More About Gemstones
Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January & the anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage.
Garnet derived its name from the Latin word granatus, meaning like a grain, which refers to the mode of occurrence wherein crystals resemble grains or seeds embedded in the matrix. Garnet is a family of minerals having similar physical and crystalline properties.
Almandite and almandite-pyrope solid solution garnets are the best abrasive types, but andradite, grossularite, and pyrope also are used. All species of garnet have been used as gemstones.
Garnet displays the greatest variety of color of any mineral, occurring in every color except blue. For example, grossularite can be colorless, white, gray, yellow, yellowish green, various shades of green, brown, pink, reddish, or black. Andradite garnet can be yellow-green, green, greenish brown, orangy yellow, brown, grayish black or black.
Pyrope is commonly purplish red, orangy red, crimson, or dark red; and almandite is deep red, brownish red, brownish black or violet-red. Spessartite garnet can be red, reddish orange, orange, yellow-brown, reddish brown, or blackish brown.
A few garnets exhibit a color-change phenomenon. They are one color when viewed in natural light and another color when viewed in incandescent light.
Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February & the anniversary gemstone for the 6th year of marriage.
Amethyst is a purple color gemstone. The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from Greek myths. Dionysius, the god of intoxication, was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish. Along came unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysius wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know today.
Amethyst Purple color has long been considered a royal color so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so popular throughout history.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for the month of March & the anniversary gemstone for the 19th year of marriage.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March, and derives its name from “sea water”. Aqua (water) sparkles like the sea and its color is light to medium blue, sometimes with a slight greenish splash. According to some legends, it is the treasure of mermaids, with the power to keep sailors safe at sea. Aquamarine is said to be a particularly strong charm when immersed in water (which is a good thing, since that is when sailors need its power most!)
Aquamarine was also said to have a soothing influence on land, especially on married couples. Its power to help husbands and wives work out their differences and ensure a long and happy marriage makes it a good anniversary gift. Aquamarine also protects against the wiles of the devil. A dream of aquamarine means that you will meet new friends.
Aquamarine is found in Brazil, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria, and other countries. Aquamarine is always a pastel blue but the darker the color, the more valued it is. Professionals prefer a pure blue, with no green in it. Stones with a greenish tone are less expensive. Because the color is generally pale, aquamarine should have a good clarity. These stones are often cut in ovals and emerald cuts. More saturated colors are unusual in small sizes: usually it takes some size for the color to hold in a darker shade.
The Diamond is the birthstone of April and the anniversary gemstone for the 10th and 60th years of marriage. Diamonds were discovered in India in 500 B.C., and the name “diamond” comes from the Greek word “Adamas” which means unconquerable – suggesting the eternity of love. Since ancient Greece, diamonds and diamond jewelry have been the traditional symbol of love, and the ancients believed they were hardened dew drops, splinters from the stars or crystallized lightning. A diamond is the hardest substance known to humankind, and is made of a crystallized carbon that has unique powers of light reflection. Since diamonds are composed of a single element, they are the purest of all gemstones.
Emerald is the birthstone of May & the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage.
It is also known as the gem of eternal spring. We all are fascinated by the emerald’s rich history, lore and tradition. Emeralds have been cherished for as long as there has been a written history. Archaeologists have traced the origins of the use of emerald to almost 3000 B.C. in both ancient Egypt and India.
- Cleopatra prized her emeralds more than any other gem.
- The Romans also loved emeralds because, as the ancient scholar Pliny said, “nothing greens greener.”
- The Moguls of India loved emeralds so much they inscribed them with sacred text and wore them as talismans.
The most desirable emeralds are bright green and as close as possible to being free from inclusions (internal growth characteristics of the gem often seen as crystals and/or whitish cloudy areas). These characteristics – color and clarity – can begin to give you a clue as to the vast differences in price. However, very very few emeralds are ever completely “clean.” In fact, since most emeralds are included, these growth characteristics, which point as clues to a gem’s origin, have been romanced as ‘jardins” (or gardens). Most of history’s most notable emeralds are laced with inclusions. The Size of the emerald also has an obvious bearing on price.
A few more factors are also important in determining emerald prices.
1. Is the stone proportionately and exactingly cut?
This means that the gem has been faceted to return more light and color to the eye, that all of the facet junctions meet crisply, and that the overall outline is proportional and pleasing.
2. Has the emerald been treated or enhanced?
For example, emeralds have long been treated with color-less oils such as linseed or cedarwood oils to soften the visible effect of the inclusions. A practice that has not been accepted by the trade is that of treating emeralds with epoxy resins such as Opticon. In a process similar to oiling, an emerald’s surface-reaching cracks and fissures are filled with epoxy resins. But while the oils tend to soften the effect of inclusions, epoxy properties are such that inclusions tend to be hidden. This practice is considered deceptive.
3. What is this specific emerald’s country of origin?
Origin of the emerald has some effect on price, though this aspect is usually less critical to establishing value. You may have heard that emeralds from Colombia are the very best (and often they are), but equally fine emeralds have been mined from such locations as Zambia, Nigeria, Brazil, Russia or other localities.
Pearl is the birthstone of June & the anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th Anniversary years.
The sparkling beauty of a strand of pearls has held the attention of brides for millennia. The ancient Greeks believed that wearing pearls would promote marital bliss and prevent newlywed women from crying. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages, pearls were the gift of choice for a knight to give to his lady. During the 14th and 15th centuries, royal wedding scenes closely resembled a sea of pearls, with everyone from the bride down to her male guests adorned with impressive arrays of pearl jewelry. In modern times, cultured pearls have graced such 20th century brides as Queen Elizabeth II, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor.
You may have seen the term “cultured” preceding the word pearls at your jewelry store. Cultured pearls are pearls that are nudged to life when a worker surgically implants a tiny bead into the oyster (that’s the shellfish in which pearls grow). The host oyster is then lowered back into the water and, if all goes well, it deposits layer upon layer of a substance called nacre around the bead, eventually forming a pearl large enough to harvest. Of course, some oysters continue to produce pearls without any help, forming nacre around a natural irritant that gets inside their shells, they are rare however. Culturing produces far more pearls than nature could alone.
Ruby is the birthstone of July & the anniversary gemstone for the 15th and 40th years of marriage.
Ruby’s day is Tuesday, its season summer, and its apostle St. Matthew. The scarlet-colored gem is July’s birthstone under the sign of Cancer, is said to accord wearers wisdom, happiness and health, and to bring particularly good luck to gamblers and lovers.
Rubies are more than talismans or good-luck charms, not only historic and exotic but also valuable. Value is a human set of conditions: gems must have rarity, durability and beauty. Great rubies display all three hallmarks. Rubies – especially fine rubies – are rarer than diamonds, emeralds or sapphires. The beauty of their color is without peer. And their durability is often a surprise to new buyers.
On the famous Mohs hardness scale of 1 to 10, everyone knows that a diamond, as the hardest natural substance on earth, rates a 10. Rubies, at Mohs 9, are harder than any other material except diamonds. You may already have noticed that rubies and sapphires are often paired. For good reason. They belong to the same family, corundum, the crystal form of aluminum oxide.
Fine rubies are the most expensive of all gems (with the one exception – very rare colored diamonds, such as red). It is safe to say that, outside of museums, most people never see either large or very fine rubies.
When buying, use a few simple guidelines. Size, quality, color and price are absolutely related. You can get a ruby twice the size for the same price if you are willing to have one with less than half the color and quality. When one feature improves, others have to come down to hold the same price.
Of course, color is everything with rubies. How much red can you afford? The richer, deeper, better the red, the more expensive and rarer the ruby. Factor color into your personal mix to decide what you want. Imagine a red without undertones.. .a pure red. Your dream red may well be the vivacious color of Burmese rubies.
Peridot is the birthstone for the month of August & the anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage. Much of its recent popularity can be explained by its currently being recognized as the birthstone for the month of August, and people wear the stone because it is supposed to bring the wearer success, peace, and good luck.
Peridot, the volcanic gem, is the best known gem variety of the mineral olivine, a species of magnesium-iron rich silicate minerals. This bright yellow-green to green gemstone has caught the fancy of humans for thousands of years.
Legendary Peridot History of Note Includes…
- Several historians suspect that at least some of the many “emeralds” worn by Cleopatra were actually peridot.
- Ancient Romans called peridot the “evening emerald,” since its green color did not darken at night but was still visible by lamplight.
- Peridot later was also often used to decorate medieval churches. Large peridots, close to 200 carats in size, decorate the shrine of the three magi at the Cologne Cathedral.
- Peridot was mined in ancient Egypt on an island called Zeberget. Mining was done at night because legend said that peridot could not be easily seen during the day. The island was infested with serpents who made peridot mining a very dangerous occupation until one Pharaoh finally had them all driven into the sea.
Sapphire is the birthstone of September & the anniversary gemstone for the 5th and 45th years of marriage.
Sapphire– gem of the heavens, or the divine gemstone, has been cherished for thousands of years. The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and its reflection colored the sky. Sapphire is found in all colors: from midnight blue to the bright blue of the noon sky, from a golden sunrise to reddish-orange, and the delicate violet of twilight. The most famous and valuable sapphires are a truly royal blue.
Sapphire symbolizes sincerity and faithfulness, and is an excellent choice for an engagement ring. When Prince Charles gave Princess Diana a sapphire engagement ring, couples all over the world were inspired to revive this ancient tradition.
Sapphires come mainly from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia and Cambodia. The United States, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, China and Madagascar also produce some sapphires. The deposits in Montana produce a range of fancy colors, and deep blue sapphires come from one of the world’s largest deposits at Yogo Gulch, where sapphires are small in size but have a beautiful blue.
Sapphires are available in every color but red. Sapphire in colors other than blue is often referred to as fancy sapphire. The most valuable sapphires have a medium intense, vivid blue color. They are most often cut in a cushion shape – a rounded rectangle – or an oval shape. You can also find smaller sapphires in round brilliant cuts and a wide variety of fancy shapes, including triangles, squares, emerald cuts, marquises, pear shapes, baguette shapes, and cabochon cuts, or smooth domes.
Some sapphires contain unusual tiny needle-like inclusions, and are cut in a cabochon shape to display a dancing six-rayed white star. Star sapphires, which are becoming more rare, are very popular for men’s rings. These celestial sapphires are judged by the sharpness of the star, the evenness of the rays or “legs” of the star, and the body color of the sapphire. It is extremely rare to find a star sapphire with a sharp star and a bright blue body color.
Ancient civilizations regarded star sapphires as a very powerful talisman, a guiding star for travelers and seekers of all kinds. They had such power, they were said to continue protecting the wearer, even after being passed on to someone else.
Opal is brittle, heat sensitive, and breaks and scratches easily. Some varieties self- destruct through the loss of water. Even with these drawbacks, opal is still valued as a premier gemstone.
Opal’s name evolved from the Roman word opalus from the Greek word opallios – “to see a change of color.” The Greek word was a modification of the ancient Indian Sanskrit name for opal, upala, which meant “precious stone.” If one spoke in mixed tongues, then opal would be opallios upala, “to see a change of color precious stone.”
As indicated by the derivation of its name, opal has centuries of history as a treasured gemstone.