All About Gemstones

A lesson in Gemstones

Emerald

emeraldEmeralds are fascinating gemstones. They have the most beautiful, most intense and most radiant green that can possibly be imagined: emerald green. Inclusions are tolerated. In top quality, fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds. The name emerald comes from the Greek 'smaragdos' via the Old French 'esmeralde', and really just means 'green gemstone'. Innumerable fantastic stories have grown up around this magnificent gem. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. However, probably the oldest known finds were once made near the Red Sea in Egypt. Having said that, these gemstone mines, already exploited by Egyptian pharaohs between 3000 and 1500 B.C. and later referred to as 'Cleopatra's Mines', had already been exhausted by the time they were rediscovered in the early 19th century.

Emeralds have been held in high esteem since ancient times. For that reason, some of the most famous emeralds are to be seen in museums and collections. The New York Museum of Natural History, for example, has an exhibit in which a cup made of pure emerald which belonged to the Emperor Jehangir is shown next to the 'Patricia', one of the largest Colombian emerald crystals, which weighs 632 carats. The collection of the Bank of Bogota includes five valuable emerald crystals with weights of between 220 and 1796 carats, and splendid emeralds also form part of the Iranian National Treasury, adorning, for example, the diadem of the former Empress Farah. The Turkish sultans also loved emeralds. In Istanbul's Topkapi Palace there are exhibits with items of jewelery, writing-implements and daggers, each lavishly adorned with emeralds and other gems.
Emerald is the Birthstone for the Month of May
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Ruby

rubyWhich color would you spontaneously associate with love and vivacity, passion and power? It's obvious, isn't it? Red. Red is the color of love. It radiates warmth and a strong sense of vitality. And red is also the color of the ruby, the king of the gemstones. In the fascinating world of gemstones, the ruby is the undisputed ruler. For thousands of years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. It has everything a precious stone should have: magnificent color, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance. In addition to that, it is an extremely rare gemstone, especially in its finer qualities. For a long time India was regarded as the ruby's classical country of origin. In the major works of Indian literature, a rich store of knowledge about gemstones has been handed down over a period of more than two thousand years. The term 'corundum', which we use today, is derived from the Sanskrit word 'kuruvinda'. The Sanskrit word for ruby is 'ratnaraj', which means something like 'king of the gemstones'. And it was a royal welcome indeed which used to be prepared for it. Whenever a particularly beautiful ruby crystal was found, the ruler sent high dignitaries out to meet the precious gemstone and welcome it in appropriate style. Today, rubies still decorate the insignia of many royal households. But are they really all genuine rubies?

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, one of the hardest minerals on Earth, of which the sapphire is also a variety. Pure corundum is colorless. Slight traces of elements such as chrome, iron, titanium or vanadium are responsible for the color. These gemstones have excellent hardness. On the Mohs scale their score of 9 is second only to that of the diamond. Only red corundum is entitled to be called ruby, all other colors being classified as sapphires. The close relationship between the ruby and the sapphire has only been known since the beginning of the 19th century. Up to that time, red garnets or spinels were also thought to be rubies. (That, indeed, is why the 'Black Ruby' and the 'Timur Ruby', two of the British Crown Jewels, were so named, when they are not actually rubies at all, but spinels.)
Ruby is the Birthstone for the Month of July
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AMETHYST

amethystAmethyst has been known as the most highly prized form of quartz. It is the presence of manganese in quartz that produces the purple color, and iron content varies the coloration. Amethyst may be found throughout the world; our specimens are from Brazil and Uruguay. Amethyst, Mythological Maiden - Bacchus, the god of wine, declared in a rage that the first person he passes will be eaten by tigers. This turns out to be a beautiful maiden named Amethyst. The goddess Diana quickly turned Amethyst into a white stone to save her from the tigers. Regretting his anger, Bacchus poured red wine over the stone as an offering to Diana, so turning the stone purple. Amethyst has long been associated with relieving hangovers, or curing drunkenness, probably as a result of its wine-like color and the Bacchus tale. Metaphysical Attributes: Physical representative of the Violet Ray. Cuts through illusion. Enhances psychic abilities. Excellent for meditation. Aids channeling abilities. Sedative, protective. Enhances feeling of contentment, and a connection to one's spirituality. Stone of peace and strength. Activates crown chakra.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February, and is associated with the signs of Pisces, Virgo, Aquarius, and Capricorn.
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Sapphire

sapphireIn earlier times, some people believed that the firmament was an enormous blue sapphire in which the Earth was embedded. Could there be a more apt image to describe the beauty of an immaculate sapphire? And yet this gem comes not in one but in all the blue shades of that firmament, from the deep blue of the evening sky to the shining mid-blue of a lovely summer's day which casts its spell over us. However, this magnificent gemstone also comes in many other colors: not only in the transparent greyish-blue of a distant horizon but also in the gloriously colourful play of light in a sunset – in yellow, pink, orange and purple. Sapphires really are gems of the sky, although they are found in the hard ground of our 'blue planet'.

Blue is the main colour of the sapphire. Blue is also the favorite color of some 50 per cent of all people, men and women alike. We associate this colour, strongly linked to the sapphire as it is, with feelings of sympathy and harmony, friendship and loyalty: feelings which belong to qualities that prove their worth in the long term – feelings in which it is not so much effervescent passion that is to the fore, but rather composure, mutual understanding and indestructible trust. Thus the blue of the sapphire has become a color which fits in with everything that is constant and reliable. That is one of the reasons why women in many countries wish for a sapphire ring on their engagement. The sapphire symbolizes loyalty, but at the same time it gives expression to people's love and longing. Perhaps the most famous example of this blue is to be found in music, in George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". And the blue of the sapphire even appears where nothing at all counts except clear-sightedness and concentrated mental effort. The first computer which succeeded in defeating a world chess champion bore the remarkable name 'Deep Blue'
Sapphire is the Birthstone for the Month of September.
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Aquamarine

aquamarineFrom the light blue of the sky to the deep blue of the sea, aquamarines shine over an extraordinarily beautiful range of mainly light blue colours. Aquamarine is a fascinatingly beautiful gemstone. Women the world over love it for its fine blue shades which can complement almost any skin or eye color, and creative gemstone designers are inspired by it as they are by hardly any other gem, which enables them to create new artistic cuts again and again. Its light blue arouses feelings of sympathy, trust, harmony and friendship. Good feelings. Feelings which are based on mutuality and which prove their worth in lasting relationships. The blue of aquamarine is a divine, eternal color, because it is the color of the sky. However, aquamarine blue is also the color of water with its life-giving force. And aquamarine really does seem to have captured the lucid blue of the oceans. No wonder, when you consider that according to the saga it originated in the treasure chest of fabulous mermaids, and has, since ancient times, been regarded as the sailors' lucky stone. Its name is derived from the Latin 'aqua' (water) and 'mare' (sea). It is said that its strengths are developed to their best advantage when it is placed in water which is bathed in sunlight. However, it is surely better still to wear aquamarine, since according to the old traditions this promises a happy marriage and is said to bring the woman who wears it joy and wealth into the bargain. An ideal gem, not only for loving and married couples.

A gemstone with many good qualities
Aquamarine is one of our most popular and best-known gemstones, and distinguishes itself by many good qualities. It is almost as popular as the classics: ruby, sapphire and emerald. In fact it is related to the emerald, both belonging to the beryl family. The color of aquamarine, however, is usually more even than that of the emerald. Much more often than its famous green cousin, aquamarine is almost entirely free of inclusions. Aquamarine has good hardness (7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale) and a wonderful shine. That hardness makes it very tough and protects it to a large extent from scratches. Iron is the substance which gives aquamarine its color, a color which ranges from an almost indiscernible pale blue to a strong sea-blue. The more intense the color of an aquamarine, the more value is put on it. Some aquamarines have a light, greenish shimmer; that too is a typical feature. However, it is a pure, clear blue that continues to epitomize the aquamarine, because it brings out so well the immaculate transparency and magnificent shine of this gemstone.
Aquamarine is the Birthstone for the Month of March
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Garnet

garnetAren't garnets those wonderful deep-red gemstones you often find in antique jewelery? Well yes, to a certain extent, a deep, warm red indeed being the color most frequently found in garnets. Sadly, however, far too few people are aware that the world of the garnets is far more colorful than that. Spectacular finds, especially in Africa, have enhanced the traditional image of the garnet with a surprising number of hues - even if red does continue to be its principal color. Thanks to their rich colour spectrum, garnets today can quite happily keep pace with changes of style and the color trends of fashion. And thanks to the new finds, there is a reliable supply of them too. So in fact this gemstone group in particular is one which gives new impetus to the world of jewellery today. By the term 'garnet', the specialist understands a group of more than ten different gemstones of similar chemical composition. It is true to say that red is the color most often encountered, but the garnet also exists in various shades of green, a tender to intense yellow, a fiery orange and some fine earth-colored nuances. The only color it cannot offer is blue. Garnets are much sought-after and much worked gemstones - the more so because today it is not only the classical gemstone colors red and green which are so highly esteemed, but also the fine hues in between. Furthermore, the world of the garnets is also rich in rarities such as star garnets and stones whose color changes depending on whether they are seen in daylight or artificial light.

And what else is there that distinguishes this gemstone group from the others? Well, first of all there is its good hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. With a few minor exceptions it applies to all the members of the garnet group, and it is the reason for the excellent wearing qualities of these gemstones. Garnets are relatively insensitive and uncomplicated to work with. The only thing they really don't like is being knocked about or subjected to improper heat treatment. A further plus is their high refractive index, the cause of the garnet's great brilliance. The shape of the raw crystals is also interesting. Garnet means something like 'the grainy one', coming from the Latin 'granum', for grain. This makes reference not only to the typical roundish shape of the crystals, but also to the colour of the red garnet, which often puts one in mind of the seeds of a ripe pomegranate. In the Middle Ages, the red garnet was also called the 'carbuncle stone'. And even today, fantasy names like Arizona ruby, Arizona spinel, Montana ruby or New Mexico ruby are still rife in the trade.
Garnet is the Birthstone for the Month of January
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