Zircon is an important gemstone of many colors, and is an historical gemstone used for thousands of years. It is sometimes looked upon as a cheap Diamond simulant, but in actuality it can be a valuable gem. Its color diversity is caused by traces of certain impurities, some of which areradioactive. Zircon gemstones containing radioactive element traces undergo a process calledmetamiction, in which their inner crystal structure becomes destroyed. These radioactive forms of Zircon must be heated to stabilize them for use as gems. In fact, many of the gem forms of zircon (even those that are not radioactive) are heat treated to enhance color and increase transparency. The radioactivity in Zircon gemstones is very minimal and is generally believed to be safe, without posing any health hazards.
Ruby is distinguished for its bright red color, being the most famed and fabled red gemstone. Beside for its bright color, it is a most desirable gem due to its hardness, durability, luster, and rarity. Transparent rubies of large sizes are even rarer than Diamonds. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral Corundum. Sapphire, the other gem variety of Corundum, encompasses all colors of Corundum aside from red. In essence, Ruby is a red Sapphire, since Ruby and Sapphire are identical in all properties except for color. However, because of the special allure and historical significance, Ruby has always been classified as an individual gemstone, and is never identified as a form of Sapphire (though some purplish-red colors may straddle the line of being classified as either Ruby or Sapphire).
Meaning: The ruby was regarded by ancient Hindus as the "king of gems." It was believed to protect its wearer from evil. Today, the ruby's deep-red color signifies love and passion.
Opal is the most colorful of gems. Its splendid play of color is unsurpassed, and fine examples can even be more valuable than Diamond. The play of color consists of iridescent color flashes that change with the angle at which the stone is viewed. This phenomenon is often called opalescence. The play of color may consist of large, individual flashes of color (known as schillers), or may be of tiny, dense flashes. The intensity and distribution of the color flashes is a determining factor in the value of an Opal.
Meaning: The opal symbolizes faithfulness and confidence. The word comes from the Latin opalus, meaning "precious jewel." Necklaces with opals set in them were worn to repel evil and to protect eyesight.
Tourmaline is the most colorful of all gemstones. It occurs in all colors, but pink, red, green, blue and multicolored are its most well-known gem colors. Scientifically, tourmaline is not a single mineral, but a group of minerals related in their physical and chemical properties. The mineral Elbaite is the member of the Tourmaline group that is responsible for almost all the gem varieties. Three other members of the group - Schorl, Dravite and Liddicoatite, are seldom used as gemstones.
Moonstone is the most well-known gemstone of the feldspar group. Named for its glowing color sheen that resembles the moonlight, Moonstone can belong to several different members of thefeldspar group, especially Orthoclase and Oligoclase. Moonstone displays a unique play of color known as adularescence. This effect is in the form of a moving floating light or sheen. This phenomenon is caused by structural anomalies within the crystal formation.
Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries. They were one of the favorite gem materials of the Roman Empire; later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl age. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market.
Meaning: The pearl has long been a symbol of purity. The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Bloodstone is a dark green to dark bluish-green variety of Chalcedony that is speckled with red or brown spots. The spotting appears similar to blood stains, as is indicative of the name of this gemstone. The spots may be very sparse to almost non-existent, or they may be very dense and interwoven. Bloodstone may also have red markings as stripes or veins, though spotting is the most prevalent and desirable habit.
Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. It has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethyst were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewelry. Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine material can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.
Meaning: The amethyst is said to strengthen relationships and give its wearer courage. At one time, only royalty could wear the gem. Ancient Greeks thought that the amethyst guarded against intoxication. In fact, amethyst comes from amethystos, a Greek word meaning "sober."
Citrine is the yellow to orange variety of Quartz. Natural Citrine is not common; most Citrine on the gem market is produced by heat treating Amethyst and Smoky Quartz. It takes a relatively low temperature to change the color light to golden yellow, and heating to higher temperatures will give the stone a darker yellow to brownish-red color. The name Citrine is derived from the citron fruit, a yellow fruit similar to the lemon. (In fact, citron means "lemon" in several languages.)
Topaz makes an ideal gem. A good hardness and desirable colors, combined with a relative abundance and availability makes it one the most popular gemstones. The most valuable colors of Topaz are the golden orange-yellow type, called Imperial Topaz, and the dark pinkish-red and orange-red colors. Value increases with a deepness of color in orange and reddish hues. The most commonly used colors of Topaz in jewelry are the blue types. It was not until this past century that blue Topaz became widespread on the gem market, since virtually all blue gem Topaz is irradiated and heat treated.
Meaning: The topaz symbolizes love and affection. It is believed to give the wearer increased strength and intellect.
Alexandrite is the highly regarded color changing variety of Chrysoberyl. The color of Alexandrite changes under different lighting conditions. If viewed in daylight, its color is greenish blue to dark yellow-green. If viewed in incandescent or candle light, its color is pink to red. Alexandrite is a very rare and highly valuable gemstone, and until recently was extremely difficult to obtain due to its rarity. However, new sources in Brazil and Tanzania have made this gemstone available and more mainstream on the gemstone market.
Tanzanite is the blue to violet gem variety of the mineral Zoisite. Since its relatively recent discovery in 1967, it has become a mainstream and popular gemstone, and is used extensively in jewelry. To date, Tanzanite is found only in the Arusha region of the African country of Tanzania, and it was named after its country of origin.
Sapphire is the most precious and valuable blue gemstone. It is a very desirable gemstone due to its excellent color, hardness, durability, and luster. In the gem trade, Sapphire without any color prefix refers to the blue variety of the mineral Corundum. However, the term Sapphire encompasses all other gem varieties and colors of Corundum as well, excluding Ruby, the red variety of Corundum, which has its own name since antiquity.
Meaning: The sapphire was once thought to guard against evil and poisoning. It was believed that a venomous snake would die if placed in a vessel made of sapphire. Traditionally a favorite stone of priests and kings, the sapphire symbolizes purity and wisdom.
Emerald, the green variety of Beryl, is the most famous and valuable green gemstone. Its beautiful green color, combined with durability and rarity, make it one of the most expensive gemstones. Deep green is the most desired color in Emeralds. In general the paler the color of an Emerald, the lesser its value. Very pale colored stones are not called Emeralds but rather "Green Beryl". They are sometimes heat treated, which causes their color to turn blue and transform into Aquamarine.
Meaning: The emerald was one of Cleopatra's favorite gems. It has long been associated with fertility, rebirth, and love. Ancient Romans went so far as to dedicate this stone to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Today, it is thought that emeralds signify wisdom, growth, and patience.
Aquamarine is the greenish-blue to blue variety of Beryl. It forms in beautiful crystals that can be quite large and totally transparent. Unlike Emerald which usually is flawed or heavily included, Aquamarine can form in stunning flawless crystals, creating some of the most beautiful mineral masterpieces. Duller or greenish colored stones can be heated to very high temperatures in which they can attain a beautiful sky-blue color. In fact, much of the Aquamarines used as gemstones are actually heat treated.
Meaning:The aquamarine was thought to cure heart, liver, and stomach diseases—all one had to do was drink the water in which the gem had been soaking. Early sailors believed that aquamarine talismans, etched with the likeness of the sea god Neptune, protected them against ocean dangers.
Garnet is not a single mineral, but describes a group of several closely related minerals. Garnets come in a variety of colors and have many different varieties. However, the most widely-known color of Garnet gemstones is dark red. When the term "Garnet" is used, it is usually connotative of the dark red form; other color Garnets are usually given more descriptive gemstone terms.
Meaning: The garnet is thought to keep the wearer safe during travel.
Peridot is a well-known and ancient gemstone, with jewelry pieces dating all the way back to the Pharaohs in Egypt. The gem variety of the mineral Olivine, it makes a lovely light green to olive-green gemstone. The intensity of color depends on the amount of iron present in a Peridot's chemical structure; the more iron it contains the deeper green it will be. The most desirable color of Peridot is deep olive-green with a slight yellowish tint. Deeper olive-green tones tend to be more valuable than lighter colored greens and yellowish-greens.
Meaning: The peridot symbolizes strength. It is sometimes called the evening emerald for its light green color. It was once believed that the green peridot crystals found in volcanic ashes were the tears of the volcano goddess, Pele. When set in gold, this gem was said to protect the wearer from nightmares.
All photos and descriptions are courtesy of Minerals.net.
Diamond, the most famed and fabled of all gemstones, is very unique in many ways. Renowned for being the hardest substance on earth, its sparkling fire, durability, and rarity make Diamond the most prized of all gems. No gemstone contains as much allure and interest as does Diamond.
Most Diamonds used as gemstones are colorless or very faintly colored. However, colored Diamonds, known as "fancies", can be extremely rare and valuable, and the most valuable gemstones ever known have been fancy Diamonds. In fact, fancy Diamonds are the most valuable substances known to man, with vivid colored Diamonds historically being sold for more than a million dollars per carat!
Meaning: The diamond in addition to being a symbol of everlasting love, was once thought to bring courage. In Sanskrit, the diamond is called "vajra," which also means lightning; in Hindu mythology, vajra was the weapon of Indra, the king of gods.
Turquoise is an ancient gemstone, and has been highly regarded in many of the world's civilizations. Among the ancient empires it is best known among the Persian and Native American civilizations, where it was the most popular ornamental gemstone. Turquoise today remains a popular gemstone, and is one of the most important opaque gemstones. It is highly regarded due to its unique turquoise-blue color, and is the only gemstone to have an exclusive color named after it.
Meaning: Turquoise is regarded as a love charm. It is also a symbol of good fortune and success, and it is believed to relax the mind and to protect its wearer from harm. Turquoise rings, in particular, are thought to keep away evil spirits.