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Gemstone type

Gemstones or gems are pieces of mineral or other organic material that, in cut and polished forms, contain beautiful colors that make perfect adornments for fine jewelry. Gemstones are often hard, but some softer minerals (such as opals) are used in jewelry because of their beautiful luster. Gemstones have been prized since antiquity, and their value is often based on their rarity in the natural world. Diamonds are one type of gemstone that have their own section on this website, which you can reach by clicking Diamond Education here. The other major colored gemstones available in Diamond Select jewelry are discussed in this section.

Emerald

Birthstone Month: May
Color Range: Emerald Green to Dark Green
Mohs Hardness: 7.5-8.0
Mineral Class: Beryl
Source Location: Columbia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Afghanistan, USA

Emeralds have long been a treasured gemstone because of their gorgeous green color; their name comes from a Greek word for “green stone.” The deeper the green, the more valuable the emerald can be. A fine emerald should be evenly saturated with color and should have a vivid hue.

One thing about emeralds is that they are highly included, meaning that almost all emeralds have internal flaws; this means that a flawless emerald is often more valuable than a diamond of he same size. Emeralds need to be protected from hard hits or extreme temperatures because of their inclusions, as they can develop internal cracks stemming from their flaws. But despite the notoriety of emeralds for having inclusions, these gemstones have been highly esteemed since ancient times (they are rumored to have been Cleopatra’s favorite) and are at found in many of the world’s most famous jewelry pieces.

To care for your emerald, DO NOT clean it with soap or with an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Such liquids would remove the emerald’s oils and expose hidden internal flaws. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Citrine

Birthstone Month: November (shared with Topaz)
Color Range: Light Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Amber Brown
Mohs Hardness: 7.0
Mineral Class: Quartz
Source Location: South America, Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Scotland, Spain

Citrine is a quartz varietal whose name is derived from the Latin for yellow (think of citrus, which describes lemons). Through its golden color, Citrine became associated with gold and wealth, and was known anciently as the merchant's stone. The Romans hailed citrine as the stone of Mercury, the messenger god.

Natural citrines are rare, and most yellow quartz stones called citrines come through a process of heat-treating amethysts (another quartz varietal). There are not many yellow gemstones, and citrine provides a beautiful color in what is generally a very affordable price range. Moreover, because citrine does not scratch easily, it is an excellent choice for everyday jewelry.

To care for your citrine, DO NOT leave it laying around in a sunny place for long stretches of time, as sunlight can over time fade the color of a citrine gemstone. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Aquamarine

Birthstone Month: March
Color Range: Blue to Sea-Green
Mohs Hardness: 7.5-8.0
Mineral Class: Beryl
Source Location: Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, USA

Aquamarines, like emeralds, are in the Beryl category of gemstones. The name Aquamarine comes directly from Latin -- aqua marina means "water of the sea", which describes the beautiful blue range of this gemstone, whose various blues and blue-greens mimic the different moods of the sea. To many cultures, dating back to the Middle Ages, aquamarine was a symbol of happiness, everlasting youth, and courage. Generally, the more intense the color of an aquamarine, the more value is put on it.

To care for your aquamarine, DO NOT clean it with soap or with an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Protect it from high pressure and intense heat, and also do not leave it for long stretches of time in sunlight, which can fade its color. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Amethyst

Birthstone Month: February
Color Range: Pale lavender to deep reddish purple to bluish violet
Mohs Hardness: 7.0
Mineral Class: Quartz
Source Location: Sri Lanka, Brazil, Burma, East Africa, India, North America, Russia, Uruguay, Madagascar, Australia

Amethyst is a quartz varietal, colored in a wide range of purples. The amethyst’s purple hues are thought to promote peace and serenity. The ancient Greeks believed that amethyst helped prevent against intoxication, which is the source of the name “amethyst,” which derives from the Greek words for “not intoxicated”. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that he believed that amethysts held the power to quicken one's intelligence and dispel evil thoughts.

Amethyst plays on the regal nature and royal associations of purple, and the more intense the color is, the more valuable the stone can be.

To care for your amethyst, DO NOT leave it laying around in a sunny place for long stretches of time, as sunlight can over time fade the color of an amethyst gemstone. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Ruby

Birthstone Month: July
Color Range: Bright red to Dark red
Mohs Hardness: 9.0
Mineral Class: Corundum
Source Location: Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania

Ruby is created from chromium deposits in the mineral corundum, which is one of the hardest minerals on Earth. The name of this noble gemstone come from the Latin “rubens” for “red”. All natural rubies have imperfections in them, including color impurities and inclusions of mineral needles known as "silk". Indeed, gemologists use these needle inclusions found in natural rubies to distinguish them from synthetics or substitutes. But rubies have long been valued for their rich deep red colors and have in many cultures been considered to be more valuable than diamonds.

Rubies are historically tied to passion and love, and join diamond and emeralds in being set in many of the world’s most important pieces of jewelry. Rubies have been sought after for millennia, and are mentioned in the Bible, where the price of wisdom is emphasized by comparing it to precious rubies. In Sanskrit, the ruby is called “the king of precious stones.”

To care for your ruby, keep in mind that while rubies are extremely hard and durable, they can be scratched by diamonds (which are a 10.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale), so protect ruby jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Tourmaline

Birthstone Month: October (shared with Opal)
Color Range: Black, Red, Pink, Blue, Green, Grey, and Yellow
Mohs Hardness: 7.0-7.5
Mineral Class: Quartzite
Source Location: Brazil, Sri Lanka, South Africa, East Africa, Madagascar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, USA

Tourmaline was first mined in Sri Lanka and brought to Europe by the Dutch East India Company in order to satisfy growing demand for beautiful colored semi-precious gemstones. Gemstones in the tourmaline group can come in a rainbow of colors, which is reflected in the name “tourmaline”, which derives from the Singhalese words “tura mali,” said to mean “stone with mixed colors.” Tourmaline is distinguished by its three-sided prisms in its natural state; no other common mineral has three sides.

Tourmaline is not always a single color; in fact, one of the most popular colors of tourmaline is “watermelon”, so called because a prisms can be green at one end and pink at the other, or green on the outside and pink inside. Almost all tourmaline in the commercial market is heat treated to enhance its color.

To care for your tourmaline, protect it from intense heat or large temperature changes. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Opal

Birthstone Month: October (shared with Tourmaline)
Color Range: Black, White, Gray, Yellow, Red, Orange, and Colorless
Mohs Hardness: 5.0-6.5
Mineral Class: not a mineral, but an amorphous form of silica
Source Location: primarily Australia

Opals, which are formed from sand and water, are very popular due to their rich, swirling, and beautiful colors. The luminous quality of opals is called “opalescence,” which is a light play that happens when light reflects and bounces around the small structures of the stone, creating an iridescence. Opals have the same chemical formula as quartz, but with water content that is usually in the 6% to 10% range.

The name “Opal” is ancient, found in Sanskrit (“Upala”), Latin (“Opalus”), and Greek (“Opallios”), words that mean “precious stone,” “color change,” and “stone of several elements.” Opals have various hues and color combinations, such as Black Opal, White or Light Opal, Fire Opal, Milk Opal, and Crystal Opal. Opals with red hues are among the most popular varieties. Queen Victoria was a particular fan of opals, and often made gifts of this stone.

To care for your opal, you must take extra cautions, because the water content of opals means that they can dry and crack if exposed to harsh light and/or heat. Opals are very low on the Mohs Hardness scale and can chip and break if handled roughly. You should avoid exposing your opals to liquids and should also store opal jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Sapphire

Birthstone Month: September
Color Range: Blue, Yellow, Green, White, Pink, Orange, Brown, Purple
Mohs Hardness: 9.0
Mineral Class: Corundum
Source Location: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Australia, India, Brazil, Africa

Sapphires come in a multitude of colors other than red: a red corundum is known as a ruby. As a corundum mineral, sapphires share the hardness of rubies as well as the long history of being considered one of the major precious gemstones. Blue sapphires are the most common coloring for this gemstone; other colored sapphires are sometimes called “fancy” sapphires by jewelers. It is common for jewelers to treat sapphires with heat to enhance their colors.

Sapphires are prized for their color, hardness, durability, and luster, and their value hinges on their size, hue, and transparency. Sapphires are historically linked to loyalty and trust and thus are common in engagement rings, such as the engagement ring with a 12-carat sapphire that Lady Diana Spencer (Princess Diana) selected for her own engagement, and which was then given by her son Prince William to Kate Middleton.

To care for your sapphire, keep in mind that while sapphires are extremely hard and durable, they can be scratched by diamonds (which are a 10.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale), so protect sapphire jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Garnet

Birthstone Month: January
Color Range: Light Red, Violet, Red, White, Green, Yellow, Brown, Black
Mohs Hardness: 6.5-7.5
Mineral Class: Quartz
Source Location: Burma, Sri Lanka, South Africa, China, USA, Tanzania, Madagascar, India, Australia

Garnets are a family of stones with a wide variety of colors, often reddish. In fact, the name "garnet" comes from Middle English word gernet meaning 'dark red', which itself originates from the Latin word for grain or seed, which many believes ties the word “garnet” to pomegranates, whose abundant red seeds are similar to some garnet crystals. The rarest form of garnet, a blue garnet, was only discovered in the 1990s in Madagascar.

Garnets have long been considered stones of protection, and they appear in jewelry dating from ancient Greek and Egypitan cultures. Red garnets were the most commonly used gemstone by the ancient Romans, and appear in early Anglo Saxon jewelry as well. As the ancients knew well, these stones look particularly rich in gold settings.

To care for your garnet, protect it from intense heat or large temperature changes. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Peridot

Birthstone Month: August
Color Range: Olive Green (ranging from Yellowish to Brownish)
Mohs Hardness: 6.5-7.0
Mineral Class: Olivine
Source Location: Australia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, China, Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, USA

Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color band, olive green. The intensity and tint of the green depends on how much iron is contained in the crystal structure, so the color of individual peridot gems can vary from yellow- to olive- to brownish-green. While the mineral olivine is an abundant mineral, it does not often produce gem-quality peridot. The most valued color when peridot does form is a dark olive-green.

Peridots have often been confused with emeralds, even though they come from a completely different mineral, because of their green shades. Peridots were called “emeralds of the evening” by ancient Romans, likely because their color does not change under artificial light, and were also used in ancient Egyptian jewelry. New sources of peridot have recently emerged, making this stone even more affordable.

To care for your peridot, protect it from intense heat or large temperature changes. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Tanzanite

Birthstone Month: December
Color Range: Deep Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Light Violet-Blue, Purple
Mohs Hardness: 6.0-7.0
Mineral Class: Zoisite
Source Location: Tanzania

Tanzanite, which is found only in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, was not discovered until 1967. This blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite was named by Tiffany & Co. after the country in which it was discovered. In its rough state it is usually a reddish brown color; heat treatment is then used to bring out the blue violet of the stone. Tanzanite is a trichroic gemstone, meaning that light that enters the stone is divided into three sections, each containing a portion of the visible spectrum. After heating, tanzanite becomes dichroic, exhibiting its colors of purple and blue.

Tanzanite will appear to be different shades of blue/violet when viewed from different angles or under alternate lighting conditions. Because of its blue colors, tanzanite has been joined with turquoise to act as a birthstone for December, and people born in December are happy to have this beautiful gemstone as an option over the non-sparkly and brash turquoise stone.

To care for your tanazanite, protect it from intense heat or large temperature changes, and never clean it in an ultrasonic bath. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.

Topaz

Birthstone Month: November (shared with Citrine)
Color Range: Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Yellow, White, Gold
Mohs Hardness: 8.0
Mineral Class: Topaz
Source Location: Brazil, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria, USA, Australia, Madagascar, Mexico

Topaz is a silicate mineral that forms crystals with pyramid-shaped faces that has been prized for millennia. According to the ancient Roman author Pliny, the Topaz derives its name from the Island of Topazos in the Red Sea, where it was first found. Pliny says the word Topazein means “to seek after” because the island was so often lost in fog. Historically, topazes were thought to fend off depression and improve creativity. Topazes can be found in startlingly large formations; some clear topaz crystals from Brazil can reach boulder size and weigh hundreds of pounds.

Pure topaz is colorless, but “impurities” lend it is many-colored varieties. While yellow topaz is the most common color (indeed, in the Middle Ages, “topaz” was used to reference any yellow stone), many other colors have a major presence. For example, orange topaz is the state gemstone of Utah, and blue topaz is the state gemstone of Texas, because topazes of those colors are found in those states. When pink topaz was first discovered in Russia in the 1700s, that color topaz was reserved solely for use by the Czar and his family.

To care for your topaz, avoid sudden extreme temperature changes and prolonged exposure to bright sunlight. Also, protect it from scratches from your other jewelry by wrapping it or keeping it in a divided jewelry case or the original Diamond Select jewelry box.