An Introduction to
A gemstone is the naturally
occurring crystalline form of a mineral which is desirable
for its beauty, valuable in its rarity, and durable enough
to be enjoyed for generations. Gemstones are among the most
individual of nature's creations: perfect crystals, with no
Although some gemstone varieties have been treasured since
before history began and others were only discovered recently,
all are nature's gifts to us, and our gifts to our children.
People believe that gemstones
have healing powers.
If you want to find out more, please click
Here, we list more than 30 of
the most popular gemstone varieties but there are many more
rare collector's gemstones. Some varieties also come in a
range of colours.
Are you a fan of fancy sapphires?
Or a lapis lazuli lover?
We hope all of your questions can be answered here!
our extensive Gemstone Variety Listing]
the "gem of the sea", derives its name from "sea water".
The reference is obvious: aqua sparkles like the sea and
its colour is pale to medium blue, sometimes with a slight
hint of green. Aquamarine is the birthstone for March.
Legends say that it is the treasure of mermaids, with
the power to keep sailors safe at sea. Aquamarine is said
to be a particularly strong charm when immersed in water
(which is a good thing, since that is when sailors need
its power most!) Aquamarine was also said to have a soothing
influence on land, especially on married couples. Its
power to help husbands and wives work out their differences
and ensure a long and happy marriage makes it a good anniversary
gift. Aquamarine also protects
against the wiles of the devil.
has been treasured for at least 4,000 years and the ancients
prized it as the gemstone symbolising love and rebirth.
is said to quicken the intelligence as well as the heart.
Legend gives its owner the gift of eloquence. The ancient
emerald mines of Cleopatra, long a mystery, were discovered
again a hundred years ago near the Red Sea, but the mines
were exhausted thousands of years ago. Egyptian mummies
were often buried with an emerald on their necks carved
with the symbol for verdure, flourishing greenness, to
symbolise eternal youth. Emerald is the
birthstone for May and the anniversary gemstone for
the twentieth year of marriage, the perfect emblem of
an enduring love.
was said to be the
most precious of the twelve stones God created when he
created all things and this "lord of gems" was placed
on Aaron's neck by God's command. In fact, rubies are
today still more valuable and rare than even the top quality
colourless diamonds. A 27.37-carat
Burmese ruby ring sold for US$4 million at Sotheby's in
Geneva in May 1995. The most important factor in the value
of a ruby is colour. The top qualities are a saturated
pure spectral hue without any brown or blue. The word
red is derived from the Latin for ruby; ruber. After colour,
the other factors that influence the value of a ruby are
clarity, cut, and size.
the celestial gemstone, has been treasured for thousands
of years. The ancient Persians believed that the earth
rested on a giant sapphire and its reflection coloured
the sky. Sapphire is found in all the colors of the heavens,
but the most famous and valuable sapphires are a rich
intense blue, a truly royal hue. Sapphire has long symbolized
truth, sincerity, and faithfulness. Tradition holds that
Moses was given the ten commandments on tablets of sapphire,
making it the most sacred gemstone. Because sapphires
represent divine favour, they were the gemstone of choice
for kings and high priests. The British Crown Jewels are
full of large blue sapphires, the symbol of pure and wise
natures fireworks,was much loved and valued highly by
the Romans, who called it opalus. Opal was also treasured
in the Middle Ages and was called ophthalmios, or eye
stone. Some thought the opal's effect on sight could render
the wearer invisible and they were recommended for thieves!
Queen Victoria and her daughters revived the fashion for
wearing opal. Queen Victoria was one of the first to appreciate
opals from an exciting new source: Australia. Ancient
opal came from the mines near Cervenica, Hungary. Ancient
opal fanciers never had the chance to see the opal of
Australia, where the opal of today was born, which far
surpasses the beauty of Hungarian opal in fire and brilliance.
Fire opal can be found in both faceted and cabochon cuts,
including many interesting fancy shapes.
a Royal Purple, has long been considered a royal colour
so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so much
in demand during history. Fine amethysts are featured
in the British Crown Jewels and were also a favourite
of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. Because amethyst
was thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety,
amethyst was very important in the ornamentation of Catholic
and other churches in the Middle Ages. It was, in particular,
considered to be the stone of bishops and they still often
wear amethyst rings. The Greek work "amethystos" basically
can be translated as "not drunken." Amethyst was considered
to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is
why wine goblets were often carved from it! Amethyst ranges
in colour from pale lilac to deep purple.
opal called the orphanus was set in the crown of the Holy
Roman Emperor. It was described as follows: "as though pure
white snow flashed and sparkled with the color of bright ruddy
wine, and was overcome by this radiance." This opal was said
to guard the regal honor. Opals are also set in the crown
jewels of France. Napoleon gave Josephine a beautiful opal
with brilliant red flashes called "The burning of Troy," making
her his Helen. Shakespeare found in the opal a symbol of shifting
inconstancy, likening play of color to play of mind in one
of the most apt uses of gemstone symbolism in literature.
In Twelfth Night, he writes: "Now the melancholy God protect
thee, and the tailor make thy garments of changeable taffeta,
for thy mind is opal."
agate bowls became common among European royalty during
the Renaissance and the Louvre has some particularly spectacular
examples. The agate mines in the
Nahe River valley in Germany were exhausted in the nineteenth
century, led to cutters using the agate deposits of Brazil,
which also sparked exploration and discovery of Brazil's rich
deposits of amethyst, citrine,
and other gemstones.
you'd like to read more about the myriad of gemstone varieties,
don't forget to visit our Gemstone
thanks to the International
Colored Gemstone Association for permission to reproduce
graphics/text from their website.