(315) 253-7000
Gemstone Group

Gemstone Information

Alluring, vibrant, seductive are just a few words that describe our beautiful selection of precious and semi-precious gemstones.  Just like your fingerprint, each mineral specimen is unique and its characteristics are influenced by its environment such as the minerals surrounding it as it’s formed.  Each gemstone type is special and offers distinctive attributes to consider as it pertains to their use in jewelry.  



Gemstones are listed alphabetically.

Alexandrite

Need an instant wardrobe change? Alexandrite, a pleochroic gem, changes colors depending on the viewing direction and the type of environmental light. This fine gemstone is extremely rare and changes from bluish-green tones to reddish-purple depending on the light source. 


BirthstoneJune
MineralChrysoberyl
ColorColor change, green to purplish red
CareClean using steam and ultrasonic. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness8.5
Refractory Index1.739 to 1.770+
Alexandrite

Alexandrite is an extremely rare gem that has an amazing characteristic: it changes color, from a lush green in the daylight (or fluorescent light) to a deep rich red in incandescent light. Alexandrite is a member of the chrysoberyl family of gems, which is a prominent member of a group of gems known as phenomenal. Phenomenal gems are gems that display unique and rare characteristics. Phenomenal gems are valued for the quality of each gem’s individual characteristic. In the case of alexandrite, it is the strength and degree of the color change. The dramatic change in color in a fine alexandrite is truly a wonder and it is absolutely phenomenal!     

Alexandrite is a newcomer to the world of gems, not being discovered until 1830 during the reign of Alexander II. When Alexander came of age the new gem was named after him. The colors of alexandrite also resemble the colors of the Imperial Russian flag. Fine quality alexandrite is so rare that its original mine in the Ural Mountains only produced the gem for a few decades.

Today the major sources for alexandrite are Brazil, Sir Lanka and Russia. Russian alexandrite is still the most prized, but the quality of Brazilian alexandrite can be fine. 

Alexandrite is not known to be enhanced. Alexandrite is quite durable and with normal wear, its beauty will last for years. 

The finest color alexandrite is extremely rare and therefore can have high price tag. High quality material can be more expensive than diamond.

Amethyst

When most people think purple gem, they think amethyst. This rich purple gemstone packs a punch of color with a modest price. Amethyst often forms in hexagonal six-sided crystals when trace amounts of iron are incorporated and irradiated. The finest material has a consistent purple hue, without visible color zoning.


BirthstoneFebruary
MineralQuartz
ColorViolet purple
CareDo not steam, but ultrasonic soaking is usually safe. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness7 (or lower depending on impurities)
Refractory Index1.54 - 1.55
Amethyst

Amethyst comes from the Greek "amethystos" which means "not drunken.”  Amethyst’s legend actually is derived from a Greek myth.  Dionysus, the god of wine, celebration, and intoxication, was insulted by a mortal who had refused him acknowledgement. Enraged with anger he immediately spotted a young maiden named Amethyst.  The unsuspecting young maiden, who was on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana, but was detained by the angry god.  Dionysus summoned two tigers to devour the youth and sat back with his wine to watch, Amethyst cried out to Diana. When Diana saw what was about to happen to the innocent girl, she quickly transformed the young mortal into a glimmering pure white stone known as “quartz” to protect her from Dionysus’s anger.  When Dionysus realized what he had done he wept tears of wine onto the quartz staining it purple, creating the amethyst gem we know today. Purple is the color of royalty and Amethyst has served as a symbol of royalty and has adorned by many powerful monarchs throughout history.  

Amethyst is believed to be a gem consisting of great powers.  Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote that amethyst has the power to protect against evil thoughts and to sharpen the intelligence.  While Buddhists believe that amethyst enhances the peace and tranquility of meditation.

Today Amethyst is prized for its beauty and affordably. Amethyst is a variety of the mineral species quartz and is quite plentiful. It ranges in color from a very light purple to a very dark purple, the most prized being a deep rich transparent purple that shows flashes of rose or burgundy. 

Amethyst can be found world wide, but its major sources are Brazil and Uruguay. It also can be found in Zambia, India, Sir Lanka, the US and Russia. 

Amethyst is almost always heat treated to enhance its color. The heat treatment is stable, so no special care is necessary. Amethyst is fairly durable, but care should be taken to avoid sharp blows and scratches. With normal wear, and a little bit of care, Amethyst will keep its beauty a lifetime. It is important to note that some Amethyst (heat treated or not) can fade when exposed to strong sunlight for extended periods of time. It would be best not to wear your amethyst jewelry when sunbathing or in the tanning booth. 

Thought to have healing powers by many cultures, amethyst has deep ties to the ancient world. From Latin amethystus (Greek amethystos), amethyst, means ‘not drunken’. The Greeks adorned themselves with amethyst for its promotion of clear thought.

Aquamarine

From Latin aqua marina, meaning sea water, aquamarines beautiful color is reminiscent of a glimpse into  the clearest of oceans. Aquamarine is pastel blue, or greenish blue and the highest-quality aquamarine is blue to slightly blue-green with no visible inclusions. Aquamarine is scratch resistant; however, this gemstone can be brittle and can suffer cleavage breaks. 


BirthstoneMarch
MineralBeryl
ColorGreeninsh-blue to blue
CareUsually safe to steam and ultrasonic unless there are risky inclusions. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness7.5 to 8 (brittle)
Refractory Index1.57 - 1.58
Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family of gems and is closely related to Emerald. Its color ranges from very light blue to a medium blue and often has hints of green in its body color much like seawater. While darker shades of blue are considered more valuable, the lighter shades can be very bright and beautiful especially when set in white gold, palladium or platinum.  

The legends say that Aquamarine has the power to calm the waves, prevent seasickness, and guards sailors from harm at sea. It is also said to be the treasure of mermaids. Aquamarines is also said to have a soothing effect in relationships and thus helps foster a long and happy marriage. This makes Aquamarine the ideal anniversary gift. Aquamarine was considered a healing gem, and it was believed to help treat anxiety. An owner of aquamarine is said to be endowed with foresight, courage and happiness, it is also said to increase intelligence and make one more youthful. 

The major source for Aquamarine today is Brazil. It is however also found in Zambia, Nigeria, Madagascar, and the United States. Most all Aquamarine is heat treated to minimize the green in its body color. This helps make the color a purer blue. The heat treatment is, for the most part, stable, but extended periods of high heat or sunlight may cause the color to fade.

The largest faceted aquamarine, the Dom Pedro Aquamarine, is on display at the Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History.  The portion of the beryl crystal from which the Dom Pedro was cut weighed almost 60 pounds and was about 2 feet in length. 

Citrine

Transcending fall colors, citrine can be pale yellow, orangish or brownish orange. Natural citrine is quite rare.  Most citrine on the market is amethyst or smoky quartz that has been heat-treated to enhance its beautiful earthy hues. Available in a wide variety of sizes, the highest quality citrine has no brownish hue and no visible color zoning or inclusions.


BirthstoneNovember
MineralQuartz
ColorPale yellow to brownish orange
CareDo not steam, but ultrasonic soaking is usually safe. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness
Refractory Index1.54 - 1.55
Citrine

Shining with a golden glow, people have long treasured citrine as a gift from the sun. Citrine, a variety of transparent quartz, is named after the French citron, or lemon. Its color ranges from a juicy lemon yellow to a bright orangey brown. In all of its glorious golden and yellow colors, citrine is the most affordable of all the earth-toned gemstones, the perfect complement to all the warm tones in your wardrobe. Its sunny shades are also a lovely way to light up black and gray or contrast against blue.

In ancient times, citrine was said to have the power to ward off snakebite. Even more powerfully, the ancients believed citrine also protected against the venom of evil words and thoughts. Citrine is an alternate birthstone for November. Citrine was particularly popular in the retro jewelry of the 1940s. Its sunny color and dramatic proportions suited the streamlined style and bold gold of the era. It was often set with ruby, peridot, and aquamarine in colorful brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Jewelry designers today also love to set citrine in yellow gold, either alone or in combination with amethyst, blue topaz, or peridot.  

When citrine and amethyst are found in the same crystal it’s referred to as ‘ametrine’. Superstition says that wearing citrine will bring prosperity.

Diamond

This brilliant gemstone radiates light to its viewer and represents love, beauty and commitment. A diamond’s cut, color, clarity and carat weight are the four attributes that determine its cost and overall value.  Known as the four Cs these qualities are used by gemologists to grade diamonds and are important considerations when purchasing. 


BirthstoneApril
MineralCarbon
ColorColorless, gray, blue, yellow, orange, red, green, pink, purple, brown and black. 
CareClean using steam and ultrasonic. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness10
Refractory Index2.42
Diamond

Diamonds have held a special place in the world of gems for over 3000 years. Each and every diamond is completely unique with its own personality special beauty. No other gem has the brilliance, fire and hardness of a diamond. Men have sought, fought and worshiped diamonds; they were thought to have magical powers worth dying for. The name diamond comes from the Greek word adamas, which means unconquerable. This made diamonds the gem of kings throughout the centuries. A diamond was a symbol of strength, courage, bravery and invincibility. It was also thought that diamonds would scare away the devil. It is diamonds hardness that has made it a symbol of power and strength thru the ages, but its rare beauty has also made it a symbol of love and romance. Diamonds thought to be splinters of the stars that fell to earth or the tears from the Gods. It is the Ancient Greeks that first made diamonds a symbol of love. The first diamond engagement ring was given to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by the Archduke of Austria Maximilian.

Diamonds allure and beauty has even changed the course of history. The Kohinoor diamond, known as the “Mountain of Light”, is said to have been found 5000 years ago and was worn by the hero of the Hindu epic Mahabaharata. The diamond changed hands many times over the centuries and eventually ended up in England where it was re cut and now is in the queen’s state crown. Another famous diamond the Orloff, was a gift of love to Catherine the Great from Prince Gregory Orloff.  France owner of the Regent (Or Pitt) but pledged it to Holland to fund Napoleons rise to power. He later reclaimed it and set it in the hilt of his state sward. And then there is the most famous of all, the Hope diamond. 

The Hope diamonds history is not clear until 1830 when Henry Phillip Hope brought the 45.52Ct. fancy dark blue diamond. The diamond had several owners when in 1911 it was sold to Evelyn Walsh McLean by Pierre Cartier, who may have invented the famous “curse” to help sell the exotic gem. None the less Mrs. McLean’s luck seemed to be cursed, she lost a son who was hit by a car, her husband divorced her and went insane, her daughter committed suicide and she was a morphine addict. When Mrs. Mc Lean died in 1947 the diamond was brought by Harry Winston who used the diamond to raise money for charity. In 1958 he donated the gem to the Smithsonian where you can see it today. Diamond is pure carbon, the same as the carbon in a pencil. The only difference is how the atoms are bound. Diamonds have the simplest composition of all gems.

Diamonds are also the hardest substance known. Only another diamond can scratch a diamond. They can, however, be chipped or cleaved with a sharp blow. Diamonds formed deep in the earth, billions of years ago, under the immense the heat and pressure that existed at that time in earth history. They are one of the oldest known substances in the earths crust about 3.4 billion years. Each and every diamond you see today is millions of years old. Volcanic eruptions forced the diamonds upward toward the surface where they are mined today. It takes an average of about 250 tons of the diamond bearing rock known as kimberlite to find one carat diamond. It takes a million minded diamonds in order to find a single one carat diamond. Of all the diamonds mined only 20% are gem quality. The rest is used in industrial applications. 

Diamond is the hardest known substance in the world. The largest diamond ever discovered was found in South Africa and weighed 1.33 lbs (3,106.75 carats).

Emerald

Renowned for its stunningly lush, bluish green to green color, an emeralds hue must be very rich.  A weaker, less saturated variety is known as green beryl.  Eight on the Moh’s scale of hardness, emerald is scratch resistant; however, it can be brittle and suffer cleavage breaks. An emerald’s hue makes it a natural choice for jewelry, but consider a setting that will protect this beautiful gemstone.


BirthstoneMay
MineralBeryl
ColorGreen to bluish green
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness7.5 to 8 (Brittle) depending on impurities
Refractory Index1.57 - 1.58
Emerald

Emeralds rich green is the color of life; of spring. Emerald has long been held to be the gem of new life. Emerald’s green makes it the perfect birthstone for May, the month of new life. 

Emerald is a member of the Beryl family of gems and is closely related to Morganite and Aquamarine and like Aquamarine it has a long and noble history. Emerald was the gem dedicated to Venus the goddess of love. It was thought that an Emerald would reveal a lover’s faithfulness. Cleopatra wore emeralds. Nero is said to have used a large emerald like a pair of sunglasses to view the gladiators at the coliseum. 

For thousands of years, from the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, the Mongols of India, to the crown heads of Europe, emeralds have been coveted for their lush green hue. The emeralds of legend had many powers. Emerald gave the person who wore one the power to think clearly in the past as well as the present and to see the future. It also would improve ones memory, and give one the gift of eloquent speech. Emerald was also thought to bestow honesty and frugality. Emeralds could also be powdered and taken as medicine to prevent epilepsy. 

Colombian emeralds have always been the worlds finest. When the Spaniards first discovered and conquered the Inca Empire in the 16th century, they not only stole all the gold they could get their hands on; they also plundered all the emeralds they could find. The Spaniards where unable however, to discover the source of the Inca’s emeralds until 1555, when the Muzo mine was stumbled across by accident. 

The distinctive hue of an emerald is often thought to always be a pure green. Many fine emeralds however have a slightly bluish green to yellowish green hue, which like the many greens of nature can be remarkably beautiful. Emeralds typically have a broad range of internal clarity characteristics called inclusions. These inclusions are not considered a detriment unless they are so numerous as to make the emerald appear cloudy or large as to affect the gems durability. In some cases these inclusions can create a lovely pattern known as a jardin (French) or garden, and to some feel this pattern adds interest to the gem. An emerald without these inclusions is a very very rare and valuable gem.  

The major sources for Emeralds today are Columbia and Brazil. Emeralds are also found in Pakistan, Africa, Russia, Afghanistan and Australia. Emeralds are almost always enhanced to improve their appearance.  

It is common to introduce natural or man made oils or fillers into an emerald’s inclusions to minimize their visibility. Often referred to as oiling the technique is thousands of years old. This sort of enhancement is not stable and can fade with time or when exposed to heat. Emeralds are very delicate and care should be taken when ever they are worn or cleaned. The inclusions that are common in emeralds are sensitive to both sharp and glancing blows and sudden changes in temperature. Steam and ultrasonic cleaners should never be used. Most commercial jewelry cleaners should also not be used, unless specifically designed for delicate gems.  

Emerald was the favorite gem of Cleopatra, the Queen of Eqypt. The earliest known emerald mine is located in Eqypt’s Eastern Desert region and dates back as early as 330 BC. 

Garnet

Most people think of garnet as red, but actually garnet refers to a group of silicate minerals diverse in color. It can be found in shades of red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink, colorless and even shades of blue. Typically untreated, the garnet is popular because of its beauty, durability and relatively low price point. 


BirthstoneJanuary
MineralA group of rock forming minerals
ColorAll colors
CareDo not steam, but ultrasonic soaking is usually safe. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness6.5 - 7.5
Refractory Index1.7 - 1.8
Garnet

The use of Garnet in jewelry dates back to the dawn of civilization. Garnets use has been noted from Bronze Age Europe to ancient Egypt. For over 5000 years garnet has been known and prized by man. The Garnets resemblance to a pomegranate seed gives it its name; from the Latin word “granatus” which means grain or seed. Around the globe ancient societies believed garnet was the gem of fire and illumination. Legend has it that Noah hung garnets to light the way of the ark as well as illuminate the interior. Another legend tells of an elderly woman who found an injured bird in her path. She took the bird home and nursed it back to health. One day the bird flew away and the woman thought she would never see the bird again. But the bird did come back with a red gem as a gift of thanks. The woman placed it by her bed that night, and awoke later to find the garnet glowing as bright as any torch. 

Garnet has been used by the Aztecs, Mayans, Native Americans and some African tribes because it is believed to increase the power of fire. Garnet is a widely recognized gemstone that is known for its deep rich dark red or maroon color. What is not widely recognized, however, is that Garnet is not just one gemstone but a group of closely related gems. Garnets occur in just about any color you can think of with the exception of blue. The deep brownish red to violetish red that people most commonly think of as a garnet are actually Almandine or Pyrope garnets. Rhodolite Garnet is a beautiful purplish red gem, much like the color of rose wine. Spessartite Garnets are an orange hue that range from a bright yellowish orange to a warm reddish orange color. If purple is to your taste there is Grape Garnet, or if you prefer green, there is the stunning yellow green to dark green of Tsavorite Garnet  and Andradite Garnet. Not sure what you like, there are even garnets that change color in different kinds of lighting!   

Garnets are found world wide with major sources in Africa, Australia, Brazil, India, Madagascar, Russia, Sir Lanka, and the US. The Adirondack Region in New York State has one of the worlds largest garnet deposits. Some varieties of Garnet can be found only in an exclusive region. 

Garnets are not generally treated. Garnets are durable gemstones that with normal wear will last for years. They can be cleaned with commercial jewelry cleaners and are safe for ultrasonic cleaners as well. 

The Adirondack Region in New York State has one of the worlds largest garnet deposits. 

Garnet is found all over the world. In addition to its attractive characteristics of brilliance and beautiful colors, some garnets color change when viewed under different light sources. Rich in history, there are countless beliefs about the benefits of wearing garnet. Some popular varieties of garnet are Mozambique (deep reddish-brown), rhodolite (red with a hint of purple) and spessartite (deep orange).

Iolite

This gorgeous gemstone is similar to sapphire or tanzanite in color, but comes with a much less expensive price tag. In addition, iolite is rarely heat-treated or irradiated to improve its color.  It’s vulnerable to cleavage in one direction, which is one consideration for its use in everyday jewelry.


MineralCordierite
ColorBlue to blue-violet
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness7 - 7.5
Refractory Index1.54 - 1.62
Iolite

Iolite is derived from the Greek word ios, meaning violet. It is very rare to find faceted iolite above five carats.

Mexican Fire Opal

A variety of opal known for its fiery orange color, this gemstone is commonly cut as cabochon but is beautiful cut as a faceted gem as well. While other opal varieties are known for the play of color, the fire opal is commonly cut to exhibit a single warm hue.  Due to it vulnerability to scratches, chips and breaks, fire opals are best suited for earrings and pendants within a protective setting. 


MineralAn amorphous mineraloid of hydrous silicon dioxide
ColorRed, reddish-orange, orange and yellow.  Transparent to opaque.
CareClean with lukewarm soapy water. Consider a setting type that is protective. Keep safe from heat and store away from strong light.
Moh’s scale of hardness4.5 to 6
Refractory Index1.37 - 1.47
Mexican Fire Opal

Opal can contain up to 20% trapped water within its structure. Uncut opal rough is commonly stored in water to reduce the opportunity for crazing (producing a network of fine cracks).

Moissanite

Known for its high refractive index and dispersion, moissanite has fire and brilliance. First introduced into the jewelry market in 1998, moissanite has a comparatively lower price tag to diamonds. Due to its less exploitive mining practices it’s become a popular diamond alternative. Moissanite is commonly lab grown.


MineralSilicon Carbide
ColorColorless
CareClean using steam and ultrasonic. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness9.25
Refractory Index2.65 - 2.69
Moissanite

Moissanite was discovered by Henri Moissan in Canyon Diablo, Arizona in 1893 while examining rock samples from a meteor crater.  He mistakenly identified his findings as diamonds, but later, in 1904, identified the crystals as silicon carbide.

Morganite

Soft, feminine and delicate are just a few words to describe the stunning hues associated with morganite. Usually light in tone, the finest morganite is deeper pink.  Morganite is usually eye clean with no visible inclusions which makes it a wonderful gemstone to use in jewelry.


MineralBeryl
ColorPink, peachy-pink, lavender-pink
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness7.5
Refractory Index1.57 - 1.58
Morganite

Morganite was discovered in the early 20th century and was first known as pink beryl.  In 1911, it was renamed in honor of financier J.P. Morgan who was also an avid gem collector.  Morganite continues to gain popularity.

Onyx

Although onyx can be found in a variety of colors, black onyx is most common in jewelry. Onyx is layered chalcedony with parallel bands. This opaque gemstone is commonly cut as a cabochon but can also be faceted. Because of the layered bands, it is a popular choice for carvings and cameos. 


MineralChalcedony
ColorA variety of colors.
CareClean using a soft, dry cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness6.5 - 7
Refractory Index1.54 - 1.55
Onyx

Rich with history in lore, Onyx has been used since antiquity for its protective attributes. Artifacts of bowls and other pottery items have been found in Egypt as early as the Second Dynasty.

Opal

This mesmerizing gem excites the eye and draws you deep into its inner beauty. An opal can display as a single color, or a firestorm of iridescent whites, yellows, reds, oranges, greens, browns, blacks, blues and pinks. Opal is a softer gemstone, which requires more skill to work with and may not be ideal for daily wear.


BirthstoneOctober
MineralHydrated Silica
ColorInterplay of colors
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness5.5 - 6
Refractory Index1.54 - 1.55
Opal

A beautiful opal is one of a kind: a natural artwork with a unique pattern of rainbow flashes of color unlike any other. It’s as individual as your personality. You may prefer an opal that serenely glows with pinpoint flashes of the blues and greens of the sea and sky. Or you may fall in love with a gem that flashes broad patterns of red and yellow, with all the bright festivity of carnival in Rio. And with its rainbow appeal, opal complements everything in your wardrobe. Opal is fascinating to watch, as the color plays and shifts in its depths.  

The Mayas and Aztecs called opal bird of paradise stone and the bright play of color of this gem does recall the iridescent plumage of these sacred tropical birds. This gem was long thought to have magical powers, from protecting blonde hair from losing its color to enhancing eyesight. 

The most important source of opal is Australia, which produces the most opal and the finest opal. The legendary locality for the best black opal is Lightning Ridge. Opal forms in sedimentary rocks when silica-rich water slowly seeps into the host rock, filling seams and crack and hollows. In Australia, this happened about 60 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period. If the water then hits a nonporous layer of rock that stops its progress and sits, perhaps for thousands of years deep within the earth, the silica will settle and eventually form a solid gel, trapping the remaining water within its structure. It becomes opal.  

Because opals are as individual as a fingerprint, they make a romantic gift. Napoleon gave Josephine a beautiful opal with brilliant red flashes called "The Burning of Troy," making her his Helen. Opal is softer than many other gems and should be stored carefully to avoid being scratched by other jewelry. It should also be protected from blows, as exposed corners can chip. Opal should not be exposed to heat or acid.  

Opal is formed as water trapped in the crevices in silica evaporates.  Opal is occasionally cut and polished to exhibit different color on each side.

Peridot

For lovers of the color green, peridot is a great choice because of its beautiful color and modest price tag. Peridot is primarily formed deep below the surface of the earth in igneous rocks and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. The intensity and color hue of this beautiful green gemstone is dependant upon the amount of iron that is present in its crystal structure as it forms.


BirthstoneAugust
MineralOlivine (Chrysolite)
ColorYellow-green to olive green.
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness6.5-7
Refractory Index1.65  - 1.69
Peridot

Peridot is a light yellow green to intense green gem that in recent years has often been overlooked, although its popularity has been on the increase. Peridot has, however, a very long and distinguished history. For over 3500 years Peridot has been a prince among gems. Peridot is mentioned in the book of Exodus as one of the gems in the high priest’s breastplate which was set with stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.  Known to and coveted by the ancient rulers of Egypt, Peridot was called “the gem of the sun”, because of its intense brightness. It was believed that one could not mine Peridot in the daylight because it was so bright it was invisible. In the dark Peridot was believed to give off its own light so miners could mark its location and come back in the day to collect the gem.

The original source for Peridot is the island of Zebargad (the Arabic word for Peridot) which is in the red Sea off the coast of Egypt. Peridot has been mined on Zebargad (also known as St. John’s Island) as early as 1500B.C. The island not only had Peridot but also was populated with so many poisonous snakes that mining was dangerous. Pliny the Elder speaks of Zebargad as the “Serpent Isle” in his natural history. An Egyptian ruler finally had the snakes exterminated and kept the miners in total isolation on the island. Peridot was considered so valuable that the guards of the island where told to kill anyone approaching that was not authorized. The mines where kept secret until the seventeenth century.    

The most desirable shade of color for Peridot is an intense brilliant green that can be best described as that of “new spring grass”. Although the light yellow green to olive shades of some Peridot can also be very attractive. Peridot also has a unique way of bending and splitting the light passing though it giving it a rich glow almost as if the gems where giving off its own light. It probably because of this characteristic that it was thought that if Peridot was set in gold it would drive away terrors of the night. Peridot that was strung on a donkey hair and worn on the left arm could ward away evil spirits. Peridot could dissolve enchantments and the wearer would enjoy happiness in marriage and freedom from insecurity.  

Peridot in varying amounts can be found all over the world in volcanic regions. The Zebargad mines where very active from around 1906 to the end of WWII. Burma then became a major source. Much of the Peridot available today is mined at the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. Only the Apache Indians are allowed to mine this source. 

Peridot is not generally treated. Peridot is very sensitive to heat. Sudden temperature changes should be avoided. Peridot should never be cleaned with ultrasonic or steam. Peridot can be cleaned with most commercial jewelry cleaners and mild soap and warm water is also very good along with an old, soft, toothbrush to gently clean the setting as well as the gem.   ty.  

Ancient Eqytians referred to peridot as the ‘Gem of the Sun’ but peridot crystals have actually been found in meteorites. 

Quartz

Quartz is one of the most common minerals on the Earth’s surface and since antiquity it has adorned our wardrobes. Quartz can be found as giant crystals or small grains.  This versatile gemstone comes in a wide range of colors. Some of the more popular varieties are amethyst, citrine, onyx, and smoky quartz.


BirthstoneFebruary (amethyst), November (citrine)
MineralQuartz
ColorNearly every color and multicolored. Both transparent and/or translucent.
CareDo not steam, but ultrasonic soaking is usually safe. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness7
Refractory Index1.54 - 1.55
Smoky Quartz

Quartz has many uses. It’s used in jewelry, counter tops, electronics, sandpaper, and even the internal parts of watches. Quartz can be used to regulate both digital and analog clocks. 

Ruby

This tantalizing gemstone carries the highest price per carat of any of the colored gemstones due to its rarity, hardness, and most notable, its lovely rich color. Ruby and sapphire are both corundum, but when this mineral is exposed to chromium, it manifest its beautiful red color. A minimum level of color saturation must be met to be called a ruby, otherwise, the gem is considered a pink sapphire.


BirthstoneJuly
MineralCorrundum
ColorPink to blood red
CareClean using steam and ultrasonic. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness9
Refractory Index1.76 - 1.77
Ruby

The crimson red of a fine ruby is like that of an inextinguishable fire. The ancients believed that the rich glowing red of Ruby was an inner fire that could never be put out. From the dawn of recorded history Rubies have been considered the most valuable of gems. Even today a large fine ruby can be more valuable than a comparable sized diamond. Job is quoted in the bible as saying 

“The price of wisdom is above rubies”. The desire for rubies has no geographical or social borders, and over the centuries many attributes have been given to rubies. Rubies have been a symbol of passion, freedom, dignity and the power of the divine. The Burmese believed that a Ruby ripened like a piece of fruit. The deeper and richer the red, the riper the ruby was. A flawed ruby was thought to be overripe. 

Ruby and sapphire are like fraternal twins. They are both varieties of the mineral species corundum. Corundum occurs in wide range of colors. The red variety of corundum is called ruby, the blue variety is sapphire and all other colors of corundum are known as fancy sapphires. The ideal color of a ruby is a pure red to a slightly purplish red. At what point a ruby becomes to purple (plum sapphire) or pink (pink sapphire) to be classified as a ruby has been an unending controversy. Since both pink and plum sapphire, no matter how beautiful, are worth less than a ruby it is in the interest of gem dealers to have a gem classified as a ruby. The name alone can increase the value of the gem. Both ruby and sapphire are exceptionally hard. Only diamonds hardness exceeds that of ruby and sapphire. 

Burma is not only a major source for ruby today it is also know to produce fine quality gems of a clear rich vibrant red. Thailand is also a source though; the rubies are darker and tend to be more brownish than Burmese rubies. Other sources are Sri Lanka, Cambodia, India, Africa and South Carolina.   

Rubies are most always heat treated to improve their color. This treatment is very stable. It is possible for a glass like residue (from the heating process) to be left in inclusions that reach to the surface of the gem. This material is not stable, and care should be taken with the gem. Although it is not yet very common it also important to mention a newer enhancement process that artificially improves the surface color of paler rubies by diffusion of beryllium. This process helps make the rich red of ruby more affordable. Because it is a surface treatment however, should the ruby ever need re-cutting or polishing the color could change.   Rubies are very durable gems and with a little care their deep red inner fire will glow for years. Rubies are safe for steam and ultrasonic cleaners, they can be cleaned with commercial jewelry cleaner or a mild soap and water along with an old toothbrush to clean the setting as well. 

In Sanskrit, ruby was called ratnaraj which literally means, ’jewel-king’ and loosely translated to ’king of jewels’.

Sapphire

Rich blue is the most desirable color of sapphire, but it comes in almost every hue except red. When the mineral corundum is red, it is called a ruby. Cornflower (blue) and Padparadscha (orangish-pink) are just two names used to describe a specific color range of sapphire.


BirthstoneSeptember
MineralCorrundum
ColorA wide variety of colors including blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple and white.
CareClean using steam and ultrasonic. At home, gently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush.
Moh’s scale of hardness9
Refractory Index1.76 - 1.77
Sapphire

Sapphire has long been the gem of the heavens and sky. The Persians believed the world sat on a giant sapphire and its reflection colored the sky blue. Originating from the Greek word “sappheiros” which means blue, Sapphire has long been treasured as the ultimate in blue gems. The blue of sapphire can be the light fresh shade of the sky to a deep, vibrant, rich blue of indescribable beauty. 

Sapphire was thought to be the “true blue” gem and when given as a gift would bestow trust, honesty, loyalty and purity to the recipient. These qualities make sapphire a great choice for engagement rings. Sapphire was also thought to protect the owner from envy and would attract divine favor. Kings wore sapphire to protect them from harm.   

The most sought after color for sapphire is a medium cornflower blue that has a soft almost velvety look to it. Any sapphire, however, with a vibrant shade of blue and a medium tone is very desirable. But sapphire is not just about blue. Sapphire is a member of the mineral species corundum. Corundum occurs in a stunningly wide range of colors and each color has an infinite number of shades. 

From the blues everyone thinks of, to greens, oranges, purples, violets, yellows, browns, black, grays, colorless and even shades of  pink to deep rich reds known as ruby. Sapphire and ruby are like fraternal twins. The red variety of corundum is called ruby, the blue variety is sapphire and all other colors of corundum are known as fancy sapphires. Although sapphire occurs in almost any color you can think of some are very rare and not always available in the marketplace. The most coveted of all the fancy sapphires is the reddish orange to pinkish orange shade called “padparadscha”. These extremely rare and extremely valuable sapphires are among the worlds most sought after gems.  

The Kashmir region of India is the traditional source for the highest quality sapphires. The medium cornflower blue of the very finest sapphires is often referred to as “Kashmir” in reference to this source; however the Kashmir region is not currently being mined due to its inaccessibility. Today sapphire is mined in Sir Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Montana, Australia and Africa.

Sapphires are most always heat treated to improve their color. This treatment is very stable. Sapphires are exceptionally hard. Only diamonds hardness exceeds that of sapphire. Although it is not yet very common it also important to mention a newer enhancement process that artificially improves the surface color of paler sapphires by diffusion of beryllium. This process helps make a rich blue colored sapphire more affordable. Because it is a surface treatment however, should the sapphire ever need re-cutting or polishing the color could change.   

What ever shade you choose Sapphires are very durable gems and with a little care their beauty will last for years. Sapphires are safe for steam and ultrasonic cleaners. They can also be cleaned with commercial jewelry cleaner or a mild soap and water along with an old toothbrush to clean the setting as well. rinse and dry your jewelry after cleaning. 

Some sapphire exhibits color change in different types of light.  If cut as a cabochon,  sapphire can display a lovely six pointed star known as an asterism.

Tanzanite

Tanzanites stunning colors can range from deep blues and violets to paler shades of lavender. This lovely gemstone is plethoric which means it can show different colors depending on the viewing direction. Most often tanzanite is heat treated to enhance the color and remove unwanted color tints.


BirthstoneDecember
MineralZoisite
ColorBlue to violet
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness6.5
Refractory Index1.69 - 1.7
Tanzanite

Not until the 20th century did tanzanite burst on to the stage and join the cast in the long and noble story gemstones. Discovered in 1967 at the feet of Mount Kilimanjaro, its only known source, tanzanite has rapidly become one of the worlds most sought after gems. It is no wonder; the rich violetish-blue of fine tanzanite speaks of the awe inspiring beauty of its source. The story of tanzanite is said to begin when some of the brown crystals, lying on the dry grass, where caught in a fire started by lightning. Masai cattle herders in the area noticed that the brown crystals had turned to a beautiful blue- violet color and picked them up. Introduced to the United States by Tiffany & Co., tanzanite gets its name in from the country in which it is found, Tanzania. .

Tanzanite is a variety of the gemstone zoisite. When tanzanite crystals are unearthed they have a brownish to bronze hue. It is not until gentle heat is applied that the miracle happens and the vibrant, breathtaking, blue of tanzanite is realized. Tanzanite’s beauty is also enhanced by an unusual property the gem has call “pleochroism”. Pleochroism is a gems ability to display more than one color when viewed from different directions. In one direction tanzanite may be blue, in another it may be violet or purple, and in yet another it may be bronze or grey. Tanzanite’s ability to display more that one color ads a depth, a unique subtle richness to its hue; which other gems cannot match. Tanzanite’s color ranges from blue to purple. In smaller sizes tanzanite tends to be lighter shades of soft blue to violet, purple, or lavender. Tanzanite’s depth of color shows itself the best in larger sizes of about four carats and above. The most desirable color for tanzanite is a medium dark, deeply saturated, rich pure blue. Cutters will go to great lengths to achieve this color; even though they know they will sacrifice a great deal of weight, they know the result is so breathtaking that it will leave one speechless.  

Tanzanite has only one source, the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, in the Merelani Hills of Tanzania, eastern Africa. 

Although tanzanite is a fairly hard gem it is not a particularly durable one. Tanzanite can chip and break when exposed to even moderate blows or sudden changes in temperature. Pendants and earrings are the best choice for tanzanite. When tanzanite is mounted in rings or bracelets special care should be taken when worn. Tanzanite should never be cleaned with steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Tanzanite can be cleaned with most commercial jewelry cleaners or with mild soap and water. 

Tanzanite was discovered in 1967 and is only found in Tanzania, near Mount Kilmanjaro.  It is more rare than diamond.

Topaz

A wonderful choice for jewelry, Topaz is relatively hard, comes in a variety of desirable colors, and is readily available and affordable. Topaz can be found in large flawless crystals. Although blue topaz does occur in nature, topaz is commonly irradiated and heat treated to enhance and create the blue color.


BirthstoneNovember
MineralTopaz
ColorColorless, blue, brown, orange, gray, yellow, green, pink and reddish pink
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness8
Refractory Index1.61 - 1.638
Topaz

It was the Egyptians who believed that the gold glow of the sun god gave topaz its golden glow. Topaz was said to dispel enchantments and drive away sadness as well as improve intellect and give courage to its owner. The Greeks thought the wearer of Topaz was invisible in times of emergency. The history of topaz is shrouded in confusion. Ancient societies had not yet discovered scientific methods and would categorize gems according to their appearance. Any yellow gem would commonly be called a topaz.

The name topaz itself has two possible sources; it could be derived from a Sankrit word that means either yellow or fire, or it could be derived from the ancient Greek island Topazios in the Red Sea. The island Topazios was said to have many bright yellow gemstones, but because the island was covered in fog much of the time they were very difficult to find. It is now thought that the island in question is Zebargad and the gems peridot.  

Topaz’s color commonly ranges from deep warm golden hues to rich shades of oranges, browns and cinnamon. Topaz can have the pastel color of a peach and in very rare cases can be a wonderful pale pink to sherry colored red. Topaz occurs naturally in wonderful shades of sky blue, vivid aquas to darker hues of blue and greenish blue. Blue was once the rarest of all topaz colors, but today has become the most common thanks to modern color enhancement techniques. In recent years, as topaz’s popularity grows, new treatment processes have become available creating exciting new colors. These new colors range form dark blues to red and pinks, greens, and even topaz with rainbow iridescence.      

Topaz is usually heat treated and irradiated to improve its color. Blue topaz is clear topaz that has been first treated by heat then irradiated to create various shades of blue. Yellow, brown and orange topaz will often change color to pink when heat treated. These treatments are very stable. The newer treatment process is a bonded surface coating and special care should be taken with these gems.   

Most of today’s topaz mined and cut in Brazil, however, it is also found in Sir Lanka, Afghanistan, Russia and South Africa. Topaz is also found in Mexico and in Utah. 

Topaz is a hard gem and will resist scratching and will keep its polish for years. Topaz does however easily cleave (split or crack). Because of this property care should be taken to avoid sharp blows or sudden temperature changes. Topaz should not be cleaned with steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Topaz can be cleaned with commercial jewelry cleaner or a mild soap and water along with an old toothbrush to clean the setting as well. 

The name topaz comes from the Sanskrit and means fire. Imperial Topaz (golden in color) is the most valuable color of topaz.

Passion Topaz

These vibrant beauties begin their journey as white topaz and through SWAROVSKI GEMS™ patented process are permanently colored into an array of stunning colors. Passion Topaz is a great gemstone to consider for jewelry because of its durability and color options.


BirthstoneNovember
MineralTopaz
ColorColorless, blue, pink, red, green
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness8
Refractory Index1.61 - 1.638
Passion Topaz

Swarovski was founded in 1895 and is headquartered in Wattens, Austria. The company produces beautiful crystals and gemstones as well as optical equipment.

Tourmaline

Every jewelry lover can find a tourmaline they adore because this gem has the widest variety of color options. Many of the different color options have their own name like rubelite (pink), chrome (green), watermelon (pink core surrounded by green) to name a few. Tourmaline is often cut in long rectangles, parallel to the rough crystals to reduce waste. 


BirthstoneOctober
MineralTourmaline
ColorA wide variety of colors, black, pink, green, red, blue, orange, yellow violet, brown.  Sometimes bi-colored or tri-colored
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness7 - 7.5
Refractory Index1.62 - 1.64
Tourmaline

Tourmaline’s name comes from the Sinhalese tura mali, which means "mixed stone." Available in a rainbow of colors and color combinations, tourmaline lives up to its name. Legend says tourmaline inspires artistic expression and enhances your intuition. Certainly, this gem’s varied palette inspires designers to create jewelry to suit every mood. Tourmaline offers an enticing rainbow of options for your jewelry wardrobe. Cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, violet, and even bicolor pink and green stones: tourmaline is all these and more. 

The most valuable colors of tourmaline are the rare electric blues and greens discovered in Paraiba, Brazil in 1989. Such gems can command tens of thousands of dollars per carat. Blue indicolite, red rubellite, and green chrome tourmaline are also coveted and fine-quality material is hard to find and highly valued. Pink and mint green tourmaline, however, is widely available and more affordable, with prices in the hundreds of dollars per carat. 

The Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi, the last empress of China, loved pink tourmaline above all other gemstones. She imported tons of tourmaline from Southern California in the early twentieth century, creating a gem rush in San Diego during the period. In addition to unusually varied beauty, tourmaline has unusual electrical properties.

Crystals acquire a polarized electrical charge when heated or compressed. This property has also made tourmaline the latest miracle ingredient in moisturizers: manufacturers claim the gem helps pull pollutants from your skin.  

Almost every color of tourmaline can be found in Brazil, especially in Minas Gerais and Bahia. In addition to Brazil, tourmaline is also mined in Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and California and Maine in the United States.  

Because they grow in thin pencil-like crystals, tourmalines are most often cut into long rectangular shapes known as emerald cuts. The pink colors of tourmaline can be enhanced with exposure to radiation and some blues and greens improve with heat but the results are stable and undetectable, so no one knows how common these practices are. Red tourmaline, which is often very included, can sometimes have surface-reaching fissures filled with resin to make them less visible.  

Tourmaline is durable and suitable for everyday wear. Clean with mild dish soap: use a toothbrush to scrub behind the stone where dust can collect. 

The largest tourmaline is roughly 192 carats and is valued over $25 million. Tourmaline can form and be cut into bi and tri-colored gemstones.

Zircon

Zircon’s brilliance and luster make it a beautiful choice for jewelry.  It is often cut with a brilliant cut to enhance its natural fire and maximize its sparkle. Due to the similarity in name, zircon is commonly confused with cubic zirconia, a synthetic diamond substitute. This has greatly impacted its popularity in jewelry. 


BirthstoneDecember (Blue Zircon)
MineralZirconium Silicate
ColorColor range including white, blue, yellow, orange, brown, pink and green. Greenish-blue is the most common. 
CareGently scrub with lukewarm soapy water and a soft toothbrush or untreated cloth.
Moh’s scale of hardness6 to 7.5
Refractory Index1.92 - 1.96
bluezircon

Many people do not even know that there is an exceptionally brilliant natural gemstone called zircon. Zircons name alone is often confused with the laboratory-grown imitation diamond known as cubic zirconia. To make matters worse for many years the colorless variety of zircon was itself popular as an imitation diamond because of its natural brilliance. The sky blue variety of zircon has modest recognition as a December birthstone but also occurs in green, dark red, yellow, and orange, brown, colorless and in rare instances a bright blue. Zircons range of colors, its limited availability and reasonable cost make it a favorite with collectors.  

Zircon was known to the ancients and its name most likely comes from the word “zargun” which is Persian for “gold-colored”. The Kalpa Tree in Hindu poems had leaves of zircon and gemstone fruit and was a great gift to the gods. In the Middle Ages zircon was said to promote sleep, bring honor and wisdom and prosperity to the owner. Sadly, even though zircon is one of nature’s most brilliant gemstones, it has been historically overlooked only being used when other, better-known gems where unavailable. 

Major sources for zircon are Sir Lanka and Burma other sources include Thailand, Myanmar, and Australia. Zircon is almost always heat treated. The heat treatment is fairly stable, but in some instances, a treated zircon will revert wholly or partially to its original color.  Even though zircon is a fairly hard gemstone it can abrade and chip fairly easily. Zircon is relatively safe for steam or ultrasonic cleaners. 

Relative to other gemstones, zircons specific gravity is high, making it a heavier stone. Other gemstone varieties of equal shape and size will weigh less than zircon.