Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stamp collecting

Often people miss-understand philately as being the collecting of stamps, however this is not the case. Philately is the study of stamps and collecting stamps is a whole different world. Stemming from early collectors of postal stamps and dated letters, stamp collecting has become big business and collectable stamps can be brought at auction for values largely exceeding what you might imagine. Collectors of Postal Stamp Collectables also act as a critical source of income for some random small countries, who quite literally produce stamps just for them. Releasing high limited edition rare and elaborate stamps typically intended for western stamp collecting audiences, usually they produce more of the stamps than are actually needed in that country, proving that the stamp collecting market is substantial. As with all hobbies and collections Stamp collecting comes with its own things to learn, angles and oddities. You can get stamp collecting equipment such as quality stamp magnifying glasses, stamp albums, perforation gauges and stamp tongs, all of which will aid you in identifying real stamps and building the ultimate stamp collection! The only thing stopping you now is buying a few small stamp collectables to start your collection!

Penny Black

The Penny Black - The world's first prepaid adhesive postage stamp

The Penny Black was the world's first prepaid adhesive postage stamp. It was issued on Wednesday 6th May 1840 and the Twopenny Blue was issued on Friday 8th May 1840 early in the reign of Queen Victoria (b1819), who reigned from 1837-1901, her portrait was used on the stamp as it would be more recognisable by the public. The portrait on the penny black is based on the Wyon city medal of 1837 which William Wyon modelled in 1834 when Princess Victoria was only 15. As this was the first postage stamp, the country name is omitted, a tradition continued with all the stamps of Great Britain, the identifying characteristic is the monarch's head which always faces to the left on definitive stamps. The postal rate of one penny meant that a letter not exceeding half an ounce in weight could be sent to any part of the United Kingdom. The purpose of the stamp was to indicate that the postage had been prepaid. Before the invention of the stamp the receiver paid the postage rather than the sender.

Stamp collecting equipment

No equipment is needed in order to be able to collect stamps. However, the great majority of collectors choose to invest in a few essential items for the better display, preservation and inspection of their stamps. Below are some of the more commonly used pieces of stamp collecting equipment.

The easiest and cheapest method to store stamps is placing them in glassine envelopes and storing them in a box free from humidity, light, and heat. This obviously will be of no help when trying to go through the stamps for display or other purpose. Placing stamps in stamp albums helps in easy display of the stamp collection. Stamps can be displayed as per the wish of the collector, by country, topic, or even size, such that the ultimate display is pleasing to the eyes.

Archival stockbook with clear plastic pockets for the stamps: one of the safest means of stamp storage

Clockwise: hinge-mounted stamp, stamp about to be hinge-mounted, stamp damaged by a hinge, stamp hinges

Magnifying glass

Stamp tongs with rounded tips, to prevent damage from skin oils and rough handling

The tools and items of collecting all fit neatly on a desk blotter.

Acquiring stamps

The starting point for many new collectors is to ask family and friends to save stamps from their incoming mail. Although the stamps received by major businesses, and those kept by elderly relatives, may be of international and historical interest, the stamps received from family members are often of the definitive sort. Definitives seem mundane but, considering their variety of colours, watermarks, paper differences, perforations and printing errors, they can fill many pages in a collection. Introducing either variety or specific focus to a collection can require the purchasing of stamps, either from a dealer or online. Large numbers of relatively recent stamps, often still attached to fragments or envelopes, may be obtained cheaply and easily. Rare and old stamps can also be easily obtained from similar sources, with costs extending far beyond the means of all but a tiny minority of collectors.

Duplicate stamps are the stamps that a collector already has, and are therefore not required to fill a gap in a collection. Duplicate stamps can be sold or traded, so they are an important medium of exchange among collectors.

Many stamp dealers sell their merchandise over the Internet. Others have neighborhood stamp shops, one of the best resources for beginning and intermediate collectors. Some dealers also jointly set up week-end stamp markets called "Bourses" that move around a region from week to week. They also meet collectors at regional exhibitions and stamp shows.


Saturday, November 8, 2008


Candles are a perfect way to add that special touch to any occasion, and any room in your home.

The ancient Egyptians first used the power of scent to heal over 3,500 years ago. They would burn fragrant woods and herbs, believing the smoke rising into the air would carry with it their hopes and prayers to be answered by the ancient gods.

Today, the use of aroma to heal is deeply entrenched in the art of aromatherapy. It is now one of the most popular forms of holistic medicine. Used not only to help soothe and relax, there are now documented benefits of aromatherapy in helping control chronic disease and illness.

Candles used in aromatherapy come in special combinations of fragrances designed to achieve specific goals. Eucalyptus is used to energize, while lavender is used to calm. Taking in these scents alters the psychological state, allowing the body to follow suit.

The Soothing Effects of Aromatherapy Candles

The Mind
The scents that come from these candles which are the essential oils incite parts of the brain that affects emotions including the hypothalamus. The people around benefit by inhaling the aroma which then affects the mind and body in special ways. It does so by entering their bloodstream through their lungs. The aroma goes straight to the limbic system which produces chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins. Serotonin reduces anxiety while endorphins work to decrease pain and stimulate sexual response. A result is a balanced emotional state and a positive outlook which has a dramatic therapeutic effect on physiological problems especially disorders that are related to stress.

The Body
The body meanwhile absorbs the essential oil through the skin. These oils travel around cells, enter the sebaceous glands and interact with the natural emollients of the skin. This results in thorough cleansing, detoxifying and balancing of the body.

The Spirit
Aromatherapy has great positive effects on one’s spiritual journey. Scented candles and their aroma are used to assist in meditation and prayers.

The unique properties of essential oils found in some scented candles are efficient in enhancing and affecting energy levels positively. In order to achieve the mental, physical and spiritual benefits of scented candles, it’s a must to engage in a form of relaxation with the use of aromatherapy candles. You may think that you don’t have the time or the money to indulge in such experience. But the truth is when it comes to your state of well-being, there’s no such thing as a waste of time or money. And besides there are wholesale soy candles that are not that expensive. You can also engage in soy candle making which in itself is also a form of a relaxing hobby.

Spend a couple of minutes of your day alone in a room, inhaling rich therapeutic aroma of candles and essential oils. The key here is to keep your mind off things that are related to work and stress. Try your best to imagine that you are in a tranquil place with nothing to worry about. This will do a lot in calming your mind and refreshing your body and soul.

Enjoy Sweet Dreams

If you have difficulty falling asleep, try lighting a few of these scented candles before bedtime:

· Chamomile - Long used in teas to promote sleep, chamomile has a sweet, fruity aroma. In addition to helping you achieve a peaceful slumber, chamomile is said to have properties that promote psychic awareness and hone intuition.

· Lavender - An aroma that promotes inner calm and peace, lavender has a fresh, floral scent. It will free you from emotional stress, promote inner stability, and can even be used to relieve headaches.

· Patchouli - This rich aroma has long been connected with love and passion. Not only can it ignite your inner fire, it is known to have properties that help you achieve rest.

· Sandalwood - Bring on those sweet dreams with the sweet, woodsy smell of sandalwood. Perhaps its clairvoyant properties will help you see into the future, while it’s calming properties help you dream the night away.

· Ylang-Ylang - This scent known to enhance love and relationships will surround you with an intoxicating mixture of sweet, floral, and fruity aromas.

Lighten Your Mood

Many scents have been known to ease depression and relive anxiety. Try one of these if you find yourself with the blues.

· Sage- Powerful for removing negative feelings, this earthy yet fruity herb will clear your mind and cleanse impure thoughts from your system.

· Frankincense - This spicy, woody fragrance frees your mind from impure thoughts, releases you from destructive habits and obsessions, and has protective qualities.

Tighten Your Focus

Perhaps your thoughts are wandering or you cannot remain focused on a task or assignment. Burn one of these candles at your desk to help improve your concentration.

· Bergamot - This citrusy yet floral aroma provides mental clarity, as well as protective qualities.

· Peppermint - Another aroma known to increase intuition and psychic awareness, this famous scent is strong and minty.

· Basil - A sweet, slightly medicinal-smelling herb that promotes overall well-being

· Lemon - This citrus scent not only will clear your mind, but will call upon protective spirits to aid you.

Reduce Stress

If you just need to relax and unwind, light one of these scented candles while enjoying a hot bath or some quiet music.

· Jasmine -Exotic and floral, this scent promotes psychic cleansing, assists with creativity, and has powerful qualities for attracting love.

· Geranium - Providing qualities that promote success and well-being, this floral yet slightly fruity scent will relax your mind and spirit.

· Apple - The aroma of this sometimes-tart, sometimes-sweet fruit brings relaxation and peace of mind, as well as aids wisdom

If one of these is not quite your cup of tea, here are some of the protective or spiritually enhancing qualities of some of your other favorite scents:

· Cinnamon - Increases your spiritual awareness, focus, and concentration.

· Citronella - Attracts friends and neighbors, while repelling unwanted insects.

· Clove - Protects from evil spirits while enhancing memory

· Musk - Long associated with passion, this strong scent also boosts self-confidence and strength.

· Rose - The deep, floral smell of roses brings tranquility, inner peace, and harmony.

These fragrances have long been found in spas, combined with soft music to provide the client with a feeling of total peace and relaxation. You can achieve the same experience in your own home by following suit and filling it with scent.

Combine these fragrances together to achieve the mental and physical balance you are looking for, or to gain the spiritual awareness you desire, and allow the healing benefits of aromatherapy to work for you.

Use scented candles, fragrant oils, or wax burners and transform your home into a soothing, healing place of refuge. Allow yourself to indulge in the total relaxation of mind and spirit, and then feel the healing essence fill your body as you reach a heightened level of tranquility and well-being.

After all, if it worked for the ancient Egyptians, it may be able to work for you too.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Massage Therapy Benefits

There are many benefits to getting massage therapy and even though getting a single massage at a time is beneficial, getting continuous massage is better for the long term benefits that are obtained. Being one of the oldest and simplest forms of therapy, a massage can be given by anybody that is trained in it and people are known to have their favorite masseurs to whom they trust their minds, bodies and souls to get the much needed relaxation and even healing of wounds done by them.

The instances of massage go back a long time in history and massage therapy has the advantage

of being simple to perform as it involves a system in which the masseur strokes, presses and kneads different parts of the body in order to provide relief from pain, stress, injuries as well as relax and soothe, stimulate and tone the body. Through massage therapy, much more than just creating pleasant sensations is achieved because it will work on the softer tissues like muscles, tendons, and ligaments and thereby develop a much better tone of muscles.

If you want to be more serious on massage you can go to massage school. There are massage therapy schools in almost every major city so, chances are, there’s a massage therapy school near you. Check the local yellow pages or try an internet search using your favorite search engine. The tuition to attend a massage therapy school may set you back some financially but it’s worth it when you consider that you can make great money as a professional masseuse. Not only that, but you will be able to bring relaxation and happiness to many, many customers relatives or females around the world.

Even though it may be thought that massage therapy only acts on the muscles that lie just beneath the skin this is not so because the effects can also be felt by muscles embedded deeper in the human body and it may also provide relief to the organs themselves. There is additional benefit to be obtained from massage therapy because the blood circulation improves and assistance is given to the lymphatic system by helping to eliminate the waste produced by the body.

There are a number of benefits to massage therapy and these include relaxation, soothing feeling, healing of wounds and
injuries, feeling much more reassured, easing of tension, stiffness and pain, makes breathing better, helps to circulate the blood better, as well as giving an enhanced feeling of well-being. Massage therapy should not stop at just single massage sessions because, when spread over a number of sessions, its cumulative beneficial effects will have a longer lasting and be more effective on the human body.

Through regular massages, the skin tone gets improved while the human body mechanism is strengthened, thereby helping to eliminate stress, tension and unnecessary injuries. Other benefits also include strengthening the structure of the body. Massage therapy has a significant and positive effect on stimulating and calming the nervous system and so reduce fatigue and making the receiver feel more rejuvenated. The positive results of massage therapy can be evidenced from the fact that it helps to make the individual’s mental, physical and spiritual well-being get restored to a higher level.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage is one of the oldest, simplest forms of therapy and is a system of stroking, pressing and kneading different areas of the body to relieve pain, relax, stimulate, and tone the body. Massage does much more than create a pleasant sensation on the skin, it also works on the soft tissues (the muscles, tendons, and ligaments) to improve muscle tone. Although it largely affects those muscles just under the skin, its benefits may also reach the deeper layers of muscle and possibly even the organs themselves. Massage also stimulates blood circulation and assists the lymphatic system (which runs parallel to the circulatory system), improving the elimination of waste throughout the body.

Some Benefits Of Massage:
1. Relaxing.
2. Soothing.
3. Healing.
4. Reassuring.
5. Eases tension, stiffness, and pain.
6. Improves breathing.
7. Improves circulation.
8. Enhances well-being.

The Effects Of Massage:
Although a single massage will be enjoyable, the effects of massage are cumulative and a course of massage treatments will bring the most benefits. Regular massage can have the effect of strengthening and toning the entire body mechanism, and so help to prevent unnecessary strains and injuries that might otherwise occur due to excess tension and any resulting structural weaknesses. Massage can stimulate or calm the nervous system-depending upon what is required by the individual-and thus help reduce fatigue, leaving the receiver with a feeling of replenished energy. At its best, massage has the potential to restore the individual physically, mentally and spiritually.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Did you know....??? Some amazing facts about diamonds!

Diamond is an allotrope of carbon. It is the hardest known natural material and the third-hardest known material after aggregated diamond nanorods and ultrahard fullerite. Its hardness and high dispersion of light make it useful for industrial applications and jewelry.

Diamonds are specifically renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities — they make excellent abrasives because they can be scratched only by other diamonds, Borazon, ultrahard fullerite, or aggregated diamond nanorods, which also means they hold a polish extremely well and retain their lustre.

The name diamond derives from the ancient Greek adamas (αδάμας; “invincible”). They have been treasured as gemstones since their use as religious icons in ancient India and usage in engraving tools also dates to early human history.

Diamond is the hardest natural material known to man: Its hardness set to 10 (hardest) on Mohs scale of mineral hardness and having an absolute hardness value of between 90, 167, and 231 gigapascals in various tests. Diamond's hardness has been known since antiquity, and is the source of its name.

The formation of natural diamond requires very specific conditions. Diamond formation requires exposure of carbon-bearing materials to high pressure, ranging approximately between 45 and 60 kilobars, but at a comparatively low temperature range between approximately 1652–2372 °F (900–1300 °C). These conditions are known to be met in two places on Earth; in the lithospheric mantle below relatively stable continental plates, and at the site of a meteorite strike.

Diamonds can occur in nearly any color, though yellow and brown are by far the most common. "Black" diamonds are not truly black, but rather contain numerous dark inclusions that give the gems their dark appearance. Colored diamonds contain impurities or structural defects that cause the coloration, while pure or nearly pure diamonds are transparent and colorless. Most diamond impurities replace a carbon atom in the crystal lattice, known as a carbon flaw. The most common impurity, nitrogen, causes a slight to intense yellow coloration depending upon the type and concentration of nitrogen present. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) classifies low saturation yellow and brown diamonds as diamonds in the normal color range, and applies a grading scale from 'D' (colorless) to 'Z' (light yellow).

The blue hue was a result of trace amounts of boron in the stone's crystal structure.


Cut actually refers to two aspects of a diamond. The first is its shape (round, marquise, etc) the second is how well the cutting has been executed.

A diamond's cut will most certainly influence its fire (the lovely rainbow colors that flash from within) and brilliance (the liveliness and sparkle), as well as its perceived size and even, to some degree its apparent color. Different cuts reflect light in different angles. A diamond must be cut in a geometrically precise manner to maximize its brilliance.

Where Do Diamonds Come From?
While geologists disagree as to exactly how diamonds are formed, they do agree that diamonds are formed entirely of carbon and that great heat and pressure were needed millions of years ago for that carbon to change into diamonds. This heat and pressure were believed to have existed in molten rock far below the earth's surface where volcanoes created these conditions.

The one thing everyone agrees on, geologists and diamond users alike, is that diamonds are the hardest and one of the most valuable substances man has ever known. Not only are diamonds used in jewelry (about 20% of all the diamonds mined), but they are more widely used in industry, to cut very hard metal, as tips of drill bits in mining, for record player needles, and for transistors and other electronic equipment.

South Africa produces about 80% of the world's diamonds, followed by Russia and South America. The diamond fields of South Africa were discovered in 1866 when a farmer's children found "a pretty pebble" in a river bed, a pebble that turned out to be a diamond worth $2,500!

Although man-made diamonds are produced today (by compressing carbon under intense heat and pressure), these are mostly for industrial uses and are smaller in size than a grain of salt. Man-made diamonds of a size needed for jewelry would cost more to produce than the cost of locating and mining natural diamonds of the same size.

The largest diamond ever found is the Odlinan diamond, now part of the British crown jewels, which weighed 3,106 carats when mined!

Colorless Near Colorless Faint Yellow Very Light Yellow Light Yellow













Internally Flawless

Very Very Slightly

Very Slightly

Slightly Imperfect


FL (Flawless) - IF (Internally Flawless)
Flawless Diamonds reveal no flaws on the surface or internally are the rarest and most beautiful gems.

Internally Flawless Diamonds reveal no inclusions and only insignificant blemishes on the surface under 10x magnification.

VVS1 - VVS2 (Very, Very Slightly Included)
Very difficult to see inclusions under 10x magnification. These are excellent quality diamonds.

VS1 - VS2 (Very Slightly Included)
Only looking through a 10X loupe can pinpoint the inclusions in this category and are nearly impossible to see with the naked eye. These are less expensive than the VVS1 or VVS2 grades.

SI1 - SI3 (Slightly Included)
Diamonds with inclusions easily identified under 10x magnification. Finding flaws in this category with the naked eye is difficult. The gems in this category maintain their integrity, depending on the location of the inclusions.

I1 - I3 (Included)
Diamonds with inclusions which may or may not be easily seen by the naked eye. The flaws on the stones in this category will have some effect on the brilliance of your diamond.