Gemstone jewellery have that special charm. They sparkle and shine. Learn more about different gems below.
The amethyst is extravagance in violet. For many thousands of years, the most striking representative of the quartz family has been a jewel coveted by princes both ecclesiastical and secular. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the High Priest of the Jews, and the Russian Empress Catherine the Great sent thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it. In popular belief, the amethyst offers protection against drunkenness – for the Greek words ‘amethystos’ mean ‘not intoxicated’ in translation. A more apt stone for the month of February, particularly if there is to be plenty going on in the way of carnival celebrations, could thus hardly be wished for.
Aquamarine is one of our most popular and best-known gemstones, and distinguishes itself by many good qualities. It is almost as popular as the classics: ruby, sapphire and emerald. In fact it is related to the emerald, both belonging to the beryl family. The colour of aquamarine, however, is usually more even than that of the emerald. Much more often than its famous green cousin, aquamarine is almost entirely free of inclusions. Aquamarine has good hardness (7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale) and a wonderful shine. That hardness makes it very tough and protects it to a large extent from scratches.
The lively luminosity of its colour makes the emerald a unique gemstone. However, really good quality is fairly rare, with inclusions often marring the evenness of the colour – signs of the turbulent genesis which has characterised this gemstone. Fine inclusions, however, do not by any means diminish the high regard in which it is held. On the contrary: even with inclusions, an emerald in a deep, lively green still has a much higher value than an almost flawless emerald whose colour is paler. Affectionately, and rather poetically, the specialists call the numerous crystal inclusions, cracks or fissures which are typical of this gemstone ‘jardin’. They regard the tender little green plants in the emerald garden as features of the identity of a gem which has grown naturally.
Garnets have been known to Man for thousands of years. Noah, it is said, used a garnet lantern to help him steer his ark through the dark night. Garnets are also found in jewellery from early Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. Many an early explorer and traveller liked to carry a garnet with him, for the garnet was popular as a talisman and protective stone, as it was believed to light up the night and protect its bearer from evil and disaster. Today, science has taught us that the garnet’s proverbial luminosity comes from its high refractive index.
Opal’s colour play emanates a very special attraction and fascination. But what causes this phenomenon? This question was impossible to answer for a very long time. Only when in the 1960s a team of Australian scientists analysed Opals with an electron microscope, it was discovered that small spheres from silica gel caused interference and refraction manifestations, which are responsible for the fantastic play of colours. The spheres, which are arranged in more or less compact structures, succeed in dissecting the light on its passage through the gemstone and turning it into all the colours of the rainbow, always new and always different.
Pearls are organic gems, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. Long ago, pearls were important financial assets, comparable in price to real estate, as thousands of oysters had to be searched for just one pearl. They were rare because they were created only by chance. Today pearls are cultured by Man. Shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters produce South Sea cultured pearls and Tahitian black cultured pearls, which are larger in size. Freshwater pearls are cultured in mussels, mostly in China.
The peridot is a very old gemstone, and one which has become very popular again today. It is so ancient that it can be found in Egyptian jewellery from the early 2nd millennium B.C.. The stones used at that time came from a deposit on a small volcanic island in the Red Sea, some 45 miles off the Egyptian coast at Aswan, which was not rediscovered until about 1900 and has, meanwhile, been exhausted for quite some time. Having said that, the peridot is also a thoroughly modern gemstone, for it was not until a few years ago that peridot deposits were located in the Kashmir region; and the stones from those deposits, being of an incomparably beautiful colour and transparency, have succeeded in giving a good polish to the image of this beautiful gemstone.
Which colour would you spontaneously associate with love and vivacity, passion and power? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Red. Red is the colour of love. It radiates warmth and a strong sense of vitality. And red is also the colour of the ruby, the king of the gemstones. In the fascinating world of gemstones, the ruby is the undisputed ruler. For thousands of years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. It has everything a precious stone should have: magnificent colour, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance. In addition to that, it is an extremely rare gemstone, especially in its finer qualities.
Blue is the main colour of the sapphire. Blue is also the favourite colour of some 50 per cent of all people, men and women alike. We associate this colour, strongly linked to the sapphire as it is, with feelings of sympathy and harmony, friendship and loyalty: feelings which belong to qualities that prove their worth in the long term – feelings in which it is not so much effervescent passion that is to the fore, but rather composure, mutual understanding and indestructible trust. Thus the blue of the sapphire has become a colour which fits in with everything that is constant and reliable. That is one of the reasons why women in many countries wish for a sapphire ring on their engagement. The sapphire symbolises loyalty and people’s love and longing.
It is named after the East African state of Tanzania, the only place in the world where it has been found. Africa? Does anyone think of gemstones when they hear that name? Well they should, because Africa is a continent which provides the world with a multitude of truly magnificent gemstones, like tanzanite for example. On its discovery in 1967, it was enthusiastically celebrated by the specialists as the ‘gemstone of the 20th century’. They held their breath in excitement as they caught sight of the first deep-blue crystals which had been found in the Merelani Hills near Arusha in the north of Tanzania. Millions of years ago, metamorphic schists, gneisses and quartzites formed impressive, flat-topped inselbergs on a vast plain in the shadow of Kilimanjaro.
The colour in which the topaz is most commonly found is yellow, and that is the colour in which it occurs in one of the major German gemstone rocks, the Schneckenstein (a topaz-bearing rock said to resemble a snail) in Saxony. In the 18th century, it was mined there during a period of over 60 years. However, most of the crystals were hardly a centimetre in diameter. You had to go to Siberia or Brazil to find crystals as large as your fist. Having said that, anyone who is interested can convince himself of the beauty of cut specimens in the topaz set in Dresden’s Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault). The enormous and magnificent topaz from the Portuguese crown, the Braganza, was for a long time thought to be a diamond. It weighs 1680 ct..
Now that you know more about gemstone, you can shop now for the gemstone jewellery that you want.