Your Guide to Buying Diamonds

A diamond is one of the most precious of all gemstones and therefore, when you seek to buy a diamond, it is understandable to be apprehensive of whether you are putting your money in the right place. Many salespeople will have you think that if you are not in the diamond business or haven’t studied gemology, you will not be able to determine its worth. Although part of it is not wrong, it is also true that it is not difficult to learn the basics of diamond buying and avoid falling into a deceitful trap.

If you can familiarize yourself with certain certifications, grading scales, cuts, shapes, and colors, you can be assured that you will have enough armor against getting duped into buying a worthless fake. Arguably, the most important aspect of the worth of a diamond lies in its grading. It includes an assessment of the four Cs – cut, clarity, color, and carat. Laboratories perform tests on various parameters that can be broadly summed up into these four Cs. It is on the basis of these tests that diamond certificates are prepared.

Although there are many labs that produce certificates for diamonds, the American Gem Society (AGS) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) are two that are recognized worldwide. If you are buying diamonds approved by other labs, be sure to check their credentials.

In this article, we will be prominently talking about the “Cut.”

In the jargon used by the diamond industry, the word “cut” can have two meanings – the shape or the reflective qualities of a diamond. As it pertains to grading, the “cut” refers to the reflective quality, which determines the brilliance of a diamond.

Understanding the cut of a diamond is very important because it determines how well the diamond will shine. A poor cut can make even a better carat diamond to look like a drab piece of crystal.

Gemologists say that for the best cut, a formula has to be followed. The formula involves the depth, diameter, pavilion, crown, girdle, culet, and table. The interrelation between these determines how the light that enters the diamond is reflected back. The best formula makes the light entering at the table travel through the pavilion to the other side and then be reflected back to the eye. A lower quality cut will have light entering through the table and leaking out from the bottom or sides rather than being reflected back to the eye of the observer, thus making it a lot less brilliant.

The cut of a diamond is graded on five scales – ideal, excellent, very good, good, and fair & poor. All these grades do not apply to every shape, and there may be other aspects in a diamond better than the cut. For example, the “ideal” category only applies to the round shape, and although a “fair & poor” diamond isn’t really brilliant, it has maximum carat weight. These grades are basically calculated on the amount of light that is reflected. The more light reflected, the better the brilliance, and higher the cost.

As far as shapes are concerned, it depends on the skill of a cutter. Over the centuries, there are 11 cuts that have become quite popular – Asscher, cushion, emerald, heart, Marquise, oval, pearl, princess, radiant, round, trilliant. Some of these look good as a pendant, others as earrings, or as souvenirs. It depends on an individual’s choice how to wear a diamond. However, there are some tricks to choosing a shape that will suit you. For instance, the princess cut diamond ring will suit a hand with long fingers. On the contrary, if someone has a small palm of short fingers, oval and pear shapes give the illusion of elongation and complement the hand better. If you are unsure of any shape, you can consider the round diamond – the most popular shape that looks good in almost any jewelry with its kaleidoscope of brilliance.

The other things that have to be calculated are the clarity, color, and carat. The clarity depends on how flawless a diamond is. There are two kinds of impurities – inclusions (defects inside the diamond) and blemishes (flaws on the surface). Needless to say, the better diamond will have least flaws. As for color, the truly colorless diamond is a rare gemstone, and is suitably priced on the far end of the high scale. There are fancy color diamonds like pink or red that are even rarer and are valued more for their color. However, a slightly brown or yellowish tinted diamond will not be easily discernible by the untrained eye. The carat determines the weight and so, the bigger, the costlier.

Now that you have some idea of what makes a good diamond, you can read the certificate – basically a blueprint of the diamond – and make an informed choice.

Which color gemstone is best for you?

Gemstones are found in various colors and they have been used for their powers across time and cultures. Different colors are said to have different powers. So what gives gemstones these powers? And what powers are we talking about?

Let’s first understand how we see colors.

It is common knowledge that color is not an intrinsic property of an object. We see the color of an object because it reflects some part of the light falling on it. The part that is reflected back meets the eye and we perceive it as color. And that part of light is nothing but one of the many wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum.

The wavelength that will be reflected back depends upon the particles in the object. Therefore, the color of a gemstone will depend on the kind of mineral or element it is made up of.

Gemstones reflect certain wavelengths prominently, which explains their dazzling brilliance. As for the powers, they are actually the energy that is created due to a particular wavelength. So when you wear a particular gemstone, the wavelength it reflects or the color that it has makes an impact on the energy surrounding you, and that translates into improved prospects, calm, decreased health issues, or in general, a better well-being.

Now, let’s see which color offers what:

White: White stones symbolize intelligence and integrity while clear stones are a mark of elegance. It is suitable for people who like the traditional way of living life. It helps in maintaining a clear conscience while in doubt by bringing calm and clarity.

Stones: diamonds, pearls, moonstone, white topaz, drusy quartz, moissanite, hematite.

Red:  Red is associated with attention, ambition, and an out-going nature. It complements people like artists, lawyers, leaders, who have a fiery personality and like to show their skills. It is associated with active energy and helps in gaining wisdom and fighting depression.

Stones: ruby, red diamonds, coral, garnet.

Black: It signifies strength, confidence, fidelity, prosperity, and health. Since black is not an easy to carry color, those who wear it with élan have a strong personality and charming sophistication. It complements people like fashionistas, C-level executives, or anyone who likes to be surrounded with a high energy. It helps you decide with a clarity of thought.

Stones: onyx, agate, black diamonds, jasper, hematite.

Blue: It signifies loyalty, truth, good health, strength, and confidence. It works for people with an out-going personality. Blue gemstones are said to bring peace and stabilize emotional imbalances.

Stones: sapphire, lapis lazuli, tanzanite, aquamarine, blue topaz, turquoise.

Green: Green stones are strongly associated with fertility and healing powers. It also brings in prosperity. Bankers, investors, or just people in the money business are said to gain productive intuition with gems of this color. It was also believed in the medieval times that jade brings immortality to its wearers.

Stones: emerald, jade, green sapphires, turquoise.

Purple: Purple has long been associated with spirituality, wisdom, class, and clarity of thought. Purple stones should be worn by philosophers, artists, and the creative group who like to delve deep into human nature and study their behavior. Lavender and purple stones have a mysterious and dignified aura.

Stones: amethyst, purple diamonds, purple sapphires.

Yellow: Yellow is a bright, quirky color that resembles the energy of creativity and uniqueness. It suits people with a creative and adventurous bent of mind like crafters, teachers, and social workers. It exudes optimism, sociability, enthusiasm, and is known to aid mental strength.

Stones: amber, topaz, citrines, yellow diamonds, yellow sapphires.

Brown: Gems with brown shades have a very unique personality, they have an aura that is subtle and down to earth. People like chefs, gardeners, and historians would find such gems complementing with their energies and keeping them calm, motivated, and driven. Brown suits people who have a passion, but do not like flashy statements.

Stones: agate, Tiger’s eye, smoky quartz, chocolate diamonds.

Knowing about the energy associated with different colored gemstones is helpful not only so that you can pick a suitable gemstone for yourself but also because when you buy a jewel gift for a loved one, you know which gemstone will bring happiness to their lives. By gifting them a gem appropriate to their energy and needs, you will be enriching their lives with a valuable token that will also help them be more successful and healthy.

Physical properties of Gemstones

The properties of a gemstone are basically classified under two divisions: physical and optical. While physical properties are concerned with what a gem is made of and how it is made, the optical classification deals with how a gem interacts with light. In this article, we’ll focus on the physical properties.

The physical properties of a gemstone are not affected by how it reacts to light falling on it. On the contrary, every property of a gemstone, optical or otherwise, depends on the material it is made of and the arrangement of atoms in its structure. That is why, an amber bead necklace looks very different from a shiny obsidian pendant, although both of them are gemstones.

Amber and obsidian, or any two kinds of gemstones for that matter, are different because they have different chemical compositions and three dimensional structures. On the basis of structure, gemstones can be divided into two groups – crystalline and amorphous.

Crystalline: A crystalline gemstone has a highly organized and predictable crystal lattice structure, and a specific chemical formula. As a result, they have more brilliance when chiseled in a geometrical shape. Diamond, rubies, emeralds, amethyst have this kind of internal structure.

Amorphous: The word is derived from the Greek term “amorphos,” meaning shapeless. Though an amorphous gemstone is not devoid of structure entirely, it is relatively less defined and somewhat haphazard. Amber, jet, opal, natural glasses, and metamict minerals fall in this category.

X-ray diffraction is the method used to study the internal crystal formation details. It is similar to the X-ray procedure commonly seen in a medical set-up. While studying gems, X-rays are passed through them to fall on a sensitive film. Like more X-rays are absorbed by dense bones, dense clusters of atoms absorb more X-rays while scant areas allow them to pass through and impact the film. The high contrast picture that is produced can be read and interpreted to reveal information about structure patterns. With research using this method, it has been found out that crystalline gemstones can be further separated into single crystals and aggregate gems.

Single crystals: Stones like pyrites and amethysts are made of single crystal units of one kind visible through a microscope.

Aggregates: If the single crystal can be imagined to shrink multiple times its size and then thrown together in random orientations, it will give rise to aggregates.

Aggregates can have starkly different physical features and behavior than single crystals. For instance, amethyst and chalcedony are the species of quartz – each having crystal of the trigonal system (whatever be their size) and the same chemical formula, SiO2. While amethyst is transparent and of a single color, chalcedonies can be translucent to opaque and sometimes of various different colors. Furthermore, it has been noticed that aggregates are considerably tougher than single crystal stones. Single crystals can be humongous – as big as a truck. For instance, the Crystal Cave in Put-in-Bay, Ohio, which is actually a huge underground geode (a hollow cavity of rocks usually lined with crystals) has walls and ceilings composed of celestite crystals.

Aggregate gems can be further divided into two groups: microcrystallines and cryptocrystallines.

Microcrystallines: They are so called because crystals falling under this group can be resolved under a light microscope. A thin sliver of the crystal is obtained and examined under about 100 to 200 times magnification. Jade is an example of such crystals.
 
Cryptocrystallines: “Crypto” means one that is not easily revealed. And so, one cannot see the minute crystals of cryptocrystallines under an ordinary light microscope, one would need an electron microscope or specialized polarized lighting to be able to view the minutest crystals. Agate, jasper, chalcedony come under this group.

Another parameter of classification is the composition. Although most crystalline and amorphous gemstones have one mineral in the composition with a little inclusion here and there, there are some gemstones that are have two or more minerals as substantial ingredients of the composition. Such gems are called gem rocks. The most familiar example would be lapis lazuli, a fascinating rock made of  lazurite, Hauyne, sodalite, calcite, and pyrite. Other examples would be unakite and Chinese writing stone.

These were the basic parameters of classification of gemstones on physical parameters. In the world of gemology, there are many wonderful gems, and equally wonderful methods to study them. If you liked reading this, you would certainly like to explore more about them.

Gemstones and their Healing Properties

Various ancient and traditional healers would attest to the view that crystals, precious and semi-precious stones have an intrinsic capacity to influence the physical, emotional and spiritual state of a human being. This view holds that certain properties of these gemstones can be made use of to provide a healing effect on the patients in distress.
Many classifications have been found in this regard, with birthstones being one of the most popular. In this characterization one particular stone is seen to influence individuals born in that particular month as shown in the table below.


Month

Gemstone

Colour

January

Garnet

Deep Red

February

Amethyst

Purple

March

Aquamarine

Pale Blue

April

Diamond

Clear

May

Emerald

Green

June

Pearl

White

July

Ruby

Red

August

Peridot

Pale Green

September

Sapphire

Deep Blue

October

Opal

Predominantly White

November

Citrine

Yellow

December

Turquoise

Blue

Now, let’s take a look at the properties of these stones.

GARNET: This gemstone is also known as ‘stone of passion’. It enhances and promotes passionate love, sensuality and intimacy. The red colour of the gemstone inspires love and devotion. It is thus considered to be an ideal gift for a romantic liaison. It also helps in soothing emotions and bringing about a balanced emotional state. It has the capacity to soothe emotional stress especially the emotion of anger. It soothes away the anger to bring about peace of mind. It is also a great influential power for people undergoing depression as it encourages the feeling of joy, peace and happiness.  

AMETHYST: The Amethyst gemstone beads are considered to be the stone of meditation. Its purple colour enhances peace, balance and composure of the person who comes in contact with the stone. Amethyst is directly linked to the mind of a person and hence is capable of providing relief from stress and depression. It helps to deal with addiction, anger and grief. Amethyst is for these reasons often called the Master Healing Gemstone. 

AQUAMARINE: The aquamarine gemstone helps release fear, and restlessness to produce clarity within the human mind. It also provides courage and increases the creativity in the wearer of the stone. This gemstone bead also strengthens the immune system and sharpens the intuition of humans. 

DIAMOND: Diamond is a precious stone which attracts abundance and wealth. It also cleanses away impurity and purifies the wearer of the stone. It also has the ability to amplify and intensify the emotions within the soul of the wearer. It means that both the positive as well as the negative emotions will be intensified. Thus care must be taken whenever wearing a diamond.

EMERALD: Emeralds are said to give relief from stress, provide better memory and help achieve a greater clarity and understanding. It helps in creating within ourselves attributes of peace and good health. Emerald can have the direct influence of in the increase of the prosperity in life.

PEARL: The healing property of a pearl is known to be the calming effect it gives to a wearer. It helps achieve the pure emotional state such as that of charity, truth, loyalty etc. It fills the wearer with confidence and imbues a sense of integrity in the wearer.

RUBY: Ruby is the stone that intensifies all emotions. Be it positive emotions of love, joy, courage, confidence or the negative emotions of anger, jealousy, sadness etc. Thus, it can bring these emotions on surface and amplify any energy felt from these emotions. It should only be used with clear idea of how to utilize the intense energy provided by this stone.

PERIDOT: Peridot is a gemstone that helps to understand and heal damaged relationships especially caused due to jealousy. It is also used to alleviate negativity as well as nightmares. The negative emotions of anger, fear, jealousy and depression are often healed through the influence of peridot.

SAPPHIRE: Sapphires are beautiful gems that give tremendous will power and strength to the wearer. It is a stone that helps alleviate confusion and depression. It also helps those who have a problem of concentration as well as those in situations beyond their ability to control.

OPAL: Opals are stones that need to be worn with great caution due to their ability to cause fickleness in an individual. Opals are able to represent and magnify the emotions and feelings within the wearer. This leads to lessening of inhibitions and greater spontaneity in a person. It also helps enhance imagination and creativity in an individual. But these reduced inhibitions may often lead to increasing fickleness and hence must be removed if it is seen as harmful.

CITRINE: Citrine enhances the will, strength, optimism and confidence of the wearer. It also provides clarity and creativity, all the while enabling the wearer to see paths to better utilize these positive energies. This gemstone bead is also considered to be the Merchant’s Stone with its unique ability to assist in matters of financial importance.

TURQUOISE: This gemstone is considered to be a healing stone for the all round health of a person. It enhances the physical as well as emotional health and well being of the wearer. It is also said to dispel anxiety and depression. It has the ability to absorb negativity and therefore also provides protection. Turquoise impacts the immune system and helps protect human body from physical harm.
The gemstones mentioned here are either beaded in the form of a necklace or encrusted in a ring. Whatever be the case, many people are known to have gained significant benefits from wearing their birthstone. Are you one of those people? Why not share your experience through the comments section.

Amethyst – The Healing Stone

The word “Amethyst” has been derived from the Greek word “amethystos” which essentially means “absence of drunken state”. Amethyst, the crystalline quartz with a characteristic purple color, is adorned for protecting the bearer from any and all kinds of poison and alcohol. It is believed to impart a sober state of mind and safeguard against drunken state.

Characteristics and Applications
Apart from the usage in jewelry, as all gemstones have, amethyst has many applications within the field of astrology. It is considered to be very effective in curing sleeping disorders like insomnia. One needs to place it under the pillow while sleeping and it is supposed to induce cordial and cheerful dreams. Rubbing amethyst on and around the forehead is believed to relieve headache. Because of these reasons, it is also known as the “power stone.”
Amethyst has been used as a protection stone since ancient times. It is believed to guard against guilty feelings. It has been found effective against fearful feelings too. Witchcraft protection and self-deception protection are some other factors which have led people to resort to amethyst. It has been believed to open channels for psychic and spiritual abstracts. It is also worn as a necklace to accentuate meditation. Amethyst is worn by the Catholic bishops till date and hence also known as Bishop’s Stone. It is worn by high rank priests since it symbolizes sincerity, spiritual wisdom, piety and humility. 

Apart from the aforementioned properties that are believed to be possessed by amethyst, the stone is also considered to be graced with healing powers. It is believed to have powers to focus energy. This is the reason it is worn by most of the healers. The healing process is carried out generally with the healer placing a piece of amethyst onto the hands of the ill and another piece at the area of the body that needs healing. It is effective to heal lungs, kidney, heart, liver, and stomach among other human body organs. This gemstone has found a lot of applications in blood and respiratory problems. Air is believed to be cleaner and life force is believed to be more positive around amethyst. This is why it is also recommended to have this gemstone at home.

It is believed that keeping amethyst clusters or points by the side of the windows of the house that receives sunlight predominantly throughout the day helps in eliminating the negative vibes within the home. The same clusters and points during the nighttime under the influence of moonlight generate a calm aura within the house making the residents feel calmer and are more composed during those hours.  It is also believed to help people with their cravings and to overcome their worldly fear.

Facts about Amethyst
Despite the fact that amethyst is considered to be one of the most beautiful of all the crystal quartz, it has always baffled scientists. It has a hardness rating of seven on the Moh’s scale, moderate refraction quotient and a weight ratio which is in tandem with the other quartz, but the crystal structure of amethyst is extremely atypical. It has a very orderly laminated construct which induces layers of varying color intensities within the stone. This is the reason why despite having it in abundance across the globe, we don’t have large cut amethysts of an evenly disbursed dark color. It is only recently that scientists have been able to figure out the reason towards its characteristic color. This is due to some distinct ferrous constituents in tandem with natural radioactive radiation.

Another amazing characteristic of Amethyst is the fact that it changes color on being heated. A temperature of 250 degree Celsius induces a shining yellow color to a smoky and translucent stone. This color can transform to various shades of brownish red. Amethyst gemstone when heated to a temperature of 400 degrees, inculcates great magnitudes of transparency and it can even become colorless at further heating.

Who should buy Amethyst?
People who want to stay away from their otherwise addictive alcoholism or any other source of addiction would find a great deal of support from this gemstone.
Apart from that, amethyst can be very useful to calm the aura of people with high tempers. This gemstone can be used to ensure a steady positive flow of energies within one’s home.
Is there anything about amethyst you know that we haven’t mentioned here? We would love to know. Share your views in the comments section.

A brief about semi-precious stones

Semi-precious stones are natural resources like minerals and are also known as fine gems, jewel or gem stones. A gem stone is a piece of crystal which is cut and polished and is used to make jewelry or other embellishments. However, certain rocks or organic material like amber that are not minerals are also used for jewelry and are therefore often considered to be gem stones as well. Gem-stones like emerald, amethyst, sapphire, and ruby are also important from the astrological point of view.
Stones like diamonds, ruby, sapphire and emerald are not semi -precious. The  distinction between precious and semi-precious stones is supposed to reflect the rarity of stones as well as their quality; however, it is not always the case. It is common knowledge within trade insiders that the notion of precious stones was invented just as a marketing gimmick and does not have any bearing on the respective rarity of any stone. A stone like tanzanite, which is classified under the semi-precious category, is actually a very rare stone whose price rockets much more farther than any precious stone.Both precious and semi-precious stones are  classified by their color, translucency, and hardness. An common term for semi-precious gem stones used in art history and archaeology is hardstones.

In modern times, gemstones are identified by gemologists who describe gems and their characteristics using technical terminology specific to the field of gemology. Gemstones are classified into different groups, species and varieties. A single stone can be classified into various categories depending on its color. For example, other aquamarine (blue), red beryl(red), goshenite(colorless), heliodor(yellow), and morganite(pink) are all varieties of the single mineral species beryl.
Gemstones may also be classified in terms of their “water”. This is  recognized as the grading of a gem’s transparency and brilliance. Very transparent gems are considered first water while second or third water gems are those of a lesser transparency.

There is no universally accepted grading system for gemstones. However, a mnemonic device, the “ four Cs” (clarity, color, cut and carats), has been introduced to help consumers understand the factors used in grading of all gemstones. Nowadays, distinction between precious and semi-precious gemstones are no longer made by the gem stone trade. Many gemstones are used in even the most expensive jewelry depending on the brand name of the designers, fashion, trends, market supply, treatments, etc. Rare or unusual gemstones, generally meant to include those gemstones which occurs so infrequently in gem quality that they are scarcely known except to connoisseurs include andalusite, axinite, cassiterite, clinohumite and red beryl.

Gem prices can fluctuate heavily or can be quite stable. In general, per carat prices of larger stones are higher than those of smaller stones but popularity of certain sizes of stone can affect prices. Prices of gem stones are increasing rapidly with time . Typically, prices range from US$1/carat for a normal amethyst to US$ 20,000 – 50,000 for a collector’s piece.
A few gemstones are used as gems in the crystal or other form in which they are found. Most of the gemstones are cut and polished for use of making  jewelry. Thailand is a popular destination for gemstone cutting. There, the stones are cut into a design and are polished to make the gemstones look beautiful and shiny. Gemstones are often treated to enhance the color or clarity of the stones. Depending on the type and extent of treatment, a stone’s value can improve or deteriorate. Some  treatments are used widely because the resulting gem is stable, while others are not accepted commonly because the gem color becomes unstable and may revert to the original tone.

Some gems stones are manufactured to imitate others gemstones. The imitations copy the look and color of the real stone but posses neither their chemical nor physical characteristics. However, lab created gemstones are not imitations. They tend to have a more vivid color to them, as impurities are not present in a lab-manufactured stone.
Whatever be the case, semi-precious or precious stones will remain fascinating specimens of the nature’s bounty that humans will lust after. The beauty of these fantastic gems will always lead humans to bead them in their jewelry or embellish in their clothing.

Lapis Lazuli: The Wonder Stone

Lapis lazuli, prized for its intense blue color, is a semi-precious gemstone which gets its name from the place where it was first mined. Its name is derived from the Latin word "lapis" meaning stone and the Persian word "lazhuward" meaning blue.

Although predominantly found in the mines of Afghanistan where it has been mined for over 6,000 years, it is also found as far as the Andes Mountains near Chile and near the Baikal Lake in Russia. This gem is also mined in small amounts in countries like India, Pakistan, Italy, Canada and the United States of America.

Afghanistan is said to be the biggest producer of Lapis in the world. The country has six
operational Lapis mines, the largest of them being located in Badakhshan province. From these mines, bulk of it is exported to India, which is the largest importer of raw semi-precious stones and the exporter of higher quality gems.

Lapis is mostly composed of the mineral known as lazurite. This mineral is blue in color and gives Lapis its intense color. Its other major mineral components are calcite and sodalite. Lapis is found in the marble crystalline form in nature, formed by a process called contact metamorphism of limestone. It is sensitive to heat, acid, and alkali. The gemstones containing higher concentration of these two minerals are of higher grade and more expensive as compared to the rest of the Lapis grades i.e. a higher grade Lapis contains very low concentration or residual amounts of calcite and sodalite. A lapis crystal made mostly of laruzite has never been documented. Most samples found and reviewed by geologists mainly contain Hauyne.

Nowadays, Lapis Lazuli can also be made artificially by the Gilson process (invented in 1970). The artificial Lapis should most accurately be called an imitation of the Lapis as it differs from the natural Lapis in some of it physical and chemical properties.

This gemstone has been highly regarded for its color since the time of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations.  The European traders discovered Lapis some 2000 years ago and began exporting it in large amounts into Europe by the end of the Middle ages. In Europe, the Lapis was ground into a fine blue powder and sold as an expensive and intense blue pigment called ultramarine dye (or simply ultramarine). It was made available to only the most noteworthy painters and artists of the Renaissance and the Baroque.

One of the finest examples of Renaissance paintings that used the ultramarine is the “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which was painted by Johannes Vermeer in 1665. The ultramarine was used by painters to depict the clothing of central figures in their paintings and was typically used to depict clothing of Virgin Mary during that period.

Many ancient artifacts made of Lapis Lazuli have been found from various eras. Pendants made of Lapis dating back to 2900 B.C. have been found among the remnants of the great
Mesopotamian civilization. The Egyptians made scarabs out of Lapis rock. It was also used as a pigment to depict the eyes on the tomb mask of Tutenkhamun. Majestic statues made of Lapis rock have been discovered in India from the Mughal era. Several famous Lapis artifacts have also been discovered in China from the period of Qing dynasty.

Lapis is easy to polish and gives-off a radiant blue shine. It is used to make jewelry, mosaics, frescos, carvings, statues, ornaments and boxes. As a gemstone, Lapis Lazuli is used traditionally in jewelry as pendants and as beads. It is considered a semi-precious gemstone and is widely worn by both men and women embedded in their necklaces, earrings, and rings.  Artifacts made from Lapis Lazuli are highly valued for their "true blue" color (also known as ultramarine).

This gemstone has become a part of Asian and Western cultures (and myths and rituals).
According to Indian Astrology, this stone is known for its spiritual healing powers. It is known to increase strength, immunity and virility. It is the planetary stone of Capricorn and is associated with the Zodiac sign Libra. In the Feng Shui, Lapis is associated with the water element and is associated with wisdom, wealth and abundance.

If you like the color blue, you can order Lapis jewelry – it is beautiful and mystical to look at, so much so that even the great poet W.B. Yeats wrote a whole poem to it. If you like, you can even get Lapis beads and make your own jewelry. It’s cheaper than most other gems, but its beauty is as astonishing as any other. 

The Different Hues of Topaz

Topaz is a beautiful as well as popular gemstone. It comes with a decent hardness, desirable colors, and a relatively better abundance and availability than its precious counterparts like ruby or amethyst which makes it comparatively cheaper and easier to buy.

Naturally occurring topaz is found in hues from bright yellow to a deep golden brown. The orange-yellow tones are also called the Imperial Topaz. Their special property is that they can fade if exposed to the sun for a considerable period of time.  A small amount of topaz is also found in red, pink, and blue shades. These are very expensive due to their rarity.

The blue topaz is often created from faint blue or colorless crystals, which are abundantly found, by a process called irradiation. The crystals thus processed are heated to form an icy, pastel blue color. The darker hue of blue known as London blue is created by exposing the crystals to neutrons. The color blue suits well in both white and yellow metals and is therefore a favorite of jewelry designers.

Etymology

The name topaz is believed to have derived from Latin Topazus or French Topace. The Greek words Τοpáziοs or Τοpáziοn may also have been instrumental in the christening of the stone. Alternatively, it may also be related to the Sanskrit word Tapas meaning heat or fire.

Occurrence

Topaz are crystals of Aluminum fluoro-hydroxyl-silicate (Al2SiO4(F,OH)2), also known as the felsic composition. The different colors are due to the impurities present. Topaz crystals are found in most commonly in igneous rocks, as pegmatites, and in the cavities of granite and rhyolite. They are also found in metamorphic rocks like quartzite or schist, although very rarely.

Minas Gearis, a state in Brazil, is the most important source of topaz in the world. Other sources are in Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, China, Japan, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Ireland and Tasmania. The rare pink topaz is found in parts of Russia and Northern Pakistan.

Topaz in History

The Roman author and natural philosopher, in his book Natural History, mentioned that Topazos was the name of a mythical island in the Red Sea which the first place where the stone topaz was mined.

Topaz also finds mention in the Bible. In Exodus 28:17, the King James version, it says in the Hoshen, “And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle(garnet): this shall be the first row."

Topaz in Astrology

Yellow topaz is the birthstone of November borns while the blue one is for those born in December.

In Vedic astrology, yellow topaz is considered to be the gemstone of Jupiter. It is especially recommended for those who write spiritual books and for those who want the happiness of children. Women looking for the perfect match are also said to be helped by this stone.

It is also said to cure medical problems like cough, skin infections, and jaundice.

Value and Uses

Topaz is used to make necklaces, pendants, earrings, rings, and other jewels. It is also found as beads which can be strung together to make something like a choker or a bracelet. Colorless topaz is often used as a substitute for diamond, while the blue one is often mistaken for aquamarine.

As for its industrial uses, it is used as an abrasive in products like knife sharpeners, scouring pads, and grinding and sanding equipment. Hard gemstones are often used in such applications.

However, although topaz ranks an 8 on the Moh’s scale, it is pretty vulnerable to breakage due to its perfect basal cleavage. It means that it can break easily if hit at a particular angle. For this reason, topaz needs to be protected from any force striking it, or a drop on a hard surface or even an extreme temperature and pressure. Therefore, it is advised to avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaners for topaz jewelry. A soft brush and warm soapy water is the best bet when it comes to cleaning topaz.

So, this was all about this fabulous stone called topaz. Do you know something about it that we haven’t mentioned here? We’d love to know. The comments section is all yours.

Know all about garnets

Garnets are semi-precious gemstones that are found in several colors including red, pink, yellow, blue, black, purple, colorless, orange, and brown. Of these, blue garnet is the rarest. It was discovered much more recently compared to other colors – in Bekily, Madagascar in the late 1990s. It was successively discovered in the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Tanzania, and Kenya.

The blue garnet has a special property. The blue-green color changes to purple as it is taken from daylight to incandescent light. This color changing property is also found in garnets of other colors. What are green, brown, beige, blue, and gray in the daylight turn to a shade of red, pink, or purple. This phenomenon often leads people to mistake garnet for Alexandrite, a rare gem.

Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that include a range of impurities, which result in a whole umbrella of shapes, sizes, and colors. Although all garnets have the same crystal forms and physical properties, they have different chemical formulas depending on the trace elements or other rocks they have.

There are so many varieties that the sheer number can be bewildering. It helps to sort them out on the basis of color. Let’s take a look at the different colors of garnet and their value.

Pyrope and Almandine: They are found in colors ranging from purple to orangy red. Almandine is an exceptionally hard variety of garnet which is used in making abrasives.

Spessartine: They are found in myriad shades of orange.

Andradite: They are found in shades of yellow and yellowish green.

Grossular:  The largest varieties of colors are found in grossular species – from colorless to yellowish and reddish orange, from orangy red to a brilliant green. Grossular has two varieties – greenish tsavorite and reddish hessonite.

Demantoid: It is a vibrant green garnet that is highly prized for its rarity.

Rhodolite: It is a purplish-red variety of garnet.

 

Clarity, Cut, and Carat

Typically, clarity of garnets depends on their color. For example, red garnets like almandine and pyrope do not have inclusions visible to the eye. On the other hand, orange garnets such as spessartine have visible inclusions. The grossular variety is generally translucent.

Expensive garnets are cut into shapes suitable for jewelry making such that minimum wastage takes place. Red garnets are usually cut into beads and cabochons of high clarity and transparency. Demantoid is cut in a way that maximizes the display of its “fire” or its signature internal turbulent design.

Garnets are available in a wide variety of sizes and weights. Demantoid and tsavorite are usually found in small sizes, so large-sized ones are considerably expensive. However, others such as almandine are commonly found in large sizes and therefore, there is no special value for large stones.

History and Folklore

From the excavations at Egyptian tombs and pyramids, it has been found that ancient Egyptian pharaohs were fond of garnets. Red ones adorned their necks as they were mummified for their afterlife.

Ancient Romans used to stamp important documents with signet rings with carved garnets. The Roman scholar, Pliny, wrote in his book “Natural History” that red garnets were among the most traded gems. In the Middle Ages, garnets were favored by the clergy and nobility.

Around the 1500s, there was a discovery of huge deposits of garnets in the Bohemian kingdom in Central Europe. It led to the establishment of a regional jewelry industry that reached its zenith in the late 19th century.

Role in Astrology

Garnets are associated with bringing balance in life and eliminating the impact of negative energies. It is said to improve confidence, strength, contemplation, composure, and generosity in the wearer. It is especially helpful in fostering strong friendships. It is recommended for frequent travelers for keeping them away from accidents.

Businessmen are recommended to keep a few loose garnets in their cash box to boost their income. It is also useful in attracting good deals.

The stone is also considered to have healing properties. For example, it soothes a troubled mind, bringing calm to a person suffering from depression and mental stress. It is helpful in improving the blood circulation and levels of hemoglobin.

Garnets are special stones that add a special beauty to any jewelry. Their deep red color is especially beautiful when used in wedding jewelry such as engagement rings. To really experience the attractive charm of a garnet, you need to see one for yourself.

Rubies – Origins and History

Rubies are brilliant gemstones occurring in various shades of red. The word “ruby” comes from the Latin word ruber, meaning red. They are a variation of the mineral corundum (Al203), which is also the basic mineral in sapphires.

One can say that rubies are red sapphires because what makes rubies different from blue sapphires is the presence of chromium. Sapphires of all other colors are not known by any other name, unlike ruby, but recognized as yellow sapphire, purple sapphire, green sapphire etc.

Rubies have a great historical and cultural connection. It is also mentioned in the Bible at least four times, in association with noble virtues like beauty and wisdom. Early cultures have regarded ruby as the stone of life – as its color matches that of the blood running in veins. The Roman scholar Pliny of the first century AD described rubies in his “Natural History” as extremely hard and dense stones. No wonder, since rubies rank somewhere around 9 on Moh’s scale, second only to diamonds. Throughout centuries, ruby has been known not only for its extreme hardness, but for the ethereal mystique that surrounds it.

In Sanskrit, world’s oldest language, ruby is called “ratnaraj” or the king of gems. It is also known as ántrax in Greek, padmaraga, also in Sanskrit, carbunculus in Latin, and red corundum.

Hindus in the ancient times believed that someone who offered a fine ruby to Lord Krishna, the god of prosperity, was reborn as an emperor. Some people in India still believe that possession of rubies protects them from enemies.

Ancient Greeks called them ántrax, meaning hot coals. They believed that if they were to leaves rubies out in the sun, it would get the color of burning coal and achieve the splendor and power of the sun.

In the medieval Western culture, rubies were regarded as a symbol of wealth and prosperity, and a mark of royalty. Siegfriedwon the Nibelungs, the famous hero in Germanic legend, is said to have his sword adorned with rubies in the handle. It can be said that ruby signified life, victory, power, and longevity. It was in the medieval times that ruby came to be known as “rubeus” meaning red, from which its present name derived. Many Europeans are still very fond of rubies and wear them to enhance their wealth, health, wisdom, and success.

The Crown of Saint Wenceslas became the official crown of Bohemian kings after Charles IV, who had it made in 1347, declared it to be so. The legendary crown has a central ruby of magnificent size and weight, apart from a number of emeralds, sapphires, spinels and pearls. Legend has it that if a usurper tries it on his head, he is doomed to die within a year. Nazi deputy protector Reinhard Heydrich, who during the Second World War, secretly tried the crown at the time of inspecting St. Vitus’ Cathedral, was killed with a grenade within less than a year.

Legends like these abound rubies. No wonder then that they are one of the most famed and most desired gemstones of all times.

Rubies have been found all over the world in countries including India, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Thailand, Australia, Pakistan, Namibia, Japan, Scotland, and Brazil. The most recent ruby deposit has been found in Namya, located in the northern state of Myanmar. Actually, the first finest rubies were found in Myanmar and it was from then that Burmese rubies were started to be known as the best ones around. However, it’s very rare for a flawless ruby to come around. And if there is one, it commands a price beyond a diamond.

An interesting aspect of ruby is that its red aura makes it appear bigger than it actually is. One of the rare stones, rubies are classified as precious stones. Their average size, which is around 3 karats, is much smaller than any other stone. Apart from jewelry, they are also used as styluses in turntables, micro-bearings in expensive watches, and as a crucial component of laser.

In astrology, rubies are associated with sun and are said to increase courage, valor, confidence, and authority. Professionals in leadership roles are said to benefit from the subtle powers of ruby.

Tell us what you think about the king of gems – ruby.