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Red Spotlight On...My One Carat Ring

For my birthday today, I decided tell the story of my first one carat Red Emerald.

I began my collection by purchasing a red beryl specimen weighing 31.415 carat. I believed this would cut an incredibly large stone, if not the biggest ever. My original plan was to fabricate a single piece of jewelry around the phenomenal gem I imagined. This work of art was intended to outshine all others which had come before in this variety.

Red Emerald is much less dense than Diamond, meaning a Red Emerald weighing 7/10th of a carat is the same volume as a one carat Diamond. A marketing statement claimed so few 3/4 carat gems exist that only one in seventeen million could own one, and Red Emeralds were so uncommon most people would never even get the chance to see one in real life.

I wanted my work to save humanity from this prophecy. When I began to consider the accent stones to use in a design, no others (except perhaps Benitoite) seemed rare enough to compliment such a marvel, so I simply decided to collect more Red Emeralds.

Although I did believe my personal efforts would be able to create one of the largest Red Emeralds, I did not initially believe I would personally own one. I usually do not view myself as the owner of my collection, but as the temporary caretaker or manager for these little rock stars.

Five months after I first heard about the Red Emerald, on November 3rd, 2013, I saw a photo of the gemstone which would become my ring. The stone measured 7.8 millimeter by 5.8 millimeter and weighed 1.15 carat. I negotiated the purchase immediately.

I was amazed such a large example of this natural wonder was available at a cost an everyman like me could afford! I saw this jewel like the first dollar of a business -- instead the first victory in a mission -- a proud symbol of something I never thought I would achieve.

All colored gemstones have inclusions…without them, they would have no color. These natural features become familiar over time, and a person can actually become acquainted with the "face" of their Red Emerald! Although it's my birthday, I will share a gift you, dear reader, by disclosing a little-known secret: Almost every Red Emerald "plays dead" when captured inside a gem jar. Included stones should be bathed in high doses of specific kinds of light to bring them to life fully.

A week after purchase, my very first one carat Red Emerald was in hand. I managed to acquire a few dozen faceted examples before this, but all were under half a carat. At first, my largest looked as lifeless as the rest. I was unsatisfied only seeing it trapped under plastic, so I released it into my hand. Blue-hued lighting helps diamonds look their best in the store, but Red Emeralds favor a yellow-toned glow. The moment I inspected my prize over a gold coin under an incandescent bulb, crimson fire burst into existence and burned into my memory.

I believed in the Red Emerald from the beginning due to its rarity, but this example was the first one which revealed her powerful beauty. My other gems were similarly stimulated by these same lighting conditions, and in these moments, my long-standing faith in this precious gemstone was completely confirmed.

Light poured through the pavilion of my rock. The pattern created by inclusion fields inside the jardin revealed a glowing X, my favorite letter, deep in the heart of this gem. The rectangular scarlet field looked like a crystal logo belonging to my favorite group of heroes: the X-Men -- social outcasts fighting for a world that hates and fears them. My favorite superpower belongs to Magneto, who controls one of the fundamental forces of the universe as the Master of Magnetism. The regal color scheme of his costume is Red and Purple…like a Ruby.

I immediately identified with this inanimate object and made a decision: of all the gemstones I would sell or give away, this one would be mine.

The red of a Ruby is reinforced by Gold; since the Red Emerald shares a Ruby's color, Gold compliments the gems in the same way. The combination of faceting AND a proper jewelry setting is required to fully showcase the exceptional talent of this mineral variety.

In February 2014, I met a jeweler named Ben Tracy. More than the proprietor of a local shop, Ben worked for Garrard's of London and was one of three craftsmen responsible for the Heart of the Ocean sapphire necklace used in the movie Titanic. I sought him out to fabricate the Comet-Tail Earrings using history's largest known pair of Red Emeralds, but first…I wanted my own jewelry.

In younger days, I made a "scrap gold" purchase of a ring with a large red gem in the center. I loved the architecture, but the jewelry never felt "real". The 14 karat interior was hollow and the ruby was quite obviously synthetic. I wanted the aesthetics I had appreciated constructed with actual authenticity and heft, so Ben set one of the rarest gemstones on Earth in half an ounce of pure sculpted gold (2/3 oz 18K YG).

Four months later, fabrication was complete. The design of the precious metal housing protected the gem from nearly every angle, and the skill utilized when forming gold around the stone in the bezel was plainly evident.

Like a wedding ring, this significant work took on a great deal of personal meaning. I had worn few pieces of jewelry in the past, but this ring would serve as a reminder of my mission each morning when I put it on. My first one carat gem was destined to travel with me every day, as sign of an emerald's endurance. One of my great regrets is that I never took a picture of my gem before the accident.

After thirteen months of continuous wear without incident, while flailing obliviously in my typical manner, I managed to punch my parents' granite kitchen countertop. The force of the blow landed perfectly on the edge of a table facet, entering into an internal inclusion field which had always been positioned underneath. I took the first picture of my ring immediately afterwards, noted the date and realized July 17, 2015 was the 18 year anniversary from when I joined the Army at 18 years old. This mistake was an interesting mark for that occasion.

When it comes to damage, emeralds are more susceptible than some stones, but they are by no means "soft", and no other incidents have been noted in 3 1/2 years of continuous wear. Diamond is 10, Sapphire/Ruby is 9 and Emerald is 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. For millennia, the hardest thing mankind could create was hardened steel, which ranks 7 to 7.5...superhuman hardness was one of the reasons these gems were so revered!

In a survey of Emerald dealers, only a few stones out of thousands sold are ever returned for breakage. While a crack appeared after I hit a corner with an extreme degree of force, emerald enhancement is designed to address exactly this type of issue. The Gemological Institute of America has stated the ideal emerald enhancement should "hide fissures, flow into fractures, hold up over time and be removable" (JCK Magazine - June 2007).

Any emerald which undergoes the ExCel process may be easily restored to its original state and comes with a lifetime guarantee for their completely reversible enhancement services. The ExCel polymer hardens as far into the stone as liquid penetrates, effectively sealing surface fissures which may exist and allowing greater visibility into a stone. An added benefit of this action is increased gem stability, which reduces the risk of future damage considerably.

With the ExCel guarantee, I could re-process my gem to fill the fissure and stabilize the stone, masking the presence of any alteration. However, there is no guarantee I could duplicate the quality of work after removing my gem from such a professional setting.

Like all Type III gemstones, the center jewel worn daily on my right hand is imperfect, but gemstones under my care do not need to be perfect…I only desire to see them become as beautiful as they can possibly be. The scratches, dings and battle scars I have contributed to my own gem are a small percentage of the total number carried within its body; others have existed for the entire 18 million years my Red Emerald has lived. These natural features are physical evidence of the hardships all must fight to shine brilliantly.

In a similar homage to that endurance, September 29 also marks 200 days since this blog of Crimson Confessions began!

Stop back next week to see what new discoveries we make next!

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