The birthstone for January is the garnet, a simple sounding Stone, but one that truly outshines others. These gems are most commonly red in color, but can also be found in green (demantoid or tsavorite), orange to yellow (spessartite), black, and transparent. The range of reds is also quite wide, ranging from purple (rhodolite) to pink and back again.
Centuries of Elegant Jewelry
Garnet is from the Latin word “granatum” which means pomegranate and one look at these beautiful jewels tells you why. They really do resemble the gem-like seeds of the pomegranate, bright red in color. Garnet has been found from periods as distant as 3100 BC, when Egyptians set the red jewels into their jewelry. Romans were also fans of the stone.
In medieval times, warriors used garnet as protection and to help them gain victory, while garnet bullets were used by the Chinese and the Japanese. The last recorded use of garnet bullets was in 1892, when Hanza soldiers used them against the British.
More Than Just a Pretty Rock
Garnets have been the center of many myths and ideas, but one of the more persistent beliefs was that the stone had special powers when it came to healing and protection. Warriors from several different cultures have used the gems as protection against wounds in battle and Native Americans believed that they were also useful against poison, fevers and inflammation.
These days, we focus on garnet more as a thing of beauty. It is a stone that represents happiness and long lasting love, making it the ideal stone to give to a loved one. These gems are found around the world, including the United States, South America, Spain, Asia, India and Australia.
Choosing and Caring for Garnet Jewelry
When purchasing your garnet jewelry, be sure to check the quality. Garnet comes in a wide range of purities, including a fairly low level that is used in sandpaper to give it better grit. For obvious reasons, you’ll want to go for a higher quality, which can be more difficult to find, due to its rarity. The stone should be clear to the naked eye, unless you have a demantoid garnet which has horsetail inclusions or fuzzy lines within.
Cuts include the usual gemstone options, including emerald, round, cushion, oval, princess, marquise and pear, among others. The cut will depend on the best use of the stone in the chosen setting.
Garnets are very resistant. The hardness is such that they don’t chip easily, though you may wish to keep them away from other jewelry to avoid damaging softer stones. Use warm soapy water and a toothbrush to scrub any dirt away, or your jeweler can clean them using the ultrasound method.
For anyone who celebrates a birthday in January or who simply likes the bright red gem, garnet is the perfect choice for a gift. From earrings to pendants and rings, this stone shines above many duller stones and offers a range of colors to light up the winter months.
Come visit us at Romantique and see the garnet jewelry or let us create a one of a kind item for you.
Those lucky enough to be born in February, the month of love, will enjoy having the amethyst as their birthstone. This purple gem is said to have many healing and protective properties, making it the ideal stone to set into a piece of birthday jewelry. It’s also quite affordable, so if you have a loved one who is celebrating a February birthday, you’ll find it easier to find the perfect gift. Amethysts are one of the few stones that are always the same color, purple. While you won’t find a pink or green amethyst, there are many shades of violet available to choose from. The gem is a form of quartz, found around the world, from Mexico and North America to Brazil, Russia, and, Africa. Jewelers can often tell which region the stone came from, due to the coloration and the style of the crystals formed.
The Power of Purple
The word amethyst has its roots in the Greek “amethystos” which means sober and for many, the gem still represents a sobering or stabilizing force for those who wear it. This was so strongly believed that Greeks used to drink their wine from amethyst cups so they wouldn’t partake excessively.
These weren’t the only beliefs that involved the beautiful purple gems. Depending on the culture, you’ll find them used to ward off pests from crops, purify the skin and to exercise evil spirits. Warriors once used them set into breastplates and weapons to give them an edge in war and to protect them against injury, while artists considered the stones to be useful in providing inspiration. Today, these stones are considered to be spiritual. They are often thought to help the wearer handle difficulties in their lives and overcome them. No matter whether you believe in the medicinal or protective properties of amethysts, there’s no doubt that they are special and make wonderful gifts.
A Strong History
The amethyst has been around for a very long time, as indicated by the fact that it has shown up in ruins from the 9th century. Back in the day, purple was a color reserved for the royal wardrobes, thanks to the scarcity of the dye. As a result, the violet tints of these gems were highly prized and today the Crown Jewels still include a large amethyst.
As a royal gem, amethysts were highly prized and despite the fact that today they are very affordable, the stones were once considered more valuable than diamonds. While this is no longer true, you will still find these lovely gems in museums and among highly valued jewel collections that boast of more than mere historic use.
An amethyst looks beautiful, whether used alone in a piece of jewelry or combined with other stones. Try a single stone as a pendant or a ring with a series of amethysts to let that special someone know how much you care, or opt for a pair of delicate earrings to dazzle the February born woman in your life. You can never go wrong with a birthstone.
Those born in March have a very unique gemstone to celebrate their birthday, the aquamarine. Unlike many other stones, it doesn’t come in different colors, though it does show up in many shades of the same color. Made of beryl, the gem is blue-green or aqua colored, but the intensity of the hue depends on where it was mined (the amount of iron in the stone affects color) and the amount of heat applied.
We’re accustomed to gemstones appearing in crystals and aquamarine can form very large crystals. However, the most interesting stones are actually glass-like, occasionally with holes and beautiful formations, unlike other types of stones.
You can find aquamarine around the world and the original name comes from the Latin “aqua” which means water and “marina” which means sea. The most valuable pieces come from mines in Brazil, though Kenya, Madagascar, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan are also good areas to find the gemstone.
The stones are quite hard and range in hues from a very pale, almost colorless blue to teal. However, the best stones are a rich aqua tone, which is frequently arrived at through the application of heat to the stone. It can also make the stones even bluer than usual and the treatment permanently changes the color.
Purchasing and Caring for Aquamarine
When deciding to buy one of these gemstones, usually set into a ring, pendant or bracelet, you’ll want to look at the color first. The saturation will determine just how strong the color is and this can affect the look of a piece drastically. You may also want something extra special . . . some aquamarines are cut in cabochon style instead of facets and these may have stars or cat’s eyes in them, making them quite original.
Cleaning your aquamarine jewelry is as simple as washing it in warm, soapy water. For resistant dirt, let the jewelry soak for ten minutes or so before wiping clean with a soft cloth. A toothbrush may also be used to clean out the grunge that can accumulate under the settings. Rinse with warm water and dry gently.
Give the Gift of Happiness
Aquamarine is thought to bestow happiness upon the person who wears it, as well as courage and foresight. During the Middle Ages, some people even thought it would help against poisonings and sailors used the stone as a safety measure against seasickness. Like many gems, there are a number of beliefs surrounding this beautiful, pale stone. It is also said to make the wearer appear younger and to boost intelligence, making it a lovely gift for anyone, even if their birthday isn’t in March.
Whether you are looking at a combination of aquamarine with other stones (they go particularly well with diamonds) or just a simple piece of jewelry that uses only this beautiful stone, it’s sure to be a welcome gift. Those born in March will love having their birthstone, but it makes a lovely gift for anyone from any birth month.
With a reputation for being hard, the diamond was named from “adamas,” Greek for “hardest metal.” There is no harder substance in existence at this point and the gem, while prized for jewelry, is also used for cutting purposes because of this.
What is a Diamond?
Originating in Zaire, Russia, Brazil, Ghana, Australia or the United States, diamonds are one of the most popular gems available for jewelry. While the traditional diamond is colorless or white, you aren’t stuck with that lack of color. Tinted diamonds are most commonly yellow, but they can also be found in green, blue, red and pink. The brighter the color, the more valuable the stone. Color may be natural or it can be added in a lab, so be sure to check when making a purchase.
Rough diamonds are mined and then cut into a wide array of cuts. However, the more facets a diamond has, the more impressive it looks, as it reflects the light.
While diamonds are found in nature, created from carbon that has been subjected to great pressure, it’s now possible to create the stones in a lab. These are not as expensive as the ones found naturally, of course and it’s best to ask which you are looking at before making a purchase.
Keeping Your Diamond Jewelry Pristine
Caring for diamonds is not difficult, as they are so hard that nothing can scratch them, but their settings do require care. Soaking the jewelry in warm, soapy water and then scrubbing with a soft brush is the best way to remove dirt and grime that has built up over time. It’s best to do this on a regular basis to prevent the buildup from affecting the luster of your diamond.
Once clean, the diamond jewelry can be rinsed and dried carefully. You may want to store diamond items separately from other jewelry as the stones may scratch other pieces.
Alternatives to the Diamond
For those who don’t enjoy the look of a diamond or simply want something with a lower price tag, opals and white sapphires are the alternative stones for the month. Both go very well with diamonds, so you may want to choose a piece of jewelry that incorporates more than one birthstone.
Diamonds Through the Ages
Diamonds have had many powers attributed to them over the centuries. One of the most prevalent, which affects wedding ring purchases to this day is the belief that this gem could help bind a marriage and prevent infidelity. That wasn’t the only belief, however.
Some believed that wearing diamonds gave the wearer good fortune, victory, courage and even kept the plague at bay, as well as evil spirits. While these beliefs may have no place in today’s world, there is no doubt that a beautiful piece of diamond jewelry is a wonderful gift for anyone, born in April or not.
Those born in May have a particularly beautiful gem as their birthstone. The emerald is the green form of the mineral beryl and is one of the few gemstones that comes in just one color, though its shades range from light to dark.
The word emerald comes from the Old French world “esmeralde” which means green gemstone. This stone, along with rubies, sapphires and diamonds, is one of the traditional four precious stones. In addition to being the birthstone for those born in May, it is also the traditional stone for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
Where Do Emeralds Come From?
These days, there are quite a few artificial emeralds, but the original stones are found throughout the world. The highest quality ones, however, tend to come from just a few countries, one of which is Columbia. Other sources include Brazil, which produces lighter gems than the Columbian mines, and South Africa, as well as Sandawana, which produces very small, high quality gems. The earliest mines were in Egypt which appear to have been active as early as 2000 BC.
These stones are frequently flawed and have tiny fractures that tend to appear even in the artificial types.
To hide these flaws, the acceptable practice is to soak the gems in oil or fill in the cracks. This is simply part of the process of preparing emeralds for jewelry applications and is not considered cheating. In the future, if the oil evaporates and the flaws begin to show up, they can be treated with high quality mineral oil to restore the gem’s original polish.
Like many gems, emeralds have long been associated with certain powers and characteristics. They are said to improve memory and to symbolize a faithful friendship. They can also stand for loyalty. In short, this is an excellent gift for anniversary gifts, as well as those with May birthdays.
Caring for Your Emeralds
Emeralds are fairly hard, measuring between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohr scale, so they are fairly durable. The main concern with these is that the oil will evaporate, bringing flaws to light. While these do prove that the stone is original, you may not want the world to see these. You can take the gems to a jeweler to have them treated or you can simply soak them at home in a high quality mineral oil overnight.
To protect your emerald jewelry, keep it separate from other jewelry and avoid wearing the jewelry when it could be damaged, such as during sports. Rings with emeralds in them should not be worn while bathing or washing up, as they will tend to accumulate grease and soap scum, which will dull the stone.
You can clean emerald jewelry easily with lukewarm water and soap, scrubbing gently with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Rinse and dry carefully. You should avoid harsh cleansers which could scratch or damage the stone. Ultrasonic cleaners and steam cleaners are also to be avoided.
Emeralds are beautiful stones and the most valuable beryl stones. For anyone born in the month of May, a pair of emerald earrings, a ring or even a necklace hung with an emerald pendant is the perfect gift.
The pearl is the only gem that is formed by an animal, the oyster. A grain of sand in the oyster is built up with layers of protective coating which eventually forms the beautiful stone. As this takes 8 or 9 years to develop, they can be fairly pricey, but most of today’s pearls are cultivated, rather than accidentally found.
Pearls are usually white or off white, but can come in a range of colors, including black. The stones found in oysters and other mollusks are usually round or pear shaped, but freshwater pearls offer a distinct look and are often iridescent and have uneven surfaces. The two types may be combined, or you might choose jewelry that uses only one type.
In Persia, pearls were once referred to as tears of the gods. However, the Persians weren’t the only ones who thought these beautiful gems were heavenly. Chinese history gave the moon as the origin of these beautiful, glowing drops and Greeks believed they were made of dew from the moon captured by the oysters.
Caring for Your Pearl Jewelry
Pearls are very soft, just 2.5 to 3.5 on the Mohr scale. They should be kept apart from other jewelry and you will want to be careful not to scratch them. Chemicals in perfumes and hairsprays may damage the pearls, so make sure you put on your pearl jewelry last, after any finishing touches.
To clean your pearls, simply wipe them down with a damp cloth. They should not be exposed to chemical cleaners which could damage them.
Ancient Romans believed that moonstones were actually rays of moonlight turned to stone. This blend of two types of feldspar which form multiple layers that scatter the light and make the stone look as though it is glowing from within.
These stones can be found around the world, from the US and Mexico to Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Poland, as well as Australia and Burma. They are available in many different colors including pink, gray, green, yellow and white. The most valuable stones will be perfectly transparent with no color and only a blue sheen on the surface.
Moonstone jewelry should be carefully stored as it is relatively soft. To clean, use dish soap and scrub lightly with a soft toothbrush before rinsing.
This beautiful stone is rapidly becoming a favorite birthstone thanks to its seemingly magical powers. The stone changes color, depending on the light. Daylight will cause it to appear blue green, but step indoors and the gem changes to a rich red color. The name comes from Czar Alexander II, since the Russian imperial colors at the time of his coming of age were red and green.
It is quite difficult to find new alexandrite. They were originally mined in Russia, but the mine closed many years ago. Less impressive versions of the stone may be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, but in general it is very rare.
Which gem should you choose for your birthstone jewelry? Each holds a special trait, whether you prefer the natural pearls or the flashy, color changing alexandrite or the eerie glow of moonstone, they are all very special.
The rich red color of the ruby is considered to symbolize fire and the ruby has long been thought of as a gem of power, giving the wearer a certain importance. Rubies are part of the four precious stones, with the others being diamonds, emeralds and sapphires.
These beautiful red gemstones are found in several African and Asian countries including Burma, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Kenya and Tanzania, among a few others.
The Value of a Ruby
You aren’t stuck with the traditional dark red when you buy ruby jewelry. This gem actually comes in a few shades, ranging from pink to blood red, which is the most expensive.
When there is a significant lack of red color in the stone, it will be marked as a pink sapphire, rather than a ruby. This distinction seems to exist only in the U.S., however and the International Colored Gemstone Association still considers pink corundum to be rubies.
While the color of the stone is important in determining the price of a gem, the price will also depend on the cut. A nicely cut gem will demand a higher price and rubies are frequently cut in the commonly known emerald cut, though there are plenty of other options available.
When purchasing ruby jewelry, be careful of subpar stones that have been treated to make them look better. A truly perfect ruby will demand a higher price, but lower grade gems can be heat treated to bring out the color. They may also have cracks filled in with lead glass. Rubies filled with this substance will be appear more transparent and therefore worth less.
A Symbol of Devotion
Rubies are said to be a symbol of courage, integrity and devotion and many believe that these precious stones bring happiness to the wearer. Those who use crystals for healing keep the ruby as a treatment for infections in the blood, as well as for keeping thoughts positive and giving the wearer energy. They are also said to help those who wear them become rich and successful.
Caring for Ruby Jewelry
Rubies are the third hardest gemstone available on the market today, with diamonds and moissanite being harder. It’s very difficult to damage a ruby, but because of this hardness, you will want to store ruby jewelry separate from other gems, as they can become scratched by the hard rubies.
To clean your jewelry, you can either have a jeweler do it for you, or do it yourself at home. If you go the DIY route, simply wash with warm, soapy water, using a soft bristled toothbrush to clean away any dirt and grime that may have built up on the stone since it was last washed. The toothbrush will also help clean the findings of the jewelry.
Rubies, whether in necklaces, earrings or rings, are beautiful and bright, bringing a bit of color into the July birthdays. For those born in this month, passion and happiness are attached to their birthstone.
Those lucky people celebrating birthdays in August have a choice of two birthstones, peridot and sardonyx. Peridot is the more traditional option, but over the years, sardonyx has become more popular as an alternative stone for birthstone jewelry.
Peridot: Green Goddess of Stones
Peridot is a lovely green most of the time, though you can also find it in shades of brown. The lighter greens are the most popular and they go beautifully with diamonds in jewelry, while olive green gems are also prized. The shade of green in each stone depends on how much iron is contained in the rock. A ring with a peridot center stone and several lovely diamonds set around it is the perfect gift for anyone born in this month.
The gem has unique beginnings, too. Unlike most stones that are mined out of the ground, peridot is brought up by volcanoes first. You can find these “tears of Pele” in Arizona, China, Pakistan and Myanmar today, but they were originally spit up from the depths by volcanoes. Interestingly, some peridot gems have actually been found in meteorites! These meteorites are called Pallasite meteorites and are riddled with olivine crystals set in metal . . . almost like a natural piece of jewelry.
Protection Against Nightmares
Many people believe that peridot is a powerful stone, thanks to its origins. They wear the stone to help keep bad dreams away and also to give the wearer a terrific year. This makes it a great gift . . . who doesn’t want a wonderful year? The stone is also thought to represent power and influence.
Sardonyx: Striped Onyx
As evidenced by the name, sardonyx is a type of onyx. It is, however, striped, usually with red brown and white. This stone was commonly used by Greeks and Romans during battles. They would etch images of gods like Mars on the stones to give them courage and to bring victory.
Sardonyx is most commonly found in India, where the most beautiful stones are mined. It is also actively mined in Brazil, Germany, the US and Czechoslovakia, although it can be found in hundreds of countries.
Since these stones are striped and come in a range of hues, the cut is particularly important and every single piece is unique. You’ll want to choose carefully so that you get a piece with the colors and striations that you like best.
Caring for Your Sardonyx or Peridot Jewelry
Both these stones are semi-hard, so they should not be placed with hard stones like diamonds, which could scratch them. It’s actually best to keep all your different stones separate so they don’t damage each other. To clean both types of jewelry, you can either use an ultrasonic cleaner or warm soapy water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. A jeweler can also clean your pieces for you without harming them.
Anyone born in August has a delightful choice between the banded beauty of sardonyx and the gentle greens of peridot . . . both make very nice jewelry. Whether you want to gift peridot earrings or a sardonyx pendant, your gift is sure to be appreciated. Don’t forget, you can always buy jewelry for yourself, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for you.
September’s birthstone, the sapphire, is far more interesting than it might seem at first glance. While we usually think of these stones as being blue, they actually are available in a variety of colors, including pink, yellow and purple, among others. The color is determined by the type of soil that the sapphires develop in.
What Makes a Sapphire?
Sapphires, like diamonds, are created through heat and pressure deep in the earth. However, rather than coal, they are made of crystallized aluminum oxide, which forms the mineral corundum. This mineral comes in several colors, all of which are sapphires, unless they are red, as these are rubies. Each stone has a specific color depending on which particles are present. Chrome, titanium and iron help create different hues and they are present in different areas of the world, meaning that specific colors of gems come from different mines. Some experts are able to tell which mine a sapphire originated from simply by examining the color.
Most traditional sapphires come from Australia and Thailand, but Africa, India and Brazil all produce the beautiful gems, as well. The most expensive and some of the highest quality sapphires come from Kashmir and Burma/Myanmar, but there are dozens of countries with sapphire mines.
Choosing a Sapphire Style
There are plenty of cuts to choose from when it comes to sapphires, but you may prefer looking for a special gem. Perhaps one of the most beautiful sapphire styles is the star sapphire. These need to be presented in a cabochon cut in order to appreciate the full beauty of the star inside the gem.
A color changing sapphire is also very special and will appear to be different colors, depending on the light, giving you what is essentially two stones in one. The most common are blue and purple.
Caring for Sapphires
Keeping sapphire jewelry clean could not be easier. It’s the second hardest gem in existence and this means it is pretty hard to damage! These gems don’t require any specialized cleaning, either.
At home, wash your gem with warm water and soap and scrub lightly with a toothbrush to make sure you get the entire thing clean. Or, if you prefer, take it to a professional to have it ultrasonically cleaned, a process which is safe for other jewelry, as well.
Need an excuse to get sapphire jewelry, but your birthday isn’t in September? You’re in luck! The gorgeous gem is also the birthstone for Pisces, Taurus, Sagittarius, and Virgo. It’s the gem to give for 5th and 45th anniversaries and a star sapphire is the stone to be given on a 65th anniversary. Even if you weren’t born in September, you have plenty of opportunities to get yourself a sapphire and we have a number of beautiful options to choose from.
The opal is one of the more interesting birthstones available. This delicate looking stone shimmers with a range of colors, depending on just what type of opal you have. These stones make beautiful pendants, rings and gorgeous earrings, the perfect gift for those born in this autumn month.
Where Do Opals Come From?
Made from non-crystalized silica, the opal forms in areas that were once hot springs. The silica in these springs was deposited into cracks when the springs dried up and this forms the precious stone. Because of their origins, opals are around 30% water, unlike any other gem. They tend to be found near the surface and for this reason, many opal hunters travel to Australia, Nevada and Mexico, to find their own opals.
The precious stones, once extracted, are polished, usually into an oval shape. This is the form that best shows off the gleaming rainbow inside the gem.
Which Color Opal?
While the most commonly seen opal is white with pastel colors showing through, this isn’t the only type of opal you’ll find. There are also black opals, which actually range from grey to black. These may have a dark base color, but they really flash with bright hues and are impressive when added to jewelry.
The rarest form of this stone is the fire opal, an impressive translucent or transparent opals with bright flashes of red, orange and yellow that look similar to flames darting out of the stone. These look particularly impressive in a necklace setting.
Looking After Your Opals
These stones are some of the more fragile out there and they do need to be looked after. Because of the high water content, your opal gems can be cracked or broken easier than a harder gem like a ruby. It’s important to keep opals separate from your other jewelry and to clean gently with soft cleansers. Anything too harsh can cause damage and you may need to repolish the opal at a later date.
An Alternative Birthstone
If you aren’t a big fan of opals, October has something special to offer . . . two birthstones! While opal is the one that most people consider to be representative of October, the secondary birthstone for this month is the pink tourmaline, a beautiful and elegant gem that has special properties. When the stone is heated, it actually becomes charged with static electricity and can attract small items to itself.
Tourmaline comes in several colors, but only the pink (which spans everything from pale pink to bright red) is considered a stone for October. It was once revered as the “stone of the muse” which makes it a great gift for writers, artists or other creative types, as it is said to enhance creativity.
Whether you choose pink tourmaline or a beautiful opal for a birthstone gift, keep in mind that these are both very special. We offer a range of jewelry settings that make the perfect gifts for anyone born in October, or who celebrates this month.