Learn About Colored Gemstones
The ABCs of Gemstones
Colored gemstones come with their own unique personality, history, origins and even spiritual and mythological traditions. They are the jeweler’s rainbow celebrating every hue and variation of color to the delight of jewelry lovers worldwide. There’s a colored gemstone (or two!) attached to each month.
JANUARY – GARNET
Garnets are available in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red Bohemian Garnet to the vibrant greens of the Russian Demantoid and African Tsavorite. We also see it appearing in the oranges and browns of Spessartite and Hessonite from Namibia and Sri Lanka and the subtle pinks and purples of Rhododendron.
Legend says Garnets light up the night and protect their owners from nightmares. Garnets have long been carried by travelers to protect against accidents far from home. Garnet is the birthstone for January, but with its stunning variety of colors and its mystical powers, it has been given as a gift for all occasions for centuries.
FEBRUARY – AMETHYST
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed Amethyst would ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, and keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. For centuries, Amethyst has been associated with many myths and legends as well as religions in numerous cultures.
Not only is it the beautiful color that makes this gem so popular, but it is also widely available in different shapes and sizes which makes it more affordable. Amethyst complements both warm and cool colors so it looks fabulous set in both yellow and white metals. This unique ability means it enhances almost every color in your wardrobe.
MARCH – AQUAMARINE
The name Aquamarine speaks for itself, meaning seawater. For centuries, this timeless gemstone has been a symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity. Since this gemstone is the color of water and the sky, it is said to embody eternal life. It was long thought that Aquamarine has a soothing influence on married couples, making it a good anniversary gift.
Aquamarines are found in a range of blues; from a pale pastel to a greenish-blue to a deep color. Darker shades of blue are increasingly rare and, in turn, make the value increase. Aquamarine is frequently a pastel gemstone but the color can be more intense in larger gemstones. Smaller aquamarines tend to be less vivid.
APRIL – DIAMOND
Since ancient times, diamonds have been admired objects of desire. Formed far beneath the Earth’s surface over a billion years ago, diamonds are the hardest gem of all. Diamonds have a long history of folklore; some of which say diamonds were created when bolts of lightning struck rocks, and others said the gem possessed healing powers.
For centuries, diamonds have been adorned by women and men and regarded as the ultimate gift and a symbol of eternal love. Today, diamonds are still admired all around the world. Until the middle of the twentieth century, there was no standard by which diamonds could be evaluated. GIA created the first, and now globally accepted standard for describing diamonds: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight.
MAY – EMERALD
Green is the color of Spring and has long symbolized love and rebirth. As the gem of Venus, it was also considered to aid in fertility. Cleopatra, Egypt’s tempestuous female monarch, was as famous for wearing Emeralds in her time as Liz Taylor is for wearing diamonds in our time.Ancient Egyptian mummies were often buried with an Emerald carved with the symbol of verdure– flourishing greenness–on their necks to symbolize eternal youth. The deeper and more vivid the color of green, the more valuable the gemstone.
The most valuable and beautiful Emeralds exhibit an intense bluish hue in addition to their basic bold green color. Emeralds, among the rarest of gems, are almost always found with birthmarks, known as inclusions. Some inclusions are expected and do not detract from the value of the stone as much as with other gemstones.
JUNE – ALEXANDRITE
If you love magic, especially the magic of science, you’ll love Alexandrite, the color-change gem. Outside in daylight, it is a cool bluish mossy green. Inside in the lamplight, it is a red gem with a warm raspberry tone. You can watch it flicker back and forth by switching from fluorescent to incandescent light. The value of the gemstone increases as the color change becomes more distinct.
It is truly spellbinding to see the spectacular changing colors in this wonderful gemstone; you just might feel some of the mysterious magic and lore ascribed to it. It’s said to strengthen intuition, aid in creativity and inspire the imagination.
Originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s, it’s now found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil, but this gem is exceptionally rare and valuable.
JULY – RUBY
The Ruby represents love, passion, courage, and emotion. For centuries this gem has been considered the king of all gems. It was believed that wearing a fine red Ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner. Rubies have been the prized possession of emperors and kings throughout the ages. To this day, the Ruby is the most valued gemstone.
The color of a Ruby is the most important feature of the gemstone. Rubies are available in a range of red hues from purplish and bluish red to orange-red. The brightest and most valuable color of Ruby is often “a Burmese Ruby” – an indication that it is a rich, passionate, hot, full red color with a slight blue hue. This color is often referred to as “pigeon blood” red, a Ruby color only associated with the Mogok Valley mines in Myanmar, which actually is not the color of a pigeon’s blood, but rather the color of a white pigeon’s eye.
AUGUST – PERIDOT
Peridot is one of the few gemstones that exists in only one color; a distinctive signature lime green. In ancient times, it was believed that Peridot was a gift of Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world. When presented as a gift, Peridot is said to bring the wearer magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares. It is also said to instill power and influence through the wearing of the gemstone.
Today, most Peridot comes from Arizona but it is also found in China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Peridot gemstones smaller than three carats are very common but gemstones over five carats are rare and therefore have a higher value. Peridot in 10 to 15 carats are even more rare, but provide a big and bold look for an affordable price.
SEPTEMBER – SAPPHIRE
When hearing the word Sapphire, many people immediately envision a stunning violet-blue gemstone because the word “Sapphire” is Greek for blue. Since Ancient times, the blue Sapphire has represented a promise of honesty, loyalty, purity and trust. To keep with this tradition, Sapphires are one of the most popular engagement gemstones today.
Sapphire is found in many parts of the world, but the most prized Sapphires are from Myanmar (Burma), Kashmir and Sri Lanka.
Sapphires are not only blue, they come in almost every color of the rainbow: pink, yellow, orange, peach, and violet colors. The most sought-after color fancy Sapphire is the rare and beautiful Padparadscha: a pink-orange corundum with a distinctive salmon color reminiscent of a tropical sunset. These ultra-rare, ultra-expensive stones are among the most coveted gems in the world.
OCTOBER – TOURMALINE
Available in a spectrum of colors and color combinations, Tourmaline lives up to its name, which means “mixed stone”. With a rainbow of colors, Tourmaline can easily enhance any jewelry collection. Cranberry red, hot magenta, bubblegum pink, peach and orange, canary yellow, mint, grass and forest green, ocean blue, violet: Tourmaline is all of these and more.
Tourmaline is also known for displaying several colors in one gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations and are highly prized. One multi-color variety is known as Watermelon Tourmaline and features green, pink, and white color bands. To resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring and green edge.
With Tourmaline available in so many colors, you’re sure to find one in your favorite color.
NOVEMBER – CITRINE
This bright shining gem is said to be a gift from the sun. The name Citrine, which is French for “lemon”, fits well with its color range of juicy lemon yellow to a bright orangey brown. Most people choose a Citrine based on their personal preference, but some of the most sought-after Citrine gemstones have a clear, radiant yellowish to brownish red color.In ancient times, Citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts. Today, Citrine is known as the merchant’s stone and is associated with success and prosperity.
Citrine is one of the most popular and affordable gemstones. It is relatively plentiful and available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, including very large sizes. These reasons make it a great gem for that big, bold, statement piece.
DECEMBER – ZIRCON
Most people think of a bright sky blue when they hear Zircon, but it is also available in beautiful earth tones of green, dark red, yellow, brown, and orange. Today, the most popular colors of Zircon are the vivid blue and bright Caribbean Sea colors. In the Middle Ages, Zircon was said to aid in resting, bring prosperity and promote honor and wisdom in its owner.
The spectrum of beautiful colors, its rarity and affordability are why it is becoming more popular today. Some gem collectors seek out Zircon from different locations capturing gems in every color of the rainbow – colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red, and all the colors in between.