Gemstone Guide

 

Agate

Part of the Chalcedony family, Agate provides an infinite number of patterns and textures that mesmerize, fascinate and are totally unique. It is a highly regarded stone worn in many cultures as protection from the ‘evil eye’

Hardness: 6.5-7 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Brazil, Uruguay, Madagascar, Mexico.

Interesting Fact: Traced back to the Stone Age, Agate was one of the first materials familiar to mankind. In the ancient days, it was believed that wearing agates made the wearer friendly, truthful and persuasive.

Amethyst

Amethyst has been and still is one of the most popular crystaline quartzes being found in all shades of purple from light lavender to deep violet. Its name derives from the Greek "amethystos", which means "not drunken", as historically, Amethyst was thought to ward off drunkenness. Amethyst was once highly regarded among the precious gemstones like Ruby and Emerald.

Hardness: 7 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: February

Sources: Germany, Brazil, Russia, Uruguay, USA

Interesting Fact: For thousands of years, the amethyst jewel has been coveted by princes both ecclesiastical and secular. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the High Priest of the Jews, and the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, sent thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it.

Apatite

Apatite comes in a range of good-looking pure transparent colours such as shades of blue, greenish yellow, greenish blue, soft pink and violet. The recent availability of a neon blue-green apatite from Madagascar has created enormous interest as it imitates the colour of neon paraiba tourmalines.  The name apatite which drives from the Greek for 'deceive' was given because the stone s easily confused with other stones such as precious beryl, topaz, zircon and tourmaline.  

Hardness: 5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Brazil, Madagascar, Sri Lanka & USA

Interesting Fact: Apatite is thought to be a stone of learning and inspiration. It is a fire element stone that is thought to be helpful for overcoming fear and turning thought into physical manifestations. It is able to draw out negative energy and stimulate creativity. 

Aquamarine

Aquamarine can be found in sea green, sky blue and dark blue with the latter two being the most desirable and valuable colours.It's name comes from the Latin for seawater and it was said to calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. March’s birthstone was also thought to enhance the happiness of marriages. The best gems combine high clarity with limpid transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Aquamarine is a member of the beryl group, the same gemstone family as the Emerald and Morganite. 

Hardness: 7.5 - 8 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: March

Sources: Brazil, Madagascar & Afghanistan

Interesting Fact: Aquamarine is dichroic, so the intensity of colour changes depending on the angle it is viewed from and the material is usually cut according to best colour range as opposed to greatest size.

Chrome Diopside 

This is the most important and valuable variety of diopside with a vivid emerald green colour due to the presence of chromium.The gem is highly refractive, so faceted transparent stones appear lively and brilliant with a vitreous lustre. Diopside is found in a few other colours ranging from yellow to pale green to bottle green, brown and purple. Black Star Diopside is also found, which has Asterism, which means that a star shape moves across the surface of the gem under a single light source.

Hardness: 5.5 - 6 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Burma, Pakistan, Siberia & South Africa

Interesting Fact: Diopside was first described in the early 1800s and gets its name from the Greek words ‘dis’ and ‘opse’, meaning ‘two faced’ in reference to there being two different ways of orientating the gem before it is cut.

Citrine

Citrine ranges in colour from pastel lemon yellow to deep reddish brown and amber. The most common natural colour is golden and tends to be quite pale, although naturally dark citrine does occur. Though its name suggests a bright yellow - its name is derived from the French word for 'lemon'. History, folklore and legends of Citrine are interwoven with that of Yellow Topaz, as throughout the centuries Citrine was often wrongly identified as Topaz.

Hardness: 7 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: November

Sources: Africa, Australia, Brazil & Burma

Interesting Fact: The benefits of Citrine are multifaceted. Folklore suggests that the gem can have a cooling effect and can alleviate nocturnal fears. It is also believed that it can warn the wearer of illnesses and the presence of poisons, thus protecting from sudden death. As well as removing toxins from the body, Citrine is said to be good for healing the heart, kidneys liver and aiding digestion.

Garnet

Garnet is an exciting and versatile stone and is available in a range of colours with the most familiar being a dark blood or rich raspberry red. The red colour of the Garnet has been likened to the flesh of a ripe pomegranate and the name Garnet is derived from the Latin word ’granatum’

Hardness: 6.5-7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: January

Sources: Argentina, Brazil, India & Madagascar

Interesting Fact: Garnet was once thought to cure fever and promote good health and many explorers and travellers wore it as a protection talisman, as they were a popular protective stone.

Hematite

Hematite is an iron mineral and the metallic silver-grey crystal surfaces of specular hematite are so highly reflective that they were used in the past as mirrors. Its name derives from the Greek for ‘blood’ which is due to the fact that when powdered it becomes red.

Hardness: 5.5-6.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Brazil, Canada, Italy & Scandinavia

Interesting Fact: It has been said to stimulate attainment of peace, self-control and inner happiness.

Iolite

Iolite is a transparent gemstone of violet-blue colour with a glassy lustre and is moderately brilliant. It is one of very few blue gemstones available and the name derives from the Greek word for ‘violet’.

Hardness: 7-7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: India, Madagascar, Tanzania & Burma

Interesting Fact: Iolite shows different colours dependent on the angle that it is viewed at. This property helped Viking explorers to determine their exact positioning of the sun when crossing the Atlantic and helped them navigate safely to the new world.

Jade

For over 2,000 years Jade has been mined and worked throughout the world. Jade is a gemstone with two incarnations, one abundant, the other more rare. Yet both jadeite (rare) and nephrite (abundant) gemstones possesses a beautiful texture, strength and colour that range from creamy pastels to intense and earthy tones.

Hardness: 6.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources:  Nephrite - Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Zimbabwe; Jadeite – Burma, Japan & USA

Interesting Fact: The Chinese were the earliest users of Jade making it part of their ancient religious cult and a symbol of high rank and authority in their society.

Kyanite

Not only is Kyanite beautiful, but its properties make it one of the most fascinating of gemstones. The colours in gem-quality material are shades of blue, white, green, grey and occasionally black. The name kyanite is derived from the Greek word 'kayos' meaning blue. The best stone has a clear royal blue colour that looks like a sapphire. Kyanite is unique in having two hardness values - one that runs along the gems length and one across the width.

Hardness: 4.5-5 or 7 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Australia, Brazil, European Alps, India & Kenya

Interesting Fact: Kyanite is actually made up of many different layers, making it easy to split this gemstone. This is known as perfect cleavage.

Pearl

Created naturally by a living creature over many years, every pearl is unique in its colour, lustre, size & shape. The two most important distinctions are the pearls habitat (saltwater or freshwater) and how the pearl was grown (naturally or cultivated). The constant demand for natural saltwater pearls over the last 150 years has led to a dwindling supply of them and as a result, the need to develop cultured pearls became essential. Pearl has a beautiful iridescent lustre and has been a symbol of innocence, faith and purity.

Hardness: 3-4 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: June

Sources: Natural Pearls – Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean & Red Sea

Cultured Pearls – Japan, China, Australia & Cook Islands

Interesting Fact: One of the most famous pearls in the world is called ‘La Peregrina’. It is pear shaped and the size of a pigeon’s egg. Famous owners included Philip II of Spain, Mary Tudor and the last known owner is believed to be Elizabeth Taylor.

Quartz

The abundance and beauty of Quartz has meant that is has been used as a gemstone since the dawn of history. Quartz can vary in colour from transparent to opaque and can produce optical effects such as stars and cat’s-eyes.

Hardness: 7 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Africa, Australia, Brazil & Japan

Interesting Fact: Beads of Quartz have been found in caves in Israel that were occupied between 5,000-6,000 years ago.

Rhodolite

Rhodolite is part of the Garnet family and is a composition of Pyrope and Almandite Garnet with a beautiful bright violet-red colour. The name is derived from the Greek word ‘rhodon’ & lithos meaning rose-stone.

Hardness: 6.5-7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Sri Lanka, Tanzania & Kenya

Interesting Fact: It is believed to balance emotion and foster greater awareness.

Rubellite

This is one of the most desirable and valuable of the tourmaline family. Rubellite translates quite simply as 'red' and true rubellite should be an intense hot pink to red colour with a violet to blue tone. 

Hardness: 7 - 7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources:Tanzania & Nigeria

Interesting Fact: The gem is a real treasure. It is far rarer than its closest rival the Ruby and many people find it infinitely more attractive.

Sapphire

Sapphires are known and revered the world  over  for  their  beauty  and  mystery.  In many ancient cultures this gem has been admired not only for its elegance but also for the magic and good luck often associated with it. Sapphires  come  in  a  range  of colours from blues to jet black, colourless and all colours in between. Sapphire is a member of  the corundum family along with Ruby.  The wide array  of differing hues seen in sapphires is due to the  presence of different impurities found in their  crystal structure. Blue sapphires are formed due  to the presence of titanium. chromium trapped inside corundum creates pink sapphires and in larger quantities gives us the ruby (when corundum is red it is renamed ruby instead of sapphire).

Hardness: 9 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: September

Sources: Australia, Thailand, Burma, Pakistan  and Sri Lanka

Interesting Fact: The most famous sapphire in the world is the Stuart Sapphire which dates back to 1214. It has passed down the Monarchs through the ages and was eventually mounted in Queen Victoria’s crown. It can now be seen on display at the Tower of London as part of the British Crown Jewels.

Spessartite

This gem is from the Garnet family and has a rich orange-red colour. Mandarin Spessartite (also  known  as  Mandarin or Tangerine  Garnet),  as  its  name  suggests,  is  a  stunning  orange  gem  and  is  one  of  the  most  valuable members  of  the  Spessartite  family.  It  was only discovered last decade, and as well as its  fascinating colour it also benefits from amazing brilliance.

Hardness: 6.5 - 7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Argentina, Brazil, India, kenya, Madagascar, Namibia

Interesting Fact: Spessartite is a brilliant gem that has an even higher refractive index than sapphire.

Tanzanite

This gemstone of drama and intrigue is considered, along with the sapphire, to be the finest blue stone in existence. It is a rare and transparent indigo-violet gemstone that is found in just one area of Tanzania and no where else. Tanzanite despite its scarcity, has not only gained remarkable public awareness in a very short space of time, but has become an object of desire worldwide.

Hardness: 6.5 - 7 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: December

Sources: Tanzania

Interesting Fact: Tanzanite can exhibit a slight colour change in daylight taking on an ultramarine to sapphire blue colour; in artificial light it will appear to be more of an amethyst-violet colour.

Topaz 

Topaz is a transparent gemstone that has a high brilliance and vitreous lustre. It is a durable stone that has a reasonable hardness and is impervious to most scratching.

Hardness: 8 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: November

Sources: UK, Australia, Burma and Sri Lanka

Interesting Fact: The Egyptians believed that Topaz was coloured by the golden glow of the Sun God Ra. This made Topaz a powerful amulet that protected the faithful from harm.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a favoured gemstone offering a variety of fabulous colours - sometimes several n just one stone. It is truly the gemstone of modern times. Members of the Tourmaline family are not from the same  crystal  structure  and  their chemical  compositions also vary. What they do have in common is that they all occur in nature as long, thin, straight gems and usually have a triangular  cross-section.

Hardness: 7 - 7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Birthstone: October

Sources: Africa, Brazil, USA

Interesting Fact: In 1989, Brazilian miners discovered tourmaline unlike any that had ever been seen before. This new type of tourmaline, which became known as Paraiba tourmaline, came in incredibly vivid blues and greens, due to copper sulfate added to a tiny amount of gold as coloring agent. Its rarity demands extremely high prices on the market today.

Tsavorite

Tsavorite has a beautiful, vivid green colour and is a bright, lively gem with a high refractive index. It belongs to the grossular group within the garnet family and has to be seen to truly appreciate how radiant it is. Tsavorite is considered amongst the most desirable of all garnets and until its discovery in Kenya in 1968, no other gemstone except emerald could offer such a rich green colour.

Hardness: 6.5 - 7.5 Mohs (The Mohs scale from 1 to 10 indicated the scratch resistance of various minerals with 1 being the softest to 10 being the hardest)

Sources: Kenya & Madagascar

Interesting Fact: Tsavorite is said to comfort and warm the heart as well as stimulate the immune system.