Monthly Archives: July 2013

Featured Stone: 5.92 carat Cushion Ceylon Sapphire

Our featured stone this month is a stunning cornflower blue Ceylon cushion sapphire weighing 5.92 carats and measuring 9.17 x 9.15 x 7.31 mm. GRS certified this stone is immediately available. Call us at 877.OMI.GEMS for pricing and memo options.

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California Corundum!?
From the Ground to My Finger

by Natalie Weisiger
Director of Marketing, Omi Gems

Most people do not have the opportunity to personally mine a gemstone for their own piece of jewelry. In fact, most people are not aware that there is the possibility of finding gemstones literally in their back yard. That was the case for me, until I began working at Omi Gems, and became a member of the Gem and Mineral Council (GMC) of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. My adventures in mining and jewelry had officially begun!

Last July, the GMC hosted a “collecting” fieldtrip to Cascade Canyon, located in the San Gabriel Mountains of San Bernardino County, California. The canyon contains lapis-lazuli and corundum deposits that few people are aware of or have had the chance to peruse (you must have a permit to take samples from the area). An hour drive from my home in Los Angeles, I was extremely excited to meet with the group, and to start my hunt for California rubies! I had no idea that corundum existed in California…I also had no idea the caliber of “hike” that awaited me in order to find the corundum. Keep in mind this is mid-July in the higher elevations of Southern California: hot and dry! Relieved that I had brought a CamelBak pack full of water, I took a deep breath of the 5,000 ft. air, and started down the hill with great anticipation of what we would find.

Cascade Canyon and its location on map.

Here we go! 

Our group consisted of GMC members of all ages, from 6 years old to 70+. It was a nice feeling to be with such a varied group who all share a love of minerals and gems. It also kept me motivated as the hike began to get daunting; the route included lots of dry brush, burrs, bugs, ups, downs, large boulders and even a river to traverse (some have nicknamed it “Devils Canyon”)! The location is so far from the beaten path, even our guide took a few wrong turns along the way. I was beyond glad that I had brought a walking stick; otherwise, I would have fallen countless times (as a few people actually did).

The very rocky river crossing was made easier by some helping hands.

Once we made it over the river, it was a short trail to the corundum bearing rock deposit (it is actually a landslide deposit; the outcrop itself is high up the mountain, but a landslide had moved the ruby-bearing rock fragments down the hill for “easier” access). Here is where my gem newbie-ism came into play. As everyone descended on this hill like excited little gnomes looking for treasure, I stood unaware that we had even found the “rubies.” Before I realized that we had arrived at our destination, every single person in the group had their hammer and chisel out, and were working feverously. I slowly set down my backpack, put on my volleyball kneepads, which I had purchased the day before (and was teased by Tony, the Curator Emeritus of the Natural History Museum, for wearing them), and started chipping away at the rock. All of the rocks looked the same to me: dirty, boring and less than extraordinary. I had no idea what I was looking for, and was extremely intimidated. Finally, a new friend helped me to identify which rocks would likely contain the pale rose to deep lilac specimens.

And here it is! The ruby slide, completely unnoticeable, unless you recognize what to look for.

My first time holding a pick! 

After a few hard hits and some intense pick action, I found some very small fragments of “California Ruby” peeking through the rough exterior. It is not anything to write home about, but it was still very exciting for me to see how the crystals had formed, and that I had actually “mined” them myself! After picking at the host rocks with various inappropriate tools including: a Swiss army knife, screwdrivers and pliers, my determination paid off with a nice little pile of corundum. I quickly realized that whatever I collected, I would have to carry back with me (rocks are heavy!). I was ready to get going (as was the rest of the hot and tired group). We quickly packed up and headed back towards the way we had arrived.

The Cascade canyon corundum is a pretty pinkish-red. It is darkened by inclusions of graphite (C) and rutile (TiO2).  Most of the crystals are tiny, but can reach up to an inch.

Once I returned home and sat down with a cool drink, I had a new appreciation for how truly special gemstones really are. I have always heard the term “precious gemstones,” and had never put much thought into its meaning. This may partly stem from seeing countless, beautiful, faceted stones in the office each day. I am spoiled, having only seen the end result of a gemstone’s travels, and never its beginning. Now that I had personally witnessed the birth of a stone’s “life” outside of its rock, I had to take it all the way! Even if it was the most undesirable-looking piece of stone, it was special to me, since I had personally retrieved it from the ground.

I fell in love with one stone in particular…it wasn’t the prettiest or the largest, but its ace shape instantly inspired a design idea for a ring. Yay! But now what?

My diamond shaped ruby.

I turned to Niveet, and asked if I could meet with our stonecutter to learn more about the process. With a “yes” from the boss, and my rubies in hand, I knocked on our cutter’s door to see how a rough stone becomes beautiful. Our stonecutter is a talented man with decades of experience. I entered his small workspace, where he has all the tools he needs within one or two steps. It appears that there is not much required, besides the shaping and polishing wheels, the associated tools, a few sinks, a lot of sticks with wax (which I later learned are called lapidary sticks) and an amazing talent for “listening” to each gemstone. As I arrived, he was working on some large single sapphires along with countless other fine gems. I sheepishly handed him my piece of “ruby,” and explained how I came about the piece, and that my goal was to set it in a jewelry design. “I know it’s not like these other stones you’re working with, but I love the story behind it,” I told him. He replied that a “treasure is always in the eye of the beholder.” He took my stone, and began polishing it.

He explained that upon viewing a stone, he is able to see what it should become, based on the type and shape of the rough, and the best way to cut with the least loss of material. He has been working with gemstones and learning the trade from his grandfather since he was a young boy. As he studies and works with a stone, he has a “vision” of what the finished gem will look like. The stone itself “always tells (him) what to do,” he explained. After a few minutes of polishing and a quick cleaning, he handed me my shiny ruby piece, smiled, and wished me luck with my design.

I returned to my desk and studied my “ruby.” I was immediately reminded of a snakehead! It was the perfect piece of stone to create a serpent ring…and in perfect time, since 2013 is the year of the snake! I gathered countless snake design ideas and presented them to one of our talented jewelers. We sat down later that week and brainstormed the design, the metal, and my personal preferences. Before its creation, we lovingly nicknamed it the “Silly Snake,” because I knew this was a stone and a project most jewelers would not have the patience to deal with.

I was originally thinking of including some alexandrite and opal (my birthstone) as accents in the silver serpent design.

After a CAD model, a wax version and some debate over whether to include stones other than the ruby, our jeweler surprised me earlier this year with the completed ring. It was nothing like I thought it would be, but more than I imagined!

Seeing my “Silly Snake” elicited a response in me like a teenage girl that just received her first car. I slid the perfectly fit ring onto my finger, and have not been able to stop staring since! The simplicity of the rose gold design with the ruby as the center of attention made me thrilled to wear it. I love being able to share my story of the stone, and how much work was involved in the creation of just this one piece. This experience has given me a true appreciation for the rarity of gems, and the unique story behind each and every one.

Thank you to everyone who helped me along in this process and made my dream of a self-mined custom design come true! Sources & select images used with permission:
Robert Housley, mindat.org
Alyssa Morgan & Eloïse Gaillou, NHM Mini Blog

Posted in Gemstones, Jewelry, Omi Gems | 13 Comments
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Privé’s Most Popular at JCK Jewelry Week

by Nicolette Kovacevich, G.G.
Manager of Fine Jewelry, Omi Privé

After returning from my weeklong “heaven” of jewels and gemstones that is JCK Las Vegas, the Omi Privé team cannot be more thrilled with the positive responses received.   Personally, this show made me realize one thing – I am spoiled.  As a company, we are blessed to source and work with some of the nicest and highest quality gemstones and jewelry in the world.  While it is wonderful to work with such exceptional beauty every day, it would be unfair to state that we do not tend to get accustomed to, and take somewhat for granted, this quality over time.  JCK 2013 served as a reminder for me.

Overall, the show was a great success.  I enjoyed spending time with current and past clients, and forming relationships with new ones! Excitingly, one thing that became very apparent over the course of the show was the multitude of “Oooohhhs” and “Ahhhhhs” received over the Omi Privé jewelry collection.  A great amount of time, energy, and effort was extended from all members of our team in preparation for this show.  Receiving these acclamations was both honoring and humbling.  I would like to recognize a few of the Omi Privé designs that gained the most attention and requests. It seems that these pieces were rarely in the showcase during JCK, as they were out being viewed, filmed, or photographed!

Emerald & Diamond Drop Earrings (EO1011-EMPE) – In the conception of these gorgeous pear-shaped emerald earrings, we set out to create a unique, yet timeless, design that would cradle the stones, and reveal their beauty from all angles.  During the second day of the show, while wearing these earrings, an unknown buyer approached me, turned my face to examine the pair, and exclaimed, “Well, those are truly two pieces of eye candy!”

Ruby & Diamond Necklace (NO1000C-RURD) – 17 ¾ inches of pure beauty, this necklace has been greatly sought after since its completion and hand-delivery in Las Vegas!  Reminiscent of “old Hollywood glamour,” it is a work of art. The necklace features 58 Burmese rubies with 37.04 carats total weight, perfectly matched, as well as over 1,000 diamonds totaling 6.48 carats.

Alexandrite & Diamond Eternity Band (BC1000-ALRD) – One aspect constantly recognized of Omi Privé pieces is the ideal match of all colored gemstones set in each piece. However, even members our own team were amazed and elated by this set of perfectly matched round alexandrites! The eternity band presents 3.34 total carats of fine-quality alexandrites, featuring consistent, excellent color change all the way around.

Pink Sapphire & Diamond Ring (RO1011-PSCU) – Crafting the right ring to ideally feature this 11.24 carat pink sapphire was no easy task. Much time and care were taken in the fabrication of this piece; so much so that the ring actually made its official debut the night before the show in Las Vegas! My facial expression in the picture below explains it all, and has been a consistent reaction had by many upon trying on this One-of-A-Kind pink sapphire ring.

Alexandrite & Diamond Ring (RO1005-ALOV) – This ring may be spotted in a variety of editorials and magazines; however, it never ceases to amaze buyers upon being viewed in person. The center is a 2.69 carat oval Brazilian alexandrite with excellent natural color change. This ring was also one of the Omi Privé pieces featured on JCK-TV this year!

Ruby & Diamond Ring (RS1240-RUCU) – This piece may be smaller than the others at first glance, but its beauty lies within its simplicity. The cathedral design tapers downwards, elegantly featuring the 6.5MM ruby cushion center. This classic style appeals to a variety of customers today.  With brilliant round diamonds set in the body of the ring, this design caught the eyes of many JCK buyers!

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Jewellery News Asia – July 2013

Click to Read Full Article

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AGTA GemFair Las Vegas – 2013 Recap

by Omi Nagpal
President, Omi Gems

All of the planning my dedicated team (Omi’s Homies) has done throughout the year comes down to five days at the AGTA show in Las Vegas. We work very hard to bring you the finest quality gemstones available. It was so wonderful to visit with customers I hadn’t seen for a few years, as well as those of you that I speak with frequently. It is an honor to have you stop by our booth and spend time with us.

I appreciate that the AGTA GemFair opens one day earlier than the main JCK show. This allows both retailers and designer exhibitors the chance to shop for their gems before JCK starts. This year I noticed a majority of our traffic was from customers with specific needs; either searching for replacement gems, working on a new collection, or searching for a special stone for a unique client. Everyone seemed very focused on his or her gemstone needs, and many came armed with their list of stones!

The first day of AGTA saw steady traffic.

I would say that compared to last year, the 2013 show brought us an increased volume of sales. It was nice to see more individual sales with both new and established customers. I was happy to see that the overall attitude on the show floor was very positive and upbeat. I enjoyed being part of the positive energy, and was pleased to see people investing more in loose gems.

With two of my “homies”, Sally our Gemstone Manager, and Grace, our Controller.

Our best sellers for 2013 were rare alexandrites and classic sapphires. We have one of the largest inventories of loose alexandrite. This rare, natural color-changing stone always drives a great amount of traffic due to its extreme rarity. Sapphire was also popular with many sales of singles and matched pairs. I saw some action on rubies, which leads me to believe that a very bright and passionate color is going to be popular in 2014! I look forward to seeing you all in Tucson this coming February!

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MJSA Online Design Challenge – Designs #6 and #7

The sixth and seventh designs for the MJSA 2013 Online Design Challenge have been posted! Each year the MJSA hosts an Online Design Challenge where participants are challenged to create a design around a loose gemstone. This year, the designers are inspired by the center stone, a 3.18 carat cushion alexandrite provided by Omi Gems, and a fictional story about a young Russian couple in love. Throughout the year, nine designers are challenged to create an engagement ring and wedding band set featuring the alexandrite, while keeping in mind the desires of Galina, the young woman who is center stage in the story.

Design #6 comes to us from Vijayshree Sovani of New Delhi, India. Vijayshree wanted to fuse Galina’s rich traditional culture with her love for modern design into her ring. The 18K white gold wedding band is meant only to be worn together with the engagement ring is inspired by the domes of Russian architecture. A pink tourmaline and peridot leaves pick up on the floral enameling in the 18K white gold engagement ring featuring the beautiful alexandrite.

Symbolizing the traditional Russian Orthodox belief in the holy trinity and its blessings, the engagement ring designed by Sovani showcases an enameled pattern that portrays Galina’s love for modern design.

The 7th design comes from Brooke Kanani Kahealani Sachs, from Westerly, Rhode Island. Brooke’s design took shape in the form of a sculptural story of Galina’s life, including her family traditions, her love for the fashion designs of Lesia Paramonova, and the Russian Orthodox church. Choosing 18K yellow gold, Brooke felt it would create beautiful shadows through the organic design and be a nice contrast to the color-change alexandrite. Integrating some of the main ingredients of the traditional Russian porridge; wheat created from graduated diamonds, poppy seeds and a honeycomb pattern grace the engagement ring.

The center alexandrite is surrounded by floral petals, creating a soft gestural edge around the symmetrical stone. The golden floral design at the top of the alexandrite is meant to take the shape of a dome, which symbolizes the sky. The alexandrite then creates a rectangular structure symbolizing a ship as a means of salvation (Noah’s Ark).

Both of these unique designs exemplify the story of Galina and her family traditions, fashion sense, and religious beliefs. Stay tuned to see the remaining designs announced in the 2013 MJSA Online Design Challenge! If you’re looking to design your own alexandrite ring, give us a call at 877.OMI.GEMS to inquire about our extensive inventory of loose alexandrite.

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Engagement 101 – Fall 2013

Green Queen! Emerald is the color-of-the-year and a true classic!

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Bridal Guide – September/October 2013

Every bride deserves a colorful, one-of-a-kind ring as unique as she is!

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Omi Privé One-of-a-Kind: Rose Cut Fancy Sapphire Bracelet

New to Omi Privé and completely on trend is a one-of-a-kind pink sapphire & diamond bracelet. This piece features 79 fancy-cut pink and purple sapphires weighing a total of 81.94 carats! Over 1,100 round diamonds with a total weight of 12.52 carats brilliantly frame and accent these stones. One will also find 2.45 carats of round pink and purple sapphires “sprinkled” within the bracelet’s design.

These rose cut fancy sapphires are unheated; thus, their color is of natural origin. Each stone was cut to enhance its individual color and beauty, adding to their uniqueness and value. The rose cut received its name for its resemblance of an opening rose bud. Cutting in this style reduces weight loss of the gem, while reflecting the stone’s natural hue. Characteristics of the rose cut are typically flat on the bottom, rising to a low pyramid at the top, with small, triangular facets.

Countless hours were spent studying these fancy cut sapphires and contemplating the bracelet’s design before any production could begin. First, the rose cut sapphires were laid out, with their hues and shapes alternating.

Then, the team of jewelers expertly began to craft the bracelet. Every piece is created individually by hand for each particular rose cut. The frames are connected separately, with most on hinges to increase movement, allowing for maximum comfort and sparkle from the bracelet.


The base of each sapphire’s frame is polished internally and on all surfaces before the pieces are connected. This maximizes the clean light reflection from all angles. The pavé-set diamond frames are created in 18K white gold. The prongs holding the stones, as well as the entire base of the bracelet, are crafted in 18K rose gold, ideally accenting the sapphires’ hues and allowing their true colors to shine through.

The most important aspect of this bracelet lies within its assembly. Certain stones are set without frames for balance and contrast. Varying sapphires are angled to give the bracelet depth and movement. “From each stone to each stone, one will notice that the angle is changing,” states Niveet Nagpal, Omi Privé’s President and head designer. “We studied the structure of the bracelet to perfectly harmonize its design, with tremendous focus on how it will move, how it will flow, and most importantly, how it will feel for the wearer.”

Lastly, the bracelet features a double safety lock, with the box clasp made by hand. Nagpal concludes, “This bracelet was definitely more labor intensive than anticipated. However, it is truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. It was a great experience and positively a great honor to create this exquisite bracelet to be a wearable work of art for today’s most feminine customer.”

Posted in Gemstones, Jewelry, Omi Gems, Trends | 3 Comments
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