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Guide To Gemstones

Gemstones

Amethyst: Amethyst is a simple, beautiful gemstone that in modern jewellery, often sees its smooth violet tones mixed with other gemstones and set amongst diamonds to form glamorous, yet affordable show pieces. A prominent member of the “Quartz” family, Amethyst is an easy to wear gemstone that can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion.

Trivia: During ancient Egyptian times, Amethyst was used for carving intaglios which are rarely seen in today’s jewellery, as it requires master craftsmanship. Originating from the Greek word meaning “without drunkenness” Amethyst is believed to protect its wearer from poison and instil a ‘sober’ mind. 

Aquamarine: Mirroring the effect of a gently rippling stream, Aquamarine is a clean, cool, luxurious gemstone, with glorious depths of calming blues and greens. Representing faithfulness, courage and friendship, Aquamarine is the perfect gemstone to gift on many special occasions.

Trivia: A unique identifier of Aquamarine is an inclusion described as “rain” – which perfectly echoes its host’s name, meaning “water of the sea”.

Citrine: A member of the “Quartz” family, this sister stone of Amethyst derives its name from the Latin name for the colour ‘lemon’.  A warm mellow glow with autumnal hues, this jewel is often seen mixed in with other gem families or nestled amongst dazzling diamonds.

Trivia: Most Citrine starts out life as Amethyst, which after heat treatment of 425 - 485°C turns the purplish stone golden. While showcasing wearing this beautiful jewel, know you are wearing the Planetary stone of the Sun!

Diamond: Radiant, glittering and simply stunning, Diamonds have always been known to be a girl’s best friend. The hardest material known to man, nothing can compare to its structural magnificence. Since 1919 when Marcel Tolkowsky created the first ‘Round Brilliant Cut’, Diamonds have been faceted to achieve optimum brilliance and sparkle. People since have tried to optimise on the 57 facet cut style, but none have succeeded.Complimenting other’s beauty, or simply standing alone on its own glory, diamonds are the simple must have jewel.

Trivia: The youngest known diamond is still 650 million years old! The most famous large faceted diamond weighs over 530 ct and measures 58.9 × 45.4 × 27.7 mm – only slightly smaller than a tennis ball! This of course can be found in Royal Sceptre of the British Crown Jewels.

Emerald: Synonymous with the mysterious underworld of Columbia, Emeralds can also come from Brazil, Pakistan or India. Rich bluish green hues are favourable in today’s society, but the profound garden greens of old are still considered superior by some. Rarely flawless, Emeralds are full of beautiful and interesting inclusions. A common and accepted practise to help enhance their beauty is to oil the stone, therefore Emeralds require a little more consideration and care than other gemstones.

Trivia: Creating controversy in the modern world, the ‘Bahia Emerald’ is this Century’s cliff-hanger. As one of the largest ever rough Emeralds found (381 kg, 180,000ct), it’s narrowly escaped a Hurricane, been stolen from Police custody, lost in gambling bets and is currently in hiding and being battled over 10 years later!  

Garnet: Garnets come in a vast array of body colours and hues. Rooted deep in jewellery’s history, garnet appears in some of the most famous jewels. Probably most well-known is the Almandine Garnet, which unites scarlets and reds with earthy overtones of browns.

Trivia: In Prague – home of some of the earliest Garnet mines - you can visit the “Magic Garnet Museum” which features a truly impressive collection of historical and modern Garnet jewellery. Tradition holds that Garnet given as gifts, award loyalty and affection upon the receiver. No matter the truth in the myth, a gift of fine garnet jewellery will always be appreciated.

Opal: A spectacular gem, Opal is a favoured stone amongst gemmologists for its unique and amorphous nature. With body colours varying from white to black, Opal’s mesmerising play of colour can display blues, greens, reds, purples – in fact any colour of the spectrum. We see Opal expanding in to handmade pieces of jewellery, used in its natural form to compliment the beauty of its wearer.

Trivia: Opal’s history is shrouded in superstition and myth. In Ancient Greece it was the “Stone of Prophecy” believed to grant its owner great wisdom and foresight. The Greeks also believed that the magnificent Fire Opals were formed from Zeus’s tears after his victory over the Titan’s. In India they were thought to have originated from the Goddess of Rainbows. Today however, Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, bringing them much luck and good fortune!

Pearl: Pearls are the quintessential hidden gem of the oceans. Smooth, beautiful and totally tactile and rarely found as a natural specimen. Most of what we see today are cultured counterparts. A process initially developed between 1892 and 1895 by a British biologist, the discoveries weren’t patented until 1916 by the Japanese.

There are two types of cultured Pearl. “Freshwater cultured Pearls”, now almost exclusively farmed in China, are formed taking “mantle” (tissue) from a donor mussel and inserting it in to the “gonad” (reproductive organs) of a recipient. “Beaded cultured Pearls” are similarly formed, but use a foreign object such as a bead, a natural seed pearl or even a tiny Buddha model! Types of beaded cultured Pearl include South Sea, Akoya and Tahitian.

Trivia: Elizabeth Taylor once owned one of the world’s most famous Pearl’s – La Peregrina. With a history spanning over 500 years it had belonged to many members of European Monarchy. Always one for drama, within minutes of Liz being in possession of La Peregrina, one of her dogs stole the Pearl and proceeded to chew on it! Rumour has it that a small indent on the skin of the Pearl was caused by this incident.  

Peridot: Such a unique gemstone, Peridot only occurs in the olive green colour we know and love. Meteorites that have been explored after falling to Earth, have found to be hosts to Peridot crystals, meaning it’s also an extra-terrestrial stone! Peridot’s large birefringence (meaning to look through the stone, you’ll see an obvious mirror image of the facet edges) makes it easy to identify.

Trivia: Peridot is an ancient stone. Cleopatra was a known fan of “green” stones, which were originally thought to be Emeralds, but now understood to be an early misidentification meaning she wore plenty of Peridot. Pirates wore Peridot on their sea journeys, to ward off evil and enemies, as it was believed to bring luck, health, success and peace!  Whether a Princess or a Pirate, Peridot is a wonderful adornment to add to any jewellery collection. 

Ruby: With colours ranging from light pinkish reds to deep warm rich reds, Ruby has only one colour variety. The finest colours are difficult to come by, the most desirable are said to originate from Burma, and they have synthetic man-made counterparts that are almost impossible to distinguish by the untrained eye. Rubies are only second to Diamond on the Moh’s Scale of Hardness, so they are a great gemstone to wear in every day jewellery.

Trivia: In 2011, the world’s largest ever mined Ruby was stolen in a well organised heist at a jewellery store in Delaware, USA. Discovered in the 1950’s, the Ruby weighed 1.8kg or 8,500ct and was called “The Liberty Bell Ruby” after it had been fashioned in to a replica statue of the Liberty Bell.

Sapphire: Commonly assumed to always be blue, this half of the Corundum family actually occurs as most colours of the rainbow. “Sapphire” alone would assumed to be blue, so the other members of the family are always described using their colour as a prefix. Blues range from pale, purplish, deep, clear to opaque, and the fancy colours can be orange, yellow, green, purple or pinks. Sapphire occurs in many locations; the “finest” vary in opinion, but often are considered to originate from Burma. Quite often the price of the Sapphire reflects its origin even if its ‘appearance’ is not as nice as one from elsewhere!

Trivia: The worlds most recognised Sapphire is probably in the engagement ring of the late Princess Diana – now of course belonging to the Duchess of Cambridge. The 12ct Sri Lankan beauty is surrounded by 14 round cut diamonds and set in 18ct white gold. The infamous ring was designed by Garrard and cost £28,000 in 1981.

Tanzanite: Ravishing, breath taking, spectacular. No gemstone has the depth of beauty as a Tanzanite. Born over 500 million years ago, it took the eruption of Mount Kilimanjaro to allow the mix of pressure, heat and the rare chemical Vanadium to form this glorious gemstone. Naturally, Tanzanite mostly occurs in a greenish-brown colour. Myths say, that when a vast fire swept the valleys beneath the volcano the pebble-looking brown stones were heated so hot they transformed in to powerful blues and purples. Because the ground had been scorched bare, a Masai tribesman stumbled across them and claimed the discovery.

Trivia: In 1961 Tiffany & Co renamed what was then known as “Blue Zoisite” (Tanzanite’s chemical family name) to “Tanzanite” to capitalise on the rarity and singular location of the gem.  

Topaz: Occurring in a range of different colours, the most familiar colours are “Imperial”, a reddish-orange colour and “Swiss, Sky or London”, all variations of blue. Lapidaries can be quite creative with Topaz, and some exquisite styles of cut can be found.

Trivia: Probably because of its naturally brownish-orange colour and sparkle, the Sanskrit word for Topaz translates to “fire”. During the Middle Ages, Topaz was prescribed to prevent Death by strengthening the mind, also to cure weakened vision as well as mental illnesses!

 

Common Gemstone Treatments

Heat treatment: A common and accepted treatment, to predominantly (but not limited to) rubies and sapphires. Heat treatment can have a variety of effects, including improved colour hue, change of colour and improved clarity/transparency.

Oiling: A common and accepted practise performed on predominantly emeralds. Helps to improve apparent clarity and transparency. Becoming increasingly popular to use coloured oil to improve colour.

Glass Filled: A controversial practise performed on corundum (ruby/sapphire). Takes very low quality corundum, then bleaches, acid treats and soaks in a coloured glass to create a “predominantly” glass based material. We at The Fine Jewellery Company endeavour not to offer this for sale.

Coating: A metallic coating is applied to the pavilion of gemstones to either improve colour or change colour. This is commonly seen with “Mystic” Topaz and Quartz.

Foil Backed: More prevalent in antique jewellery, gemstones would be backed or set on to a silver or coloured back ground to make the gem appear brighter.

Laser Drilled (Diamond): A treatment performed on diamonds to remove unsightly dark inclusions from inside the stone. Treatment must be disclosed for sale.

Fracture Filled (Diamond): A treatment performed on diamonds to improve clarity, by filling “fractures” with a glass-like substance that has a pink/green appearance. Treatment must be disclosed for sale.

KM Laser (Diamond): A newer treatment performed on diamonds, to improve clarity. Treatment must be disclosed for sale.

 

Whilst we endeavour to identify any treatments pre listing, due to the nature of set jewellery pieces, identification cannot always be guaranteed. If you would like a full gemstone certificate, completed by an outside impartial source, please contact us for further information.