Spotlight on January’s Birthstone: Garnet

The stone we know as garnet, January’s birthstone, is not a single mineral, but a set of closely related silicate minerals with slight variations in chemical composition and trace elements. Prized since antiquity, garnets have been found in Egyptian tombs and Roman archeological sites. While red garnets are the most well-known type of this gemstone, garnets can also be found in other colors, such as green and orange. This gives those who have January birthdays some intriguing options for birthstone jewelry.

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Because there is so much variation in the chemical composition of garnets, they are divided into categories called species. Of the twenty species of garnet, only a handful are used as gemstones—almandine, andradite, grossular, pyrope, rhodolite, and spessartine. A species may be further broken down into varieties, based on color. For example, green tsavorite is a variety of grossular, and rhodolite is a purplish variety of pyrope-andradite. With a Mohs hardness of 6.5 to 7.5, garnet is sturdy enough for use in most jewelry, with the exception of rings that will be worn on a daily basis.

The value of a garnet depends on the usual four factors that influence any transparent gemstone’s worth—color, clarity, cut, and carats—but how each of those factors comes into play can vary with the type of garnet in question. In general, the more vibrant and saturated the hue of a garnet, the more it is worth. However, a superior example of a rare hue will bring a much higher price than a more widely available color such as traditional red.

Expectations of clarity in a garnet vary by the species. Red garnets can be readily found without eye-visible inclusions. However, some orange types of garnets are usually found with eye-visible inclusions, which means that having such inclusions will not dramatically affect their price. One variety of green garnet, known as demantoid, is sometimes found with hair-like inclusions called horsetails, which are actually considered to increase its value.

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The influence of cut and carat weight on a garnet’s value is also affected by a garnet’s species. Garnets are often cut into standard shapes and sizes for setting into jewelry, although the rarer types will usually be cut according to the shape and cutting style that allow more of the stone’s weight to be retained, or which will best display the characteristics of its variety. Whatever the cut, it should enhance the stone’s brilliance. Some varieties like demantoid and tsavorite are usually found only in smaller sizes, which means that their value goes up dramatically as their size increases. However, most garnets are widely available in larger carat sizes, so the per-carat cost does not go up as much for bigger stones.

Whenever you’re in the market for fine jewelry, it pays to check out purchasing at auction. Auctions give you the opportunity to buy at prices significantly below retail, while offering options you won’t find at a mall jeweler. You can bid on a constantly updated selection of quality pieces in Auction King’s live online auction from the convenience of your own home. Sign up for a free online account today to get started.

You Need Artwork for These 4 Rooms

Artwork is the soul of your décor—while the type of furnishings you own may establish the outlines of your style, it is the artwork you choose that defines the nuance and the individuality of your space. A home without art feels impersonal, so you shouldn’t skimp in selecting pictures, paintings, or prints that reflect your aesthetic. The four rooms you should start with are:

You Need Artwork for These 4 Rooms - auction king

  1. The living room: Whether you have a formal living room or you keep things more casual, your living room is often one of the larger rooms in your house and the place you are most likely to entertain guests. Thus, it is a great canvas for multiple pieces of art and for larger artworks. Over the sofa is a favorite spot for art, but you should be sure that it is in the correct proportion for the best effect. The overall display should be about two-thirds of the width of the sofa, whether you’re displaying one large painting or print or an arrangement of smaller artworks.
  1. The dining room: As another room where you’re most likely to spend time with guests, your dining room is another ideal spot for artwork. If you have detailed artwork that benefits from observation at a closer vantage point, a smaller dining room is a great place to put it. Keep in mind that art should be hung with its center point at about sixty inches off the ground, which is the average eye level for most people.
  1. The bedroom: When you think of pleasant ways to start your day, waking up to a view of a beautiful drawing or etching should easily make the list. Hang your favorites on the wall where you can easily see them from your bed for maximum enjoyment. Artwork is a fun way to personalize your children’s rooms as well. A framed sericel from their favorite animated movie or a lithograph of a beloved character makes a nice addition that’s appealing for very young children but doesn’t seem childish as they mature.
  1. The entry hall: Whether your home has a modest entrance or a sweeping hall, this room creates the first impression for anyone who enters. An abstract modern print can add a zingy pop of color, or a graphic art print of a well-known painting can invite the viewer in for a closer look.

Frankly, adding color and beauty to your surroundings is a plus for any room in your house. Don’t be afraid to mix types and styles of artwork—in fact, experts recommend doing just that for a uniquely appealing look (and to avoid the sensation that your art collection is hanging in a gallery instead of a home!).

If you’re looking to build an art collection, AuctionKing.com offers a wide selection of giclees, lithographs, sericels, mixed media artwork, and more, with new finds constantly added to their offerings. The deals you’ll find will stretch your budget further and beautify your environment faster. Sign up for a free online account and start bidding today.

What to Buy for the Man Who’s Hard to Shop For

The holidays should be a time of joy, but they can also be a time of stress. Getting the perfect gift for the ones you love can seem like an impossible quest. We all have that one man in our life—father, husband, brother, son—who’s impossible to buy for. They may have everything they need and most of what they want. Worse yet, they probably shrug and say, “You don’t have to get me anything,” when you ask them for a wish list. If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. Here are some ideas for gifts you’ll love giving and they’ll love getting.

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Collectibles: The best gifts, big or small, are the ones that have personal meaning. A collectible item is a great way to show that you notice what he’s into. For example, if that hard-to-shop-for man in your life is a baseball fan, consider a ball signed by a favorite player, an autographed photo of his hometown team, or a personalized jersey. Or maybe he’s into films, or music, or comics. Whatever his interest, there are unique items geared to his taste. (Be sure to check out reputable auctions, rather than retail stores, to get the best value.)

Luxury items: Even if he has everything, chances are he would enjoy having a nicer replacement for something he already owns. If he’s still rocking the Timex he bought when he was fresh out of school and couldn’t afford anything better, surprise him with a Breitling or a Rolex. (Again, there are great deals to be had at auction, so shop there first.) Or take him out for a fitting to have some custom-tailored shirts made to wear to the office. These kinds of gifts tell him how much you think he deserves the finer things in life.

Relaxation: For the highly stressed man in your life, whether he’s an executive or a student, a gift that encourages him to slow down and take care of himself (even if only briefly!) is a great option. A gift certificate for a massage or a facial at your favorite local spa, or to have a professional shave or beard trim, is just the nudge he needs to indulge. Pair one of these gifts with shave balm, a quality razor, aromatherapy lotions, or other related items to help extend the experience and give him something fun to unwrap.

Experiences: Maybe it’s that new restaurant that opened up downtown. Maybe it’s that race driving course he saw an ad for. Maybe it’s that cruise or camping trip you’ve been talking about taking, or the paintball outing he’s wanted to put together with his buddies. If he doesn’t need more stuff, then arranging for him to do something he’s always wanted to try, or that he hasn’t made the time for lately, is the perfect gift to bring a smile to his face.

The bottom line is that it really is the thought behind the gift that counts, no matter your budget. Knowing you took the time to consider what he enjoys will make whatever you get him extra special.