Garnet is a durable stone that occurs in many colors in many countries around the world. Pyrope, red, purple, spessartite, orange; tsavorite, green; and almandite, brown are just a few of the members of the family. The name is derived from the Latin word granum meaning grain. These stones were considered to symbolize faith, constancy, and truth by ancient people as well as having strong curative powers.
The name "Amethyst" comes from the ancient Greek word, amethustos, meaning not intoxicated, and a reference to the belief that the stone protected its wearer from drunkenness. Brazil and Zambia are the primary source of amethysts mined today and is also found in Uruguay, Bolivia, Canada, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Namibi, Russia, Sri Lanka and the Arizona in the United States. The most important amethyst deposits are in Brazil, namely the “Palmeira” amethysts of Rio Grande do Sul and the “Maraba” amethysts of Para.
Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family of stones, aquamarine was often thought to resemble the clear, blue water of the Mediterranean by the Greeks and Romans. Like the sea water it is named for its color can range from blue to green blue. These stones were symbols of youth and everlasting happiness to the Romans. Aquamarine is mined in Brazil, China, India, Russia and the United States.
The Diamond is the hardest material known to man, diamond is the only gemstone primarily comprised of one element, carbon. One of the oldest known gems, diamonds were mined in India as far back as 400 B.C. The largest diamond ever found was the Cullinan, a 3,106 ct. behemoth, found in 1905. It was cut into 105 stones, two of which reside in the British Crown Jewels.
The Emerald was the favorite stone of Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, emerald is a member of the beryl family of gemstones. The mineral chromium is what gives the emerald its color, the higher the chromium the more intense the color. Emeralds were mined by the ancient Egyptians and their name comes from the Greek word smaragdos meaning green stone. The finest emeralds are found in Columbia but emeralds are also found in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Russia, and Afghanistan.
Pearl is a naturally forming gem is produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk, such as an oyster. Cultured pearls can be divided into two categories: beaded salt-water and non-beaded freshwater pearls. The iridescence of pearls is what makes them highly prized and range in color from white to cream-golden, green, blue, black, and rainbow. Cultured pearl farms are found in China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Alexandrite is unique and a very rare gemstone and is named after Russian Tsar Alexander II, because it was discovered in 1834, on his 16th birthday. It was found in the Ural Mountains while mining for emeralds. It is the most valuable gem in the chrysoberyl family because it often changes color from green or bluish-green in daylight to reddish or raspberry in incandescent light. This gemstone has also been found in Myanmar, India, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and in the late 1980s in Brazil.
The Ruby was known to the ancients as “the King of Gems” ruby dates back centuries and is referenced in the Bible. The name of this gemstone comes from the Latin word ruber meaning red. Second only to diamonds in hardness it is the red cousin of sapphires. The highest quality rubies are very rare and can be worth more than diamonds. These gemstones are mined in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Ruby is used to commemorate 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.
The Peridot gemstone is an ancient one, mentioned in the Bible and one of the few gemstones that exist in only one color, green. The Romans called this gem “evening emerald” since the green color didn’t darken at night and was still visible by lamplight. A member of the olivine family of stones, its color is derived from traces of iron introduced during its formation. Main deposits are found in Pakistan, China, Vietnam, and Arizona in the United States.
The most well known of the Sapphire family is the blue stone that is only second in hardness to diamonds and known as the gem of heaven because of its rich blue color. The use of sapphires as adornment dates back, as early as, the 7th century B.C. One of the most famous sapphires is the 104 ct. Stewart Sapphire mounted in the British Imperial State Crown. Sapphires are most prevalent in Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Madagascar, Africa, and Montana in the United States.
The Birthstones for October are Tourmaline & Opal:
Tourmaline consists of more color variants than any other gemstone in the world. Usually rich in iron these stones run from black to bluish-black to deep brown. Depending on the trace elements colors can be blue, green, red, yellow, and pink. Crystals can be bi-colored or multicolored and some stones change color when viewed from different angles. Tourmaline from Sri Lanka was first introduced to Europe by the Dutch East India Company. Today tourmaline is mined in Brazil, Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States.
Opal is primarily mined in Australia and stones come in a full spectrum of color. The most common are the milky white and green stones while the red against black are the most rare. Opals are valued by the fire or play of color when looked at from different angles. Deposits of these stones are also found in the United States, Czech Republic, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Guatemala.
Citrine is member of the quartz family this stone color ranges from pale yellow to brown. The name comes from the French word for lemon, citron. Citrine was carried as protection against snake venom and evil thoughts by ancient people. It is also believed to make its wearer lighthearted. Deposits of this stone are found in Brazil, Russia, France, and Madagascar.
Topaz is a stone of many colors but pure topaz is colorless and transparent. It is the impurities that give life to the stone. Topaz comes in brown, orange, gray, yellow, blue, green, and pink. While we think of topaz as being blue most of the time, naturally occurring blue topaz is quite rare. This stone is mined in Russia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Nigeria and the United States.
The Birthstones for December are Tanzanite, Zircon & Turquoise:
Tanzanite which is the blue/purple gemstone was first discovered in 1967 in northern Tanzania at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Officially called blue zoisite it was marketed as tanzanite by Tiffany & Co. who wanted to capitalize on the rarity of this gem that is only found in Tanzania. Tanzanite is the only gem discovered in the last 100 years that has been added to the birthstone list, as a December birthstone.
Zircon is a mineral which natural colors include yellow-golden, red, blue, and green. The colorless version of this stone can be mistaken for a diamond and is known as “Matura diamond.” Ancient people believed zircon brought prosperity, honor, respect and wisdom to its wearers; and it also was thought of as a symbol of honesty and contentment.
Turquiose is an opaque, blue/green mineral which derives its color from a mixture of copper and aluminum. It has been prized as an ornamental stone for thousands of years. It is prominently displayed on the burial mask of King Tut. The substance has been known by many names but turquoise comes from an Old French word for Turkish, because the mineral was first brought to Europe from the Turkish Empire or modern day Iran. Turquoise is a byproduct of copper mining and the southwest United States is a significant source.