Glossary

Cubic Zirconia

Undoubtedly the best diamond alternative available today, Cubic Zirconia has been established as an affordable diamond substitute as well as an important fashion staple in itself.

Cubic Zirconia has slightly less brilliance (sparkle) than diamond, while having more fire (flashes of rainbow colours). Because Cubic zirconia crystals are grown in a controlled environment from molten Zirconia sand, if the crystal is not perfect in clarity, it is simply not used to make jewellery. Your CZ gemstone will remain sparkling clear with regular cleaning. CZ can be worn every day and will never get dull or change colour.


Marcasite

Marcasite’s glittering beauty and vintage feel has made marcasite jewellery a favorite for generations.

Marcasite is the name given the mineral iron sulfide, which is mined all over the world. Genuine marcasite often crumbles into dust and is too delicate to be used in jewellery, therefore usually the gem called marcasite used in jewellery is actually iron pyrite (more commonly referred to as fool’s gold).


Opal

Opal is the most colourful of all gems. Its splendid play of colour is unsurpassed, and fine examples can be more valuable than diamond. The play of colour consists of iridescent colour flashes that change with the angle at which the stone is viewed. This phenomenon is often called opalescence.

The opal we sell at ESSENTIAL is made up of a percentage of natural stone mixed with synthetic opal. Synthetic opals are chemically the same as naturally occurring opals, but the normal process of nature has been sped up so what occurs over millions of years now occurs in a laboratory in months or years. This process not only makes the stone more affordable, but also makes the stone heat and chip resistant, which means that it is more durable than natural opals, which may eventually dry out and crack.


Freshwater Pearls

Although the traditional source of pearls has been saltwater molluscs, freshwater mussels, which live in ponds, lakes and rivers, can also produce pearls. China has harvested freshwater pearls since the 13th century, and has now become the world's undisputed leader in freshwater pearl production.

Generally speaking, freshwater pearls are not as round as saltwater pearls, and they do not have the same sharp lustre as saltwater pearls. However, they appear in a wide variety of shapes and natural colours, and they tend to be less expensive than saltwater pearls, making them very popular with younger people and designers. Also, because freshwater pearls are solid nacre, they are also quite durable, resisting chipping, wear, and degeneration.


Mother of Pearl

Mother-of-pearl has been used in jewellery throughout history because of its simple, iridescent beauty. The gemstone is actually the nacre that lines the shell of some molluscs, and is the same substance that creates pearls.


Amber

Amber is a beautiful gemstone that isn't really a stone at all. It is the fossil of resin, or tree sap. Most of the amber that exists today is between 30 and 90 million years old. Amber ranges from pale yellow, to deep orange, to milky white in hue. Amber often appears to contain ‘bits’, these are called inclusions. These bits are usually water droplets that have become trapped in the resin as it fossilised, however sometimes insects or leaves can be seen. Amber increases in value with the rarity and perfection of the entrapped object. 


Moonstone

Rainbow moonstone is a simply gorgeous gemstone that almost glows in lovely hues of blues. Moonstone owes its name to the white, almost magical shimmer that resembles moonshine. Blue-whitish light glides over the surface when the stone is cut en cabochon. Incoming rays of light are refracted inside the stone and scattered, creating a unique play of light, which makes moonstone so special and coveted. Rainbow moonstone is associated with the mystical, feminine properties of the moon and of water.


Turquoise

Although Turquoise has been around for thousands upon thousands of years (known to man since at least 6,000 BC), it is still very popular and always seems to be in fashion

Turquoise is mined in dry areas such as Persia, Arizona and New Mexico. It can be found in a range of shades form blue to green. Variations in colour are due to the presence of metals, such as iron impurities in the case of green turquoise, and copper impurities in the case of more blue coloured turquoise.

Turquoise makes beautiful jewellery, however it is usually treated to protect the stone.  Wax or a clear resin normally covers the stone to protect it. 


Amethyst

Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz and the most valued member of the quartz family. It must be purple to be amethyst, but it can display a range of shades including deep purple, light lilac, lavender and mauve. Its purple colour made it a stone of royalty for many thousands of years

The colour of amethyst can come from a variety of sources. Manganese and iron are two likely culprits; these impurities in ordinary quartz (a mineral that is abundant throughout the earth’s crust) produce the purple colouring, creating the gemstone amethyst.


Paua Shell/Abalone

Abalone is an edible marine mollusc that is sought after for a wide variety of reasons from consumption to decorative purposes. They are a great delicacy in many cultures, so much so that some countries (particularly Japan) have large abalone farms. The beautiful shells that are produced as a bi product of this farming are sold for jewellery making, and are used to produce items with stunning blue green hues.


Black Onyx

Black Onyx, a member of the chalcedony family, is a gemstone made up of tiny microscopic crystals. It is a very popular gemstone in both women’s and men’s jewellery because its black colour acts as a great complement to white metals like sterling silver. Most black onyx on the market today is treated to give it its dark black colour, but is durable and resistant to fading as a result


Sterling Silver

The word "Sterling" is the best known and most respected marking in use today. Pure silver alone is too soft to make jewellery. Sterling is often referred to as solid silver, however it is actually an alloy of pure silver and another metal, most commonly copper. It is composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloyed base metal. This proportion never varies, it is fixed by law.

Sterling silver oxidises in air and you will notice that it develops a coating of dull tarnish. This is easily removed with an ESSENTIAL silver polishing cloth, and will leave your jewellery sparkling like new.