JEWELRY 101

AQUAMARINE

Aquamarine is one of the traditional birthstones for March and the accepted anniversary gem for the 19th year of marriage.

The ideal color for aquamarine is a refreshing sea blue - not too pale or too green. Aquamarine is durable and is available in larger sizes. It is beautiful when cut into rectangular or oval shapes.

Most aquamarines are heat treated, part of the normal finishing process, to remove traces of yellow and permanently intensify the blue color.

In ancient times, aquamarine was a universal symbol of youth, hope, and health. It was said to aid seafarers and bring the wearer of aquamarine earrings love and affection.

AMETHYST

Amethyst is a variety of quartz. It is a deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes that give amethyst its beauty and fire.

It is readily available in all sizes and shapes. It is durable and can be worn every day. Coupled with the folk legend of the Greeks that it will prevent intoxication when worn, it becomes a most desirable gem!

Amethyst is the recognized birthstone for February.

Amethyst was said to have a sobering effect on the wearer - not only those who imbibed but on those over-excited by love's passion as well. It has symbolized peace, protection and tranquility. Some say it will prevent baldness and improve the complexion, while protecting from treason and deceit. Because royalty has always adored the color purple, amethysts abound in the ornaments of ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and in the British Crown Jewels.

As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

As part of the finishing process, amethyst occasionally is heated to lighten its color.

It is found mainly in Brazil, Uruguay, and Zambia.

GARNET

So - red isn't your favorite color but January is your birthmonth? Lucky you. Garnet comes in every color except blue. Raspberry to blood red reds, greens that can rival the color of emeralds, and shades of orange, yellow, and brown.

Garnet is the accepted birthstone for the month of January.

Legend holds that garnet gave its wearer guidance in the night and protection from nightmares. The Egyptians believed it was an antidote for snakebites.

Care should be taken to protect garnet from scratches and sharp blows, and to avoid extreme temperature changes.

Garnets are found in the U.S., Africa, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia and India.

TURQUOISE

Turquoise is one of the few major gems in which the U.S. is the leading world producer. It comes mostly from the southwest, particularly Arizona.

Turquoise is semitranslucent to opaque and is usually fashioned into cabochons, beads, or carvings. Turquoise shares the December birthstone with zircon.

Many cultures have valued turquoise and assigned spiritual meaning to its color. Native Americans saw turquoise as a sign of divinity and power because it stole its color from the sky and the sea. The Hopi still worship a god of turquoise and embed the stone into the beams and posts of the places of worship. Like most power symbols, turquoise adornments showed wealth and rank. In some tribes, only men could wear it, in others, only the chief or elders.

Some turquoise comes from Iran. Early Persians thought it cured epilepsy and insanity, while medieval Europeans used pulverized turquoise to cure eye ailments, ulcers, and heartburn.

CITRINE

Citrine is a variety of quartz and colors range from pale yellow to yellowish-brown and "Madeira" red. The most popular fashion colors are the vivid yellows and oranges. It is often mistaken for yellow or golden topaz.

Citrine is plentiful and beautiful gems in large sizes are available. Citrine is a popular gemstone, and stands up well to daily wear. Its earthy tones complement many wardrobes. Citrine also looks well combined with amethyst, blue topaz and pink tourmaline in jewelry.

Citrine is one of the accepted birthstones for November, as well as the suggested anniversary gemstone for the thirteenth year of marriage.

Citrine's name is derived from "citron", a lemon-like fruit. People once carried citrine as a protective talisman against the plague, bad skin, and evil thoughts. It was also used as a charm against the bites of snakes and other venomous reptiles.

To clean, immerse in a jewelry cleaner or in lukewarm soapy water and use a small bristle brush. Care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows. Avoid all heat.

When mined, citrines were either amethysts or other quartz family members. Long ago, it was discovered that heating these gemstones produced various permanent colors from pale yellow to madeira-red.

Citrine is found mainly in Brazil.

OPAL

The well-known Roman naturalist Pliny described opeal as "made up of the glories of the most precious gems...the gentler fire of the ruby, the rich purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, glittering together..."

White opal has a white or light body color with flashes of many colors. Black opal has a black, dark blue, dark green or gray body color with vivid flashes of color such as red, pink, and bright green.

Opal is the October birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 14th year of marriage.

Opal has symbolized hope, innocence, and purity through the ages. In the Middle Ages, young, fair-haired girls wore opals in their hair to protect its lovely blond color. Medieval writers believed opal could render its wearer invisible when the need arose. It was also said to have a beneficial effect on eyesight. It was thought to banish evil spirits and favor children, the theater, amusements, friendships and feelings.

Occasionally opal matrix is dyed to produce black and a play of color. Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals, and extreme temperature changes. To maintain the brilliance of opal, it should be wiped clean with a soft cloth. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine or jewelry cleaner. Opal sources are Australia, Mexico, and the U.S.

Sapphire

Sapphire, a variety of corundum, comes in all colors except red (the red variety being known as ruby), but is especially popular in deep blue. Fancy colored sapphires include pink, green, orange, and golden yellow.

Prince Charles chose a blue sapphire for Princess Diana's engagement ring. The stone's durability, combined with its beauty, makes it the perfect alternative for an engagement ring.

Sapphire is the September birthstone as well as the accepted anniversary stone for the 5th and 45th years of marriage.

Ancient priests and sorcerers honored sapphires above all gems, for this stone enabled them to interpret oracles and foretell the future. Ancients believed the Ten Commandments were written on a sapphire tablet. Marriage partners put great faith in the stone. If its luster dimmed, one knew his or her spouse had been unfaithful Sapphire refused to shine when worn by the wicked or impure.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all blue, yellow, and golden sapphires are heated to permanently produce or intensify their color.

As will all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

Sapphire is found mainly in Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, Australia, and East Africa.

Peridot

Peridot is the child of volcanic action. Crystals are sometimes combed from the black sands of Hawaii.

Peridot is usually a lively lime green, although it can also have a brownish or olive cast.

Peridot is an accepted birthstone for August. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 16th year of marriage.

Peridots were favored by pirates, considered powerful amulets against all evil, and when set in gold, were said to protect the wearer from the terrors of the night. They had medicinal uses, too. If fashined into a chalice from which medicines were drunk, it intensified the effects of the drug.

Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, household chemicals and extreme temperature changes. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine for cleaning.

The peridot is abundant, and is available in larger sizes. It is found in Burma and the U.S.

The 4 C’s

Cut – How a diamond handles light. It is the cut that enables a diamond to make the best use of light. When a diamond is cut to good proportions, light is reflected from one facet to another and then disperses through the top of the stone. The precision with which a diamond is cut is the most critical factor in releasing its “fire” and “brilliance.”

Color – Although most gem-quality diamonds, when seen alone, appear colorless to the untrained eye, there are subtle differences in shade that become apparent to a trained professional. To determine a diamond’s true color, the diamond is viewed from the side under balanced white light. It is compared to diamonds in a “Master Set” whose colors have been predetermined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). A color grade is then assigned according to the diamond’s deviation from the truly colorless diamond.

Clarity – Diamond clarity is determined by the absence of inclusions (crystals, feathers, lines, etc.). The fewer the inclusions, the rarer the diamond, and the greater the value. Flawless and internally flawless diamonds are exceedingly rare.

Carat Weight – As with all precious gems, the weight of a diamonds is expressed in carats. One carat equals one-fifth of a gram, or 1/142 of an ounce. One carat is also divided into 100 “points,” so a diamond weighing ¾ carat may be described as weighing 75 points, or .75 carats. As diamonds increase in value, their prices per carat usually increase geometrically, not arithmetically. Thus a two-carat diamond of the same quality will be more than double the price of a one-carat diamond.

For more information visit the Jewelers of America website.