Tag: Birthstone

Watch Out Peridot – August Has a New Birthstone!

If you’ve followed our birthstone blog series or read any of our gemstone spotlights, you’ll know that we love reporting on all the dazzling and little-known facts about all of our favorite stones. August, which formerly could only claim peridot (and the lesser known sardonyx) as it’s birthstone, now has three stones to call its’ own! June, October, November, and December all boast more than one stone as a traditional birthstone, as well. In addition to peridot, those born in August can now sport lovely spinel as their birthstone.

History

Spinel has been confused with ruby for many years, even in Europe’s crown jewels. You may have heard of the famed “Black Prince’s Ruby” – worn by royals since the 14th century. This stone is not a ruby at all, but a 170 carat spinel polished into an irregular cabochon. Other famous spinels include the nearly 400 carat spinel atop the Russian Imperial Crown, and the Samarian Spinel, which is an astonishing 500 carats and thought to be the largest gem-quality spinel in the world. It belongs to the Iranian Crown Jewels.

The Black Prince's Ruby
The Black Prince’s Ruby – one of the world’s most famous spinels, at the forefront of George V’s Imperial State Crown. It has since been remade into the modern, lighter crown.

Colors and Physical Properties

As you would expect from the great ruby impostor, the most prized color for spinel is red. A quality it shares with true rubies, spinel takes its vibrant red color from chromium. It is also available in blue, pink, and orange, as well as lavender and violet ranging through to bluish-green. It is even found in brown and black. The variety of colors has contributed to its recent popularity, putting it in the same category as sapphires and garnets – two other popular stones known for their dazzling array of colors.

Spinel Color Variations
Some of the colors in which spinel is available. Ruby red (top right) is the most prized color, and purple is typically the most affordable. (Photo from gemselect.org)

Spinel is mined in Burma, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, parts of the US, Australia, and Tadzhikistan to name a few areas. It is actually rarer (and more affordable) than many rubies! Pieces larger than 5 carats, however, are considered quite rare – especially in ruby red and cobalt blue (which resembles the most prized shade of sapphire). These are the two most popular colors. Spinel is often imitated due to its’ resemblance to many other stones. True spinel contains iron, which makes it slightly magnetic. This separates it from the synthetic stones, although all reputable jewelry dealers should label their products clearly as natural or synthetic. Spinel also differs from rubies and sapphires in that it doesn’t rank quite as high on the Mohs hardness scale. However, it does still claim an 8, which makes it good for most jewelry applications.


Metaphysical Properties

Spinel is said to contain many metaphysical properties, which vary depending on the color of the stone in question. Overall it is said to be a calming stone and is recommended to those suffering from stress. When broken down by color, red spinel is said to enhance vitality, while green and pink incite compassion and love. Yellow has ties to intellect, while violet has associations in spiritual development.

Black spinel and diamond ring
Black spinel is often paired with white or colorless gemstones, which makes a stunning contrast. This ring features black spinel and diamonds in Sterling silver. $595.95

Click to view more spinel jewelry available from Pearls International Jewelers. If you would like a spinel for a custom jewelry piece, or would like to get more information about ordering the ring pictured above or any of the finished jewelry pieces from our Showcase, please contact us! (You can use the form below, or call at at 386.767.3473.)

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Sources:

Southern Jewelry News
GIA.edu
Gemselect.org

 

Gemstone Spotlight: December’s Ice Blue Sincerity

“If cold December gave you birth,
The month of snow and ice and mirth,
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’er you do.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Turquoise
Rough and polished turquoise stones.

If you were born in December, you may find yourself a little confused on which stone to call your own. Turquoise has been the longest standing and most traditional birthstone for December, with zircon and tanzanite recently added. Many also consider blue topaz amongst the ranks of December birthstones. (Fun fact: Topaz is one of November’s traditional gemstones.) Whichever stone you prefer, December’s birthstones all bring a sense of calm, peace, and sincerity you gain from gazing at their gorgeous blue surfaces. And they are all amazing stones, so this month’s gemstone spotlight will encompass not one, not two, but four stones. What a good way to end the year.

Turquoise has been on the list of December birthstones since before 1912, along with lapis lazuli (which is not heavily recognized as a birthstone today). It is, in fact, one of the oldest gemstones known to man. The name turquoise comes from the French phrase “Pierre tourques”, meaning “Turkish stone” although it was most likely originally mined in Egypt and Iran, not Turkey. Today, we use the word turquoise to describe anything of the blue-green color commonly associated with the gem, which is interesting because the color is actually named after the stone, and not vice versa. American turquoise is mined in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona. A rare translucent variety is found only in Virginia. “Persian turquoise” refers to any turquoise which does not have black or brown veining in the stone. These are more commonly found outside of the U.S. in countries such as Tanzania, Afghanistan, Mexico, China, and Israel. The most valuable specimens are said to come from Iran. The value of turquoise stones based on color and patterning depends on region and personal preference. Most Americans prefer the spidery patterns, while clean stones are generally preferred east of here.

Greenish turquoise with veining
Turquoise stones with veining.

Turquoise jewelry requires some care. It is relatively soft, and the color can be affected by harsh lighting, household chemicals, oil (including natural oils and perspiration from your body) and cosmetics. It is a good idea to remove your turquoise jewelry before washing your hands, showering, or applying perfume and makeup. (Similar to how you would care for your pearls!) Most turquoise pieces are set in silver, although it is commonly found set in gold alongside diamonds in the Middle East. It is extremely popular in the southwest, and is associated with a lot of Native American style jewelry.

It is regarded as symbol of good fortune, happiness, and success. Wearing turquoise, especially in a ring, is thought to keep away evil spirits. Turquoise jewelry in general is said to protect the wearer from harm and relax the mind. Apache indians believed that attaching turquoise to an arrow would increase the hunter’s accuracy. Native Americans have associated the color of the stone with the sky and the Earth, and many people today still think of it as being symbolic of nature. Shamans, healers, and medicine men have talked of the healing properties of turquoise stones, contributing it as a healing agent for heart ailments and blisters, amongst other afflictions.

Looking for a turquoise piece as a gift? It is a traditional gift for an 11th wedding anniversary, and its affordability makes it a great birthday choice. Check out these awesome turquoise pieces from Pearls International:

Freshwater pearl and turquoise gemstone pendant
This lovely pendant features a gemstone bead in between two swarovski rondelles and freshwater pearls. It is available in both blue and green turquoise.

 

Pearl and turquoise necklace
This pearl and gemstone necklace is perfect for any occasion.

The name zircon is derived from the Arabic words for “gold colored,” although it is found in a wide variety of colors (with blue being the most popular, and also the color recognized as December’s birthstone). Stones that are medium dark and pure blue all the way through are the most valuable. It is a dense stone, so a small piece of zircon will have a higher weight than most other stones of similar size. Zircon is most heavily mined in Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam, though it is also found in Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and etc. Colorless zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia and sometimes fraudulently sold as real diamonds. However, zircon is a natural gemstone, while cubic zirconia is laboratory grown.

Faceted Blue Zircon
Faceted blue zircon.

Of all the blue gemstones (and there are a lot!) zircon has the highest refractive index. This makes the stones look very brilliant, but they sometimes see a double refractive effect, which makes the stone look “fuzzy” around the facets. It is a fairly hard stone, but has a tendency to wear along the faceted edges and is sensitive to hard knocks, so should be treated as occasional wear jewelry, especially in rings. It should also be stored carefully.

Zircon is said to aid in spiritual growth, bring wisdom to the wearer, and help find beauty and peace. It is said to relieve pain, protect travelers from injury and illness, and aid in sleep, including preventing nightmares. Many people in the Hindu culture consider trees to be sacred, and one legend tells of the Kalpa Tree, a sacred offering to the gods that was made entirely of gemstones. In this tree, all the mature leaves were made of zircon. It is said that when one wanted to find peace and seek out certain blessings, they would sit under the Kalpa Tree and meditate.

Kalpa Tree
An illustration of the Kalpa Tree.

The next December gemstone is Tanzanite, which was discovered in Tanzania in the late 60’s, making it a relatively new stone on the market. It is interesting because it is not found in any other parts of the world, while many other stones are mined all in several countries. In fact, the entire mineable area of tanzanite at present is only five square miles, surrounding the volcano Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tanzanite gemstone cuts.
Tanzanite gemstones in several different cuts.

Tanzanite comes in a variety of blue-violet blue shades, and can show brown or yellow coloration in certain lightings. It is often heated to remove the brown and yellow hues, leaving you with a blue or blue violet gem. There is little history on this gem, as it is still so new to the market.

Faceted blue topaz
Faceted blue topaz.

The final gem considered in the list of December birthstones is blue topaz. Topaz is discussed in our prior blog on November’s birthstones, as topaz is considered to be a birthstone for November. However, November most primarily recognizes the yellow shades of topaz, while December only considers the blue varieties. Topaz is a very popular stone due to its durability and its affordability. In fact, it is the second most popular colored gemstone on the market, outranked only by sapphire. Blue topaz comes in a variety of shades. All deep, saturated blue stones are treated to enhance color. Most natural blue topaz is a pale blue. Pearls International’s jeweler has a fondness for natural blue topaz, and if you visit our Daytona Beach shores location you can see our chandelier made with natural blue topaz crystals, hand carved by our own Jim Stradley. We also have pearl and topaz pendants and earrings available for sale.

Blue Topaz and Pearl Earring and pendant Set
Pearls International’s natural blue topaz and pearl pendant and earring set.

According to legend, wearing topaz can improve your eyesight. Topaz was also said to change color in the presence of food or drinks that had been poisoned. It is also thought to cure insomnia and asthma.

 

sources: www.almanac.com, www.gemselect.com, www.birthdaygems.org, www.gia.edu/turquoise-history-lore, www.americangemsociety.org

Gemstone Spotlight: November’s Stone of the Sun

“Who first comes to this world below 
In dreary November’s fog and snow, 
Should prize the topaz’s amber hue, 
Emblem of friends and lovers true.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Topaz
Topaz gemstones with varying colors.

The topaz is the traditional birthstone for November, with citrine having been recently added as a secondary stone. Topaz colors include clear, brown, yellow, orange, pink, and red, as well as the well-known blue topaz. Many examples of topaz seen in jewelry are treated to bring out the color, as topaz is most often found in pale and light colors. This is especially true in blue topaz.

Blue topaz changes in color
The topaz on the right has been treated to bring out the bright blue colors within the stone, while the topaz on the left is a closer representation of its natural color.

This stone is found in many countries around the world, with the most common source being Brazil. It is a symbol of affection, has an interesting history of legends, and holds a few interesting metaphysical properties. Topaz has been said to increase strength, fight against insomnia, cure asthma, and improve eyesight. The ancient Greeks believed that this stone held the power to make the wearer invisible in an emergency. Both the Egyptians and the Romans associated topaz with their sun gods (Ra and Jupiter, respectively). The Egyptians believed that it was colored with the energy of Ra, and regarded it as a very powerful amulet to protect against harm. These legends more than likely refer to yellow varieties of topaz, as well as citrine, which was once confused with similar specimens of topaz, although they are unrelated.

Need a piece of topaz jewelry for a gift? We have a gorgeous topaz pendant and earring set, in natural, untreated, hand faceted blue topaz.

Pendant with blue topaz and freshwater pearl
Pearls International blue topaz and freshwater pearl pendant.

 

Freshwater pearl and blue topaz earrings
Freshwater pearl and natural blue topaz earrings.

Citrine, the second stone for November, is the yellow or orange variety of quartz. The word citrine comes from the French “citron,” meaning “lemon.” Naturally yellow citrine is primarily found in Brazil and Madagascar, although some of the citrine market today is actually heat-treated amethyst.

Natural Citrine Crystal
Natural citrine crystal.

Citrine’s sunshine-like color has earned it a spot regarded as a positive energy stone, and it is thought to cure depression and radiate success, prosperity, and abundance. These qualities have given citrine nicknames such as “merchant’s stone” or “success stone,” and many places of business keep a citrine stone at the cash register.

Citrine and CZ Pendant in Sterling Silver

Amongst other metaphysical properties, citrine banishes negative energy, and will never absorb negative energy from its surroundings, meaning it never needs to be cleared or re-charged. The healing properties behind the stone are endless, both mentally and physically. It can relieve emotional trauma, repel nightmares, aid in digestion, help overcome addictions, and promote self confidence. It is said to carry the power of the sun with it.

Faceted citrine stones
Faceted citrine stones.

sources: www.almanac.com, www.gemselect.com, www.americangemsociety.org

Gemstone Spotlight: The Pearl! June’s Treasure

“Who comes with summer to this earth
And owes to June her hour of birth
A pearl should wear against her skin
Who’s innocence many a heart shall win.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Pearls in an oyster.
Pearls of various colors in an oyster shell.

Could you guess which month is our favorite? The birthstone for June is the pearl! Other accepted stones are alexandrite and moonstone, but when you can claim pearls as your gem why would you want another option?! We at Pearls International are always excited for a chance to talk about pearls. June girls are lucky to have such a unique gem to call their own. Pearls are so special because they are the only gem that is produced by a living organism. They are perfect from the moment they leave the shell, requiring no polishing, faceting, or other enhancements, and you will never find two pearls that are perfectly identical. If you are a fan of our site, you’ll know they come in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and sizes! Pearls are found all over the world, with most freshwater pearls coming from China and Japan. Many saltwater pearls are also found in Japan, and are commonly farmed in the Tahitian islands and Australia as well.

The history and mythology of the pearl is another part of what makes them so unique, special, and interesting. Almost all pearls today are cultured, which means an irritant has been placed into a mollusk by a human and the pearl has formed around that irritant. This process was developed around the 1920s. Before cultured pearls, the only pearl jewelry was made from pearls found in an oyster by chance. Only about one in 10,000 oysters will produce a gem quality pearl by itself, so as you can imagine, a strand of natural pearls would have been very, very expensive back then. In fact, did you know a strand of pearls once paid for an entire house? It sounds too crazy to be true, but it is. Pearls really are legendary. Legends around their origins formed from a variety of cultures around the world. The Chinese believed the gem to have formed inside the brains of dragons, while other cultures thought they were formed when oysters swallowed drops of moonlight. The Greeks thought they were drops of water flung from Aphrodite’s body when she was born from the sea.

Illustration of a Chinese dragon with pearlq
The Chinese once believed that pearls were formed inside the brains of dragons and sometimes dropped into the sea when the dragons fought.

Pearls are a symbol of innocence, purity, and love. Giving a bride pearls on her wedding day has been said to prevent tears. Looking for the perfect pearl gift for your June girl? Pearls International has the best pearl rings, necklaces, bracelets, and more! Also consider pearls as a gift for a 30th wedding anniversary.

Black freshwater pearl and crystal hoop earrings
These gorgeous black pearl and crystal hope earrings are sure to make an impression.

18" graduated freshwater pearl necklace in white
Want a more traditional gift? We offer lots of classic white strands.