GEMSTONES – HOLDERS OF MAGICAL POWERS
For several centuries now, gemstones have been believed to hold magical powers, healing and aiding the mind, body, and soul. The majority of gemstones are found in various spots across the world. And depending on where you live, they might even be right in your backyard. And if you live near the ocean, or fresh water source, you could even find a pearl. However, don’t get your hopes up for finding something in nature. Most natural stones and pearls are rare, unless you own a mine. That’s why your best bet for finding a great quality gemstone is to find a trusted jeweler at Stall & Kessler’s.
Below is a list of the various Birthstone Gemstones listed in the order of their corresponding months:
Garnet, the birthstone for January, signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry. Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.
Amethyst- Next in line for February, this stone’s roots come from Greece, named from the word “Amethustos”, which literally translates into “Not Intoxicated”, and is believed to help one hold their liquor better. Mostly found in Brazil and Zambia, it’s a member of the Quartz family, though is also found in places like Russia, Sri Lanka, Mexico, and Arizona. Sometimes heat is used to treat the stones to enhance their colors, making them a more brilliant purple.
Aquamarine- A gemstone like this is not one you would want to pass up if you were born in March. This stone is beautiful beyond compare in some opinions. Like a diamond, it is most usually found in a flawless state, though today, most of its magnificent beauty is thanks to special treatments using heat in order to make the normally bluish-green color appear more blue. Some people believe this stone can be used to help make one more active, and to enhance a person’s happiness and intellect, as well as boost one’s courage and provide them with eternal youth. Its main source is Brazil, with its mineral rich soils, but can also be found in Nigeria, Afghanistan, and a few other places around the world.
Diamond- Normally the best is saved for last. But that’s not the case here. The majestic diamond is April’s birthstone, and there’s no April foolin’ here. It’s the symbol for eternal love, as well as status. They range in size from very small to several carats, and are used not only in jewelry, but in industry as well. Those not worthy of being placed in a setting are used from anything to enhancing cutting blades (since the diamond is the hardest element known to man), to powering lasers and computer processors and storing data. A gem quality diamond, though, is handled delicately. If cut wrong, the stone can fracture and loses value. And not all gem quality stones are colorless. Some are dark gray, and even brown, and some even have hues of yellow and even blue. Also, like most other gemstones today, these can be manufactured in a lab. However, the manufactured stones are nowhere near the value of a natural one, which can be found pretty much around the world.
Emerald- Number five on the list, the emerald, represents the month of May well with its color, since May is when the new grass and tree leaves flourish, stretching a blanket of green all over. This stone belongs to a group of stones called beryl, and rarely are flawless emeralds found in nature. Most have small fractures along the outside, and inside are usually arrays of tiny crystals that make each stone quite unique. But the stones that you see on display at in any jewelry store have most likely been treated in some way, likely having been dipped in some kind of oil or resin in order to fill those fractures and improve their natural appearance. To some, this stone represents blissful youth and rebirth.
Pearl- This is another birth “stone”. The pearl is sometimes a victim of mistaken identity. It’s not actually a stone, but rather the byproduct of a living organism–the mollusk, and created when foreign debris gets inside its shell, causing the animal to excrete calcium carbonate around the debris. The most common of these animals known for growing pearls is the oyster. But did you know that any shellfish identified as a mollusk can actually grow a pearl, and not all of them are in saltwater? It’s true! Depending on where they are grown (i.e. saltwater, freshwater) depends on their shape, size, and color. These days, most pearls are farmed, meaning humans actually make the animal grow the pearl by inserting either a small bead of the substance known as mother-of-pearl, making them round, except when it comes to freshwater mollusks. Pearls grown in those animals are usually started off with a small bit of tissue, and are often a soft pastel color, whereas saltwater pearls are dark grey or green, and white. That way the pearl is thicker, and more lustrous, but usually misshapen. Natural pearls are rare, and are not always round.
Alexandrite- Named after Alexander II, who later became Czar of Russia, it was discovered in 1839. This actually makes this stone relatively new, given that most other gemstones had been used several centuries before then. It’s an uncommon stone, found mostly in Sri Lanka, but also in a few other places around the world. It also ranks as one of the hardest natural minerals. What makes this stone so unique is its color. Or rather, colors. In natural, or ambient lighting, the stone appears green and blue, with a hint of brown. In artificial lighting, like fluorescent, the stone appears to be almost maroon. However, manufactured Alexandrite does not change colors, and is only the unique blue color.
Ruby- Another gemstone that represents July, and one of the most well known is the Ruby. Its rich red color is made it similar to red spinels, which have been used in England’s Crown Jewels. The most popular color of a ruby is known as “Pigeon’s Blood”, which is a deep crimson color. Like many other stones, this one can be manufactured in a lab under controlled conditions. But unlike some manufactured gems, it is easy to spot a ruby that has been manufactured, and one that is natural. Natural stones often have what are known as inclusions, often small growths of crystals inside the stone. Also, like many of the other colored gemstones, the ruby often undergoes treatments to help enhance the stone’s natural color.
Peridot- This stone is one of the oldest, as far as discoveries, go. Its roots are tangled deep into the mystery and myth of Ancient Egypt. For years, the green jewels that Cleopatra wore were thought to be emeralds, but now, many believe that they were in fact peridots, since they used to be mined near Egypt. Its color resembles an emerald, but that’s where the resemblance ends. The larger a peridot is, the richer its color is. These days, it’s extremely rare to find a stone over 3 carats, and most stones are found in Arizona. The peridot’s color is 100% natural, and there are no known enhancements.
Sapphire- A beautiful stone for September. When people think of this stone, they automatically picture the brilliant blue that sapphires are known to hold. But actually, sapphires come in a variety of colors, ranging from the blue, also known as “Kashmir”, all the way to the deep red we know as rubies. One of the most popular, rarest, and most expensive sapphires is known as the Blue Star Sapphire. This stone generally isn’t transparent like the other varieties, but its beauty isn’t any less. Finished with a round, smooth cut, it shows off an almost perfect six point white star. The effect is caused by light reflecting off small particles known as silk inside the stone. These stones are highly valued, and are expensive. But if you get the chance to buy one, don’t pass it up!
Opal- October’s most unique stone. You will never see such a magnificent array of colors as you will when you look at an Opal. This stone is one of the softest and most delicate gemstones, and must be handled carefully. And since the opal contains about 30% water, special care is required to maintain its unique beauty. There are three different groups, or classes of opal. The first is known as Precious Opal. The mixture of colors, known as opalescence, is like a rainbow set inside the stone. The color of the stone vary, being either white, black (these have brilliant colors), and what are known as Jelly opals, which have little to no opalescence. The second class are known as Fire Opals. These are colored red, yellow, or orange with a brilliant mixture of colors. Lastly is the Common Opal, and are, for obvious reasons, the most common type of opal found, and usually have little no to opalescence.
Tourmaline- Another stone for October, this one, like some other gemstones, comes in an array of colors. The various unique shades of colors have their own distinct names, which keeps them from being mixed up with the more common colors of this stone. The brilliant red and pink hues are known as Rubellite, and the brilliant green hues, which contain the element Chromium, are known as Chrome Tourmaline. The purple-ish to bluish-green hues are called Indicolite. Sometimes the stones can be found with more than one color in them, and are found in various places around the world, including the United States of America.
Citrine- This is a stone that represents November well because of its natural orange color, just like the leaves on the trees during this time of year before they shed and give way to Old Man Winter. Its color is also how it got its name, derived from the French word Citron, which means lemon. The stone ranges from a citrus yellow to a rich orange color. Like many other colored gemstones, this one is often treated with heat to help enhance its color, and the treatments are often undetectable. It’s a common stone, but found mostly in South America and Spain.
Topaz- This is another stone that represents November. However, throughout the years, it has commonly been the victim of mistaken identity. In times long since passed, any stone that was colored yellow, brown, orange, or even green were commonly referred to as Topaz. Before federal trade laws were placed in effect, citrine and treated yellow amethyst were often called, and advertized as being Golden Topaz, and the real deal was known as Precious Topaz. The most common variety of topaz is the orange or yellow colored stones. Less common, and most valuable is the imperial topaz, which has an orange base with pink and red undertones. Other colors include light blue, pinkish-red, light green, and colorless. It’s no surprise that this stone is commonly treated with heat to help improve the color.
Turquoise- This is the most popular stone for December. Thought to bring good luck and riches to the owner, this stone was first discovered in Eastern Europe, mainly Turkey, in mostly arid conditions close to water tables. This stone gets its unique coloring from different minerals, like copper, and water. In turn, this makes this stone soft and delicate, its color easily changed or lost of not handled properly. The only treatment this stone receives is a mixture of oils, wax, and plastic and then polished to a brilliant shine.
Zircon- Another stone for December, it is found in a variety of colors when left au naturale, like pale yellow or green, or even colorless. Tiny deposits of thorium and uranium causes these colors, and over time, the radiation from them literally change the molecular compound of the crystals. What’s left are shades of red, brown, yellow and orange. However, there is also blue Zircon, which is created by treating yellow and brown stones with heat. What Zircon is probably most known for is its colorless version, which is used to imitate diamonds.
Tanzanite- Another stone unofficially associated with December is Tanzanite. This is probably due to it being a somewhat recent discovery, having been found in the late Sixties in only one place in the entire world. It’s public knowledge that the Tiffany Company was solely responsible for making this stone so popular. It’s also said that this stone is much rarer than diamonds.