Semi Precious Stones
Semi Precious Stones Origins
No gemstone is more creatively striped by Nature than agate, chalcedony quartz that forms in concentric layers in a wide variety of colours and textures. Each individual agate forms by filling a cavity in host rock. As a result, agate is often found as a round nodule, with concentric bands like the rings of a tree trunk. The bands sometimes look like eyes, fanciful scallops, or even a landscape with trees.
Agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet in ancient times. It was said to quench thirst and protect against fever. Persian magicians used agate to divert storms. A famous collection of two to four thousand agate bowls which was accumulated by Mithridates, king of Pontus, shows the enthusiasm with which agate was regarded. Agate bowls were also popular in the Byzantine Empire. Collecting agate bowls became common among European royalty during the Renaissance and many museums in Europe, including the Louvre, have spectacular examples.
Amber is fossilised Pine tree resin. Demand is especially strong for amber with insects inside it. "Amber is like a time capsule made and placed in the earth by nature herself,". There are many myths surrounding the origin of amber. Ovid wrote that when Phaethon, a son of Helios, the sun, convinced his father to allow him to drive the chariot of the sun through the heavens for a day, he erred too close to the earth, scorching it. To save the earth, Zeus struck Phaethon with a thunderbolt and he died, plunging out of the sky. His mother and sister turned into trees in their grief but still mourned him. Their tears, dried by the sun, are amber.
The two main sources of amber on the market today are the Baltic states and the Dominican Republic. Amber from the former is older, and thus preferred on the market, but that obtained from the latter is more likely to have insect inclusions. The two main sources of amber on the market today are the Baltic states and the Dominican Republic. Amber from the former is older, and thus preferred on the market, but that obtained from the latter is more likely to have insect inclusions.
Amethyst is the clear purple, mauve or violet form of the mineral quartz.As such it is related to citrine which is the yellow form of quartz, and also to rock crystal which is the colourless variety.
In ancient times, amethyst was thought to have numerous mystical and protective powers. It is the most highly valued of the quartz varieties and is typically found in a lilac to deep purple coloring. Amethyst is the February/Aquarius birthstone. It is known for spiritual upliftment and helpful in communicating effectively.
Aquamarine is the Birthstone for March and is one of the most popular and best-known gemstones. Aquamarine is found in Brazil, India, Madagascar, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family of gemstones, which includes emeralds and morganite. It is a transparent pale blue to sea green in color. Iron is the substance which gives aquamarine its color. Legend has it that aquamarine came from the treasure chests of mermaids, and because of this, became the lucky stone of sailors. The word Aquamarine is derived from the Latin words for aqua (water) and mare (sea). It is said to relieve one of seasickness, nerve pain and toothaches. It is also said to give the wearer feelings of trust and friendship.
aka Adventurine, Aventurine Quartz, Indian Jade
Aventurine is a form of chalcedony (quartz) that contains small inclusions of various shiny minerals. These materials, usually spangles of mica or iron oxide, give the stone a glistening effect known as aventurescence. Aventurine's granular appearance and particular translucence are its most distinctive characteristics. Most aventurine is naturally reddish brown or yellow, though a green variety is also known. The green aventurine you'll find on the market, as well as the red and blue, is almost certainly dyed to achieve its color.
The mineral aventurine is named for its resemblance to the well-known aventurine glass of Venice, Italy. As for how the glass obtained its name, tradition has it that a Murano workman accidentally dropped some copper filings in molten glass, creating an attractive new material. And so the glass was named avventurino for the Italian word avventura, or "by chance."
Aventurine is said to calm a troubled mind, thereby bringing inner peace. It is also supposed to increase confidence and gratitude, and promote emotional tranquility and positive attitudes. Aventurine is found in Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, Tanzania and the U.S.A., but India produces the majority.
Chalcedony is a catch-all term for cryptocrystalline quartzes ((quartz with microscopically small crystals). As a marketing term in the gemstone industry, however, "chalcedony" refers more specifically to semitransparent or translucent chalcedony with a solid color (commonly pale bluish-gray) and nearly waxlike luster. The color can also be white, blue, purple, pink, yellow, orange or red (but not orange-red, as that stone is known as carnelian). Blue and purple are the most popular hues. The chalcedony family as a whole includes agate, jasper, carnelian, chrysoprase, onyx, bloodstone, aventurine, flint, chert and sard. Chalcedonies can be either transparent or translucent, solid or patterned. The most common forms are agate and jasper.
Chalcedony has made other great marks on history. Because of its abundance, durability and beauty, chalcedony was one of the first raw materials used by humankind. Its earliest recorded uses were as projectile points, knives, tools and containers. Seals were made from chalcedony in Mesopotamia as early as the 7th century B.C., and the Romans also adopted the practice. The stone was used in Renaissance magic for health and safety, and has been worn as carved cameos and gems for many centuries, especially popular in the Victorian era. In ancient times, it was used as a talisman against idiocy and depression. Today it is still believed to banish depression and mental illness, as well as fear, hysteria and touchiness. Chalcedony is also thought to reduce fever, aid eyesight, stimulate creativity and stimulate calm and peace. The stone is found in Brazil, Germany, Russia, the U.S.A., Canada, Africa, Turkey and Indonesia.
Carnelian is an A-grade agate. What a lot of people call "true carnelian" is the fiery red/orange color, and in theory, carnelian is naturally that color. However, most of that fiery red/orange "true" carnelian is heat-treated in secret before it reaches the gemstone-cutting factory. This apparently has been a secret for thousands of years; each part of the world thought everyone else's carnelian was naturally red, but they were heating theirs, too. When held against the light, the color-treated carnelian shows its color in stripes, while natural carnelian shows a cloudy distribution of color. The name carnelian is said to be derived from the Latin word carnis ("flesh") due to its color.
Ancient Egyptian tombs are full of carnelian jewelry, as the Egyptians believed the gemstone had great power in the afterlife. According to their beliefs, carnelian amulets could help ensure the Ka's (soul's) passage into the next world. Elsewhere in the Middle East, carnelian represents the Hebrew tribe of Reuben and the apostle Philip. In Hebrew literature, carnelian appears as a gemstone in Aaron's breastplate. Some Muslims call it "the Mecca stone." Islamic doctrine holds that engraving the name of Allah on carnelian stones boosts courage. Ancient Greeks and Romans called it sardius and used the gemstone for signet rings, cameos and intaglios, while Tibetans created amulets of silver with generous applications of carnelian. Hindu astrology names carnelian as the secondary stone of Scorpios.
Red carnelian has been used for centuries to stop the flow of blood, and many believe the gemstone will stop nosebleeds. It is said to help heal physical wounds and blood disorders. Ayurveda holds that carnelian is excellent for the first chakra, and the gemstone is thought to bring passion to the wearer. It is recommended for infertility or impotency, and because of its ability to balance, carnelian is good for family areas of the home (especially a bedroom where more than one child sleeps). Deposits of this gemstone are found in Brazil, India, Australia, Russia, Madagascar, South Africa, Uruguay and the U.S.A.
People have come to know and love this stone under the name gold topaz, or Madeira or Spanish topaz, although in actual fact it has very little in common with the higher-quality gemstone topaz - except for a few nuances of colour. Thus the history of the citrine is closely interwoven with that of the topaz, and coincides with it completely when it comes to the interpretation of alleged miraculous powers. However, the citrine is a member of the large quartz family, a family which, with its multitude of colours and very various structures, offers gemstone lovers almost everything their hearts desire in terms of adornment and decoration, from absolutely clear rock crystal to black onyx.
Citrine is the clear yellow or golden form of the mineral quartz. it is said to dissipate negative energy. It assists in creating prosperity. It is a stone of joy, openness and optimism.
Coral is a calcium carbonate built up by the skeletal material of small animals that live in colonies in the sea. It comes in a wide range of colors, with black, red and pink considered the most valuable. It appears dull and matte when unfinished, but gains a beautiful gloss after polishing. It often grows in branches that look like underwater trees, and most is found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Pacific Ocean off Japan and Taiwan.
Many people think coral, like ivory, must be protected and/or is an endangered species. However, the few threatened coral reefs are monitored by international law. Furthermore, research shows that at current harvesting levels, even the Great Barrier Reef's coral is sustainable; in other words, it replenishes itself at a rate equal to or greater than it is collected. While some types of coral grow extremely slowly (at a rate of only about three centimeters every 20 years!), other branching varieties are estimated to grow up to 10 centimeters each year. Live coral for aquariums currently is more profitable to harvest than dead coral for jewe Coral is among the most ancient of gem materials, used for adornment since prehistoric times.
Coral inlays and ornaments have been found in Celtic tombs from the Iron Age (500 B.C.-400 A.D.). In ancient China, red coral was a symbol of wealth, favor and high social status. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), emperors wore accessories made of red coral, such as belts and necklaces, when meeting ministers. Queens also wore necklaces made of red coral in important activities such as birthday celebrations. Coral is one of the seven treasures in Buddhist scriptures, and Tibetan lamas use coral rosaries. To Buddhists, coral is a treasure that can protect you from evil spirits. Today, coral, with its reputed ability to calm and improve life, is considered the best accessory for modern people living in the fast lane. Coral is said to protect children and it is given as a gift to children in many countries. It also is used in difficulties of the lungs and digestion, and many relate it to blood circulation. Coral is said to help restore harmony in the event of emotional conflict and work against nutritional deficiencies, depression and lethargy. In addition, mystics claim it cures madness and gives wisdom but loses its power when broken. lry.
This common and pretty pastel mineral typically occurs in vein deposits. The name fluorite comes from the Latin fluo "(flow") in reference to its use as a flux. A flux is a substance that promotes the flow and combination of other materials, and fluorite is often used in making steel and other metals that require the removal of impurities. Another interesting aspect of the gemstone is its fluorescence in ultraviolet light. In fact, the word "fluorescent" is derived from fluorite.
The stone's color includes green, white, purple and lavender (though alternate yellow forms can be found). These colors have been known to fade with prolonged exposure to sunlight.
The ancient Egyptians used fluorite in statues and in carving scarabs, and artifacts of carved fluorite were found in the ruins of Pompeii. The Chinese have used it in carvings for more than 300 years, and, in the 18th century, fluorite was powdered in water to relieve the symptoms of kidney disease. This mineral's energy is purported to help the evolution of harmonious, peaceful and organized spiritual growth. It has been said to help clear the mind and heighten mental achievement while increasing the ability to concentrate. Also, it might help one to see the truth behind illusion. Fluorite is used on the body as well, in the treatment of bones, teeth and cell structure. It is purported to help eliminate the discord that causes infection and disease. It also has been used to assist in the prevention and repair of RNA and DNA damage. Major sources of fluorite include England, Switzerland and the U.S.A.
The warm red of the garnet illuminated Noah's Ark.
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.
By the term 'garnet', the specialist understands a group of more than ten different gemstones of similar chemical composition. It is true to say that red is the colour most often encountered, but the garnet also exists in various shades of green, a tender to intense yellow, a fiery orange and some fine earth-coloured nuances. The only colour it cannot offer is blue. Garnets are much sought-after and much worked gemstones - the more so because today it is not only the classical gemstone colours red and green which are so highly esteemed, but also the fine hues in between. Furthermore, the world of the garnets is also rich in rarities such as star garnets and stones whose colour changes depending on whether they are seen in daylight or artificial light.
Iolite: gem of the Vikings
When Leif Eriksson and the other legendary Viking explorers ventured far out into the Atlantic Ocean, away from any coastline that could help them determine their position, they had a secret gem weapon: iolite. The Viking mariners used thin pieces of it as the world's first polarising filter. Looking through an iolite lens, they were able to determine the exact position of the sun, and navigate their way safely to the New World and back.
The property that made iolite so valuable to the Vikings is its extreme pleochroism. Iolite has different colours in different directions in the crystal. A cube cut from iolite will look a more or less violet blue, almost like sapphire, from one side, clear as water from the other, and a honey yellow from on top. In the past, this property led some people to call iolite 'water sapphire', though the name is now obsolete.
Pleochroism may have been helpful in navigation but it certainly makes life difficult for the cutter. If iolite is not cut from exactly the right direction, no matter what the shape of the raw crystal, its colour will not be shown to its best advantage.
The name iolite comes from the Greek 'ion', which means violet. Iolite is usually a purplish blue when cut properly, with a softness to the colour that can be quite attractive.
The myth of jade
Jade – a gemstone of unique symbolic energy, and unique in the myths that surround it. With its beauty and wide-ranging expressiveness, jade has held a special attraction for mankind for thousands of years.
This gem, with its discreet yet rather greasy lustre, which comes in many fine nuances of green, but also in shades of white, grey, black, yellow, and orange and in delicate violet tones, has been known to Man for some 7000 years. In prehistoric times, however, it was esteemed rather more for its toughness, which made it an ideal material for weapons and tools. Yet as early as 3000 B.C. jade was known in China as 'yu', the 'royal gem'. In the long history of the art and culture of the enormous Chinese empire, jade has always had a very special significance, roughly comparable with that of gold and diamonds in the West. Jade was used not only for the finest objects and cult figures, but also in grave furnishings for high-ranking members of the imperial family. Today, too, this gem is regarded as a symbol of the good, the beautiful and the precious. It embodies the Confucian virtues of wisdom, justice, compassion, modesty and courage, yet it also symbolises the female-erotic.
Labradorite was officially discovered on St. Paul Island in Labrador, Canada, in 1770. However, pieces of the gemstone also have been found among Native American artifacts in Maine. During the 18th century, labradorite was frequently used in jewelry in France and England.
Labradorite is said to detoxify the body and slow the aging process. It also is believed to elevate consciousness and protect a person's aura, helping to keep the aura clear, balanced, protected and free from energy leaks. Many say the stone heals mental confusion and indecision. Labradorite is found in Labrador (Canada), Madagascar, the Ukraine, Australia, Mexico, Norway and the U.S.A.
This enchanting gemstone belongs to the large mineral group of the feldspars, of which almost two thirds of all the rocks on Earth consist.
Moonstone receives it's name from the moon.
The moonstone is characterised by an enchanting play of light. Indeed it owes its name to that mysterious shimmer which always looks different when the stone is moved. This gemstone is surrounded by a good deal of mystique and magic. In many cultures, for example in India, it is regarded as a holy, magical gemstone. In India, moonstones are also regarded as 'dream stones' which bring the wearer beautiful visions at night. In Arabic countries, women often wear moonstones sewn out of sight into their garments, for in their cultures the moonstone is a symbol of fertility.
Mother of Pearl
When an object gets inside the shell of a mollusk, it will protect itself by coating the invading object with nacre, which is the same material it uses to coat pearls. Nacre is found in pearl oysters, freshwater mussels and abalone. Mother of Pearl is the name given to the iridescent coating on the inside of mollusk shells. This is where the name creator (mother) of pearls comes from. In China, mother of pearl was used to treat heart palpitations, high blood pressure, said to stimulate imagination and help with decision making. It is also thought to be a symbol of faith and innocence.
This beautiful stone was a favourite of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Indeed, the name Onyx comes from the Greek myth in which Cupid cut the fingernails of the Goddess Venus. The Fates transformed the fingernail clippings into stone to preserve and protect these fallen parts of the Goddess. The name Onyx is derived from the Greek for 'fingernail'.
Although we mostly think of Onyx as a black stone, there is Onyx that has white stripes and a variety called Sardonyx is a reddish brown colour with white and lighter red bands.
All of Nature’s splendour seems to be reflected in the manifold opulence of fine Opals: fire and lightnings, all the colours of the rainbow and the soft shine of far seas. Australia is the classical country of origin. Almost ninety-five per cent of all fine opals come from the dry and remote outback deserts.
Numerous legends and tales surround this colourful gemstone, which can be traced back in its origins to a time long before our memory, to the ancient dream time of the Australian aborigines. It is reported in their legends that the creator came down to Earth on a rainbow, in order to bring the message of peace to all the humans. And at the very spot, where his foot touched the ground, the stones became alive and started sparkling in all the colours of the rainbow. That was the birth of the opals.
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, in lakes, ponds, mostly in China.
The vivid green of the peridot, with just a slight hint of gold, is the ideal gemstone colour to go with that light summer wardrobe. No wonder – since the peridot is the gemstone of the summer month of August.
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 had paled somewhat over the millennia.
Rock Crystal is the clear colourless (white) form of the mineral quartz. It owes its name to the ancients Greeks who found it in caves near Mount Olympus, and called it krustallos meaning ice, as they believed it to be water which had been permanently frozen by the gods. Rock Crystal have been used extensively by many cultures for diagnostic healing
As the name suggest, a very delicate pink, it varies in colour from an off white pink to rose pink colour. The early Chinese used Rose Quartz for carvings of the Goddess of Peace as the colour was thought to reflect her gentleness and wisdom. Today it is said to enhance all forms of Love.
Rutilated Quartz and Tourmalinated Quartz
While most varieties of transparent quartz are valued most when they show no inclusions, some are valued chiefly because of them! The most popular of these is known as rutilated quartz. Rutilated quartz is transparent rock crystal with golden needles of rutile arrayed in patterns inside it. Each pattern is different and some are breathtakingly beautiful. The inclusions are sometimes called Venus hair. Less well known is a variety called tourmalinated quartz which, instead of golden rutile, has black or dark green tourmaline crystals.
Topaz (aluminum fluorite silicate) is the hardest of the silicate minerals, due to strong chemical bonds within the stone. Yellow is the most familiar color, red the most rare. The stone is also found in brown, clear and blue.
The ancient Greeks believed topaz had the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. It was also said to change color in the presence of poisoned food or drink. Ancient lore holds that it could be used to control heat, and could cool boiling water and excessive anger. For this reason, topaz was used as a medication to cure fever. The yellow variety of topaz was officially discovered in the Middle Ages, during a quest for a supreme golden stone. During this period, topaz was used mostly by royalty and clergy. A
Mystics today believe topaz will stimulate the endocrine system, balance emotions and improve eyesight. It also is valued in the treatment of hemorrhages, poor appetite and blood disorders, and is referred to as the spiritual rejuvenation gemstone. Topaz is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Germany, Russia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Japan, China and the U.S.A.
Tourmalines are gems with an incomparable variety of colours. The reason, according to an old Egyptian legend, is that the tourmaline, on its long journey up from the centre of the Earth, passed over a rainbow. In doing so, it assumed all the colours of the rainbow. And that is why it is still referred to as the 'gemstone of the rainbow' today.
The name tourmaline comes from the Singhalese words 'tura mali'. In translation, this means something like 'stone with mixed colours', referring to the colour spectrum of this gemstone, which outdoes that of all other precious stones. There are tourmalines from red to green and from blue to yellow. They often have two or more colours. There are tourmalines which change their colour when the light changes from daylight to artificial light, and some show the light effect of a cat's eye. No two tourmalines are exactly alike. This gemstone has an endless number of faces, and for that reason it suits all moods. No wonder that magical powers have been attributed to it since ancient times. In particular, it is the gemstone of love and of friendship, and is said to render them firm and long-lasting.
The turquoise is ancient, yet again and again it finds itself back in fashion. Its shining sky blue is one of the most popular trend colours in the world of jewellery and fashion.
In many cultures of the Old and New Worlds, this gemstone has been esteemed for thousands of years as a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune or a talisman. It really does have the right to be called a 'gemstone of the peoples'. The oldest evidence for this claim was found in Egypt, where grave furnishings with turquoise inlay were discovered, dating from approximately 3000 B.C.. In the ancient Persian kingdom, the sky-blue gemstones were earlier worn round the neck or wrist as protection against unnatural death. If they changed colour, the wearer was thought to have reason to fear the approach of doom. Meanwhile, it has been discovered that the turquoise certainly can change colour, but that this is not necessarily a sign of impending danger. The change can be caused by the light, or by a chemical reaction brought about by cosmetics, dust or the acidity of the skin.