What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
What is Fine Silver?
Fine silver (99.9% pure) is generally too soft for producing large functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength, while at the same time preserving the ductility and beauty of the precious metal. Other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intent to improve various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish. These replacement metals include germanium, zinc and platinum, as well as a variety of other additives, including silicon and boron. A number of alloys,such as Argentium sterling silver have appeared in recent years, formulated to lessen firescale or to inhibit tarnish, and this has sparked heavy competition among the various manufacturers, who are rushing to make claims of having the best formulation. However, no one alloy has emerged to replace copper as the industry standard, and alloy development is a very active area.
What is Gold?
Gold (pronounced /ˈɡoʊld/) is a chemical element with the symbol Au (Latin: aurum) and atomic number 79. It is a highly sought-after precious metal in jewelry, in sculpture, and for ornamentation since the beginning of recorded history. The metal occurs as nuggets or grains in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Gold is dense, soft, shiny and the most malleable and ductile pure metal known. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without rusting in air or water.
Because of the softness of pure (24k) gold, it is usually alloyed with base metals for use in jewelry, altering its hardness and ductility, melting point, color and other properties. Alloys with lower caratage, typically 22k, 18k, 14k or 10k, contain higher percentages of copper, or other base metals or silver or palladium in the alloy. Copper is the most commonly used base metal, yielding a redder color. Eighteen carat gold containing 25% copper is found in antique and Russian jewellery and has a distinct, though not dominant, copper cast, creating rose gold. Fourteen carat gold-copper alloy is nearly identical in color to certain bronze alloys, and both may be used to produce police and other badges. Blue gold can be made by alloying with iron and purple gold can be made by alloying with aluminium, although rarely done except in specialized jewelry. Blue gold is more brittle and therefore more difficult to work with when making jewelry. Fourteen and eighteen carat gold alloys with silver alone appear greenish-yellow and are referred to as green gold. White gold alloys can be made with palladium or nickel. White 18 carat gold containing 17.3% nickel, 5.5% zinc and 2.2% copper is silver in appearance. Nickel is toxic, however, and its release from nickel white gold is controlled by legislation in Europe. Alternative white gold alloys are available based on palladium, silver and other white metals (World Gold Council), but the palladium alloys are more expensive than those using nickel. High-carat white gold alloys are far more resistant to corrosion than are either pure silver or sterling silver. The Japanese craft of Mokume-gane exploits the color contrasts between laminated colored gold alloys to produce decorative wood-grain effects.
What is a Carat?
In the gem business:
What is Rhodium?
Rhodium (pronounced /ˈroʊdiəm/) is a chemical element that is a rare, silvery-white, hard transition metal and a member of the platinum group. Rhodium is found in platinum ores and is used in alloys with platinum and as a catalyst. It is abbreviated in the periodic table to Rh and has atomic number 45. It is typically the most expensive precious metal.
What is Vermeil?
Vermeil (IPA: /vɛʁ'mɛj/ or vûr'məy), a French word which came into use in the English language in the 19th century for the much earlier term silver gilt , is a combination of sterling silver, gold, and other precious metals. It is commonly used as a component in jewelry. A typical example is sterling silver coated with 14 carat (58%) gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must also be at least 10 carat (42%) and be at least 1.5 micrometres thick. Sterling silver covered with another metal cannot be called vermeil.
Vermeil can be produced by either fire gilding or electrolysis. The original fire-gilding process was developed in France in the mid-1700s; however, France later banned the production of vermeil because over time artisans developed blindness due to mercury involved in the process. Today, vermeil is safely produced by electrolysis.
What is Gold Filled Jewelry?
WHAT IS GOLD FILLED JEWELRY?
Our 14 Karat gold--filled jewelry is made with solid 14 karat gold tubing filled with brass. The gold tubing makes up 5% of the total jewelry weight. This is known as 14/20 gold-fill. Gold-filled jewelry has the beauty and feel of solid 14 karat gold at a lower price.
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM GOLD-PLATED JEWELRY?
Gold-filled jewelry has about 100 times more gold than gold-plated jewelry. Unlike gold-plated jewelry, the out surface will not flake, peel or wear off; with proper care it will last a lifetime. The color tone is beautiful and natural.
What are Freshwater Pearls?
Freshwater pearls are a kind of pearl that comes from freshwater mussels. They are produced in Japan and the United States on a limited scale, but are now almost exclusive to China. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires that freshwater pearls be referred to as "freshwater cultured pearls" in commerce.
What is Coral (precious)?
Precious coral or red coral is the common name given to Corallium rubrum and several related species of marine coral. The distinguishing characteristic of precious corals is their durable and intensely colored red or pink skeleton, which is used for making jewelry.
The hard skeleton of red coral branches is naturally matte, but can be polished to a glassy shine. It exhibits a range of warm reddish pink colors from pale pink to deep red; the word coral is also used to name such colors. Owing to its intense and permanent coloration and glossiness, precious coral skeletons have been harvested since antiquity for decorative use. Coral jewelry has been found in ancient Egyptian and prehistoric European burials, and continues to be made to the present day.
Precious coral has relative density of 3.86 and hardness 3.5 on the Mohs scale. Due to its softness and opacity, coral is usually cut en cabochon, or used to make beads.
What are Gemstones?
A gemstone or gem, also called a precious or semi-precious stone, is a piece of attractive mineral, which — when cut and polished — is used to make jewelry or other adornments. However certain rocks, (such as lapis-lazuli) and organic materials (such as amber or jet) are not minerals, but are still used for jewelry, and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their lustre or other physical properties that have aesthetic value. Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone.
What is Amethyst?
Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz often used in jewelry. The name comes from the Ancient Greek a- ("not") and methustos ("intoxicated"), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
What is Aquamarine?
Aquamarine (from Lat. aqua marina, "water of the sea") is a blue or turquoise variety of beryl. It occurs at most localities which yield ordinary beryl, some of the finest coming from Russia. The gem-gravel placer deposits of Sri Lanka contain aquamarine. Clear yellow beryl, such as occurs in Brazil, is sometimes called aquamarine chrysolite. When corundum presents the bluish tint of typical aquamarine, it is often termed Oriental aquamarine. The deep blue version of aquamarine is called maxixe. Its color fades to white when exposed to sunlight or is subjected to heat treatment, though the color returns with irradiation.
The pale blue color of aquamarine is attributed to Fe2+. The Fe3+ ions produce golden-yellow color, and when both Fe2+ and Fe3+ are present, the color is a darker blue as in maxixe. Decoloration of maxixe by light or heat thus may be due to the charge transfer Fe3+ and Fe2+. Dark-blue maxixe color can be produced in green, pink or yellow beryl by irradiating it with high-energy particles (gamma rays, neutrons or even X-rays).
In the United States, aquamarines can be found at the summit of Mt. Antero in the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. In Wyoming, aquamarine has been discovered in the Big Horn Mountains, near Powder River Pass. In Brazil, there are mines in the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, and Bahia, and minorly in Rio Grande do Norte. The Mines of Colombia, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya also produce aquamarine.
The biggest aquamarine ever mined was found at the city of Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910. It weighed over 110 kg, and its dimensions were 48.5 cm (19 in) long and 42 cm (17 in) in diameter.
What is a Diamond?
A diamond is a transparent crystal of tetrahedrally bonded carbon atoms (sp3) that crystallizes into the diamond lattice which is a variation of the face centered cubic structure. Diamonds have been adapted for many uses because of the material's exceptional physical characteristics. Most notable are its extreme hardness and thermal conductivity (900–2,320 W·m−1·K−1), as well as wide bandgap and high optical dispersion. Above 1,700 °C (1,973 K / 3,583 °F) in vacuum or oxygen-free atmosphere, diamond converts to graphite; in air, transformation starts at ~700 °C. Naturally occurring diamonds have a density ranging from 3.15–3.53 g/cm3, with pure diamond close to 3.52 g/cm3. Despite the hardness of diamonds, the chemical bonds that hold the carbon atoms in diamonds together are actually weaker than those that hold together the other form of pure carbon, graphite. The difference is that in diamonds, the bonds form an inflexible three-dimensional lattice. In graphite, the atoms are tightly bonded into sheets, which can slide easily however.
Diamond is the hardest natural material known, where hardness is defined as resistance to scratching and is graded between 1 (softest) and 10 (hardest) using the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Diamond has a hardness of 10 (hardest) on this scale. Diamond's hardness has been known since antiquity, and is the source of its name.
The diamond hardness depends on its purity, crystalline perfection and orientation: hardness is higher for flawless, pure crystals oriented to the <111> direction (along the longest diagonal of the cubic diamond lattice). Therefore, whereas it might be possible to scratch some diamonds with other materials, such as boron nitride, the hardest diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds. In particular, nanocrystalline diamond aggregates were measured to be harder than any large single crystal diamond. Those aggregates are produced by high-pressure high-temperature treatment of graphite or fullerite (C60).
The hardness of diamonds contributes to its suitability as a gemstone. Because it can only be scratched by other diamonds, it maintains its polish extremely well. Unlike many other gems, it is well-suited to daily wear because of its resistance to scratching—perhaps contributing to its popularity as the preferred gem in engagement or wedding rings, which are often worn every day.
The hardest natural diamonds mostly originate from the Copeton and Bingara fields located in the New England area in New South Wales, Australia. These diamonds are generally small, perfect to semiperfect octahedra, and are used to polish other diamonds. Their hardness is associated with the crystal growth form, which is single-stage crystal growth. Most other diamonds show more evidence of multiple growth stages, which produce inclusions, flaws, and defect planes in the crystal lattice, all of which affect their hardness. It is possible to treat regular diamonds under a combination of high pressure and high temperature to produce diamonds that are harder than the diamonds used in hardness gauges.
Somewhat related to hardness is another mechanical property toughness, which is a material's ability to resist breakage from forceful impact. The toughness of natural diamond has been measured as 2.0 MPa·m1/2, and the critical stress intensity factor is 3.4 MN·m−3/2. Those values are good compared to other gemstones, but poor compared to most engineering materials. As with any material, the macroscopic geometry of a diamond contributes to its resistance to breakage. Diamond has a cleavage plane and is therefore more fragile in some orientations than others. Diamond cutters use this attribute to cleave some stones, prior to faceting.
What is Citrine?
Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown. It is nearly impossible to tell cut citrine from yellow topaz visibly. Citrine has ferric impurities, and is rarely found naturally. Most commercial citrine is in fact artificially heated amethyst or smoky quartz. Brazil is the leading producer of citrine, with much of its production coming from the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Citrine is one of three traditional birthstones for the month of November.
What is a Crystal?
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituent atoms, molecules, or ions are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is crystallography.
The word crystal is derived from the ancient Greek word κρύσταλλος (krustallos), which had the same meaning, but according to the ancient understanding of crystal. At root it means anything congealed by freezing, such as ice. The word once referred particularly to quartz, or "rock crystal".
Most metals encountered in everyday life are polycrystals. Crystals are often symmetrically intergrown to form crystal twins.
Pure quartz, traditionally called rock crystal (sometimes called clear quartz), is colorless and transparent (clear) or translucent. Common colored varieties include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and others. Quartz goes by an array of different names. The most important distinction between types of quartz is that of macrocrystalline (individual crystals visible to the unaided eye) and the microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline varieties (aggregates of crystals visible only under high magnification). The cryptocrystalline varieties are either translucent or mostly opaque, while the transparent varieties tend to be macrocrystalline. Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica consisting of fine intergrowths of both quartz, and its monoclinic polymorph moganite. Other opaque gemstone varieties of quartz, or mixed rocks including quartz, often including contrasting bands or patterns of color, are agate, sard, onyx, carnelian, heliotrope, and jasper.
What is a CZ?
Cubic zirconia (or CZ), is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). The synthesized material is hard, optically flawless and usually colorless, but may be made in a variety of different colors. It should not be confused with zircon, which is a zirconium silicate (ZrSiO4).
Because of its low cost, durability, and close visual likeness to diamond, synthetic cubic zirconia has remained the most gemologically and economically important competitor for diamonds since 1976. Its main competition as a synthetic gemstone is the more recently cultivated material, synthetic Moissanite.
What is a Garnet
The garnet group includes a group of minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. The name "garnet" may come from either the Middle English word gernet meaning 'dark red', or the Latin granatus ("grain"), possibly a reference to the Punica granatum ("pomegranate"), a plant with red seeds similar in shape, size, and color to some garnet crystals.
Six common species of garnet are recognized based on their chemical composition. They are pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossular (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and tsavorite), uvarovite and andradite. The garnets make up two solid solution series: 1. pyrope-almandine-spessarite and 2. uvarovite-grossular-andradite.
Garnets species are found in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. The rarest of these is the blue garnet, discovered in the late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar. It is also found in parts of the United States, Russia and Turkey. It changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light, as a result of the relatively high amounts of vanadium (about 1 wt.% V2O3). Other varieties of color-changing garnets exist. In daylight, their color ranges from shades of green, beige, brown, gray, and blue, but in incandescent light, they appear a reddish or purplish/pink color. Because of their color changing quality, this kind of garnet is often mistaken for Alexandrite.
Garnet species’s light transmission properties can range from the gemstone-quality transparent specimens to the opaque varieties used for industrial purposes as abrasives. The mineral’s luster is categorized as vitreous (glass-like) or resinous (amber-like).
What is Lapis?
Lapis lazuli (pronounced /ˈlæpɪs ˈlæz(j)
ʊlaɪ/ or /ˈlæzj ʊli/ LAP-iss LAZ-yu-lye/lee) (sometimes abbreviated to lapis) is a relatively rare, semi-precious stone that is prized since antiquity for its intense blue color.
Lapis lazuli has been mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for over 6,000 years, and trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian sites, and lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.
Lapis takes an excellent polish and can be made into jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments and vases. In architecture it has been used for cladding the walls and columns of palaces and churches.
It was also ground and processed to make the pigment ultramarine for tempera paint and, more rarely, oil paint. Its usage as a pigment in oil paint ended in the early 19th century as a chemically identical synthetic variety, often called French Ultramarine, became available.
What is Moonstone?
Moonstone is typically a potassium aluminium silicate, with the chemical formula KAlSi3O8.
The most common moonstone is of the mineral adularia. The plagioclase feldspar oligoclase also produces moonstone specimens. Its name is derived from a visual effect, or sheen, caused by light reflecting internally in the moonstone from layer inclusion of different feldspars.
Moonstone's delicate beauty and its long heritage make it perhaps the most familiar gem quality member of the feldspar group. Moonstone is composed of two feldspar species, orthoclase and albite. The two species are intermingled. Then, as the newly formed mineral cools, the intergrowth of orthoclase and albite separates into stacked, alternating layers. When light falls between these thin, flat layers, it scatters in many directions producing the phenomenon called adularescence.
Deposits of moonstone are found in many countries and places: the European Alps; Brazil; India; Mexico; Myanmar; Madagascar; Sri Lanka; the USA, specifically Pennsylvania and Virginia; and Tanzania. However, it is Sri Lanka that produces the highest quality moonstones.
What is an Opal?
Precious opal shows a variable interplay of internal colors and even though it is a mineraloid, it does have an internal structure. At the micro scale precious opal is composed of silica spheres some 150 to 300 nm in diameter in a hexagonal or cubic close-packed lattice. These ordered silica spheres produce the internal colors by causing the interference and diffraction of light passing through the microstructure of the opal. It is the regularity of the sizes and the packing of these spheres that determines the quality of precious opal. Where the distance between the regularly packed planes of spheres is approximately half the wavelength of a component of visible light, the light of that wavelength may be subject to diffraction from the grating created by the stacked planes. The spacing between the planes and the orientation of planes with respect to the incident light determines the colors observed. The process can be described by Bragg's Law of diffraction.
Precious opal consists of spheres of silica of fairly regular size, packed into close-packed planes which are stacked together with characteristic dimensions of several hundred nm.
Visible light of diffracted wavelengths cannot pass through large thicknesses of the opal. This is the basis of the optical band gap in a photonic crystal, of which opal is the best known natural example. In addition, microfractures may be filled with secondary silica and form thin lamellae inside the opal during solidification. The term opalescence is commonly and erroneously used to describe this unique and beautiful phenomenon, which is correctly termed play of color. Contrarily, opalescence is correctly applied to the milky, turbid appearance of common or potch opal. Potch does not show a play of color.
The veins of opal displaying the play of color are often quite thin, and this has given rise to unusual methods of preparing the stone as a gem. An opal doublet is a thin layer of opal, backed by a swart mineral such as ironstone, basalt, or obsidian. The darker backing emphasizes the play of color, and results in a more attractive display than a lighter potch.
Combined with modern techniques of polishing, doublet opal produces similar effect of black or boulder opals at a mere fraction of the price. Doublet opal also has the added benefit of having genuine opal as the top visible and touchable layer, unlike triplet opals.
The triplet-cut opal backs the colored material with a dark backing, and then has a domed cap of clear quartz or plastic on top, which takes a high polish and acts as a protective layer for the relatively fragile opal. The top layer also acts as a magnifier, to emphasise the play of color of the opal beneath, which is often of lower quality. Triplet opals therefore have a more artificial appearance, and are not classed as precious opal.
What is Peridot?
Peridot (pronounced /ˈpɛr
ɪdɒt/ or /ˈpɛr ɪdoʊ/) is gem-quality forsteritic olivine. The chemical composition of peridot is (Mg, Fe)2SiO4, with Mg in greater quantities than Fe.
The origin of the name "peridot" is uncertain. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests an alteration of Anglo-Norman pedoretés (classical Latin paederot-), a kind of opal, rather than the Arabic word faridat, meaning "gem".
Olivine in general is a very abundant mineral, but gem quality peridot is rather rare.
Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color: basically an olive green. The intensity and tint of the green however depends on how much iron is contained in the crystal structure, so the color of individual peridot gems can vary from yellow-green through olive green to brownish green. The most valuable is considered a dark-olive green color.
Peridot crystals have been collected from some Pallasite meteorites. A famous Pallasite was offered for auction in April 2008 with a requested price of close to $ 3 million at Bonhams, but remained unsold. Peridot is the only gemstone found in meteorites.
Peridot olivine is the birthstone for August. It is sometimes mistaken for emeralds and other green gems. In fact notable gemologist George Frederick Kunz  discussed the confusion between emeralds and peridots in many church treasures, notably the "Three Magi" treasure in the Dom of Cologne, Germany.
What is Quartz?
Quartz (from German Quarz (help·info)) is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust (after feldspar). It is made up of a lattice of silica (SiO2) tetrahedra. Quartz has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale and a density of 2.65 g/cm³.
Quartz belongs to the rhombohedral crystal system. The ideal crystal shape is a six-sided prism terminating with six-sided pyramids at each end. In nature quartz crystals are often twinned, distorted, or so intergrown with adjacent crystals of quartz or other minerals as to only show part of this shape, or to lack obvious crystal faces altogether and appear massive. Well-formed crystals typically form in a 'bed' that has unconstrained growth into a void, but because the crystals must be attached at the other end to a matrix, only one termination pyramid is present. A quartz geode is such a situation where the void is approximately spherical in shape, lined with a bed of crystals pointing inward.
Pure quartz, sometimes called clear quartz, is colorless or white and transparent (clear) or translucent. Common colored varieties include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and others. Quartz goes by an array of different names. The most important distinction between types of quartz is that of macrocrystalline (individual crystals visible to the unaided eye) and the microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline varieties (aggregates of crystals visible only under high magnification). The cryptocrystalline varieties are either translucent or mostly opaque, while the transparent varieties tend to be macrocrystalline. Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica consisting of fine intergrowths of both quartz, and its monoclinic polymorph moganite.
What are Sapphires?
Sapphire (Greek: sappheiros) refers to gem varieties of the mineral corundum, an aluminium oxide (α-Al2O3), when it is a color other than red, in which case the gem would instead be a ruby. Trace amounts of other elements such as iron, titanium, or chromium can give corundum blue, yellow, pink, purple, orange, or greenish color. Pink-orange corundum are also sapphires, but are instead called padparadscha.
Because it is a gemstone, sapphire is commonly worn as jewelry. Sapphire can be found naturally, or manufactured in large crystal boules. Because of its remarkable hardness, sapphire is used in many applications, including infrared optical components, watch crystals, high-durability windows, and wafers for the deposition of semiconductors.
Sapphire is one of the two gem varieties of corundum, the other being the red ruby. Although blue is the most well known hue, sapphire is any color of corundum except red. Sapphire may also be colorless, and it also occurs in the non-spectral shades gray and black. Pinkish-orange sapphire is known as padparadscha.
The cost of natural sapphire varies depending on their color, clarity, size, cut, and overall quality as well as geographic origin. Significant sapphire deposits are found in Eastern Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, East Africa and in the United States at various locations (Gem Mountain) and in the Missouri River near Helena, Montana.  Sapphire and rubies are often found together in the same area, but one gem is usually more abundant.
What is a Ruby?
A ruby is a pink to blood-red gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). The red color is caused mainly by the presence of the element chromium. Its name comes from ruber, Latin for red. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires. The ruby is considered one of the four precious stones, together with the sapphire, the emerald, and the diamond.
Prices of rubies are primarily determined by color. The brightest and most valuable "red" called pigeon blood-red, commands a huge premium over other rubies of similar quality. After color follows clarity: similar to diamonds, a clear stone will command a premium, but a ruby without any needle-like rutile inclusions will indicate that the stone has been treated. Cut and carat (size) also determine the price.
What is Smokey Quartz?
Smoky quartz or Smokey quartz is a brown to black variety of quartz caused through the natural (or artificial) irradiation of aluminium-containing rock crystal.
What is Topaz?
Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. Topaz crystallizes in the orthorhombic system and its crystals are mostly prismatic terminated by pyramidal and other faces, the basal pinacoid often being present. It has an easy and perfect basal cleavage. The fracture is conchoidal to uneven. Topaz has a hardness of 8, a specific gravity of 3.4–3.6, and a vitreous luster.
Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine- or straw yellow, pale gray, or pink. They may be made white, gray, pale green, blue, pink or reddish-yellow and transparent or translucent.
What is a Zircon?
Zircon is a mineral belonging to the group of nesosilicates. Its chemical name is zirconium silicate and its corresponding chemical formula is ZrSiO4. Hafnium is almost always present in quantities ranging from 1 to 4%. The crystal structure of zircon is tetragonal crystal system. The natural color of zircon varies between colorless, yellow-golden, red, brown, and green. Colorless specimens that show gem quality are a popular substitute for diamond; these specimens are also known as "Matura diamond". It is not to be confused with cubic zirconia, a synthetic substance with a completely different chemical composition.
The name either derives from the Arabic word zarqun, meaning vermilion, or from the Persian zargun, meaning golden-colored. These words are corrupted into "jargoon", a term applied to light-colored zircons. Yellow zircon is called hyacinth, from the flower hyacinthus, whose name is of Ancient Greek origin; in the Middle Ages all yellow stones of East Indian origin were called hyacinth, but today this term is restricted to the yellow zircons.
Zircon is regarded as the traditional birthstone for December.
What is an Agate?
Agate (pronounced ['ægət]) is a microcrystalline variety of quartz (silica), chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks but can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.
Colorful agates and other chalcedonies were obtained over 3,000 years ago from the Achates River, now called Dirillo, in Sicily.
The stone was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and naturalist, who discovered the stone along the shore line of the river Achates (Greek: Αχάτης) sometime between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The agate has been recovered at a number of ancient sites, indicating its widespread use in the ancient world; for example, archaeological recovery at the Knossos site on Crete illustrates its role in Bronze Age Minoan culture.
A Mexican agate, showing only a single eye, has received the name of cyclops agate. Included matter of a green, golden, red, black or other color or combinations embedded in the chalcedony and disposed in filaments and other forms suggestive of vegetable growth, gives rise to dendritic or moss agate. Dendritic agates have fern like patterns in them formed due to the presence of manganese and iron oxides. Other types of included matter deposited during agate-building include sagenitic growths (radial mineral crystals) and chunks of entrapped detritus (such as sand, ash, or mud). Occasionally agate fills a void left by decomposed vegetative material such as a tree limb or root and is called limb cast agate due to its appearance.
Turritella agate is formed from silicified fossil Turritella shells. Turritella are spiral marine gastropods having elongated, spiral shells composed of many whorls. Similarly, coral, petrified wood and other organic remains or porous rocks can also become agatized. Agatized coral is often referred to as Petoskey stone or agate.
Faceted Botswana agate
Greek agate is a name given to pale white to tan colored agate found in Sicily back to 400 B.C. The Greeks used it for making jewelry and beads. Today any agate of this color from Sicily, once an ancient Greek colony, is called Greek agate. Yet the stone had been around centuries before that and was known to both the Sumerians and the Egyptians, who used the gem for decoration and religious ceremony.
Another type of agate is Brazilian agate, which is found as sizable geodes of layered nodules. These occur in brownish tones interlayered with white and gray. Quartz forms within these nodules, creating a striking specimen when cut opposite the layered growth axis. It is often dyed in various colors for ornamental purposes.
Certain stones, when examined in thin sections by transmitted light, show a diffraction spectrum due to the extreme delicacy of the successive bands, whence they are termed rainbow agates. Often agate coexists with layers or masses of opal, jasper or crystalline quartz due to ambient variations during the formation process.
Other forms of agate include carnelian agate (usually exhibiting reddish hues), Botswana agate, Ellensburg blue agate, blue lace agate, plume agates, tube agate (with visible flow channels), fortification agate (which exhibit little or no layered structure), fire agate (which seems to glow internally like an opal) and Mexican crazy-lace agate (which exhibits an often brightly colored, complex banded pattern) also called Rodeo Agate and Rosetta Stone depending on who owned the mine at the time.
What is Alexandrite?
The alexandrite variety displays a color change (alexandrite effect) dependent upon the nature of ambient lighting. This color shift is independent of any change of hue with viewing direction through the crystal that would arise from pleochroism. Both these different properties are frequently referred to as "color change", however. Alexandrite results from small scale replacement of aluminium by chromium ions in the crystal structure, which causes intense absorption of light over a narrow range of wavelengths in the yellow region of the spectrum. Alexandrite from the Ural Mountains in Russia is green by daylight and red by incandescent light. Other varieties of alexandrite may be yellowish or pink in daylight and a columbine or raspberry red by incandescent light. The optimum or "ideal" color change would be fine emerald green to fine purplish red, but this is exceedingly rare. Because of their rarity and the color change capability, "ideal" alexandrite gems are some of the most expensive in the world.
According to a widely popular but controversial story, alexandrite was discovered by the Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld, (1792–1866) on the tsarevitch Alexander's sixteenth birthday on April 17, 1834 and named alexandrite in honor of the future Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Sometimes, Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld is confused with his son, Adolf Erik Nordenskjöld (1832–1901), also a famous Finnish geologist, mineralogist and Arctic explorer who accompanied his father to the Ural Mountains to study the iron and copper mines at Tagilsk in 1853. However, Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld was only two years old when Alexandrite was discovered and only ten years old when a description of the stone was published under the name of Alexandrite for the first time.
Alexandrite step cut cushion, 26.75 cts. Alexandrites this large are extremely rare.
Although it was Nordenskiöld who discovered alexandrite, he could not possibly have discovered and named it on Alexander's birthday. Nordenskiöld's initial discovery occurred as a result of an examination of a newly found mineral sample he had received from Perovskii, which he identified as emerald at first. After the discovery of emeralds in the roots of an upturned tree, the first emerald mine had been opened in 1831, not long before Nordenskiöld had received this particular sample.
Confused with the high hardness however, he decided to continue his examinations. Later that evening, while looking at the specimen under candlelight, he was surprised to see that the color of the stone had changed to raspberry-red instead of green. Later, he confirmed the discovery of a new variety of chrysoberyl, and suggested the name "diaphanite" (from the Greek "di-", twice- and "aphanès", inapparent ).
The name of the first person to actually find this stone is unknown. However, the first person to bring it to public attention, and ensure that it would be forever associated with the Imperial family was Count Lev Alekseevich Perovskii (1792-1856.)
The finest alexandrites up to 5 carats (1,000 mg) are being found in the Ural Mountains, but the largest cut stones are in the 30 carats (6.0 g) range, though many fine examples have been discovered in Sri Lanka (up to 65 cts.), India (Andhra Pradesh), Brazil, Myanmar, and especially Zimbabwe (small stones usually under 1 carat (200 mg) but with intense color change). Overall, stones from any locale over 5 carats (1.0 g) would be considered extremely rare, especially gems with fine color change. Alexandrite is both hard and tough, making it very well suited to wear in jewelry.
The gem has given rise to the adjective "alexandritic", meaning any transparent gem or material which shows a noted change in color between natural and incandescent light. Some other gem varieties of which alexandritic specimens have been found include sapphire, garnet, and spinel.
Some gemstones described as lab-grown (synthetic) alexandrite are actually corundum laced with trace elements (e.g., vanadium) or color-change spinel and are not actually chrysoberyl. As a result, they would be more accurately described as simulated alexandrite rather than synthetic but are often called Czochralski Alexandrite after the process that grows the crystals.
What is Synthetic Alexandrite?
Synthetic alexandrite is a crystal which has been created by the floating zone method. This method is also used to synthetically grow a variety of crystals: YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) in white, blue, pink and several other shades, ruby, chrysoberyl and, most and foremost, alexandrite. This method is similar to the pulling (Czochralski method), when the crystal is pulled vertically, but, instead, here it is pulled horizontally, using a tungsten dish and slow-melting technique, where the dish is pulled over a period of time under a heating element.
The period of time depends on the size of the dish and the materials needed to be crystallized. In the case of alexandrite, the speed of the process is about 2 mm (0.08")/hour. An average crystal being 18 cm (7")long would take about 15 days to pull.
This method was developed by an Armenian scientist, Professor Khachatur Saakovich Bagdasarov, of the Institute of Crystallography, in 1964 and was widely used in production of white YAG for spacecraft and submarine illuminators, before finding its way into the jewelry scene.
Flux grown alexandrite is more difficult to identify because the inclusions of undissolved flux can look like natural inclusions. Alexandrite grown by the flux-melt process will contain particles of flux, resembling liquid feathers with a refractive index and specific gravity that echo that of the natural material. Layers of dust-like particles parallel to the seed plate, and strong banding or growth lines may also be apparent. Some stones contain groups of parallel negative crystals. Flux grown alexandrites are more difficult to spot because the colors are convincing and because they are not clean. These stones are expensive to make and are grown in platinum crucibles. Crystals of platinum may still be evident in the cut stones.
Czochralski or pulled alexandrite is easier to identify because it is so clean. Curved striations visible with magnification are a dead give away. The color change in pulled stones has seen change from blue to red. Although the stones look nice, the color change doesn't resemble alexandrite from any deposit. Seiko synthetic alexandrites have a swirled internal structure characteristic of the floating zone method of synthesis. They have tadpole inclusions (with long tails) and spherical bubbles.
The Inamori synthetic alexandrite had a cat's eye variety, which showed a distinct color change. The eye was broad and of moderate intensity. Specimens were a dark greyish-green with slightly purple overtones under fluorescent lighting. The eye was slightly greenish-bluish-white and the stones were dull and oily. They appeared to be inclusion-free and under a strong incandescent light in the long direction, asterism could be seen with two rays weaker than the eye. This has not been reported in natural alexandrite. Under magnification, parallel striations could be seen along the length of the cabochon and the striations were undulating rather than straight, again not a feature of natural alexandrite.
The name Allexite has been used for synthetic Alexandrite manufactured by Diamonair Corporation who maintains that its product is Czochralski-grown.
Most gemstones described as synthetic alexandrite are actually synthetic corundum laced with vanadium to produce the color change. This alexandrite like sapphire material has been around for almost 100 years. The material shows a characteristic purple-mauve colour change which although attractive, it doesn't really look like alexandrite because there is never any green. The stones will be very clean and may be available in large sizes. Gemological testing will reveal a refractive index of 1.759 - 1.778 (corundum) instead of 1.741 - 1.760 (chrysoberyl). Under magnification, gas bubbles and curved stria may be evident. When examined with a spectroscope a strong vanadium absorption line at 475 nm will be apparent.
What is Amazonite?
Amazonite (sometimes called "Amazon stone") is a green variety of microcline feldspar.
The name is taken from that of the Amazon River, from which certain green stones were formerly obtained, but it is doubtful whether green feldspar occurs in the Amazon area.
Amazonite is a mineral of limited occurrence. Formerly it was obtained almost exclusively from the area of Miass in the Ilmen mountains, 50 miles southwest of Chelyabinsk, Russia, where it occurs in granitic rocks. More recently, high-quality crystals have been obtained from Pike's Peak, Colorado, where it is found associated with smoky quartz, orthoclase, and albite in a coarse granite or pegmatite. Crystal Park, El Paso County, Colorado is a well-known locality for crystals of amazonite. Some other localities in the United States yield amazonite, and it is also found in pegmatite in Madagascar and in Brazil.
Because of its bright green colour when polished, amazonite is sometimes cut and used as a gemstone.
What is Ametrine?
Ametrine, also known as trystine or by its trade name as bolivianite, is a naturally occurring variety of quartz. It is a mixture of amethyst and citrine with zones of purple and yellow or orange. Almost all commercially available ametrine is mined in Bolivia, although there are deposits being exploited in Brazil and India.
The colour of the zones visible within ametrine are due to differing oxidation states of iron within the crystal. The different oxidation states occur due to there being a temperature gradient across the crystal during its formation.
Artificial ametrine can be created by differential heat treatment of amethyst.
Legend has it that ametrine was first introduced to Europe by a conquistador's gifts to the Spanish Queen, after he received the Anahi mine in Bolivia as a dowry.
What is Apatite?
Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals, usually referring to hydroxyapatite, fluorapatite, chlorapatite and bromapatite, named for high concentrations of OH−, F−, Cl− or Br− ions, respectively, in the crystal. The formula of the admixture of the four most common endmembers is written as Ca10(PO4)6(OH, F, Cl, Br)2, and the crystal unit cell formulae of the individual minerals are written as Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2, Ca10(PO4)6(F)2, Ca10(PO4)6(Cl)2 and Ca10(PO4)6(Br)2.
Apatite is one of a few minerals that are produced and used by biological micro-environmental systems. Apatite is the defining mineral for 5 on Mohs Scale hardness. Hydroxyapatite, also known as hydroxylapatite, is the major component of tooth enamel and bone mineral. A relatively rare form of apatite in which most of the OH groups are absent and containing many carbonate and acid phosphate substitutions is a large component of bone material.
Fluorapatite (or fluoroapatite) is more resistant to acid attack than is hydroxyapatite. For this reason, toothpaste typically contains a source of fluoride anions (e.g. sodium fluoride, sodium monofluorophosphate). Similarly, fluoridated water allows exchange in the teeth of fluoride ions for hydroxyl groups in apatite. Too much fluoride results in dental fluorosis and/or skeletal fluorosis.
Fission tracks in apatite are commonly used to determine the thermal history of orogenic (mountain) belts and of sediments in sedimentary basins. (U-Th)/He dating of apatite is also well-established for use in determining thermal histories and other, less typical applications such as paleo-wildfire dating.
Phosphorite is a phosphate-rich sedimentary rock, that contains between 18% and 40% P2O5. The apatite in phosphorite is present as cryptocrystalline masses referred to as collophane.
Apatite is infrequently used as a gemstone. Transparent stones of clean color have been faceted, and chatoyant specimens have been cabochon cut. Chatoyant stones are known as cat's-eye apatite, transparent green stones are known as asparagus stone, and blue stones have been called moroxite. Crystals of rutile may have grown in the crystal of apatite so when in the right light, the cut stone displays a cat's eye effect. Major sources for gem apatite are Brazil, Burma, and Mexico. Other sources include Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the United States.
What is Aventurine?
Aventurine is a form of quartz, characterised by its translucency and the presence of platy mineral inclusions that give a shimmering or glistening effect termed aventurescence.
Aventurine (unknown scale
The most common colour of aventurine is green, but it may also be orange, brown, yellow, blue, or gray. Chrome-bearing fuchsite (a variety of muscovite mica) is the classic inclusion, and gives a silvery green or blue sheen. Oranges and browns are attributed to hematite or goethite. Because aventurine is a rock, its physical properties vary: its specific gravity may lie between 2.64-2.69 and its hardness is somewhat lower than single-crystal quartz at around 6.5.
Aventurine (unknown scale
Aventurine feldspar or sunstone can be confused with orange and red aventurine quartzite, although the former is generally of a higher transparency. Aventurine is often banded and an overabundance of fuchsite may render it opaque, in which case it may be mistaken for malachite at first glance.
The name aventurine derives from the Italian "a ventura" meaning "by chance". This is an allusion to the lucky discovery of aventurine glass or goldstone at some point in the 18th century. Although it was known first, goldstone is now a common imitation of aventurine and sunstone. Goldstone is distinguished visually from the latter two minerals by its coarse flecks of copper, dispersed within the glass in an unnaturally uniform manner. It is usually a golden brown, but may also be found in blue or green.
The majority of green and blue-green aventurine originates in India (particularly in the vicinity of Mysore and Madras) where it is employed by prolific artisans. Creamy white, gray and orange material is found in Chile, Spain and Russia. Most material is carved into beads and figurines with only the finer examples fashioned into cabochons, later being set into jewellery.
What is Carnelian?
Carnelian (also spelled cornelian) is a reddish-brown mineral which is commonly used as a semi-precious gemstone. Similar to carnelian is sard, which is generally harder and darker. (The difference is not rigidly defined, and the two names are often used interchangeably.) Both carnelian and sard are varieties of the silica mineral chalcedony colored by impurities of iron oxide. The color can vary greatly, ranging from pale orange to an intense almost-black coloration.
What is Druse or Druzy?
Druse or Druzy
Druse of uvarovite
from the Urals (size: 18.3 x 13.1 x 2.0 cm)
Pink dolomite druse with yellow calcite crystals, Ben Hogan Quarry, Lawrence County
Zinc District, Arkansas
(size: 14.9 x 8.5 x 3.7 cm)
In geological usage druse or druzy is a coating of fine crystals on a rock fracture surface, vein or within a cavity or geode.
Druse occurs worldwide, the most common is perhaps quartz druse within voids in chert or agates. Garnet, calcite, dolomite and a variety of minerals may occur as druse coatings.
What is a Fire Opal?
Fire opals are transparent to translucent opals with warm body colors yellow, orange, orange-yellow or red. They do not usually show any play-of-color, although occasionally a stone will exhibit bright green flashes. The most famous source of fire opals is the state of Querétaro in Mexico and these opals are commonly called Mexican fire opals.
Peruvian opal (also called blue opal) is a semi-opaque to opaque blue-green stone found in Peru which is often cut to include the matrix in the more opaque stones. It does not display pleochroism.
What is Hematite?
Hematite, also spelled as haematite, is the mineral form of iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3), one of several iron oxides. Hematite crystallizes in the rhombohedral system, and it has the same crystal structure asilmenite and corundum. Hematite and ilmenite form a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950 °C.
Hematite is a mineral, colored black to steel or silver-gray, brown to reddish brown, or red. It is mined as the main ore of iron. Varieties include kidney ore, martite (pseudomorphs after magnetite), iron rose and specularite (specular hematite). While the forms of hematite vary, they all have a rust-red streak. Hematite is harder than pure iron, but much more brittle. Maghemite is a hematite- andmagnetite-related oxide mineral.
Huge deposits of hematite are found in banded iron formations. Gray hematite is typically found in places where there has been standing water or mineral hot springs, such as those in Yellowstone National Park in the United States. The mineral can precipitate out of water and collect in layers at the bottom of a lake, spring, or other standing water. Hematite can also occur without water, however, usually as the result of volcanic activity.
Clay-sized hematite crystals can also occur as a secondary mineral formed by weathering processes in soil, and along with other iron oxides or oxyhydroxides such as goethite, is responsible for the red color of many tropical, ancient, or otherwise highly weathered soils.
The spectral signature of hematite was seen on the planet Mars by the infrared spectrometer on the NASA Mars Global Surveyor ("MGS") and 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft in orbit around Mars. The mineral was seen in abundance at two sites on the planet, the Terra Meridiani site, near the Martian equator at 0° longitude, and the second site Aram Chaos near the Valles Marineris. Several other sites also showed hematite, e.g., Aureum Chaos. Because terrestrial hematite is typically a mineral formed in aqueous environments, or by aqueous alteration, this detection was scientifically interesting enough that the second of the two Mars Exploration Rovers was targeted to a site in the Terra Meridiani region designated Meridiani Planum. In-situ investigations by the Opportunity rover showed a significant amount of hematite, much of it in the form of small spherules that were informally named "blueberries" by the science team. Analysis indicates that these spherules are apparently concretionsformed from a water solution. "Knowing just how the hematite on Mars was formed will help us characterize the past environment and determine whether that environment was favorable for life," .. "One big question, of course, is whether life ever started on Mars. This mission probably won't tell us that, but it may well lead to future mission that can answer that question." 
The gemstone hematite is said to bring inner peace and dissolve negative energy into love, according to Wishgiving.com. This powerful grayish black stone has been used for centuries as an alternative form of healing. It's history dates back to ancient Egypt when the stone was used to stop blood flow and remove poisons from the body. As with any alternative health method, please consult your doctor first.
The iron content in magnetic hematite will cure blood pressure disorders and kidney problems, according to Semi-precious-stone.com. It is said to be effective in healing pain because it maintains the charge of nerve cells. Magnetic hematite will also regulate the blood flow in the body. It is also used to cure and relieve headaches and anemia. Additional physical benefits include relief from cramps, spinal problems and fractured bones.
What is Howlite?
Howlite, a calcium borosilicate hydroxide (Ca2B5SiO9(OH)5), is a silicate mineral found in evaporite deposites. Howlite was discovered at Tick Canyon, California in 1868 by Henry How (1828 - 1879), a Canadian chemist, geologist, and mineralogist.
In appearance, it is white with fine grey or black veins in an erratic, often web-like pattern, and is opaque with a sub-vitreous lustre. Its structure is monoclinic with a Mohs hardness of 3.5 and lacks regular cleavage.
Howlite is commonly used to make decorative objects such as small carvings or jewelry components. Because of its porous texture, howlite can be easily dyed to imitate other minerals, especially turquoise because of the superficial similarity of the veining patterns. The dyed howlite (or magnesite) is marketed as turquenite. Howlite is also sold in its natural state, sometimes under the misleading trade names of "white turquoise" or "white buffalo turquoise", or the derived name "white buffalo stone".
What is Jade?
Jade is an ornamental stone. The term jade is applied to two different metamorphic rocks that are made up of different silicate minerals:
- Nephrite jade, consists of a microcrystaline interlocking fibrous matrix of the calcium, magnesium-iron rich amphibole mineral series tremolite (calcium-magnesium)-ferroactinolite (calcium-magnesium-iron). The middle member of this series with an intermediate composition is called actinolite (the silky fibrous mineral form is one form of asbestos). The higher the iron content the greener the colour.
- Jadeitite, a rock consisting almost entirely of jadeite, a sodium- and aluminium-rich pyroxene. The gem form of the mineral is a microcrystaline interlocking crystal matrix.
The English word 'jade' is derived from the Spanish term piedra de ijada (first recorded in 1565) or 'loin stone', from its reputed efficacy in curing ailments of the loins and kidneys. 'Nephrite' is derived from lapis nephriticus, the Latin version of the Spanish piedra de ijada.
Nephrite and jadeite were used by people from the prehistoric for similar purposes. Jadeite is about the same hardness as quartz, nephrite is somewhat softer in hardness, Both nephrite and jadeite are tough, but nephrite is tougher than jadeite. They can be delicately shaped. Thus it was not until the 19th century that a French mineralogist determined that "jade" was in fact two different materials. The trade name jadite is sometimes applied to translucent or opaque green glass.
Among the earliest known jade artifacts excavated from prehistoric sites are simple ornaments with bead, button, and tubular shapes. Additionally, jade was used for axe heads, knives, and other weapons. As metal-working technologies became available, the beauty of jade made it valuable for ornaments and decorative objects. Jadeite has a Mohs hardness of between 6.5 and 7.0,and Nephrite has hardness of 5.5 to 6.0  so it can be worked with quartz or garnet sand, and polished with bamboo or even ground jade.
Nephrite can be found in a creamy white form (known in China as "mutton fat" jade) as well as in a variety of green colours, whereas jadeite shows more colour variations, including blue, lavender-mauve, pink, and emerald-green colours. Of the two, jadeite is rarer, documented in fewer than 12 places worldwide. Translucent emerald-green jadeite is the most prized variety, both now and historically. As "quetzal" jade, bright green jadeitite from Guatemala was treasured by Mesoamerican cultures, and as "kingfisher" jade, vivid green rocks from Burma became the preferred stone of post-1800 Chinese imperial scholars and rulers. Burma (Myanmar) and Guatemala are the principal sources of modern gem jadeitite, and Canada of modern lapidary nephrite. Nephrite jade was used mostly in pre-1800 China as well as in New Zealand, the Pacific Coast and Atlantic Coasts of North America, Neolithic Europe, and south-east Asia. In addition to Mesoamerica, jadeite was used by Neolithic Japanese and European cultures.
What is Kunzite?
"Kunzite" redirects here. For the Sailor Moon character, see Shitennou.
Spodumene is a pyroxene mineral consisting of lithium aluminium inosilicate - LiAl(SiO3)2 - and is a source of lithium. It occurs as colorless to yellowish, purplish or lilac kunzite (see below), yellowish-green or emerald-green hiddenite, prismatic crystals, often of great size. Single crystals of 14.3 m (47 ft) in size are reported from the Black Hills of South Dakota, United States.
The normal low temperature form α-spodumene in the monoclinic system whereas the high temperature β-spodumene crystallize in the tetragonal system. The normal α-spodumene converts to β-spodumene at temperatures above 900 °C. Crystals are typically heavily striated parallel to the principal axis. Crystal faces are often etched and pitted with triangular markings.
Kunzite is a pink to lilac colored gemstone, a variety of spodumene with the color coming from minor to trace amounts of manganese. Some (but not all) kunzite used for gemstones has been heated to enhance its color. It is also frequently irradiated to enhance the color. Many kunzites fade when exposed to sunlight. It was discovered in 1902, and was named after George Frederick Kunz, Tiffany & Co's chief jeweler at the time, and a noted mineralogist. It has been found in Brazil, USA, Canada, CIS, Mexico, Sweden, Western Australia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
What is Kyanite?
Kyanite, whose name derives from the Greek word kyanos, meaning blue, is a typically blue silicate mineral, commonly found in aluminium-rich metamorphic pegmatites and/or sedimentary rock. Kyanite in metamorphic rocks generally indicates pressures higher than 4 kilobars. Although potentially stable at lower pressure and low temperature, the activity of water is usually high enough under such conditions that it is replaced by hydrous aluminosilicates such as muscovite, pyrophyllite, or kaolinite.
Kyanite is a member of the aluminosilicate series, which also includes the polymorph andalusite and the polymorph sillimanite. Kyanite is strongly anisotropic, in that its hardness varies depending on its crystallographic direction. While this is a feature of almost all minerals, in kyanite this anisotropism can be considered an identifying characteristic.
At temperatures above 1100 °C, kyanite decomposes into mullite and vitreous silica via the following reaction: 3(Al2O3·SiO2) → 3Al2O3·2SiO2 + SiO2. This transformation results in an expansion.
Kyanite is used primarily in refractory and ceramic products, including porcelain plumbing fixtures and dishware. It is also used in electrical insulators and abrasives. Kyanite has been used as a gemstone, though this use is limited by its anisotropism and perfect cleavage. Kyanite is one of the index minerals that are used to estimate the temperature, depth, and pressure at which a rock undergoes metamorphism. Finally, as with most minerals, kyanite is a collector's mineral.
What is Labradorite?
Labradorite ((Ca,Na)(Al,Si)4O8), a feldspar mineral, is an intermediate to calcic member of the plagioclase series. It is usually defined as having "%An" (anorthite) between 50 and 70. The specific gravity ranges from 2.71 to 2.74. The streak is white, like most silicates. The refractive index ranges from 1.555 to 1.575. Twinning is common. As with all plagioclase members the crystal system is triclinic and three directions of cleavage are present two of which form nearly right angle prisms. It occurs as clear, white to gray, blocky to lath shaped grains in common mafic igneous rocks such as basalt and gabbro, as well as in anorthosites.
The geological type area for labradorite is Paul's Island near the town of Nain in Labrador, Canada. It occurs in large crystal masses in anorthosite and shows an iridescence or play of colors. The iridescence is the result of light refracting within lamellar intergrowths resulting from phase exsolution on cooling in the Boggild miscibility gap, An48-An58.
Gemstone varieties of labradorite exhibiting a high degree of iridescence are called spectrolite; moonstone and sunstone are also commonly used terms, and high-quality samples with good iridescent qualities are desired for jewelry.
What is Larimar?
Larimar (also lorimar) is a rare blue variety of pectolite found only in the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean. Its coloration varies from white, light-blue, green-blue to deep blue. The deep blue variant is known as volcanic blue.
History: On 22 November 1916 Father Miguel Domingo Fuertes Loren of the Barahona Parish requested permission at the Dominican Republic's Ministry of Mining to explore and exploit the mine of a certain blue rock he had discovered. Since nobody knew what the priest was talking about the request fell through and the blue stone discovery was delayed.
It was not until 1974 when at the foot of the Bahoruco Range, the coastal province of Barahona, a flash of blue in the beach sand caught the attention of Miguel Méndez and Peace Corps volunteer Norman Rilling and they scooped down to rediscover larimar. Natives, who believed the stone came from the sea, called the gem Blue Stone. Miguel promptly took his young daughter's name Larissa and the Spanish word for the sea (mar) and formed Larimar, by the colors of the water of the Caribbean Sea, where it was found. As it turns out, the few stones they found were alluvial sediment, washed into the sea by the Bahoruco River. An upstream search revealed the in situ outcrops in the range and before long the Los Chupaderos mine tapped the only known larimar outcropping in the world.
Larimar is a variety of pectolite, or a rock composed largely of pectolite, an acid silicate hydrate of calcium and sodium. Although pectolite is found in many locations, none have the unique volcanic blue coloration of larimar. This blue color, distinct from that of other pectolites, is the result of cobalt substitution for calcium.
Miocene volcanic rocks, andesites and basalts, erupted within the limestones of the south coast of the island. These rocks contained cavities or vugs which were later filled with a variety of minerals including the blue pectolite. These pectolite cavity fillings are a secondary occurrence within the volcanic flows, dikes and plugs. When these rocks erode the pectolite fillings are carried downslope to end up in the alluvium and the beach gravels. The Bahoruco River carried the pectolite bearing sediments to the sea. The tumbling action along the streambed provided the natural polishing to the blue larimar which makes them stand out in contrast to the dark gravels of the streambed.
What is Malachite?
Malachite is a carbonate mineral normally known as "copper carbonate" with the formula CuCO3.Cu(OH)2. This green-colored mineral crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system, and most often forms botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses. Individual crystals are rare but do occur as slender to acicular prisms. Pseudomorphs after more tabular or blocky azurite crystals also occur.
Malachite often results from weathering of copper ores and is often found together with azurite (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2), goethite, and calcite. Except for its vibrant green color, the properties of malachite are similar to those of azurite and aggregates of the two minerals occur frequently together. Malachite is more common than azurite and is typically associated with copper deposits around limestones, the source of the carbonate.
Large quantities of malachite have been mined in the Urals. It is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Zambia; Tsumeb; Namibia; Russia; Mexico; Broken Hill, New South Wales; England; Lyon; and in the Southwestern United States especially in Arkansas and Arizona. In Israel, malachite is extensively mined at Timna valley, often called King Solomon's Mines although research has shown that the site was not in use during the 10th century.. Archeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted at the site for over 3,000 years. Most of Timna's current production is also smelted, but the finest pieces are worked into silver jewelry.
In Greek mythology, the throne of Demeter, goddess of grain and harvest, was fashioned from malachite and adorned with golden pigs and ears of barley.
What is Marcasite?
The mineral marcasite, sometimes called white iron pyrite, is iron sulfide (FeS2) with orthorhombic crystal structure. It is physically distinct from pyrite, which is iron sulfide with cubic crystal structure. Marcasite is lighter and more brittle than pyrite. Specimens of marcasite often crumble and break up due to the unstable crystal structure.
On fresh surfaces it is pale yellow to almost white and has a bright metallic luster. It tarnishes to a yellowish or brownish color and gives a black streak. It is a brittle material that cannot be scratched with a knife. The thin, flat, tabular crystals, when joined in groups, are called "cockscombs."
In marcasite jewelry, pyrite used as a gemstone is improperly termed "marcasite". That is, marcasite jewellery is made from pyrite not from marcasite. In the late medieval and early modern eras the word "marcasite" meant both pyrite and marcasite (and iron sulfides in general). The narrower, modern scientific definition for marcasite as orthorhombic iron sulfide dates from 1845. The jewellery sense for the word pre-dates this 1845 scientific redefinition. Marcasite in the scientific sense is not used as a gem due to its brittleness.
What is Moissanite?
Mineral moissanite was discovered by Henri Moissan while examining rock samples from a meteor crater located in Canyon Diablo, Arizona, in 1893. At first, he mistakenly identified the crystals as diamonds, but in 1904 he identified the crystals as silicon carbide. The mineral form of silicon carbide was named moissanite in honor of Moissan later on in his life. The discovery in the Canyon Diablo meteorite and other places was challenged for a long time as carborundum contamination from human abrasive tools.
Until the 1950s no other source, apart from meteorites, had been encountered. Later moissanite was found as inclusion in kimberlite from a diamond mine in Yakutia in 1959, and in the Green River Formation in Wyoming in 1958. The existence of moissanite in nature was questioned even in 1986 by Charles Milton, an American geologist.
Moissanite, in its natural form, is very rare. It has only been discovered in a small variety of places from upper mantle rock to meteorites. Discoveries have shown that moissanite occurs naturally as inclusions in diamonds, xenoliths, and ultramafic rocks such as kimberlite and lamproite. They have also been identified in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites as presolar grains.
The crystalline structure is held together with strong covalent bonding similar to diamonds, that allows moissanite to withstand high pressures up to 52.1 gigapascals. Colours vary widely and are graded in the I-J-K range on the diamond color grading scale.
Moissanite has several applications. Since 1998, when the first artificial moissanite reached the jewellry market, it has been regarded as an excellent diamond simulant, with optical properties exceeding those of diamond. Because it has its own unique appearance, it can not be truly called a diamond simulant. Its ethical production, however, does make it a popular fair trade alternative to diamonds. Because of its hardness, it is useful for high-pressure experiments (e.g., using diamond anvil cell) competing there with diamond. Large diamonds, used for anvils, are prohibitively expensive. Therefore for large-volume experiments, much cheaper synthetic moissanite is a more realistic choice. Synthetic moissanite is also interesting for electronic and thermal applications because its thermal conductivity is similar to that of diamonds. High power SiC electronic devices are expected to play an enabling and vital role in the design of protection circuits used for motors, actuators, and energy storage or pulse power systems.
What is Morganite?
Morganite, also known as "pink beryl", "rose beryl", "pink emerald", and "cesian beryl", is a rare light pink to rose-colored gem-quality variety of beryl. Orange/yellow varieties of morganite can also be found, and color banding is common. It can be routinely heat treated to remove patches of yellow and is occasionally treated by irradiation to improve its color. The pink color of morganite is attributed to Mn2+ ions.
Pink beryl of fine color and good sizes was first discovered on an island on the coast of Madagascar in 1910. It was also known, with other gemstone minerals, such as tourmaline and kunzite, at Pala, California. In December 1910,the New York Academy of Sciences named the pink variety of beryl "morganite" after financier J. P. Morgan.
On October 7, 1989, one of the largest gem morganite specimens ever uncovered, eventually called "The Rose of Maine," was found at the Bennett Quarry in Buckfield, Maine, USA. The crystal, originally somewhat orange in hue, was 23 cm (9 in) long and about 30 cm (12 in) across, and weighed (along with its matrix) just over 50 lbs (23 kg).
What is Onyx?
Onyx is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The colors of its bands range from white to almost every color (save some shades, such as purple or blue). Commonly, specimens of onyx available contain bands of colors of white, tan, and brown. Sardonyx is a variant in which the colored bands are sard (shades of red) rather than black. Pure black onyx is common, and perhaps the most famous variety, but not as common as onyx with banded colors.
It has a long history of use for hardstone carving and jewellery, where it is usually cut as a cabochon, or into beads, and is also used for intaglio or cameo engraved gems, where the bands make the image contrast with the ground. Some onyx is natural but much is produced by the staining of agate.
The name has sometimes been used, incorrectly, to label other banded lapidary materials, such as banded calcite found in Mexico, Pakistan, and other places, and often carved, polished and sold. This material is much softer than true onyx, and much more readily available. The majority of carved items sold as 'onyx' today are this carbonate material.
What is Pietersite?
Pietersite was discovered by Sid Pieters in 1962 while he was prospecting some farmland in Namibia, Africa. After his discovery, he registered the find in the mineral records of Britain. His discovery was published in 1964, and the material was named pietersite. Currently there are only two known sources of pietersite; China and Africa. These two forms of pietersite are similar but still somewhat different from each other. The Chinese pietersite's fibrous mineral is a magnesium-rich alkalic amphibole. The African (Namibian) variety is mainly crocidolite.
The China form of pietersite is said to have been discovered in 1993, but did not come to market until 1997. This China pietersite exhibits slightly different color variations from Mr. Pieter's original mineral, but both are beautiful and are now universally recognized as pietersite.
The material found in China was formed from a mineral very similar to crocidolite, named torendrikite. Chinese pietersite has striking combinations of gold, red and blue color segments which sometimes also includes a deep golden brown color. Regardless of the source, pietersite will always have brecciated, fibrous bands of blue, gold and/or red tiger eye type fibers in quartz. The fibrous structure in pietersite has been folded, stressed, even fractured and/or broken apart via the Earth's geologic processes. The fibrous materials have then been reformed and naturally recemented together by quartz. Stones and crystals that go through this process are referred to as brecciated, creating a finished product with multiple colors, hues and superb chatoyancy.
While pietersite has the lovely chatoyancy of tiger eye, it is not found in continuously structured bands or fibers, more in swirls, swathes and fibrous (sometimes linear) segments. Thus the structure of the fibrous streaks in pietersite may appear rather chaotic, and can flow or exist in many directions side-by-side like bold paint strokes.
Colors include various blues, golds and reds, that may appear together or alone. Blue is the rarest color, followed by red. The blues range from a baby blue to dark midnight hue. Golds can be light to very deep and rich, sometimes having a reddish hue. All fibrous color variations will have a superb and striking chatoyancy, the bright and subtly changing shimmer of color that moves along the surface of a gemstone as it is viewed from varying angles.
What is Sodalite?
Sodalite is a rich royal blue mineral widely enjoyed as an ornamental gemstone. Although massive sodalite samples are opaque, crystals are usually transparent to translucent. Sodalite is a member of the sodalite group with hauyne, nosean, lazurite and tugtupite.
Discovered in 1811 in the Ilimaussaq intrusive complex in Greenland, sodalite did not become important as an ornamental stone until 1891 when vast deposits of fine material were discovered in Ontario, Canada.
A light, relatively hard yet fragile mineral, sodalite is named after its sodium content; in mineralogy it may be classed as a feldspathoid. Well known for its blue color, sodalite may also be grey, yellow, green, or pink and is often mottled with white veins or patches. The more uniformly blue material is used in jewellery, where it is fashioned into cabochons and beads. Lesser material is more often seen as facing or inlay in various applications.
Although somewhat similar to lazurite and lapis lazuli, sodalite rarely contains pyrite (a common inclusion in lapis) and its blue color is more like traditional royal blue rather than ultramarine. It is further distinguished from similar minerals by its white (rather than blue) streak. Sodalite's six directions of poor cleavage may be seen as incipient cracks running through the stone.
What is Tanzanite?
Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite which was discovered in the Meralani (Merelani) Hills of Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha. It is used as a gemstone. Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism, appearing alternately sapphire blue, violet and burgundy depending on crystal orientation.
Tanzanite in its rough state is usually a reddish brown color. It requires artificial heat treatment to 600 °C in a gemological oven to bring out the blue violet of the stone. Tanzanite is a rare gem. It is found mostly in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The mineral is named after Tanzania, the country where it was discovered.
Manuel D'Souza, a Goan tailor and part-time gold prospector living in Arusha (Tanzania), found transparent fragments of vivid blue and blue-purple gem crystals on a ridge near Mererani, some 40 km southeast of Arusha. He decided that the mineral was olivine (peridot) but quickly realized that it was not, so he took to calling it "dumortierite", a blue non-gem mineral. Shortly thereafter, D'Souza showed the stones to John Saul, a Nairobi-based consulting geologist and gemstone wholesaler who was then mining aquamarine in the region around Mount Kenya. Saul, with a Ph.D. from M.I.T., who later discovered the famous ruby deposits in the Tsavo area of Kenya, eliminated dumortierite and cordierite as possibilities, and sent samples to his father, Hyman Saul, vice president at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York. Hyman Saul brought the samples across the street to the Gemological Institute of America who correctly identified the new gem as a variety of the mineral zoisite. Correct identification was also made by mineralogists at Harvard University, the British Museum, and Heidelberg University, but the very first person to get the identification right was Ian McCloud, a Tanzanian government geologist based in Dodoma.
Originally called "blue zoisite" it was renamed as part of a campaign by Tiffany & Co., who wanted to capitalize on the rarity of the gem, then only found in Tanzania, but who thought that "blue zoisite" (which might be pronounced like "blue suicide") wouldn't sell well . From 1967 to 1972, an estimated two million carats of tanzanite were mined in Tanzania. The mines were later nationalized by the Tanzanian government.
World's largest tanzanite
The world's largest faceted tanzanite is 737.81 carats. One of the most famous large tanzanites (242 carats) is the "Queen of Kilimanjaro". It is set in a tiara and accented with 803 brilliant cut tsavorite garnets and 913 brilliant cut diamonds. Because tanzanite is relatively soft, it is usually set in necklaces and earrings, so the tiara is truly a rarity. The tiara is currently on display in the Gallery of Gold and Gems at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The exhibition is from the private collection of Michael Scott, the first CEO of Apple Computers.
In June 2003, the Tanzanian government introduced legislation banning the export of unprocessed tanzanite to India (like many gemstones, most tanzanite is cut in Jaipur). The ban has been rationalized as an attempt to spur development of local processing facilities, thereby boosting the economy and recouping profits. This ban was phased in over the next two years, until which time only stones over 0.5 grams were affected.
This is a serious situation for the city of Jaipur, as one-third of its annual gem exports are of tanzanite. Some members of the industry fear the ban will set a precedent, leading Tanzania to ban the export of all raw gem material, including the country's production of tsavorite, diamond, and ruby.
In April 2005, a company called TanzaniteOne Ltd. publicly announced that they had taken control of the portion of the tanzanite deposit known as "C-Block" (the main deposit is divided into five blocks). Prices for rough material on the open market have increased steadily for the last several years as the company has solidified its control of the market. In August 2005, the largest-ever tanzanite crystal was found in the C-Block mine. The crystal weighs 16,839 carats (3.4 kg) and measures 8.7 in x 3.1 in x 2.8 in (22 cm × 8 cm × 7 cm).
The mining of tanzanite nets the Tanzanian government approximately US$20 million annually. The finished gems are sold mostly on the US market: sales total approximately US$500 million annually.
There is no universally accepted method of grading colored gemstones. TanzaniteOne, a major commercial player in the tanzanite market, through its no-profit subsidiary, The Tanzanite Foundation, has introduced its own color-grading system. The new system's color-grading scales divide tanzanite colors into a range of hues, between blue violet and violet blue.
The normal primary and secondary hues in tanzanite are blue and purple, not violet. Purple is a modified spectral hue that lies halfway between red and blue. Tanzanite is a trichroic gemstone, meaning that light that enters the stone is divided into three sections, each containing a portion of the visible spectrum. After heating, tanzanite becomes dichroic. The dichroic colors are red and blue. The hue range of tanzanite is blue-purple to purple-blue.
Clarity grading in colored gemstones is based on the eye-clean standard, that is, a gem is considered flawless if no inclusions are visible with the unaided eye (assuming 20x20 vision). The Gemological Institute of America classifies tanzanite as a Type I gemstone, meaning it is normally eye-flawless. Gems with eye-visible inclusions will be traded at deep discounts.
Excepting a few stones that were found close to the surface in the early days of the discovery, Tanzanite is universally heat-treated to produce a range of hues between bluish-purple to purplish-blue. Since heat treatment is universal, it has no effect on price, and finished gems are assumed to be heat-treated. Rarely, tanzanite is found in other colors, green being the rarest, although technically it would be called 'green zoisite' rather than tanzanite. Tanzanite may be subjected to other forms of treatment as well. Recently coated Tanzanites were discovered and tested by the AGTA and AGL laboratories. A thin layer of coatings was applied to improve the color of the Tanzanite. Tanzanite is heat treated in the furnace keeping the furnace from 550 to 700 degrees Celsius. It is important that it should not have any crack or bubble in it, otherwise there is ample chance that it will break or the cracks or bubble can be increased.
What is Tiger's Eye?
Tiger's eye (also called Tigers eye or Tiger eye) is a chatoyant gemstone that is usually a metamorphic rock that is yellow- to red-brown, with a silky luster. A member of the quartz group, it is a classic example of pseudomorphous replacement by silica of fibrous crocidolite (blue asbestos). An incompletely silicified blue variant is called Hawk's eye.
The gems are usually cut en cabochon in order to best display their chatoyancy. Red stones are brought about through gentle heat treatment. Honey-coloured stones have been used to imitate the much higher valued cat's eye chrysoberyl (cymophane), but the overall effect is unconvincing. Artificial fiberoptic glass is a common imitation of tiger's eye, and is produced in a wide range of colors. Tiger's Eye mostly comes from South Africa.
Tiger iron is an altered rock composed chiefly of tiger's eye, red jasper, and black hematite. The undulating, contrasting bands of colour and luster make for an attractive motif, and it is mainly used for jewelry-making and ornamentation. Tiger iron is a popular ornamental material used in a variety of applications, from beads and cabochons to knife hilts. Along with tiger's eye it is mined primarily in South Africa and Western Australia. Tiger's eye is primarily composed of silicon dioxide (SiO2) and the specific gravity ranges from 2.64 -2.71. Formed by the alteration of crocidolite and consists essentially of quartz colored by iron oxide. Origin: South Africa and Australia
What is Tourmaline?
Tourmaline is a crystal boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. Tourmaline is classified as a semi-precious stone and the gem comes in a wide variety of colors. The name comes from the Sinhalese word "Thuramali" (තුරමලි) or "Thoramalli" (තෝරමල්ලි), which applied to different gemstones found in Sri Lanka.
Brightly colored Sri Lankan gem tourmalines were brought to Europe in great quantities by the Dutch East India Company to satisfy a demand for curiosities and gems. At the time it was not realised that schorl and tourmaline were the same mineral.
Tourmaline species and varieties
Dravite species: from the Drave district of Carinthia
Dark yellow to brownish black—dravite
Bluish or brownish black to Black—schorl
Elbaite species: named after the island of Elba, Italy
Rose or pink—rubellite variety (from ruby)
Dark black—schorl (from indigo)
Light blue to bluish green—Brazilian indicolite variety
Green—verdelite or Brazilian emerald variety
Colorless—achroite variety (from the Greek "άχρωμος" meaning "colorless"
Gem and specimen tourmaline is mined chiefly in Brazil and Africa. Some placer material suitable for gem use comes from Sri Lanka. In addition to Brazil, tourmaline is mined in Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Malawi.
What is Turquoise?
Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrous phosphate of copper and aluminium, with the chemical formula CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8·4H2O. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gem and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. In recent times turquoise, like most other opaque gems, has been devalued by the introduction of treatments, imitations, and synthetics onto the market, some difficult to detect even by experts.
The substance has been known by many names, but the word turquoise was derived around 16th century from the French language either from the word for Turkish (Turquois) or dark-blue stone (pierre turquin). This may have arisen from a misconception: turquoise does not occur in Turkey but was traded at Turkish bazaars to Venetian merchants who brought it to Europe. The colour, however, has been employed extensively in the decorative tiles adorning Turkish places of worship and homes for hundreds of years, beginning with the Seljuks, or was derived from the colour of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast and the association quite possibly has caused the name to take root.
What is Amber?
Amber is fossilized tree resin (not sap), which has been appreciated for its color and natural organic beauty since Neolithic times. Amber is used as an ingredient in perfumes, as a healing agent in folk medicine, and as jewelry. There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents. Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions. Amber occurring in coal seams is also called resinite, and the term ambrite is applied to that found specifically within New Zealand coal seams. 
The abnormal development of resin has been called succinosis. Impurities are quite often present, especially when the resin dropped on to the ground, so that the material may be useless except for varnish-making, whence the impure amber is called firniss. Enclosures of pyrites may give a bluish color to amber. The so-called black amber is only a kind of jet. Bony amber owes its cloudy opacity to minute bubbles in the interior of the resin.
Amber occurs in a range of different colors. As well as the usual yellow-orange-brown that is associated with the color "amber", amber itself can range from a whitish color through a pale lemon yellow, to brown and almost black. Other more uncommon colors include red amber (sometimes known as "cherry amber"), green amber, and even blue amber, which is rare and highly sought after.
Much of the most highly-prized amber is transparent, in contrast to the very common cloudy amber and opaque amber. Opaque amber contains numerous minute bubbles. This kind of amber is known as "bony amber".
Although all Dominican amber is fluorescent, the rarest Dominican amber is blue amber. It turns blue in natural sunlight and any other partially or wholly ultraviolet light source. In long-wave UV light it has a very strong reflection, almost white. Only about 100 kg is found per year, which makes it valuable and expensive.
Sometimes amber retains the form of drops and stalactites, just as it exuded from the ducts and receptacles of the injured trees. It is thought that, in addition to exuding onto the surface of the tree, amber resin also originally flowed into hollow cavities or cracks within trees, thereby leading to the development of large lumps of amber of irregular form.
The oldest amber recovered dates to the Upper Carboniferous period (320 million years ago). Its chemical composition makes it difficult to match the amber to its producers – it is most similar to the resins produced by flowering plants, which did not evolve until the Jurassic, around 180 million years ago. Amber becomes abundant soon afterwards, in the Early Cretaceous, 150 million years ago, when it is found in association with insects. The oldest amber with arthropod inclusions comes from the Middle East from Lebanon and Jordan (Kaddumi, 2007; Azar, 2000). This amber is roughly 133 million years old and is considered of high scientific value. Many remarkable insects and spiders were recently discovered in the amber of Jordan (Kaddumi, 2007) including the oldest zorapterans, clerid beetles, umenocoleid roaches, and achiliid planthoppers.
Baltic amber or succinite (historically documented as Prussian amber) is found as irregular nodules in marine glauconitic sand, known as blue earth, occurring in the Lower Oligocene strata of Samland in Prussia (Latin: Sambia), in historical sources also referred to as Glaesaria. After 1945 this territory around Königsberg was turned into Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, where it is now systematically mined. It appears, however, to have been partly derived from yet earlier Tertiary deposits (Eocene); and it occurs also as a derivative phase in later formations, such as glacial drift. Relics of an abundant flora occur as inclusions trapped within the amber while the resin was yet fresh, suggesting relations with the flora of Eastern Asia and the southern part of North America. Heinrich Göppert named the common amber-yielding pine of the Baltic forests Pinites succiniter, but as the wood does not seem to differ from that of the existing genus it has been also called Pinus succinifera. It is improbable, however, that the production of amber was limited to a single species; and indeed a large number of conifers belonging to different genera are represented in the amber-flora.
Amber has been used since the stone age, from 13,000 years ago. Amber ornaments have been found in Mycenaean tombs and elsewhere across Europe. To this day it is used in the manufacture of smoking and glassblowing mouthpieces. Amber's place in culture and tradition lends it a tourism value; Palanga Amber Museum is dedicated to the mineral.
What is Ancient Roman Glass?
Ancient Roman Glass dates back 2000 years. A certificate of authenticity is included with each piece in our collection. Please allow for variances in glass color and patina.
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire was the birthplace of new glass blowing techniques used to create items like plates, vases, bowls, and jars. Today, this ancient glass can be recovered in archaeological sites in Israel, which was a major center for glass production during ancient times.
Because Roman Glass jewelry is made of fragments of these ancient hand-blown glass objects, each piece varies in shape, thickness and color. Every piece of Roman Glass jewelry is one-of-a-kind.
The striking colors found in Roman Glass jewelry come from a thin natural layer called the “patina” that formed over the course of centuries as the glass lay in mineral-rich soil. Through a process of oxidation, the patina developed these beautiful and complex shades of blue, green, and other colors.
Skilled artisans carefully choose ancient glass fragments, clean them to reveal their colorful natural patina, cut and shape the glass, and mount the glass to make a finished piece of top-quality jewelry. Designers craft jewelry that calls to mind the ancient past, in a wide variety of modern styles.
Caring For Your Roman Glass Jewelry
Like other fine jewels, ancient Roman Glass should be treated with care to preserve its natural beauty.
Avoid exposing your Roman Glass jewelry to chemicals or immersing it in water. A bit of rain won’t hurt, but the manufacturer recommends removing your Roman Glass jewelry before bathing or swimming. If exposed to water, the color of the patina may be altered temporarily; please wait for the glass to dry.
Ancient Roman Glass Jewelry
Pieces with inlaid Roman Glass can easily be cleaned
What is a Cabochon?
A cabochon or cabachon, from the Middle French caboche (head), is a gemstone which has been shaped and polished as opposed to faceted. The resulting form is usually a convex top with a flat bottom. Cutting en cabochon is usually applied to opaque gems, while facetting is usually applied to transparent stones. Hardness is also taken into account as softer gemstones with a hardness lower than 7 on the Mohs hardness scale are easily scratched, mainly by silicon dioxide in dust and grit. This would quickly make translucent gems unattractive—instead they are polished as cabochons, making the scratches less evident.
In the case of asteriated stones such as star sapphires and chatoyant stones such as cat's eye chrysoberyl, a domed cabochon cut is used to show the star or eye, which would not be visible in a facetted cut.
The usual shape for cutting cabochons is an oval. This is because the eye is less sensitive to small asymmetries in an oval (as opposed to a round shape), and because the oval shape, combined with the dome, is attractive. An exception is cabochons on some watches' crowns, which are round.
What is the Czochralsk Process?
The Czochralski process is a method of crystal growth used to obtain single crystals of semiconductors (e.g. silicon, germanium and gallium arsenide), metals (e.g. palladium, platinum, silver, gold), salts, and synthetic gemstones. The process is named after Polish scientist Jan Czochralski, who discovered the method in 1916 while investigating the crystallization rates of metals.
What is an Inclusion?
In gemology, an inclusion is a characteristic enclosed within a gemstone, or reaching its surface from the interior.
Inclusions are one of the most important factors when it comes to gem valuation. In many gemstones, such as diamonds, inclusions affect the clarity of the stone, diminishing the stone's value. In some stones, however, such as star sapphires, the inclusion actually increases the value of the stone.
Many colored gemstones, such as amethyst, emerald, and sapphire, are expected to have inclusions, and the inclusions do not greatly affect the stone's value. Colored gemstones are categorized into three types as follows:
- Type I colored stones include stones with very little or no inclusions. They include aquamarine, topaz and zircon.
- Type II colored stones include stones that often have a few inclusions. They include sapphire, ruby, garnet and spinel.
- Type III colored stones include stones that almost always have inclusions. Stones in this category include emerald and tourmaline.
What is Stonesetting?
Stonesetting is the art of securely setting or attaching gemstones into jewelry. There are two general types of gemstones: cabochons, which are smooth, often domed, with flat backs. Agates and turquoise are usually cut this way, but precious stones such as rubies, emeralds and sapphires also may be. Many stones like star sapphires and moonstones must be cut this way in order to see the effects the stones have in them. The other type of stone is generically called faceted, in which the stone has the general overall shape of the modern diamond, with a thin edge, called the girdle, the top angling up into what is called the crown, and the bottom angling down into what is called the pavilion. In the case of a cabochon stone, the side of the stone is usually cut at a shallow angle, so that when the bezel is pushed over the stone that angle permits it to hold the stone in place and keep it tight. In the case of faceted stones a shallow groove is cut into the side of the bezel into which the girdle of the stone is placed, and then metal is pushed over, holding the stone in place. Cabochons can also be set into prong settings of various kinds, but the idea is the same - it's the prongs going over the angle of the stone that creates the pressure that holds the stone in place.
Just as the angle of the sides of a cabochon creates the pressure to hold the stone in place, so there is an overlying principle in setting faceted stones. If one looks at a side view of a round diamond, for example, one will see that there is an outer edge, called the girdle, and the top angles up from there, and the bottom angles down from there. Faceted stones are set by "pinching" that angle with metal. If you imagine holding the girdle with the tips of your thumb and forefinger with both hands, that illustrates it fairly well. All of the styles of faceted stone setting use this concept in one way or another.
The earliest technique of attaching stones to jewelry was bezel setting. A bezel is a strip of metal bent into the shape and size of the stone and then soldered to the piece of jewelry. Then the stone is inserted into the bezel and the metal rubbed over the stone, holding it in place. This method works well for either cabochon or faceted stones.
What are the Traditional Birthstones?
Often combined with modern birthstone lists, traditional birthstones are older society-based birthstones. Since many different cultures had their own list, jewelers' lists are often inconsistent over what constitutes a traditional birthstone. The table below contains many stones which are popular choices, often reflecting Polish tradition.
The Gregorian calendar has poems matching each month with its birthstone. These are traditionally the stones in English-speaking societies. It is not known whether these verses below are of the originally Gregorian calendar or not.
Three of the verses are repeats,
By her who in January was born
No gem save garnets shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.
The February born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they, the amethyst will wear.
By her who in March was born
No gem save Bloodstone shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.
She who from April dates her years,
Diamonds shall wear,
lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow.
Who first beholds the light of day
In spring's sweet, flower month of May
And wears an Emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and a loving wife.
By her who in June was born
No gem save Pearls shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.
The gleaming Ruby should adorn,
All those who in July are born,
For thus they'll be exempt and free,
From lover's doubts and anxiety.
Wear a Peridot or for thee,
No conjugal fidelity,
The August born without this stone,
`Tis said, must live unloved; alone.
A maiden born when autumn leaves
Are rustling in September's breeze,
A Sapphire on her brow should bind;
To bring her joy and peace of mind.
October's child is born for woe,
And life's vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.
Who first comes to this world below
In dreary November's fog and snow,
Should prize the topaz amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.
If cold December gave you birth
The month of snow and ice and mirth
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate'er you do.
How do you clean Copper Jewelry?
1 cup White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Salt
- Pour Vinegar in plastic container
- Add Salt
- Add copper jewelry and let soak for approximately 10 to 30 minutes until shiny.
- Remove the jewelry from the vinegar solution and rinse with water and dry.
- Enjoy your polished copper jewelry!
We do not recommend this technique for copper jewelry with stones!