Learning Center

Gemstones Lore

Our Gemstones Lore section covers gem history and folklore. Learn about famous jewelry pieces, birthstones, past and current perceptions, and more.

Ways to Choose a Birthstone

“My birthstone is emerald,” a potential customer recently told me. “But I don’t like green,” she continued, “so I never buy gemstones.” Do we, and our customers, have choices when it comes to selecting a birthstone? What can we do when we don’t…

Blue Sapphire – Celestial Stone

Nature lavished her finest blues upon sapphires, the “Gem of the Heavens.” Although the word “sapphire” itself means blue, the gem is found in nearly all the colors of the rainbow.

Chalcedony Gemstones

Silicon dioxide, better known as quartz, is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. Mineralogists divide quartz into two classifications: crystalline and cryptocrystalline, based on the size of its crystals. Cryptocrystalline is…

Diamond, The Brilliant Ice

Currently identified with love, diamonds are the gemstone of choice in engagement, wedding, and anniversary rings. Contrary to popular belief, we have not always given diamonds as love tokens. That custom results from modern marketing…

Jadeite and Nephrite Gemstones

Two gemstones bear the name jade: nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite, first known as yu, was treasured by the Chinese for centuries. Its current name, and the word “jade,” both came from the Europeans via the Spanish conquistadores who.

Lapis Lazuli Gemstones

Lapis lazuli, as lovely as its exotic name, has decorated humans and enhanced their art for thousands of years. Normally a rich deep shade of blue or blue-violet, lapis lazuli may at times have a slight greenish cast.

Jasper Gemstones

The minerals grouped as jasper belong to the quartz family. Quartz is one of the most abundant minerals on Earth. It’s formed primarily from silica and oxygen, but includes trace amounts of dozens of other minerals. Because of these ineralogical…

The Ubiquitous Mineral Feldspar

Moonstone and sunstone, seemingly opposites because of their names, are in reality closely related members of the feldspar family. Formed when hot magma solidifies underground, feldspar makes up about 60% of the Earth’s crust. It’s found…

Amber – Petrified Sunlight

Amber’s warmth and rich glow convinced our earliest ancestors that it was petrified sunlight. Later, others believed it to be the hardened tears of a goddess. Those who were more earthy described amber as fossilized lynx urine.

The Story of Red Spinel

The gem’s first known owner was Abu Said, a Moorish prince of Granada in Spain in the mid-1300s. Abu Said lost the gem, as well as his crown and his life, to Don Pedro the Cruel of Seville. In 1366 Don Pedro’s own brother attacked him in turn, but Don…

From Beryllium to Beryl

Beryllium is a hard and shiny metallic element. Extremely rare, it’s prized in industry for its high melting point and conductivity. Combined with other elements, it forms beautiful gemstones that are hard and brilliant.

Minerals and Gemstones Formation

Do you know what diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are? “Jewels” is the answer most people offer. It’s an accurate answer, but it doesn’t tell the fascinating story behind these treasures from nature.

GemBits – Turquoise for Jewelry

Prized for its sky-blue color, turquoise has been used in amulets and jewelry since antiquity. The oldest known piece of jewelry is a turquoise and gold bracelet found in the tomb of Zer, an Egyptian queen who lived 7,500 years ago.

GemBits – Quartz Diversity

Quartz, the most abundant mineral, is also one of the most diverse minerals known. It’s found in a rainbow of colors, and ranges from shimmering transparency to impenetrable opacity. Rock crystal, amethyst, and.

GemBits – Ivory for Jewelry

Every substance on Earth falls into one of three groups: animal, plant or mineral. Minerals are compounds of elements, like carbon, chromium and silicon. Gemstones are simply minerals that people have deemed attractive and, therefore,…

Ruby, King of Gems

Like many gems, rubies are known by several names. One of its earliest titles was ratnaraj, which is Sanskrit for “king of gems.” Another early name was carbuncle. At a time when gems were classified by colors only, carbuncle was the name given…

How Gemstones Get Their Colors

My cats like to participate in most of my activities. Their “assistance” generally involves batting supplies off my desk. When they sit and stare at me, it’s easy to see how one of my favorite gemstones, cat’s-eye chrysoberyl, got its name.…

Opal – Water Filled with Fire

The fragile opal first flashed its fiery colors at mortals millennia ago, igniting a love affair that has survived the fickleness of the human heart. Its faults, like softness and lack of stability, are overlooked by those entranced by its…

Tourmaline Colors – A Gift from Nature

Tourmaline is one of the most unusual of all gemstones. Unlike other gems, which we often identify with a single color, tourmaline comes in every hue. Often more than one color occurs in the same crystal. Watermelon tourmaline, which is pale.…

The Lore of Emeralds

Long associated with Spring and birth, gloriously green emeralds have an extensive history of healing and supernatural powers. Green is Nature’s most soothing color, and early physicians instructed their patients to look through pieces…

Pearls of the Ocean

Pearls don’t need polishing or faceting to reveal their natural beauty. That’s why pearls were among the first gems worn by humans. The oldest known pearl necklaces graced the necks of women more than 4,000 years ago.

The Secret Life of Rocks

Think they just lie around? Oh, no! Rocks are constantly meeting, mingling, and occasionally making gemstones.

Every so often you hear about a miner who literally trips over a rock, or takes a good. hard look at the ground in just…

Tanzanian Burma Ruby

High quality ruby is being mined in the province of Rukwa , in the southern highlands of Tanzania , according to local sources. Miners in the region are calling the material “Burma” or “pigeon blood” ruby, a reference to the most desirable colors…

Selling Natural, Unenhanced Gem Material

The marketing slogan ‘All Natural’ has been used for years to advertise products from cereal to shampoo. Now some gem dealers are using it to market their natural, unenhanced gem material – and to distance themselves from negative publicity…

Birthstones and Anniversary Stones

At the time of Moses twelve gemstones comprised the Jewish High-Priest’s Breastplate of Aaron; each stone represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. In ancient India, gems were associated with planets and astrological signs. From these…

Power and Magic of Gemstones

When the Babylonians observed the passage of the heavenly bodies across the firmament many thousands of years ago and believed that they had discovered the secrets of their effects on the fate of human beings, this also marked the dawning age…

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