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About Gemstones

ALEXANDRITE

alexandrite copy ALEXANDRITE

Green in sunlight. Red in lamplight. Color-changing alexandrite is nature’s magic trick.

Often described by gem aficionados as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is the very rare color-change variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. Originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s, it’s now found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil, but fine material is exceptionally rare and valuable.

Alexandrite is a birthstone for June, along with pearl and moonstone. Alexandrite is also the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary.

AMBER

amber copy AMBER

Amber is nature’s time capsule. This fossilized tree resin contains remnants of life on earth millions of years ago.

The Greeks called amber "elektron," or “made by the sun.” Homer praised its bright glow. The Egyptians buried it in tombs for the afterlife. Today’s scientists value amber too: it provides a three-dimensional window into prehistoric ecosystems through the myriad animal and plant inclusions it contains.

While amber isn’t a birthstone, it is associated with the astrological sign of Taurus.

AMETHYST

amethyst copy AMETHYST

The essence of the color purple, amethyst is beautiful enough for crown jewels yet affordable enough for class rings.

Amethyst was as expensive as ruby and emerald until the 19th Century, when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered. It was believed to prevent intoxication—amethystos means “not drunk” in ancient Greek. Today, as the most valued quartz variety, amethyst is in demand for designer pieces and mass-market jewelry alike, and its purple to pastel hues retain wide consumer appeal.

Amethyst is the birthstone for February and the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.

AQUAMARINE

aquamarine copy AQUAMARINE

Named after seawater, aquamarine’s fresh watery hue is a cool plunge into a refreshing pool.

Aquamarine’s name comes from the Latin for seawater and it was said to calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. March’s birthstone was also thought to enhance the happiness of marriages. The best gems combine high clarity with limpid transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Like many beryls, aquamarine forms large crystals suitable for sizable fashioned gems and carvings.

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and the gem of the 19th wedding anniversary.

DIAMOND

diamond copy DIAMOND

Diamonds are among nature’s most precious and beautiful creations.

Diamond forms under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist only about 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface. Diamond’s carbon atoms are bonded in essentially the same way in all directions. Another mineral, graphite, also contains only carbon, but its formation process and crystal structure are very different. Graphite is so soft that you can write with it, while diamond is so hard that you can only scratch it with another diamond.

On almost all modern birthstone lists, diamond is recognized today as the birthstone for April. Diamond is also the gem that marks the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries.

FANCY COLOR DIAMOND

fancy copy FANCY COLOR DIAMOND

Dazzling brilliance. Captivating color. The planet’s most valued gems are fancy color diamonds.

Gem diamonds in GIA’s D-to-Z range usually decrease in value as the color becomes more obvious. Just the opposite happens with fancy color diamonds: Their value generally increases with the strength and purity of the color. Large, vivid fancy color diamonds are extremely rare and very valuable. However, many fancy diamond colors are muted rather than pure and strong.

Diamond is the birthstone for April and the gem of the 10th and 60th anniversaries. Fancy color diamond adds a unique twist to your celebration.

EMERALD

emerald copy EMERALD

Emerald is the bluish green to green variety of beryl, a mineral species that includes aquamarine.

Gem experts differ on the degree of green that makes one stone an emerald and another stone a less-expensive green beryl. Most gemologists, gemological laboratories, and colored stone dealers call a stone green beryl when its color is “too light” for it to be classified as emerald. Even among that group, however, there’s a difference of opinion about what’s considered “too light.”

As the gem of spring, emerald is the perfect choice as the birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gem of the twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.

GARNET

garnet copy GARNET

Garnets are a set of closely related minerals forming a group, with gemstones in almost every color.

Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form.

Garnet is the birthstone for January and the gem for the second anniversary.

JADE

jade copy JADE

Jade is actually two separate minerals: nephrite and jadeite. In China jade is the “stone of heaven”.

Jade has its cultural roots in the smoke-dimmed caves and huts that sheltered prehistoric humans. Around the world, Stone Age workers shaped this toughest of minerals into weapons, tools, ornaments, and ritual objects. Their carvings invoked the powers of heaven and earth and mystic forces of life and death.

Jade is the official gem for the 12th anniversary.

MOONSTONE

moonstone copy MOONSTONE

A ghostly sheen moves under the surface of this feldspar, like moonlight glowing in water.

Moonstone is a variety of the feldspar-group mineral orthoclase. During formation, orthoclase and albite separate into alternating layers. When light falls between these thin layers it is scattered producing the phenomenon called adularescence. Adularescence is the light that appears to billow across a gem. Other feldspar minerals can also show adularescence including labradorite and sanidine.

Moonstone is a birthstone for June, along with pearl and alexandrite.

OPAL

opal copy OPAL

Fireworks. Jellyfish. Galaxies. Lightning. Opal’s shifting play of kaleidoscopic colors is unlike any other gem.

Because opal has the colors of other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all. The Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. When Australia’s mines began to produce opals commercially in the 1890s, it quickly became the world’s primary source for this October birthstone.

Opal is an October birthstone.

PEARL

pearl copy PEARL

Perfect shining spheres. Lustrous baroque forms. Seductive strands, warm to the touch. Pearls are simply and purely organic.

Perhaps the best-loved gems of all time, pearls—natural and cultured—occur in a wide variety of colors. The most familiar are white and cream, but the palette of colors extends to every hue. Natural pearls form around a microscopic irritant in the bodies of certain mollusks. Cultured pearls are the result of the deliberate insertion of a bead or piece of tissue that the mollusk coats with nacre.

Pearl is the birthstone for June and the gem of the third and thirtieth anniversaries.

PERIDOT

peridot PERIDOT

Found in lava, meteorites, and deep in the earth’s mantle, yellow-green peridot is the extreme gem.

The ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad, the source for many large fine peridots in the world’s museums. The Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.” Today this gem is still prized for its restful yellowish green hues and long history. Large strongly-colored, examples can be spectacular, and attractive smaller gems are available for jewelry at all price points.

Peridot is the birthstone for August and the 15th anniversary gemstone.

RUBY

ruby copy RUBY

Ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire.

Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market. In its purest form, the mineral corundum is colorless. Trace elements that become part of the mineral’s crystal structure cause variations in its color. Chromium is the trace element that causes ruby’s red color.

Ruby is the birthstone for July and the gem for the 15th and 40th anniversaries.

SAPPHIRE

sapphire copy SAPPHIRE

The name “sapphire” can also apply to any corundum that’s not ruby red, another corundum variety.

Besides blue sapphire and ruby, the corundum family also includes so-called “fancy sapphires.” They come in violet, green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, and intermediate hues. Some stones exhibit the phenomenon known as color change, most often going from blue in daylight or fluorescent lighting to purple under incandescent light. Sapphires can even be gray, black, or brown.

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gem of the 5th and 45th anniversaries.

SPINEL

spinel copy SPINEL

The Black Prince’s Ruby. The Timur Ruby. For centuries, spinel, the great imposter, masqueraded as ruby in Europe’s crown jewels.

Until recently, spinel was an underappreciated gem with little consumer recognition. Increasing demand for ruby alternatives rekindled appreciation for spinel’s rich red color and history. In ancient times, southeast Asia’s mines yielded exceptional large spinel crystals, which became the treasured property of kings and emperors, often passing through many hands as spoils of war.

Although not an official US birthstone, spinel has long been mistaken for ruby by emperors and monarchs. Many of the famous “rubies” of history were actually spinels.

TANZANITE

tanzanite copy TANZANITE

Lush blue velvet. Rich royal purple. Exotic tanzanite is found in only one place on earth, near majestic Kilimanjaro.

Found in just one place on earth, tanzanite is a relatively recent discovery. This blue variety of zoisite was named for Tanzania, the country where it was found, by Tiffany & Co. Because crystals show different colors depending on viewing direction, cutters can choose bluish purple or the more favored pure blue or violetish blue hue depending on how much weight they want to retain from the rough.

Tanzanite is a birthstone for December, along with zircon, turquoise, and blue topaz. Tanzanite is also the gem for a 24th anniversary.

TOURMALINE

tourmaline copy TOURMALINE

Tourmalines have a wide variety of exciting colors with one of the widest color ranges of any gem.

Tourmaline’s colors have many different causes. It’s generally agreed that traces of iron, and possibly titanium, induce green and blue colors. Manganese produces reds and pinks, and possibly yellows. Some pink and yellow tourmalines might owe their hues to color centers caused by radiation, which can be natural or laboratory-induced.

Tourmaline is a birthstone for October, along with opal. Tourmaline is also the gem of the eighth anniversary.

TURQUOISE

Azure sky, robin’s egg blue: Vivid shades of turquoise define the color that’s named after this gem.

Turquoise is found in only a few places on earth: dry and barren regions where acidic, copper-rich groundwater seeps downward and reacts with minerals that contain phosphorus and aluminum. The result of this sedimentary process is a porous, semitranslucent to opaque compound of hydrated copper and aluminum phosphate.

Turquoise is the traditional birthstone for the month of December and the gem of the 11th anniversary.

ZIRCON

zircon copy ZIRCON

Zircon is a colorful gem with high refraction and fire that’s unfairly confused with cubic zirconia.

Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire. These zircon properties are close enough to the properties of diamond to account for centuries of confusion between the two gems.
Zircon occurs in an array of colors. Its varied palette of yellow, green, red, reddish brown, and blue hues makes it a favorite among collectors as well as informed consumers.

Zircon is a birthstone for the month of December, along with turquoise and tanzanite.

Information taken from www.gia.edu