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Gemstones

Check here for information about all of the amazing gemstones that are put in jewelry.  All colored gemstone pictures provided by Mayer & Watt, find a stone and have us make a beautiful piece of jewelry!  More updates to come regularly.  

Sapphire

Sapphire is the birthstone for September, and one of the “Big Three” colored gemstones along with emerald and ruby.  It is one of the most popular colored gemstones in the world, and especially the United States.

Sapphire symbolizes nobility, truth, faithfulness, and sincerity. As such, it is the most popular colored stone to be used in engagement rings. Sapphires actually predate diamonds in engagement rings.

Along with its sister stone ruby, sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum. A corundum colored anything but red is a sapphire, and there are many colors. Sapphire comes in the well-know blue, pink, yellow, orange, purple, green, and colorless.  A rare and valuable color is the pinkish-orange padparadscha sapphire. This comes from a derivative of the Sanskrit word meaning lotus color.  Red corundum is a ruby. Corundum rates a 9 on the Moh’s hardness scale, which makes it the hardest gemstone other than diamond. Because of this, sapphires and rubies are the best colored stones to wear in rings, where hardness is a factor because of all the bumps that a ring will take in its lifetime.

Some sapphires can present one of a few types of phenomena. Some have so much of a silk-like inclusion that they will show asterism, or a star, if cut correctly. Others will change color depending on the type of light they are seen in, similar to alexandrite.

Ruby

The Sanskrit name for ruby means “King of precious gems”.  This is fitting, as it is not only one of the most sought after gemstones by royalty of the past, but is usually the most valuable colored gemstone, and can often be more valuable than diamonds of equal size.

Rubies have many legends behind them.  Burmese warriors (now Myanmar) used to insert pieces of ruby in to their skin because they believed it would make them invincible.  Rubies are also mentioned in the bible four times.

Ruby is the birthstone of July and represent love, health, and wisdom.  It has been believed that wearing rubies bring good fortune to the wearer.

Ruby, along with its sister stone sapphire, is a variety of the mineral corundum.  Corundum colored red is a ruby, while any other color is a sapphire.  Corundum is a 9 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, making it one of the hardest natural substances on earth.  It is second only to diamond.  This makes it a great choice for any type of jewelry, including rings and bracelets, which tend to take more wear and tear than other pieces of jewelry.

Emerald

Emerald is the birthstone for May.  Green is believed to revitalize the body and mind and is known to relieve stress and eye strain.

Emeralds were mined in Egypt from at least 330 B.C.  Cleopatra loved emeralds so much that the ancient mines are named Cleopatra’s mines.  The Aztec’s also had a love for emeralds, and would trade gold to the Spanish to acquire them.

Many of the best emeralds come from Columbia.  Like some other gemstones, location is seen as a large benefit, and just being from Columbia can push an emeralds price past a similar emerald from a different location.

Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl, and as such, is closely related to aquamarine, morganite, heliodor, and goshenite.  Beryl is a 7.5-8 on the Moh’s scale of hardness.  Although emerald is relatively hard, it is not recommended to wear emerald rings or bracelets everyday since most emeralds are very included, and can break easier than other stones of the beryl species.  Either chromium or vanadium gives a beryl to green hue to be called emerald.

Diamond

Diamond is the birthstone for April.  It is also the most popular gemstone in the world.  This wasn’t always the case.  Diamonds used to be sought after by only the very wealthy and powerful.  They were much too rare and valuable to be owned by the average person.  This changed in the mid to late 1800’s when diamond deposits were found in South Africa.  The marketing campaign “A diamond is forever” by De Beers forever changed the landscape of the gemstone world, making diamonds the most desirable gemstone.

When most people think of diamonds, they think of colorless.  Diamonds come in many colors, however.  Yellow and Brown are the most common of the colored diamonds.  Much rarer and much more valuable types include blue, pink, purple, orange, green, and red.  Some diamonds can be irradiated to give them colors, many of these are much more vibrant that a natural colored stone, and much more common.  The procedure is safe and does not leave any lasting radiation.

Diamonds are made of carbon, the only gemstone to made of a single element.  Yellow diamonds are colored by trace elements of nitrogen, and blue diamonds are colored by trace elements of boron.  Diamond, at a 10 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, is the hardness gemstone in the world.  Only a diamond can scratch a diamond, but a hard hit can chip one.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the birthstone for March.  The name Aquamarine comes from two Latin words: Aqua, meaning “water”, and marina, meaning “of the sea.”  

Aquamarine is usually a blue to greenish-blue color.  While the greenish-blue color was more popular in the 19th century, today the blue color has taken over in popularity.  Most aquamarine are heat treated to remove the yellow hue and enhance the blue.  

Folklore says that the mineral beryl, which aquamarine is the blue variety of, give the wearer protection against foes in battle or litigation.  It also makes the wearer unconquerable and amiable, and also quickens intellect.  Beryl is a 7.5-8 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, which makes it a great choice for an occasional wear ring, pendant, or earrings.  The green variety of beryl is emerald.

Garnet

Garnet is the birthstone for January.  When most people think of garnet, they think of earthy reds, but in fact, garnets come in a variety of colors.  The reds are just the most common. The rarer garnets include orange spessartine garnet and green tsavorite garnet and demantoid garnet. Demantoid garnets are even more valuable if they have rutile inclusions that have been given the name “horsetail”.

Garnets have been found in jewelry dating back to 3000 B.C.. Throughout the years, garnets have adorned pharaohs, kings, and other nobility. Plato had his face engraved on a garnet by a Roman Engraver. Yet the green tsavorite garnet was only first discovered in 1967, making garnet both a historic and new favorite gemstone.

The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word “Garanatus, meaning “seedlike,” since they were thought to resemble the seeds of a pomegranate.

Most garnets are 7.5-8 on the Moh’s scale of hardness (demantoid is 6.5-7), making them a great gemstone for occasional wear ring, pendant, or earrings.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline, along with opal, is a birthstone for October. The name comes from Sinhalese word toramalli, meaning “mixed gems.” This is because tourmaline comes in many different colors.  

One place red and pink tourmaline is in San Diego county, California. The last empress of China, Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi, loved pink tourmaline so much that much of what was mined in California was sent to China. When the Chinese government collapsed, so to did the tourmaline mining industry in California. Some tourmaline is again mined today.

In the 1980’s a new tourmaline deposit was discovered in Paraiba, Brazil.  These tourmaline were different than others however because copper was responsible for the color. This made the color very intense. These are rarer and thus more valuable that any other type of tourmaline.

Tourmaline is 7-7.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, making it a good stone for occasional use rings, earrings, and pendants.  

Opal

Opal, along with tourmaline, is one of the birthstones for October. There are different types of opal. Black is the most valuable and white and crystal are the most common. There is also boulder opal and Mexican/fire opal. Boulder opal is a thin piece of natural opal that is still attached to the host rock it forms in, and Mexican/fire opal is usually a beautiful orange to red with little to no play of color.

Opals contain water, a rarity in the gemstone world. They were believed to have formed when silica particles settled into fissures in a host rock. Over time this silica would gel and harden. If the silica is lined up in a proper way, you would get the play-of-color that opal is famous for. 

Ancient Romans knew opal as the “Queen of Gems”. The play-of-color has the ability to show all of the colors in the visible spectrum, with reds and oranges being the most valuable. Some opal is smoke treated to give the background a black color, which will show the colors much better than a light background.  

Opal rates 5.5-6.5 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, making it a fairly soft gemstone. For this reason opal is best in earrings or pendants, though rings are possible if only worn occasionally. 

Amethyst

Amethyst is the birthstone for February. While no longer as rare as the “big three”, fine amethyst used to rival sapphire, emerald, and ruby in the top of the colored gemstone world. Purple was the color of royalty, and as such, has been used in royal crown jewels for ages, including the British coronation regalia.

Because of the purple color, amethyst was associated with the Greek god Bacchus, the god of wine. It was said that wearing amethyst would prevent the wearer from getting drunk. Cups carved out of amethyst were also made for this reason.

Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz. Another popular variety of quartz is citrine, which is the yellow to orange variety. There is also one place in the world where amethyst and citrine sometimes grow together in the same crystal, which is then called ametrine. Quartz is a 7 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. This makes it a good stone for an occasional use ring, earrings, or a pendant.

Peridot

Peridot is the birthstone for August. Ancient Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun”,  and some historians think that Cleopatra’s famous emerald collection might have actually been Peridot.

The word peridot come from the Arabic word “faridat”, which means “gem.”  It can be pronounced either pear-i-doe, or pear-i-dot. While most peridot formed deep in the earth, some of it was delivered to earth by rare meteorites, called pallasites.

A large amount of peridot is mined on the  San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Even though the United States is a high tech country, mining in this area is anything but that.  People use pics and buckets. Other areas include China and Pakistan.

Peridot is the gem form of the mineral olivine, and is a 6.5-7 on the Moh’s scale of hardness. This makes for a good occasional use ring, earrings, or a pendant.

Let Bechtold Jewelry help you find the perfect gift. Visit us today or call 605-332-7151

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