Do some of the more unusual gems puzzle you? What is the birthstone for September? What is Tanzanite?
This rare gemstone is named after the Russian tsar Alexander II (1818-1881), the very first crystals having been discovered in April 1834 in the emerald mines near the Tokovaya River in the Urals. The discovery was made on the day the future tsar came of age.
Amethyst is mined in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina, as well as in Zambia, Namibia and other African countries.
Aquamarine is one of our most popular and best-known gemstones, and distinguishes itself by many good qualities. Aquamarine has good hardness (7_ to 8 on the Mohs scale) and a wonderful shine. That hardness makes it very tough and protects it to a large extent from scratches. Iron is the substance which gives aquamarine its colour, a colour which ranges from an almost indiscernible pale blue to a strong sea-blue. The more intense the colour of an aquamarine, the more value is put on it.
Quartz that is formed not of one single crystal but finely grained micro crystals is known as chalcedony. The variety of chalcedony is even greater than transparent quartz varieties because it includes crypto crystalline quartz with patterns as well as a wide range of solid colours.
Chrome Diopside has an ugly name but is a beautiful gem. Chrome diopside is mostly mined in Yakutia and Siberia. Sometimes known as the 'Russian Emerald.'
Citrine is one of the most affordable gemstones, thanks to the durability and availability of this golden quartz. Named from the French name for lemon, "citron," many citrines have a juicy lemon colour.
Diamonds are remarkably simple in composition, yet stunning in its unique ability to reflect and refract light into vivid flashes of brilliant colour. The ancient Hindus called the Diamond "Vajra," meaning lightening, both because of the sparks of light thrown off by this gem as well as its invincible strength. The Diamond is harder than any other substance on earth.
It is now possible to buy fancy coloured diamonds. These are genuine, mined diamonds, which have been heat treated to achieve a permanent colour, e.g. blue, black, canary yellow, orange, green, purple.
Often, in an emerald, there are tiny fractures or inclusions, which the French call "jardin," or garden, because of their resemblance to foliage. Sources of Emeralds are Brazil, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Russia.
The emerald is a member of the beryl family of minerals.
Although red remains the major colour, Garnets today easily adapt to any new colour trend in fashion due to the rich range available.
Iolite is usually a purplish blue when cut properly, with a softness to the colour that can be quite attractive.
Kunzite is still a very young gemstone. It was not until 1902 that the New York jeweller and gemstone specialist George Frederick Kunz (1856 – 1932) became the first person to give a comprehensive description of this stone, which had just been discovered in California. Since newly discovered gemstones are usually given the name of their discoverer or patron, this new pale pink discovery was called 'kunzite'.
Lapis lazuli, also known as just lapis, is a stone with one of the longest traditions of being considered a gem, with a history stretching back to 5000 BC. Deep blue in colour and opaque, this gemstone was highly prized by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
Moonstone shows an almost magical play of light as its characteristic feature. This gemstone was once before extremely popular, about a hundred years ago, in the times of Art Nouveau.
Although it came into existence millions of years ago, Morganite found its name less than a hundred years ago. Thus, in the year 1911, New York gemstone expert G.F. Kunz suggested to give Pink Beryl the status and standing of an individual kind of gemstone, and it was named in honour of banker and minerals collector John Pierport Morgan, thus receiving its current name - Morganite.
The gem comes in many fine shades of pink. Some are clearly pink, others tend more towards purple. Even a slight orange hue may be sometimes found.
The group of fine Opals includes quite a number of wonderful gemstones, which share one characteristic: they shine and sparkle in a continually changing play of colours full of fantasy, which experts describe as “opalising”.
Pearls are an organic gem, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre
Today pearls are cultured by man: shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian black cultured pearls, which are larger in size. Freshwater pearls are cultured in freshwater mussels, mostly in China.
Peridot is an ancient and yet currently very popular gemstone. It is so old that it can be found even in Egyptian jewellery from the early second millennium BC. The stones used in those days came from an occurrence on a little volcanic island in the Red Sea, about 70 km off the Egyptian coast, off Assuan, which was rediscovered only around 1900 and has been completely exploited since. Peridot, however, is also a very modern stone, for only a few years ago Peridot occurrences were discovered in the Kashmir region, and the stones from there show a unique beauty of colour and transparency, so that the image of the stone, which was somewhat dulled over the ages, has received an efficient polishing.
Ruby is the red variety of the corundum mineral, one of the hardest minerals on Earth which also includes Sapphire. Pure corundum is colourless.
Pink is one of the many hues of the coloured gem called sapphire. All sapphires are of the corundum variety (aluminium oxide composition) of mineral. Corundum comes in many colours including blue, red, violet, pink, green, yellow, orange, grey, white, colourless, and black. Red corundum is called Ruby due to history. Historically the chemical composition and crystal structures of the coloured gems were not known, and ruby has stuck as the name for red corundum.
The pale pink colour of quartz, which can range from transparent to translucent, is known as rose quartz. The colour is a very pale and delicate powder pink. Transparent rose quartz is very rare and is usually so pale that it does not show very much colour except in large sizes.
Smoky quartz is a brown transparent quartz that is sometimes used for unusual faceted cuts. The commercial market is limited due to the limited demand for brown gemstones.
Spinel is the great impostor of gemstone history: many famous rubies in crown jewels around the world are actually spinel. The most famous is the Black Prince's Ruby, a magnificent 170-carat red spinel that currently adorns the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels after a long history.
Tanzanite, was enthusiastically celebrated after its discovery in 1967 as the "Gemstone of the 20th Century. It was first discovered in Tanzania in 1967, and was named after its country of origin, Tanzania, by the famous New York jeweller, Louis Tiffany.
Tanzanite has what many would consider the finest blue hue in the world of gemstones, a colour which often the finest sapphires are lacking.
There is only one tanzanite mine in the world, and it is fast running out. Purchasing a tanzanite is a sound investment for the future as prices will escalate, the closer the mine gets to the end of its working life.
Tiger's Eye quartz contains brown iron which produces its golden-yellow colour. Cabochon cut stones of this variety show the chatoyancy (small ray of light on the surface) that resembles the feline eye of a tiger.
Brown, yellow, orange, sherry, red and pink topaz is found in Brazil and Sri Lanka. Pink topaz is found in Pakistan and Russia.
Today, there is also blue topaz, which has a pale to medium blue colour created by irradiation. Pale topaz which is enhanced to become blue is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and China.
The different shades of colour of tourmaline, have been assigned different names in the trade. For example, deep red Tourmaline is named "Rubellite”, provided it shows the same fine ruby-red shade in daylight and in artificial light. Should the colour change when the source of light changes, the stone will be called a "Pink Tourmaline”.
Contrary to other gemstones, Tzavorites are not heated or oiled. Like all other Garnets it is genuinely natural. It is very robust. Although showing a hardness similar to Emerald - around 7.5 on the Mohs´Scale, it is far less sensitive in its handling.
Natural zircon today suffers for the similarity of its name to cubic zirconia, the laboratory-grown diamond imitation. Some don't realize that there is a beautiful natural gemstone called zircon.
Today the most popular colour is blue zircon. Most blue zircon, which is considered an alternate birthstone for December, is a pastel blue, but some exceptional gems have a bright blue colour. Zircon is also available in green, dark red, yellow, brown, and orange.