Diamonds

The birthstone for April is the diamond, a stunning stone, with a simple composition, that has few weaknesses and many strengths.  It has a unique ability to reflect and refract light.  The diamond is a crystallized carbon, formed deep within the earth and is harder than any other substance.  The diamond is four times harder than the next hardest mineral, corundum (The sapphire and ruby are examples .)  This does not mean the stone cannot be damaged.  It has perfect cleavage, which means there are four directions of cleavage, so a strong hit can split the stone. Diamonds have a broad color range, including yellow, red, pink, blue, and green.  These colors can be slight or intense. The more saturated the color, the higher the value. White diamonds are the most familiar ones  in the jewelry market.

There are many reasons the diamond is a perfect stone for jewelry.  Besides its rarity and low reaction to chemicals, these other attributes make the diamond “brilliant”.

Clarity:  Nothing else comes close to the clarity of a diamond.

Dispersion:  The ability to separate light into colors.

Hardness:  The diamond is a perfect 10 on the Mohr’s scale.  It can only be scratched by another diamond, but it can scratch anything.

Heat Conductivity:  The diamond is number one. It conducts heat five times better than silver, the second best heat-conducting element.

Refraction:  Diamonds have a high ability to bend light, which produces its brilliance. Its’ high refractive index gives the diamond its’ amazing sparkle!

Diamonds are found in Kimberlite rock, which surrounds certain volcanoes.  The volcanic eruptions bring the stone to the surface.  Diamonds are found mainly found in Australia, but can be found in India, Russia, South Africa and even Arkansas in the United States. Before diamonds are cut they appear plain and can be confused with an ordinary pebble.  The cut of the diamond helps to determine the value and its appeal to the buyer.

Diamonds are a symbol of everlasting love. The diamond makes a beautiful and traditional engagement ring.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the gemstone for March.  Its color has often been compared to the colors of the sea. The name reflects this comparison.  Aqua means water. Marine means pertaining to the sea.  In Roman mythology, this stone was associated with Neptune, the god of the sea.  Ancient sailors wore aquamarine carved with the image of Neptune to protect them when they were at sea and prevent seasickness.

Aquamarine is a beryl stone, which means it is a transparent to translucent glassy mineral.  It is related to the Emerald.  Iron provides its color. The color of this stone can range from almost colorless pale sky blue to blue-green or teal. The most sought after color is a deep aqua blue.  It is a very hard mineral and is rate 7.5-8 on the Mohr’s scale, which makes it scratch resistant. Unlike other gemstones, aquamarine is flawless.  Aquamarine with the highest value come from Brazil, but t is found in Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Australia, China, India, Russia and the United States. Aquamarine stones are usually faceted cut, but if they are cut as a cabochon they may resemble a cat’s eye.

It was once believed that if you immersed Aquamarine in water it could cure heart, liver, stomach, mouth and throat ailments and could reverse the effects of poisoning.  Aquamarine was also believed to increase intelligence and restore youth, allows the wearer to possess foresight, courage and happiness. It was also used to aid the visions of fortunetellers and treat anxiety.

It is known to symbolize beauty, honesty, loyalty, safety, security, and renew passion in a stale marriage.

Aquamarine is the stone associated with 16th and 19th anniversaries.

I found this poem that describes the Aquamarine stone.  I do not know who the author is.

“A March born shall always be
Soothed by Aqua, gem of sea
This mermaid’s treasured stone you wear
Will bring happiness, love, affection and care.”

Amethyst

Amethyst is the official birthstone for February. Amethyst also is the stone that represents the 4th, 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries. The name comes from the ancient Greeks and Romans wore it and drank from it. They believed it protected its owner from drunkenness.

Amethyst is a violet or purple variety of quartz. It has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. There are many shades of purple that amethyst comes in including deep purple, light lilac, lavender and mauve. Its violet color to is the result of irradiation, and iron impurities. Amethyst does not come in any other color than purple. Top quality amethyst is a deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes. Amethyst is found inside geodes and in silty, sedimentary deposits all around the world Amethyst is produced when manganese is present in clear quartz. The depth of the purple color is determined by the iron content.

Besides protecting its wearer from drunkenness and intoxication, amethyst is believed to help overcoming addiction. Other attributes, this stone is believed to possess and help overcome is hearing disorders, mental disorders, insomnia, pain, and headaches. It is also believed to make the wearer more gentle and pleasant to be around and has the power to affect dreams, healing, peace, love, courage, protection against thieves, and happiness. Medieval soldiers wore amethyst for protection and to heal them in battle and to keep them cool-headed.

Garnet

Garnet is the January birthstone and the gem designated for the 2nd and 6th wedding anniversary. There are many types of garnet: almandine, andradite,tsavorite, demantoid, grossularite, pyrope, spessartite, uvarovite. Crystal structures of the garnet, are; isometric, rhombic, dodecahedron.
The name Garnet originates from the Greek word “granatum” which means “pomegranate seed”.
Most garnets are red in color, leading people to believe that all garnets are red. Garnets occur in every color of the spectrum, except blue. A uvarovite garnet is always a bright green. This wide range of colors is due to a combination of elements within each particular gem, such as iron, calcium, and manganese.
Garnets usually have well-shaped and complex crystals. Garnets possess high levels of refraction, are hard, come in pretty colors, are transparent, lack cleavage and are durable. The most common crystal shape for garnets is the rhombic dodecahedron, a twelve sided, diamond-shaped crystal. This shape is a trademark of garnets. No other shape is so closely aligned with a gemstone. Garnets have a hardness of 6.5 to 7.5 on the Moh’s scale.
Jewelry made with garnet has been found as early as the Bronze Age (3000 BC) in burial sites. There are many myths and beliefs surrounding the garnet. It is associated with purity, truth, faithfulness and friendship. The garnet is also believed to be the protective gem of travelers. It is thought to be symbolic of love and the desire for a loved one’s safe travel and speedy return. Early civilization communities believed that it offered protections in the afterlife. Garnets are associated with strength, perseverance, prosperity, and health. During the Middle Ages it was believed that the garnets stopped bleeding. Many early cultures also believed that garnets were helpful in preventing and curing blood disorders and infections. It is also assumed that garnets possess the properties of awareness, commitment, regeneration, insight and removing negativity. They are reputed to be effective for curing health problems relating to the blood, heart, lungs and infection. The garnet is also used to enhance sensuality and sexuality.
Even if you do not believe in the beliefs surrounding this gemstone, the color and luster of the garnet can make for a very beautiful addition to any jewelry collection. Because of its abundance, high quality garnets are extremely well priced. With it brilliance and wide array of colors, this stone can and should be worn throughout the year!

 

 

 

Turquoise

Turquoise is the oldest and most popular of the December birthstones.  It is also the accepted gemstone for the fifth and eleventh anniversaries.  It is an opaque, sky blue or blue-green mineral. Chemically, it is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum. This stone is one of the first gems to be used in jewelry. It’s use in jewelry and artifacts dates back more than 5000 years.  King Tut’s tomb was packed with turquoise and Cleopatra may have used ground up turquoise for eye paint. The United States is the highest producer of turquoise. Turquoise is a sacred stone to Tibetans and Native Americans, who use it extensively in their religious ceremonies. Native Americans believe turquoise promotes spiritual and mental clarity, and helps build trust, understanding and kindness within their communities.  Turquoise was considered by ancients to be a sacred stone, protective against all manners of evil and ill health.  It is thought to bring good luck and protect against untimely death.  This beautiful gemstone is mined in Iran and the southwestern United States.  A gift of Turquoise represents friendship and luck. Turquoise got its name because Turkey is where the first deposits were found an initially turquoise mined in other countries was brought to Europe by way of Turkey.   This gemstone is easy to scratch so you will need to avoid hot water, hitting the stone directly and also household chemicals.

Topaz

Topaz has been used for centuries in jewelry. It is also one of the gemstones in the foundation of the twelve gates to the Holy City in New Jerusalem. The twelve stones are believed to protect the city against its enemies. It also represents beauty and splendor.
Pure topaz is clear and transparent, but impurities can cause topaz to also be, clear, yellow, orange, red, blue and green. The most common color for topaz is yellow. The golden brown to yellow colored topaz is often confused with citrine, which is not as valuable. Topaz is often treated to create more vivid colors or even give it a rainbow effect, called mystic topaz.
Golden or orange topaz (with a faint pink hue) is known as precious topaz and is considered the birthstone for November and the state of Utah’s gemstone. It is also the symbol of friendship. Blue topaz is the official gemstone for Texas. It is rare to find a natural blue topaz. To form blue topaz it needs to go through the process or irradiation and heating. There are many attributes associated with topaz. It is said to dispel sadness, anger and fear. It can also warn its wearer of poison and protect them from sudden death. It can make men handsome and intelligent and make women happy and fertile.
Topaz is considered a silicate mineral, meaning it contains both silicon and oxygen and makes up the most important and largest class of minerals. Silicate minerals make up 90 percent of the earth’s crust. Topaz is mined throughout the world and can reach boulder size. These large boulders are found in museums. Topaz is the hardest silicate mineral with a hardness of 8 on the Mohr scale.

Opal Superstitions for Halloween

HAPPY Halloween! There are many superstitions and traditions that play into this day. Many superstitions are associated with the Opal. There are passed on by folklore through family members and may even have something to do with disgruntled diamond sellers.
Opal has been considered by some a stone of bad fortune. This could be the result of Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Anne of Gelerstein”, which was published in 1829. In the novel the Baroness of Amheim dies while wearing and opal with supernatural powers. Within a year of this hugely popular book the sales of opals dropped 50%.
Medieval Europeans believed that if you found and opal while shopping you should cease buying anymore since the opal embodied the “evil eye”. The “evil eye” had a superficial likeness to many superstitious creatures eyes including cat, snakes toads, etc.
Here are other myths and superstitions surrounding the opal.
It was believed the opal was capable of killing or maiming or killing its wearer.
*White Opals are unlucky unless worn by someone born in October or with Diamonds.
*Very unlucky in an engagement ring.
*Will lose its shine if the owner dies.
*Renders the wearer invisible, if wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and held in the hand.
*Improves eyesight.
*Will help blondes keep their hair color longer.
*Will turn pale if in the presence of poison.
*Black opals are lucky.
*Useless as a charm to someone who is selfish.
*If used for good, it gives the power of prophecy.
The opal was not always so vilified. The ancient Romans believed the opal provided good luck and good fortune. It represented hope and purity. After all of these superstitions it is good to know that the black opal is regarded as an exceptionally lucky stone.
The supernatural acceptance of the past is fun to remember on this day. This evening when the night gets dark and the goblins come out, have fun embracing these superstitions while celebrating Halloween. Tomorrow when you wake up put on your opal jewelry with the confidence of wearing a beautiful stone.

Ethiopian Opals

Australia has traditionally dominated the opal industry controlling 95% of the production, but recently Ethiopia has entered the market. The Ethiopian opal is quite unique and different from Australian and Mexican opals. Ethiopian Opals can be opaque but most high quality pieces are translucent and lustrous. Many of these opals become transparent if you immerse them in water. This is called hydrophane, which means it can absorb water because the stone is dry and porous. When your opal turns to clear it does not do damage to the stone but is fun to watch. Watching the stone change from opaque to clear can take as little as a few minutes and changes back with in a few hours. These opals come in many colors, including white, blue, yellow, pink, red, orange, clear, grey, black, brown and green. It was first discovered in Mezezo, Shewa in the early 1900’s. Most of these opals are a darker color. They range from orange to red to dark or chocolate brown in color. A new find in 2008 near Wegel Tena has produced opals that are white in color and have a dynamic play of color. There is no such thing as an antique Ethiopian opal. This opal has been on the market for less than twenty years.

Opals

Australia is the country of origin of most Opals. Almost 95% of Opals come from this country. Legend has it that the creator came down to earth on a rainbow to bring world peace. When he touched the ground the stones under his feet started sparkling like the colors of the rainbow he rode down on.
There are many types of Opals including the Black Opal, the Mexican Fire Opal, the Boulder Opal and the Milk Opal. Recently there have been fabulous opals coming out of Ethiopia that have an amazing flash and different type of glow. Opals are between a 5.5 to a 6 on the Mohr hardness scale. Opals are very delicate and require care to ensure they stay beautiful. Opals can be worn in heat or cold but they do not do well with sudden temperature changes.
Opals shine and sparkle in a changing play of colors. This is called opalising. The variations of Opals are practically unlimited. The Fire Opal is the only exception, due to its transparency. In the 1960’s Australian scientist discovered that small deposits of silica gel caused diffractions and are responsible for the play of colors. Opals also contain between 3% to 21% water within its mineral structure. To bring out the play of color it is best to cut and polish the stone to a round or oval cabochon shape. The most important criterion for determining the price of an Opal is the play of colors.
Opals are believed to have healing powers, which includes combating depression. They are also known to help their wearer find true love.
Stay tuned for a discussion about opal superstitions……