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Gemstone Guide

Gemstones or gem is also called a precious or semi-precious stone and once cut and polished are used to make jewellery normally set in gold, platinum and silver.

Amethyst, the birthstone for February, is a popular, attractive and affordable gemstone. Featuring a captivating purple color, amethyst is a member of the quartz family. Its name comes from the Greek word amethystos, meaning not intoxicated. Ancient cultures believed that amethyst could protect its owner against drunkenness. Amethyst is also mentioned in the Bible and was believed to bring peace of mind to the wearer. Look for saturated, even color, as well as good clarity when purchasing amethyst.

Aquamarine, the birthstone for March, is a member of the beryl family. A relatively hard crystal mineral, aquamarine?s color can range from light to dark blue and contain hints of green. Its name means sea water in Latin. Aquamarine has been reputed to cure laziness and insomnia, increase wisdom, provide everlasting youth and even cure hiccups. It tends to be free from inclusions, making it more attractive and durable than some other stones. Aquamarines usually have a high transparency and clarity, as well as a very even color and great durability. Look for aquamarine stones that have good clarity, as well as good, even color.

Blue Topaz
Blue Topaz, the birthstone for December is usually light brown when mined and turns colorless or very pale blue when it is exposed to light or heat. Colored topaz, especially yellow, orange and pink, are more valuable. Since red is the rarest color for any gemstone, the red or very pink varieties of topaz are the most valuable. Yellow or orange topaz with reddish or pink overtones is also known as imperial topaz, and commands much higher prices. Colorless topaz has also been used to simulate diamonds. Many stones classified as topaz are actually colored quartz. Be careful to verify that the topaz you purchase is indeed topaz. Topaz stones are delicate in nature and require extra care when handling.

Citrine, the birthstone for November, is prized for its yellow to brownish color and its resemblance to topaz, a much rarer gem. Citrine is a member of the quartz family. Look for saturated, even color, as well as good clarity when purchasing citrine.

Emerald, the birthstone for May, is one of the most sought-after, coveted and prized of all gems. Its name comes from the Latin word for ?green?. Emerald, a member of the beryl family, comes in different shades of green. The most important aspect to look for when purchasing an emerald is its color. More vivid stones are more valuable. Another factor to consider is the number of fractures or cracks on the stone?s surface?fewer fissures means higher value. Some emeralds are treated with oil to conceal these fractures.

Garnet, the birthstone for January, is believed to represent faith, loyalty, truth and devotion. Known as the stone of friendship and commitment, garnet is a very hard, durable and versatile gem. Garnets are named after the Latin word for ?pomegranate? because of their red color and seed-like shape. Many garnets however, feature various shades of green, yellow, orange, brown, pink or purple. The most important thing to look for when it comes to purchasing a garnet is its color. The more vivid the stone the more valuable it is.

Iolite, a bluish-violet colored gemstone, comes from the Greek word for violet, ?ios?. Iolite is often referred to as a Water Sapphire, because it resembles sapphire face-up and looks clear or watery from the side. The color of Iolite actually appears different when viewed from three different angles?a characteristic known in gemology as trichroism. In terms of color, an Iolite should not be overly dark, or pale. Avoid Iolite stones with have many inclusions. More bright and vivid Iolite stones are the most valuable.

Opal, the birthstone for October, is a delicate combination of small, closely packed silica (sand) and water. The silica occurs in sphere shapes, which refracts the light that enters the stone and causes a play-of-color or shift in the spectrum of light reflected to our eyes. The range of colors in opals is determined by the size of the spheres. The wider the range of colors an opal displays, and the more bright and distinctive the play is, the more rare and valuable the opal. Generally, a black opal is more valuable than a light opal of comparable quality. The overall brightness in both strong and weak light sources is an important factor to look for when purchasing an opal. Opals are very delicate stones and require extra care when handling.

Peridot, the birthstone for August, is a popular, attractive and affordable gemstone. It comes in a variety of colors, with green being the most popular. According to legend, wearing Peridot protected the wearer from evil spirits. Look for saturated, even color, as well as good clarity when purchasing peridot. Greener peridots stones have the highest value.

Ruby, the birthstone for July, is extremely valuable. Its vibrant red color is the rarest naturally occurring color in gemstones. Ruby, a corundum, shares the same physical characteristics and chemical composition of sapphires. Rubies have strong ties to royalty: In England, the ruby was used for coronation rings, while the Hindus thought that if they offered rubies to the god Krishna, they would be reincarnated as an emperor. Its blood-red color has also symbolized courage, bravery and love. The name comes from the Latin word for red, rubeus. Rubies as well as sapphires are the second hardest gemstones after diamonds. They are very durable and strong, making them useful in many industrial applications as is the case with diamonds. Today, rubies are surpassed in value only by diamonds. When purchasing a ruby, you should look for a pure red color that looks good in any light with no hints of other colors, such as brown or blue. Also look for good clarity with few inclusions.

Sapphire, the birthstone for September and a corundum, shares the same physical characteristics and chemical composition of rubies. Sapphires have long been associated with royalty: Sapphires are worn by kings and queens, as well as high church officials. Its name comes from the Greek word for blue. Sapphires also come in pink, orange, yellow, green and purple tones. There are even colorless sapphires, which are a popular diamond substitute. Color is very important when purchasing a sapphire. Sapphires with a pure blue hue have the most value. Look for sapphires that have no gray or black tones, and lack any greenish tint.

Tanzanite, discovered in 1967 near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, is one of today?s most popular gemstones. It was later named after Tanzania, the country in which it was found by Henry Platt, director of Tiffany & Co. Depending on the angle it?s viewed a tanzanite has the capacity of transmitting various colors of light.. It can look deep blue one moment and purple another. A variety of the mineral zoisite, Tanzanite can also display flashes of red, yellow, orange, green or brown. Color is the most important factor when purchasing a tanzanite. Tanzanite stones with a more blue color are more desirable and valuable than those with a more purplish hue. Also, stones with very dark or very light shades of coloration are less valuable.

Tourmaline along with Opal is the birthstone for October. Tourmaline comes in the widest variety of colors of any gemstone. There are green, pink, red, blue, yellow, orange, brown, black, colorless, parti-colored and cat?s eye tourmalines, as well as multicolored tourmalines. The brightest and most vivid tourmalines have the highest value. The most popular colors are green chrome tourmalines and Paraiba tourmalines, which have a blue hue. Red or rubellite, tourmalines are also popular. Tourmalines, are often substituted for more expensive emeralds, sapphires and rubies.

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