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About Gemstones

Amethyst is the most precious of the quartz family. Its name is derived from the ancient Greek term methystos, meaning "not drunken." It was traditionally worn to guard against drunkenness and to instill a sober mind. Amethyst is mostly found in Brazil and Uruguay. Deposits are also found in the USA, Madagascar, the former Soviet Union, India, Australia, South Africa and many other countries. The color is typically a deep violet purple but can appear paler. The color is the result of trace amounts of iron in the crystal structure. Amethyst is considered to have a calming effect and to enhance the meditative state.

Ametrine is a mixture of citrine and amethyst, both varieties of quartz. Ametrine deposits are found in Brazil and Bolivia. Metaphysically, it is said that wearing ametrine promotes calmness and serenity and that it acts as a grounding influence which can bring stability into one's life.

Apatite is difficult to facet due to its low hardness; however, when cut correctly, stones are brilliant with strong color. Blue apatite is found in Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka; yellow, blue and green varieties are found in Brazil. Apatite can also be found in Russia, Canada, East Africa, Sweden, Spain and Mexico. Its name is derived from the Greek word meaning "cheat" because it is easily confused with other gemstones such as precious beryl, topaz and tourmaline.

Aquamarine derives its name from its soothing seawater color ranging from a clear pastel to a deep ocean blue. Iron gives this stone its color; a deep blue being the most valued. The best source for Aquamarine is located in Brazil, but can also be found in Russia, Australia, Burma, China, India, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Madagascar. Aquamarine is the birthstone for March and has been used as a purifying agent, or cleansing stone, which is believed to bring the wearer a peaceful sense of calm.

Carnelian is a brownish-red to orange variety of chalcedony. Its color comes from its iron content. Natural carnelian shows a cloudy color distribution when held to light. It is considered an alternate birthstone for July. Metaphysically, carnelian is said to promote emotional balance and physical energy. Deposits can be found in India, Brazil and Uruguay.

Chalcedony is made-up of microscopic fibers, parallel to each other. Actual chalcedony is defined by a bluish-white-gray variety. It is distinguishable by its exceptional luster and density. True chalcedony generally has no banding. Most chalcedony comes from Uruguay and Brazil, but can also be found in India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and California (USA).

Chrysoprase gets its soft green to bright apple green color from nickel. It is part of the chalcedony group and is regarded as the most valuable. The finest quality of chrysoprase once came from Poland and Czechoslovakia, but the mines have been depleted since the 14th century. Today, deposits can be found in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Russia and California

Citrine, a variety of quartz, gets its yellowish color from iron impurities. Natural citrine is usually a pale yellow, and is rare. It is said this gem provides the wearer with a sense of stability and can bring emotional balance to both mind and body. It has also been used as a purifying agent or cleansing stone. Natural citrine deposits can be found in Brazil, Madagascar, Argentina, the USA, Burma, Russia, Scotland, Namibia and Spain.

Crystal Quartz is the most common mineral found in the Earth's crust. The name is derived from the Greek word meaning "ice" because it was said to be forever frozen. It has been used for years as ornaments, costume jewelry and as an imitation of diamonds. Although found worldwide, most crystal quartz comes from Brazil, USA, Madagascar and the Alps.

Emerald is the most valuable of the beryl family. The coloring agent is chrome and is enhanced by traces of iron. Often clouded with inclusions, these "jardins" are not necessarily considered faults, but rather evidence of the authenticity of the stone as compared to synthetics. Emerald is the birthstone for May. It has been regarded as an amulet of good fortune and is said to strengthen memory and intelligence. Some of the largest and finest emeralds are from Colombia, but can also be found in Brazil, Zambia, Tanzania, India, Egypt and Pakistan.

Garnet is made up of a group of differently colored minerals with similar chemical composition. Garnet is one of the few gemstones that requires no processing other than cutting to enhance its beauty. A trademark of garnet is its symmetrical, cube-based crystals. It is commonly believed that if you give a garnet to a loved one, it will secure their loyalty and affection. Deposits can be found in the USA, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia, India, Tanzania and Scotland.

Iolite derives its name from the Greek word meaning violet. Iolite can be seen in as many as three different shades of violet blue, yellow gray and a light blue, in one stone. Iolite has been compared to a light blue sapphire and is sometimes called "water sapphire." Deposits can be found in Sri Lanka, USA, Burma, India and Madagascar.

Kyanite is unusual in that it has two hardness values, approximately 4.5 when scratched parallel to the long axis of the crystal and 6.5 when scratched perpendicular to the long axis. This variable hardness and cleavage make it difficult to cut. Its name is derived from the Greek word meaning "blue." Kyanite has a pearly vitreous luster and coloring may be uneven with darker coloring towards the center. Deposits can be found in India, USA, Australia, Kenya, Myanmar (Burma) and Brazil.

Lapis Lazuli or lapis for short is comprised mostly of luzurite, containing sulfur that lends to its rich blue color. The brassy yellow hue or flecks are caused by the presence of pyrite. The presence of calcite produces white streaking. It has been worn in the belief that lapis will protect the wearer from evil. For 6,000 years, deposits of high quality lapis have been mined in a location still in use today; Kakcha, Afghanistan. Lapis can also be found in USA, Chile, Argentina, Russia and Canada.

Mexican Fire Opal is named for its fiery orange color. Fire Opal is the result of post-volcanic activity and is found exclusively in Mexico in the region of the town Queretaro. Stones may show no play-of-color and are usually milky. The best qualities are clear and transparent, making them suitable for faceting. Opal is unusual in that it is noncrystalline (lacking a regular arrangement of atoms). It is made up primarily of hardened silica gel and a varying amount of water, usually between 5-10%. The iridescence or "opalescence" is caused by light diffracting off of tiny silica spheres within the structure.

Opal is unusual in that it is noncrystalline (lacking a regular arrangement of atoms). It is made up primarily of hardened silica gel and a varying amount of water, usually between 5-10%. The iridescence or "opalescence" is caused by light diffracting off of tiny silica spheres within the structure. Australia has been the primary producer since the 19th century; other localities include the United States, Mexico, Brazil, the Czech Republic and South Africa.

Peridot is the name for the gem-quality mineral olivine that is colored by the presence of iron. Its color ranges from light lime gold to bright green to luscious shades of olive. Peridot was prized in ancient Egypt and honored in Hawaiian legend as the divine tears of Pele, the goddess of the volcano. It has long been associated with renewal and has been credited with healing properties. An estimated 80-95% of the world's peridot production comes from Arizona (USA). Other localities include Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Egypt, China, Australia, Norway, Brazil, South Africa and Hawaii (USA).

Peruvian Blue Opal does not have an opalescent appearance. Peruvian Blue Opal is said to help quiet the mind in mediation and to aid sleep.

Rainbow Moonstone is cut to show a flash of blue-green shimmer. The stone itself is usually colorless or whitish. Moonstone is a silicate of aluminum and potassium, sodium and/or calcium. It is believed that rainbow moonstone can alleviate emotional tension and can enhance the wearer’s sense of creativity and self-expression. Rainbow moonstone can be found in Brazil, Myanmar (Burma), Madagascar, India, North America, Tanzania and Germany.

Rose Quartz gets its unique, delicate pink color from trace amounts of iron and titanium. It usually appears cloudy or cracked due to inclusions or foreign substances. Metaphysically, it is often known as "the love stone," helping one to love themselves and stimulate love for others. Rose quartz is abundant, and is found mainly in the United States, Brazil, India, South Africa and Madagascar.

Ruby is the red variety of the corundum mineral species; all other colors of corundum are called sapphire. Colors can vary in shades of red, from pinkish to purplish, to brownish red. The coloring agent is chromium and iron. The most desirable color is a pure red with a bluish tinge. Next to diamond, ruby is the hardest mineral known to man, but is difficult to cut due to its brittleness. Inclusions are common but do not necessarily detract from the value, rather distinguishing it from synthetic stones. Ruby is the birthstone for July and is often used to celebrate the fortieth anniversary. This gemstone is thought to be a high-energy stone for courage, boldness and action. Deposits can be found worldwide including Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Tanzania and Cambodia.

Sapphire includes all colors of the corundum mineral except red, which is known as ruby. It is the second hardest stone known to man. The most desirable color is a clear, deep blue. However, sapphires come in many colors due to levels of iron and titanium impurities, or vanadium impurities in violet stones. Sapphire is the birthstone for September and a talisman for the Taurus zodiac sign. Symbolizing sincerity and faithfulness, sapphire is often given as an engagement ring or gift and represents the fifth and forty-fifth wedding anniversary. India, Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma) produce a fine cornflower blue sapphire. A dark blue colored specimen can be found in Australia, Nigeria and Thailand. Other localities include Montana (USA), Columbia, Brazil, Cambodia, Kenya and Malawi.

Smoky Quartz is light to dark brown or grayish variety of clear quartz. Smoky quartz has been used as a health aid to increase endurance and lessen fatigue and depression. Deposits can be found in Brazil, the Swiss Alps, Australia, the United States, Spain and Madagascar.

Spinel is most commonly a pinkish-red, colored by chromium, but can also be found in a wide range of colors due to the presence of other impurities such as iron, vanadium or cobalt. Red spinel is often confused with ruby, as it is similar chemically and in color. It is distinguishable by its pinker color and lighter shade. Although a valuable stone itself, spinel has been used for years as a ruby substitute, especially in larger pieces. Deposits can be found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Pakistan, Sweden, Australia, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, Turkey and the United States.

Tanzanite was named after the East African state, Tanzania where it was discovered in the late 60's and has to date not been found anywhere else in the world. Sensitive to ultrasound, tanzanite should not be cleaned with ultrasonic cleansers, which are commonly used by jewelers. Because tanzanite is so rare, its value is rather high.

Topaz derives its name from an island in the Red Sea called Tapazos. Specimens are found in a range of colors, pink being the most valuable. Blue is the most popular and readily available variety of topaz on the market today. The value depends on the intensity of color; deeper colors are more valuable. The most common color is yellow with a reddish tint. Yellow colored topaz is an alternate birthstone for November and blue topaz is used for the fourth wedding anniversary. It is believed to bring the wearer a soothing, healing state of consciousness and a sense of emotional well-being. Deposits can be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria, Mexico, Japan, Australia and Pakistan.

Tourmaline derives its name from the Singhalese name, "Turamali," which means "stone with mixed color." It is found in almost every color of the spectrum, a richness in color variation which is unmatched by any other mineral. Tourmaline is said to protect against misfortune and to aid in meditation. Deposits can be found in Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, Canada, Namibia and the United States.

Tsavorite is a green variety of the mineral, grossular garnet that was discovered in the late 60's by the Scottish explorer, Campbell Bridges. Its name is derived from Kenya's Tsavo National Park. Color ranges from light to rich yellow green, exhibiting a purer green color than emerald. Its coloring agent is vanadium. Metaphysically, tsavorite is said to enhance spiritual awareness and aid in meditation. Deposits can be found in Kenya and Tanzania.

Turquoise varies in color from a pale sky-blue to green, depending on the amount of iron and copper impurities. Pure blue specimens are rare. Most turquoise is veined or spotted with black or brown colored minerals. The finest specimens of true turquoise, Sleeping Beauty, comes from copper mines in Miami, Arizona (USA). Turquoise can also be found in Iran, Tibet, Mexico, Russia, Chile, Australia and the United States.

Zircon has been prized since antiquity, although the origin of the name is not known. Zircon's brilliant and intense fire surpasses that of even the diamond. Pure zircon appears colorless and is often used in place of diamonds. Impurities within the stone produce a variety of colors. It is believed that zircon will provide the wearer with wisdom, honor and riches, however if the stone loses luster it is said to warn of danger. Deposits can be found in Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia, Tanzania and France.

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