Let’s talk about gemstones. Where do they come from? How many different types are there? What gives them their unique colour? These are common questions asked by customers considering purchasing a gemstone. Some people prefer a coloured stone as opposed to a classic colourless diamond. Throughout this blog I want to talk about all things gemstones and really educate our customers on making a more informed buying decision on these jewels. So let’s get down to business.
WHAT IS A GEMSTONE?
Gemstones come from the earth’s minerals. The earth has over 2000 unidentified minerals, less than 100 are used as gemstones and only 16 have achieved importance. These are as follows; beryl, chrysoberyl, corundum, diamond, feldspar, garnet, jade, lazurite, olivine, opal, quartz, spinel, topaz, tourmaline, turquoise, and zircon. These minerals have been chosen for their beauty and durability and are taken by humans to be cut, polished and made into pieces of jewelry. Most gemstones are indeed made from minerals, however materials such as jet, amber or rocks like lapis lazuli can also be used to create gemstones. Most gemstones will be hard to touch but depending on the piece of jewelry being created, soft minerals may also be used. A measuring system known as ‘Mohs Scale of Hardness’ is used to determine scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material. See scale example below. You may also hear gemstones being referred to as gems/precious stones/ semi-precious stones/ fine gems and jewels.
PRECIOUS AND SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES
Precious stones have earned this name because of their rarity, also known as the big four these stones include rubies, sapphires and emeralds, diamonds. Semi-precious stones are not as scarce in nature, these include all other gemstones minus those mentioned above. Although technically we could class all gemstones as precious and rare in nature as rough minerals with the right qualities for gem cutting make up a tiny percentage of mined material. In terms of price, consumer demand plays a huge part in the retail value. The ‘big four’ mentioned above would be more expensive in value but not because they are rarer but because they are high in demand by consumers. Let’s get into the big 4 in more detail
THE RUBY STONE
A ruby is a pink to blood-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum. The word ruby comes from the Latin rubens, which means red. The red hue comes from traces of the mineral chromium. The most precious rubies are those with a full, rich red color with just a hint of blue tones. Rubies are extremely strong, registering 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. They are as resilient as sapphires and only slightly softer than diamonds. Rubies have been sourced from all over the world but common places include Africa, US, Myanmar and Australia. As the ruby is such a rare gemstone you will find that most have imperfections and inclusions. A ruby with none should be questioned as this is most likely synthetic and not a naturally sourced stone. You are guaranteed your stone is 100% authentic with some slight flaws.
THE EMERALD STONE
An emerald on the other hand comes from the mineral beryl. This mineral is the base for many different gemstones, such as aquamarine, morganite, and heliodor. Emerald forms when beryl comes into contact with trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. It is these elements that give emeralds their iconic green colour. Beryl is actually a totally colourless mineral. Other interesting facts about emeralds are as follows; emeralds were first mined by Ancient Egyptians. 50% of the world’s emeralds are now mined in Columbia. Similar to the ruby, flaw and inclusions can be highly valuable in these stones. The first synthetic emerald was made way back in 1935. An emerald will actually appear larger than a diamond of the same carat due to its lower density. The emerald is not as hard a stone as the ruby measures between 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.
THE SAPPHIRE STONE
Most people would associate the sapphire with a blue stone. While typically most sapphires are indeed blue, ‘fancy’ sapphires also occur in yellow, purple, orange, and green. A “parti sapphire” contains two or more colors. The sapphire stone, similar to the ruby, is a hard stone and ranks a 9 on Mohs hard scale for gemstones. This may be the case as the sapphire is formed from the mineral corundum, the same as the ruby. A sapphire is actually a symbol for innocence, longevity and good health. The stone represents prosperity, beauty and inner peace. The sapphire stone is believed to focus and calm the mind as well as remove unwanted thoughts, depression and mental tension.
Last but certainly not least we have the precious gemstone diamond. The diamond, the most famed and fabled of all the world’s gemstones, is extremely unique in many ways. Firstly it is important to note the diamond is the hardest substance on earth, its sparkling fire, durability, and rarity make a Diamond the most sought after and prize possession of all gems. A diamond’s full beauty does not come to fruition until it is cut and polished. A diamond is a mineral composed of our carbon , unlike any other gemstone.
We hope this blog has helped you to really understand the heritage of the gemstone and make a really special purchase for yourself of a loved one this festive season.