Guide to Gemstones

Discover the amazing stories, world sources, care instructions and how stones are sometimes enriched
by selecting from this list of many of the world's precious and semi-precious gemstones.

ALEXANDRITE

Background:Abundant alexandrite deposits were first discovered in 1830, in Russia's Ural Mountains. The gem was named for the young Czar Alexander II, and it caught the country’s attention because its red and green colors mirrored the Imperial Russian flag.

World Sources:Sri Lanka, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania, Russia

Enrichments:Not commonly enhanced by any method.

Care:Can be cleaned in warm, soapy water. Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe.

AMETHYST

February Birthstone, 6th Anniversary

Background:The royal scepter used by English regents is topped by an amethyst globe. Ancient tales say Cleopatra wore an amethyst signet ring as did St. Valentine, his engraved with the figure of Cupid. Amethyst was one of the gems on the Hebrew High Priest's breastplate, and from the Middle Ages to the present, it's been known as the gemstone of Catholic bishops.

World Sources:Brazil, Namibia, Uruguay, Zambia, Argentina, Australia

Enrichments:Routinely subjected to heat as a normal part of the processing to improve color.

Care:Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe. Avoid steam cleaning, abrupt temperature changes , heat, intense sunlight and strong chemicals.

AQUAMARINE

March Birthstone, 19th Anniversary

Background: Background Ancient Greeks believed the Sirens, mythical temptresses of seafarers, emptied aquamarines from their treasure caskets into the seas. A sailor home from a voyage often presented his love an aquamarine to celebrate their mutual fidelity and long awaited reunion.

World Sources:Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Zambia

Enrichments:Most often subjected to heat during the processing phase.

Care:Ultrasonic or steam cleaning is usually safe if inclusion free. Avoid hydrofluoric acid. Generally heat resistant if inclusion free.

CITRINE

November Birthstone

Background:Although often cut as a gemstone, citrine is actually somewhat rare in nature. Known as the success stone, it is used in alternative medicine by crystal healers to stimulate the body’s own healing energies, and is considered to be especially useful in digestive disorders. In ancient times, citrine was worn as protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.

World Sources:Brazil, Namibia, Uruguay, Zambia, Argentina, Australia

Enrichments:Routinely subjected to heat as a normal part of the processing to improve color.

Care:Ultrasonic cleaning is usually safe. Avoid steam cleaning, abrupt temperature changes , heat, intense sunlight and strong chemicals.

DIAMOND

April Birthstone, 10th and 60th Anniversary

Background:Ancient Hindus believed that diamonds resulted when thunderbolts hit the earth. Whether colorless, bright canary, warmest mocha, exotic black, or the rarest pink blue, red and green, diamonds have a similarly powerful effect on us. Giving diamonds or purchasing diamonds for yourself should be an extraordinary experience. Diamond jewelry and watches are as demonstrative and rewarding for gentlemen as for ladies. A diamond symbolizes romantic commitment, professional accomplishment, private achievement and enduring family traditions.

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EMERALD

May Birthstone, 20th and 25th Anniversary

Background:From Colombia to Zambia, from the pyramids to the mines of Solmondoco, the greenest gem has long captivated kings, conquerors, and collectors alike. Throughout time, emerald has been an eternal symbol of man's desire for youth, vitality and rebirth. The name origin is the ancient Greek smaragdus for green.

World Sources:Colombia, Zambia, Afghanistan, Brazil, Pakistan, Russia, Zimbabwe

Enrichments:Sometimes oiled to improve clarity, and can be dyed or coated; inclusions and fissures are not considered negative aspects unless they affect the durability and appearance of the gem.

Care:Clean gently with warm, soapy water; avoid heat, solvents and hydrofluoric acid.

GARNET

January Birthstone, 2nd Anniversary

Background:Known in ancient and Biblical texts as the carbuncle, garnet was considered a sacred gem used to designate religious initiates. King Solomon wore garnets into battle as a talisman. Garnet's name originates from the Greek granatum, meaning seed-like, as in the color of pomegranate seeds.

World Sources:Africa, Madagascar, Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, India, Russia, Korea, Italy, Sri Lanka, United States, Pakistan

Enrichments:Not commonly enhanced by any method.

Care:Ultrasonic cleaning is safe, never steam clean. Avoid abrupt temperature changes and hydrofluoric acid.

MORGANITE

Background:It was mineralogist George Frederick Kunz who, in 1911, suggested naming the pink variety of beryl Morganite for his biggest customer - J.P. Morgan. Morganite is often known as the pink emerald, One of the largest specimens of Morganite was uncovered in the Bennett Quarry of Buckfield, Maine. "The Rose of Maine" was orangish in hue, about 23 cm. long and 30 cm. across, and weighted in at just more than 50 lbs.

World Sources:Madagascar, Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, United States, Russia

Enrichments:Sometimes it is heat treated to remove patches of yellow.

Care:Minimal. Occasionally after long term wear, the gem will need to be polished and buffed to restore luster and remove any small scratches.

MOTHER-OF-PEARL

Background:Mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, is a shimmering, iridescent layer of material that forms the shell lining of many mollusks. Pearl oysters and abalone are both sources of mother-of-pearl, which is widely used as an inlay in jewelry, furniture, and musical instruments. Mother-of-pearl comes in several natural colors.

World Sources: Japan, China, and throughout the Pacific Rim

Enrichments:Often bleached and dyed for decorative use

Care:Use mild soap and water to clean. Avoid storing with jewelry which may scratch it.

ONYX

Background:The name comes from the Greek word which means nail of a finger or claw. Legend says that one day while Venus was sleeping, Eros/Cupid cut her fingernails and left the clippings scattered on the ground. Because no part of a heavenly body can die, the gods turned them into the stone that became known as onyx.

World Sources: India, Algeria, Mexico, United States

Enrichments:Usually dyed. Commonly heated to accentuate the intensity of its color.

Care:Can chip or crack easily, avoid dropping. Clean with a soft, dry cloth.

OPAL

October Birthstone, 14th Anniversary

Background:The gem with the flash-fire colors of the skies – rainbows, lightning, fireworks – was believed by ancient Arabs to have fallen from the heavens in flashes of lightning. The Orphanus Opal in the Holy Roman Emperor's crown was described as "pure white snow, flashed and sparkled with the color of bright ruddy wine." Napoleon Bonaparte gave the famed "Burning of Troy" opal, with its red flashes, to his Helen, the Empress Josephine.

World Sources:Australia, Mexico, Indonesia, South America, Tanzania, Ethiopia

Enrichments:Color play is sometimes intensified by the use of oils, dyes, wax or carbonized sugar solution.

Care:Clean only with warm, soapy water; avoid heat, abrupt temperature changes, strong alkalis and hydrofluoric acid

PEARL

June Birthstone, 3rd and 30th Anniversary

Background:In whites as crystalline as bridal satin, pinks as rosé as an blush, ivories as mellow as antique lace mantillas, or mysterious black-greys with aubergine and green overtones, there are pearls suitable for every woman. Whether the iconic Audrey Hepburn-style multiple strand choker or the single strand necessity, pearls are quintessential elegance. When worn by monarch or mother, pearls make the ultimate statement of dignity, confidence, and timeless sophistication. A pearl strand is the traditional gift from groom to bride for the wedding day. Pearls handed from mother to daughter are treasured heirlooms, knotted by hand on silk for future generations to cherish. Of course, pearl stud earrings are a timeless fashion classic.

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PERIDOT

August Birthstone, 16th Anniversary

Background:Peridot is primarily mined on a small Egyptian island where nothing grows, there is no fresh water, and the temperature is scorching for the majority of the year. Since antiquity, this Red Sea island, named Zabargad in Arabic, has been a main source for peridot. Some of its geologic fissures are lined with gem crystals, and tiny peridot crystals give some of its beaches a greenish hue. Peridot is rooted in the Greek word peridona meaning plentiful.

World Sources:Arizona, Myanmar (Burma)

Enrichments:Not subject to any known enhancements.

Care:Avoid ultrasonic cleaning and never steam clean; avoid heat, acids and jeweler's pickling solution.

QUARTZ

Background:Quartz, the "rock crystal" used in ancient times to make crystal balls and bowls, is today often taken for granted because of its relative affordability. Throughout history, quartz has been the common chameleon of gemstones, standing in for precious gemstones ranging from diamond to jade. But the incredible variety of quartz is now beginning to be appreciated in its own right. Different colors and types of quartz have grown in popularity with the growing appreciation for carved gemstones and artistic cutting and carving.

World Sources:Worldwide

Enrichments: Routinely subjected to heat as a normal part of the processing to produce or improve color. Some forms of quartz can also be dyed for color enhancement.

Care:Use mild soap and water to clean.

RUBY

July Birthstone, 15th and 40th Anniversary

Background:Described in ancient texts as "the perpetually glowing fire that never is extinguished," the ruby has represented the pinnacle of precious gemstone color through the ages. 13th century adventurer Marco Polo told of the King of Ceylon's incredible gem, 9 inches in diameter and as thick as a man's arm. It is said that Kublai Khan, Mongol emperor of China, offered an entire city for it. Biblical psalmists used the ruby as the standard to measure virtue, integrity and wisdom.

World Sources:Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Africa

Enrichments:Most often subjected to heat to improve the color.

Care:Ultrasonic and steam cleaning are usually safe, but avoid if fissures are present.

SAPPHIRE

September Birthstone, 5th and 45th Anniversary

Background:The blue gem of the ages, sapphire has roots in the Greek sappeiros for Sappherine, the island where ancient Greek writings say sappheiros were discovered. In ancient Persian lore, the earth is said to have rested on a large sapphire whose reflection colored the skies. In Hebrew tradition, the Ten Commandments were written on sapphire tablets. Through the ages, the gem symbolized purity, wisdom and prophecy.

World Sources:Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Africa, United States

Enrichments: Most are subjected to heat as a normal part of the processing phase to improve the color; this is permanent, stable and requires no special care.

Care:Ultrasonic and steam cleaning are usually safe; avoid if internal fissures are present.

TANZANITE

Background:Named after the East African state of Tanzania, the only place in the world where it has been found, Tanzanite was enthusiastically celebrated by gemologists as the 'gemstone of the 20th century' upon its discovery in 1967. Millions of years ago, metamorphic schists, gneisses and quartzites formed impressive, flat-topped inselbergs on a vast plain in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. The crystals grew in deposits inside of these unusual elevations. They remained hidden, until some Masai shepherds noticed sparkling crystals lying in the sun and discovered the precious gems.

World Sources:Tanzania

Enrichments:Routinely heat treated to permanently draw out its exotic bluish-purple color.

Care:Tanzanite is relatively soft, requires careful and respectful handling to avoid damage. Polish occasionally with a soft, dry cloth. Avoid heat cleaners and sonic cleaners, both of which can damage the tanzanite. Can be cleaned in warm, soapy water. Dry carefully before storing.

TOURMALINE

Background:Tourmaline is a gem with an incomparable variety of colors. The reason, according to an old Egyptian legend, is that on its long journey up from the center of the Earth, Tourmaline passed over a rainbow. In doing so, it assumed all the colors of the rainbow. That is why it is still referred to as the "gemstone of the rainbow." Colored crystals were imported from Sri Lanka at the beginning of the 18th century. During medieval times tourmaline was thought to heal physical and mental disorders as well as prevent death.

World Sources:Africa, Brazil, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, United States

Enrichments:Some tourmalines may have surface-breaking fissures that are filled with resins, with or without hardeners

Care:Protect from scratches and sharp blows. Avoid drastic temperature changes. Do not clean in a home ultrasonic cleaner.

TOPAZ

December Birthstone, 4th Anniversary

Background:"Topaz" is derived from the Sanskrit word tapas, meaning fire. Topaz aptly symbolized the sun gods of ancient cultures and was credited with many healing powers, among them the ability to cure insanity, asthma, weak vision and insomnia.

World Sources:Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Africa, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, United States

Enrichments:Usually irradiated and sometimes heated to enhance the color

Care:Usually safe to ultrasonic clean; avoid steam cleaning, rapid temperature changes, acids and strong solvents.

TURQUOISE

December Birthstone, 11th Anniversary

Background:Turquoise is one of the earliest known gems, used in jewelry, utensils, and religious ritual items. The mummy of ancient Egyptian Queen Zer, dating from 5500 B.C., was discovered with her arm encased by four exquisite turquoise bracelets. The name turquoise is believed to originate from the French phrase pierre turquoise, or Turkish stone, because of its importation to Europe by Venetian merchants who first purchased it in Turkish bazaars.

World Sources:Iran, United States, China, Tibet

Enrichments:Sometimes treated with heat and resins to enhance the color, hardness and durability

Care:Clean only in warm, soapy water and dry immediately; avoid skin oils, perspiration, acids and strong solvents.