diamonds are actually chemically composed of another material altogether, like moissanite or cubic zicronia. Pictured above is a simulant diamond)

Man-made diamonds on their own, present a legitimate opportunity for both buyers and sellers, IF disclosed properly. There's nothing fraudulent about selling one of these stones, as long as they are sold as synthetic gemstones or laboratory-made gemstones. The problem is, because there seems to be an influx of these products flowing into the international jewelry markets, some shady sellers try to move their items in an underhanded fashion, sneaking man-made gemstones into parcels of natural diamonds. Even store owners often fall prey to this scheme, as you need advance spectrometric equipment to detect a fake.



Despite their monetary values being very different, visually a synthetic diamond is almost impossible to separate from a natural one, even for experienced jewelers. The cause for concern is starting to hit many, as the public starts to gain awareness on the reality of this issue and what it means for security in the diamond trade.

According to news sites in the US, a subsidiary retail brand of Diamond Foundry will be shutting down their physical store in Los Angeles branch after just six months in business. The manufacturer legally produces or grows synthetic diamonds using controlled machinery.


The closure of their establishment is occurring for reasons we can only speculate from halfway around the world, but the company isn't out of the ballgame just yet. Reports say that the brand will continue with its online business activity, as they still state that fast-paced movement of their lab-grown diamond products is prevalent throughout many digital markets.

It's unclear whether the public's reception of synthetic diamonds would be similar in other localities, but the fact that these artificially made products are being sold online to millions of people across the world, should stir up the possibility of gradually diffused security in the overall diamond trade.

Are these buyers acquiring the stones for personal jewelry, or are they re-selling them to unsuspecting people who do not yet know of the technology to produce diamonds with machines? Here in the Philippines, synthetic diamonds have also made their way into our community. We actually applaud the local retailers who openly disclose their items as synthetics, but hold fear regarding the small-scale traders that may be too tempted to gain a quick buck at someone else's expense.




Hopefully the ethics and open disclosure stay true for businessmen here in Metro Manila, as the separation of natural VS synthetic diamonds is currently a fast-growing issue. Gemcamp Laboratories has already encountered several synthetic stones at our facility, some of which had owners who were not aware of their production from machines. It's a pressing matter, and we hope to always do our best in helping the Filipino people stay away from any possible fraudulent purchases.