Abalone Shell

A gemstone created in the sea, with a fusion of blues and greens. Just like the ocean's waves with swirling and rolling in beautiful patterns.

Considered a delicacy by many throughout the world, the Abalone, or Ear Shell, is a Gastropod: a member of the Mollusc family of sea creatures. The creature has a univalve shell, similar to the Limpet and attaches itself to rocks or structures under the sea by suction.

The shell of the Abalone is used in jewellery, and the exceptional and mesmerising colours of the shell are a by-product from farming the shellfish for its meat, making the crafting of jewellery from the Gastropod very eco-friendly.

From one side the shell looks rather dull and unexciting and is quite often covered by other sea crustaceans; but from the other side it shines with an array of stunning colours and beautiful iridescence, displaying vivid blues, greens and pinks, all combined in a spectacular modern art styled pattern.

Each shell embodies a unique display of colour and markings, almost like the human fingerprint, therefore no two pieces are exactly the same. The gem is ideal for use in many large jewellery designs, from pendants and big, dangly earrings, to bracelets and Sterling Silver rings. In addition to jewellery, you may have seen this gem inlayed into acoustic guitars.

In New Zealand the Maori name for the Abalone Shell is the Paua Shell (pronounced Par-war). Therefore when you see the name 'Paua', this refers to Abalone Shell that is only from New Zealand. The best comparison would be Zultanite and Diaspore: Zultanite is Diaspore, but only when it is found in Turkey.

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This gemstone has been prized since antiquity and is a variety of Chalcedony, which in turn is a member of the Quartz family.

It was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher who is believed to have discovered the gem on the banks of the river Achates in the 4th century BC. The gemstone was later mentioned in the Bible as one of the "stones of fire".

Made from silicon dioxide, it has a glassy (vitreous) lustre, and registers 7 in hardness on the Mohs scale. Being such a hard stone, Agate is often used to make brooches and pins. Additionally, as it can also resist acids (unlike a lot of other gemstones) it has been used to make mortars and pestles to press and combine chemicals.

Many Agates originate in cavities of molten rock, where gas bubbles trapped in solidifying lava are replaced with alkali and silica bearing solutions. Formed as a banded round nodule (similar to the rings of a tree trunk) the gem boasts an exquisite assortment of shapes and colours of bands, which may be seen clearly if a lapidarist cuts the sections at a right angle to the layers.

Other types of Agate include Onyx (Onyx is almost always a dyed Agate), Sardonyx, Ring Agate (encompassing bands of different colours), Moss Agate (with green banding), Blue Lace Agate, Turritella Agate, Snake Skin Agate, Rainbow Agate and Fire Agate.

Myths and legends suggest that when a person wears Agate, they become more pleasant and agreeable. It is believed to quench thirst, protect against viruses (including fever) and to cure insomnia. Some tribes in Brazil also believe that Agate can even cure the stings of scorpions and bites from poisonous snakes. Cut off from society often without modern medicines Agate is used for a variety of ailments.

Muslims often have the gem set into a ring and wear it on their right hand and have the name of Allah, Ali, or one of the names of the other eleven Imams inscribed on the ring.

The gem can be found all over the world, but the main sources of gem-quality material come from Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. It can also be found in the United States - in particular the west; Montana and Idaho - Australia, Italy, and also a very small supply from Madagascar.

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A very valuable and rare Colour Change Chrysoberyl. It is highly regarded by gem experts, enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.

The gem's uniqueness and value is not often apparent at first sight, but finely faceted, one carat pieces or more rank amongst the most expensive gems in the world - far rarer than even fine Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires.

It is said that Alexandrite was discovered near the Tokovaya River in the Ural Mountains of Russia, on the same day that Alexander II (1818-1881) came of age. Hence the gemstone was named after the 16 year old future Tsar. This was deemed appropriate not just because it was discovered on Russian soil, but also because its extraordinary ability to change colour from red to green echoed the colours of the Russian flag at that time.

The first person to raise its awareness in public, Count Lev Alekseevich Perovskii (1792-1856), believed the stone to be a variety of Emerald, but noting it had a strange mineral content, passed it for a second opinion to the Finnish mineralogist, Nils Gustaf Nordenskiold.

When initially studying the gem, Nordenskiold was also of the opinion that it was a type of Emerald, but as he was confused by its greater hardness he continued to review it. One evening when working by candle light, he was surprised to see the gem was no longer green but had turned a raspberry red. He then declared the gemstone a new form of Chrysoberyl, which would later be given its own distinct name. Today we know that Alexandrite is in fact a colour change variety of Chrysoberyl.

But now for some bad news! It is a misconception that gemstones that are named "colour change" gemstones physically change colour. The reality is that when viewed under different lighting conditions, the gem only appears to change colour. When you buy a "colour change" gemstone, to view the strongest change you need to view the gem under candescent lighting (direct sunlight), which has high proportions of blue and green light, and then immediately view it under incandescent lighting (for example a light bulb), which has a higher balance of red light. Therefore, when you view Alexandrite in daylight the gem appears green, but when the light source is reddish (incandescent), the gem shows hues of purple or red. Effectively you are looking at an optical illusion! Most changes are incredibly subtle, so the saying that Alexandrite looks like Emerald by day and Ruby by night, is a little bit of an exaggeration. That said, Alexandrite is a real treasure: so incredibly rare that few jewellers have ever even held a piece!

Not only does Alexandrite have the ability to change colour, it is also a pleochroic gemstone; this means different colours can be seen when the gem is viewed from different angles. The gem is also very durable, measuring 8.5 on the Mohs scale, making it ideal for setting into all types of precious jewellery.

It is also one of three birthstones for the month of June (Pearl and Moonstone being the other two). In times of upset Alexandrite is believed to strengthen the wearer's intuition, and thus helps find new ways forward where logic and practical thinking will not provide an answer; it is also known to aid creativity and inspire one's imagination.

Although Alexandrite was originally discovered in Russia, other mines of this treasured gem have since been discovered in Brazil and Zimbabwe. More importantly, finds in Sri Lanka and India are providing great interest for those in the gem industry, as they are believed to be part of the same vein running down vertically from the original source in the Ural Mountains. However, many gemmologists still believe a fine example known undisputedly to have come from Russia is a real rarity with enormous value.

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Throughout history, Amethyst has been one of the most popular and mystical of all gemstones.
Its use in very rudimentary jewellery can be traced back as far as the Neolithic period (approximately 4000BC), and samples of it set into gold rings have been uncovered in burial sites from around 2400BC.
Amethyst is the name given to purple Quartz and some believe that its name derives from the Greek word "Amethustos", "A" meaning "not" and "methustos" meaning "to intoxicate".

In ancient times, wealthy lords who wanted to stay sober were said to have had drinking glasses or goblets made from Amethyst. While pouring wine for their guests they could serve themselves water, as the dark purple hue of the gem would disguise the colour of the drink so it looked like wine, thus allowing the lord appear to be partaking in a tipple! Following the same theme, it was thought in ancient times if you wished to save a drunkard from delirium you could mix crushed Amethyst into a person's drink.

One legend from Greek mythology tells the tale of Dionysus, the god of intoxication, and a young beautiful maiden, named Amethystos, who refused his advances. Dionysus let loose fierce tigers while Amethystos was on her way to pray to the goddess Diana. Before they reached her, Diana turned her into a statue of pure Crystalline Quartz to protect her from the advancing tigers. Humbled by Amethystos' resolution, and horrified at what he had almost done to her, he wept tears of wine. Legend says his tears turned the colourless Quartz purple, thus creating Amethyst.

Amethyst is mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel and was also one of the twelve gemstones adorning the breastplate of the high priest Aaron (Exodus 39). With its association with piety and celibacy, Amethyst has been set into rings and worn by Cardinals, Bishops and Priests of the Catholic Church since the Middle Ages. Over the years, along with its use by the Church, the gem has also been cherished by royalty and several pieces can be found in the British Crown Jewels. Amethyst was also known as a personal favourite of Catherine the Great.

A bracelet worn by Queen Charlotte of England in the early 1700s was valued at £200 at that time. With inflation that would make it more expensive than the 2007 Diamond Skull created by Damien Hirst! However, shortly after this period a new discovery of Amethyst deposits was made in Brazil, which dramatically reduced the value of the Queen's bracelet.

Amethyst occurs in many shades, from a light, slightly lavender pinkish to a deep purple similar to that of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Amethyst is also pleochroic, which means that when light hits the gem, shades of different colours such as reds and blues can be seen from different angles.

Most Green Amethyst has been available since the mid 1950s, has come from Brazil and is heat treated and irradiated to produce an electrifying transparent olive-coloured green gemstone. That said, Green Amethyst, has been known to appear naturally in a small mine in Silesia, Poland, and claims of natural Green Amethyst discoveries have also been made in Namibia, Nevada USA, Zambia and Tanzania.

Different tones of Amethyst have different prefixes: "Siberian Amethyst" refers to darker Amethyst regardless of whether they are from Siberia or not, normally having a tone of 75-80%; and Amethyst with a more pinkish tone (20-30%) is named "Rose De France". Amethyst is a hard and durable gemstone measuring 7 on the Mohs scale. In its rough state, the gem often forms in long prismatic crystals, making it ideal for cutting. Because its colour can often appear banded, it is usually cut into round brilliant shapes which helps the gem display a more uniformed colour when viewed through the table or crown facets.

Amethyst is considered a symbol of peace of mind, modesty and piety. Some believe that Amethyst holds powers to change anger to tranquillity and is used by crystal healers to revert negative energy into positive energy. It is popular for its healing and meditative powers, and purifies the mind, body and spirit, helping to realign the chakras. It is also considered an ideal gemstone for those struggling or recovering from alcoholism as it protects against drunkenness.

Amethyst is the birthstone of February. It is also associated with the zodiac signs of Pisces, Aries, Aquarius and Sagittarius. The gem is mined in several countries including the USA, Brazil, Madagascar and Kenya. One of the largest Amethyst mines in the world is in Maissau in Austria and is unusual in that it is open to the public. If you want to travel further, then the Amethyst mines in Brazil are considered to be the best in the world and as long as you don't mind roughing it a little, you're sure to have a great adventure visiting the local artisan miners.

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Discovered only at the Anahi Mine in Bolivia comes a gemstone with a beautiful split personality.
Ametrine is possibly one of the most interesting and beautiful gemstones to become available on the global gem market during recent years.

Currently only found at the Anahi Mine in Eastern Bolivia, it is a fusion of the gorgeous regal purple of Amethyst and the warm sunshine hue of Citrine, beautifully combined in one stone. In the gem industry, Ametrine also goes by the name of Bolivianite, due the location of its source.

Ametrine's bi-coloured effect is uniquely created due to differing temperatures across the gem during its crystal formation. The area with the highest temperature forms golden Citrine yellows and the cooler zone forms lilac Amethyst colours. However, this one-off occurrence was a tough trick for Mother Nature to perform, because if too much heat had been applied the entire gem would have become a Citrine.

Many gemstone dealers have tried to emulate this balancing act by heating one end of an Amethyst. However they are all said to have failed as the heat travels too fast through the gem, making it all turn to Citrine. Cutting the rough of Ametrine is such an important task because it can make or break the beauty of the gem. Usually the lapidarist (a person who cuts and facets gemstones) will cut the gem into longer shapes so as to draw the eye's attention to its unique bi-colours. The gem looks gorgeous in baguette, emerald and octagon cuts.

Many crystal healers believe that Ametrine holds the same metaphysical properties as both Amethyst and Citrine. It will help guide you through meditation, relieves the stress and strain of everyday life and helps to remove negative emotions and prejudices.

More recently, lapidarists have been cutting Ametrine and deliberately selecting areas where the chocolate wrapper purple of the Amethyst portion swirls, wraps and carelessly merges with the sunflower yellows of the Citrine portion. In Hong Kong where a lot of Ametrine is cut and faceted, they have even invented a new name for this style: "Sunburst Ametrine".

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Famous for its swimming pool blues to lively light greens.

Although Apatite is really a family of gemstones, as the individual members have very long and difficult-to-pronounce names, the jewellery industry tends to use Apatite as the generic name.

Historically, because the gem was often confused with other gemstones such as Tourmaline, Peridot and Beryl, its name is derived from the Greek meaning "to deceive".

The more common colours for Apatite are similar to Paraiba Tourmaline, with swimming pool blues through to lively light greens. That said, other colours occasionally occur: colourless to white, brownish-yellow, greyish-green and one known as the "Asparagus stone" due to its resemblance to the vegetable. There is also a 'Cat's Eye Apatite', which is a rarity at Apatite mines. As you would guess from its name, this type of Apatite displays the optical effect of Chatoyancy, an effect caused by tiny fibrous inclusions that are naturally arranged in a parallel configuration. When the light hits the surface of the polished gemstone, a narrow line of light appears, which looks very similar to the opening and closing of a cat's eye.

Finds of Apatite over 1 carat are very rare indeed, and it is also very difficult to find clean Apatite stones over this size, as many will still have a few inclusions. That said, if the colour saturation is good, then even with inclusions you still have yourself a rare and beautiful piece.

The recent finds of Apatite in Madagascar in 1995 have added to the popularity of this gem. Exhibiting excellent saturation, Madagascan Apatite's colours range from neon "Emerald" greens (as typified by our Fort Dauphin Apatite) to neon "Paraiba" blues.

Even rarer than gem-quality Apatite is the purple variation of this gemstone, found in the Mount Apatite of Maine, USA.

Apatite has been associated with many healing properties and is a gemstone often combined with other gems to further its healing powers. It is also thought to be an aid to seeing the truth about oneself.

When you combine Rose Quartz with Apatite it is meant to draw and give unconditional love; if you pair it with colourless Quartz it can help you see the changes that need to occur in your life; and when combined with Aquamarine it is believed to help you make those changes.

For such a beautiful gemstone, with almost a neon glow, it is difficult to comprehend how many Apatites are created from fossilised dinosaur bones! At just 5 on the Mohs scale, Apatite is one of the softest gems to be set in jewellery, but treated respectably its alluring and luscious glow will keep its owner entranced for many years.

Deposits have been found in several locations including Cornwall in England, Canada, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

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This is one of the world's most popular and well-known gemstones. Often found with great clarity in a light yet energetic blue.

Aquamarine is a real favourite of many gem collectors and in a world that's becoming more and more polluted, Aquamarine offers us all a breath of fresh air.A member of the Beryl family, Aquamarine's characteristic pale blue colour is created by the presence of iron. Likewise, all members of the Beryl family obtain their colours by the presence of metallic elements, without which pure Beryl remains colourless.

Gemstones that are coloured by nature in this way are known as allochromatic. Aquamarine's younger sister Morganite is coloured by manganese, and its older and more complicated sister, Emerald, receives her personality from the presence of chromium, iron and vanadium.

Its name is derived from the Latin "aqua" for "water" and "mare" for "sea", and many superstitions and legends regarding the sea have been attached to the gemstone over the years. Believed to be the treasure of mermaids, the gem is said to be especially strong when submerged in water. When its powers seemed to dwindle, the gem would be placed in water on the night of a sparkling full moon.In times gone by, as a very last resort, sailors caught in a storm were believed to throw their Aquamarines overboard to calm the gods. Sailors were also said to have taken Aquamarine to sea as a lucky charm to protect against shipwreck, and many people today still wear Aquamarine to prevent travel sickness.

Aquamarine is believed to both soothe and prolong relationships, and for this reason is often given as an anniversary gift way before its official listing for one's 19th anniversary. For those frightened of spiders or flying, wearing Aquamarine is said to suppress one's phobias.

Out of the ground, many Aquamarines have a slight green tint and are often heat treated to turn the gem into a more pure blue. However, over recent years, the lighter, natural colour has become very popular amongst gemstone collectors. In either shade, this birthstone for March is highly sought after for its clarity, transparency and undeniable calmness.

Similar to Amethyst where different shades are given different prefixes, Aquamarine also has a different prefix relating to its colour. Santa Maria Aquamarine describes those with a deeper shade of blue than normal. The name is derived from the Santa Maria de Itabira gem mines of Brazil, where deep and vibrant Aquamarines have been found - not, as some people believe, from the name of the ship on which Christopher Columbus made his first cross Atlantic voyage, or indeed from Santa Maria city in California.
The largest source of Aquamarine is found in the state of Minas Gerais in south-east Brazil, but today Africa is becoming a strong rival, with mining activities in countries such as Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Aquamarine receives its colour from the presence of two types of iron, ferrous and ferric. Ferrous iron provides the gem with its trademark blue colour, whilst the presence of ferric iron turns the gem slightly green. Normally in its rough state, as when it is mined, Aquamarine is more of a greenish blue. To remove this secondary colour, the rough is normally heat treated before it is sent for cutting, converting ferric iron to ferrous iron. Unusually, as it does not take a high temperature to purify the colour of Aquamarines, it is undetectable in nearly all laboratory tests. For this reason it is always best to assume that any Aquamarine you purchase has been heat treated. As the heat treating does not intensify the tone of the Aquamarine (it only turns its green hues to blue) some gem collectors prefer Aquamarines that feature their natural greenish blue colour.

The darker an Aquamarine, the more desirable and valuable it becomes. Normally its tone ranges from just 10 to 30% tone and once into the high twenties it is often referred to as Santa Maria Aquamarine. Some Aquamarines will appear almost colourless in normal daylight and yet display a beautiful tone under the light of a candle or a light bulb; so much so that it is known as an evening gemstone.

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It is a member of the Chalcedony Quartz family and is easily identified by its translucent yet sparkling appearance.

The appearance of Adventurine is so striking that its name is also used as a gemstone adjective when describing other gems with a similar sparkling optical effect.

Adventurine gets its name from the Italian word "per avventura" - which means "by chance". It is believed that in the 18th century, Venetian glass makers accidentally mixed in copper filings while producing their work and the result was a glass that sparkled.

Although green is the predominant colour for this gem, it can also be found in blue, yellow, reddish brown, greenish brown, orange and a most striking pale silvery colour.

Green Adventurine is associated with luck, chance and opportunity and is also believed to increase perception and develop creative insight.

Some highly superstitious people never buy a lottery ticket without their lucky Adventurine in their left pocket (the left pocket is chosen because both luck and left start with "L").

Adventurine is also said to increase your libido and with Tourmaline is the anniversary gemstone for the 8th year of marriage.

Blue Adventurine is said to be a powerful healer that increases positivity and builds inner strength and self discipline. Several people have written that they have felt powerful and assured when wearing Blue Adventurine.

Adventurine has been set in jewellery for many centuries and as it is typically found in larger sizes than many other gems, has also been used to create vases, bowls and even smoking pipes. Adventurine can be found in Brazil, India, China, Japan, the Ural Mountains in Russia, Tanzania, and the USA.

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A biblical family of highly respected gemstones.

The Beryl family boasts some of the finest and most historical gems available. When green, it is referred to as Emerald; when red, Bixbite; when blue, Aquamarine; when pink, Morganite; when colourless, Goshenite; and when yellow it is known as Heliodor, or Yellow or Golden Beryl.

The name is derived from the Greek "beryllos", which was used when referring to gems with a precious blue-green colour. In its pure form the gem is colourless, and it is due to different impurities that provide Beryl with its varied offspring.

Worn in jewellery for centuries, historical references of this gem can be found in the Bible, "the wheels of God's throne are described as having the appearance of gleaming Beryl". (Ezekiel 1:16). The latest addition to the Beryl family is pink Beryl, which was discovered by G.F. Kunz in 1911. He named it Morganite after the famous banker J.P. Morgan, who was both an avid gem collector and one of Tiffany's (for whom Kunz worked) largest customers.

Members of the Beryl family are generally heat treated to enhance their colour. The gem is mined in several locations: Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Pakistan, Russia and South Africa.

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Carnelian (sometimes spelt Cornelian) is a member of the Chalcedony group of gems, who in turn belong to the cryptocrystalline family of Quartz. This gem has been treasured throughout history and for centuries has been engraved, and cut into signet rings.

Derived from the Latin word meaning "fleshy," because of its orange to reddish orange colour, it is also referred to as Red Chalcedony or Red Agate due to the stunning red tints created from the presence of iron oxides.

Romans believed that the different colours of the stone represent the sexes; dark symbolises man, and light symbolises woman. When Carnelian grades into brown it is referred to as Sard. When it is a stronger white colour it is referred to as Sardonyx, and if the gem is extremely dark it can be called Jasper.

Carnelian is surrounded in myth and legend. It was believed by some that it stops bleeding and heals wounds. Egyptians thought that the gem had strong powers in the afterlife and would help to make people feel calm about death: in an excavation site uncovering the tomb of a Sumerian Queen from the third millennium BC, a robe has been discovered encrusted with the gem; presumably for this reason. They also believed that amulets of Carnelian could help the soul's journey into the next life.

Although the gem has been discovered in Cornwall, England, as well as in France, the main sources of Carnelian are Japan, Brazil and Uruguay. India has some very old Carnelian mines still in operation, which tend to produce gems with a strong reddish brown colour.

A lot of Carnelian in the trade today is actually dyed Agate. As both Carnelian and Agate are from the Quartz family, many people in the trade feel that it is not necessary to say whether a Carnelian's colour has been achieved through treatment. Natural Carnelian is becoming increasingly rare and there is very little of it in the marketplace at the moment, therefore if you are buying a Carnelian necklace or bracelet, it is safe to assume it has been dyed.

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A mystical, magical appearance glowing through a silky lustre.

It has been suggested that Chalcedony was one of the earliest materials used by man. Not only has the stone been mentioned as one of the 12 gems in the breastplate of Aaron, there is reference to its use in creating the foundation of the city walls of the 'New Jerusalem'.

In the 7th century BC, it was used to make cylindrical seals in the area of Mesopotamia. Over time, as well as being set in jewellery and carvings, Chalcedony has been shaped into knives and tools. In particular it is used to carve attractive cameos, and is one of the gemstones used in commesso; a technique of fashioning pictures with thin, cut-to-shape pieces of brightly coloured gemstones (extremely popular in the 16th century in Florence, Italy an important city during the Renaissance).

The names Agate and Chalcedony are in some countries interwoven and are used to describe all members of the Quartz family that have a micro or cryptocrystalline structure, as opposed to a single crystal structure as seen in the likes of Amethyst, Smokey Quartz and Citrine (these are described as crystalline gemstones).

Chalcedony is best thought of as a species name, rather than a gem name. Whilst most colours of Chalcedony have their own distinctive names: Carnelian, Chrysoprase, Lace Agate etc, some simply use a colour prefix in front of the species name. For example; Blue Chalcedony is a greyish blue coloured gem, Pink Chalcedony is more of a milky Rose Quartz colour than that seen in a vibrant pink Sapphire and Green Chalcedony is a light pastel colour.

The gem has a distinctive waxy lustre, and is normally translucent through to opaque.

This bewitching stone is thought to drive out dread, hysterics, melancholy, mental illness, and to reduce fever and prevent depression. Wearing Chalcedony promotes tranquillity and harmony, and is also said to stimulate creativity.

The gem is mined in various parts of the world including Brazil, Madagascar and Sri Lanka and is normally located in volcanic and sedimentary rocks.

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People who are deficient in copper may benefit from wearing copper jewellery, since it can be absorbed through the skin.

Jewellery is a good way of taking in the small amount of the mineral needed. The healing properties of copper, in the form of bracelets, necklaces, rings, or earrings, can allow a minimal amount of the mineral into the body without overwhelming it.

Some wearers of copper jewellery find it relieves the symptoms of arthritis and circulation problems.

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November's birthstone, a continual ray of sunshine.

Stunning, vibrant and glowing yellow, this gemstone has a warm, tantalising tone that seems to have magically captured the last glow of a sunset. Quality Citrine can brighten up even the dreariest of winter days. Though its name suggests a bright yellow - its name is derived from the French word for "lemon" - it is the slightly darker, almost pale orange colours that are most highly prized.

As Citrine is a member of the Quartz family, it is also sometimes referred to as Citrine Quartz. Along with Topaz it forms the birthstone of November and is also recognised as the gemstone to celebrate the 17th wedding anniversary.

History, folklore and legends of Citrine are interwoven with that of Yellow Topaz, as throughout the centuries Citrine was often wrongly identified as Topaz. Technically, the difference between the two is a fluorine aluminium silicate. A less scientific differentiation is that Yellow Topaz has a higher refractive index, is slightly more dense and is harder than Citrine. However, unlike Topaz, Citrine does not suffer from cleavage problems, making it ideal for cutting into unusual shapes and for use in bespoke jewellery. In its golden form, the ancients revered the gemstone as a gift of the sun and they considered it a physically powerful antidote to the viper's venom.

The gemstone is thought to have the power to disperse depression and manage anger. If a man wears the gemstone he is thought to become more striking and intellectual. For women, it is said to make her fertile, happy and contented.

The benefits of Citrine are multifaceted. Folklore suggests that the gem can have a cooling effect and can alleviate nocturnal fears. It is also believed that the gem can warn the wearer of illnesses and the presence of poisons, thus protecting from sudden death. As well as remove toxins from the body, it is said to be good for healing the heart, kidneys and liver, as well as aiding digestion. Some Crystal Healers also believe that the gem helps to fight diabetes. Other mystical powers include the ability to calm and soothe and to act as the signature of wisdom and peace.

In the past, natural Citrine or Yellow Quartz has been discovered in France and Spain, and on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Nowadays, most of the naturally coloured Citrine on the market is mined in Brazil. If you are trying to find a Citrine whose colour is completely natural, then look for one where the colour is slightly paler and slightly clouded.

With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale it is very resistant to scratches and as it does not suffer from any cleavage problems, it is an incredible all-round winner for jewellery designers, and is sure to remain at the forefront of contemporary jewellery for many years to come.

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From the bottom of the ocean a gemstone that has been at the height of fashion for thousands of years.
Coral is believed to be one of the oldest forms of gemstone jewellery, with some pieces dating back as far as 23,000BC.
Found in many different colours, throughout history each variant signified different metaphysical properties: for instance, Black Coral is said to guard against misfortune, while Pink Coral is said to bring good health.

The Romans believed that Coral had magical and medicinal properties and many Roman children would wear Coral around their neck to protect them from danger.

Victorian babies born into wealthy families were given Coral teething rings.
Black Coral is the rarest colour, and when polished it shines with such a radiant lustre that you can almost see your own reflection.

There are several thoughts of where the word Coral originated: the ICA (International Coloured Gemstone Association) website says, "that it comes from the Greek 'korallion', which denotes the hard, calcareous skeleton of the coral animals, or from 'kura-halos', for 'mermaid', as the fine branches of the coral sometimes look like small figures, others think it more likely that the word is derived from the Hebrew 'goral', (a small stone used in the drawing of lots), for coral branches used to be used in oracles in Palestine, Asia Minor and around the Mediterranean".

It is important to realise that the Coral used in jewellery does not come from the beautiful and protected coral reefs in the Southern Ocean or near the Australian coast line. Coral used in jewellery is actually a bland matt colour until it is polished and treated and whilst in the past they use to be harvested by trawlers who would dredge the bottom of the sea with big nets, causing untold damage to the environment, today most coral is extracted by divers.

Essentially, Coral is calcified skeletons of sea creatures that grow in tree-like formations. Most Coral used for the production of jewellery is from the Mediterranean Sea or from the Pacific Ocean near Japan and Taiwan.

Pink Coral is a very dense and hard gemstone. Its colour runs through the entire pink spectrum, from almost white to a deep salmon shade. 'Coral' is also used as a colour, describing pinky orange hues.

Red Coral has a history pre-dating Rome, and has been highly regarded since early civilizations for its colour, lustre and texture. Red Coral and Pink Coral are usually from the coasts of France, Italy, Africa and Japan (which also has White Coral).

Golden Coral is found off the coast of Hawaii and the West Indies. Other locations for Coral include: The Red Sea, Algeria, Tunisia and Malaysia.

Sponge Coral is quite a popular form of Coral used for beaded jewellery. It is often dyed and is very porous in comparison to other forms of Coral.

As with many gemstones that are of an organic nature, Coral jewellery needs to be handled with a little more care than normal. To maintain its beauty, it is important to realize that as gems go, Coral is fairly soft, so try to avoid wearing it along side harder pieces of jewellery. It's also porous, so if you spray your perfume on it there is a chance it might be absorbed, causing discolouration to the gem.

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One of nature's most vividly coloured gem treasures.

Not a particularly well known gemstone, Diopside (or sometimes known as Russian Diopside) was first described in the early 1800s and derives its name from the Greek words "dis and "opse", meaning "two faced", in reference to the two ways of orienting the gem before cutting (Diopside is unusual in that it has perfect cleavage in two directions).

Due to the presence of iron, the colours of the gem vary from yellow to pale green to dark bottle green. Two of the most popular varieties are Black Star Diopside (normally cabochon cut if the gem demonstrates chatoyancy or asterism) and Chrome Diopside which, as the name suggests, gets its vivid green colours from chromium.

Many people believed that this gem would only ever be found in a green colour. However, in Italy it has been found in very small deposits to be blue, where it is also referred to as Violan.

Diopside forms in metamorphic rocks and the crystals are short and columnar, with a square or 8-sided cross section. It has a hardness of 5 - 6 on the Mohs scale; though this is fairly soft when compared to other gems, it is extremely durable once set in jewellery.

The main deposits for Chrome Diopside are in Southern Siberia, Russia and many people in the trade now refer to it as "Russian Diopside" - after all, chrome is associated with old-fashioned car bumpers! The mines here are located in very remote areas where, due to snow and freezing conditions, miners can only gain access to the area for a few months each year. The gem is also mined in very small quantities in Sweden, Germany and the USA.

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Drusy Quartz

This naturally sparkling gemstone is mesmerising, whether dyed or left in its natural colour.

Drusy is not a facetable gemstone, but has an appearance of broken sugar cubes attached onto the surface of a stone. The gem formed millions of years ago when flowing hot water carrying dissolved silica was forced into gaps between rocks. If the hot chemical cocktail was cooled rapidly then groups of small crystals were occasionally formed. The gem's full name depends on which rocks these small crystals were resting on as they formed. Drusy Quartz is the most well known of all Drusy gems and you can often find it attached to either Amethyst or Citrine.

From Brazil we can also find Drusy Agate, Drusy Carnelian (a gorgeous orangish yellowish colour) and Drusy Chalcedony.

There are also many different spellings for the name within the gem industry: if you see Druse, Druzy or Drusies, they all refer to a thin layer of small Quartz crystals, attached to another mineral.

Crystal Healers have used the gemstone for centuries believing that it will give you increased energy and lead you to a perfectly balanced life. Others believe that it provides the wearer with extra sensory perception.

Why is Drusy normally very expensive? The answer to this lies in the fact that the rough rock where the Drusy forms is normally round and geode-like in shape, therefore trying to cut out a piece where the base is reasonably flat results in a lot of waste. It's not uncommon to have yields as low as 5 or 6%.

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Fire Opal

With a glow like a raging fire and a hue of a Spanish sunflower.

Fire Opal Unlike regular Opals, where the body colour is normally white to grey, Fire Opal is a stunning orange to yellowish-orange colour, which has a beautiful warm fiery glow. It really is one of the most unique stones in the gem world. Another name for Fire Opal is Girasol, which comes from the Spanish for sunflower.

Quality transparent Fire Opal is very rare indeed and therefore very expensive, however if you are on a tight budget and want to add one to your collection then go for a piece that is translucent to opaque: these are still very beautiful and have a glowing 'cloudy' appearance similar to Blue Moon Quartz.

Fire Opal can be found in a handful of small deposits around the world, such as Guatemala in the USA, Brazil, Canada and Turkey.

The most significant discovery of Fire Opal has been in Mexico, where it is regarded as the country's national gemstone. High up in the mountain region where extinct volcanoes shape the landscape, there are several mines now producing small quantities of Fire Opal. Most of these mines are open cast; however as the Fire Opal tends to be discovered in crevices and cavities, there are some regions where it is found in long, winding, narrow passages, where the sides of the rock face are over 50 metres high.

Throughout history, many religions and cultures around the world believed that Fire Opal was created in the waters of paradise. The Aztecs worshipped the gem and named it "quetzalitzlipyollitli", meaning the "stone of the bird of paradise". In Ancient India and Ancient Persia, Fire Opal was admired as a symbol of ardent love.

There are many suggested benefits to wearing this gemstone, stare at it for more than a few seconds and you feel complete warmth, a sense of happiness with the world and a feeling of being at one with nature. Its warming colours are viewed best in daylight, particularly just after sunrise and just before sunset.

The gem is believed to bestow courage, to increase willpower and energy. Others believe that it brings the wearer peace and harmony, and that it can help to disperse old ways of thinking and make room for new ways.
In fact if you search the internet long enough, you will find that Fire Opal is just about a cure for everything!

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It comes in a range of colours.

Fluorite is a beautiful gemstone, but as it is softer than many gems, few jewellers attempt to set it into precious metals. That said, those jewellers that have experience working with Fluorite, find the gem fairly easy to prong set into pendants and earrings.

Interestingly, the most famous location for this amazing gem, a gem that often is bi-coloured, is Castleton in Derbyshire, England. This is where the famous Blue John is found and is highly prized as an ornamental stone. The English miners used to call the crystals 'ore flowers' and gem collectors for many years have referred to Fluorite as 'the most colourful mineral in the world'.

Its name is derived from the Latin word "fluere", which means "to flow" and refers to the gem's low melting point. As mentioned under fluorescence, the household fluorescent tube owes the "fluorescent" part of its name to this gemstone.

The reason for this is that many pieces of Fluorite fluoresce when placed under ultraviolet light. Although blue is the most common colour to fluoresce in Fluorite, it is also possible to see red, purple and green glowing within the gem. The colour of the fluorescence varies due to the presence of different impurities and these are often used by gemmologists to identify the gem's origin.

As well as being discovered in the UK (where it is not normally of gem-quality), Fluorite is also mined in various states in the USA, including Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and even New York. Other countries that mine Fluorite include Germany, Switzerland, Mexico and Canada.

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Fool's Gold - Pyrite

It is known for causing excitement when prospectors believe they have found gold.

Pyrite is a pretty, shiny, sparkling gemstone that is far underrated within the world of gems. Its "claim to fame", or "Achilles heel" depending on where you stand, is that it was often mistaken for Gold. Pyrite occurs in a number of interesting shapes and sizes and has come to be known as "Fool's Gold".

Its similarities to Gold are extremely close. However, Pyrite does not mark or dent when bitten, whereas Gold famously does. Interestingly though, Pyrite often gets found next to Gold deposits, so in years gone by if one had found Pyrite then a little more searching could have yielded the miner a more lucrative precious metal.

Pyrite also has the same chemical make up as Marcasite, although the crystal structure is slightly different. The name Marcasite stems from the Arabic word for Pyrite (see Marcasite in volume II) and the gem industry uses the term Marcasite when often it is Pyrite. The name Pyrite comes from the Greek word "pyr" meaning "fire" because when the gem is struck it releases sparks. As it is highly reflective, the ancient Aztecs and Incas would polish large slabs of Pyrite and use it as a mirror. In the Stone Ages it would be used to start fires and was a natural way for prehistoric man to survive harsh conditions.

Pyrite is thought to possess the power of balancing between your left and right side of your brain and throughout the ages it was thought that owning a piece of Pyrite would help you gain great wealth and prosperity. In more modern times Pyrite has been used in the arms industry and also has many industrial uses. In World War II it was mined for its sulphur content, which made sulphuric acid (in high demand at the time).

It can be mined the world over but some of the most well known deposits are in Oruro and Colavi, Bolivia. Larger and more cubic forms of Pyrite can be found in Spain and also on the Island of Elba, off Italy. Very high quality specimens can be found in Freiburg, south-west Germany.

Pyrite can also be found as shining golden specks inside other varieties of gemstones. For example Lapis Lazuli can be unearthed with or without the presence of Pyrite. When veins and patterns of Fool's Gold are seen on the surface of a Lapis stone, its value is nearly always enhanced.

Astraeolite, a brand new gem discovery in 2011, also has small pieces of Fool's Gold magically suspended in its transparent crystal structure.

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It is associated with fire, passion and romance.

The associations of this extremely popular gemstone are numerous: it is the birthstone for January; associated with the astrological signs of both Aquarius and Leo; and is also the recommended gift for both the 2nd and 6th wedding anniversaries.

Garnet occurs in a kaleidoscope of natural colours including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, black, pink and colourless. Although there are some 30 different gems in the Garnet family, they all fall into one of six main families/species: Almandine, Andradite, Grossular, Pyrope, Spessartite or Uvarovite.

All Garnets feature the same cubic crystal structure; a wide range of differing chemical compositions and physical structures then provides us with the many wonderful varieties and natural colours.

Because members of the Garnet group are unusually linked due to their crystal structure (referred to as isomorphic), their differences in composition means that their hardness and refractive index can vary dramatically.

The following gemstones all belong to one of the six Garnet families/species: Mozambique Garnet, Colour Change Garnet, Hessonite, Malaia Garnet, Mandarin Garnet, Rhodolite, Tsavorite, Demantoid and Mali Garnet.

Whilst the hardness, refractive index and rarity varies immensely from one Garnet to another even within its family (technically speaking though, Garnets belong to a group and not a family), there is one thing in addition to their crystal structure that they all share in common: all of their colours are totally natural. As of today gem geeks and scientists have yet to find a way to enhance the look of a Garnet and quite frankly, the gems are so naturally beautiful that they don't need to.

Garnet is steeped in history; it can be dated as far back as 3500BC, as it was discovered in a necklace uncovered in Egypt on the neck of a mummified body. Its name is derived from the Latin word "granatus" as it is similar in shape to the seed of a pomegranate. Incidentally, in Greek mythology this fruit is also regarded as a gift of love, and is said to symbolise eternity.

There are many legends that involve Garnet's mystical lighting and brightening capabilities (known technically today as fluorescence). For example, it has been suggested that Eastern Indians rubbed Garnet gemstones on themselves in belief that the gem's glowing qualities would be transmitted into their glowing wellbeing. Several cultures have finely ground Garnet and heated it to act as a medicinal remedy for illness. Some healers continue to use it today as a cure for nightmares.

When studying the myths and legends surrounding Garnet, whether it be stories relating to the Aztecs, Romans, Egyptians, Native Americans or British Royalty, there is one theme common in all civilisations, across all periods of recorded time: Garnet is the ultimate gift of love. Today the gem continues to be a symbol of love, passion, eternity and warmth.

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Blue Tigers Eye, which is also known as Hawks Eye, enhances integrity of communication and practical communication. It can help find courage to recognize thoughts and ideas, and the willpower to carry them into the physical realm. Blue tigers eye can be used for protection, especially of the upper chakras. It is also said to bring good luck to one who wears or carries it. Blue tigers eye is associated primarily with the throat chakra.

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Soothing and calming, Haematite is believed to help balance your emotions and mental state of mind. It can also dissolve negativity and encourage the wearer to strive for their hopes, dreams and desires.

Haematite (also spelt Hematite) is a beautiful, iron-based gemstone that varies in colour from shiny black to a silvery grey. It is also found in a brown to deep, reddish brown and it is from this variety that it receives its name from the Greek word "haima" for 'blood'.

In history, cultures including the Aztecs, Egyptians and prehistoric man all used the stone in crushed form for decorating the body, burial tombs, and painting on walls to produce decorative art.

As Haematite is a relatively heavy gem, it is often used in figurines and cameos. In Victorian times Haematite became very popular in jewellery and was often used as a sign of mourning.

During the last 50 years it has gained popularity in North America, whereas its use in European jewellery has subsided.

The gem is opaque and when polished has a metallic lustre. It is normally cabochon cut, although it is occasionally round or square cut. It can look truly mesmerising when faceted, as its natural metallic lustre comes to life.

In terms of hardness, Haematite is more durable than pure iron, however it is more brittle. The gem's formation is normally as a result of volcanic activity or where ancient waters stagnated for long periods of time at hot temperatures.

Haematite was discovered on Mars in 2001 by the NASA spacecraft Mars Odyssey. This discovery led scientists to arrive at the conclusion that there must have been water present on Mars in the past.

Some of the best gem-quality deposits stem from Switzerland and Italy. Large finds of quality Haematite have also been found in Minas Gerais in Brazil.

In the UK it has been found in Barrow- in- Furness in Cumbria, and the Forest of Dean.

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One of Mother Nature's greatest imitators. Howlite is famed for imitating other minerals, such as Turquoise. It is naturally white or grey, but due to the porous texture of the stone can very easily be dyed a Turquoise blue.

It forms in nodules that look like cauliflower heads displaying black veins throughout the gemstone, and although this mineral is not very hard it has a distinct toughness.

In its natural state, its soft, grey marble effect makes it ideal for setting as beaded necklaces or bracelets.

Its porous property makes it easy to dye, and many modern designers are producing Howlite designs featuring dyed Howlite - often emulating Turquoise.

It is said that Howlite can eliminate anger and offensive behaviour. Healers consider it an important gemstone to cleanse auras and purify the blood.

Howlite was discovered near Windsor, Nova Scotia in Canada in the late 1680s when gypsum miners came across it. As it was tougher than gypsum it was causing them problems slowing down their mining and they called in a local geologist named Henry How to help them. The gemstone was later named in his honour.

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Imperial Topaz

It is said to be one of the "stones of fire" given to Moses.

Without question Imperial Topaz is one of the world's most coveted gemstones. Due to pleochroism, their mesmerising natural colours effortlessly flow from a vibrant yellow to orange and just occasionally from orange to pink. Imperial Topaz is one of those gemstones that all gem collectors and connoisseurs seek to one day acquire.

In the 18th century this gem was hugely popular in Imperial Russia and it is through this association that the gem most likely received its name. That said, if you speak to any mine owner in Brazil, they will tell you that the gem was named in honour of their Emperor Dom Pedro who claimed Brazil's independence from Portugal in 1822.

Imperial Topaz is said to encourage self confidence and to banish bad dreams. Crystal Healers believe that the gem stimulates the appetite and helps in relaxation.

For many years Citrine and Imperial Topaz were not individually identified, therefore many of the legends surrounding Citrine are actually attributable to Imperial Topaz. Because of the richness of its folklore and its natural colours, Imperial Topaz is sold at a premium price.

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Once used by the Vikings as a compass.

Iolite is often mistaken for Sapphire, and for this reason has been called 'Water Sapphire' in the past. The name Iolite comes from the Greek "ion", which means "violet flower". Although it had been worn and admired for many centuries, it was only officially named in 1812 by the French geologist P.L.A Cordier (1777 - 1861).

When well cut, Iolite can display a purplish, violet blue and has a tender softness in colour. It can be very similar in colour to that of Tanzanite.

The gemstone is renowned for its pleochroism, whereby different colours can be seen from different directions (as you turn an Iolite, you will see a yellowish blue from one angle, an intense blue from another angle and a light Aquamarine blue to almost colourless from the third angle). What's more, Iolite cannot be heat treated, so no matter what fascinating colours you find, they are purely the work of Mother Nature. As with many gemstones, the deeper and richer the colour, the better in quality it is considered and therefore demands a higher price.

To take full advantage of its pleochroism, it is crucial that the lapidarist orients the gem properly when cutting. The gem is normally cut into round brilliant cuts, although top-coloured specimens can sometimes be step cut in order to highlight their exceptional colour.

Many legends surrounding Iolite talk of the gem's ability to strengthen eyesight, some of which possibly originated from its use by Vikings. Iolite is said to enhance curiosity and achievement; many believe it can guide you through spiritual growth. The gem can awaken our thirst for self-love and improve our image of ourselves.

Legendary Viking explorers like Leif Eriksson and others were said to take pieces of Iolite with them to help navigate the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

Due to the gem's legendary pleochroism, the ship's navigator would place a piece of Iolite on a pedestal on the ship's deck. He would then stand behind the gem, staring at it for his entire watch. As the ship veered off-course, the navigator would notice slightly different colours in the Iolite as the sunlight entered the gem through a different axis. He would then call to the helmsman and instruct which way to turn the vessel. For many years it was unknown whether this story was true or just a legend, so various scientists and explorers decided to investigate further. One gemmologist, who also piloted light aircrafts, decided to take a piece of Iolite on a flight to test the theory further. He placed it on top of the dashboard in his cockpit and studied the change of colour as the plane twisted and turned direction. Having witnessed the strength of the pleochroism above the clouds, he was so convinced that the gem could be used as a compass, that on his next flight he covered up the plane's compass and used nothing more than the Iolite to guide him to his destination. His experiment worked, helping to prove the fact that the Vikings most likely had used the gemstone as the world's first compass.

It is said that voyages like these also saw the use of the world's first polarizing filters. When cut thinly, Iolite will act exactly the same as a Polaroid filter on a camera. It has the ability to remove mist and haze and was therefore used by Vikings to accurately pinpoint the sun's location on a cloudy day. So, even 1000 years ago, this intensely coloured blue gemstone had two totally different navigational purposes.

Non gem-quality Iolite (known as Cordierite) was mined at the Cornish Geevor Tin Mine until the 1990s.

Today Iolite is mined in only a few locations including India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Brazil, and Zimbabwe. In Viking times the mining would have probably taken place in Norway and Greenland.

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A stunning ornamental gemstone that is steeped in history and has been set in jewellery for thousands of years. The word 'Jade' is thought to have come from the Spanish phrase 'piedra de ijada' or 'loin stone'. When used without a prefix, 'Jade' refers to the green variety of the gemstone, and is also used as the name of a colour in its own right. It can be shaped and carved into the most intricate and beautiful designs.

In the 19th century, a French chemist determined that what people referred to as "Jade" was in fact two different gemstones: the first being Nephrite and the second being Jadeite. However, in China there is a broader cultural concept of "Jade" with other stones such as Quartzite and Dolomite commonly being called "Jade".

Jadeite is usually opaque to translucent, and often has a luscious glass-like quality and is found in several colour variations. These include delicate pastel blue, lavender, white, yellow, black and pink. The most sought after colour would be a bewitching apple green; this colour is also known as Imperial Jade. The reason it features this enchanting colour, as with many other green gems, is due to the presence of chromium.

As it has currently only been discovered in a few places around the globe and always very sporadically, mystical and magical Jadeite is rarer of the two.
Nephrite's colours range from green to creamy white to grey. The green of Nephrite is spinach to sage green and is darker than Jadeite. It has a pearly to greasy lustre. During Neolithic times (towards the end of the Stone Age) the main source of Nephrite Jade was China, where it was often used for ceremonial purposes.

As far back as 500AD it is said that Chinese doctors would prescribe finely ground Jade to be mixed into fruit juices to aid the relief of various ailments, such as asthma, heartburn and even diabetes. The drink was said to be a powerful tonic that also soothed and calmed. Doctors believed the finely powdered Jade would pass through the digestive system and the body would absorb all the benefits of the gemstone.

Jade carvings were also created by the Chinese, and are famous around the world. They started carving the gem during the late 1600s and often sacrificed beautiful Diamonds to make cutting tools, so as to shape and carve their beloved Jade!

Wearing Jade in bangles and bracelets is said to protect you from sickness. In China, delicately carved bracelets are very popular for this reason. In lovemaking Jade is said to help you connect with your lover on an erotic and spiritual level.

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Worn since Biblical times, and found in a whole host of varieties.

Jasper comes in many colours, shapes and sizes and tends to be named by the patterns that appear on its surface. These include: Blood Jasper, Print Jasper, Ribbon Jasper and Orbicular Jasper. One of the most popular and sought after is Picture Jasper. The latter is said to display pictures or scenery from the area where it was mined; although it is indeed very captivating, this does take a lot of imagination.

Even though Jasper is a variety of Chalcedony, due to its various different names it is often seen as a family in its own right.

All types of Jasper are said to help balance the vibrations of the body. There have been many historic fables told or written about shamans and medicine men utilising the gem.

Throughout Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Roman civilizations, Jasper has been used in mosaic art and ornamental designs. It is also mentioned in the Bible in Ezekiel, Exodus and Revelations. With this historical portfolio it is not surprising that so many healing properties and good luck fables are linked to this interesting gemstone.

As an opaque gemstone with a vitreous to waxy lustre, Jasper is usually cabochon cut. With carat sizes averaging double figures, this large gemstone features more in necklaces, pendants and brooches, rather than in rings and earrings.

Jasper is found in many countries the world over. Madagascar is noted for Orbicular Jasper (also known as Ocean Jasper). Kazakhstan yields red and green varieties, whereas the Urals of Russia are noted for red, brown and white Ribbon Jasper. Other countries where Jasper has been discovered include Venezuela, Egypt, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay and Australia.

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The most truly 'Jet Black' item on the Earth.

How many phrases and descriptive words do we commonly use in conversation without knowing their origin? Have you ever described an item as Jet Black? Did you know that Jet is a gemstone that is as black as any gemstone can be?

Along with Amber and Pearl, Jet is a member of a very exclusive club of gems that are created organically and not formed from minerals. It is not considered a mineral as it is derived from an organic substance - wood!

Decaying wood dating back millions of years held under pressure beneath the Earth's surface has given us this fascinating, unusual and very brittle gemstone. Add salt water into the creation process and the gemstone takes a slightly harder form, but still only achieves a maximum of 4 on the Mohs scale.

Jet can be found in several locations around the world and one of the best sources for Jet is the small town of Whitby on the East Coast of England. It became a very fashionable gemstone during the reign of Queen Victoria and, because of its sombre colour, formed part of the jewellery she wore with her mourning dress. During the 1920's, Jet was heavily used in long beaded necklaces upon which the wearer would wear multiple strands.

Just like Diamonds, Jet is made from carbon. Furthermore, with a look similar to that of a Black Diamond with high lustre, combined with its unusual source of origin and its unusual electrical properties (Jet has the ability to generate a small electric charge if rubbed) there has recently been an increasing amount of interest in this curious British gemstone.

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One of the most feminine gemstones on the planet.

In 1902, the now world famous gemmologist George Frederick Kunz was the first person to give a complete explanation of this gemstone when he discovered it in California.

Its colour of lilac and delicate pink hues is unique in the gem world, and it is thought of as one of the most romantic and feminine of gems. When you look at a Kunzite it can appear pink, violet and sometimes colourless from different angles; this optical effect is known as pleochroism. It is a member of the Spodumene family and when found in a yellow or greenish blue colour it is known as Hiddenite. While Kunzite is rare, Hiddenite is so scarce it is virtually unobtainable! One of the most beautiful aspects of Kunzite is its ability to retain light. The effect is known as phosphorescence, which gives the gem the ability to glow in the dark. This luminous appearance is due to the fact that Kunzite is able to absorb energy and slowly releases it in the form of light. The effect is similar to luminous hands on a watch, which help you tell the time when you wake in the middle of the night. Being such a relatively new discovery, there is little folklore surrounding this gem, other than it is said to amplify love, peace and joy.

Kunzite is believed to be an excellent relationship gem, removing obstacles and promoting fidelity. In her book "Healing Crystals" written in 2003, Cassandra Eason suggests, among other things, that Kunzite relieves hormonal problems in pregnancy, the early days of motherhood and lingering post-natal depression. She also suggests that you should "put a Kunzite in a charm bag when travelling by car, both to counter road rage in others and to calm your own tensions in traffic".

The gem can be found in Afghanistan, USA, Brazil, Madagascar, Mexico, Burma and Sweden and is often found in mines which also herald Beryls and Tourmalines. Kunzite has tiny traces of manganese which creates its famous lilac colour. As this colour can sometimes fade, it is not recommended to wear it for prolonged periods in direct sunlight.

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The Native Americans called this gem 'Firestone' because they loved the way the light captured inside the stone looked as if it was dancing with fire. The gem has a gorgeous iridescence, or play of colours, and is named after the location where it was found on the island of St. Paul, in Labrador, Canada (the same place that the dog bearing the same name was first bred).

Take a quick glance at it in a poorly lit room and you might at first see a dull, uninteresting stone, but turn up the light or take it outside, observe it more closely and the gem's full magic will be displayed. As light dances across its surface it becomes as mystical and as beautiful as the Northern Lights. This effect is known as labradorescence and is truly a one of a kind mineralogical experience that should be viewed first-hand to really appreciate its beauty.

The intense colours seen in this optical effect range from gorgeous blues and violets, to forest greens, golden yellows and sunset oranges. In rare instances it is possible to find examples where all of these colours are displayed simultaneously. This colour effect is caused by the light entering the gem and being refracted like a pinball trapped inside a pinball machine, bouncing off the layers inside the gemstone.
At first sight Labradorite can appear a little boring, with a deep smoky grey to brown exterior. But look past this and slowly rotate the gem. If you don't see a kaleidoscope of colours suddenly appear before your eyes, it's not a great example and not worthy of being set in jewellery!

According to myths and legends, Labradorite is thought to unleash the power of the mind and was even believed to aid in overcoming one's limitations. It is said to protect your aura and to align your personal self with the universe to help you achieve your destiny.

Associated with the third eye (the brow chakra) this gem lessens negativity and is used in prayer and meditation. Being a sister to Moonstone, Labradorite grants the inner knowledge of mystery and enhances psychic perception. As well as in Canada, Labradorite is also found in Madagascar, China, India, Australia, Russia, Mexico, Scandinavia (where it is known as Spectrolite) and the USA.

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Lapis Lazuli

Throughout its long lifetime of use, this beautiful blue opaque gemstone has been considered as a holystone, a friendship stone and a stone of truth, encouraging the wearer to speak their mind and create harmonious relationships.

The name Lapis Lazuli comes from the Latin "Lapis", meaning 'stone' and the Arabic "Azula", meaning 'blue'. Its formation occurred millions of years ago when lime metamorphosed into marble. The gem can often include whitish marble veins and small golden inclusions which are caused by iron.
The value of the stone depends upon the depth and intensity of the colour, which can range from a deep blue to lighter blue shades. Finely and evenly distributed inclusions that shimmer and resemble gold will also add to the price.

Historically, this stone was once ground and used in paint by artists; it provided a bright blue colour that was extremely rare and hence was always used sparingly. If this colour was found in an artwork, it was a sign that the commissioning family had spent a great deal of money on that piece of art. An example is the Titian painting of the 'Greek Myth of Bacchus and Ariadne' where the vivid blue of Ariadne's robe is truly striking.
The gemstone had, however, been popular for many years before the likes of Titian and Michelangelo were painting with it.

Archaeologists have uncovered Lapis Lazuli in ancient graves in Egypt, Rome and Greece. There is also evidence of it being traded in the Middle East as far back as the 4000BC, where it was believed to have been excavated in Afghanistan.

Romans believed that wearing the gem would prevent miscarriages and epilepsy, as well as acting as a powerful aphrodisiac. They also named the gem "Sapphirus", a name that later became used to describe blue Corundum.

When the stone is used for jewellery it is often protected by coating it with a synthetic resin or colourless wax, which is harmless to the stone and simply improves its durability.

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Currently only discovered on the popular holiday destination island of the Dominican Republic, Larimar (also known as Lorimar) is a subtle blue gemstone with an appearance similar to that of Turquoise.
Folklore suggests that the locals used to find 'blue rock' on the beach and after a barren period, they decided to follow a stream up into the mountain and found the original source of the rock. However, no one was able to obtain mining rights and in the early 1900's the stones disappeared into the history books.

In 1974 a local called Miguel Mendez rediscovered the gem in the province of Barahona. Miguel decided to name his discovery by combining his daughter's name 'Larissa' with the Spanish word for sea, 'mar'. Today the Los Chupaderos Mine is the only source of the gem on the planet. It is located 10km from the city of Barahona and in the rainforest mountainside hundreds of small vertical mining shafts have been created.

The gem is a variety of pectolite and it receives its blue colouring from the presence of cobalt. While other pale colours are also found, the original blue Larimar that is most highly prized and which is set into jewellery. As a fairly new gemstone there is little folklore or legend surrounding it; however, the gem is also known by locals as the Atlantis Stone, as it was once claimed by a wise prophet that the Dominican Republic was part of the lost continent of Atlantis.

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Also spelt Lapidolite, this gem is found in a range of hues similar to Amethyst and Rose Quartz. This translucent mineral is considered by many jewellers to be too soft to set in rings and is therefore more often seen in beaded necklaces, bracelets and ornaments.

Its name is said to be derived from the Greek word "lepidos", meaning "scale", due to its scaly appearance.

Lepidolite is never faceted and rarely even cabochon cut. When set in jewellery it is shaped by tumbling and this rough appearance is a stark contrast to its inherent softness.

The gem is surrounded in Crystal Healing myths and is said to bring light and hope to a situation and to promote hope, patience, and self-love.

Lepidolite can help heal depression, lessen anger and release trauma. Smokers and heavy drinkers may also find it helpful as it is supposedly useful for ending addictions.

The gem has been discovered in Argentina, the Czech Republic, Madagascar, Russia, USA and Zimbabwe.

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Magnesite is a wonderful relaxing and calming stone to use in meditation and it has the potential to aid you to create quite amazing changes in your life. It has potent metaphysical properties and its vibration is quite impressive. It may have an effect in various ways depending on what you personally want and need at the time.

It is a strong stone for creative visualization and imagination and it will aid the development of psychic visions of exceptional clarity.

It has a soothing vibration, and if you meditate with it, and specifically tune into the energy of your heart it will allow your mind to respond to the desires of the heart. This aids you to live your life in alignment with your hearts needs and aspirations. Its vibration may help you to love yourself and this will in most of you, increase your level of self esteem.

The meaning of this stones name relates to its make up, as it is a magnesium carbonate stone, and although it is often white, it may also come in other colors.

The more easily obtained color of the stone is white although it may also be gray, pink, brown or yellow, and this depends on what other minerals may be mixed in. If a stone contains more iron in it, this may mean that the color could be yellow or brown, and the Manganoan types may be colored pink.

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Malachite is a gorgeous green gemstone, named after the Greek word "molochites" for "mallow", a savoury green herb. Its light and dark green bands are very distinctive, making it one of the most easily recognisable of all gemstones.

Malachite was crushed and used as a green pigment in the Bronze Age and its use in jewellery can be traced back as early as 4000BC when it was worn by Egyptians.

In the Middle Ages Malachite was worn to protect from black magic and sorcery. It is said that Malachite can be worn to detect impending danger and it is believed to lend extra energy and bring harmony into one's life.
The Russian Tsar was fascinated by the mineral and in 1818 deployed miners to the Ural Mountains in order to extract enough material so as to create the beautiful gemstone pillars of St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The gem is relatively soft, measuring only 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale and is therefore often cabochon cut and secured into jewellery using a bezel setting.

Malachite is found in several locations around the world including Australia, Mexico, Namibia and the Ural Mountains of Russia.

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A beautiful member of the Jasper family, Mookaite is truly breathtaking. It has many different colours ranging from pale sweetheart pinks to vibrant sunset yellows, often in banded formations across the gemstone. The patterns on Mookaite are sometimes described as similar to contemporary oil paintings, and have a warm, earthy flood of colours.

The look of Mookaite is unique and is only found in one location in the world: Mooka Creek in Western Australia. Mookaite, or Mookaite Jasper as it is sometimes referred to, is actually a ferrous sedimentary rock and is made up of microscopic creatures that have been fossilised and cemented into rock by silica.

Mookaite is said to be a motivator and imparts the desire to try new experiences. It is also said to boost the immune system and assists in healing broken hearts.

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Moonstones come in a variety of colours, ranging from colourless to white, grey, brown, yellow, orange, green, or even pink. Clarity ranges from transparent to translucent and the traditional place of origin is Sri Lanka, where the Moonstones tend to be almost transparent with a bluish flicker.

This gem owes its name to its mysterious adularescence shimmer that bears resemblance in colour to the moon. This silvery to bluish iridescence is caused by the intergrowth of two different types of Feldspar which have different refractive indexes. This always looks different when the stone is moved, and is known in the trade as 'adularescence'.

Surrounded by mystery and magic, this gemstone has featured in different cultures for thousands of years. In India it is regarded as a magical and holy gemstone and is often used as a 'dream stone' bringing the wearer beautiful visions at night. In Arabian cultures Moonstone was often worn on female garments as they were viewed as a sign of fertility.

Moonstone was also extremely popular in Roman times, as they thought the gemstone was formed out of moonlight. Romans were setting the gemstone in their jewellery as early as 100AD, and in more recent times the gem was popular in the Art Nouveau period.

Many gemstone collectors find the most pleasing Moonstones have a blue sheen and a colourless body. Due to there being more demand than supply, today good quality blue Moonstones are becoming more and more of a rarity and have therefore risen sharply in price.

The gem is usually set in rings, pendants and earrings, with lesser-graded Moonstone used in beaded necklaces.

Its healing ability is said to align your vertebrae, be a good digestive aid and also soothes and balances emotions. Moonstone's mystical powers are said to protect women and babies. It's also associated with the oceans and planting cycles. The gemstone is said to balance yin and yang as well as bringing good fortune to the wearer. Legend says that Moonstone is a highly prized gift for lovers as it arouses tender passion.

Along with Alexandrite and Pearls, Moonstone is one of the birthstones for June.

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Morganite was first discovered alongside other gems, including Tourmaline and Aquamarine, in Pala, California in the early 20th century. News spread quickly about this new and exciting discovery and it became of special interest to George Frederick Kunz, a well-known and respected gemmologist and gem collector from New York. In 1911, Kunz later discovered the gem in Madagascar and suggested naming this pink variety of Beryl "Morganite", after his biggest customer and banker J.P. Morgan. Although this gemstone began its life millions of years ago, it has only been known and recognised in its own right since this time.

Morganite, along with Emerald and Aquamarine, is now one of the most popular gemstones from the colourful Beryl family (the name Beryl is derived from its chemical make-up beryllium aluminium silicates). Pure Beryl is essentially colourless; however, its structure enables it to integrate foreign elements such as iron, manganese, chrome or vanadium. It all sounds a bit technical, but basically when manganese is found in Beryl, the colourless gemstone turns into the enchanting pink treasure, Morganite.

Its depth of colour determines the quality and value of Morganite. When discovered in its rough form the gem is a pale salmon colour, but when heated its pink hues become more prominent. Sometimes the gem can be confused with Kunzite, however Kunzite is more of a bluish pink, whilst Morganite is more of an orangey, brownish pink.

The rule which says 'the more transparent, the more valuable' only applies to a certain extent. It depends on personal preference; there are plenty of women who prefer a Morganite with small inclusions, as it gives the appearance of fine silk.

The attributes of this gem are said to enable the wearer to focus on the joy in life, alleviate stress and pressure and open the heart chakra, which is not surprising, as even the mere sight of a Morganite cannot fail to cheer you up!

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Mother of Pearl

As an organic gem (meaning a gem that is not a mineral but one which has been created by a living organism), Pearls and Mother of Pearl have been sourced from our oceans for thousands of years.
Mother of Pearl is primarily sourced from the inside of shells and is associated with prosperity and good luck. Because of this it is often offered as a gift for someone who may need good fortune to come his or her way.

Records show that the beautiful iridescent lustre of Mother of Pearl has been enchanting jewellers for over 5000 years! In China, Mother of Pearl has been held in high regard for many thousands of years and decorated objects were often taken to temples as offerings. Because of this, there are numerous references to this gem in Chinese myths and legends. As they believed it helped reduce heart palpitations, dizziness and high blood pressure, in the past the Chinese have also used Mother of Pearl in medicines. It is still used today in a variety of skin creams said to help diffuse small spots and scars.

In the 1500's Mother of Pearl was at a peak in its popularity and over-sourcing meant that supplies in the Persian Gulf were almost exhausted. Consequently, sailors looked further afield for the precious natural gem, and in 1568 the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana discovered the Solomon Islands, which were rich in both gold and Mother of Pearl. He named the islands after King Solomon who, legend has it, owned a secret source of mines that no one knew about; Mendana believed that he had found them within these islands.

Nowadays, Pearls and Mother of Pearl can be cultivated by humans and used for many purposes such as decoration on musical instruments, watch faces and in exotic furniture.

The correct term for Mother of Pearl is in fact Nacre, (from the Arabic word for shell "Naqqarah") which is the same secretion from a mollusc that forms a Pearl.

The name Mother of Pearl was in fact given to the inner layer of a shell by Queen Elizabeth I. As well as forming Pearls, the nacre is deposited on the inside of the mollusc shell creating a protective coating against parasites.

Mother of Pearl is extremely resilient and tough due to its brickwork-like, layered composition and it is these layers that provide the gem with such glorious iridescence.

The colour of the nacre can be extremely varied, covering almost the whole spectrum from black to white. It is determined by several factors, the most important being: the type of shell, location in which the shell is found, the food the mollusc eats and any trace metals in the surrounding environment.

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Mozambique Garnet

Technically speaking, Mozambique Garnet is a mixture of Pyrope and Almandine Garnet and is used to describe Garnets that display the natural colours of those originally found in Mozambique. The colour is a warm, deep red and is similar to that of Ruby. Compared to Rhodolite Garnet, it is more of a pure red and its tone is slightly darker. Mozambique Garnet can vary from wonderfully transparent to translucent in clarity. Whilst the gem is normally more affordable than many, transparent samples, which are often on par with Ruby in terms of beauty can regularly command a premium.

Indeed, what an interesting place the gem world is! Mozambique Garnet does not have to come from Mozambique, and Paraiba Tourmaline found in Mozambique is named after the small mining area in Brazil where this new type of Tourmaline was first discovered. The reality is that gems often get their original name from where they were first discovered, then when the same gem is found in other locations around the world, as long as they meet certain criteria (in the case of Paraiba Tourmaline the gem must contain copper) it is accepted that they take on the original name. Just to add to the many complications in the gem world, however, is the case of Ceylon Sapphire: this name refers to more than just its colour and it is incorrect if a jeweller uses the name Ceylon Sapphire unless it originates from Sri Lanka.

Giving someone a piece of jewellery featuring Mozambique Garnet is believed to be the ultimate declaration of love. This gem can be found in Thailand, Tanzania and of course Mozambique.

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Mystic Quartz

Quartz is well-known to gem fanatics and has as many colours as there are in a rainbow, but Mystic Quartz is somewhat of a newcomer to the gem world.

This fascinating gem is extremely beautiful and is also very durable; meaning it can be fashioned into any piece of jewellery and can appear in large pieces. This superb gemstone has the appearance of oil on water and shimmers with many different colours all at once. These colours are normally derived from a coating applied to the surface of colourless Quartz.

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Mystic Topaz

Mystic Topaz is the ultimate gemstone cocktail, beautifully combining brilliance with a kaleidoscope of colours. It is also known as Rainbow Topaz, Titanium Topaz, Alaskan Topaz and even Caribbean Topaz. Although the gem features a rainbow of colours, its dominant colours are purple and green.

For all its beauty, it is important to know that the colours in Mystic Topaz are man-made by applying a coating to the outside of the gem. Although the company that created this process claim that it is a permanent treatment, over the past year customers say that it can be damaged. The coating must not be heavily scratched and must be kept away from strong chemicals, which in some circumstances can negatively affect the appearance of the coating. That said, if treated with a little more care than normal, the appearance of the gem should prove to be permanent.

As the real beauty of the gem lies in its magical colours, it is ideally suited to cuts that have a big table facet. Octagon and oval cuts bring this gem to life and if the pavilion is concave cut, the effect becomes even more mesmerising.

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Obsidian (also known as Apache Tears), is a natural amorphous glass. It is in fact the best known glassy rock created from lava which cooled too quickly to crystallise. It is believed to have been first discovered in Ethiopia and was named after the Roman solider who first brought it to Europe.

Tiny air bubbles that have been formed in the layers just before the molten rock is cooled create a golden, and sometimes rainbow-like, vitreous lustre. Snowflake Obsidian, which has been so named due to the white patches (internal bubbles) of potassium Feldspar, has the appearance of snowflakes falling from a black sky.

Today, it is seen as one of the main gemstones believed to enhance the sharpness of the brain and vision.

In ancient Mexico, Mexicans used the gemstone to make figurines of their god Trecalipoca. Around the same period, it was also used in South America to make mirrors.

Obsidian is usually black, dark green or brown, but can also be found transparent. It is normally mined in the USA, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Russia.

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A member of the Agate group of Chalcedony's, which in turn is a sub species/family of Quartz, Onyx is viewed by many as a jet black, highly fashionable gemstone.

In its naturaly state, Onyx, meaning 'veined gem', differs from other Agates in that its lines of colour banding (normally black and white) are straighter. When Onyx is pure black it is referred to as "Black Onyx" and owes its distinctive colour to an ancient dyeing process.

In its natural form, this gemstone is available in a variety of colours: white and red bands (Carnelian Onyx), and white and brown bands (Sardonyx).

Roman soldiers wore Sardonyx as talismans, believing that it made the wearer as brave as the heroes they had engraved onto the gem.

Onyx is said to eliminate negative thinking and sharpen the wits, instinct, intuition and helps to change one's habits.

Because of its different colour bands, the gem is ideal for making cameos, where the lighter colour tends to be carved, using the darker colour as the background. It is a well-known member of the Chalcedony group of gems, who in turn belong to the Cryptocrystalline family of Quartz. Some also refer to the gem as "Black Magic".

Over the past decade the world's leading jewellery designers, such as Cartier, Chopard and Gucci, have all incorporated Onyx into many of their jewellery and watch designs. Sarah Bennett also uses the gemstone to great effect in many of her bold gemstone designs. Sarah believes that the gem's true jet blackness provides it with one of the best eye catching lustres in the gem world. I have to agree (well of course I do because she is my wife), that because Onyx is 100% opaque, it does have one of the best lustres in the gem world, a lustre that in my opinion is only bettered by Swiss Marcasite.

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Opals are beautiful gems, with the finest Family Opal specimens containing every colour of the rainbow. The name means 'precious stone', and is thought to have come from the Latin "Opalus" and the Greek "Opallios".

Their unique internal colours are one of the most fascinating visual effects created by nature and is Optical Properties Displays opalescence correctly referred to as "play of colour". Opals are doubly attractive as they often also have a beautiful iridescence (known as 'opalescence').

Opals were created from hydrated silicon dioxide, and were formed when water-based solutions containing silica, deposited a gel- like substance in gaps and crevices in rocks. Because of this they often form around areas where there are hot springs or geysers. This process is fairly common and often the resulting stone is a lacklustre 'common Opal' which is 'amorphous', meaning that the atoms are arranged randomly within the stone and there is no crystal structure. Common Opals also come in a variety of different base colours, however these often have little or no play of colour and are therefore considered to have very little value.

Gem-quality Opals do, however, have a crystal structure. They are loved for their kaleidoscope of colours and internal flashes of almost neon coloured lights. There are several varieties of gem-quality Opals and the names used for them by the gemstone industry can be quite confusing to many people. When you hear White Opal, Grey Opal or Black Opal, the name is referring to the background colour of the Opal. See it as a canvas for a painting on which beautiful colours are to be thrown in a random inspiration of modern art.

Boulder Opal consists of fine layers of natural Opal which have formed naturally on ironstone rock. Much like Ammolite, it is removed from its host rock while it is being cut, and then placed back onto it. This means that for most Boulder Opal the finished gem is actually a doublet or triplet opal. Boulder Opal from Queensland is declared by many experts to have the most brightness and best appearance of the Australian Opals.

Opals have been considered both good luck and bad luck throughout history. They were as precious as Diamonds to the ancient Greeks and used in jewellery by the Romans, whereas in Russia the stone was considered by the Tsars to symbolise the evil eye. When Europeans first went to the New World they found the Aztecs of South America mining the gem, and due to its rareness and beauty they took many back to Europe to be presented to the royal courts.

Even Opals set in jewellery still contain an element of water and this can vary between 3% and 20%. Because of this, Opals are considered to be a fairly soft precious stone, measuring between 5.5 and 6.5 of the Mohs scale.

Common Opals can be found all over the world, whereas gem-quality Opals are mostly mined in Australia; in fact, some reports claim that 97% of the world's gem-quality Opals are sourced from here. Other areas are Mexico, South Africa, Brazil, Honduras, United States, Czech Republic, Guatemala and Romania.

Not all Opals are opaque and there are other body colours available too. Take a look at Fire Opal which, due to its incredible popularity, we have given its own section in this book.

One of the best discoveries recently has been Pink Opals from Peru. Gem hunters the world over are always looking for naturally coloured pink gemstones, as it is one of the most desirable of colours and provides a real feminine touch to jewellery. In May of 2009, I secured a parcel of gemstones from a trader who lives in Mali in North Africa. He normally supplies us with Garnet, but had unearthed an opaque green gem and wondered if we were interested. At first we thought it might be Jade, but as this was so uncharacteristic for the region we sent the samples off to the laboratory to have it checked out.

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Paraiba Tourmaline

This is one of the most sought after gemstones on the planet.

The stunning Paraiba Tourmaline ranges from neon, swimming pool blue to an electric greenish blue. Its name is derived from the Paraiba State in Brazil, where it was first discovered.

What makes this gem so different to other Tourmalines is the presence of copper and, to a lesser extent, manganese. The copper within the gem is what makes it appear to glow and this almost neon effect is truly a delight to see.

Due to its range of intense colours, which are similar to that of a peacock, this most spectacular gem is known in the gem trade as the "Peacock Gem".

Crystal Healers have already embraced this new gemstone and believe its powers are the greatest of all Tourmalines. Many state that the different hues have different abilities: these include promoting general wellbeing, increasing self- motivation and intensifying the desire to help and support others.

The Paraiba original discovery was back in 1989, due to the work of Heitor Barbosa. This lone gem hunter was convinced that under a tiny little hill measuring no more than 400 by 200 metres and standing only 60 metres high lay a new gemstone waiting to be discovered. He told his close friends that he was not digging just to extract a quantity of gems which had already been discovered in this famous gem area of Brazil, but was going to make a new discovery.

He first cut ground in 1981 and worked relentlessly for many years without success. Then, in the autumn of 1989, while he was at home recovering from an illness, a tiny amount of a new Tourmaline was discovered by his assistants. For several years after, the small hill (later renamed Paraiba Hill) was trawled in an attempt to find more Paraiba, but it was mainly unsuccessful.

In Nigeria in 2001 Tourmaline was found to exhibit the same optical beauty of Paraiba and after scientific examination was found to contain copper. The plot then gathered pace and the gem industry ferociously debated whether the gem should be called Paraiba Tourmaline, or whether a new name should be given as it was found in a completely different continent. In the end, it was decided that because it is of the same chemical composition and therefore very difficult for gem experts to distinguish between the two, it would be simpler to allow it to take on the Paraiba title.

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It is amazing to think how nature can turn an unwanted grain of sand into one of the most gorgeous gems in the world. Learning and understanding the growth and development of a Pearl is the first step towards truly appreciating how unusual and precious this gem really is.

A Pearl is one of just a handful of organic gems (the other well-known ones being Coral, Amber and Jet). Rather than being a mineral, Pearls actually grow inside a mollusc (a term used for all shells that open and close on a hinge, such as oysters, clams, and mussels).

If a foreign object, such as a grain of sand, enters a mollusc it becomes an irritant to the creature inside, so in order to protect itself it releases a silky substance, known as nacre, to cover the uninvited guest. Over time the mollusc will continue to release nacre over the foreign body and when the mollusc is opened three to five years after the initial intrusion, the uninvited foreigner has been turned into a glorious Pearl.

It may be a very beautiful thought to think natural Pearls form in the sea and are discovered when divers find them at the bottom of the ocean, but at what expense are we retrieving this treasure? Diving for Pearls is destructive for the Coral and the sealife alike, therefore it has been prohibited in many seas for this reason. Cultured Pearls on the other hand, refer to Pearls that are grown in environmentally- friendly Pearl farms. Simply put, a cultured Pearl is one that is grown under supervision and not one that is taken from natural surroundings.

Many people today prefer to know that their Pearls are cultured so as to avoid the possibility that they may have been taken from the likes of a protected Coral Reef: the good news is that around 99% of today's Pearls are indeed cultured.

Most natural Pearls one sees today are found in estate jewellery collections or museums, so when buying new Pearls, it is not really a case of natural Pearls versus cultured Pearls, but Pearls versus synthetic.
If you own Pearls and are not sure if they are genuine or not, a great way to test them is to rub them on your teeth; you want the Pearl to feel slightly grainy rather than smooth. If it's smooth you know it is not a real one, as companies who produce synthetic Pearls have yet to master the grainy effect of natural nacre.

Round, flawless, and orient are words you'll hear relating to Pearls and these are qualities used to determine their value. The word round seems a bit of an obvious one to describe a Pearl but it is in fact the most important. It's a common mistake to think Pearls have been faceted in some way to give them their perfect spherical shape, when in fact the shape of a Pearl is all down to the work done by the mollusc.

Because no two Pearls are identical in shape or size, it takes a quality jeweller hours and hours to select matching Pearls when stringing them together for necklaces and bracelets.

The finest Pearls do not have any flaws, bumps or marks in the nacre and they should have an even and clean surface. The final consideration when valuing Pearls is their orient. This is the word used to describe the lustre of a Pearl (also referred to as pearlescence). The orient is a soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light off the layers of nacre.

Pearls are one of the oldest and most precious gems discovered in the world and are believed to have been traded more than 5000 years ago.

There are many myths and legends surrounding Pearls, and one of the most common sayings is, "Pearls bring tears". This originates from ancient times when people thought that Pearls were the tears of angels or of the moon. Despite the widespread use of this phrase, most cultures actually believe the opposite to be true.

The Greeks have always regarded Pearls highly for their beauty and association with love and marriage. They thought Pearls would promote marital bliss and prevent the bride from crying on the wedding day, which is where the tradition of giving Peals to a bride came from.

In Ancient Rome, Pearls were recognised as a definitive sign of wealth and social status and it was believed that they would promote a long and healthy life. During battle in the Crusades, knights would wear them as a talisman, believing they would help protect the wearer. During the Renaissance period, Pearls were regarded so highly that some countries passed laws allowing only the nobility to wear them.

When cared for properly, Pearls will last a lifetime. It is recommended to wear them often as the body's natural oils help maintain the Pearl's orient, but it is also advisable to keep them away from household chemicals, as well as perfume, make-up and hair spray. Along with Moonstone and Alexandrite, Pearl is also a birthstone of June.

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Aptly the birthstone of August with sparkling, summery golden greens, Peridot is a sophisticated gem that has rightfully regained its position as one of the most popular gemstones around the world.

This gem is one of only a few available in just one colour. Its greens range from bottle green to an almost yellowish, olive oil colour. Its appearance often has an oily, greasy look and for that reason some say its name is derived from the French word for "unclear", "peritot", although others believe its name is derived from the Arabic word for a gem, "faridat". The gem is pleochroic, meaning that it is possible to see different shades from different angles. It is also an idiochromatic gem, which means that its colour is derived from the basic chemical composition of the gem (in Peridot's case, iron) and not from impurities within the gem, which is how most gems receive their distinctive colours.

Like its colour rival Emerald, Peridot often has inclusions which can be caused by the presence of small particles of Silica; occasionally you will find needle-like inclusions which are commonly referred to as Ludwig needles.

Cutting the gemstone can be quite tricky as it has high birefringence (meaning that the gem significantly bends light as it enters) making the angle of the facets on the pavilion crucial. It is also a brittle gemstone with strong cleavage; both of these qualities mean that the Lapidarist must be sure to take extra care while faceting this gem.

Peridot has been mined as a gemstone for over 4000 years and is mentioned in the Bible - although you may not recognise the name as it is referred to by its original title, Chrysolite (see Exodus 28:20, Song of Solomon 5:14, Ezekiel 28:13, Revelations 21:20). The name Chrysolite was taken from the Ancient Greek word "chrysolithos" meaning "golden stone", as it often has flashes of gold seen within it. The gem is the only famous member of the Olivine mineral family, which is a species of magnesium rich silicate minerals.

Some of the first Peridots were mined by Egyptians on an island located in the Red Sea. Today this island is known as St John's Island, but historically it was named Zagbargad after the Arabic word for Peridot and also Topazios, which was the Ancient Greek word for the gem. But before you go getting confused and start to research the relationship between Peridot and Topaz, there isn't one; today the name is used to describe a totally different gem family!

3000 years ago, these early miners on Topazios Island did not work in the daytime as they believed the gem was invisible in daylight. As it could absorb the sun's rays it had the ability to glow in the dark, therefore making it easier to discover.

Half way around the globe from Topazios is the small Hawaiian island of Oahu; here very small grains of Peridot colour the beaches green! Islanders here believe that the gems are the tears of the goddess Pele. As these grains are too small, there is no mining on the island, although mining has taken place in Hawaii for thousands of years. Even so, although the gem is today still sold to tourists as indigenous, most of it is actually sourced from Arizona!

Peridot is found in the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona, where the U.S Bureau of Mining claim that approximately 80% of the world's supply is currently being sourced. Luckily for the Apaches, many decades ago they were given sole rights to all mineral deposits in the region. Most of the mines are run by families and, similar to mining communities in Africa, every day they take their haul to local gem traders in Tupperware boxes, carrier bags, fruit bowls and buckets! There is very little sophisticated about family-run artisanal gem mining.

Although mining for the gem over the centuries has also taken place in China, Australia, Brazil, Norway and Burma, the most recent discovery was in Pakistan in 1994. Located some 15,000 feet above sea level in the ice-capped mountains of the western Himalayas lies the remote, and often inaccessible, Peridot mines. From the nearest town, you would first ride 10 hours on horseback, and then set off on a two to three day hike (or climb!), before you reach the first mines. What's more, because of snow, the miners (some two thousand of them) can only make the trip in July, August and September. However, it all seems worthwhile as the quality of the Peridot is amongst the finest in the world.

In October 2003, possibly the most incredible gem find of all time happened, when a NASA spacecraft identified the gem on Mars!

Throughout history it has been mistaken and confused with other gemstones, including Emerald - which is surprising due to the yellow green colour of the stone. It has also been mistaken for Apatite, Green Garnets, Green Tourmaline, Moldavites and Green Zircon.

Having long been associated with luck, many cultures have celebrated this unusual and magical stone in their myths and legends due to its apparent power to ward off evil spirits! Historically, if the stone was then set in any precious metal its capacity to bring the bearer luck and good fortune was intensified even more.

In days gone by, goblets and sword handles of the rich and powerful land owners and aristocracy were encrusted with Peridots. It was thought that what you then drank from the goblet would become a potion to stimulate greatness - the same theory applied to the swords, as it was thought it would bring power on the battlefield and strength to the bearer's legions.

This precious gemstone can often be seen in Egyptian jewellery from as early as 2000BC. Historians have said that they suspect that many of the Emeralds worn by Cleopatra were actually Peridot. The Romans were also big fans of this gem and named it the "evening Emerald", due to its seeming ability to almost glow in the dark.

Today the stone is cherished by people more for its beauty than its powers, but the history of this stone still remains a great part of its mystery and fascination for all who wear it. In addition to being the birthstone for August, it is associated with the star sign of Capricorn and used to celebrate the 16th wedding anniversary.

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Pyrite is often called “Fool’s Gold”, though there is nothing foolish about this mineral. Within its gleaming beauty is a stone of hidden fire, one that can be sparked to life by striking it against metal or stone. An Earth element, it also resonates with Fire energy, symbolizing the warmth and lasting presence of the sun and the ability to generate wealth by one’s own power. It is masculine in nature, a stone of action, vitality and will, and taps into one’s abilities and potential, stimulating the flow of ideas. It brings confidence and the persistence to carry things through to completion.

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Prehnite is an attractive, transparent stone, usually greenish in colour although sometimes found in yellow, grey or whitish tones. It creates attractive jewellery and can be faceted or cabochon cut and is occasionally found to display chatoyancy.

The gem often falls between transparent and translucent and its appearance often reminds me of Moonstone. Its surface can often have a good lustre and it looks beautiful when cabochon cut and set into gold rings and pendants.

Crystal collectors believe that Prehnite enhances dreaming and improves memory; it is also said to focus inner knowledge to prepare for situations. The stone is sometimes used to make predictions and allegedly the most accurate predictions are those made for one's personal, spiritual growth.

It was first discovered in South Africa by an early Dutch governor of the Cape of Good Hope Colony called Colonel Hendrik Von Prehn, and in keeping with traditional gem naming convention, it was named after him.
Since its discovery in South Africa it has been found in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scotland, Namibia, Canada, China, Australia, France, the USA, India and even Antarctica.

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Quartz is known as the "master healer" and will amplify energy and thought, as well as the effect of other crystals. It absorbs, stores, releases and regulates energy.

Quartz draws off negative energy of all kinds, neutralising background radiation, including electromagnetic smog or petrochemical emanations.

It balances and revitalises the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes. Cleanses and enhances the organs and subtle bodies and acts as a deep soul cleanser, connecting the physical dimension with the mind.

Quartz enhances psychic abilities. It aids concentration and unlocks memory. Stimulates the immune system and brings the body into balance.

Clear Quartz (Crystal Quartz, Rock Crystal) harmonises all the chakras and aligns the subtle bodies.

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Rose Quartz

The colour of Rose Quartz ranges from a very tender pale pink to a delicate powder pink and can be transparent through to translucent. This gem has adorned ornaments and jewellery since ancient times. Truly transparent Rose Quartz is extremely rare, and is usually so pale that it does not show much colour at all, with the exception of when it is available in larger sizes. Translucent Rose Quartz, however, is a lot more readily obtainable and unless its colour is especially vibrant, tends to be used for beaded jewellery and carvings.

Rose Quartz is similar to other forms of the Quartz family in that it is prone to inclusions and when of a rutile nature can create asterism. However, while most asterisms appear when light hits the gemstone, light needs to be shone through the gem in order for the asterism to be visible.

Known as the gemstone of true love, it is said that Rose Quartz allows you to get to know your true self and to love that true self in all its beauty.

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Rubellite Tourmaline

When Tourmaline appears to look like a Ruby it is renamed Rubellite.

However, just like the debate about when a dark Pink Sapphire becomes a Ruby, Tourmaline is only renamed Rubellite if its deep red colours are seen in both daylight and artificial light. If its hues are not profound under both lighting conditions, it is renamed Pink Tourmaline.

Rubellite's name is derived from the Latin word "rubellus" which literally translates to "coming from red".
Inclusions in Rubellite are fairly common, as the chemical structures responsible for its wonderful colour also create "jardin" (the French word for garden, used to describe Mother Nature's inclusions).

The gem is a real treasure. It is far rarer than its closest rival Ruby and many people find it infinitely more attractive. However, as often happens in the gem world, it does not command such a high price as its competitor, due to it being less well-known.

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Rutilated Quartz

Rutilated Quartz is almost the complete opposite to most varieties of gemstones as its value dramatically increases when more inclusions are present!

Rutilated Quartz is effectively transparent Rock Crystal with golden needles of rutile inclusions set in patterns within the crystal. Each pattern is individually unique to each and every gemstone and its inclusions are sometimes referred to as Venus hair.

Crystal Healers believe that Rutilated Quartz assists with mental focus, rectifies many food disorders, boosts the immune system and helps to remove fatigue.

The gem is associated with the solar plexus chakra, and is often used to form a link between the root and crown chakras.

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Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow, red, gray, pink, white and black. Since sandstone beds often form highly visible cliffs and other topographic features, certain colours of sandstone have been strongly identified with certain regions.

Rock formations that are primarily composed of sandstone usually allow percolation of water and other fluids and are porous enough to store large quantities, making them valuable aquifers and petroleum reservoirs. Fine-grained aquifers, such as sandstones, are more apt to filter out pollutants from the surface than are rocks with cracks and crevices, such as limestone or other rocks fractured by seismic activity.

Sandstone is mined by quarrying. It is sometimes found where there used to be small sea areas. It is usually formed in deserts or dry places like the Sahara Desert in Africa, the Arabian desert in the Middle East and the Australian desert (including Sydney). In the western United States and in central Australia, most sandstone is red.

Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usually related to tectonic compression within orogenic belts.

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Throughout the ages there have been many myths, legends and folklore surrounding the spiritual qualities of Sardonyx (also known as Banded Agate). Romans soldiering into war would wear the stone, engraved with a picture of Mars (god of war), believing it would bring them courage in times of doubt.

The name Sardonyx itself is an amalgamation of its composition, the two minerals 'Sard' and 'Onyx'. During the Renaissance in Europe it was believed that this stone gave speakers eloquence when talking. In Ancient Greece people used to carve them into the shape of scarab beetles, a mythological creature that was believed to eat people! The gem also has many links with royalty and it is said that Queen Elizabeth I gave the Earl of Essex a large Sardonyx gold ring as a present.

Sardonyx is the reddish brown coloured member of the Agate family and it normally has varying coloured layers and a vitreous to waxy lustre. The main use of Sardonyx throughout the ages has been to make carved cameos (a carving made out of a gemstone).

Today Sardonyx is mined in various locations around the world, however in years gone by it was considerably rarer and more valuable. There was even a time when it was worth more than gold! Most of the world's supply is mined in the Sardonyx Mountains in India and it is generally agreed that this is where the highest quality Sardonyx comes from. The gem is also found in Russia, Australia, Brazil and Madagascar.

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Shells have a very relaxing, rhythmic soothing energy. Its energy feels very similar to the calming sensation of hearing waves crash on the beach. It produces a very calming effect in the body, and so reduces stress & irritability. It gently stirs the life energy of your cells, increasing their flexibility, ability to accept oxygen and function effectively.

Shells stirs emotions so that they may be more balanced and harmonious. Any positive emotions become easier to express and negative emotions become soothed and more controllable.

Most notably shells are known for primordial memory recall. As humans first experience on this earth is in the fluid world of their mother’s womb, these organic gemstones will stimulate suppressed memories of childhood in a healthy & balanced way. In order to heal childhood memories or feelings of being unloved & not cared for, we need to recognise and release the pain, resentments & anger that come from them.

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Smokey Quartz

Also known as Cairngorm Quartz after the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland where it was once mined, Smokey Quartz is the national gemstone of Scotland.

It is believed that Smokey Quartz helps to build a strong relationship and instill peace and harmony. It is thought to transform negative energy and is reported to be effective at dealing with anger. Most Smokey Quartz coming out of the ground is not very consistent in colour and is therefore often heat-treated.
In addition to Scotland, the required gem has been discovered in Brazil, Germany, Australia, India, Madagascar and the USA.

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You may think that you have yet to see a Sodalite, however if you have a piece of jewellery, an ornament or gemstone globe made of Lapis Lazuli much of its deep rich blue colour is most likely to be attributed to the mineral Sodalite.

As well as being a vivid opaque blue gemstone, Sodalite is also the name given to the family of gemstones which includes Hackmanite and Lazurite.

Although the gemstone was initially discovered and documented in Greenland in 1806, it took a further century for a sufficient quantity to be unearthed in Ontario, Canada before it started to become faceted and set in jewellery.

The gem receives its name from the presence of sodium. It is sometimes also referred to as Princess Blue after Princess Patricia of Connaught, who fell so much in love with the gemstone whilst staying in Canada, that on her return to the UK she had whole areas of various rooms in Marlborough House decorated with Sodalite. Today gem-quality Sodalite has been found in Australia, Brazil, Colombia.

Crystal Healers believe that the gem can prove useful if you are in a state of mental confusion and that it is good for relieving stress.

Sodalite is associated with the Chakras (especially the third eye) and is said to calm emotions and instil an inner peace.

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We all hate doing nasty jobs and often procrastinate when we have to deliver bad news, but who can imagine how difficult it must have been telling the Queen of England that her beloved Ruby in the crown jewels was not a Ruby at all, but a lesser known gem; a Spinel!

Spinel is a robust and strong gem for gents to wear. The "Black Prince's Ruby", which was set into Henry V's helmet, saved his life when his helmet was struck by an axe in the battle of Agincourt in 1415. This only goes to show how certain gemstones are far stronger than the precious metals into which they are set. For hundreds of years Spinels have been mistaken for Rubies. The "Black Prince's Ruby", which is now set in the British Imperial State Crown, was thought by Henry V to be a Ruby (hence its name); but it is actually a 170ct Spinel.

The "Kuwait Ruby", another piece in the British crown jewels, is also a Spinel; weighing a massive 352ct. It is easy to understand why Spinels were mistaken for Rubies for so long. In fact, until the late 19th century, there was no distinction between Ruby and red Spinel, as they look almost identical and are often found in the same localities. They also share the same desirable visual properties, as well as similar chemical structure, and both even obtain their red colour from chromium. This is how red Spinel obtained its title as "The Master of Disguise".

Nowadays, distinctions can be made through comparing the hardness of the two gemstones: Ruby registers 9 on the Mohs scale, while Spinel registers 8. Ruby also has a slightly higher refractive index. Most Spinels also have the ability to glow in natural daylight (fluorescence) but with a more pinkish hue than Rubies.

Red Spinel is actually rarer than Ruby, but unlike the latter can be found in large sizes. These big red stones were often referred to in ancient texts as Balas Rubies, which referred to Badakshan in Northern Afghanistan - still an active gem-producing region. According to historical records, Badakshan produced the biggest and most spectacular "Rubies". Some of these gems were owned by the Mongol conqueror, Henry VIII of England, and Peter the Great of Russia.

Spinel's name is believed to have derived from the Latin word "spina" meaning "thorn" and refers to the fact that its crystals are often shaped like the thorns of a rose bush. Along the same theme, its vivid colours are often very similar to those seen in an English rose garden. Pure Spinel is white and, as with many gem families, its impurities provide us with an array of different colours. The main colouring agents in Spinel are iron, chromium, vanadium and cobalt. Not only can this precious gem be found in beautiful rich Ruby reds; a very small amount has been found in electrifying blues. You can also find a range of pastel colours of purples and pinks. One of the most spectacular gemstone colours, vivid hot pink with a hint of orange, can be found in Spinels mined in Burma.

Though most Spinels on the market don't have prefixes, several trade names do exist. Flame Spinel (also known as Rubicelle) as the name suggests is a vivacious orange to orangey red gem. Ceylonite (also known as Pleonaste) is an opaque dark green Spinel, and Gahnite (also known as Zinc Spinel) is a blue to bluish green Spinel.

Because this crystal is a newly recognised gemstone there is little folklore and legend surrounding its powers, although it has been associated with sorcerers and alchemists alike. There is reference to its use as a talisman to protect the wearer from fire, and as Spinel contains the magnetic mineral Magnetite, many believe it was used to help ancient mariners with navigation.

In 2005, whilst conducting a scientific study at the University of Chicago, Denton Ebel (Assistant Curator of Meteorites at the American Museum of Natural History), along with Lawrence Grossman (a Professor in Geophysical Sciences), discovered that the environment in which certain Spinels were formed proved that it was the impact of an asteroid some 65 million years ago that ended the dinosaur era.

Now treasured in its own right, Spinel is a favourite of many gem dealers and gem collectors. It has fantastic brilliance with a vitreous lustre, and as it is very durable and tough, it makes it an ideal gem to set into jewellery. It is mined in Burma, Sri Lanka, India, Tanzania, Madagascar, Australia, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, United States and Russia.

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Sometimes referred to as "Royal Lavulite" or "Royal Azel", Sugilite appears in a small range of colours from a stunning light lavender through to a rich purple. It is opaque with a waxy lustre and its appearance always reminds me of the small round violet sweets I was given as a child. The gem received its name from a Dr Ken-ichi Sugi, a Japanese scientist who first documented the gemstone in the 1940's.

Sugilite occasionally features red, brown or yellow spots, when these are present the gem is often called Wild Horse Sugilite. Similar to the process used to stabilise Turquoise, the gem is often treated to make it more suitable for setting in jewellery.

Some crystal healers believe that Sugilite helps in strengthening the heart, as well as reducing levels of stress, whilst others suggest that it balances your mind, body and spirit.

In addition to its discovery in Japan, the gem has also been discovered in Quebec, Canada, Tuscany, Italy and New South Wales, Australia. The largest discovery to date has been in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

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This gemstone has a gorgeous glittering appearance (known as aventurescence) and is also called Oligoclase, Adventurine Feldspar and Heliote. Sunstone has many sought after attributes, but its aventuresence is the most striking. This is usually caused by either Haematite or Goethite inclusions; but in the Sunstone from Oregon in the USA, this phenomenon owes its appearance to copper inclusions. Although its colour is normally a reddish brown, it has also been discovered in green, grey, and yellow.

The gem has been set in jewellery for thousands of years and is steeped in history and folklore. The Vikings were said to have used the gem as a navigational aid, whilst early American settlers ground the gem and used it in medicine.

Sunstone is a member of the Feldspar family and is closely related to Labradorite. As it is normally opaque or translucent the gem is often cabochon cut; on rare occasions it can be found transparent.

The gem registers 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale and can be found in Norway, Canada, India and the USA.

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Tiger's Eye

Tiger's Eye is believed to be a protective stone endowing courage and willpower. It is used to promote creativity, focusing of the mind, and cultivate clear thinking.

This gemstone displays chatoyancy (a small ray of light on the surface) and when cut to a cabochon it resembles the eye of a tiger. The golden yellow colour of the stone is produced by the presence of brown iron.

When the gem is bluish in colour it is renamed Hawk's Eye Quartz and when a greenish grey, it is renamed Ox Eye Quartz or sometimes Bull's Eye Quartz.

This member of the Quartz family, with its brown and golden stripes, has been fascinating man for thousands of years. Romans would wear Tiger's Eye as a talisman in battle and it was often set into swords and helmets.

Since antiquity, Tiger's Eye has been worn as an amulet to bring about good luck and to protect against witchcraft. The gem is said to help put you on the right path of life, as well as helping you understand your own faults.

Crystal Healers believe that the gem can help those who suffer from hypochondria and asthma.
It is primarily mined in South Africa, though Tiger's Eye is also found in Western Australia, Burma, India and California.

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Along with Citrine, Topaz is the birthstone for November. It is also a suggested wedding gift for both the 4th and 23rd anniversary. That said, its gorgeous brilliance and crystal clarity makes it a wonderful gift for all occasions.

It is unclear how the gem was first named. What we do know is that the small island in the Red Sea which is today known as Zabargad, was once named "Topazios". Pliny the Elder, author of the Natural History in the first century AD, links the gem to the island and states that the island's name was derived from the Greek word "topazos", "to seek". Although the island was the source of Peridot for Cleopatra, Topaz was not mined there at that time. That said, throughout history the two gemstones have been repeatedly confused with one another, both of which can be found with vibrant golden greenish hues. Others believe that the gem's name originates from the Sanskrit word "tapaz", which means fire.

There is possibly more folklore and legend surrounding Topaz than any other gem. It has been known as a powerful magnetic stone throughout the ages that attracts love and fortune. It has been mentioned in the Bible and is one of the gemstones adorning the twelve holy gates of Jerusalem.

Having been discovered over 2500 years ago, Topaz gems are also called apocalyptic stones. They are known to protect against enemies and are used as a symbol of splendour and love. It is even suggested that if you wear Blue Topaz along with Moonstone it may help encourage the right mindset and willpower for weight loss.

It is said that Topaz holds the distinction of being the gemstone with the widest range of curative properties. The Greeks felt that it gave them strength, as well as supposedly relieving insomnia, and restoring sanity; it was even said to be able to detect poisons. Furthermore, they thought it had supernatural powers and could even make its owner invisible!

The Egyptians believed the stone received its colour from the golden glow of the Sun God - Ra. This made Topaz a talisman of power that protected its owners from harm.

In the 1100's a large Golden Topaz was said to have been donated to a monastery by Lady Hildegarde (wife of Theodoric, Count of Holland), which was so luminous that it was used at night to light the inside of the chapel. Its glow was so bright that the congregation were able to read their prayers without the use of lamps. In Europe during the Renaissance (1300 - 1600) Topaz was believed to break evil spells and dispel anger. In India it was worn as a pendant, just above the heart to ensure long life, beauty and intelligence.

Topaz is its own species and comes in a wide variety of colours. It can be found in yellow, brownish yellow, brown, green, blue, light blue, red, pink and colourless. The Portuguese call the colourless type "pingos D'agoa" which means "Drops of Water". How wonderful to imagine you can capture a drop of water in a piece of jewellery! Most colours of Topaz on the market today, with the exception of colourless, light blue and yellow, derive their colour from either irradiation or heat treatment (if you heat yellow Topaz from the Ouro Preto region of Brazil, it is possible to turn it pinkish). The irradiation process used to turn colourless Topaz blue replicates the natural irradiation process found in the state of Minas Gerias in Brazil, where Mother Nature naturally used irradiation to turn Topaz blue (natural Blue Topaz has also been found in Russia). Today Topaz is sometimes coated, resulting in glorious multi-coloured Mystic Topaz.

When we refer to the term "Precious Topaz", we are talking about stones of a golden yellow to a peachy orange colour. Prior to the 1950's, these hues accounted for virtually all Topaz which had been discovered thus far. Throughout history this gem was available in multiple shades of oranges, yellows and golden browns, hence prior to the last century it was often mistaken for certain gems of similar shades, such as Citrine and Smokey Quartz. The confusion was heightened by the Brazilian word "Topazio", which means yellow gem.

Topaz is a fantastic gem to use in jewellery, not only for its stunning colours but also because of its durability. Reaching 8 on the Mohs hardness scale only Diamonds, Sapphire and Ruby are harder. It is a pleochroic gemstone, which means that different colours can be seen from different angles as you move the gem in the light. For example, a Red Topaz may show dark reds, yellows and pinkish reds. Although Topaz is very strong, it does have perfect cleavage, which - although reliable once faceted and set into jewellery - often creates challenges for Lapidarists when cutting the gem.

Topaz is found in several mining locations around the world, with the most important areas being Minas Gerais, Brazil, the Ural Mountains of Russia, Madagascar and Nigeria. Samples of the gem have also been discovered at various locations in the UK: St Michael's Mount in Cornwall; the isle of Lundy near Devon; Northern Ireland; and Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland.

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Tourmaline has been fascinating its owners for thousands of years, although it was not identified as a gem variety in its own right until 1703, when a parcel of mixed gems was sent from Ceylon to Holland. The package was simply labelled "turmali", which translates from Sinhalese to "mixed precious stones". The legend goes that children playing on Dutch streets with the stones found that they attracted dirt particles as they were heated by the sun. On showing the strange effect to their parents, they passed the stones to a local gemmologist who realised they were a unique mineral group, and he later named them after the label on the original package.

This unique ability to attract particles is known as pyroelectricity. When Tourmalines are heated or rubbed they create an electrical charge, and for this reason non gem-quality specimens are used in electrical devices.

Early observers of the gemstone believed that its wide variety of colours was thanks to the gem being formed whilst passing over a rainbow and absorbing all of its magical shades. This exquisite gemstone naturally occurs in a myriad of stunning colours and its crystal structure makes it look like it is almost pre-faceted by Mother Nature. Tourmaline is rarely found colourless. As with other gemstone families, the presence of different chemicals during the time the gem was crystallising has provided Tourmaline with an array of spectacular colours.

When a deep, vivid green, they are often rich in chromium and are sometimes named Chrome Tourmaline. Iron-rich Tourmalines are normally black to deep brown and magnesium-rich varieties can occur in a yellowish brown colour. Lithium-rich Tourmalines come in a rainbow of colours.

Members of the Tourmaline family are not from the same crystal structure and their chemical compositions also vary. What they do have in common is that they all occur in nature as long, thin, straight gems and usually have a triangular cross-section.

Tourmaline is pleochroic, which means you can see different colours when viewed from different angles. As well as being pleochroic, the crystals may grow to be green at one end and pink at the other: this variety is called Bi- Coloured Tourmaline. When found with green on the outside and pink inside, they are known as Watermelon Tourmaline.

Throughout history, Tourmaline was often mixed up with other beautiful gemstones. Green Tourmaline was said to be confused with Emerald. The folklore and legend surrounding Tourmaline has only begun to emerge in the last few hundred years. Black Tourmaline (known as Schorl) has been associated with grieving.

Tourmaline is considered a good luck gem and is sometimes referred to as the "stone of wisdom". It is also said to be "resistant to all vagaries of fate" - in other words it protects the person wearing it from ill fortune. It is the gemstone of friendship, relationships and love, and is said to help strengthen and intensify these. Believed to possess healing warmth, if you hold the gemstone it has been said it can balance your "prana," the energy of your soul. Wear the gemstone as a talisman and it will bring to you good friends and good lovers. It is also said that Tourmalines encourage artistic intuition. In fact, Tourmaline is known to have many faces and expresses every mood!

Tourmalines are found in various parts of the world; however, most on the market today are from Brazil. That said, there is a Tourmaline mine in Maine, California that has been in operation since 1822.

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The gemstone Turquoise has been highly prized since Egyptian times and its name means "Turkish Stone" as it was imported to Europe via Turkey. The colour of this historic gemstone ranges from a greenish blue to a beautiful, striking sky blue and is one of several instances where the name of a colour is derived from the name of a gemstone.

It is interesting to note that in order for it to be deemed Turquoise it has to be of the highest quality. When Turquoise is mined it can often have traces of chrome or iron set deep within it and it is these elements which give the gemstone its unique colour.

If Turquoise has definite visible patterns viewable to the naked eye these are known as "Turquoise Matrix". The patterns are caused by differing elements running through veins and, more often than not, are brown, grey or even black depending on the area the gem was mined. As the gem is opaque, it is rarely faceted and is usually cabochon cut or made into beads.

Turquoise is said to have been mined more than 6000 years ago in Sinai. In Persian times people would adorn themselves with Turquoise, usually around the neck or on the wrist, as it was believed the stone would prevent fatalities.

It has long been thought to be a holystone bringing the wearer good fortune and a prosperous life: even today Turquoise is thought to clear the mind and cheer people up. Its colourful blues denote a sense of wellbeing and spiritual harmony. Turquoise often gets given as a gift to a loved one or dear friend and as it is one of the birthstones for December, it makes an ideal Christmas present!

Because Turquoise is porous, when wearing a piece it is important to avoid contact with any chemical liquids. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that any item of Turquoise should only be put on after showering or applying make-up. It should ideally also be kept away from heat and intense light.
Deposits are found in a number of places around the globe; these include America, Mexico, Iran, Israel, China and Afghanistan.

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Due to its stunning blend of 'moss' green, unusual pink and earthy orange, Unakite boasts a unique and striking mixture of colour, pattern and 'mottled' appearance. Its unusual colour scheme, unique appearance and solid structure all combine to make it a good stone for distinctive jewellery.

As with all gems and minerals, there are numerous beliefs regarding the spiritual and healing qualities of Unakite. Most of all it is believed to bring unity and balance to all areas of the owner's life. It is also thought to help release elements in one's life that inhibit and stunt emotional growth. Some also believe that it stimulates self-awareness, and allows the owner to be aware of causes and symptoms of illness, which goes deeper than just the physical.

At this point we must stress that healing properties are mainly mythical; although Crystal Healers suggest using the gemstone to ensure a safe pregnancy and birth, we would recommend seeing a consultant!
Unakite is also called 'Epidotized Granite' or 'Grandodiorite'; and is usually made up by a combination of three minerals: Pink Feldspar, Green Epidote and Quartz. But not all Unakite contain Quartz; specimens that don't are called 'Episodite'.

Although the first find was in America, sources tell us that rare examples have also been found in Brazil, China, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Switzerland.

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First discovered at the beginning of the 19th century in Austria, Zoisite is named after the Slovenian scientist Ziga Zois, who first identified the mineral. Today Zoisite is considered a gem family rather than an individual gem type. It has three members; Anyolite which is a green opaque mineral, Thulite which is a pink opaque mineral and the superstar of the family, the world famous Tanzanite.



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Tiger's Eye is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety and/or nervousness
- Depression
- A lack of concentration
- Low energy
Jasper is recommended for people with:
- A lack of concentration
- Low energy
Imperial Jasper is recommended for people with:
- A lack of concentration
- Low energy
Amethyst is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Anxiety
- Insomnia
- Depression
- Headache/Migrain
- Lack of concentration
- A weak immune system
Snowflake Jasper is recommended for people with:
- A lack of concentration
- Low energy
Agate is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Insomnia
Sandstone is recommended for people who:
- Suffer with Bad Moods
- Would like to improve their imagination
- Are experiencing change in some way, be it a new job or home, etc
Labradorite is recommended for people with:
- A lack of concentration
- Anxiety
- Stress
- Digestion problems
Pearls are recommended for people with:
- A lack of concentration
- Anxiety
Magnasite is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Irritability
- Depression
- Headache/Migrain
Rose Quartz is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Depression
- Stress
- High Blood Pressure
- Low Fertility
- Headache/Migrain
Howlite is recommended for people with:
- Insomnia
- A lack of concentration
- Stress
Abalone Shell is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Stress
- Anxiety
Freshwater Pearl is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Anxiety
- Lack of concentration
Lapis Lazuli is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Stress
- Insomnia
- Vertigo
- Depression
Red Jasper is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Stress
- Low energy
Adventurine is recommended for people with:
- Anger/Irritation
- High Blood Pressure
- Low Metabolism
- Headache/Migrain
- Allergies
Botswana Agate is recommended for people with:
- Depression
- Stress
- Anxiety
- Insomnia
Copper is recommended for people with:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Depression
- Arthritis
- Low energy
Hematite is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety
- Headache/Migrain
- Insomnia
- Low Self-Esteem
- Leg Cramps
Moonstone is recommended for people with:
- Stress
- Depression
- Water Retention
Rose Quartz is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Depression
- Stress
- High Blood Pressure
- Low Fertility
- Headache/Migrain
Dalmation Jasper is recommended for people with:
- Depression
- Poor Immune System
- Lack of concentration
- Low Energy
Mookaite is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Depression
- Poor Immune System
Jade is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Irritability
- Depression
- It also helps fertility
Quartz is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Lack of concentration
- Poor Immune System
Black Onyx is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Low Self-Esteem
Shell stimulates:
- Intuition
- Sensitivity
- Imagination
- Adaptability
Florite is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Stress
- Depression
- Low Self-Esteem
- Loss of Balance
Biwa Pearl is recommended for people with:
- Depression
- Stress
Amazonite is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety
- Lack of concentration
- Muscle Cramps
Rainbow Quartz is recommended for people with:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Lack of concentration
- Poor Immune System
Coral is recommended for people with:
- Depression
- Lack of concentration
- Its also known to improve imagination
Lava Rock is recommended for people who:
- Fire signs (Aries, Leo & Sagittarius)
- Are Indecisive or Timid
- Generally feel weak
Fire Agate is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Insomnia
Hawks Eye is recommended for people who suffer with:
- Lack of concentration
- Also know to improve imagination
Garnet is recommended for people with:
- Stress
- Depression
- Low Self-Esteem
- Also known to control anger, especially toward yourself
Opal encourages:
- Freedom
- Independance
- Creativity
- Also known to strengthen memory