Tag: Gemstone Spotlight

What’s tougher than a diamond? You’ll never guess!

Our recent gemstone spotlight, featuring Jade, inspired us to dig a little deeper into what exactly the Mohs Hardness Scale is, and also the difference between hardness and toughness. Jade is a very tough stone, but not a very hard stone. In ancient times, it was used to create weapons and other tools, yet only falls between 6 and 7 on the Mohs scale.
How could that be? The answer is that toughness and hardness are not the same. Hardness (which is measured on the Mohs scale) determines how easily a mineral can be scratched, while toughness judges its ability to withstand breakage, as from a fall or impact with another object.

A guide to the Mohs scale

While the Mohs Scale consists of a numerical scale of 1-10, the toughness scale is a little less specific. There is not yet a standardized test for measuring toughness, and minerals are graded on a scale of Exceptional, Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor.

Diamonds, which are commonly known as the hardest natural mineral, sit at a solid 10 on the Mohs scale. However, they only rank as far as “Good” on the toughness scale. Jade, however, ranks as “Exceptional” and is therefore considered to be tougher than a diamond, although it sits at a 6-7 on the Mohs scale. GemSociety.org uses the comparison of wood vs. glass to help you remember the difference between toughness and hardness. Glass is very hard and can easily scratch wood, but wood is very tough, so if you bang a piece of glass and a piece of wood together the glass is more likely to be broken by the piece of wood.

With this logic, diamonds can easily scratch jade, but what happens if you whack a piece of jadeite and a piece of diamond together? The diamond could crack, but your jade will probably come away a little bruised, but not too much worse for the wear. Now you know!

 

Sources:
https://www.gemsociety.org/article/gemstones-tough-hard/
http://www.firemountaingems.com/resources/encyclobeadia/charts/68ag
http://geology.com/minerals/mohs-hardness-scale.shtml

 


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: 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

Gemstone Spotlight: Peridot, August’s Vitality

“Wear a peridot or for thee, 
No conjugal felicity; 
The August-born without this stone, 
`Tis said, must live unloved and lone.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

A faceted peridot and a rough peridot.
A peridot in the rough and a faceted peridot.

For years, August had two birthstones, peridot and sardonyx. The more popular of the two has always been peridot, which is a symbol of vitality, strength and growth and the star of this blog. However, August recently had a third stone added to its’ list of official stones, which you can read about here. (Spoiler alert – it’s Spinel)

Metaphysically, peridot is said to prevent against nightmares (especially when set in gold) and bring the wearer power and influence. Peridot was first found in Hawaii, where the natives explained its existence as being hardened tears from Pele, the Volcano Goddess, which is fitting because it is formed inside the earth and brought to the surface by volcanic activity. Throughout history, peridot has been used to connect with nature, perhaps because of it’s coloration. The ancient Egyptians believed drinking a beverage called Soma from peridot cups would bring them closer to Isis, Goddess of Nature. They also referred to peridot as the “gem of the sun.”

Pele, Goddess of Fire and Volcanos
Peridot was thought to have been formed by the tears of Pele, Goddess of Fire and Volcanos.

Today, peridot is primarily mined in Arizona, but is still found in Hawaii, and mined in other parts of the world, such as China and Pakistan. It is found in a variety of colors from yellow-green to brown, with the most desirable colors being the bright lime green and olive. It is sometimes called the “evening emerald,” probably for it’s similarity in color to emeralds. In addition to being August’s birthstone, peridot is a traditional gift to celebrate a 16th wedding anniversary.

Peridot and CZ Pendant in Sterling Silver
Peridot pendant in Sterling Silver, from Pearls International

sources: birthdaygems.org

almanac.com

americangemsociety.org

www.about-birthstones.com/augustbirthstone

Gemstone Spotlight: Rubies, July’s Passion

“The glowing ruby shall adorn,
Those who in July are born;
Then they’ll be exempt and free
From love’s doubts and anxiety.”

– Gregorian Birthstone Poem

Rubies
Faceted Rubies

July’s birthstone is one of history’s most prized gems. Ancient Hindus called it “Rajnapura,” or “King of Gems.” It has a very mystical history and was once thought to have magical powers. A legend says that a ruby would glow darker when the owner was in danger, and return to its original color once the danger had passed. Royalty wore ruby jewelry to ward off evil. Ancient tribes used rubies as bullets, as they represented power and heat. Some also believed that a pot of water would instantly boil if a ruby was thrown into it. It was also ground up and placed on the tongue as a cure for indigestion. Today, they are regarded as symbols of love and passion, as these emotions are enhance by their deep red color. Metaphysically, they are thought to arouse the senses, stimulate your imagination, and guarantee success in love and wealth.

A rough ruby and faceted rubies.
A rough ruby and faceted rubies.

The Latin word “ruber” means red, and the most prized rubies are medium to deep red, although they do come in a variety of colors. If too much of another color is seen, (i.e. purple or orange) it will be called a fancy sapphire. Sapphires and rubies are nearly chemically identical, but rubies are prized for their color and are more rare in gem quality than Sapphires. The highest quality rubies are said to be found in Burma, but they are also mined in many other countries around the world, including India, Sri Lanka, and here in the U.S. The only gem harder than a ruby is a diamond, so they are perfect for everyday wear.

Shopping for someone born in July? Our pearl and ruby jewelry is a perfect way to show your love! Also consider buying a ruby to celebrate a 40th wedding anniversary.

Ruby and Pearl Pendant
This pearl and ruby pendant by Pearls International is simple and stylish, easy to dress up or down!

sources: www.about-birthstones.com/julybirthstone.html, www.birthdaygems.org, www.almanac.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.