Pearls: Different Types and What They’re Worth
A piece of jewellery can elevate an outfit, taking it from plain to flashy, luxurious or sophisticated. One of the most elegant and versatile pieces of jewellery is the pearl necklace. Most would agree that pearls are beautiful, classic and timeless, but what many people don’t realize is that not all pearls are the same. There are actually many varieties of pearls with different looks, sizes and value, catering to almost every taste. No matter what your sense of style is or how you want to elevate your look, there is a string of pearls out there to suit you.
When most people think of pearl jewellery, it is the classic akoya pearl that enters their mind. Akoya pearls, a type of saltwater pearl, are known for being highly lustrous and nearly perfectly round. It’s the natural roundness of the akoya pearl that makes it such a popular choice for jewellery, as the uniform beads create a classic and quietly elegant look. The akoya pearl is typically available in shades of white and grey, with some subtle green and pink undertones.
Freshwater pearls typically come from oysters that yield several pearls at a time, meaning one of their most appealing characteristics is their lower price; but lower price doesn’t mean poor quality. Freshwater pearls are just as beautiful as any other pearl. Freshwater pearls do tend to be smaller and asymmetrical, so the look is more fun and trendy, and not typically classic. Though available naturally in a variety of shades of white and grey, freshwater pearls are often given artificial colour treatments to make them available in fun, statement hues like pink or purple.
A favorite amongst fashionistas, Tahitian pearls are bold and exotic with their large size, shimmering, satiny surface and deep, rich colours. Some of the most famous Tahitian pearls are the black variety. These are the darkest naturally occurring pearls in the world, but they also give off a stunning iridescent shimmer, offering hypnotizing glimpses of deep greens and blues. Tahitian pearls are also available in a variety of other colours, including white and gold. If you are looking to truly make a statement, the Tahitian pearl is the way to go.
South Sea Pearls
South Sea pearls are among the rarest in the world, as they have a very limited growth period and natural region. They are also some of the largest pearls in the world, and come in a variety of shapes, though truly round ones are less common.
South Sea pearls are typically available in white and gold, and they are noted for their soft, subtle shine. Because of their rarity, they come at a higher price point than most other varieties of pearls. They are the perfect choice for someone who values jewellery that is unique without being over the top, and timeless without being boring. They are a truly elegant choice.
Whether your style is classic, sophisticated, bold, trendy or somewhere in between, there is a pearl out there that is a perfect fit for you.
Why You Should Environment-Proof Your Guitar
Whether it’s acoustic or electric, your guitar is a finely-tuned system of wood, metal, glue, and other materials. Being primarily made of wood makes it vulnerable to extreme temperatures and humidity levels, as well as to rapid changes in environmental factors. If you live somewhere with extreme weather (like our fabulous City of Champions), or you plan to move your guitar from one environment to another, you want to keep it protected!
What Can Go Wrong
By themselves, extreme heat or cold can be dangerous to your guitar—too much heat can melt the glue, and cold can crack the varnish. However, you should also be wary of rapid changes in temperature, which might lead to some of your instrument components expanding or contracting at different speeds. This may result in severe structural damage, including cracked wood.
Moisture is the other threat to your guitar. Extreme humidity or dryness can warp the wood of your guitar, causing permanent damage. A warped guitar becomes impossible to tune—if the surface of the fretboard becomes uneven, your instrument may never sound right again.
What You Can Do
The most basic step you can take to protect your guitar from seasonal changes is to store it properly. First, never keep your guitar in a cold closet, a damp basement, near a window, or close t0 a heater—try to keep it somewhere with a fairly stable climate (like next to your bed). Look for temperatures within the 18°C to 23°C range and humidity levels between 45 percent and 55 percent.
Second, if you’re not playing your guitar every day, it’s best stored in a hard case. Guitar cases slow down the heat transfer, meaning that if your guitar gets hot or cold it will at least do so slowly, reducing the risk. You should also keep your guitar in a hard case when you transport it, and leave it in the case as long as possible in its new environment to let it adjust before taking it out.
Also good to note – never leave your instrument in a car! Cars, and trunks in particular, can reach extreme temperatures even in moderate weather.
If you play your guitar every day, you will have a good sense of when it needs to be tuned, and when it needs taking care of. If you don’t jam on it daily, experts recommend you inspect your instrument every six months or so to perform maintenance on it. Otherwise, over time, the changing weather can cause lasting damage.
The biggest task for seasonal maintenance is to adjust the truss rod. If you’ve never done this before, take your guitar to a local store and ask a professional to show you how. Many guitar stores offer truss-adjustment as a free service.
The truss rod balances the stress of the guitar strings to keep the neck straight, but with changes in weather, the neck will gradually drift out of alignment. Adjusting the truss rod may take a few days, as you want to make small adjustments to avoid damaging the wood, and you want to give each adjustment about a day’s time for the wood to settle before making further changes.
Add a few cleaning and polishing tasks to your seasonal maintenance and you’ll keep your guitar in beautiful condition—and a well-made, well-maintained guitar can last a lifetime!
From Pong to Playstation: A Brief History of Gaming Consoles
Video game consoles have a long and interesting history, which can be divided into 2 eras: before 1983 and after 1983. That year is significant in the gaming industry because it represented a ‘crash.’ At the time, inferior hardware and unplayable games had flooded the market and consumers responded by heading to the arcades instead of buying home consoles.
How the gaming world responded, changed gaming and offers a powerful look into how technology has changed since then!
1985-1996: Comeback Consoles
Following the bust of 1983, many video companies filed for bankruptcy and dropped out of the video game market entirely. With the large restructuring of the industry, two companies managed to bring something new and revitalize interest in console gaming: Nintendo, who released their famous NES console in North America in 1985, and Sega, who released their Master System the same year. These two companies would lead the video game console industry for the next nine years, until Sony released their first PlayStation in 1994.
This period of console gaming was dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega, personified through their mascots Mario the Plumber and Sonic the Hedgehog. Each had a number of franchises that spun out from their main titles and each garnered customer loyalty primarily through the characters they cultivated.
This was also a period of substantial creative growth for console video games and the first appearance of franchises that are still flagships to this day, such as Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda, and Phantasy Star. Gaming also began to move off the television screen and onto portable devices, including the Game Gear and Gameboy from Sega and Nintendo respectively.
1998-Now: Beyond the Television Screen
The video game industry took another major turn in 1998, when a little thing called “the Internet” started to change how we game. Curiously enough, this major development came from Sega’s last console, called the Sega Dreamcast. It came with a built-in modem that allowed players to connect online. While the system itself was very limited, gaining access to the Internet changed games completely and the next generation of consoles began to incorporate online interactivity into their systems.
Since 1998, video games changed from a fairly isolated or localized experience into something else entirely. Nowadays, players can compete or cooperate across the globe, buy entire games by downloading them directly to their consoles, and video games like Pokemon Go are changing how we think about gaming as home, or even personal, experiences.
This period also changed how we play games, especially with the release of Nintendo’s Wii in 2006. Instead of a standard controller, the Wii came with motion-sensitive remotes, and the now-famous ‘nunchuck.’ The new way to game proved extremely popular for almost every age demographic and saved Nintendo from a similar fate as Sega, which had moved completely into software development after the Dreamcast performed poorly. Sony and Microsoft responded with their own controllers and motion-sensing devices, to mixed success, and today Playstation is making headway into virtual reality with its own virtual headset, Playstation VR.
Despite personal computers being able to run games with better graphics, consoles remain one of the world’s most popular ways to game! With new technology coming out all the time, it can be difficult to find the system or games you may be looking for. The reward, however, can be in the hunt and heading out to find vintage consoles and games can not only be a lot of fun, it can be one of the most affordable ways to play!
If you’re a gamer, or have gamers in your family, visit us today to browse our comprehensive selection of video games and consoles!
The Lesedi La Rona Diamond: Where It Is Now?
The Lesedi La Rona Diamond: Where It Is Now?
What is the Lesedi La Rona Diamond?
The Lesedi La Rona diamond is the third-largest diamond ever found, and the world’s second largest gem-quality diamond. The stone was discovered on November 16, 2015, in the Karowe mine in Botswana. It is 1,109 carats and measures 65 millimeters x 56 millimeters x 40 millimeters! It was found 660 feet below the surface and was mined using Large Diamond Recovery (“LDR”) XRT machines. The Lesedi La Rona diamond is the largest diamond ever to be discovered using one of these large machines, which are used for automated diamond sorting. It is also the largest diamond to ever be discovered in Botswana. The Lesedi La Rona was discovered by, and is still owned by, the diamond exploration and mining company Lucara Diamond Corp.
The History of the Lesedi La Rona
Botswana, the country in which the Lesedi La Rona diamond was discovered, is one of the top three producers of mined diamonds, the other two countries being South Africa and Namibia. The Karowe mine in Botswana is located in the Orapa/Letlhakane district, approximately 500 kilometers north of Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone. The Lesedi La Rona was discovered within the AK6 pipe of the Karowe mine, which has yielded over one million carats worth of diamonds alone! It is estimated that the Karowe mine as a whole has an estimated $2.2 billion worth of diamonds within. It is also estimated that the Lesedi La Rona diamond is over 2.5 billion years old. Wow!
This gorgeous stone was given its name after Lucara Diamond Corp. held a competition in Botswana, which resulted in over 11,000 responses. Lesedi La Rona, in the Tswana language, means “Our Light”. William Lamb, the CEO and president of Lucara Diamond Corp. stated, “’Lesedi La Rona’ symbolizes the pride and history of the people of Botswana.”
Where is the Lesedi La Rona Today?
In June 2016, the Lesedi La Rona diamond was insured for $120 million. On June 29, 2016, there was a public auction held at Sotheby’s in London, England, in an attempt to sell the Lesedi La Rona diamond, however, the bidding did not reach the undisclosed reserve price, and ultimately was not sold.
The highest bid for the Lesedi La Rona was $61 million, which fell short of the $70 million price point at which the stone was expected to sell. As this public auction was a failure, it is most likely that the diamond will be sold privately at some point in the future. Lucara Diamond Corp. provided a news release the same day, stating that the diamond would be retained by Lucara for the time being.
Do you enjoy the study of fine gems and jewellery? Satisfy your curiosity at Loan Star Jewellery & Loans! We have a large selection of gold, diamond and silver jewellery for you to explore.
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Pawnbrokers: A History of the Trade
Summary: Pawn broking is one of the oldest trades in the world, tracing all the way back to almost 3,000 years ago. While the trade of pawn broking has evolved over time, responding to contemporary needs, it remains a strong and valued part of today’s society. Here is a brief history of the trade.
What is a Pawnbroker?
A pawnbroker is an individual or business (colloquially known as a pawn shop) that offers secured loans to people with personal items as collateral (jewelry, electronics, musical instruments, sporting equipment, clothing, antiques, power tools, etc.). Once an item is pawned to the broker (the pawnbroker), it’s called a pledge or a pawn.
While pawnshops are virtually ubiquitous in many of today’s societies, not many people realize that the history of the trade dates back to ancient times.
The origins of pawnbroking can be traced all across the world, from China to Greece to Italy. Indeed, evidence of pawn broking has been located in ancient Greece, Italy, France, England, Bavaria, and China, dating from Roman times to the Middle Ages. Pawnbroking is not only one of the oldest trades in the world; it’s also one of the most international! In the late 19th and 20th centuries, there were nearly as many pawn shops as there were pubs in Britain, indicating the level of the trade’s popularity and necessity.
The earliest pawnbrokers have been located in 5th century China. These early pawn shops were established, owned and operated by Buddhist monasteries before moving into secular and mainstream society. In some cases, wealthy laypeople would enter in the pawn broking business with the monasteries, forming partnerships that allowed them to open pawnshops, and subsequently avoid certain property taxes that Buddhist monasteries didn’t have to pay.
The Discovery of the (New) World
Pawn broking soon spread to other parts of the world, truly establishing itself as an international trade. In England, the history of pawn broking is tied to England’s monarchical history. The pawnbroker came in with William the Conqueror. In 1338, King Edward III actually pawned his jewels to the Lombards to raise money to finance the war with France. Henry V followed a similar strategy in 1415. Pawnbroking has a long and illustrious history of financing great moments and developments in history!
According to the National Association of Pawnbrokers, pawnbroking played a part in the discovery of the Americas, as the voyages of Niña, Santa Maria, and Pinta (led by no other than Christopher Columbus) were partially funded by Queen Isabella of Spain’s pawned jewels.
The Pawnbroker’s License
The pawnbroker’s license was established in 1785. In London, the duty for a pawnbroker’s licence was fixed at £10 in London and £5 in the country. In 1790, the interest rates on advances in England rose to 15 per cent. After many repeals and amendments, the pawnbroker’s license came to resemble (at least in the UK) shortly thereafter what the modern pawn broking industry looks like. Restrictions on interest rates and licensing costs vary from region to region and country to country. The rates in the US will not, for example, be the same as pawn broking rates in England, Canada or Spain.
The Patron of Pawn broking
Did you know? Pawn broking is such an esteemed and long-standing trade that it even has its own patron saint – Saint Nicolas (sound familiar)? Saint Nicolas is a rather busy guy, as he is not only the patron saint of pawnbroking, but also of children, sailors, broadcasters, archers, and fishermen, just to name a few!
Baby, it’s cold outside. But the winter jewelry trends for 2016 are hot, hot, hot!
Oysters and Pearls
This holiday season, it’s time to embrace the oyster. While you’re hobnobbing it at some fancy holiday party, do so with a string (or better yet, strings!) of pearls dangling from your neck or your wrist. Pearls are one of this winter’s most popular jewelry trends, which is great, because pearls go with practically everything! Wear a single strand with your black cocktail dress for that classic, sexy yet elegant look. Make that chunky sweater a lot more interesting by piling strands upon strands of pearls. Pair a pearl necklace with a pearl cuff for a look that’s bold yet in sync.
Straight from the runways of Paris, London and Milan, the single earring is perhaps the boldest of this winter holiday’s jewelry trends. Long, dangling, hoops and cuffs: it seems the only way to wear an earring right now is on its own! This isn’t a look for the style shy, but for those who are bold, fierce and confident. And what’s hotter than being bold, fierce and confident during the holidays?
The more dramatic you are with this look, the better. Wear a long and sparkling statement earring to liven up a simple black blazer or pair an oversized sweater with a jumbo hoop earring for a look that’s both casual and fun.
But why wear just one single earring when you can wear two single earrings? Earring mashups are also a super-hot trend for this cool winter season. Wear one, wear two, wear three or four earrings if you want, but make sure each piece is different. This trend allows men and women to show off their individuality and creativity, and it’s fun! Asymmetrical earrings are the thing right now.
Bracelets Over Sleeves
Despite all the latest jewelry trends coming off the runways and into the streets, let’s face it: winter is still cold. That’s why you’ll love this next jewelry trend: bracelets over sleeves and gloves! More people are wearing their cuffs, bands and bangles over their sweaters and knit top sleeves, and even their winter gloves. Looking good shouldn’t mean feeling cold, so go on: layer up those watches, bangles, bracelets and rings over your ensemble. Look chic this holiday season by staying warm!
The choker has made a huge comeback in recent years, but this winter holiday jewelry trend is the oversized choker. When it comes to this trend, the bigger, the better. Wear a bright oversized gold choker with a V-neck blouse for a look that’s sexy and elegant. Get punk with an oversized leather choker for that bad girl or bad boy edge. And since the pearl’s the thing this holiday season, why not splurge on a beautiful and regal oversized choker that will pair with anything in your wardrobe, from sweaters to jeans to cocktail dresses.
This year’s winter holiday jewelry trends are all about having fun, being bold and getting creative. Sparkle, shine, and be daring in your selections!
Gift Ideas For Every Music Lover On Your List
Shopping for a music lover can be tricky, especially now that music has gone digital. You can’t exactly casually peruse the CD shelf to learn who their favorites are or what albums they still need to add to their collection. But the fact that music exists in the digital era doesn’t necessarily mean finding gift ideas for that music lover needs to be a challenge. Here are some gift ideas any music lover would love.
1. Records Aren’t a Thing of the Past Anymore
While most people find their music online these days, that doesn’t mean records don’t hold value. Buying someone an album or collector’s edition of their favorite musician can make for an awesome collectible that any music lover would love to decorate their room with. Plus, there isn’t a way to imitate the sound those records make when they take your favorite song to the turntable, so don’t underestimate the value of buying the music lover on your gift list their favorite album in record form.
2. Music as Art
There are a lot of ways to make your music lover’s favorite band into visual art. Go online or to a music store and look for posters of his or her favorite band. You may even be able to find retro posters of the classic bands he or she loves, or even tour posters or t-shirts that can be framed. But those aren’t the only ways to turn your loved one’s favorite band into art. You can also commission someone to paint something symbolically related to that favorite band or musician onto an old drum cymbal to turn it into cymbal art.
3. Reclaimed and Personalized Items
You can also reclaim musical items to turn them into something else your music lover can use or wear. For instance, an old guitar string can be turned into a unique and stylish bracelet. You can also personalize a guitar pick and turn it into a keychain or keep it as a usable pick for someone who loves to strum. What’s their favourite instrument? You can find or make earrings, bracelets, pendants for necklaces, and even cufflinks out of old keys and valves off flutes, trumpets, clarinets, saxophones, etc. Press a piece of sheet music into a pendant or turn an old piano key into a necklace or keychain, or find someone who can print your loved one’s favorite song lyrics or sheet music onto a scarf or bag. You can find lots of items like this by shopping online and you may be able to make some yourself for an extra personal touch.
4. Signed Editions
For even more of a collector’s dream, you can find signed memorabilia, like signed cymbals, drum sticks, albums, t-shirts, sheet music, and lots more. Some bands may even have a contact form that would allow you to request to buy signed items and some will have them available on their websites. For the classics, eBay, used music shops, and auctions might be the answer.
5. If All Else Fails
Tickets to a concert are always a safe bet. If no one is touring close by soon enough, you can always find a venue that puts a variety of new musicians onstage. You might just help your favorite music lover find his or her next favorite band or the perfect venue to take his or her own talents to the stage to get noticed.
Four Tips to Keep Your Guitar In Excellent Shape
As with everything in life, guitars come with good and bad news. The bad news is they’re expensive. The good news is that they’re easy to maintain. To extend the life of your beloved guitar, all you need to do is show it some care.
Here are a few guitar tips that will help it last longer and sound better.
1. Think About Humidity
Whether you live in a dry or humid climate, humidity is one of the main elements that affect a guitar’s lifespan. Dry weather has a tendency to dry out guitars, making them more brittle. Humid climates can make guitars a little soft and flexible, making it difficult to keep their sound consistent. No matter what kind of climate you live in, you need to keep your guitar in an ideal environment. The easiest way to do this is to simply put your guitar back in its case when not in use. The enclosed space is much more stable. Also, try and keep your humidity between 45%-55% with the help of either a humidifier or dehumidifier. This will help keep the guitar’s environment more stable.
2. Give it a Clean
Every guitar, from the cheapest acoustic to the most expensive collector’s item, needs a good cleaning now and then. Oil, dead skin cells, and dust tend to mock up guitars, their longevity and sound quality.
To clean a guitar, follow these simple steps:
- Take off the strings.
- Take a dry cloth and carefully wipe down the entire guitar, front and back.
- For deeper cleans, use a specialized guitar cleaning solution and follow its directions carefully.
- Restring your guitar and enjoy.
3. Condition the Fingerboard
As the unfinished part of your guitar, the fingerboard can collect a lot of grime and dirt when used. That’s why it needs to be conditioned every once in a while. Find a quality guitar conditioner to use that will hydrate your guitar as it cuts through oil and grease. Silicone-free products are still the best for guitars. Be careful not to over-condition, as that can have a negative impact on your guitar.
4. Swap Out the Strings
Chances are you aren’t changing your strings as frequently as you should. It’s not your fault, it’s just that it can be a pain and we all have a tendency to avoid restringing our instruments. If you can’t remember the last time you restrung your guitar, do it soon. Otherwise, look for the following signs: it won’t stay tuned and certain guitar techniques, such as sliding, become impossible. If these are happening, it’s time to get some new strings.
Guitar maintenance is often fast, inexpensive, and easy. The trick is to know how to keep your guitar in its peak condition. Regular cleaning, restringing, and conditioning are all vital, but so is your guitar’s environment. Keep it in a quality case when not in use and maintain a steady humidity. This will help your guitar last longer.
Contact us today with any questions on maintaining your guitar!
Three Things Every Beginner Musician Needs to Know
Becoming a musician is a big task, but we all start somewhere. Here are the things every beginner musician needs to know to start their journey.
1. How to Pick Out the Right Instrument
Unless you’re planning on becoming a master penny whistler, picking the right instrument is going to take a lot of research and a lot of money. Sure, you can pick up a simple acoustic guitar for less than $100 dollars to see if you like it, but that instrument is going to get in the way of your development quicker than you think. If you are serious about the time it takes to learn an instrument and become a musician, then you will need to also invest the money into getting something of quality.
The first step to picking out the right instrument isn’t even music-based, it’s budget-based. Researching instruments before knowing how much money you have is like going to an expensive restaurant without enough money in your pocket; you want the things you can’t afford and are more likely to put yourself in debt. Instead, carefully consider how much you can spend and then explore options that fit within that budget. If you know what kind of instrument you want but can’t afford a new one, check out Loan Star, who can show you affordable, high-quality, gently used guitars, drum kits, and other instruments to help you pick the best one for your needs.
2. How to Read Music
While musicians like Thom Yorke can’t read music, that isn’t exactly the best route to go when learning to play. Getting the basics of music down involves learning how to read music. This will often come with your lessons and is an essential skill to learning songs, how music works, and how musicians communicate their music to each other. Music is a language with concepts and lots of technical terms. Getting the hang of all of this is absolutely key to being a successful musician. Unless, of course, you think you’re the next Thom Yorke.
3. How to Manage Your Time
Learning music is like learning a skill and a new language all at the same time. And, just like skills and languages, when you don’t use it and practice regularly, it goes away. To truly learn music, you need to put in the time. It’s both simple and complicated, though. First, set aside blocks of time to work on your skills as often and, possibly more importantly, as consistently as you can. That means regular practice so you can learn new skills and keep them going into the future.
Becoming a musician is a lot of fun, but there’s plenty to do before hitting the stage. With the right budgeting of time and money, however, you can learn a new instrument, keep the skills you acquire, and keep yourself out of debt as you prepare for your big stage debut.
Protect Your Valuables This Summer
Ah, summer. The season to fill your days with warm sunshine, cool water, and relaxing vacations. However, if you’re planning any kind of summer get-a-way, you have to know how to protect your valuable items.
For the most part, you’ll simply need to take some basic precautions in order to protect your valuables this summer, although sometimes the most obvious precautions are the ones most easily forgotten! For example, before you go anywhere, ensure that your windows and doors are locked, and do not leave a spare key in an obvious place (such as under a door mat, a potted plant, or in the mailbox). If you have a security system installed, make sure that it’s in proper working order, and always tell a trusted neighbor or friend to keep a watchful eye on your place while you’re gone.
Protect Your Documents
People worry that a burglar will steal their valuable antiques, electronics, jewelry, or furniture. While these items are certainly not outside of a thief’s purview, we often forget that some of our most important valuables come in the form of documents: credit card information, bank statements, birth certificates, mortgage details, passports, etc. These documents can be used to steal someone’s identity. One of the best ways to keep these documents safe is to lock them away in a bank’s safety deposit box. In other words, secure your information by keeping it out of your home, and away from prying eyes!
Check Your Protection
Even if you’re only going away for a short summer vacation, make sure you know exactly what your home insurance covers, and for how long. Depending on the duration of your vacation, you may need to extend your insurance, or purchase extra insurance for items that are not covered. Having proper insurance is one of the best ways to protect your valuables this summer, because even if you do have the misfortune of having your home or property broken into, with the right insurance, you’ll be able to claim your losses.
For a claim to pay out, you may need someone checking on your property daily or a few days a week while you were away. Check your policy carefully for this clause.
Look Like You’re Home
One of the ways to dissuade thieves from breaking in is to make it look like you’re home. If you’ve got a pile of unread newspaper subscriptions outside your door, or your mailbox is piling over, it’s easy for burglars to realize you’re not home and target your valuables. Have your mail temporarily halted or have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers. Leave a few lights on and close the blinds.
Taking a few necessary precautions before your summer vacation means you can go away and relax without having to worry.