DECEMBER BIRTHSTONE | TANZANITE
The name "tanzanite" was given because the world's only known tanzanite deposit of commercial importance is in northern Tanzania. The name reflects the gem’s limited geographic origin. The mines are all located in an area of about eight square miles in the Merelani Hills, near the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and the city of Arusha.
Although nearly all of the world’s most popular gemstones have been known and used for hundreds of years, tanzanite was not discovered in commercial quantities until the 1960s. In the short time since then, it has become the second most popular blue gem after sapphire. It is one of a very small number of gems of any colour that have been discovered and brought to strong consumer popularity within the past century. This rapid rise to popularity was accomplished mainly by Tiffany’s promotion and tanzanite’s beautiful blue colour. Because of its growing popularity, Tanzanite was designated as a modern birthstone for the month of December in 2002.
Tanzanite gems with a strong-to-vivid blue, purplish blue and violetish blue colour are the most valuable. These rich colours are the most appealing to the majority of people shopping for tanzanite. Most tanzanite have a light to medium tone and low to medium saturation. Although these gems are not considered to be top colour, many people prefer them and gladly pay the lower price. Tanzanite in these softer colours often appeals to buyers who like aquamarine and blue topaz.
Tanzanite is a beautiful gem. In addition to its beauty, it has some properties that require it to be given special care. Tanzanite is best suited for earrings, pendants, and other jewellery items that will not encounter abrasion and impact. It is less suited for use in a ring. Many jewellers recommend that "tanzanite rings are for dress rather than daily wear."
Hardness is the resistance of a gem to being scratched. Tanzanite has a hardness of about 6.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale This hardness is low enough that the gem is vulnerable to being scratched during normal wear if it is used in a ring. This problem can be reduced if the setting is designed to protect the stone from impact and abrasion, or if the ring is not worn during activities when the chance of impact or abrasion is high.
Colour stability in tanzanite is good. Heat-treated stones hold their colour and are unlikely to fade under the normal light exposure and in the temperature range of the human environment. As with all gems, contact with acids and other chemicals should be avoided because the stone might be etched or damaged. If cleaning is needed, warm water and a mild soap are recommended. Steam and ultrasonic cleaning are not recommended.
November Birthstone | Topaz
One of the most well-known topaz gemstones is a 1680 carat colourless topaz that resides in the Portuguese crown. The gemstone was originally thought to be the largest diamond ever found until its true identity was discovered as a colourless Topaz! Did you know that Topaz is commonly found in brown and blue? However, a lot of people don’t know that it is also available in a wide range of other colours including yellow, orange, red, pink, violet and green. A rainbow gemstone for real!
Topaz is the designated gemstone for the 4th and 23rd anniversaries. Blue topaz is reserved for the 4th anniversary while imperial topaz is reserved for the 23rd anniversary! Topaz is also the birthstone for November birthdays!
The majority of Topaz can be found in Brazil. Some other notable locations for this gemstone include Russia, Germany, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. There are two theories about where the name topaz originated. One is that the name came from a small island in the Red Sea called Topazios. This island never actually produced any topaz gemstones, but instead produced peridot. In fact, before modern mineral detection methods were invented, topaz was often confused with Peridot. The other theory surrounding the origin of its name comes from the Sanskrit word “tapas,” which means fire.
Topaz has a rating of 8 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale for gemstones, making it a durable gemstone that can be worn daily without too much risk of damage. When cleaning your beautiful Topaz jewellery, It’s important to avoid steam or ultrasonic machines: Warm, soapy water works best.
October Birthstone | Opal
Opal is one of the most beautiful and precious gemstones there is. Did you know Opal is made up of water and silica (the main component in glass). It is one of only six types of precious gemstones found in the earth, sharing prestigious company with Diamonds, Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds, and Pearls. Occurring in most varieties of rock, the vast majority of opals are mined in Australia (about 95%), with other Opal’s are found in United States, Mexico, Peru and Brazil!
Did you know that Opal’s come in a variety of colours? Depending on the conditions in which it formed, Opal may be transparent, translucent or opaque and the background colour may be white, black or nearly any colour of the visual spectrum. Black opal is considered to be the rarest, whereas white, grey and green are the most common.
The value of each individual Opal differs greatly depending on the unique qualities of the Opal. There are many determining factors, including body tone, play of colour, colours present, brilliance, pattern, and size.
Opal is softer than most other gemstones. Because of that Opal is best suited for use in earrings, brooches and other pieces of jewellery that rarely encounter scuffs and impacts. Although, you can have Opal set in a beautiful ring but more care will be needed.
September Birthstone | Sapphire
Sapphire is the birthstone for September. It is also a traditional gift for those celebrating a 5th or 45th anniversary! Sapphire is the most precious and valuable blue gemstone. It is a very desirable gemstone due to its excellent colour, hardness, durability, and lustre. Sapphires belong to the family of minerals known as corundum (the same family as Ruby!)
August Birthstone | Peridot
Peridot, sometimes called chrysolite, is the transparent gem variety of the mineral olivine. The name is derived the French word ‘peritot’ meaning gold as the mineral can vary towards this colour; although the finest stones are prized for their ‘oily’ green tone which is caused by the presence of iron.
Peridot is the national gem of Egypt who knew it as the ‘Gem of the Sun’. Legend says it was Cleopatra's favourite gemstone, and historians now believe that many of the “emeralds” she wore were actually peridot as it was mined for over 3,500 years on St John’s Island in the red sea.
The principle source now is the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona and today the gemstones are still appreciated for their beauty and associated embodiment of protection, positive power, healing and good health.
As the birthstone for August and it is also by association the birthstone for star sign Leo. Their characteristics are said to be dramatic, outgoing, fiery and self-assured.
July Birthstone | Ruby
Ruby is the birthstone for July. Both rubies and sapphires are gems of the mineral corundum; all colours of the rainbow occur in this family of gemstones and are called sapphires apart from when the presence of chromium causes the beautiful vivid red colour for ruby.
The name Ruby comes from the Latin ‘ruber’ meaning red, but due to its rarity its very name inherently means ‘precious’. Indeed it is one of the most expensive gemstones as it rarer to find in exceptional quality.
The very finest rubies in the world are Burmese, these have a deep blood-red hue with a tinge of blue. These rubies are very rare though, so Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and parts of Africa are also important sources. It is very much a personal preference as rubies colour that may shade towards pink and purple, but all good quality of rubies should have vibrant pure colour.
Rubies are a very hard gemstone measuring 9 on Moh’s hardness scale, as second only to diamonds they are perfect for everyday wear. First mentioned in the bible they are said to shield against negative energy and promote strength, courage and joy. In Indian culture they are worshiped as the gemstone of the sun. With the colour red, we think of fire, it is the colour of seduction, danger and adventure. In this Edwardian target ring, we see that cupids arrow has struck the bullseye and the (lucky!) wearer is the victim of passionate love.
Rubies have been known as the stone of kings, but have been celebrated and loved for centuries. But did you know the ‘Princes Ruby in the Imperial State Crown is in fact a spinel?!
Rubies are also Sophie’s favourite gemstone, she says “rubies are my birthstone (July) and as such have always has particular appeal to me”.
“I inherited a pair of ruby and diamond earrings from my grandmother which I cherish dearly, and have had my eye on a matching pendant for a little while now. A few unsubtle hints have been dropped to Chris Jessop so you never know perhaps this is the year!”
Sophie might have to wait a little longer however, rubies are the also the gemstone of 40th wedding anniversary, so only 37 more years to go!
June Birthstone | Pearl
Those born in June aren’t just lucky because the month has 3 official birthstones but more so because one of these gemstones is the Pearl. According to the legend, the June birthstone is believed to symbolize purity, clarity, and loyalty. Given its symbolic meaning and captivating beauty, Pearls are an especially great gift for anyone born in this month.
Despite being classified as a gemstone, Pearls differ significantly from all others (including Sapphires, Rubies, Emeralds, etc.) due to the fact that they are the only gems to come from a living creature. All other gemstones form in the Earth’s crust as magma cools under high pressure. Did you know that less than 1 in every 10,000 wild oysters contain Pearls!?
The First Ever Artificial Round Pearl Was Created by Kokichi Mikimoto. Kokichi Mikimoto is credited as the first man to create a cultured (or cultivated) Pearl. In 1878, he began to methodically test ways to develop these gemstones in his own oyster beds. After nearly two decades of trial-and-error, he succeeded and received a patent for cultured Pearls in 1896. This significantly impacted the Pearl industry. Not only did Mikimoto’s discovery help fulfil the global demand for Pearls in a more sustainable way, but it also put a dent in the natural Pearl market. That’s due to the fact that people began to opt for these less expensive, more round Pearls. Mikomoto was quoted saying that his dream was to “adorn the necks of all women around the world with Pearls.” Many today would argue that he accomplished his goal.
Did you know that the Land for Cartier’s Flagship Store in New York was Bought with a Pearl!? When the wife of a railroad magnate fell in love with one of Cartier’s Pearl necklaces, Pierre Cartier made her an extraordinary offer. He would give her the natural Pearl necklace (valued at $1 million) plus $100 in exchange for her Italian-Renaissance inspired home on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. She agreed, and the rest is history. Cartier transformed the mansion into one of the world’s most luxurious retail experiences. Today, Cartier’s Fifth Avenue Mansion is the company’s largest store in the world!
There are four main Pearl types, and they vary in terms of size, shape, colour and value. Freshwater Pearls are mainly grown in rivers and lakes across China. They are the most widely available Pearls and as a result, they are sold for an appealing price. Japanese Akoya Pearls are a variety of saltwater Pearls that are arguably best-known in the world. They are produced in Japanese and Chinese waters and feature spherical shapes with a beautiful lustre. Tahitians Pearls – another type of saltwater Pearls cultivated in the islands of French Polynesia. Despite sometimes being referred to as black Pearls, they also come in beautiful shades of grey, blue, green, and purple. South Sea pearls are the largest of all pearls and feature white, cream, and golden hues. They can be found in the waters of Australia and the Philippines.
While people believe that all Pearls are perfectly round and symmetrical, this is simply not true. They come in an array of different shapes. The most common include round, off-round, drop, and baroque. Round-shaped Pearls are undoubtedly the most popular ones, but given different budgets and taste, others are admired too.
Pearls are soft, living gems and regular contact with soap, water and hand sanitiser (alcohol-based and alcohol-free) will irreversibly damage the nacre and lustre of the pearl.
Pearls are surprisingly absorbent and need to maintain a certain level of moisture in order to retain their bright colour and lustre. One of the best ways to do this is simply to wear them. They absorb natural oils from the skin, which tops up their moisture levels. Otherwise they turn a dull, yellowy brown and lose their lustre.
There are also a number of chemicals that Pearls are susceptible to when worn. The biggest offenders are:
- Perfume and hairspray: these both contain relatively powerful solvents that dissolve nacre.
- Cleaning products: we recommend strongly against wearing Pearls whilst using a household cleaning product.
- Other beauty products; the best thing to do is apply your make-up and perfume, wait a couple of minutes and then put your Pearls on.
Finally, we advise caution when wearing Pearl rings. Often glue is used to hold Pearls onto a relatively thick metal post, but a sharp blow or simply wearing gloves over the pearl (gardening seems to present a dangerous combination of these circumstances…) can break the post or knock the pearl off.
MAY BIRTHSTONE | EMERALD
Emerald is simply one of the most desirable, famous, and historical gemstones of all time. Part of the Beryl family of gemstones, which also includes Aquamarine and Morganite, Emerald has been mined for around 4,000 years. From Ancient Egypt to the modern day, all those who have gazed on the intense vivid greens of the gem have fallen under its spell, and it can be found throughout time in some of the most stunning pieces of jewellery ever to have existed.
The green in Emerald is caused by the presence of chromium, vanadium, or iron (or any combination of those three elements). Emerald is 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale and has fair to good toughness, making it a stone that requires more care in wearing than Ruby or Sapphire.
Emerald is the birthstone for May and the anniversary gemstone for the 20th, 35th and 55th year of marriage. It is the ideal birthstone for May as its deep bright greens perfectly reflect the new life and regeneration of nature during springtime.
Did you know that out of the four top gemstones, the others being Diamond, Sapphire and Ruby, Emeralds are unique in the number of high-quality specimens containing inclusions. A flawless Emerald is almost impossible to find! For Diamond, clarity is a big driver in price of an individual stone. But inclusions in Emeralds are often viewed as desirable features. They can form lovely patterns, referred to in the trade as the Emerald's garden. They are so unique that they can increase value. Inclusions in Emeralds can also be seen with the naked eye rather than under magnification like Diamonds.
Some Emeralds have an almost velvety appearance, which along with the unique inclusions of each stone and is considered to be part of the gem’s character. As a general rule, a vivid Emerald full of inclusions will normally demand a higher price than a flawless one that is paler in colour.
Most Emeralds on the market are treated at the time of cutting with wax, oils, or resins. Unlike nearly all other gemstones, most treatments applied to Emeralds are not permanent and to maintain the gem’s unrivalled beauty, need re-applying every 5 to 10 years. Historically the waxes and oils were added to increase the Emerald’s brilliance by filling its fissures and cracks. Today these non-permanent treatments have been in the main replaced by modern polymers that feature a very similar refractive index to the Emerald. These treatments are so good that most gem laboratories are unable to spot them, so once again, unless your gem is supplied certified, it is best to assume treatments have been applied to enhance your beautiful gemstone.
Emerald is a 7.5 - 8 on Mohs scale, so it is relatively hard wearing. That said, harder gems such as Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond will scratch Emerald should they come into contact, so it's always best to keep each individual piece of jewellery in its own box or soft pouch. Don't let Emerald get too hot or let it soak it in water, and if you're not wearing it it's best to keep it out of the sunlight too, though this is more a precaution so don't worry about wearing it if the sun is shining! Take it outside and enjoy that enviable green glow.
April Birthstone | Diamond
Over the years, a diamond has remained one of the most spectacular gemstones of all time. But what exactly makes the diamond so fascinating? Not only does a diamond have the ability to captivate a person’s heart in just a few seconds, but the gemstone remains remarkable for the fact that they were formed before the age of dinosaurs. Today, a diamond is still known as the ultimate symbol of love making it the ideal gift for anniversaries, birthdays and special celebrations. Diamond is particularly special to someone born in April or celebrating a 60th Anniversary!
Today, the majority of diamonds on the market are mined underground or undersea using heavy machinery and high-tech equipment. However, before diamonds were mined below the earth’s surface they were found by miners alongside or at the bottom of rivers.
Diamonds are considered to be one of hardest natural materials known to man; according to researchers a diamond is up to 58x harder than anything you will find in nature. Therefore, the only object or piece of equipment that would be able to cut through a diamond would be another diamond.
Did you know not all diamonds are colourless? In nature you will find a variety of natural fancy colour diamonds; the extremely rare diamonds come in different shades of red, blue, pink, yellow, brown, black, orange and green.
March Birthstone | Aquamarine
It is easy to see why Aquamarine has always been associated with the sea. Used in jewellery since at least 500 BC, its tropical ocean blue tones effortlessly invoke images of landless skies and the waters below. Once believed to be the treasure of mermaids, it was often worn by sailors and travellers as a talisman to protect against being shipwrecked and to ward off sea sickness
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March, and is the official gemstone for the 19th wedding anniversary. Aquamarine is mostly found and mined in Brazil and countries that fall along the Mozambique geological belt in Africa, though there are other sources. Darker shades of Aquamarine tend to be cloudier, whereas cleaner stones are often very light in hue.
Although it is most famous for its glorious cool blue colour, Aquamarine is sometimes found with delicate greenish hues. In recent times it's been noted that the bluer the stone is, the more valuable it is, generally speaking. But as recently as the 19th century it was the sea green coloured stones that were sought after by the worlds collectors.
The darker an Aquamarine, the more desirable and valuable it becomes. Normally its tone ranges from just 10% to 30%. Some Aquamarines will appear almost colourless in normal daylight and yet display a beautiful tone under the light of a candle or a light bulb, so much so that it is sometimes known as an evening gemstone.
Keep Aquamarine stored away from any gem with a higher hardness on Mohs Scale as these could scratch your gem. Remember that it will also scratch other gems with a lower hardness. Keep Aquamarine away from heat exposure too, as it doesn't take much heat on an Aquamarine to begin to permanently change the colour. Always put jewellery away when you aren't wearing it, and never wear pieces when doing household chores or gardening, etc. Caring for your Aquamarine jewellery will keep it looking its best for many years to come.
February Birthstone | Amethyst
Amethyst is the birthstone for February as well as the gemstone marking 6th & 17th wedding anniversaries. It rates a 7 on the Mohs scale, which means it is extremely scratch-resistant.
Quartz, the mineral family for Amethyst may be the oldest gemstone known to man dating back to 20,000 BC. Amethyst is currently found in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Africa, United States, Siberia, Canada, Australia, France, Russia, India, Madagascar, Mexico, Zambia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
Amethyst can be light lavender, deep violet, and anywhere in between, and sometimes it looks reddish-purple, while other times, it can be blueish-purple. Amethyst gets its purple colour from iron oxide in the quartz, and it has more iron than any other type of quartz. After the stone crystalizes, gamma rays that are emitted by radioactive materials inside the rock irradiate the iron, turning it purple. So it is safe to say that the stone can be a variety of shades to suit everyone.
Amethyst has been used for many thousands of years in many different ways. Amethyst was recorded as being used as far back as 25,000 B.C. Prior to the 19th century, Amethyst was a precious stone since it was as rare as Emerald and Ruby stones. One large deposits of Amethyst Geodes were found in Brazil, Amethyst was downgraded to a semi-precious stone. Amethyst is a stone of royalty and has therefore been used in crowns, sceptres, and jewellery by the royal house for centuries. Amethyst was called the "Gem of Fire" in ancient times because it was thought to contain fire energy, an energy that is creative, passionate, and spiritual.
JANUARY BIRTHSTONE | GARNET
January's birthstone is garnet, a deep red stone associated with romance and passion. Along with being a favoured gemstone, garnet has multiple industrial uses due to its availability and versatility as a mineral. If you want to give garnet as a gift, consider it for anyone born in January or a second or sixth wedding anniversary. It is the traditional stone for these occasions.
Garnet is commonly known as a gemstone, but it actually defines a mineral group consisting of stones with similar chemical and physical properties. The main types of garnet include almandine, andradite, grossularite, pyrope, spessartine, and uvarovite.
Almandine is the most common type of garnet that includes reddish-brown gemstones. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. Pyrope garnets are blood red in colour and typically lack inclusions. They are generally more expensive and desirable than almandine garnets. Another popular variety of garnet is rhodolite, which is a purplish red pyrope and almandine mix.
Demantoid garnets are a transparent green variety of andradite garnets and are by far the most expensive and rare. They are prized for their fiery nature because they are able to disperse more light than a diamond.
While not all garnet types are suitable for gemstone and jewellery use, the smaller crystals are collected in rough form as mineral specimens. Garnet comes in every colour of the rainbow, except in shades of blue.