Like flowers, colored gemstones come in every hue, tone and saturation. Both are born of Nature and evolve into something exquisite. But, unlike flowers whose beauty fades with time, the beauty of colored gemstones is everlasting.
Gathered from all corners of the world, every colored gemstone is a unique creation that brings with it a rich history that blends the mystery of Nature with the skill of man.
Tips for Buying
It's reasonable to expect lasting value and enjoyment when you purchase colored gemstone jewelry. Learning a few things about gemstone quality and value will help you make sure you get what you want – and deserve.
You can start by trusting your instincts. Sensory appeal is always paramount. So, if a particular gemstone or jewelry design "speaks" to you, by all means listen!
You can also use what you know about the 4Cs. The familiar diamond value factors of color, cut, clarity, and carat weight apply to colored gems as well. However, each gem variety is judged by its own potential: no one expects an aquamarine to have the same color as a sapphire or an emerald to be as flawless as an aquamarine. But there are a few general rules you can use to judge gemstone quality.
How to judge the value & quality of a gemstone
Simply put, the type of gemstone and color you select should be the one you like the most, the one that will give you the most pleasure to wear. However, colored gemstones are judged by their beauty and rarity. The same "four Cs" that establish quality in Diamond are used for colored gemstones: cut, carat weight, clarity and most importantly, color.
Color: The more pure and vivid the color, the more valuable the gemstone.
Cut: All gemstones must be cut well to attain their maximum potential for beauty. Quality cutting is what produces the brilliance and scintillation that captures the eye of the beholder.
Clarity: Gemstones contain characteristic inclusions that provide proof of their natural origin. Those inclusions should not be so visible that they detract from the beauty of the gemstone.
Carat Weight: Obviously, larger gemstones are rarer. However, some gemstones, such as Amethyst and Tourmaline, routinely occur in very large sizes while others, such as Ruby and Sapphire, rarely occur in sizes above 2 to 3 carats.
|March:||Aquamarine or Bloodstone||September:||Sapphire|
|April:||Diamond||October:||Opal or Tourmaline|
|May:||Emerald||November:||Topaz or Citrine|
|June:||Pearl, Moonstone or Alexandrite||December:||Turquoise, Zircon or Tanzanite|
The first rule for caring for gemstone jewelry is to treat it as you would any of your valuable possessions. Avoid wearing your gemstone jewelry when involved in activities that could cause it damage such as yard work, active sports and the like. You wouldn't wear your finest silk dress while gardening; likewise, there are inappropriate times to wear your fine jewelry. As for cleaning, keep it simple. The best way to clean your colored gemstone jewelry is to use a mild solution of soap and water. After letting your jewelry soak, gently brush your jewelry with a soft brush. Rinse the jewelry thoroughly, and lay it on a soft cloth to dry. It is best to avoid cleaning jewelry in ultrasonic cleaners, harsh chemicals or abrasives. Store your jewelry in separate sections of your jewelry box or in a fabric pouch. For the best protection, bring your colored gemstone jewelry to your jeweler for regular inspection and thorough cleaning.
Gemstone Shapes and Descriptions
Quartz is found in abundance from every corner of the earth. In its purest form, quartz is colorless, but is most prized for its purple variety - amethyst. Purple has long been considered a royal color, so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so much in demand throughout history. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Great thinkers like Leonardo da Vinci believed that amethyst could dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence.
Amethyst, the traditional birthstone for the month of February, is available in small and large sizes, although as with all gemstones, very large sizes in rich, deep colors have always been rare. Designers celebrate amethyst as the ideal choice for jewelry because of its regal color, variety of sizes and shapes, affordability and wide tonal range from light to dark purple.
Brazil is the primary source of amethyst, and Zambia is a significant source as well.
The very name aquamarine brings to mind the limpid, clear blue tint of the sea. Legend says that Neptune, the King of the Sea, gave aquamarine as gifts to the mermaids, and from then on, it has brought love to all who have owned it. Aquamarine was long thought to have a soothing influence on married couples, making it a good anniversary gift Aquamarines are found in a range of blue shades, from the palest pastel to greenish-blue to a deep blue. While the choice of color is largely a matter of taste, the deeper blue gemstones are more rare. Remember that Aquamarine is a pastel gemstone, and while color can be quite intense in larger gemstones, the smaller aquamarines are often less vivid. This elegant colored gemstone is the birthstone of March and is the symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity. Aquamarine was long thought to have a soothing influence on married couples, making it a good anniversary gift. Aquamarines are mined in a number of exotic places including Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan and Mozambique, but most of the gemstones available today come from Brazil.
Like people, gems come in closely related families. One of the most important gem families is beryl. With a trace of chromium to bestow a fabulous green, beryl becomes emerald, the rare and valuable green gem. If instead, nature includes a trace of iron in one valence state, beryl is aquamarine. If the iron in beryl has a different valence state, it isn’t pale blue: it turns a rich golden yellow. Golden beryl is as brilliant as aquamarine, with a warm sunny color.
Beryl is found in all corners of the globe, with individual colors being determined by the other minerals found in those regions. South America and Asia tend to produce blues and greens, while Africa produces yellows and greens and the rarest color, red, is only found in one location, the Wah Wah Mountains in Utah.
Named from the French word for lemon, "citron" since citrine has a juicy lemon color. In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.
Sunny and affordable, citrine can brighten almost any jewelry style, blending especially well with the yellow gleam of polished gold.
It is the most affordable of all the earth-toned gemstones and is the alternate birthstone for November. Brazil and Zambia is the primary source of this gemstones.
Garnet traces its roots to the Nile Delta in 3100 B.C., where Egyptian artisans would craft the gemstone into beads or inlay them into hand-wrought jewelry. Noah used garnet as a lamp on his bow as he cast about on the ocean. Garnet received its name from the ancient Greeks because the color reminded them of the "granatum," or pomegranate seed.
The versatile garnet comes in a virtual rainbow of colors, from the deep red Bohemian Garnet to the vibrant greens of the Russian demantoid and African tsavorite. The oranges and browns of spessartite and hessonite hail from Namibia and Sri Lanka and the subtle pinks and purples of the rhododendron flower, are also yours to explore.
Garnet is the traditional birthstone for the month of January, however, red need not be your color of choice if you are born in this month. Rich orange and golden hues, striking greens, petal soft colors of violet and lavender, all await your selection.
Most commonly found in round, oval, and cushion cuts. Availability depends on variety: tsavorite is very difficult to find in sizes above a carat or two, while rhodolite garnet is available in larger sizes.
Peridot is treasured in Hawaii as the goddess Pele's tears. The island of Oahu even has beaches made out of tiny grains of peridot. Although Hawaii’s volcanoes have produced some peridot large enough to be cut into gemstones, virtually all peridot sold in Hawaii today is from Arizona, another state with extreme geology.
The fresh lime green of peridot is its distinctive signature. Its spring green color also is ideal with sky blue.
Today most peridot is mined, often by hand, by Native Americans on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Peridot found here is beautiful in color but relatively small in size. Faceted peridot from Arizona is rare in sizes above five carats. Fine large peridot are found in Burma and large quantities of peridot are also mined in China. In 1994, an exciting new deposit of fine peridot was discovered in Pakistan, 15,000 feet above sea level in the far west of the Himalaya Mountains in the Pakistanian part of Kashmir.
Peridot, the birthstone for August, is harder than metal but softer than many gemstones.
Celebrated in the Bible and in ancient Sanskrit writings as the most precious of all gemstones, rubies have been the prized possession of emperors and kings throughout the ages. Ruby's inner fire has been the inspiration for innumerable legends and myths, and to this day, no red gemstone can compare to its fiery, rich hues. It was believed wearing a fine red ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner - although the owner must have already had good fortune enough to possess such a rare and beautiful gemstone!
Many people associate its brilliant crimson colors with passion and love, making ruby an ideal choice for an engagement ring. Ruby is the red variety of the corundum mineral species, while all other colors of corundum are called sapphire.
This most sought after gemstone is available in a range of red hues, from purplish and bluish red to orangish red. Ruby is readily available in sizes up to 2 carats, but larger sizes can be obtained. However, in its finest quality, any size ruby can be scare. In readily available small sizes, ruby makes an excellent accent gemstone because of its intense, pure red color.
Ruby is mined throughout Southeast Asia. While Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) produce exquisite examples of this gemstone that the ancient Sinhalese people called "Ratnaraj," the King of Gemstones.
Velvety blue. Liquid blue. Evening-sky blue. Cornflower blue. Sapphire, beloved for centuries as the ultimate blue gemstone. The ancient Persian rulers believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and its reflection colored the heavens blue. Indeed, the very name in Latin, "Sapphiru," means blue.
But like the endless colors that appear in the sky, sapphire is also found in many, many other shades besides blue, from the gold of a sunrise, to the fiery reddish-orange of sunset, to the delicate violet of twilight. Sapphire may even resemble the pale white gloaming of an overcast day. These diverse colors are referred to as "fancy" color sapphires.
A gift of a sapphire symbolizes a pledge of trust and loyalty. It is from this tradition that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings.
One of Nature's most durable gemstones, sapphire shares this quality with its sister, the ruby.
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized sapphires are from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir and Sri Lanka. The purer the blue of the sapphire, the greater the price the gemstone can command, however, many people find that the darker hues of sapphire can be just as appealing.
Tanzanite is an exotic, vivid blue, kissed by purple hues. Legend has it that tanzanite was first discovered when some brown gemstone crystals lying on the dry earth were caught in a fire set by lightning that swept through the grass-covered hills. The Masai herders driving cattle in the area noticed the beautiful blue color and picked the crystals up, becoming the first tanzanite collectors.
Tanzanite has the beauty, rarity and durability to rival any gemstone. It is the ultimate prize of a gemstone safari. Tanzanite is mined only in Tanzania at the feet of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.
One of the most popular blue gemstones available today, tanzanite occurs in a variety of shapes and sizes and also provides a striking assortment of tonal qualities. Rarely pure blue, tanzanite almost always display its signature overtones of purple. In smaller sizes, tanzanite tends toward the lighter tones and the lavender color is more common. While in larger sizes, tanzanite typically displays deeper, richer color.
For centuries tourmalines have adorned the jewels of royalty. The Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi, the last empress of China, valued the rich pink colors above all other gemstones. The people of ancient Ceylon called tourmaline "turmali," the Sinhalese word for "more colors." Perhaps this is why ancient mystics believed tourmaline could encourage artistic intuition: it has the palette to express every mood.
Vivid reds, hot pinks, verdant greens and blues abound in this marvelous gem variety. Earth tones as varied as a prairie sunset are readily available. Not only does tourmaline occur in a spectacular range of colors, but it also combines those colors in a single gemstone called "bi-color" or "parti-color" tourmaline. One color combination with a pink center and a green outer rim is called "watermelon" tourmaline, and is cut in thin slices similar to its namesake.
In the middle ages, zircon was said to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honor and wisdom in its owner. The name probably comes from the Persian word zargun which means "gold-colored."
The fiery, brilliance of zircon can rival any gemstone. The affordability of its vibrant greens, sky blues, and pleasing earth tones contributes to its growing popularity today.
Zircon is mined in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries. Because it can be colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red, and all the colors in between, it is a popular gem for connoisseurs who collect different colors or zircon from different localities.