Garnet, the birthstone for January, signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewellery. Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colours, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.
Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also is said to keep the wearer clear-
The two birthstones for March are aquamarine and bloodstone.
The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. This gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene colour of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded. Its pale, cool colour beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes. Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-
The second birthstone for March is bloodstone, a dark-
As the April birthstone, diamonds are the ideal gift for a loved one. And now you have more choices than ever. Get creative and give the ultimate gift of beauty: a fancy-
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, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-
June counts three gems as birthstones, pearl, Alexandrite, and moonstone.
Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries. They were one of the favourite gem materials of the Roman Empire; later in Tudor England, the 1500’s were known as the pearl age. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900’s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920’s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market Pearl
A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare chrysoberyl with chameleon-
The third birthstone for June is the Moonstone. It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone's appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century. A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multirayed star or a cat's eye. Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred colour) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune. Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colours such as green, blue, peach, and champagne. The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources.
There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday. Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love. Ruby is a variety of the gems species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear. Fine-
Two birthstones are available for August birthdays: Peridot and Sardonyx.
Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year. As peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. This gemstone comes in several colour variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens. Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.
Sardonyx is a form of onyx and is recognized by its layers of reddish brown and white banding. It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who carried into battle talismans of sardonyx engraved with images of heroes such as Mars or Hercules, believing that this would bring courage and victory. Because of its attractive banding, sardonyx has long been used to fashion cameos (carved raised figures) and intaglios (the reverse of cameos). This gemstone is found throughout the world. The most attractive specimens are found in India, but material also is mined in Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, and in the United States.
Sapphire the September birthstone, has been popular since the Middle Ages and, according to folklore, will protect your loved ones from envy and harm. Medieval clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven, while commoners thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. Blue sapphires range from very light to very dark greenish or violetish blue, as well as various shades of pure blue. The most prized colours are a medium to medium dark blue or slightly violetish blue. Sapphire is a variety of the gem species corundum and occurs in all colours of the rainbow. Pink, purple, green, orange, or yellow corundum are known by their colour (pink sapphire, green sapphire). Ruby is the red variety of corundum.
October is another month with two birthstone choices – Tourmaline and Opal.
Tourmaline has become a favourite gemstone among jewellery designer, and gem collectors the world over. Since it is available in a wide variety of colours, it is ideally suited to almost anyone's taste. Tourmaline also is known for displaying several colours in the same gemstone. These bi-
The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning "to see a change (of colour)." Opals range in colour from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. An opal's beauty is the product of contrast between its colour play and its background. Opal is a formation of non-
Two gems are appropriate for November birthdays -
Topaz is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colours. Prized for several thousand years in antiquity, all yellow gems in antiquity were called topaz. Often confused with citrine quartz (yellow) and smoky quartz (brown), quartz and topaz are separate and unrelated mineral species. The most prized colour of topaz is called Imperial topaz after the Russian Czars of the 1800’s and features a magnificent orange body colour with pinkish undertones. Topaz also comes in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and the many popular blue tones.
Citrine, the other birthstone for November is known as the "healing quartz". This golden gemstone is said to support vitality and health while encouraging and guiding hope, energy and warmth within the wearer. Citrine can be found in a variety of shades ranging from pastel yellow to dark brownish orange. It is one of the most affordable of gemstones and plentiful in nature. Citrine is found most frequently in Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain.
The three birthstones associated with December are Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise
Discovered in the late 1960’s in Tanzania, and found exclusively in this tiny area of the world, tanzanite exhibits a rich violet-
Derived from the Arabic words zar and gun, meaning gold and colour, zircon is found in a wide range of colours such as: blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, colourless, and red (the most prized colour). For many years colourless zircon was used to imitate diamonds. Folk wisdom grants zircon the power to relieve pain, whet the appetite, protect travellers from disease and injury, to ensure a warm welcome, and to prevent nightmares guaranteeing a deep, tranquil sleep. Major sources of zircon are the Chanthaburi area of Thailand, the Palin area of Cambodia, and the southern part of Vietnam.
The name turquoise, from the French expression Pierre tourques or Turkish stone, originated in the thirteenth century and describes one of the oldest known gemstones. Turquoise varies in colour from greenish blue, through robin's egg-
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