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Birthstones – October

October is a super unique and exciting month for birthstones because technically there are two! Opal and Pink Tourmaline are the stars of the spooky season but why do we have two birthstones, and what makes them so special?

BVLA ‘Round Cab Prongs’ 14k Yellow Gold. Genuine White Opal (left) Pink Rhodolite (right).

Two Birthstones?

There’s no real solid evidence on why we have two birthstones for October, but there are two ideas floating around.

Originally Opal was the sole birthstone for October, however some people argued that it was too feminine, too fragile and it wasn’t durable for everyday wear. This is because Opal is only a 5.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. In comparison, a Sapphire is 9. To give more options for gemstones that could be worn for a lifetime, Pink Tourmaline was added as a secondary option. It is also thought that another reason that some months have more than one birthstone is so that people could still purchase a gemstone if the primary birthstone was too expensive. I’m looking at you, April (Diamond) babies!

Opals!

Opal is the traditional gem for the October birthstone. It is a classic choice, with a milky white ‘background’ colour and a rainbow of iridescent tones that shine in different lighting. Opals can be found in a variety of hues such as black, pinks, greens, blues and even more! They are mined from sources all over the world, but human-mined Opals were first discovered in a cave in Kenya by famous anthropologist Louis Leakey dating back to 4000 BC. There is also evidence that they were mined in North America 10,000 years ago. However, since the late 1800s, it has been most commonly exported from Australia. Australia is now the most famous exporter of Opals, providing 95% of the worldwide opals with the industry valued at almost 90 million AUD per year.`

Most Opals are mined underground, however open-cast Opal mining is also common in Australia.

The soft but beautiful gemstone also has a really fascinating history all across the world, with multiple beliefs and traditions contributing to its modern popularity. Multiple cultures have credited the opal to have supernatural and/or magical properties. In Ancient Greece, they believed it to give the gift of prophecy and health, such as protection from disease. However in Arabic legends it is believed to have fallen from Heaven during flashes of lightning. They also have past and current symbolisation of hope, and purity.

How are Opals Formed?

Opal is a hydrated armorphous form of silica. This means that it is a solid that contains water, but lacks certain characteristics to be classified as a crystal. It’s water content can sometimes be as high as 21%! Opals began to form in Australia over 500 million years ago, when the land was covered by a shallow inland sea. The sediment that settled aty the bottom of this sea was high in silica, which slowly began to trickle down into clay beds and even fossils. As the silica was deposited, it formed opals.

Because of its water content, and armorphous properties, Opals are very soft and delicate gemstones that should be treated gently, and with care. It is recommended that any opal jewellery should be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap. Please do not use any harsh chemicals on Opal jewellery. You can also use a soft bristled toothbrush or a cloth to gentle polish the stone.

We are often asked why we do not use genuine opals in initial piercings – So lets explain why! Opals are unique within body jewellery in that they contain a very high natural water content; sometimes as much as 21% by weight. Sterilising jewellery involves using an autoclave, which reaches high temperatures and pressures over 130 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the water content of opals can flash-evaporate which can cause the gemstone to split. That would be an expensive mistake!

Pink Tourmaline

Pink Tourmaline is the more modern addition to the October birthstones rota. It is a strikingly beautiful stone known for its range of pink colours. It can be found in a variety of shades ranging all the way from pale pink to rich, deep magenta.

Tourmaline as a category is known for its variety of colours. Depending on which elements are found in its crystalline structure, the colours can range from greens to reds, to blues and pinks. This makes it an excellent substitute for other, often more expensive precious gemstones. For example, Green Tourmaline was found in the 1500s by a Spanish conquistador in Brazil, who washed some dirt from the stone, and due to its vibrant hues of green mistook it for an Emerald. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that it was recognised as its own category of mineral by geologists and gemologists.

Popularity for the gemstome Tourmaline spiked in the 1800s in America, when it wa sold to the company Tiffany and Co, who are infamous for their excellent and early adoption of modern marketing techniques. However, despite the American popularity for Tourmaline, it was actually China that dominated the market for Pink Tourmaline. The Dowager Empress Tz’u Hsi was paticularly fond of the pink tones and purchased huge quanities of the stone. So much so, that when the Chinese government collapsed in 1912, the market for Pink Tourmaline also collapsed!

Throughout history, Pink Tourmaline has had many different attributes associated with it. The Romans used it as a sleep aid or stress reliever, whilst many artists, writers and creatives have used it to stimulate creativity. There are modern beliefs that it renews vitality, can strengthen self-confidence and even enhance sensuality. It is believed to be the stone of love and humanity, and many crystal healers use it for healing. It has strong ties to being an aid for physical and emotional healing, especially to remove the emotional pain from heartache any many forms of abuse. It is a stone for love, passion and joy.

At Rogue we don’t place much merit in these purported magical powers, but it is interesting to read.

Pink Tourmaline is quite a hard stone (7.5 on the Mohs scale), which means it is durable and suitable for everyday wear. To clean your Tourmaline jewellery at home it is recommended to use warm soapy water or an ultrasonic cleaner.

We stock jewellery from brands from across the world, and can source items in all birthstones imaginable! If you would like to treat yourself to some meaningful pieces, just get in contact with us.

Make sure to follow us on social media for regular updates, and keep an eye out as we post new blogs every single Friday!

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Jewel School 2- Oregon Sunstone

Oregon Sunstone is a unique and often underrated stone when it comes to jewellery. Since being used by high end jewellery brands such as BVLA, it has become a favourite amongst piercers and piercing enthusiasts alike. So where does this stone originate, what is it’s history and what makes it so beautiful? I’m sure you can answer at least one of those questions!

This BVLA Mini Kandy really shows off the “champagne bubble” effect that copper inclusions can give to Oregon Sunstone. Shop here!

Oregon sunstone is a feldspar, or crystal-forming mineral, that is found in Oregon, USA. In fact, it was declared the official state stone of Oregon in 1987. It is produced from shallow mines in two counties and is hard enough to be carved, polished and faceted for jewellery. Historically, the local Native American Tribes have a legend describing its origins. In the legend, the blood of a great warrior –who is wounded by an arrow – spatters onto pieces of sunstone. The blood carried his warrior spirit into the stones, coloring them with shades of red and giving them sacred power. Native American tribes traded this stone across most of Western America and it can be found in many museum collections as a result.

This BVLA Beaded Pear in Yellow Gold really demonstrates the potential that this gem holds when it comes to statement jewellery.

Oregon Sunstone originally formed in Basalt lava flows in aggregations called “Phenocrysts,” which are large collections of a crystal surrounded by glassy igneous rock. It is in the same ‘family’ as Labradorite and is fast becoming a highly popular stone with jewellers. The Oregon Sunstone found in body jewellery is often transparent and can be cut into a multitude of different facet styles. Oregon Sunstone can be shades of pink, tan, orange, yellow, green, blue-green, red, and clear as well as bi-colors. This colour is caused by unique inclusions of copper within the crystal structure, which causes a visual effect called “Schiller,” which gives the stone an almost champagne bubble-like appearance. These copper inclusions are flat, plate-shaped, highly reflective, and precisely aligned along the crystallographic axis of the stone. The “shimmer” seen in Oregon Sunstone is called aventurescence by gemologists and jewellery experts. Traditionally in body jewellery, Oregon sunstone is selected in pink to tan-orange shades which complement Yellow and Rose Gold.

This bead of Oregon Sunstone displays highly visible copper inclusions.

At Rogue we currently have two pieces containing Oregon Sunstone as shown in the photos included in this article. Currently the only high-end body jewellery brand using this stone is BVLA, which is renowned for its highly customisable bespoke jewellery. If you have any ideas for how you would like to use this gem in a piece of jewellery, do get in contact with us and we would be happy to help you get your ideas set into gold.

Remember to follow us on facebook and instagram for more information on piercing and the jewellery we have available! Don’t hesitate to message us any questions you may have.

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Jewel School 1- Cubic Zirconia vs Diamonds?

At Rogue we offer jewellery adorned with real Diamonds, and also pieces set with Cubic Zirconia. So what is Cubic Zirconia, and what is the difference between the two?

Cubic Zirconia, or CZ, is a man-made crystal structure that was first produced in 1976 as a more affordable alternative to Diamonds. CZ is not to be confused with Zirconium- This is a silvery metal used in the production of Cubic Zirconia. CZ is made from a specialist mixture of Zirconium and Zirconium Dioxide which is heated to 2750 celsius. Cubic Zirconia of varying colours are created by adding different coloured oxides to the molten CZ mixture during its firing process. Once the molten mixture begins to cool, crystals will form that are then cut and polished in the same way that Diamonds are. Diamonds are often naturally formed from Carbon deposits by intense heat and pressure in the Earth’s crust. They can also be formed synthetically in labs. There is almost no difference between naturally formed and synthetically made Diamonds.

This BVLA Snowflake is an example of a Diamond-set piece which is available on our website! How handy. Shop Here!

How does Cubic Zirconia differ from Diamonds? 

Well, because it is completely man-made, it can be made absolutely perfectly with no inclusions or imperfections. Almost all Diamonds will have minute inclusions in them. Hardly any Diamonds are completely perfect as they are naturally formed in imperfect conditions. Even professional Diamond jewellers may never see a completely perfect Diamond in their entire career.

Cubic Zirconia are slightly less hard than Diamonds- They are an 8.5 on the Mohs Hardness scale whereas Diamonds are a 10. One notable difference is that since CZ are slightly less hard than Diamonds, the facets of their cut are slightly softer and more rounded than a Diamond. Diamonds, being incredibly hard, can hold a significantly sharper facet. However to the naked eye looking at a CZ gem and Diamond of similar size and cut, it is often impossible to tell the two apart. CZ gems are also slightly heavier than Diamonds, being 1.7 times more dense. 

This Marquise Fan from BVLA is set with three Swarovski Cubic Zirconia gems. If you look closely at the far right gem, you can see the Swarovski logo laser-cut into the gem. Shop Here

How are CZ similar to Diamonds?

Cubic Zirconia can be coloured any colour a diamond can, and more. Diamonds can be steel gray, white, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink to purple, brown, or black. Cubic Zirconia offers a more affordable yet still visually impactful option. CZ shouldn’t be considered a “poor man’s Diamond” as it can offer intense colours and variety. 

This BVLA Marquise Fan is set with three Cubic Zirconia gems, but they have been created with an Aurora Borealis finish that simply cannot be recreated with genuine Diamonds.

To conclude, both Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia have their own merits. Diamonds are, of course, highly sought after and expensive for a reason. They can become family heirlooms and are often treasured for generations. Cubic Zirconia is often more perfected than Diamond simply due to its manufacturing process and can give a gorgeous sparkle without as much of a large price tag. Some people say that CZ is lower quality because it is placed into cheaper, less well-made settings and jewellery than Diamonds. This is simply untrue for any jewellery sold as Rogue. All of our jewellery is produced by brands at the forefront of jewellery quality. We simply do not sell low-quality jewellery so you can be confident that whichever gem you chose, you will be very happy with the results!

If you have enjoyed the photography shown off in this post, make sure to follow our Instagram for more stunning photos and more!