Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Precious gems versus semi-precious gems, the clear difference.

This top picture shows the girls at 3 weeks. I am pleased they are not identical as I can tell them apart easily by the hair. Aumpika's hair is a little bit lighter color, slightly red and is finer compared to Alishia's thick black hair. Aumpika on the right, Alishia on the left in this picture. Plus Aumpika's face is rounder and she is darker skinned. Alishia has a more oval face and very light skin. I have cancelled my plan of having their names tattooed onto their foreheads.
First day back home.

All three girls have what they want.
10 hours before delivery, somehow we knew it was our last chance to take this picture.

I am absolutely the luckiest guy I know and I am serious. My sweetheart of a wife had previously went out of her way to give me three great sons and a wonderful daughter. Since I waited until the age that most guys are already grandfathers before I decided to get married, the four children gave me tremendous satisfaction.
Even though I never voiced it but after three boys in a row, I secretly wanted another daughter, actually I really wanted a pair of twins, and most deeply but certainly never spoken, I wanted a pair of twin daughters.

My mother was the first love of my life and she was a twin daughter. How I admired my grandfather for raising those two daughters of his on his farm in rural Ohio, a beautiful life's journey.
Out of the blue on a bright autumn day while I was rushing to get ready to go to town my wife stopped me in the driveway of our farm in Ohio and began to whisper magic to me....another baby was coming. Tears of joy came quickly and I had to straighten up even more quickly before the boys noticed their daddy crying.

We readied ourselves for a trip back to Thailand as all of our children have been born there. The rural village we live in is full of family members and they have always made us feel very comfortable with each child. When May and I went in for her first check up with the doctor I asked only one question, 'did she think it may be twins?' and the doctor said no, it was just one baby and we could do ultrasound if we wanted to explore further. I have heard ultrasound is disturbing to babies so I let the idea go.
At eight months and May being almost the same size as our house, I asked again. This time the doctor found two heartbeats, one on each side and what felt like two heads, both pointing down. May and I both broke into tears as this was the happiest news there could have been for us.
That night we watched a movie and it happened to have a pair of Siamese twin girls in it, joined at the hip. I became a bit nervous but I just laughed with the boys and agreed with them that those twins were very beautiful.
Within another couple of days, and we told no one of our new secret, May's water broke in the middle of the night from one baby kicking around. Unlike when the previous baby broke her water and she insisted we first run errands, shop and then take a leisurely buffet lunch before taking our sweet ole time getting to the hospital, she said that we had to go NOW and I had to drive FAST. The roads were empty so we flew the 10 miles into town and they rushed her to delivery.
Within the hour the first daughter was born, I was relieved to see she was not physically joined to her twin and her appearance was that of a perfect baby. Only 10-15 more nervous minutes later and her twin sister appeared and she was also absolutely gorgeous. Within an hour and a half after we arrived at the hospital, I was holding an exhausted woman over the age of 40 that had completed the entire delivery of twins AND pushing out the afterbirth on her own power with no drugs and virtually no help from anyone. The doctor and nurses were in awe and requested to be informed of the exact yoga program that she had practiced daily during pregnancy. I am so proud of her.
The girls each have beautiful dark hair and perfect facial features, long elegant fingers and long legs. Both have good weight for twins, over two kilos each, nearly 10 pounds together, and were both fully developed so they did not need to stay in an incubator like many twins. We left the hospital with the doctors blessings after each girl passed all the test and showed that they could each make a dent in the huge supply of mother's milk that had come in like clockwork once they started nursing.
All of the family, seemingly all of the whole village here in Thailand, is so excited about this amazing new addition to our family. We are so very thankful and Leo's expression in the first picture sums up my feelings exactly.
It is my ultimate pleasure to introduce to you, the two newest of my precious gems collection, Alishia Maylee Little and Aumpika Wakanda Little. Warm regards, Lee

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Can Star Rubies be Heated?

While on the subject of rubies it seems fitting to talk about a type of ruby that we all thought was impossible only a handful of years ago....a heated star ruby with leaded glass filling in the cracks. Impossible because we believed that heat melts the very silk inclusions that cause the star, thus heating would make the star disappear. Many star sapphires and rubies are heated to clarify them of silk and remove the star then they are faceted simply because faceted rubies and sapphires were often more easy to sell than star cabochons. These days the trend is turning due to the rising demand of phenomenal gemstones.
With this information on heat melting silk away, I had always stated that my star stones were unheated. In reality that was probably actually correct but I did not know that it was even possible to be incorrect. The proof of no heat was the star, I thought.
One day while in the star gem market I ran into a vendor that had no booth but was new to the market and was simply walking around showing his box of star rubies to other vendors and some were buying. I was offered to examine them and was surprised to find no fractures in these reddish purple ruby/sapphires with nice bright, obviously natural stars. Normally speaking, star sapphires will show fractures, a few or a great many, when viewed with a loupe. Only the very expensive ones will have no fractures. These were all clear and clean.
Another odd thing was that there were often more dark inclusions on the top of the stone than on the bottom, as if the cutter had chosen the wrong side to be the table.
In natural star corundum (ruby or sapphire) the star goes all the way through the crystal so if the bottom is polished it will also show a star. This means the cutter can choose which direction is more beautiful to be the face. So why did these have worse looking faces than bottoms?
Low temperature heat with leaded glass. In all heating, lighter elements rise to the top, the black spots were lighter than ruby. These gems had been heated after they were cabbed/cut, thus the dark inclusions on the top. All the cracks and fissures were now filled with leaded glass giving the gems a near perfect appearance and more translucence. The star was still there as adequate silk remained behind at these low temperatures.
These repaired star rubies have now saturated the market. Careful examination must be made to know which you have. Sometimes you can spot a bubble in the glass with your 10x loupe and sometimes you can see the 'rivers of glass' on the surface like I described in the previous story about the leaded glass filled faceted rubies. Any time you cannot see any cracks you must be sure to examine very carefully. If there is a large sum of money on the line you should use a microscope or a high tech lab.
One vendor tried to trick me with an African Star Ruby that had been enhanced with leaded glass and happened to have the same basic color of a Burmese Mogok Star Ruby. Her price was in order, a bit low for such a beauty if indeed a Mogok but the 10x loupe quickly located an obvious bubble. When I handed it back and said 'pow mai', which means 'new heat treatment', she had trouble letting go of her dream of getting big money so easily and insisted I was mistaken and tried to put it back in my hand. I asked her if she was giving it to me as a gift and she quickly snatched it back and smiled. Saving it for another less suspecting buyer, no doubt.