The Gemstone Guide
A gemstone is a mineral highly prized for its beauty, durability, and rarity, each one displaying its own unique charm and personality which sets it apart from others.
Sapphire is the birthstone for September. Whilst blue is typically the colour associated with sapphires, they occur in a rainbow of colours. Often pleochroic, they can appear different colours when viewed from different directions. Sapphires are the most durable gemstone after diamonds.
Ruby is the birthstone for July. Made from the same mineral as sapphire, the only difference is that a ruby is red in colour - caused by the presence of chrominum. One of the most sought after gemstones, rubies can occur in different shades of red from deep pink, brownish red to purplish red - the most coveted colour being described as being 'pigeon blood red'.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March. Aquamarine is the blue/green variety of Beryl acquiring it's blue-green colour due to the presence of iron. In Latin the name aquamarine means "water of the sea" and is considered sacred to the sea god Neptune.
Topaz is the birthstone for November and comes from the Sanskrit word meaning 'fire'. Topaz occurs in a wide range of colours including orange, peach, gold, yellow, brown, clear, and pink being the most expensive. Topaz has what is known as 'perfect cleavage' so whilst durable, can be vulnerable to breakage.
Tanzanite is the birthstone for December and was discovered relatively recently, in 1967. A "stone of magic" believed to help with spiritual awareness and psychic insight. It relieves stress and depression, and enhances composure, poise, and harmony.
Garnet is the birthstone for January. Commonly thought of as rusty-red, the Garnet comes in many different varieties and colours. Almandine, (the most common dark browny-red), Spessartite (orangey-red), Rhodolite (violet-red), Demantoid and Tsavorite (Green).
One of the most romantic of stones, the moonstone is characterised by an enchanting play of light. Indeed it owes its name to that mysterious 'moon like' shimmer which always looks different when the stone is moved and is known as 'adularescence'.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February. It is the purple variety of quartz. The most desirable colour is transparent with no inclusions and can range from nearly colourless to a gorgeous rich deep mauve. In crystal healing Amethyst is considered to be effective against headaches, insomnia and pain relief.
Tourmalines come in a wide variety of colours - pink blue, red, yellow, black, brown - and examples include rubelite, indicolite, dravite, achroite, schorl and the striking watermelon tourmaline - which when sliced across the crystal will show a pink centre surrounded by green or pink at one end and green at the other.
Emerald is the birthstone for May. It is the green variety of Beryl and derives its beautiful green colour from the presence of chromium and vanadium. A hard but brittle stone, emeralds are rarely flawless and are often oiled to fill and disguise flaws and cracks.
Opal is the birthstone for October. Made of hardened silica gel, it contains around 5 to 10 per cent water and may therefore crack if it dries out. It's beauty is in the form of flashes of a rainbow of colours which is caused by the way the structure of tiny silica spheres, diffracts light. The larger the spheres the greater the range of colours. Opal comes in pink, blue, orange, yellow, white.
Peridot is the birthstone for August and it's green colour is caused by the presence of iron within the stone. Whilst it is always a green colour, it ranges from yellow-green to olive green to brown green depending on how much iron is in the crystal structure. It is believed to bring the wearer good luck, peace, and success.