If you love magic, especially the magic of science, you’ll love alexandrite, the color-change gem. Outside in daylight, it is a cool bluish mossy green. Inside in lamplight, it is a red gem, with a warm raspberry tone. You can watch it flick back and forth by switching from fluorescent to incandescent light.
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.
Occasionally, Mother Nature combines the colors of Amethyst and Citrine into a single, exciting gemstone we call Ametrine. The Anahi Mine in Bolivia became famous in the seventeenth century when a Spanish conquistador received it as a dowry when he married a princess from the Ayoreos tribe named Anahi. Ametrine was introduced to Europe through the conquistador’s gifts to the Spanish queen.
Ametrine is as affordable as regular amethyst or citrine, and you can have both gemstones for the price of one. Ametrine is especially inexpensive when you consider that it comes from only one place.
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. Many aquamarines are greenish when mined and cut. For those who prefer a purer blue, these gemstones are heated to enhance their blue color permanently. Some aquamarine fanciers prefer the greenish hues, saying the greener tones remind them more of the sea. The color tones of aquamarine are subtle and varied.
Despite the similarity of their names, chrysoberyl and beryl are two completely different gemstones. Chrysoberyl is the fourth-hardest natural gemstone and lies between corundum and Topaz on the Mohs hardness scale. Chrysoberyl is a mineral consisting of ordinary colorless or yellow transparent chrysoberyl, cymophane (chrysoberyl cat’s eye), and alexandrite.
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. Brownish varieties are commonly heated and magically turn into the bright yellow or orange colors known as citrine. This enhancement method is permanent and will last for the life of the gemstones.
Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil and Zambia. Emeralds can be cut in a variety of different shapes, ranging from the traditional rectangular step-cut, known as the “emerald cut,” to rounds, ovals, squares and cabochons.
Although emerald itself is quite durable and hard, inclusions may make individual gems vulnerable to damage if handled roughly. Early gemstone merchants sought to purify the transparency of their emeralds by immersing them in clear oils or paraffin. They found that clear oils and waxes rendered surface fissures less visible to the eye.
There are many new treatments in the market today, resins, hardeners and the like. We have made the decision to sell only traditionally enhanced material.
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.
Kunzite is relatively hard, but should be handled with care because, like diamond, it has a distinct cleavage. A sharp blow, if it lands in the wrong place, can break it in two. Kunzite should also be protected from heat and continued exposure to strong light, which may gradually fade its color. Surprisingly Kunzite was discovered in the United States, early in the twentieth century. Even its name has American roots: this pink gem variety of the mineral spodumene is named in tribute to George Kunz, the legendary gem scholar, gemologist, and gem buyer for Tiffany & Co at the turn of the century. Kunzite was first found in Connecticut, USA. But the first commercially significant deposit was discovered in 1902 in the Pala region of California, where morganite beryl was also first discovered.
Morganite was first discovered in California in the early twentieth century. A rich gem find of tourmaline, kunzite, and other gems outside San Diego started a gem rush in the region. Morganite was an exciting new discovery, one that drew the attention of the world’s most important gem buyer: George Kunz of Tiffany & Co. He decided to name it in honor of his biggest customer: millionaire bank tycoon J.P. Morgan, who was an avid gem collector. Although its color is pastel, it has a lushness rare in pink gemstones. There are deposits of this gemstone in Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, and Russia.
Opal occurs in different colors, ranging from semi-transparent to opaque. The most common is white opal. Crystal or water opal has a colorless body. The most valued variety, black opal, has a dark blue, gray, or black body color. Boulder opal combines precious opal with the ironstone in which it forms. Bright yellow, orange, or red fire opal are quite different from the other varieties of opal. Their day-glo tones, which are translucent to transparent, are beautiful with or without play of color. Opal, along with tourmaline, is the birthstone for October.
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 peridots 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 Himalayan Mountains in the Pakistanian part of Kashmir. Peridot, the birthstone for August, is harder than metal but softer than many gemstones.
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 scarce. In readily available small sizes, ruby makes an excellent accent gemstone because of its intense, pure red color. 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.
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.
Centuries ago, in Sanskrit writings, spinel was called the daughter of ruby, adored, yet somehow different. The Crown Jewels of Great Britain are graced with spinels and have resided in the regalia of kingdoms throughout history.
Found in Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka and most recently Tanzania, spinel comes in a variety of colors including oranges, pinks, blues, lavenders, mauves and vivid reds. While common in sizes up to 2 carats, larger gemstones can also be acquired.
Spinel is thought to protect the owner from harm, to reconcile differences, and to soothe away sadness. However, the strongest reasons for buying a spinel are its rich, brilliant array of colors and its surprising affordability.
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 displays 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.
Topaz sometimes has the amber gold of fine cognac or the blush of a peach, and all the beautiful warm browns and oranges in between. Some rare and exceptional examples are pale pink to a sherry red. Topaz is found in Brazil, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Africa and China. The birthstone for November, topaz is a talisman for the sign of Sagittarius and is the suggested gift for the 23rd anniversary.
Topaz is a very hard gemstone, with a Mohs hardness of 8, but it can be split with a single sharp blow, a trait it shares with diamond. As a result it should be protected from hard knocks.
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.
Dark blue, blue-green, and green tourmalines are occasionally heated to lighten their color. Red tourmalines, also known as rubellites, and pink varieties are sometimes heated or irradiated to improve their colors. Heat and irradiation color enhancement of tourmalines is permanent. Occasionally, some tourmalines may have surface-breaking fissures that are filled with resins, with or without hardeners.
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.