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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
A very valuable and rare Colour Change Chrysoberyl.
It is highly regarded by gem experts, enthusiasts and
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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
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
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,
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
Deposits have been found in several locations including
Cornwall in England, Canada, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
This is one of the world's most popular and well-known
gemstones. Often found with great clarity in a light
yet energetic blue.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
A mystical, magical appearance glowing through a silky
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).
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).
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
The gem has
a distinctive waxy lustre, and is normally translucent
through to opaque.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
believed that Coral had magical and medicinal properties
and many Roman children would wear Coral around their
neck to protect them from danger.
babies born into wealthy families were given Coral teething
Black Coral is the rarest colour, and when polished
it shines with such a radiant lustre that you can almost
see your own reflection.
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
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
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.
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.
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).
is found off the coast of Hawaii and the West Indies.
Other locations for Coral include: The Red Sea, Algeria,
Tunisia and Malaysia.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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%.
With a glow like a raging fire and a hue of a Spanish
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.
can be found in a handful of small deposits around the
world, such as Guatemala in the USA, Brazil, Canada
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.
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
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!
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'.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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
a brand new gem discovery in 2011, also has small pieces
of Fool's Gold magically suspended in its transparent
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
(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'.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
In its natural
state, its soft, grey marble effect makes it ideal for
setting as beaded necklaces or bracelets.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Iolite (known as Cordierite) was mined at the Cornish
Geevor Tin Mine until the 1990s.
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
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".
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.
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
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.
Worn since Biblical times, and found in a whole host
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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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.
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
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
The gem has been discovered in Argentina, the Czech
Republic, Madagascar, Russia, USA and Zimbabwe.
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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,
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
This is one of the most sought after gemstones on the
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
When Tourmaline appears to look like a Ruby it is renamed
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.
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
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
Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating
and pressure usually related to tectonic compression
within orogenic belts.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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