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Jewelry Education

Birthstones

January - Garnet

Properties
  • RI: 1.735 - 1.875
  • Hardness: 7 -7.5
  • Specific Gravity: 3.61 - 4.15
  • Species: Garnet (Eight varieties in Group)
  • Optic Character: Singly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Color changed, Asterism (rare)
Major Sources
  • Africa, East Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Israel, Brazil, Burma, Australia, US, Russia, Madagascar, Nambia, Namibia, Nigeria, Myanmar
Enahncements
  • none

Although most people think of garnet as red-brown, the versatile Garnet comes in a virtual rainbow of colors, from deep red Bohemian and Pyrope Garnet to the vibrant greens of the Russian Demantoid and African Tsavorite. The oranges and browns of Spessartite and Hessonite hail from Namibia and Sri Lanka and the subtle pinks and purples of the Rhodolite, named after the rhododendron flower, are also yours to explore.

Garnets are named after the Latin word for pomegranate because of their color and seed-like shape. The Garnet Group is composed of eight species of a diverse family of gems, all called by the name "Garnet." No matter which color one prefers; the more vivid the color, the more valuable it is.

The birthstone of January, garnet is said to keep travelers safe, promote a long-lasting love, prevent depression, and aid hearing difficulties. Legend states that wearing a garnet can improve interpersonal relationships and keep you out of harm's way.

February - Amethyst

Properties
  • RI: 1.544 - 1.553
  • Hardness: 7
  • Specific Gravity: 2.66
  • Species: Quartz
  • Optic Character: Double Refractive
  • Phenomena: None
Major Sources
  • Africa, Brazil, Uruguay, Canada, US
Enahncements
  • Heat, Irradiation - This treatment is permanent and does not need special care.

Purple passion. From refreshing lilac to ripe plum, the drama and excitement of purple are fully featured in Amethyst.

Amethyst is the birthstone for February, a purple, very popular and affordable gemstone that ranges in color from deep purple to pale lavender. It is abundant in every corner of the Earth. It is available in small and large sizes, although as with all gemstones, very large sizes in rich, deep colors have always been rare.

Its name comes from the Greek word amethystos, meaning 'not intoxicated'. The Greeks believed that drinking wine from amethyst cups could protect against drunkenness. Lore says that when the maiden Amethyst was turned into crystal to protect her from Bacchus's tiger, the Greek god of wine was so contrite that he wept tears of wine over her frozen form, giving amethyst quartz its purple color. Amethyst is also mentioned in the Bible and was believed to bring peace of mind to the wearer.

Perhaps because of its depth and richness, it has always been associated with intense emotion.

Please note: Photo courtesy of AGTA

March - Aquamarine

Properties
  • RI: 1.577 - 1.583
  • Hardness: 7.5 - 8
  • Specific Gravity: 2.72
  • Species: Beryl
  • Optic Character: Double Refractive
  • Phenomena: Chatoyancy (rare)
Major Sources
  • South America, Africa, China
Enahncements
  • Heated to improve color (remove green) - This treatment is permanent and needs no special care.

Imagine a dip in a crystal blue mountain lake - the morning air crisp and expectant, the sky soaring high and cloudless overhead. This is the unique refreshment of Aquamarine.

The name means "ocean water," and tales of Aquamarine date back to ancient seafaring days. Sailors of old believed that these glittering, watery gems came from the treasure chests of mermaids. Perhaps it’s no wonder that Aquamarine is said to bring luck to all who sail the seas.

Aquamarines are found in a range of blue shades, from the palest pastel to greenish-blue to a deep blue. While the choice of color is largely a matter of taste, the deeper blue gems are more rare. No matter what size, color or shape of Aquamarine you may desire, we can help you obtain the perfect gem.

Remember that Aquamarine is a pastel gemstone, and color can be quite intense in larger gemstones. Although we strive for the best in any stone, the smaller Aquamarines are often less vivid.

The elegant colored gemstone is the birthstone of March and is a symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity. It is believed to calm mind, body and spirit. This gemstone was also thought to give wearers knowledge, foresight and assist in inspiration. Aquamarine has been reputed to cure laziness and insomnia, increase wisdom, provide everlasting youth and even cure hiccups!

Please note: Photo courtesy of AGTA

April - Diamond

Properties
  • RI: 2.417
  • Hardness: 10
  • Specific Gravity: 3.52
  • Species: Diamond
  • Optic Character: Singly Refractive
  • Phenomena: None
Major Sources
  • Botswana, Russia, Soth Africa, Australia, Nambia, Zaire, Brazil, China, Canada, US
Enahncements
  • None (natural).

The fire of passion. The perfection of hope. The brilliance of joy. All these are part of a couple's love for each other - a love that finds its ideal expression in a diamond.

No other stone offers the clarity, brilliance, and breathtaking depth of a diamond. And for centuries, those who wore such stones were believed to share their virtues. Fabulous tales abound of luck the success, fearlessness and invincibility. Legends of seduction, intrigue, and irresistible attraction.

Diamond is the birthstone for April. A diamond is the most potent symbol of devotion as you begin a life together. And while a gift of diamonds is traditional on the 10th and 16th anniversaries, there's never a better way to say that your love has only grown stronger, deeper, and more enduring with the passage of time.

Diamonds are also the most classic of all jewels. Their unmatched beauty and elegance make them ideal for marking life's most important occasion, from the birth of a child to milestones like graduation or a major promotion. But then, why wait? The gift of a diamond can transform any occasion - or no occasion at all - into a moment sure to be treasured forever.

For further details about Diamonds, please be sure to consult our "Diamonds" heading in the Learn Section!

May - Emerald

Properties
  • RI: 1.577 - 1.583
  • Hardness: 7.5 - 8
  • Specific Gravity: 2.72
  • Species: Beryl
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Chatoyancy, Asterism (rare)
Major Sources
  • Columbia, Zambia, Brazil, Pakistan, Zimbabwe
Enahncements
  • Natural and Traditional Oiling

Lush. Exotic. Untamed. This is no polite garden-variety green: Emerald pulses with life and vitality. In its depths beats the heart of the rain forests, its shadows alive with promise, expectation...even danger.

Emeralds are known as the gem of queens and the queen of gems. More valuable than even diamonds, fine-quality Emeralds of significant size are among the world’s most bewitching jewels. Their incomparable dark green color is produced only under extremely rare conditions. Because these conditions also result in tiny cracks and cavities in the stone, inclusion are allowed in top quality Emeralds.

Believed by the ancients to empower the owner with foresight into the future, Emerald is regarded as an amulet for good fortune. Ancient history records Emerald mines near the Red Sea, "Cleopatra’s Mines," where the Pharaohs gathered gems between 3000 and 1500 B.C. The Incas and Aztecs of South America once worshiped Emerald as a holy stone. And Maharajas of India, who believed the gem brought luck and restored health, had multitudes of Emeralds in their treasure vaults.

Emeralds can come in different shades of green, from dark leaf green to pale sea green. The most important thing to look for when it comes to emeralds is their color. More vivid stones are more valuable.

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

June - Alexandrite

Properties
  • RI: 1.746 - 1.755
  • Hardness: 8.5
  • Specific Gravity: 3.73
  • Species: Chrysoberyl
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Color change
Major Sources
  • Brazil
Enahncements
  • None (Natural)

Night and day, the changing hues of Alexandrite enchant the eye and fuel the imagination. Its mesmerizing color swings - from raspberry to plum to bluish-green - make it the most famous and popular of all color-change stones.

Alexandrite was first discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1830. Prized immediately for its hypnotic beauty, the stone was named after Czar Alexander II, in honor of his coming of age. Because of its ability to change dramatically in shifting light, Alexandrite has become associated with balance in life, self-esteem, and the ability to experience joy - powers that, according to legend, the stone may impart to its wearers.

Until recently, Alexandrite was usually found in very old pieces of jewelry from the 1850's to the early 1900's, when the material was still available from Russia, but the color change was red to green. With the new discovery of rough material from Brazil recently, it is once again commercially available for wear. In incandescent lighting, the stone appears reddish-purple; in fluorescent lighting, the same stone appears a bluish-green.

Mysterious, stimulating, endlessly fascinating, Alexandrite attracts all ages. It is a wonder to behold.

Please note: Photos Courtesy of AGTA

June - Pearl

Properties
  • RI: 1.53 - 1.685
  • Hardness: 2.5 - 4
  • Specific Gravity: 2.72 - 2.78
  • Species: Pearl (Several varieties)
  • Optic Character: AGG
  • Phenomena: Orient
Major Sources
  • Japan, China, French Polynesia, Australia
Enahncements
  • Natural and Cultured

Pearls have been an object of desire from the first days of human society, and are treasured not only for their rare beauty, but as symbols of harmony, purity, and wisdom. June birthdays and third and thirtieth anniversaries are celebrated with the gift of Pearls.

Pearls were believed by the ancient Babylonians to have life-giving powers and the ability to restore youth. Old Arabian legend says that I was formed when dewdrops filled with moonlight fell into the ocean and were swallowed by oysters. American Indians found me in the mollusks of the Mississippi River and strung me onto necklaces, adorned their headdresses, and set me into copper ornaments. Down through the centuries, man's desire for the perfection of Pearls has not waned. The exotic, lustrous skin of Pearls, smooth and silky to the hand and eye, embodies all that is feminine.

Pearls are truly a gift of the sea, and the only gemstone formed within a living creature. Pearls were so cherished by man, that as the sources of natural Pearls became exhausted, he learned to replicate the process created by Mother Nature through cultivation techniques.

No other jewel makes the transition as smoothly from day to evening as Pearls. Pearls come in many beautiful colors, from palest cream and white to rose, lilac, green, gold, gray, and the dramatic Tahitian black. Pearls come in many shapes and sizes, and can be acquired in both graduated and uniform strands. They can be purchased singly or in pairs for rings, pendants and earrings.

July - Ruby

Properties
  • RI: 1.762 - 1.77
  • Hardness: 9
  • Specific Gravity: 4.0
  • Species: Corundum
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Asterism, Chatoyancy
Major Sources
  • Thailand, Myanmar, Kampuchea, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, Madagascar
Enahncements
  • Heated to improve color - This treatment is permanent and needs no special care.

Blood-red. Fire-red. Color that burns along the veins, and gives brightness to the night. If you're looking for the color of life itself, look no further than red. And the gemstone that brings red to vivid life can have only one name: Ruby.

The "king of gems," Ruby is one of the world's oldest and most revered gemstones. It is also one of the rarest, as red is the rarest occurring color in gems. It owes it's startling color to the presence of the mineral Chromium. Rubies with hardly any inclusions are so rare that large stones of good color fetch higher prices at auction than even diamonds.

Fiery and romantic, showing brilliant depth and intensity, the red hue of Ruby is certain to draw attention. Its symbolic association with passion sends a drop-dead message of glamour and femininity.

The birthstone of July, the ruby has been prized for centuries as a symbol of love and immortality.

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

August - Peridot

Properties
  • RI: 1.654 - 1.69
  • Hardness: 6.5 - 7
  • Specific Gravity: 3.34
  • Species: Peridot
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: None
Major Sources
  • China, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar, Kenya, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, US
Enahncements
  • None (Natural)

The green-apple crispness of Peridot is a perfect complement to today's lively fashion colors. As the popularity of lime green continues to grow, so does the youthful appeal of this citrus-hued gemstone. Intense and dazzling, its juicy color appeals to all ages.

Peridot's history can be traced back more than 3,500 years, when it was prized by the ancient Egyptians. Romans named the gem as the "Evening Emerald," due to its brilliant color not fading in the lamplight, but instead seeming to glow in the evening hours. Hawaiian legend names peridot as the tears of "Pele," the volcano goddess of the islands.

Peridot has been credited with a host of magical powers and healing properties, such as protection against nightmares and possessing the power to ward off evil.

Value is closely tied to how evenly distributed the color appears. With inclusions quite common in most stones, the most valuable are the cleanest and greenest. Peridot is the birthstone for August and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

September - Sapphire

Properties
  • RI: 1.762 - 1.77
  • Hardness: 9
  • Specific Gravity: 4.0
  • Species: Corundum
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Asterism, Color change, Chatoyancy (very rare)
Major Sources
  • Australia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India, Kumpuchea, Kenya, Tanzania, US, Madagascar, Cambodia, Kashmir
Enahncements
  • Heated to improve color - This treatment is permanent and need no special care.

The color blue holds an endless fascination.From the high dome of the sky to the oceans that cover two-thirds of the globe's surface, blue literally surrounds us. Seen from space, Earth is revealed as a shimmering blue planet. Therefore, it's little wonder that the breathtaking blue of Sapphire has captured man's imagination since the beginning of time. Ranging from a deep midnight blue to a brilliant cornflower blue, Sapphires have long been prized for their intense, velvety color.

Sapphire is actually the same mineral as ruby: they are both members of the corundum family and share the same physical characteristics and the same chemical composition. Even though most people consider Sapphire as the pre-eminent blue gemstone, the magnificently versatile Sapphire can be found in a rainbow of colors, spectacular yellows and oranges, vivid pinks and lavenders, and soothing greens. These diverse colors are referred to as "fancy" color Sapphires.

Beloved for centuries as the ultimate blue gemstone, the ancient Persian rulers believed the Earth rested on a giant blue sapphire whose reflection made the sky blue. The name for Sapphire comes from the Greek name for "blue". Sapphire has been credited with profound powers such as the ability to protect the wearer against poisons and evil spirits.

The birthstone for September, Sapphire symbolizes trust, sincerity and loyalty. Sapphire has also been worn an engagement stone, most recently in the case of Lady Diana, the late, former wife of Prince Charles of England. Sapphire is the second hardest mineral after diamond, and it is a very suitable stone for daily wear. Blue and fancy Sapphires are very easy to incorporate as an everyday color for today's woman.

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

October - Opal

Properties
  • RI: 1.45
  • Hardness: 5 - 6.5
  • Specific Gravity: 2.15
  • Species: Opal
  • Optic Character: Singly Refractive, ADR common
  • Phenomena: Play of Color
Major Sources
  • Australia, Mexico, US
Enahncements
  • Natural or None

The colors of the rainbow. The glow of the Northern Lights. The dramatic flash of summer lightning. All the light of the evening sky are captured in the mysterious, shifting hues of Opal.

With its pulsating display of fire and color, Opal was long thought to hold magical powers. Opals symbolized hope, innocence, and purity to the Greeks and Romans. Opals were often reserved for royalty. The crown of the Holy Roman Emperor held a superb example, a fiery red Opal called "The Burning of Troy". This superb Opal was given as a gift from Napoleon to Josephine - forming part of the crown jewels of France. Queen Victoria of England also loved Opals, and often presented them as wedding gifts.

Opal is found in several different colors including: black Opal (pictured), whose blue, gray or black body color enhances the play of fire; white or fire Opal, with a lightish or white body color; and crystal Opal, a transparent version with bright color flashes. Boulder Opal has color flashes intertwined with rock matrix. Opals are not faceted but cut into rounded or free-form cabochons that enhance their play of color.

Different in appearance is Fire Opal, a transparent gemstone of brilliant yellow, orange or red, often cut with facets (please see additional listing under Mexican Fire Opal).

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

October - Tourmaline

Properties
  • RI: 1.624 - 1.644
  • Hardness: 7 - 7.5
  • Specific Gravity: 3.06
  • Species: Tourmaline
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Chatoyancy, Color change (rare)
Major Sources
  • Brazil, Afghanistan, Myanmar, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, US
Enahncements
  • None or Heated to improve color - This treatment is permanent and need no special care.

Tourmaline comes in the widest variety of colors of any gemstone with green being the most well-known. Vivid reds, hot pinks, verdant greens and blues abound in this marvelous gem variety. Some are also called by individual names: chrome, rubellite, indicolite, or are called by the location from which they are mined such as, California, Maine, or Paraiba (Brazil). Tourmalines, because of their vivid, rich colors are often substituted for more expensive emeralds, sapphires and rubies.

Tourmalines occur in many forms as well: several faceted shapes, cabochons (domed), carvings, thin slices called Watermelon Tourmaline (in which the center is pink with an outer green edge), "parti-colored" (in which the cut gemstone transitions in color shades from two to several shades including, green, blue, colorless, and pink), and "cat's eye", in which a vertical line is centered in a dome-shaped stone, appearing as the eye of a cat.

The birthstone for October (along with Opal), Tourmaline legend states that it aids against misfortune and protects travelers against falls. It is also the National Gemstone of the United States (please see individual listings under Tourmaline).

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

November - Topaz

Properties
  • RI: 1.619 - 1.627
  • Hardness: 8
  • Specific Gravity: 3.53
  • Species: Topaz
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Chatoyancy
Major Sources
  • Brazil
Enahncements
  • None (Natural)

The color of certain gems can be, quite literally, intoxicating. From the pale amber gold of old cognac to the warmly glowing browns of aged whiskey and fine sherry, Precious Topaz invites us to drink in its beauty. Its warm golden hues, touched with peach overtones, bring a youthful blush of color to those who wear it. It looks absolutely outstanding when surrounded by pink (rose) gold, which brings out its peachy tones!

Precious Topaz was revered by the Egyptians and Romans, who associated it with the setting sun. In modern times, rich stores of Precious Topaz were discovered in Russia; placed in the jewels of the Russian Czarina's, the gem earned the name of "Imperial Topaz."

The mesmerizing hue of Precious Topaz is symbolic of love and affection. And so remarkable is the gemstone's transparency and brilliance that famous examples have been confused with diamonds.

The birthstone for November, Precious Topaz was derived from a Sanskrit word meaning " fire." Topaz has long been believed to promote calm and faithfulness, to protect against enchantment and to cure insomnia.

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

November - Citrine

Properties
  • RI: 1.544 - 1.553
  • Hardness: 7
  • Specific Gravity: 2.66
  • Species: Quartz
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: None
Major Sources
  • Brazil, Bolivia
Enahncements
  • Heat - This treatment is permanent and does not need special care.

The mellow gold of Citrine draws us in and brightens our moods. A golden quartz whose name comes from the French word for "lemon," Citrine brings the energizing refreshment of an icy summer drink.

Sunny and full of light, this sparkling gem was once thought to protect the wearer against various evils - from snake venom to wicked thoughts and the ability to remain neutral in conflict. Today, its radiant color is associated with cheerfulness, youth, and vitality.

Citrine ranges in color from slightly golden yellow to an orange and honeyed caramel, resembling Madeira wines. It comes in a wide variety of shapes, large sizes, and is relatively modest in cost.

The birthstone for November (as well as Precious Topaz), this is a wise affordable choice!

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

December - Blue Zircon

Properties
  • RI: 1.925 - 1.984
  • Hardness: 7.5
  • Specific Gravity: 3.90 - 4.73
  • Species: Zircon
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Chatoyancy (rare)
Major Sources
  • Kampuchea, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Australia, Thailand, China
Enahncements
  • Heated to improve color - This process is permanent and needs no special care.

A gem of great beauty and rarity, sparkling Blue Zircon might be mistaken for the far more expensive blue diamond. Indeed, colorless forms of Zircon were long favored by consumers because this breathtaking gem, with its superb brilliance and dispersion, looks more like diamond than any other gemstone. And even though the name is close to "cubic zirconia", do not be confused. Blue Zircon is a wholly different gemstone, it is a naturally occurring gemstone, and has been used since the 1880's in fine estate jewelry.

The aqua-blue brightness of Zircon, often tinged with shimmering teal, gives energy and renewal to those who discover this often overlooked gem. It's color is similar to Paraiba Tourmaline, a rare and extremely expensive gemstone that is now an extinct species.

The birthstone for December, Blue Zircon is guaranteed to take your breath away and keep your pocketbook in good standing!

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

December - Tanzanite

Properties
  • RI: 1.691 - 1.700
  • Hardness: 6 - 7
  • Specific Gravity: 3.35
  • Species: Zoisite
  • Optic Character: Doubly Refractive
  • Phenomena: Chatoyancy (rare)
Major Sources
  • Tanzania
Enahncements
  • Heated to improve color - This process is permanent and needs no special care.

The first thing you notice is the color: Deep, vivid blue, with a purplish tinge that dances about the stone as it moves in the light. With its dazzling intensity and complex play of color, Tanzanite boasts a uniquely sensuous appeal.

Tanzanite's rarity and exotic origin are also part of its fascination. For this modern gemstone was unknown until 1967, when herdsmen in eastern Africa noticed blue crystals sparkling in the sun. Tanzanite's dramatic discovery, coupled with its scintillating beauty, caused a worldwide sensation. To date, the world's only source for the gem remain the hills of northern Tanzania, near Mount Kilimanjaro.

Tanzanite's dual color - brilliant blue with hints of purple - makes it both warm and cool. Bold yet meltingly beautiful, it is a favorite of both men and women.

The birthstone for December, fine Tanzanite supplies are dwindling and becoming rarer, especially in large sizes. Try to get some while it's still available!

Please note: Photo Courtesy of AGTA

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