January Birthstone: Garnet

January Birthstone: Garnet

Those born in January are lucky to claim garnet as their birthstone. In this article, we explore this stunning gem; it’s meaning, history, folklore, as well as provide you with care and cleaning tips to ensure your garnet jewelry continues to sparkle with each year.

Meaning & History


Garnet’s word derives from the 14th century, where “garnet” meant a deep red color. It is derived from the Latin word granatum, which means seed; in this instance, a pomegranate seed.

Garnets have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. Necklaces studded with red garnets adorned ancient Egypt’s pharaohs and were used in amulets and talismans, also buried with the dead. Garnet jewelry dating to around 2000 BC has been found in Sweden, and there’s evidence that the Greeks were wearing garnets as signet rings beginning around 400 BC. Signet rings in ancient Rome featured garnet intaglios that were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents. The clergy and nobility of the Middle Ages had a preference for red garnets.

One of the most famous garnet jewelry pieces (pyrope is from the Greek pyrōpos, which means “fiery-eyed”) is found at the Smithsonian – an antique pyrope hair comb. A large rose-cut garnet sits at the crest. The pyrope garnets came from the historic mines in Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). During the Victorian era (1837–1901), these rich red gems were very popular.

Folklore, Religion, and Healing


In Indian astrology, garnet helps eliminate negative feelings, such as depression and guilt, and is believed to instill self-confidence and clarity to promote creative thinking and peace of mind. Garnet was also thought to alleviate inflammatory diseases and soothe the angry heart.

In the Old Testament, garnet is known as carbuncle, and is said to have been one of the 12 stones in Aaron’s “Breastplate of Judgement ” (Exodus 28:15-20).

Medieval warriors wore garnets to ward off being wounded in battle and as lucky talismans to help bring victory. King Solomon also wore garnets into battle, according to legend.

Fun fact: In the Middle Ages, people believed garnets would protect from poisoning.

Garnets have adorned many a royal garment, including Queen Victoria, Mary Queen of Scots, and the wives of Russian Tsars.

One of the most curious uses of garnets was during the early 1890s in India during a rebellion in the Kashmir territory when Hanza tribal soldiers used garnets as ammunition to fire upon British soldiers!

Where Garnet is Found


Bohemia was the primary source of the red pyrope garnets popular during Victorian times. In 19th century Russia, green demantoid garnets from the Ural Mountains were prized by the Russian royal family and used by the great jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé (1846–1920).

Today, the African continent supplies much of the world’s garnet. Namibia produces demantoids and bright green tsavorites come from Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar. Namibia and Tanzania have rich orange-to-yellow spessartine garnets. Garnet is also found in Myanmar, Brazil, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

Garnet Care & Cleaning


The different garnet types range between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and are more susceptible to damage than rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. So while not all garnets are good candidates for daily wear, they are ideal for earrings, brooches, and pendants. Give thought to how you store your garnet jewelry. If you let it rub against harder gems – again, think diamonds, rubies, and sapphires – they can be scratched. And in turn, garnet can scratch softer gems, such as opals or pearls.

Most garnets are not treated. Rarely, however, some garnets might be fracture-filled, whereby treaters try to improve the apparent clarity of the gem by filling surface-reaching breaks with a glass-like substance. Such treated stones require special care. Regardless, using a soft brush with warm soapy water is always safe for cleaning garnets. Ultrasonic cleaners are usually safe, except for stones that have fractures or have been fracture-filled. Steam cleaning is not recommended.

Do you have a loved one with a January birthday? Garnet jewelry makes for a perfect gift. Browse our gallery or reach out to us to discuss creating the perfect custom garnet piece.

December Birthstones: Turquoise, Tanzanite, Zircon

December Birthstones: Turquoise, Tanzanite, Zircon

There are three birthstones for December: turquoise, tanzanite and zircon. All three stones are a deep blue color and have their own history and chemical composition. In this article, we will focus on turquoise.  In the coming days, we’ll share articles covering tanzanite and zircon.


Turquoise Meaning & History

Turquoise is a semi-translucent to opaque gem that ranges from blue to green and often has veins of matrix (remnants of the rock in which it formed) running through it.

Turquoise was treasured by the ancient pharaohs and high ranking officials. In fact, turquoise adorns the funerary mask of King Tut. And, over 3,000 years ago, Chinese artists were carving turquoise.

Wallace Simpson (1896–1986), Duchess of Windsor (the woman for whom King Edward VIII gave up his throne), wore a famous amethyst and turquoise necklace made by Cartier. 



There’s much folklore around Turquoise. Here are a few we thought were noteworthy:

✔️Turquoise is thought to possess special powers guaranteeing good health and fortune.

✔️Beginning in the 13th-century, turquoise was supposed to protect the wearer from falling off horses and was believed to shatter at the approach of danger. 

✔️Hindu mystics claimed that observing turquoise after seeing a new moon ensured wealth.

✔️In European tradition, the gift of a turquoise ring means “forget me not.” 

✔️Turquoise is considered a national treasure in Tibet, where it is believed to grant health, good fortune, and protection from evil.


Traditional Cultural Beliefs

In the United States, turquoise has long been associated with Native American culture. The Apache thought turquoise could be found at the end of a rainbow. It was thought that turquoise, when added to a bow or firearm made one’s aim more accurate. The Pueblo maintained that turquoise got its color from the sky, while the Hopi thought the gem was produced by lizards scurrying over the earth.

According to expert Maxine Mcbrinn, Curator of Archeology at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, “Turquoise stands for water and sky, for bountiful harvests, health, and protection.” 

In the Native American culture, turquoise confers status and power. Native American deities carry weapons and live in homes made of turquoise. Zuni ceremonies include turquoise-colored faces, masks, and body paint to represent Awonauilona, the sun’s life-giving power.


Where Turquoise is Found

For more than 1,000 years, turquoise has been mined in the Nishapur district of Iran. This prized blue turquoise is called “robin’s egg blue,” “sky blue” and “Persian blue.” 

Until the 1920s, New Mexico was the largest producer of turquoise in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. production of turquoise is found in Arizona and Nevada. The Kingman mine in Arizona is famous for producing intense blue turquoise.  Arizona’s Sleeping Beauty mine produced great quantities of turquoise for about 40 years.


Turquoise Care & Cleaning

Turquoise may be treated to improve durability, appearance, and polish. 

Turquoise is generally stable to light, but high heat can cause discoloration and breakage and can be damaged by acids. Chemicals, cosmetics, and skin oils or perspiration can cause discoloration. 

Clean turquoise jewelry with warm, soapy water, but never with steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Heat or solvents can damage the treated surfaces on some turquoise.

Have your 11th wedding anniversary coming up? Turquoise is the gem of the 11th wedding anniversary. Make it an extra special anniversary by having a custom piece of jewelry made using turquoise! 


If You Were Lucky Enough to be Born in October, Your Birthstone is Opal (and Tourmaline)

If You Were Lucky Enough to be Born in October, Your Birthstone is Opal (and Tourmaline)

We at Patronik Designs present two precious gem profiles. Those born in October enjoy two spectacular birthstones to commemorate their birthdays – opal and tourmaline.

Both October birthstones have endless color combinations and beautiful coloring characteristics. 


Opal is the traditional October birthstone. It is believed to have originated from India where it was called upala, a “precious stone” in Sanskrit.  The Romans called it opalus. Opals are famous for their shifting colors called “play-of-color.”

Opal symbolizes faithfulness and confidence. Opal has been compared to fireworks, galaxies, and volcanoes. Bedouins believed opal held lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. The Greeks believed opals helped prophesize and protected wearers from diseases. In Europe, opals were a symbol of purity, hope, and truth. Opal was believed to embody the virtues and powers of all colored stones.


  • Australian aboriginal tribes believed that opals were the Creator’s footprints on Earth.
  • Necklaces with opals set in them were worn to repel evil and to protect eyesight. 
  • Opals help to control temper and calm nerves. A dream of an opal means that good luck will come.
  • Each opal is made of tiny spheres of amorphous hydrated silica; its water content makes it prone to cracking or crazing (many fine cracks). This can happen if the gem dries out, such as might occur when exposed to high temperatures or long periods of low humidity. 

Opal is also the stone given to celebrate the 14th wedding anniversary.


Australia is the top producer of opal in the world. Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil are major sources as well. Deposits have been found in Central Europe, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Peru, Turkey, and the United States.

Lightning Ridge, a small town in New South Wales, Australia, is famed for producing prized black opal.

White opal is found in the White Cliffs of New South Wales, as well as in Mintabie, Andamooka, and Coober Pedy in South Australia. Boulder opal is mined exclusively in Queensland.

In Ethiopia, the October birthstone is found near the village of Wegel Tena, in Wollo Province. Gems there range in body color from white, yellow, orange, and brownish red to chocolate brown. Some of the opals show play-of-color. Ethiopia’s Shewa Province mines the coveted black opal, as well as orange, white, and crystal opal. 

Querétero, Mexico is known for producing fire opal in yellow, orange, and reddish-orange to red, some with good play-of-color. 

All of the mining locations are extremely remote and difficult to reach.


Opals may be treated by impregnation with oil, wax, or plastic. Opal doublets or triplets are fine slices of opal glued to a base material and covered with a thin dome of clear quartz. This gem is relatively soft, with a hardness rating of only 5.5. As such, they should never be placed in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner as the vibrations can crack the gem. 

The safest way to clean this October birthstone is with warm, soapy water. Other cleaning methods might damage the opal or filler material. Note that prolonged exposure to water may weaken the adhesive in opal doublets and triplets. Even natural opals can fracture if exposed to high heat or sudden temperature changes.

To prevent jewelry set with harder gems from scratching the opal, store it by itself. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are just a few of the gems that can scratch the October birthstone. 

We at Patronik Designs can provide safe care of all your jewelry. Opal is a delicate gem that requires appropriate maintenance to ensure its natural beauty. Feel free to bring your opals by our store for inspection and cleaning.

September is the Blue Month: The Blue Sapphire That Is!

September is the Blue Month: The Blue Sapphire That Is!

The blue sapphire is the birthstone for the month of September. It is also the gem commemorating 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries. Sapphires have been highly valued and sought after from ancient Rome and Persia, throughout the Middle Ages into modern times. 


Sapphires are known for their rich blue color, but come in almost every color of the rainbow—including pink, peach, orange, yellow, green, teal, and purple. Red sapphires are better known as rubies. The color variations result from trace elements in the mineral corundum. Classic blue sapphires contain iron and titanium, and trace elements of chromium can turn corundum pink, while more chromium turns it into a ruby. The rarest type, a pinkish orange variety called padparadscha, is sifted from Sri Lankan rivers. It comes from the Sinhalese word for ‘lotus flower.’

Origin of the word

The word sapphire is derived from the Latin and Greek words for ‘blue’: sapphirus and sappheiros, which may have originally referred to another type of blue stone called Lapis Lazuli.


Gemstones are rated on their ability to withstand scratching based on a system called the Mohs Scale of Hardness, and sapphires score a 9 out of 10. Only a diamond, which has a 10 on the Mohs Scale, can scratch a sapphire. Their durability makes them an excellent choice for engagement rings.  Because of its hardness, sapphire also has industrial uses. The Apple Watch Series 3 features lab-created sapphire crystal in its screen to make it more scratch resistant, as do several Swiss watch companies.

Places of origin

Kashmir, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Sri Lanka are historically important sources for sapphires. Sapphires have been found in Australia, Tanzania, Thailand, Cambodia, Malawi, Madagascar, the US (Montana), among other countries in Asia and Africa.

Sapphires were discovered in Kashmir around 1881 after a landslide high in the Himalayas. Spectacular sapphires appeared further south as well. The stones faceted from these crystals established Kashmir sapphire’s reputation as one of the world’s most coveted gems. 

Sapphires have also been found alongside ruby deposits in the Mogok area of Myanmar. Burmese sapphires possess a rich, intense blue hue, making them particularly prized.  Myanmar is also a noted source of jadeite jade, spinel, zircon, amethyst, peridot and other fine gem materials. 

Sri Lanka has been an important source of sapphires for more than 2,000 years. The blue and fancy-color stones mined from the alluvial gravels of this “jewel box of the Indian Ocean” display remarkable brilliance and saturation. In addition, the island’s milky white “geuda” sapphires can be heat treated to a rich blue color.

Thailand is a source of sapphires and has a major cutting and treatment center in the Chanthaburi Province. Sapphires from Myanmar and Cambodia often go to Chanthaburi for cutting and treatment and are also sent to Bangkok.


Various cultures have attributed mystical powers to sapphires, including heavenly powers, truth, innocence, peace, and good health. It was believed that sapphires protected their wearers from evil. Because of their blue color, they are associated with the heavens. In fact, Europeans in the Middle Ages believed that sapphires cured eye diseases and preserved chastity, along with providing other heavenly blessings. Sapphires have also been used to symbolize nobility and faithfulness. In folklore story, art, and consumer awareness, sapphire has always been associated with the color blue. 

In addition, deep blue sapphires have long been associated with royalty (which likely contributed to the naming of the color “royal blue”). Royal blue sapphires were often worn by medieval kings, some of whom believed that the gemstones would protect them from their enemies.

The sapphire represents integrity, honesty, and honor.  The blue essence in a sapphire is of the highest quality and sets the standard in judging the quality of other blue gems, such as topaz and tanzanite. The ancient Greeks and Romans used them as protection stones that eliminated bad spirits and harm to the community.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, sapphire engagement rings were popular among royal families and the wealthy. However, the blue sapphire was the most popular stone because it represented honesty, loyalty, and truth.

Because sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness, it has decorated the robes of royalty and clergy members for centuries. 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, people were purchasing sapphires because they were rarer than diamonds.  Sapphires were quite popular in Victorian engagement rings, where they were often surrounded by smaller diamonds to create floral designs.

Notable sapphires

French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte gave Josephine a two stone sapphire and diamond engagement ring in 1796. The ring sold at auction for close to a million dollars in 2013.

The Rockefeller Sapphire is a 62.02 carat (ct) rectangular step-cut stone that was unearthed in Myanmar (Burma). Acquired in 1934 by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960) from an Indian maharaja, the gem was recut and remounted over the years. The sapphire was first set as a brooch and later as a ring featuring two cut-cornered triangular diamond side stones.  

Prince Charles’ engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 is the most famous sapphire today and is now worn by Princess Catherine. It features a 12-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds.  So the history of the sapphire continues.

Unique attributes

Many people are surprised to find that sapphires can exhibit a phenomenon called the “star effect,” or asterism. This occurs when inclusions create a star pattern of rays on the surface of a dome-like cabochon-cut sapphire, often called a “star sapphire.”

Perhaps the most intriguing type of sapphire is the “color change” variety. These gemstones exhibit different colors depending on the lighting, subtly shifting from blue in daylight to bluish-purple in incandescent light.

Sapphire care & cleaning

Sapphires are tough and great for daily wear, but it is important to care for your stone on a regular basis. Warm, soapy water is always a safe choice for cleaning. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat-treated, and lattice diffusion–treated stones. Fracture-filled or dyed material should only be cleaned with a damp cloth. 

At Patronik, we provide free jewelry cleaning and stone maintenance to all our customers. 

The Benefits of Custom Design Jewelry

The Benefits of Custom Design Jewelry

Over my numerous years in the business designing unique pieces for customers, I still find that many people are surprised by just how easy the custom jewelry process is. Often they tell me “I thought it would be so much more complicated and take a long time, but this was simple and fun!” The most challenging and important task is finding a jeweler you can trust and feel comfortable with. Once you have that, you can begin to design any piece of jewelry you desire.

As a customer-first business, my process begins by understanding the customer’s vision, and in some cases, helping them to realize their vision. I always begin by discussing their ideas and then constructing renderings of different design options. The next step is creating a 3D wax mold of the piece so they have something tangible to react to and modify to their liking. Once we finalize the mold, a casting is made with the metal of their choice — gold, platinum, or sterling silver. We then polish and set the gemstones.

The customer is involved in every step of the way, and we work together to ensure we work within the allocated budget. One common misconception is that custom pieces are more expensive. This is not true. In fact, it can sometimes be cheaper than buying something ready-made; not to mention that the process is fun and enjoyable.

Working with your local jeweler also has many advantages:

  1. You establish trust and face-to-face rapport;
  2. You can have your jewelry cleaned, repaired, and checked regularly;
  3. You support your local community and make your downtown more vibrant.

Custom design is about the jewelry you wish to create; the desire to have something unique — a one of a kind piece. At Patronik Designs, we work out the details to make your jewelry vision a wearable heirloom for today and the future.

Make Your Jewelry Sparkle!

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