Other Gemstones

Amber - Golden Time Capsule

amberAmber is a delicate, fossilized tree resin that often locks in secrets from the past. Amber is available in a wide array of colors, the most popular ranging from yellow to orange, mimicking the color of honey touched by the setting sun. Other less common colors include red, green, blue, violet and black. Ranging from transparent to opaque, the finest amber is clear with little or no cloudiness.

amberAmber is one of the few gem materials not technically considered a mineral. Formed from fossilized tree resins 10 million to 100 million years ago, it is classified as an organic gem. Unlike most gemstones, inclusions can add a great deal to the value of amber – especially is these inclusions are plant or insects that have been trapped inside. A complete leaf or mushroom is highly desirable. Even more sought-after are pieces of amber containing the completely intact body of an insect. Being a gemstone of organic origins, amber requires some special but simple care and handling. Amber is a rather soft gemstone and can be easily scratched. It lends itself well to earrings and necklaces where contact with hard objects is minimized.

Origins

Throughout documented history amber has been washing up on the shores of countries lining the Baltic Sea. One of today’s best sources for amber is the Dominican Republic. Secondary sources include Myanmar and Mexico.

Treatments

Amber is sometimes heated to create deeper colors, or heated in oil to remove cloudiness. Oil-heated amber often contains highly reflective, disc-like inclusions called spangles.

Care

amberA soft, damp cloth may be used for cleaning amber. Amber should never be submitted to steam or ultrasonic cleaning. Avoid alcohol, bleach and all harsh chemicals. Also avoid prolonged exposure to hot water. The safest and best way to clean a piece of jewelry containing amber is with lukewarm water, a very mild soap and a soft brush. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and allow the amber to dry completely before storing the piece in your jewelry box. Store each piece separately so that other jewelry won’t scratch it.

Spinel - A Blushing Beauty

spinelOvershadowed for centuries by more popular gemstones, spinel is a truly magnificent beauty just waiting to be discovered by today’s savvy gem connoisseur. In the past, spectacular spinels, particularly red spinels, were often misidentified as rubies or sapphires. From the British crown jewels to the imperial crown of Catherine II of Russia, what were thought to be magnificent rubies have been found to actually be equally beautiful spinels. And red isn’t the only color of spinel. You’ll find soft pastel shades of pink and purple, fiery oranges, and cool hues ranging from powdery gray to the most intense blues imaginable.

spinelSpinel has been a longtime favorite of the serious gem collector, due to its incredible brilliance, outstanding durability and wide array of colors. Making spinel ever more attractive is its surprising affordability, often attributed to the general public’s lack of awareness of the gemstone. For those looking for an alternative to higher priced rubies and sapphires, spinel may be the best choice.

Birthstone

Natural spinel holds no birthstone designation, but laboratory grown spinel in many different colors has been commonly used to imitate birthstones (including diamonds) in less expensive jewelry since the early 1900s. Synthetic spinel is rarely used to imitate natural spinel.

Origins

Myanmar is the source of some of the world’s most beautiful spinels, particularly the magnificent pink, red and orangey red colors. Other sources for spinel include Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tanzania.

Treatments

There are no treatments commonly used to enhance spinel.

Care

spinelSpinel is hard and durable. It can be cleaned using an ultrasonic machine, any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning.

Turquoise — An Ancient Gem With Modern Panache

Turquoise is one of the world’s most ancient gemstones. Archaeological excavations have revealed that Egyptian royalty wore turquoise jewelry as early as 5500 B.C. Chinese artisans were carving it more than 3,000 years ago. Native American tribes have worn turquoise as a ceremonial gem and adorned their jewelry and amulets with it for thousands of years. Yet this appealing bluish gem maintains its charm, even today, as a favored accessory worldwide. Celebrities including Cher, Jennifer Lopez, Macy Gray, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Lenny Kravitz have all been spotted wearing this timeless jewel.

turquoiseGIA’s world-renowned education teaches that turquoise most likely first arrived in Europe around the thirteenth century from Turkish sources. Deriving its name from the French expression Pierre tourques, or “Turkish stone,” turquoise is mined worldwide, including Egypt, China, and the U.S. Turquoise is the present-day December birthstone, and is designated as the 11th wedding anniversary gift.

The Egyptians believed that turquoise possessed magical properties in that it could thwart misfortune and heal a variety of ailments. The national gem of Tibet, turquoise has long been considered to bestow health and good luck. The Apaches thought that turquoise attached to a bow or firearm increased the accuracy of a hunter or warrior.

The gem’s color ranges from light to medium blue or greenish-blue, and is usually opaque. Spiderweb turquoise – a popular variation – displays veins of matrix (its host rock) in web-like patterns. Persian (Iranian) turquoise is considered the finest quality and also the most expensive, and it exhibits an intense light to medium blue, typically with no matrix. It has the ability to take on a glossy polish. Other turquoise varieties include American, Mexican, Egyptian, and Chinese are a significant source today.

turquoiseLarge turquoise stones are common; however the gem is also plentiful in a wide range of sizes, and is often used for beads, cabochons, carvings, and inlays. Trendy fashion designers have more recently sewn it into clothing and bejeweled purses with it. Turquoise’s popularity has varied throughout time. Currently it is a hot item not only for Hollywood divas, but is also universally liked because of its commercial abundance. Its most enduring appeal remains in the American Southwest and among those who are captivated by that region’s mystery and romance, as well as by its blue skies, reminiscent of turquoise’s color.

GIA’s gem experts say turquoise is typically enhanced before it reaches the market, and special care should be taken to maintain its vitality. For example, gem traders commonly impregnate the gem with plastic or wax to improve the color and durability, or dye it with liquid black shoe polish in a pattern imitating the matrix web. GIA recommends avoiding heat and acetone-like solvents. Perspiration, skin oils, cosmetics, and other chemicals may turn a blue turquoise to green. GIA also cautions that when purchasing the gem, one should have a qualified, GIA-trained jeweler verify that the stone is a natural, synthetic or a simulant.

turquoiseGIA is internationally known as the world’s foremost authority in the identification and grading of diamonds and colored gemstones. Since 1931, the Institute has worked to ensure the public’s trust through its nonprofit education, research and laboratory services. For more information, visit GIA's Web site, or call 800-421-7250.

Tanzanite - A Modern Gem of Intense Color

tanzaniteTanzanite is the “new kid on the block” of the gemstone kingdom. Discovered in Tanzania in 1967 and introduced to the American market in 1969, tanzanite has catapulted to incredible popularity in a very short amount of time. It was named in honor of the country in which it was found and introduced in the United States for the first time by Tiffany & Co. Available in colors ranging from blue to violet to purple, few gems can rival tanzanite’s depth of hue and purity of color.

tanzaniteTanzanite owes much of its beauty to an unusual gemological property called pleochroism, the ability to exhibit more than one color. When viewed from different directions, tanzanite can look blue, violet, purple, bronze or gray. Before a tanzanite is faceted, the gemstone cutter studies the crystal and decides which directional orientation will show the best color. Most cutters will try to produce a pure blue tanzanite, but cutting to achieve a blue color sacrifices a lost of weight and results in a smaller and more costly finished gem. Yet the blue of a well-cut tanzanite is so breathtaking that most agree the sacrifice is well worth it. Tanzanite shows its strongest colors in sizes of 4 to 5 carats and larger. Smaller tanzanites are usually soft blue, light violet or lilac purple.

Birthstone

Tanzanite is sometimes used as an alternate for the traditional December birthstones turquoise and zircon.

Origins

Tanzanite is mined in only one location in the world, the Merelani Hills of Tanzania, in eastern Africa.

Treatments

Virtually all tanzanite is gently heated to bring out its rich blue, violet and purple hues. Heating also minimizes the gem’s bronze or brownish tones.

Care

tanzaniteTanzanite is a relatively hard gemstone, but it is not equally durable. Tanzanite may chip or break if exposed to moderate blows or sudden changes in temperature. It is best suited for wear in earrings and pendants. When mounted in a ring or bracelet, special attention should be paid to ensure the stone is well-protected. Tanzanite should never be cleaned with an ultrasonic or steam machine. Tanzanite can be cleaned with most any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly after cleaning.

Tourmaline - King of Color

tourmalinePick a color- any color- and you’ll find a beautiful tourmaline to match. Occurring in more colors and combinations of colors than any other gem variety, tourmaline offers both vibrancy and beauty. And if an incredible range of colors among different tourmalines isn’t enough, individual crystals can vary in colors along their length or width. Gems cut from these multi-colored crystals may in fact show two or more color combinations in one gemstone!

Tourmaline has been historically confused with many other gemstones, and understandably so. The finest greens can rival an emerald or tsavorite garnet. Beautiful yellow and red tourmalines mimic the look of fine fancy sapphires. A discovery of tourmalines in 1989 in the Paraiba state of Brazil revealed brilliant hues of blues and greens more vivid than any ever seen before. These Paraiba tourmalines have been described as neon green, electric blue and sizzling turquoise. Tourmaline’s colorful nature, increased availability and attractive affordability have led to a tremendous growth in its popularity over the past 20 years.

Birthstone

Pink tourmaline is a popular alternate birthstone for the month of October.

Origins

Some of the finest examples of tourmaline today are mined in Southern California near San Diego. Other important sources include Brazil, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Africa. The state of Maine is an important historical source for tourmaline and still produces small quantities today.

Treatments

Some tourmalines are heated or irradiated to bring out their best color. Some treated tourmalines may fade if exposed to high heat or very prolonged exposure to intense light.

Care

tourmalineTourmaline is a hard gemstone that is resistant to both scratching and breaking, but it should be protected from sharp blows or sudden changes in temperature. Because of the natural internal characteristics found in some tourmalines, especially pinks and reds, ultrasonic cleaning machines should not be used. Tourmaline can be cleaned with most any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush.

Sapphire - Bright and Brilliant

Long considered the ultimate blue gemstone, sapphire swings from the coolest and quietest shades to the most vibrant and lusty blues imaginable. And sapphire doesn’t stop there. You’ll discover some sapphires – often referred to as fancy sapphires – in shades of pink, purple, orange, yellow, gold and green, ranging from soft pastels to vibrant hues that shout with excitement. Varied and versatile – the choice is yours!

sapphireSapphire, the celestial gemstone long associated with the sky and the heavens, has been revered by humanity for thousands of years. Symbolizing truth, honesty and faithfulness, sapphire is an excellent choice for an engagement ring or any piece of jewelry given as a gift of love. As with most gemstones, the finest sapphires, no matter their color, are a vibrant hue with a medium tone. Extremely dark, almost black sapphires and extremely pale sapphires are among the most affordable. When shopping for a sapphire, let your own personal taste guide you.

Birthstone

Sapphire is the birthstone for September.

Origins

sapphireAn important historical source of fine quality sapphire is the Kashmir district of India in the Himalayas. Current sources include Australia, India, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States.

Treatments

Almost all sapphire on the market today has been heat treated to improve its appearance. Heat-enhanced sapphire is very stable.

Care

Sapphire is hard and durable. Sapphires can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaning machine, any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning.

Citrine - Kissed by the Sun

citrineAs the golden variety of the quartz family, citrine takes its name from citron, the French word for lemon. But don’t think that all citrine is the color of lemonade. Citrines range from the soft hues of golden champagne to the rich, deep color of fine Madeira wine. Its broad range of colors and outstanding affordability make citrine one of the most popular and desirable gemstones in the world.

Citrine is a gemstone that generates a feeling of warmth and often sparks an attitude of lightheartedness in the wearer. Sunny and affordable, citrine is the perfect complement to any jewelry wardrobe, blending especially well with pastel colors and bright, polished surfaces. Citrine is also readily available in larger sizes. It’s not uncommon to find beautiful faceted gems over 10 carats, especially in lighter shades of yellow.

Birthstone

Citrine is an alternate birthstone for November.

Origins

Most citrine comes from Brazil. Other important sources include Madagascar, Bolivia and the United States.

Treatments

Almost all citrine on the market today has been heat treated to improve its appearance. The color of citrine, whether treated or not, may fade if exposed to heat or sunlight for prolonged periods.

Care

citrineThe beautiful color in you citrine, if properly taken care of, will last indefinitely. Citrine should be protected from sharp blows and scratches but is otherwise quite resistant to normal wear. Citrine can be cleaned with most any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning. Some citrine, whether treated or not, may fade if exposed to sunlight or heat for long periods of time. Because of this, you should never wear your citrine jewelry while sunbathing or when using a tanning bed.

Peridot - A Gem Born of Fire

peridotOften called the “volcanic gem,” peridot usually forms in the rocks created by violent volcanic activity. On rare occasions, peridot also has been found in meteorites that have fallen to earth. No matter the source, whether from Mother Nature’s fiery depths or rocks that are truly out of this world, peridot has caught the attention of humans for thousands of years. Ranging from a light yellowish green to darker, richer shades of olive, peridot conjures images of young spring grass or the greens of a rich, dark forest at twilight.

Peridot has a history dating back well over 3,500 years. It was first mined on the Isle of Serpents in the Red Sea. Later renamed St. John’s Island, this historically important source of peridot supplied gems to the royal rulers of ancient Egypt, including Cleopatra. In recent years the popularity of peridot has steadily increased. This can be attributed to its availability, affordability and the growing use of shades of chartreuse by some of the world’s leading fashion designers.

Birthstone

Peridot is the birthstone for August.

Origins

peridotPeridot in limited quantities has been found in many volcanic regions all over the world, including parts of Italy and the Hawaiian Islands. Some of the world’s finest quality peridots are mined in Myanmar. The world’s most prolific source of peridot is the San Carlos Native American Reservation in Arizona. Other sources include China, Brazil and Pakistan.

Treatments

There are no treatments commonly used to enhance peridot.

Care

Peridot does not react well to heat. Avoid sudden temperature changes. Peridot should never be cleaned with a steam cleaner or an ultrasonic cleaning machine. Peridot can be cleaned with most any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning.

Opal - Fireworks and Rainbows

opalUnlike any other gemstone, opal dazzles the eye with a spectral display of flashing and dancing colors – colors that move and shift within the opal’s mysterious depths. A Roman historian in the first century AD wrote, “There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea green of the emerald – all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendor rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulfur or of fire quickened by oil.” Opal offers the wearer a wider variety of appearances and color choices than any other gem.

Opal is treasured as much for its many different appearances as it is for its breathtaking beauty. There are over 100 different variety and trade names used today to describe opals. Opals with a lighter body color are often called white opals, and those with a darker (and more rare) body color are classified as black opals. Whether white or black, the value of an opal depends upon the vividness of the spectral flashes (often called play of color) visible from within the gem and the patterns these colors form. Another popular opal with little or no play of color is fire opal. Fire opals range in hue from vivid yellow to fiery reds and oranges.

Birthstone

Opal is the birthstone for October and shares this designation with tourmaline.

Origins

Most of the world’s opals come from the deserts of Australia. Other important sources include Mexico and the United States.

Treatments

There are various treatments used to enhance the beauty of opals. The most common treatments darken the body color, making the play of color slightly more noticeable. Some opals are coated with oil, wax or plastic to improve their appearance. All of these treatments only affect a thin outer layer of the gem’s surface and, therefore, are not considered stable.

Care

opalBecause of their unusually high water content, opals should be protected from heat and strong light that can dry them out. Opals also draw moisture from the air and, therefore, should not be stored for long periods of time in dehumidified environments such as a bank vault. Never clean an opal using strong chemicals or detergents, and avoid both ultrasonic and steam cleaning machines. Because opals are slightly softer than most transparent gemstones, they are best suited for wear in earrings and pendants. When mounted in a ring or bracelet, special attention should be paid to ensure the stone is well protected. Opals can be cleaned with mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning.

Topaz - The Hues of an Ocean Sunset

topazCast your eyes upon the ocean water as the setting sun displays its dance of color, and you’ll discover all the rich spectral hues of topaz. On its cool side, topaz ranges from a soft sky blue to the richest and most vivid aquas and greenish blues imaginable. Warmer tones of topaz take on the golden hue of a fine chardonnay or the blush of a tree ripened peach. Other colors range from rich, warm browns to lusty variations of orange and cinnamon. Some of the most rare and exceptional shades of topaz include rich pinks and sherry reds./p>

Topaz owes its long-lasting popularity to many things, but chief among these is its remarkable combination of beauty and affordability. Found in many different colors and sizes, topaz continues today to be one of the world’s most desirable and sought after gemstones.

Birthstone

Topaz is the birthstone for November. In recent years blue topaz has been used as an alternate birthstone for December.

Origins

The most prolific sources for topaz are Brazil and Nigeria. Topaz is also found in Myanmar, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Treatments

Topaz is routinely treated to bring out its best color. When enhanced by heat, shades of brown, orange and yellow often change to pink. A wide variety of rich blue and greenish blue shades can be created using a combination of heat and irradiation. The color of enhanced topaz is usually very stable.

Care

Topaz is a hard gemstone that is very resistant to scratching, but because of its internal structure it may break or split if subjected to hard blows or sudden changes in temperature. Topaz should never be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaning machine. Topaz can be cleaned with most any commercial jewelry cleaner or mild soap and lukewarm water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning.

Content provided by Jewelers of America, GIA and AGS.