Tag: Birthstones

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: A Variegation of Colors for October

“October’s child is born for woe, 
And life’s vicissitudes must know, 
But lay an opal on her breast, 
And hope will lull those woes to rest.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Opals
Opals, October’s traditional birthstone, often show a flamelike effect in their color variations.

 

Tourmaline Stones
Tourmaline comes in a great variety of colors, including bi- and tri-colored stones.

October is another of those lucky months with two stones to chose from. Opal is the traditional October stone, with tourmaline added as a secondary stone in 1912. The fantastic thing about being born in October is the amazing range of colors these two stones have to offer. Opal is made when silica gel seeps into cracks in sedimentary rock and is naturally heated and molded over time. This gives the wide range of colors seen within the different varieties of opals, and gives the stones a 3D effect – you see different colors at different depths within the stone.

Tourmaline comes in a variety of single color stones, as will as bi- or tri-colored stones. This effect is known as color zoning. A popular variety of multicolored tourmaline is watermelon tourmaline, which has a color gradient of green to pink/red, often with a colorless zone in between.

Watermelon Tourmaline Butterfly
Check out this adorable watermelon tourmaline butterfly!

Tourmaline is found in Brazil, the U.S., Africa, and Afghanistan. An intense green variety called chrome tourmaline is found in Kenya and Tanzania. The word “tourmaline” comes from the Sinhalese word “turmali,” meaning “mixed,” referring to its stunning color varieties. According to Egyptian legend, tourmaline passed under a rainbow on it’s way up from the center of the earth, and therefore absorbed all the colors of the rainbow, giving us the varieties we see today.  Tourmaline is thought to enhance creativity, and is a stone of love and friendship. Another trait that sets tourmaline apart from many other stones is their ability to hold an electrical charge when heated and then allowed to cool.

Shopping for an October birthday present? Pearls International offers this amazing pearl enhancer with chrome tourmaline, which is a perfect addition to any of our pearl necklaces.

Chrome Tourmaline Pearl Enhancer
Our pearl enhancer with chrome tourmaline.

Opal also comes in many varieties, including black opal, fire opal, and milky opal. Australia produces a large percentage of the world’s opal, primarily black and white opal. The greek word “oppallos” means “to see a change of color.” This word is derivative from the Sanskrit word “upala” which means “valuable stone.” The Romans also have a word, “opalus” meaning “a stone from many elements.”

Opal pendant in Sterling silver

African Aborigines have a legend about the creation of opals that also involves a rainbow, interestingly enough. It was believed that the Creator came down from the heavens on a rainbow, bearing a message of peace for all people. When his feet touched the ground, the stones around him began to sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow, and thus opals were created. Metaphysically, it is thought to cure depression and bring real and true love to the wearer.

Fire Opal
A gorgeous fire opal. Look at all those colors!

When buying opals as a gift, remember that they contain 3-30% water, and are a very soft stone, meaning they are best for occasional or light wear.

 

 

sources: www.americangemsociety.org, http://4csblog.gia.edu/2012/october-birthstone-about-tourmaline, http://www.colonialjewelers.com/learn/about-gemstones/opal-tourmaline/, www.almanac.com, www.gemstone.org, www.gemselect.com

Gemstone Spotlight: Sapphire, September’s Protection

“A maiden born when autumn leaves 
Are rustling in September’s breeze, 
A sapphire on her brow should bind 
`Twill cure diseases of the mind.”

-Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Some examples of sapphire color variation.
Some examples of sapphire color variation.

Those born in September call the sapphire their own. Sapphires, the sister stone to the ruby (which is really a red sapphire), are the the second hardest gemstone, rivaled only by the diamond. Corundum (a.k.a. the mineral that makes up rubies and sapphires) comes in every color of the rainbow. Many colors are shown in the photo above. Aside from the traditional blue, popular colors include pink, yellow, and green, like the pendant below.

Green Sapphire and CZ Pendant in Sterling Silver

It is most commonly seen in shades of blue, blue-green, and blue-violet. The most prized varieties are a rich, intense shade of blue that is not too light or too dark. The best sapphires are said to come from Sri Lanka and Madagascar, although sapphires are found in many other places around the world, including Thailand, Australia, the U.S. and China.

A high quality sapphire
A high quality sapphire is deep blue in color.

Wearing a sapphire is said to protect your loved ones from harm. If you are a Taurus, wearing sapphires has been said to cure and protect against mental illnesses, which is implied in the Gregorian Birthstone Poem at the top of this blog. It is also said to help cure rheumatism, work as an anti-depressant, promote clairvoyance, and aid in astral projection, to name a few traits. Since the middle ages, sapphires have been a popular stone amongst priests and royalty. Clergymen from medieval times wore blue sapphires to symbolize Heaven, and commoners thought the stone itself attracted heavenly blessings.  Sapphire stones were regarded as a talisman to ward off evil. Star sapphires were said to be so powerful that they would continue to protect the wearer as it was passed on to someone else, and was used primarily as a protective stone for travelers. Another legend says a venomous snake encased in a container made of sapphire would die. It represents faithfulness and sincerity in relationships, and symbolizes peace, joy, and wisdom. Metaphysically, it is a great stone for healing and protective purposes, and for mental growth.

A star sapphire
A star sapphire.

Thinking of giving a sapphire as a gift? Your September girl will be blown away! Sapphires (along with rubies) are also popular in engagement rings due to their superb hardness (Prince William gave a sapphire to Kate Middleton for their engagement!). Because of the amazing variety of colors they come in, you could even pick a stone in her favorite color. She will love you for being so thoughtful.

Think also of giving them as a 5th, 23rd, or 45th wedding anniversary present. Star sapphires are a traditional gift for a 65th wedding anniversary as well.

sources: almanac.com, gemselect.com, americangemsociety.org, www.bernardine.com/gemstones/sapphire