THE LANGUAGE OF JEWELLERY
A guide to crafting and selecting luxury pieces.
At Helene, we use natural, synthetic and simulated gemstones in our fine jewellery – each selected based on their visual qualities and unrivalled allure. Our gemstones are chosen meticulously based on brilliance, colour, clarity, durability and of course, beauty. Each raw gemstone is hand-cut, polished and set using traditional methods to create pieces that last.
These gemstones occur naturally in nature and are mined from the ground. The traditional classification of natural gemstones goes back to the ancient Greeks, who created a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones. Precious stones include emeralds, rubies, sapphires and diamonds, with all other gemstones falling into the latter category. In their purest form, natural gemstones are translucent with colour, with the exception of the colourless diamond.
As opposed to laboratory-grown gemstones which can be modified for clarity and colour, natural gemstones may not be as rich in colour and may have blemishes. But due to their rarity, they are prized at a much higher value than most synthetic and simulated gemstones.
Synthetic and simulated gemstones
Lab - created gemstones are man-made as opposed to being mined from the ground like their natural counterparts and as a result, are free from the destructive environmental effects of mining. Lab - created synthetic gemstones have an identical composition and chemical structure to natural gemstones. They also carry the same colour, hardness and brilliance. Fine jewellery made with lab-created gemstones has less environmental impact and provides a responsible option.
Simulated gemstones, however, have different gemological qualities to natural stones. However, some varieties have improved hardness and durability.
Both synthetic and simulated gemstones offer perfect clarity and colour and unlike natural gemstones, they are responsibly and ethically sourced.
Helene Colour Palette
The same way an artist blends colours and shades to express emotion and beauty, fine jewellery designers carefully select gemstones for their vivid hue and meaning in relation to their pieces.
Preferences in the colour of your gemstones are unique to each individual. It can depend on feeling, season, memory or occasion. The descriptions below can help you to select a gemstone that truly speaks to you and your experience.
Diamond, moissanite, pearl, white sapphire
Clear and white gemstones are associated with purity.
Blue sapphire, aquamarine, tanzanite, blue topaz
The colour of calmness and wisdom, blue gemstones have been used in fine jewellery for centuries. The majority of blue stones are also more durable and resistant to scratches. Sapphires are the rarest and most valuable blue-coloured natural gemstones due to their rich, vibrant hue.
Yellow sapphire, Citrine
Yellow radiates youth with its bright shade that mimics sunlight. The highest quality yellow sapphire is known to be a lemon-yellow hue that glows with joy and positivity.
Pink sapphire, pink tourmaline, morganite
Symbolising love and compassion, pink gemstones can be used to create a softer, more feminine look. Pink sapphires have the deepest pink hue, followed by pink tourmaline and light pink morganite.
Amethyst, Purple sapphire
Associated with luxury, purple has been used as a mark of royalty since antiquity. Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz that can range from gentle lilac to deep plum.
Citrine, spessartite garnet, orange spinel, orange sapphire
A symbol of happiness, orange is the colour of sunrise. The most popular of orange gemstones is citrine, the translucent tawny to rich reddish-orange variety of quartz.
Ruby, rubellite tourmaline
Red gemstones are the rarest colour to find in their purest form and the only stones that offer true red hues are rubies and rubellite tourmalines. Said to bring prosperity into the lives of their wearers, red gemstones are a sign of passion and love.
Emerald, green tourmaline, peridot, tsavorite, green sapphire
One of the most popular colours of gemstones in the world, green connects you to life, nature and growth. Most are familiar with emeralds, one of the most valuable precious stones in the world, but green tourmaline, peridot and tsavorite are also beautiful green stones that ground and centre you.
Precious metals are used in fine jewellery both for their rarity as well as for their structural integrity. At Helene, we use gold, sterling silver, gold plating and vermeil to create our timeless pieces. Learning the differences between these metals gives you the knowledge to understand the value of your pieces and more significantly, which you prefer for different occasions.
In its natural form, gold is yellow in colour and mined in many different ways. Pure 24 carat gold is so soft that it is rarely used in jewellery. The process of alloying, or mixing other metals with pure gold, gives malleable gold added durability so it can be used easily when creating fine jewellery, resulting in different levels of purity. 18K gold is 18 parts gold to a total of 24 parts, with 14K, 10K and 9K gold following the same method of measurement.
Alloying can also change colour. Yellow gold is alloyed with copper and silver but an alloy of gold and nickel produces white gold, which shines with a platinum-like hue. The gentle, pinkish shade of rose gold is created when gold is combined with copper.
Gold-plated jewellery is created through electroplating, which involves coating a metal in a thin layer of gold to create a finished piece. It is a more affordable alternative to gold that gives you the same desired look.
18K gold vermeil
Unlike gold-plated jewellery, vermeil is a thick layer of 18K gold that is placed on top of sterling silver. A combination of high-quality precious metals, vermeil gives you greater value without the added cost. At Helene, at least 2.5 microns of pure 18k gold is plated on top of sterling silver to create affordable high quality jewellery. Gold vermeil is five times thicker than normal gold plating. This thickness of previous metal makes our jewellery more hypoallergenic, durable and less likely to fade, tarnish or wear off.