Category Archives: Precious Stones

A Colorful Engagement

Princess Diana had a strong influence on influence on fashion, style, and design, starting with her luxurious oval sapphire and diamond engagement ring. When Prince William gave the now-vintage sapphire ring to Kate Middleton, it rekindled awareness of colored gemstones as an alternative to the customary diamond center stone.

Today, more brides-to-be are foregoing traditions and choosing unique engagement rings to suit their style and preferences; often choosing a stunning colored gemstone ring or a distinctive vintage diamond ring to express their love. Whatever kind of engagement ring expresses your personal style, we have it for you at Leo’s!

When choosing a colored stone for your engagement ring, there are a few factors to keep in mind. After all, this is a ring you’ll be wearing every day and you want to be sure that the gem you select is up to the task. The Mohs scale, a comparative hardness chart for minerals, can tell help you measure the relative ease or difficulty one has scratching any particular mineral with the adjacent one. As you can see in the image below, it’s not a constant increase from one hardness rating to the next – diamond at 10 is four times harder than corundum (sapphires and rubies) at 9.

Hardness and toughness aren’t the same thing, however. Hardness is resistance to scratching and toughness is resistant to breakage. Did you know that jadeite, the green jade so prized in Eastern countries, is tougher than diamond? Diamond is the hardest substance on earth, it’s true, but it’s not the toughest – a direct hammer blow will likely chip or cleave a diamond. A direct hammer blow on a fine piece of jade won’t accomplish much, but jade is much more easily scratched. In short, it is important to select a gemstone that will match your needs for durability, as well as aesthetics.

To browse just some of our selection of colored diamond engagement rings, visit our website!

For colored gemstone jewelry, please go here.

Why Hearts On Fire is The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond

Hearts On Fire is a diamond of such unparalleled perfection that it stands out from the crowd. That Hearts On Fire is known as The World’s Most Perfectly Cut Diamond® should come as no surprise. Each diamond is chosen from the top 1% of the world’s raw diamonds and then is cut and polished at 100X magnification, 10 times more than the industry standard. Only a handful of master diamond cutters are allowed to cut Hearts On Fire diamonds. A Hearts On Fire diamond takes up to four times longer to cut than other diamonds and this microscopic precision results in a diamond of unequalled brilliance.

Hearts On Fire Diamond Ring


The Hearts On Fire name was inspired by a natural phenomenon of light caused by a perfect round brilliant cut – each Hearts On Fire diamond displays a perfect ring of eight hearts when viewed from the bottom, and a perfectly formed symmetrical Fireburst® when viewed from the top.

Cutting a diamond to ideal mathematically-determined proportions allows the stone to sparkle more brilliantly as the maximum amount of natural light is refracted and reflected.   The brilliance that is displayed by a Hearts On Fire diamond is so intense that even in a dimly lit restaurant it can be seen sparkling from across the room. Our customers always tell us that their Hearts On Fire diamonds get noticed everywhere they go.  Even when Hearts On Fire diamonds are not perfectly clean, they sparkle more than other diamonds.

Not all “ideal cut” diamonds are created equal.  Come to our store and compare ordinary ideal cut diamonds with Hearts On Fire.  You can see for yourself why Hearts On Fire is the ultimate expression of love.

By Leo Hamel //

Follow @leohamel .

Following the Runway Jewelry Trends of 2014

As models walked fiercely down the catwalks this past fall in New York, Paris and Milan, designers gave us a preview of the newest jewelry trends to kick off the 2014 spring season.

Here are the jewelry crazes of the season and our favorite designer looks that can easily translate into everyday life to become a part of anyone’s jewelry collection.  Continue reading

Start the New Year with a Garnet

Vintage garnet jewelry at San Diego's Leo Hamel showroom.
Vintage garnet jewelry at Leo Hamel’s San Diego’s showroom.

Start 2014 off with a symbol of commitment, friendship and positive energy with the garnet gemstone.

The six families of garnets are silicate materials of different chemical composition, although they retain a similar physical appearance. Garnets range in hardness from a 6.5 to a 7.5 on the Mohs scale (1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest), making them suitable for daily wear in rings and other jewelry pieces. Continue reading

The Mystery Behind a Black Diamond

New and vintage pieces in our Leo Hamel showroom showcasing black diamonds.
New and vintage pieces in our Leo Hamel showroom showcasing black diamonds.

Be spooked by the intensity of a black diamond this year and enchant your jewelry collection with a true gemstone rarity.

Similar to white diamonds, black diamonds are crystallized carbon and are evaluated by the 4 Cs: color, carat, cut and clarity. Along with the appearance of a glossy surface, a black diamond is higher in density than a white diamond, so that stones of the same carat weight have different relative measurements.  Continue reading

November’s Birthstone – Citrine or Topaz?

Vintage citrine and topaz jewelry perfect for the month of November, all currently available in our Leo Hamel showroom.
Celebrate the month of November with citrine and topaz jewelry, currently available in our Leo Hamel showroom.

It’s a battle of the orange gemstones!

Orange topaz, known as “precious topaz” is considered to be the original November birthstone, though citrine has rapidly grown into a popular modern alternative.

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Changing Colors for October’s Opal Birthstone

Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers has a large selection of opal jewelry ranging from vintage rings to vintage earrings.
Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers has a large selection of opal jewelry ranging from vintage rings to vintage earrings and more!

A change of season calls for a change of colors with October’s opal birthstone.

Opals, classified as precious gemstones and sedimentary stones, are formations of non-crystalline silica gel. Known mostly for their often brilliant color display, no two opals are alike due to a variable interplay in their internal structure.

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On Bended Knee for the Perfect Proposal

This Hearts On Fire® Sensation 0.94 ctw diamond engagement ring will be awarded to the winner of Leo's Perfect Proposal contest!
This Hearts On Fire® Sensation 0.94 ctw diamond engagement ring will be awarded to the winner of Leo’s Perfect Proposal contest!

It’s the moment that many people dream about their whole lives—that moment that their soul mate will drop to one knee to propose marriage. But how did the tradition of proposing on bended knee come to be?

Though the origin is still unknown, kneeling in front of a woman during a marriage proposal became customary during the time of chivalry and knighthood. At the time, bowing was an established tradition for a knight in order to show obedience to his master or mistress. Similar to bowing to royalty or to a victorious enemy, kneeling during a marriage proposal would elevate the woman to a superior position as the man revealed his humility.

The implication behind this gesture continues today as the kneeler offers themselves completely to their partner, providing the intended with the opportunity to determine the ultimate fate of their relationship by saying “yes!”  Continue reading

The History Behind a Fabergé Egg

Fabergé egg in San Diego’s Leo Hamel showroom.

It’s more than just a colorful Easter egg.

For nearly 130 years, the world has been mesmerized by the beauty and history hidden behind the famed Fabergé egg. Often dressed in gold and adorned with diamonds and gemstones, Fabergé eggs have become an artistic icon to Russian culture and a symbol of the imperial Romanav family. Continue reading

The Formation of Pearls

Audrey Hepburn's classic style and fashionable pearls in the iconic film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Audrey Hepburn’s classic style and fashionable pearls in the iconic movie, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Pearls are a true wonder of nature and the result of a clever self-defensive mechanism employed by some types of mollusks, which we generally name “pearl oysters.” Most natural pearls form when an irritant – such as a parasite or piece of sand – enters the oyster. The oyster surrounds the intruder with epithelial cells, forming a sac, and then secrets a mixture of nacre and conchiolin onto it. At that stage, the oyster believes that the attacker has died, but the oyster still continues to deposit layers over it, and the pearl continues to grow until the oyster itself dies or the pearl is removed from its body. The conchiolin is an organic material, which acts like a glue, bonding the calcium carbonate layers of nacre. Pearls may also form when the irritant is trapped between the body of the animal and its protective shell, producing a pearl with one flat side, called a “blister” pearl.

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