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How To Classify A Gemstone

October 25th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

Photo via http://ow.ly/9p3Q305w8a1

It never ceases to amaze me how detailed and varied gemstone classifications can be. Gemstones belong in several different classes, depending on their crystalline structure, their chemical composition, and the impurities present in each stone. To the majority of people, none of this matters, but to gemologists who have the privilege to work with and look at gemstones all day long, there are tons of ways in which to categorize these stones.

Precious vs. Semi-Precious

Gemstones can be classified in two different major groups. Precious and semi-precious gemstones are the most basic classes of jewelry-grade stones. There are fewer precious gemstones than semi-precious ones. Precious stones have the finest color, are translucent, and are usually more rare. Precious gemstones include diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. All other gemstones, including amethyst, peridot, and garnet, are semi-precious.

Minerals vs. Non-Mineral Gemstones

Some gemstones are considered minerals, while others are non-mineral. Minerals are made of things that have never been alive and consist of crystals. Corundum, for instance, is made up of oxygen and aluminum. Examples of corundum are sapphires and rubies. Another example would be diamond, which is made from crystals of one element, carbon.

Non-mineral gemstones are made from natural substances that have formed into beautiful gemstones due to natural processes. Some examples of non-mineral gemstones include pearl, coral, amber, and ammolite.

Natural vs. Synthetic Gemstones

Some gemstones are found in nature, while others, while still quite beautiful, have been man-made in a lab. The reasoning behind this has to do with cost of the gemstone and its rarity. Synthetic gemstones can have properties that are very similar to their natural counterparts. A stone found in nature after being formed deep in the earth for millions of years is a lot more rare, so it will cost a lot more than a stone made in a lab.

Most of the popular gemstones can be found in nature and in synthetic forms. For instance, ruby can be breathtakingly beautiful when it’s found in nature and polished to accentuate its beauty. One particular stone may have inclusions or small cracks in the body of the stone that differentiate it from other stones similar in size and shape. A synthetic ruby, created in a lab, will have fewer distinguishing qualities and may even look more perfect. Commonly, a natural ruby may not be entirely translucent, while a synthetic ruby usually is.

Gemstone Families

The basic gemstone families include beryl, corundum, opal, quartz, spodumene, and zoisite. Within these groups, there can be more than one variety. Sometimes, one family of stones will contain types that have different names based on their color or some other difference that can be seen with the naked eye. Within the beryl family, for instance, are aquamarine and emerald, which are made of the same substance but are different colors. Quartz can be found in several different colors, including yellow, purple, blue, and green. Some types of quartz include amethyst and citrine. An example of zoisite is tanzanite.

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How To Honeymoon On A Budget

October 19th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

Photo via http://ow.ly/TzVW305lfW9

Sometimes, you just don’t have the cash to put forth for that huge honeymoon that you feel like you must take after your wedding day. Especially when you are paying for your wedding yourself, you may not have a lot left over. I have a friend who had to go super-inexpensive for her honeymoon because she and her hubby had paid for their big day without any help from family or friends. Because they got the flowers, DJ, venue, and gowns that they really wanted, they decided to go low-key for their special first trip as husband and wife. Contrary to what you may think, it isn’t a hard thing to do. There are plenty of ways to save on your honeymoon and still have a wonderful time.

Discuss Your Priorities

Long before your wedding takes place, while you’re still in the early stages of planning, discuss with your fiancé what your priorities are for your wedding and honeymoon. If neither of you care about a huge traditional wedding but both of you love to travel, have a smaller, more intimate celebration and spend more on your honeymoon. If your wedding day is more important, set your budget for the honeymoon smaller and plan a scaled-back trip.

Take Advantage of Points and Miles

There are some credit cards out there that give points for paying on time, while others give you frequent-flier miles if you fly often. If you find yourself with a wealth of points or miles, save them for the big trip. If you can cut out paying for the flight or hotel stay, you’ve already gotten ahead of the game. Start saving points or miles from the time you get engaged and you may find yourself with free flights or free hotel stays by the time the wedding day rolls around.

Register for Your Honeymoon

If you already have established your kitchen or you simply don’t need the gravy boat or butter dish that matches your fine china, register for your honeymoon instead. You can register through your local bank branch or simply let your guests know by word of mouth that you’d appreciate money towards your honeymoon in place of a gift. A honeymoon tree with empty envelopes attached is also a cute idea for the reception.

Go All-Inclusive

There are plenty of all-inclusive choices out there for a fabulous honeymoon. There are resorts that allow guests the ability to do almost any fun activity without ever leaving the property. This way, you are only paying for your stay and travel. Cruises are a great idea as well. Once you get on board, you can do, eat, or play almost anything without paying extra. There are even excursions if you want to get off the boat while it is docked at the different ports of call. But if you are like myself and my husband when we vacationed last summer, we never even left the ship; it was too relaxing just sleeping late, lying by the pool, having a romantic dinner, and then dancing all night in the nightclub lounge. This way, we only paid for the cost of the cruise and the inexpensive airfare to get to the ship.

Don’t Go Far

Depending on where you live, you may have a great honeymoon destination within driving distance of you. Spending less on travel allows you to spend more on your hotel. If you can save on airfare, you’ve already saved a ton. I think if I lived out west, I would not be against taking a road trip to a great mountain resort for a honeymoon. If you live close to a coast, try a great beach resort. Look into the nearest large city near your home and check out their resort hotels. You may be surprised. Savannah, GA, and Charleston, SC, are great destinations if you live in the southeast, for example.

Consider Your Time Frame

You don’t even need to go on your honeymoon right away, and you don’t need to go for a long time. There are couples who choose to wait to go on their big trip or choose a long weekend instead. First, look into travel deals. There are times during the week when you can fly for less. The middle of the week is a great time to fly, since prices are lower than on the weekend. There are also hotel deals that are cheaper on certain days of the month. Look into visiting a destination or resort during the off-season. If you are going to an island or beach, try during the fall or spring instead of summer. The summertime is when most families go on vacation because the kids are out of school. This is usually the time when prices spike, but waiting until fall will give you a better chance at a better price.

Mention the Honeymoon

When booking your stay or when checking in, it is a good idea to mention that you are honeymooning. You can get all kinds of great freebies from the staff if they hear that you are celebrating. You may get a complimentary bottle of champagne, a couple of free drinks at the bar, a free meal, or even a room upgrade simply by telling them why you’re there.

Look at Packages

Vacation packages can usually save you some money. Try looking at different travel agencies in your area to see what kinds of deals they can give you. They can usually bundle your airfare and hotel fees and give you a bit of a discount. Also, check into packages at the resort or hotel to see if you can get any deals with them. But always read the fine print; you don’t want any surprises.

Save on Transportation

If you’ve gotten a deal going to a big city and staying at a great hotel, you can still continue to save by using mass transportation. You don’t have to rent a car or use a taxi: Simply do what the locals do and take the bus, train, or subway. You will be experiencing the city like a true native. This also will leave you more money for sight-seeing.

Save on Meals

If you are lucky enough to stay in a suite or room with a kitchen, try shopping at the local grocery store and making some meals in the room instead of spending money on meals, tips, and drinks. Fix healthier meals that you know will give you more energy to go on hikes, go sight-seeing, or enjoy some “alone time.”

Eat Outside of the Hotel

You don’t always have to eat in the hotel restaurant. If you want to get some real local cuisine, ask the locals where they like to eat. Get some suggestions for several local spots so that you can experience what it’s like to live there. The food may be more authentic as well.

Look Online

Since we live in the age of technology, there are so many websites that can offer you discounts on travel. Check out places like Priceline.com or Hotels.com to see what kinds of deals they have to offer.

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The Origins Of A Gemstone’s Name

October 12th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

gemstone name

PICTURE: https://flic.kr/p/iaaYJM Photo by Paul Hudson (Flickr) Caption: This gorgeous cut morganite, a stone that’s named after financier and gem collector J.P. Morgan, is on display in the British National History Museum.

 

I love to learn the history behind my favorite gemstones and to read about their origins. In college, I did a paper on the alexandrite and how it was named after the Russian Tzar Alexander II. Then I did another project on him and what kind of person he was. Now, whenever I see or wear a jewelry piece with alexandrite in it, I think about the history behind the stone and the man as well. Gemstones get their names from many different places. Some are historical, some are descriptive, while others get their names from the places where they are first discovered.

Discovery Location

Many gemstones are named after locations. For instance, topaz was named after a tiny island in the Red Sea that was called Topazos. There is a region in Canada that is called Labrador, and the labradorite is named after it. Tanzanite was first discovered in Tanzania, and out of the Tsavo National Park came the tsavorite, found by Campbell Bridges, a gemologist in the later part of the 1960s. Andalusia is the original location where the andalusite was found, so the stone was named after that area in Spain.

Language Origins

Gemstones are often named after words from other languages. There are many gemstones named after Latin or Greek root words. For instance, rhodolite is derived from the Greek word for “rose.” Rhodolite is a pink gemstone. In the Greek language, a bright green herb, mallow, gave its name to malachite. Malachite is a bright green gemstone with lighter green bands running through it. The Greek word for blue is kyanos, and kyanite is a beautiful blue gemstone.

Discoverers

Some gemstones are named after the person who discovered them. The stone originally called saualpite, named after the place in which it was found, the Saualpe Mountains, in the early 1800s, had a name change to become zoisite. A scientist from Slovenia named Baron Sigmund Zois von Edelstein first realized that it was a mineral that was unknown at that time, so the stone was named after him. Colonel Hendrik von Prehn found a beautiful green stone, which eventually was named prehnite. W.E. Hidden found a stone very similar to the emerald in North Carolina in the late 1800s, and because he discovered it, it was named hiddenite.

In Honor of Someone

It would definitely be exciting to find a new type of mineral or gemstone, but how exciting would it be if you hadn’t found it, but it was named after you? There are many examples of gemstones that were discovered and then named after someone in order to honor them. Famous financier J.P. Morgan had a gemstone named after him. The morganite is pink beryl but was renamed in order to honor this rich gem collector. Like I mentioned earlier, Alexander II, the Russian tzar, had the alexandrite named after him. The stone was actually discovered in the Ural Mountains in the early 1800s in an emerald mine. It was also the national stone of his nation during that time period. And the pink spodumene was renamed kunzite after George F. Kunz, a famous gemologist.

Descriptive Names

There are also many gemstones that are given names that simply describe the stone. The moonstone was named because of the way the light gently flows across the stone. It has almost a moon-like effect. The aquamarine has a greenish-blue tint that seems to look a bit like crystal-clear water. “Aqua” is the Latin word for water. The fire opal is an opal that has a fire-like hue, using the light to make it appear to glow.

No Special Names

While it is interesting to learn the origin of a gemstone’s name, there are several beautiful and highly popular gemstones that don’t have special names. For instance, ruby is the name for the type of corundum that is red (it derives from a Latin word that means red). Other types of corundum are just called by their color. Blue sapphire, white sapphire, pink sapphire and yellow sapphire are all beautiful stones that each are featured in beautiful jewelry but weren’t given special names like their sister stone the ruby.

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A Very Opal October

October 4th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

Photo via http://ow.ly/fEHE304QVhZ

 

What do you wear if you can’t decide what gemstone matches? You wear a gemstone that includes many colors, while most gemstones only have one! That’s what I love about the opal. My favorite thing to wear to show off my opals is black. I have a beautiful opal pendant that was my grandmother’s, and it happens to have a great play of color. I tend to wear it with black a lot so that its beauty and opulence can be easily visible.

History of the Opal

The opal, a form of hydrated amorphous silicon dioxide, is believed to have been formed millions of years ago deep within the earth. It was formed as rain fell down into the crevasses of the earth and dried, leaving behind silica, which eventually formed into opal. It is actually a mineraloid, rather than a mineral, because of the fact that it changes form. It name derives from the Greek word “opallios,” meaning “changing colors.” Most of the world’s opals come from Australia, and it is also that country’s national gemstone.

In the 1960s, Australian gemologists found that the opal has the ability to diffract light. It is because of tiny amounts of silica gel within the stone that the light is diffracted, resulting in a beautiful array of color. As light enters the stone, it must curve around these tiny pockets of silica as well as bits of oxygen, causing the rainbow color effect visible to the eye.

Colors of the Opal

Opals come in an array of base colors. The most common opal is an opaque white, but they are also found in colorless, black, brown, gray, red, and yellow. The colors within the opal can be found in a wide range, although it is more common to see blues, greens, and yellows.

Opal Mining

As it is the national gemstone of Australia, the majority of opals come from that country. In addition to finding them “Down Under,” they can also be located in Brazil, parts of Mexico, Ethiopia, Russia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Japan, and Nicaragua. In the United States, opals have been found in Nevada and Idaho.

Powerful Properties of the Opal

The opal is believed by some to have healing powers. Some people say that the stone helps heal those suffering from depression and helps the wearer find true love. It is supposed to boost positive aspects of those born under the zodiac signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Aries. The play of color is representative of the moodiness and emotions of people, as the stones are different every time you look at them: Colors can become less or more apparent depending on the lighting. Australian aborigines believe that the stone is the mark of the being that created them and brings positivity and a harmonious spirit. They believe that the place where the opals are found is the place where the footprint of the creator touched the earth. Many say that the opal is a stone that brings luck, while the ancient Romans believed that it brought wealth and a positive spirit.

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The Facts And Figures Of A Modern Day Wedding

September 27th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

Photo via http://ow.ly/nPo4304CCtb

 

Once I got engaged, I knew that I needed to make a budget for my wedding because I was known to daydream about my wedding sparing no expense. After a quick pep talk with my mom and dad, we discussed my wedding budget. Honestly, I didn’t want the whole expense of my wedding to fall on my parents’ shoulders, especially since weddings in this day and age are getting more and more expensive. Fortunately, we and our two families all chipped in to give us the wedding of our dreams. Here is a basic breakdown of the major costs of planning a wedding here in the U.S.

Facts and Figures

  • Most couples are waiting a bit longer to get married. The average age for a bride now is between 25 and 29 years old. For the groom, it’s between 27 and 31.
  • The most popular month for someone to pop the question is December. But when it comes to the actual big day, most brides and grooms choose a warmer month. June and October are the most popular months for weddings, while August and September follow closely behind.
  • Ninety-nine percent of all newlywed couples take a honeymoon, and close to three-quarters of those couples stay within the U.S. Popular honeymoon destinations within the 50 states include Hawaii, Florida, California, and Nevada. For those who choose to go outside the country, popular destinations include the Bahamas, St. Lucia, the Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Italy, and France. The average honeymoon lasts between seven and nine days.
  • The average number of bridesmaids and groomsmen for weddings nowadays is five of each. There are an average of 23 million bridesmaids and groomsmen in weddings every year.
  • The average length of time that a couple is engaged before their wedding day is 14 months.
  • One fifth to almost a quarter of all weddings are destination weddings.

Average Costs

  • The wedding gown is one of the larger expenses for the wedding day. While the purchase of a wedding gown will cost an average of $1,200 to $1,500, there are also alterations and preservation to think about. Alterations can average the bride around $250, while dress preservation can cost almost $275. About a fifth of all wedding gowns purchased in the U.S. are purchased at David’s Bridal.
  • On the flip side, the average cost of renting the groom’s tuxedo is between $150 and almost $250. Designer tuxes will cost several hundreds of dollars more. When a groom rents his tuxedo, it usually includes his pants, his coat, his shirt, his vest, his tie, and his cufflinks as well.
  • The average amount spent on the engagement ring is close to $6,000. The bride’s and the groom’s wedding bands are usually a purchase that is made together, separate from her engagement ring, although some wedding band styles have a matching engagement ring. The engaged couple spends an average of $1,000 to $1,500 on their wedding bands, an investment that will last a lifetime.
  • You’ll see flowers and other lovely décor at any wedding. The average spent on flowers for the wedding day, including the ceremony and reception, is between $2,200 and $2,300.
  • The average a couple spends on photography for their wedding day is around $2,600.
  • There are a few choices the couple needs to make when it comes to reception entertainment. The music for the wedding ceremony is usually a separate cost, but they will also have to pay for either a DJ or a band for their reception. The cheaper route would be to hire a DJ. This option will also give you the ability to choose familiar songs and artists to be played at your party. The average cost for a DJ is close to $1,200. A band will be a bit more costly, close to $4,000 for the entire reception. There are generally more people to pay when it comes to a band, after all.
  • The wedding venue can be very costly as well. This expense can average around $14,000 to $15,000.
  • The most costly places to get married in the U.S. are New York City and Chicago. Weddings in these areas of the country can cost a couple between $60,000 and $85,000. The most budget-friendly places to say “I do” are Alaska and South Dakota, where you’ll pay an average of $17,000 and $19,000 for your special day.
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How To Green Up Your Wedding With Plants

September 21st, 2016 in Wedding Rings

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Green is the color that represents life. When you are planning for the union of a wonderful, exuberant couple who embody life and love and all that it represents, greenery and potted plants are perfect ways to decorate the wedding or reception or even to spruce up the bridal party accessories. One of my college suitemates got married and had a very simple ceremony and reception. She opted out of using flowers and decided to go with greenery and potted plants instead. She carried a bouquet of cascading ivy, and the aisle was lined with potted plants and more ivy. It was simple and lovely and was certainly perfect for my girlfriend’s wedding.

How to Use Plants

Use potted plants in the same way that you would use traditional wedding flowers. Carry a cascading bouquet of greenery, or have your bridesmaids carry something green without buds or any other color. Boutonnieres can be a simple sprig of greenery as well. Use plants on tables at the reception, as buffet table décor, or on the wedding party’s table. Use them as accent décor or as a centerpiece on a dessert table. Line the aisle at your ceremony with plants in lieu of flowers, or even surround the dance floor to block off that space and make it separate from the rest of the area. You could use potted plants to hide things that you don’t want to be major focal points for guests at your ceremony or reception as well: Hide the sound equipment or the area where the servers enter and exit the room with a wall of larger potted plants. Use smaller pots with smaller plants for holding place cards or table numbers, or even use them as gifts for your guests. A plant can even be used for a sweet unity ceremony during your wedding ceremony, pouring water onto the plant to symbolize pouring effort into the marriage.

Benefits of Wedding Plants

It’s no secret that a bride can spend a pretty penny on flowers for her wedding decor. If you are trying to save some money on wedding expenses, opting out of flowers and using potted plants instead can be a big help. Giving out tiny potted succulents to your guests could be less expensive than other wedding favors. And going with greenery instead of flowers for your bridesmaids and groomsmen will help you save as well. You can also save money by using greenery because plants tend to have more volume than flowers, so fewer potted plants will be needed in order to do the same job as cut stems.

Using greenery won’t just save you money, though: You might be saving yourself or your guests some sniffles and sneezes as well. If anyone attending your wedding is allergic to flower pollen, they’ll be happy to hear that you’re planning a pollen-less party by using green, leafy potted plants instead of flowers. No hankies will be needed, at least for sneezing!

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Best Locations For A Fall Honeymoon

September 8th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

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I’m the kind of girl who loves to get out her comfy sweaters, jeans, and boots at the first sign of fall. When that first yellow leaf appears on one tree, I’m already there. I love the colors, the smells, the temperatures, and the pumpkin coffees and baked goods. Fall is a beautiful time of year to get married, plus it’s a great time of year to take a honeymoon. With so many options, you can go anywhere to do almost anything and enjoy the first few days with your new spouse during the fall months.

Theme Parks

It’s no secret that summertime is the time of year when the theme parks are chock-full of families. With school being out for summer, you’ll see lots and lots of kids, teenagers, and babies. This may not be a problem for some, but if you are trying to have a fun yet romantic time on your honeymoon, then you may have a nicer time at the bigger theme parks without so many little ones running around. Now, you must remember that there will still be kids, but there will be considerably fewer during the fall months, as families are getting involved in the school year and other fall activities. The larger theme parks have a lot to offer those who are celebrating their nuptials, including romantic suites, dinners, and spas. If you like having fun adventures and both of you are thrill-seekers, this is a great option for your honeymoon.

The Northeast

One of my favorite things about fall is the beautiful colors that nature presents us. A great place to see this wonderful display of Mother Nature is in the Northeast. Leaf-peeping tours, trail hikes, and fresh apple cider and baked goods are just a few of the little things to look forward to when visiting the Northeast. There are many little towns that have great shopping and quaint B&Bs, and there are also some awesome larger cities that boast great resorts, galleries, and museums. Many local farms offer fresh produce or maple syrup, while parks and rolling hills offer some great outdoor hikes and sight-seeing tours.

Wineries and Vineyards

The harvest time for vineyards is the fall. There are many wine-tastings and even grape-stomping activities at this time of year. It’s a great opportunity to see how the grapes are harvested and the wine is made. In particular, the Napa Valley offers beautiful foliage and the fare of local gourmet chefs. There are great activities to experience, including hot-air balloon rides, vineyard tours, and spa outings. This is a wonderful option for that fall honeymoon.

Alaska

The last frontier, Alaska, is a great place to visit on your honeymoon. An odd but wonderful activity is to enjoy the Northern Lights. Visiting the major cities, like Anchorage and Fairbanks, can be enjoyable, but to see natural wonders, check out Denali National Park. The temperatures tend to be moderate and usually stay in the 40s and 50s for most of the day. During September, the days get shorter, so there is the increasing darkness to remember, but that just makes the nights longer (wink, wink)! Most hotels offer Northern Lights packages and still have awesome accommodations, too. Each city in the state offers some great activities as well, and the views of the mountains aren’t bad, either.

Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao

If you just want that summertime warm-weather feel, visit the “ABC” islands for your honeymoon. The climate is well-known for being perfect every part of the year, including the fall. If you want to escape the cooler temps, this is the honeymoon trip for you. This area isn’t included in the hurricane belt, so you won’t have to worry about that as your big day gets closer. These islands have beautiful waters, sandy beaches, and great diving at the coral reef. It will never get out of the 80s temperature-wise. There is wonderful marine life to discover, and there are many great locations for after-dark recreation as well.

Europe

Everyone loves Paris in the springtime, but what’s better than that? Paris in the fall is less crowded and more affordable for those who want to go overseas. The magnificent sights, the museums, the gardens, the culture, the food, the wine, and the romantic language are great, and the list goes on and on. But other great places in Europe to visit on your honeymoon in the fall would include London, Ireland, the Athens, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona. The shopping, the food, the sightseeing, and the countryside views would make Europe a perfect fall honeymoon destination.

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September’s Birthstone: The Sassy Sapphire

September 6th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

Photo via http://ow.ly/LLTb303Xdfj

 

I love the color blue, and I love that my sister’s birthday is in September. She gets a beautiful birthstone piece from me almost every year. The sapphire is such a rich blue color; it works so well against almost any skin tone or color, and it looks great set in a yellow or white metal as well. Those born during the ninth month are lucky to have such a gorgeous stone for their birthstone.

The History of the Sapphire

It was believed to protect the wearer from harm, so royalty throughout ancient Rome and Greece wore the sapphire both for its beauty and for protection. Because of the beautiful blue color of the stone, which reminded them of the sky, clergy during the Middle Ages wore the sapphire on their robes and in their headpieces to represent Heaven and blessings. This is where the term “royal blue” originated. They also believed that the stone represented faith, truth, honesty, and decency. During other times throughout history, it was worn for other reasons; it was believed to be able to influence spirits, guard the purity of the wearer, bring peace among people, and reveal prophesies.

The Colors of the Sapphire

When someone says the word “sapphire,” they are usually talking about the blue sapphire, which is the most common color for the gemstone. The word actually comes from the Greek word for lapis lazuli (another blue stone), “sappheiros.” Throughout history, when anyone has referred to the sapphire, they were most likely taking about the blue variety, but there are many other colors in which the gemstone can be found, including the white sapphire, which is colorless, the yellow or golden sapphire, the pink sapphire, the orange sapphire, and an orange-pinkish color that is referred to as padparadscha. There’s also the green sapphire, the purple sapphire, and the black sapphire. This stone comes in red, too, but red sapphires actually have another name: rubies.

Sapphire Mining

The majority of sapphires are mined in Australia, Madagascar, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malawi, Tanzania, and the U.S., mostly in Montana. The famous Kashmir blue sapphire was found in that region between Pakistan and India, but the supply has been depleted.

The Powerful Properties of the Sapphire

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and for the astrological sign Taurus. It was once thought that if a Taurus wore the stone, they would be protected from mental disorders. Symbolizing loyalty and honesty, the deep blue gemstone is also thought to bring happiness and knowledge to its wearer. Long ago, many night-time travelers would wear the stone for protection, believing it to be a talisman that warded off evil spirits. Hildegard of Bingen wrote a book called Physica that included material about the sapphire and how to take advantage of its purported healing properties.

Interesting Sapphire Facts

The sapphire is a very durable stone, having a rating of 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is such a hard stone that only a diamond can scratch it. Because of this durability, Apple uses a type of glass screen that features created sapphire in its smart watches. Another interesting fact about sapphires is that before the diamond engagement ring was all the rage, gemstone engagement rings were more popular, including sapphire rings.

Famous Sapphires

When Napoleon Bonaparte married Josephine in the late 1700s, he gave her a sapphire and diamond ring, including a pear-shaped stone of each type. Another famous sapphire ring that is still being worn today is the ring that Prince Charles gave Diana when he asked her to marry him in England in 1981. The 18-carat oval blue sapphire, surrounded by diamonds on all sides, is being worn by her daughter-in-law today: Prince William, Diana’s oldest son, asked the former Kate Middleton to marry him with his mother’s breathtaking engagement ring.

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28 Weird Wedding Rituals From Around The World

August 26th, 2016 in Wedding Rings

Photo via http://ow.ly/SsPn303CcPh

The Dollar Dance originated at Polish and Greek weddings, photo via http://ow.ly/SsPn303CcPh

 

Sometimes, it’s exciting to make new traditions with your spouse as a couple, but it’s also cool to think about doing things that have been done for generations. I think it’s so much fun to look at fun wedding traditions around the world. Couples in China and Scotland sometimes do some particularly neat (and messy) things before they walk down the aisle. Let’s look at a few weird traditions that we don’t do here in the U.S.:

1.) In Congo, the bride and groom must go through with the entire wedding ceremony without laughing or even cracking a smile. Sounds like fun, right?

2.) In Germany, a get-together called a polterabend happens before the wedding day. Guests bring the couple dishes, glasses, and anything else that may break and make a lot of noise in the process. This practice is supposedly done to make enough noise to ward off evil spirits.

3.) In Korea, it isn’t unusual for the groomsmen to take the groom toward the end of the wedding day and tie up his legs at his ankles. At this point, they slap his bare feet with fish in order to prepare him for his wedding night. Somehow, I think I might be missing something here …

4.) If you are getting married in Puerto Rico, you will have a doll made that replicates you in your bridal gown. This doll is placed at the bridal table with gifts for the guests. The bride and groom do this in order to show guests appreciation for coming to their ceremony.

5.) The Masai people in Kenya have a tradition that involves the bride’s father spitting on her face and breasts at the wedding. This is supposed to be a blessing.

6.) An old German custom asks the couple to saw a log in half together, which symbolizes how they will work together to overcome obstacles.

7.) It is customary in France for the close friends and family to disrupt the wedding night of the bride and groom by going to their new home after the wedding and making a commotion. They bang on pots and pans, yell, and cause the couple to come outside. Once outside, the couple is to serve snacks and socialize with their guests.

8.) The Tujia people of southwest China require that the bride cry for one hour of every day for a month leading up to her big day. All of the women in her family are encouraged to join her in the crying after a week.

9.) “Blackening the bride” in Scotland requires the family and friends of the bride to tie her to a tree and dump disgustingly dirty things on her to embarrass her. This is supposed to get her ready to endure any hardships that married life may bring. If you can endure this tradition, you can endure anything.

10.) The Yugur people in western China require the groom to shoot his bride with three headless arrows at the wedding. After doing so, he will take each arrow and break them to show that their love will last forever.

11.) In Swahili culture, a village elder woman or sometimes the bride’s mother may escort the couple into their bedroom on their wedding night to help the bride if she’s not sure how it’s done. And some folks complain that their in-laws get too involved …

12.) In Borneo, some believe that it is good luck to not allow the newlywed couple to leave each other on their wedding day for any reason at all, not even to go to the bathroom.

13.) In Fiji, before the groom can get permission to marry the bride, he must bring a whale’s tooth to her father in order to be allowed to proceed with the ceremony.

14.) In Sweden, if the bride or groom needs to use the restroom, the other may be kissed all over by everyone at the reception while they are gone.

15.) In the Marquesas Islands, friends and family of the bride and groom lay face-down in the grass after the wedding, and the couple is required to walk across them.

16.) In Wales, the groom gives his bride a carved wooden spoon to symbolize the fact that he will always provide for her and never let her go hungry. How romantic is that?

17.) Tidong couples in Borneo are not allowed to leave their rooms or use the restroom for three days after their wedding ceremony. People bring them light foods to eat and small amounts of water. This is supposed to allow them to be happy in their married life and to bring them many healthy babies.

18.) It’s an old tradition in France for the wedding party to gather all of the leftovers from the reception, including food, alcohol, and cake, and mix them in a toilet bowl. They then go into the bridal suite where the new couple is spending their first evening together, and they don’t leave until the couple drinks the concoction straight out of the toilet.

19.) In certain counties in Ireland, when the bride and groom dance at their wedding, her feet can’t leave the floor. This is done as a precaution because they believe that evil fairies might come and take her away from her new love.

20.) Indian women born during unfavorable astrological conditions are required to marry a tree before they marry a man. This is done because they are supposedly cursed at birth. Once they break the curse by marrying the tree and cutting it down, they can marry their groom.

21.) In Southern Sudan, a woman must have two babies before the married is considered legitimate. If she does not provide her husband with two children, he can divorce her.

22.) Although we strive for the opposite here, in Mauritania, women who are getting married try to get as fat as possible before their wedding day for their groom.

23.) In India, the groom takes his shoes off before he walks down the aisle. When he does this, his friends and family are immediately supposed to protect them, while the bride’s friends and family quickly try to get the shoes. A battle begins, and if the bride’s side ends up with the shoes, the groom must pay a ransom to get them back.

24.) In Russia, a dowry is presented to the bride’s family from the groom’s family. If the bride’s family thinks the dowry is too little, they send the groom a fake bride. This may be a different woman, or it could be a cross-dresser. This goes on until the bride’s family receives what they believe to be an adequate dowry.

25.) In Romania, a weird game is played by the groom when he kidnaps his bride. If he is able to keep her hidden from her family for a couple of days, she will be his wife. If she escapes or is taken, she won’t.

26.) Spartan women would bulk up with muscle and dress up like men. Then, they would wait for their grooms to come and take them away.

27.) In South Africa, the parents on both sides each bring fire from their fireplaces to light the hearth of the newlyweds.

28.) Originating at Polish and Greek weddings, the dollar dance tradition isn’t too weird, and in fact, it’s become a tradition done quite often here, too. Brides have a special dance where the guests can pay to dance with her. They either put cash in her purse or pin it to her dress in order to have a moment with her alone on the dance floor.

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What NOT to Say in a Wedding Toast

August 23rd, 2016 in Wedding

Photo by Illuminance Studio (Flickr)

You’ve been to enough weddings to see the good, the bad, and the “somebody take away their microphone.” The maid of honor gets up there, and though her intentions are great, you need a secret decoder ring to understand the stories she’s telling. It’s like a bad Drew Barrymore movie. And the best man doesn’t fare much better. He’s watched all of the roasts on Comedy Central, so he pretty much knows what he’s supposed to do. The groom picked this particular guy out of every guy he’s ever known, and what happens? Word vomit. His jokes fall flatter then your aunt’s at Christmas. Guys, watching Wedding Crashers on TNT the week before doesn’t count as research, but kudos for being able to recite the whole movie.

There are a lot of things you should do during a wedding toast, like smiling and staying positive. On the flip side of the coin, there are also some key factors to stay away from … I’m talking restraining-order distance. In writing hundreds of toasts and seeing a couple go down the wrong path (we call these speeches the Manziels or the Lohans), here are three major problems to avoid:

1) Belly Button Microphone: This seems simple, but how many times do you see a nervous toaster get up there and the microphone is at their stomach? Unless you want the crowd to hear your stomach growling, bring that mic up to your mouth! I’m not saying you have to lick the microphone like David Lee Roth or make love to it like Steven Tyler, but get it close enough so your voice is heard and gently commands the room.

2) Jokes That Are So Inside They Have a Vitamin D Deficiency: I think we’re all guilty of this one, whether it’s giving a toast or just telling a story at happy hour. That time when you and the bride tried on mismatching outfits at Forever 21? … Well, you just had to be there. But guess what? Nobody at else at the wedding was. For the best man, those endless football practices in 10th grade were probably grueling and hot, but unless an NFL scout signed you as a 16-year-old, the story doesn’t carry much weight with most people. Be sure to include stories that reference something everyone knows about (the bride’s bubbly laugh or the groom’s booming voice are a good start).

3) Professional Accomplishments: People lean on their achievements like the cousin who you had to make a groomsman lean against the wall at 2 a.m. the night of the bachelor party. Telling the crowd how you and the groom were the youngest guys to make partner in the company doesn’t help anyone. It’s straight ego. It’s pretty much telling the crowd, “Hey here’s the bride or groom’s LinkedIn profile: Impressive, huh?” The crowd wants stories that show their human side. Stick to things like the time the groom stayed with his grandma in her hospital room for three days or when the bride drove eight hours to console a friend in need. That’s the good stuff.

Josh Womack is the head writer of Laugh Staff, a speech-writing and content-creating company of comedians. Laugh Staff helps make wedding toasts fun with good stories and great jokes. Check them out if you need a hand or a laugh!

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