GemstoneGuide

Agate, Chalcedony

Chalcedony is a fiberous, translucent to opaque, compact variety of quartz that occurs in white, gray, and grayish-blue hues. Chalcedony is formed by silica-rich water percolating through cavities and fissures in volcanic rock. Chalcedony is a relatively porous material that is easily dyed to alter or enhance the colour. Chalcedony that has distinct banding is called 'Agate."

In many traditions Agate is believed to cure the stings of scorpions and the bites of snakes, soothe the mind, prevent contagion, still thunder and lightning, promote eloquence, secure the favour of the powerful, and bring victory over enemies.




Amber

Amber is the common name for fossil resin that is appreciated for its inherent and interesting mixture of colours. Although not mineralised, it is sometimes considered and used as a gemstone. Neopagans often use the stone for healing. This stone was called Freya's tears by the ancient Norse. Most of the world's amber is in the range of 30 to 90 million years old.

Amber was much valued as an ornamental material in very early times. It has been found in Mycenaean tombs, whilst in England it is found with interments of the bronze age. Beads of amber occur with Anglo-Saxon relics in the south of England and up to a comparatively recent period the material was valued as an amulet. It is still believed to possess a certain medicinal virtue.



Amethyst

Birthstone: February

Amethyst is one of the most prized members of the quartz family. The name comes from the Greek a ("not") and methuskein ("to intoxicate"), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.
Valued by the ancient Egyptians, the Hebrews and even the Christian Church, amethyst has played a key role in cultures throughout history.
Amethyst is found in a range of colors from violet to pale red-violet.




Aquamarine

Birthstone: March

The name "Aquamarine" is derived from the Latin phrase "water of the sea", named for it's greenish-blue seawater color.

Aquamarine (along with Bloodstone) is the birthstone associated with March. It is also the gemstone for the 19th Anniversary. People in the Middle Ages thought that aquamarine could magically overcome the effects of poison. Ancient sailors traveled with aquamarine crystals, believing that it would ensure a safe passage, and often slept with the stones under their pillow to ensure sound sleep. They believed the siren’s (mermaid) fish-like lower body was made of aquamarine.




Cat's Eye

Cat's Eye (also known as chrysoberyl) is derived from the Greek words chrysos and beryllos, meaning "golden" and "gem crystal". The color ranges from a honey-brown to an apple green with rich gold colors generally the most valued. The most important value factor is the strength and sharpness of the eye. Fine cat's-eye often also shows the "milk and honey" effect. When a bright light source is directed at the side of the stone, one side of the eye will be milky white and the other remains gold. When the stone is rotated, the colors switch. Cat's-eyes are especially popular in men's jewelry.

Cat's Eye really became popular by the end of the 19th century when the Duke of Connaught gave a ring with a cat's eye as an engagement token, this was sufficient to make the stone more popular and increase its value greatly. Up to that time cat's eye had predominantly been present in gem and mineral collections. The increased demand in its turn created an intensified search for it in Ceylon.




Citrine

Birthstone: November (alternate Blue Topaz)

The name "Citrine" comes from the French word "citron," or "lemon," for its color. Citrine closely resembles topaz (also a birthstone for November), but is slightly softer, and has less brilliance. Citrine has been used in Greece since the Hellenistic period at the end of the 4th to the end of the 1st century BC. Citrine can permanently change color if left in direct sunlight for several hours. In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. It is also thought to aid digestion, and remove toxins from the body.




Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia is well known as a substitute for diamond, due to its high hardness and great fire. But in recent years, it has established itself as a gorgeous gem in its own right. CZ is a beautiful synthetic gemstone that is durable and inexpensive and now even comes in any color of the rainbow, making it even more desirable.

To the untrained eye, cubic zirconia looks identical to a good quality diamond, but CZ has slightly less brilliance or sparkle than a diamond and more fire or flashes of color. The overall effect is so similar that it can even fool a trained gemologist on occasions. One great difference between cubic zirconia and diamond is weight; A piece of CZ the same size as a one carat diamond weighs about 1.75 carats. CZ is also more brittle than diamond and softer. Cubic Zirconia is also flawless, whereas diamond usually contains impurities and inclusions.




Jade

Jade is a gemstone of unique symbolic energy. With its beauty and wide-ranging expressiveness, Jade has held a special attraction for mankind for thousands of years.

This gem 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.



Moonstone

Birthstone: June

The name "Moonstone" is derived from the Greek name "Selenite" or goddess of the moon. 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

Mother of Pearl is similar to pearls in chemical composition, but unlike a pearl, Mother of Pearl comes from the actual shell of the animal.

Mother of Pearl has been a major component in jewellery and decorative arts for thousands of years. From ancient Egypt and Persia, to ancient China, Mother of Pearl has been a prized semi-precious gemstone throughout human history.




Onyx

In jewellery design as in fashion, colors look crisper against a background of black, and black and white always looks right. In fine jewelry, the black backdrop is often supplied by onyx, a chalcedony quartz with a fine texture and black color. Some onyx also displays white bands or ribbons against a black background. If the layers are even, this type of onyx can be carved into cameos.

Onyx was very popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The name comes from the Greek word onux, which means fingernail. The story is that one day frisky Cupid cut the divine fingernails of Venus with an arrowhead while she was sleeping. He left the clippings scattered on the sand and the fates turned them into stone so that no part of the heavenly body would ever perish. True, black isn't normally the color one associates with fingernails. But in Greek times, almost all colors of chalcedony from fingernail white to dark brown and black were called onyx. Later, the Romans narrowed the term to refer to black and dark brown colors only.



Pearl

A Pearl is unique, it is the only gemstone to be created from a living creature.
Pearls are formed when a foreign particle penetrates the body of a mollusk. The particle acts as an irritant, in order to protect itself, the mollusc coats the object in concentric layers of nacre, a natural substance commonly called mother-of-pearl. Only mollusks capable of producing mother-of-pearl are able to create a quality pearl, most notable examples being freshwater clams and saltwater oysters.

Almost all pearls used for jewellery today are cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are "created" with the assistance of human intervention. A cultured pearl is formed when a small foreign object or irritant is embedded in the tissue of a mollusk or oyster by a "seeding" technician. By surgically implanting this foreign object or nucleus into the tissue of the mollusk, the pearl farmer can induce the creation of a pearl. The pearls are usually harvested three to five years after the implanting of the nucleus, but it can take up to six years before a large high-quality pearl is produced.

The colour of a pearls is dependant upon the type of mollusc and the environment in which it grows. Pearls range from black to white, the most prized is the Indian Rose Pearl. Other colours include cream, grey, blue, yellow, lavender, green, mauve, champagne.



Paua Shell

The colour in the paua shell changes when viewed at different angles. This iridescence, similar to that of Mother of Pearl shell, but far more brilliant, is what makes paua shell so amazing as a gem material for use in jewellery. It is truly one of nature's marvels. Each shell is different in it's colour tonings, and in the patterns within the shell. The black patterns in the shell come from layers of protein that are laid down between the layers of calcium that make up the shell. The brilliant colours are from light being refracted within the crystal layers. The same effect that the iridescent colour found in Opals.




Rose Quartz

The pale pink colour of quartz, which can range from transparent to translucent, is known as Rose Quartz. The colour is a very pale and delicate powder pink. Transparent rose quartz is very rare, and usually so pale that it does not show very much colour at all except in large sizes. Translucent rose quartz is much more readily available, being used for beads, cabochons, carvings, and architectural purposes.




Smoky Quartz

Smoky quartz or Smokey quartz, also known as Cairngorm or Cairngormstone is a brown to black variety of quartz caused through the natural (or artificial) irradiation of aluminium-containing rock crystal. A very dark brown to black opaque variety is known as morion. Smoky quartz is often used for unusual faceted cuts.




Tiger's Eye

Tiger's eye quartz contains brown iron which produces its golden yellow colour. Cabochon cut stones of this variety show the chatoyancy (small ray of light on the surface) that resembles the feline eye of a tiger. The most important deposit is in South Africa, though tiger's eye is also found in Western Australia, Burma (Myanmar), India and California.




Topaz

Birthstone: November (alternate Citrine)

It is a fluorine aluminium silicate and comes in yellow, yellow-brown, honey-yellow, flax, brown, green, blue, light blue, red and pink ... and sometimes it has no colour at all.

The topaz has been known for at least 2000 years and is one of the gemstones which form the foundations of the twelve gates to the Holy City of the New Jerusalem. These so-called apocalyptic stones are intended to serve in protection against enemies and as a symbol of beauty and splendour.

In mysticism, the topaz is attributed with a cooling, styptic and appetising effect. It is said to dispel sadness, anger and nocturnal fears, to warn its wearer of poisons and protect him or her from sudden death. It is reputed to make men handsome and intelligent and sterile women fertile and happy.




Turquoise

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.

At all times and over the world, turquoises have been worn as natural protection against the powers of darkness. If in earlier times they preserved horse and rider from unexpected falls, they are regarded today as the protective stone of pilots, air crews and other occupational groups who are exposed to an especially high degree of risk.

In modern gemstone therapy, those suffering from depression are recommended to wear a turquoise or a chain with turquoise beads. The turquoise' cheerful colour is said to endow reticent personalities with more confidence. It is also often given as a gift, a stone of friendship, for the turquoise is said to be responsible for faithfulness and constancy in relationships.

In mysticism, the topaz is attributed with a cooling, styptic and appetising effect. It is said to dispel sadness, anger and nocturnal fears, to warn its wearer of poisons and protect him or her from sudden death. It is reputed to make men handsome and intelligent and sterile women fertile and happy.
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