Learn about our Gemstones
For babies born in January, Garnet is the perfect gem to represent their birthstone. This beautiful stone, which is most commonly red but can be found in a range of other colors, symbolizes peace, prosperity and good health. Garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age. Other references go back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. The Egyptians even said it was the symbol of life. Garnet was very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Century. Some say it even has the power to give the wearer eternal happiness, health and wealth.
For individuals with February birthdays, Amethyst makes a perfect birthstone. This month is often cold, dark and short for many people around the world, so the amethyst—which is often associated with qualities of peace, courage and stability—is the right gem for individuals who need a little extra warmth and strength this time of year. Many wearers of amethyst throughout history and even today prize the gem for its symbolism as well as its beauty. Leonard da Vinci once said that amethyst helps to quicken intelligence and get rid of evil thoughts. Other qualities like peace, stability, courage and strength are said to be derived from this gemstone. Today, many wearers simply prize the amethyst for its beautiful shade and the way it complements both warm and cool colors
For the lucky individuals born in March, two birthstones are associated with this early spring month: Aquamarine and Bloodstone.
Both stones are very different from one another in appearance, but each share a similar symbolism of preserving or enhancing the health of the wearer. Learn more about each March birthstone by browsing the links below. The serenely colored aquamarine invokes the tranquility of its namesake, the sea. In fact, the name aquamarine is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones, and darker blue stones are very valuable. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.
The second birthstone for March is bloodstone, a dark-green stone flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide. Generally found embedded in rocks or in riverbeds as pebbles, primary sources for this stone are India, Brazil, and Australia.
Bloodstone is also called heliotrope, a word from the ancient Greek that means “to turn the sun.” Many believe it was probably named such because of ancient ideas about how minerals reflect light. In fact, some believed that the sun itself would turn red if this stone was put into water.
Bloodstone is sometimes also known as another name, Blood Jasper. But really these stones are chalcedony, a crypto crystalline quartz. There are two forms of Bloodstone: one is more transparent (heliotrope) with red spots while the other is more opaque (plasma) and has little or no red spots.
For those looking for a good quality bloodstone, it is generally considered that a solid green color with visible veins of red is best. It also comes in many shapes and cuts including traditional cuts like emerald, oval, and cushion.
Bloodstone may not have the overt beauty of aquamarine, but many prize this stone for its symbolism and other properties.
For those fortunate to be born in April, the most prized gemstone of all is their birthstone. For this month, diamonds truly are a girl’s (or a boy’s) best friend.
You probably already know of the diamond’s toughness. In fact, it’s the hardest gemstone and is made of just one element: carbon.
Its structure makes it 58 times harder than anything in nature and can only be cut with another diamond. While it’s become nearly synonymous with wedding engagements, it’s also the perfect stone for individuals who want something that’s just as appropriate for everyday wear as it is for special occasions.
Diamonds come in several colors, including yellow, red, pink, blue, and green, and range in intensity from faint to vivid. Generally speaking, the more saturated the color, the higher the value.
In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense color are rare and may be priced higher than a colorless diamond of equal size. Because fancy-color diamonds are very desirable, color is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called color-treated diamonds.
Its unique physical properties means it has the best possible luster of any gemstone when cut and polished well. So if you’re in the market for “sparkle,” the diamond is the gemstone for you.
May birthdays fall right in the heart of spring, and the Emerald is the perfect gem to symbolize and celebrate this month. Prized for its brilliant and beautiful green color, the emerald is often favored by the rich and famous to wear as statement pieces for big events.
As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word “smaragdus,” means, quite literally, “green” in Greek.
Like aquamarine, emerald is a variety of beryl, a mineral that grows with six sides and up to a foot in length. Emerald color can range from light green (though there is some argument whether these very light beryls are truly emeralds) to a deep, rich green. Emeralds are also like aquamarine in that the way the color is presents itself in jewelry depends on a good cut by a skilled gemologist.
The deeper or more green an emerald, the more valuable it is. The rarest emeralds will appear to be an intense green-blue.
Emeralds are found all over the world, including Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.
June is one of only two months that has three birthstones associated with it, giving the lucky people born in June a choice of gemstones between pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. June’s birthstones range from creamy-colored opalescent pearl and moonstone to the rare color-changing alexandrite—one of the most valuable gems on earth. With this spectrum of price points and color options, people with June birthdays can choose a beautiful gemstone to fit any mood or budget.
Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures. Mollusks produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants that get lodged in their shells—usually not a grain of sand, as commonly believed.
While any shelled mollusk can technically make a pearl, only two groups of bivalve mollusks (or clams) use mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent “nacreous” pearls that are valued in jewelry. These rare gems don’t require any polishing to reveal their natural luster.
Appropriately, the name “pearl” comes from the Old French perle, from the Latin perna meaning “leg,” referencing the leg-of-mutton shape of an open mollusk shell. Because perfectly round, smooth natural pearls are so uncommon, the word “pearl” can refer to anything rare and valuable.
A relatively modern gem, alexandrite was discovered in Russian emerald mines located in the Ural Mountains. Legends claim that it was discovered in 1834 on the same day that future Russian Czar Alexander II came of age, hence the name honoring him. Because this unique gemstone changed colors from green to red—the national colors of Russia—alexandrite became Imperial Russia’s official gemstone. Often described as “emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes color from bluish green in daylight to purplish red under incandescent light. This chameleon-like behavior is the result of its uncommon chemical composition— which includes traces of chromium, the same coloring agent found in emerald. The unlikelihood of these elements combining under the right conditions makes alexandrite one of the rarest, costliest gems. The alexandrite mined from Russia’s famed deposits set the quality standard for this stone. Today, most alexandrite comes from Sri Lanka, Brazil and East Africa—generally paling in comparison to the vivid colors of Russian gems.
With a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale, alexandrite is softer than sapphire and harder than garnet—the other gemstones that can change color. However, due to its scarcity, alexandrite is more valuable than most gems, even rubies and diamonds. Associated with concentration and learning, alexandrite is believed to strengthen intuition, aid creativity and inspire imagination—bringing good omens to anyone who wears it.
June’s third birthstone, moonstone, was named by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s shimmery appearance shifted with the phases of the moon. The most common moonstone comes from the mineral adularia, named for an early mining site near Mt. Adular in Switzerland that supplied this gem. This site also birthed the term adularescence, which refers to the stone’s milky glow, like moonlight floating on water.
Moonstone is composed of microscopic layers of feldspar that scatter light to cause this billowy effect of adularescence. Thinner layers produce a bluish sheen and thicker layers look white. Moonstone comes in a range of colors spanning yellow, gray, green, blue, peach and pink—sometimes displaying a star or cat’s eye.
The finest classical moonstones—colorlessly transparent with a blue shimmer—come from Sri Lanka. Since these sources of high-quality blue moonstones have essentially been mined out, prices have risen sharply.Moonstones are also found in India, Australia, Myanmar, Madagascar and the United States. Indian gemstones—which are brown, green or orange in color—are more abundant and affordably priced than their classical blue counterparts.
This beautiful gemstone’s weakness is its relatively low hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale, making it prone to stress cracking and cleaving. Care is required with moonstone jewelry like rings or bracelets; brooches and pendants are preferred.
As its name implies, moonstone is closely associated with lunar mystery and magic. Its calming, balancing energies can supposedly attune to natural biological rhythms. Moonstone acts as the ultimate fertility crystal by sparking passion in new lovers and reuniting old ones.
Also known as the Traveler’s Stone, it’s believed to protect travelers at night. Moonstone is used to treat insomnia and sleepwalking, encourage sound sleep and create beneficial dreams.
Ruby, the king of precious gems, is the birthstone for fortunate folks born in July. Symbolic of the passion and energy associated with the color red, the vibrant ruby is said to bring love and success. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, colored by the element chromium. All other colors of gem-quality corundum are called sapphire, which means color is key for this royal stone.
Accordingly, the name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “king of precious stones.” These fiery gems have been treasured throughout history for their vitality.
The chromium that gives ruby its red color also causes fluorescence, which makes rubies glow like a fire from within. Paradoxically, chromium is also what makes this gem scarce because it can cause cracks and fissures. Few rubies actually grow large enough to crystallize into fine quality gems, and these can bring even higher prices than diamonds. Burma’s Mogok Valley historically produced the finest ruby material, famous for its deep blood-red color with purplish hues. These Burmese Rubies, also called Pigeon’s Blood Rubies, command a premium over brownish or orange-tinged varieties from other regions.
The Mong Hsu region of Myanmar began producing rubies in the 90s after discovering that heat treatment improved the color saturation. Other ruby deposits exist in Vietnam, Thailand, India, parts of the Middle East, East Africa and even the United States. Tough and durable, ruby measures 9 on the Mohs scale. Diamond is the only natural gemstone harder than ruby. Ruby’s strength and red fluorescence make it valuable for applications beyond jewelry. Both natural and synthetic rubies are used in watchmaking, medical instruments and lasers. Due to its deep red color, ruby has long been associated with the life force and vitality of blood. It is believed to amplify energy, heighten awareness, promote courage and bring success in wealth, love and battle.
We have a birthday present for those born in August: the stunning spinel has been added to your month’s birthstone lineup! August now joins June and December as the only months represented by three gems. The original birthstone for August was Sardonyx, and then Peridot was added, becoming August’s primary gem. Now spinel adds its multitude of color choices! Learn more about August’s diverse birthstones by exploring below:
Though peridot is widely recognized by its brilliant lime green glow, the origin of this gem’s name is unclear. Most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat which means “gem,” but some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune.
Peridot is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava.
Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites.
Peridot’s signature green color comes from the composition of the mineral itself—rather than from trace impurities, as with many gems. That’s why this is one of few stones that only comes in one color, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish-green, depending how much iron is present.
Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa.
Peridot only measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so while the raw crystal is prone to cracking during cutting, the finished gemstones are fairly robust and easy to wear.
Also known as “the Evening Emerald” because its sparkling green hue looks brilliant any time of day, peridot is said to possess healing properties that protect against nightmares and evil, ensuring peace and happiness. Babies born in August are lucky to be guarded by peridot’s good fortune.
Sardonyx combines alternating layers of sard and onyx—two types of the layered mineral chalcedony—to create a reddish zebra-striped stone with white bands.
Its name, similarly, combines sard (referencing the ancient Persian city, Sardis, in present-day Turkey, where the red stone was found) with onyx (from the Greek word of the same spelling, which meant “nail or claw.”)Sard ranges in color from yellowish red to reddish brown, depending on how much iron oxide is present. Sard is easily confused with carnelian, another type of chalcedony that is slightly softer and lighter in color.Sardonyx, like onyx, shows layers of parallel bands—instead of the chaotic, curved bands that compose agate, another type of chalcedony.
The finest examples of sardonyx, which display sharp contrasts between layers, are found in India. Other sources include Brazil, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Madagascar, Uruguay and the United States.
Measuring 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, sardonyx is widely available and relatively inexpensive as gems, beads, and jewelry. It is often carved into cameos, intaglios and brooches to show the color contrast between layers.Used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times, sardonyx is associated with courage, happiness, and clear communication. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil
September’s birthstone is the Sapphire—a precious gem of wisdom, loyalty and nobility. This stone is said to focus the mind, encourage self-discipline and channel higher powers. When people say “sapphire,” they’re usually referring to the royal blue variety of this gem, although it can occur in all colors of the rainbow (except red, which is classified as ruby instead). This lovely gem gives September-born babies a full spectrum of options when choosing the shade of birthstone that best represents them.
September’s birthstone, the Sapphire, has been popular since the Middle Ages. Back then, the celestial blue color of this gem symbolized heaven and attracted divine favor and wise judgment. Greeks wore sapphire for guidance when seeking answers from the oracle. Buddhists believed it brought spiritual enlightenment, and Hindus used it during worship. Early Christian kings cherished sapphire’s powers of protection by using it in ecclesiastical rings.
Ancient Hebrews believed that the Ten Commandments were engraved on tablets of sapphire, though historians now believe the blue stone referenced in the Bible may have been lapis lazuli.
Classical violet-blue sapphires traditionally came from the Kashmir region of India between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The world record price-per-carat for sapphire was set by a gem from Kashmir, which sold at auction for $242,000 per carat (more than $6.74 million total) in October 2015.
Famous star sapphires like the 1404.49-carat Star of Adam, the 563.4-carat Star of India and the 182-carat Star of Bombay came from Sri Lankan mines.
Australia was a significant source of sapphires until deposits were discovered in Madagascar during the 1990s. Madagascar now leads the world in sapphire production. In 1902, French chemist Auguste Verneuil developed a process to make synthetic sapphire. The abundance of synthetic sapphire unlocked industrial applications spanning integrated circuits, satellite communication systems, high-durability windows and scientific instruments.
This gem became a symbol of royal love in 1981 when Britain’s Prince Charles gave Lady Diana a 12-carat blue sapphire engagement ring. Prince William later gave this ring to Catherine Middleton when he proposed in 2010.
Today, top-quality blue sapphire remains one of Mother Nature's rare gems.
Individuals born in October get to choose between two birthstones—tourmaline and opal. Each gem then unveils nearly limitless possibilities, as each one comes in a rainbow of shades and color combinations. In fact, both of October’s birthstones came to earth through a journey involving rainbows, according to legend.
Between tourmaline (whose color depends on trace elements in its chemical makeup) and opal (which diffracts light to show a play of multiple colors), October’s birthstones offer a full spectrum of gems to suit anyone’s personal tastes.
The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” The Roman scholar Pliny used the word opalus when he wrote about this gem’s kaleidoscopic “play” of colors that could simulate shades of any stone.
Opal’s characteristic “play-of-color” was explained in the 1960s, when scientists discovered that it’s composed of microscopic silica spheres that diffract light to display various colors of the rainbow. These flashy gems are called “precious opals;” those without play-of-color are “common opals.”
Dozens of opal varieties exist, but only a few (like Fire Opal and Boulder Opal) are universally recognized. Opals are often referred to by their background “body color”—black or white. Opal’s classic country of origin is Australia. Seasonal rains soaked the parched outback, carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. When the water evaporated, these deposits formed opal. Sometimes, silica seeped into spaces around wood, seashells and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils.Since opal was discovered in Australia around 1850, the country has produced 95 percent of the world’s supply. Opal is also mined in Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Ethiopia, the Czech Republic and parts of the U.S., including Nevada and Idaho.
The water content of opal can range from three to 21 percent – usually between 6 and 10 in gem-quality material. This, combined with hardness of only 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, makes opal a delicate gem that can crack or “craze” under extreme temperature, dehydration or direct light.
Wearing opal is well worth the extra care, though. For centuries, people have associated this gem with good luck. Though some recent superstitions claim that opals can be bad luck to anyone not born in October, this birthstone remains a popular choice
The name "tourmaline" comes from the Sinhalese words tura mali, which mean "stone of mixed colors." As its name implies, tourmaline stands apart from other gems with its broad spectrum of colors in every shade of the rainbow.
Tourmaline is not one mineral, but a fairly complex group of minerals with different chemical compositions and physical properties. Certain trace elements produce distinct colors, and many resulting varieties have their own names: Schorl or black tourmaline is rich in iron, which causes dark shades from deep brown to bluish-black. This variety makes up 95 percent of all tourmaline, though most of it isn’t gem-quality. Schorl, in particular, is said to have protective powers against harmful radiation, toxins and anxiety. Dravite or brown tourmaline is rich in magnesium, which causes colors ranging from brown to yellow. It’s named for the Drave District of Carinthina (now Slovenia) where it’s found. Elbaite offers the widest range of gem-quality tourmaline colors, due to lithium traces combined with other coloring elements: Rubellite or red tourmaline is caused by manganese; but if the color becomes less vibrant under different light sources, it may be called pink tourmaline. Indicolite or blue tourmaline can appear purplish blue or bluish green, depending on the amount of iron and titanium.
Verdelite or green tourmaline can resemble emerald, but if its color is caused by chrome and vanadium, it’s called a chrome tourmaline. Paraíba tourmaline is a vividly colored purplish or greenish blue variety found in Paraíba, Brazil. It’s the most recently discovered, and because of its desirably intense colors, it’s one of the most valuable. Achroite or colorless tourmaline is rare. Parti-colored tourmaline displays more than one color, due to chemical fluctuations during crystallization. A common color combination is green and pink. These are often cut in slices to reveal a red center surrounded by a green rim, earning the name “watermelon tourmaline.” Tourmaline is mined in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Mozambique, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S.—mainly Maine and California.Tourmaline is desirable because of its sheer range of color options. Combined with a good hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, tourmaline makes very wearable jewelry.
One of this gem’s most impressive traits is its ability to become electrically charged through heat (pyroelectricity) and through pressure (piezoelectricity). When charged, tourmaline can act as a magnet by oscillating, and by attracting or repelling particles of dust. Ancient magicians used black tourmaline as a talisman to protect against negative energy and evil forces. Today, many still believe that it can shield against radiation, pollutants, toxins and negative thoughts.
Individuals born in November can choose between two sunny gemstones to brighten up this chilly month. November’s birthstones, topaz and citrine, are both known for their calming energies, bringing warmth and fortune to those who wear them.
Topaz and citrine look so similar, in fact, that they’ve often been mistaken for one another throughout history. They are actually unrelated minerals, and topaz occurs in a wide spectrum of colors far beyond yellow. Both of November’s birthstones are fairly abundant and affordably priced, even in large sizes, which means everyone can find a way to fit topaz and citrine into their budget.
Through much of history, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was thought to be yellow. Topaz is actually available in many colors, and it’s likely not even related to the stones that first donned its name.
The name topaz derives from Topazios, the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow stones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones.
Pure topaz is colorless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any color of the rainbow. Precious topaz, ranging in color from brownish orange to yellow, is often mistaken for “smoky quartz” or “citrine quartz,” respectively—although quartz and topaz are unrelated minerals.
The most prized color is Imperial topaz, which features a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones. Blue topaz, although increasingly abundant in the market, very rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment.
The largest producer of quality topaz is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and the U.S., mainly California, Utah and New Hampshire.
Measuring 8 on the Mohs scale, topaz is a rather hard and durable gem. Its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable jewelry. Topaz is a soothing stone that has been said to calm tempers, cure madness and eliminate nightmares.
November’s second birthstone, citrine, is the variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to brownish orange in color. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of these lemon-inspired shades. The pale yellow color of citrine closely resembles topaz, which explains why November’s two birthstones have been so easily confused throughout history.
Citrine’s yellow hues are caused by traces of iron in quartz crystals. This occurs rarely in nature, so most citrine on the market is made by heat treating other varieties of quartz—usually the more common, less expensive purple amethyst and smoky quartz—to produce golden gems.
Brazil is the largest supplier of citrine. Other sources include Spain, Bolivia, France, Russia, Madagascar and the U.S. (Colorado, North Carolina and California). Different geographies yield different shades of citrine.
With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, citrine is relatively durable against scratches and everyday wear-and-tear—making it a lovely option for large, wearable jewelry. Citrine is sometimes known as the “healing quartz” for its ability to comfort, soothe and calm. It can release negative feelings, spark imagination and manifest fresh beginnings. It’s even called the “merchant’s stone” for its tendency to attract wealth and prosperity.
December’s birthstones offer three ways to fight the winter blues: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise – all of them, appropriately, best known for beautiful shades of blue. These gems range from the oldest on earth (zircon), to one of the first mined and used in jewelry (turquoise), to one of the most recently discovered (tanzanite). All of these stones are relatively inexpensive, but their beauty rivals even precious gems. Colorless zircon is a convincing replacement for diamond, tanzanite often substitutes sapphire, and turquoise is unmatched in its hue of robin’s egg blue. Whatever your style preference or budget, one of December’s three birthstones will match your true blue desires
Tanzanite is the exquisite blue variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery. Zoisite had been around more than a century and a half before this rare blue variety was found in 1967. Trace amounts of vanadium, mixed with extreme heat, cause the blue color – which ranges from pale blue to intense ultramarine with violet undertones. Due to pleochroism, tanzanite can display different colors when viewed from different angles. Stones must be cut properly to highlight the more attractive blue and violet hues, and deemphasize the undesirable brown tones. The majority of tanzanite on the market today is heat treated to minimize the brown colors found naturally, and to enhance the blue shades that can rival sapphire. Tanzanite is still only found on a few square miles of land in Tanzania, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Its price and availability are directly tied to mines in this region. Tanzanite measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness – which is not nearly as hard as the sapphire it often substitutes. Given its vulnerability to scratch during daily wear and abrasion, tanzanite is better suited for earrings and pendants than rings. Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many – whether one is born in December or not!
Zircon is an underrated gem that’s often confused with synthetic cubic zirconia due to similar names and shared use as diamond simulants. Few people realize that zircon is a spectacular natural gem available in a variety of colors.
The name zircon likely comes from the Persian word zargun, meaning “gold-colored.” Others trace it to the Arabic zarkun, meaning “vermillion.” Given its wide range of colors – spanning red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown – both origins make sense.
Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Blue zircon, in particular, is the alternative birthstone for December. Color differences in zircon are caused by impurities, some of which (like uranium) can be slightly radioactive. These gems are also treated with heat to stabilize the radioactivity.
While radiation can break down zircon’s crystal structure, it plays a crucial role in radiometric dating. Zircon, the oldest mineral on earth, contains important clues about the formation of our planet.
Colorless zircon, known as Matura Diamond, displays brilliance and flashes of multicolored “fire” that can rival fine diamond. There’s one key difference though: Zircon is more brittle. Though it measures 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, its faceted edges can chip.
Zircon from Australia dates back 4.4 billion years. Australia still leads the world in zircon mining, producing 37 percent of the world’s supply. Other sources include Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Cambodia, Canada and the United States.
Since the Middle Ages, people have believed that zircon can induce sleep, ward off evil and promote prosperity.
Admired since ancient times, turquoise is known for its distinct color, which ranges from powdery blue to greenish robin’s egg blue. It’s one of few minerals to lend its name to anything that resembles its striking color. The word turquoise dates back to the 13th century, drawing from the French expression pierre tourques, which referenced the “Turkish stone” brought to Europe from Turkey. Ancient Persia (now Iran) was the traditional source for sky blue turquoise. This color is often called “Persian blue” today, regardless of its origin. The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt was also an important historical source.
The U.S. is now the world’s largest turquoise supplier. Nevada, New Mexico, California and Colorado have produced turquoise, but Arizona leads in production by value, as well as quality. The stone’s popularity here makes it a staple in Native American jewelry. Turquoise is found in arid regions where rainwater dissolves copper in the soil, forming colorful nodular deposits when it combines with aluminum and phosphorus. Copper contributes blue hues, while iron and chrome add a hint of green. Some turquoise contains pieces of host rock, called matrix, which appear as dark webs or patches in the material. This can lower the stone’s value, although the uniform “spiderweb” pattern of Southwestern turquoise is attractive. Turquoise is sensitive to direct sunlight and solvents like makeup, perfume and natural oils. The hardest turquoise only measures 6 on the Mohs scale, which made this soft stone popular in carved talismans throughout history.
From ancient Egyptians to Persians, Aztecs and Native Americans, kings and warriors alike admired turquoise for thousands of years. It adorned everything from jewelry to ceremonial masks to weapons and bridles – granting power and protection, particularly against falls.
Highly esteemed for its striking namesake color and its ancient history, turquoise remains popular through time.