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Gemstone Education

We take a closer look at the fascinating origins and qualities of each of the myriad gemstones in our collection.

a b c e g h j k l m o p q r s t w y

A

Amethyst

Typically found in South America, Amethyst often appears to have a slightly lavender centre framed with deep purple. It's a beautiful gem (especially when seen in crystform extruding from a Geode like jagged spikes) that benefits from a definite, almost preternatural allure. For this reason, and many others, it's widely regarded as the most valuable of the quartz family.
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Aquamarine

In a world of sprawling cities and widespread pollution fresh air is fast becoming a precious commodity. Fortunately there are such wondrous gems as Aquamarine that can provide a respite from the chaos. Indeed Aquamarine acquires a pale lustre from the small amount of iron that's present within it. Seeing that colour reminds a lot of people of taking a deep breath of unspoilt country air and, for this reason, the allure of Aquamarine has never been more palpable than it is now.
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B

Black Agate

Agate is comprised of a type of microcrystalline quartz called chalcedony, which is commonly associated with volcanic rocks. It's actually striped, although you might happen upon a lot of examples that would suggest otherwise. Indeed there are countless different variations of Agate, with many unique patterns of colouration, found all over the world. In fact Agate is so prolific that it's actually the national gemstone of several US states, including Kentucky, Tennessee and Minnesota.
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Black Diamond

It sounds like something from a film, perhaps an outlandish treasure hunted by pirates, but in fact Black Diamond is very real and highly fashionable. It's often remembered for its enticing lustre and unequalled scintillation, effusing a near-metallic glimmer that pierces their many dark inclusions. Like all Diamonds these gems are also extremely hard and beautiful, although they lack the clear brilliance of their colourless counterpart.
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Blue Chalcedony

History tells us that Chalcedony is one of the earliest materials used by Man. To give you some indication of how integral this gem was to early human civilization we'll summarise the story of Aaron, who was the brother of Moses. According to the bible Aaron was the leader of the priestly Levitical tribe of Israel. Under God's instruction they forged a 'breastplate of judgment' adorned with 12 jewels, set in gold filigree, bearing the names of the sons of Israel and each engraved with a signet to symbolise their twelve tribes.
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Blue Sapphire

Blue Sapphires are the most sought after of all Sapphires, famed for being favoured by emperors, kings, queens and collectors since the earliest years of human civilisation. There are also countless examples of royals choosing Sapphires over Diamonds for engagement rings; perhaps due to the surprising fact that the latter are more common. Throughout history Sapphires were always the jewel of the upper echelons, yet now they're available at much more affordable prices. Finally everyone has a chance to feel like a prince or princess.
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Blue Topaz

Topaz is traceable to silicic igneous rocks and most commonly discovered in its colourless form. In fact it's more widespread blue tones are usually achieved through various treatments or inclusions. That being said, though, the distinctive colour can be found in several regions of Brazil, where Topaz has transformed through contact with radioactive materials buried in the earth. The pale morning sky blues of these natural Brazilian gems can easily be distinguished from the bold colouration of man-made enhancements.
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Blue Zircon

Many experts have posited the idea that Zircon is the oldest gem on earth, predating even the most ancient Diamond. The most recent scientific tests have ascertained that Zircon is a staggering 4.27 billion years old. What's perhaps more fascinating, though, is the fact that by studying Zircon's construction scientists have discovered answers to mysteries surrounding how the Earth itself was formed. By delving deep into Zircon's secret depths they found that, in its early stages, the Earth was actually far cooler than they'd initially believed.
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C

Chrome Diopside

Chrome Diopside is a curious, chromium-rich gem that looks like a mystical ball filled with a greenish web of tangled futures. It belongs to the pyroxene family and is one of the rarer varieties of Diopside, the colour of which varies from transparent to translucent. However it's most famous for its forest-green body colour and fresh vibrancy, being one of the newest gems on the market. Chrome Diopside is also known to darken as it increases in size, so much so that it can even turn to black.
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Citrine

It's often been said that Citrine's golden glow gives it the appearance of a crystallised spark of sunlight caught during closing hours of the day. Its pale-golden lustre evokes enough warmth to pull any weary soul from the clutches of winter. As far as its structure is concerned, Citrine is also fairly malleable and doesn't suffer from any cleavage problems, which makes it ideal for cutting into unusual shapes. For this reason Citrine has been widely used for bespoke jewellery.
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E

Emerald

Emerald is the romancer's stone, famed for its superlative uniqueness and array of inclusions and clouds. It's another ancient gem, steeped in history and marked with subtle impurities referred to as the 'fingerprints of Mother Nature'. If you think about it logically there's no reason why Emerald, with its lesser clarity and rarity, should be regarded as the king of the green gems, but it is.
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G

Garnet

Associated with burning human emotions like passion and romance, Garnet emits a kaleidoscopic array of natural colours, but don't let all these different variations deceive you; every Garnet belongs to one of six major families and has the same cubic crystal structure. The change in colour is the result of varied chemical compositions and physical structures. This is what makes each Garnet appear unique, when in actual fact they share the roots of the same family tree.
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Green Amethyst

Natural Green Amethyst has been available since the mid '50s and can be traced to the tropical regions of Brazil, as well as small mines in Silesia and Poland. There have been several additional claims of discovery in Namibia, Nevada (US), Zambia and Tanzania. However it's usually heat treated and irradiated to achieve a striking green effusion. The distinctive colour of Green Amethyst has earned it a rather fitting association with peace of mind, modesty and piety.
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Green Quartz

Also known as Prasiolite, Green Quartz is one of numerous quartz varieties, all structurally unique and found in abundance in the Earth's continental crust. Prasiolite is one of those rare finds sourced from a single location, which is, in this case, a small Brazilian mine. More recently however natural Prasiolite has been seen in a verdant river basin in Poland called Lower Silesia, as well as the forested Thunder Bay in sunny California.
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H

Honey Quartz

Quartz is commonly recognised as the mystical substance 'maban' that was said to be the source of a shaman's power in Australia Aboriginal mythology. Formed from the irradiation of clear quartz, Honey Quartz is available in a range of colours from the sun-kissed yellow of rich gradations to a deep honey hue.
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J

Jade

Jade is a stunning gemstone renowned for its pastel-hued, deep green colour which is so distinctive it acquired its very own place on the colour wheel. Usually either opaque or translucent, Jade acquires a glassy lustre when well-lit and is available in a range of colour variations, from pastel blue to pink, however the most popular is definitely the deep-forest, enchanting green known as Imperial Jade, which is created by the presence of chromium.
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K

Kyanite

Often dismissed as 'a poor man's Sapphire', Kyanite is usually the target of fervent elitist criticism due to, well, nothing really. Most often set in rings and pendants, Kyanite is a rich, translucent gem with a delicate cleavage that makes it nigh-impossible to facet. Its deep, blue-greenish colours have also led to it being associated with serenity, innovation and dreaming.
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L

Lapis

Lapis Lazuli is a blue opaque gemstone that's benefited from a long lifetime and prolific usage. It's considered by many to be a holystone, as well as being a 'stone of truth', attributed with the unusual quality of ensuring that the wearer always speaks their mind and partakes in harmonious relationships. The formation of Lapis can be traced back millions of years to the phenomenon of lime metamorphosing into marble.
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Larimar

Larimar, a faint blue gemstone tinged with turquoise, effuses the colour of a shallow freshwater lagoon and if you look closely you can see the variations of brightness, as if the sun has pierced the water in some places and found the bed of white sand. It acquires this lucid colour from the traces of cobalt inside it.
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Lemon Quartz

You wouldn't expect a member of the Quartz family to display such rich citrus tones, but then again, Lemon Quartz is a rather rebellious gemstone. Its sister Citrine captures a more obvious beauty with the transient oranges and yellows of the sunset, whereas Lemon Quartz gives off a more playful, vibrant glow, reminiscent of lemon groves in the summertime.
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M

Morganite

Morganite was a fairly recent discovery found in the early 20th century, along with Tourmaline and Aquamarine in Pala, California. Word spread quickly about this exciting discovery, which enticed the interest of world-renowned gemmologist George Frederick Kunz from New York. A few years later Kunz found the pink variety of the same gem in Madagascar and named it 'Morganite', as a way of schmoozing one of his biggest customers, J.P. Morgan.
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O

Onyx

Bold, jet black and beautiful, Onyx is a very fashionable 'veined gem' chequered with straight black or white lines of colour banding. It belongs to a sub-species of the Quartz family and supposedly owes its overpowering colour to an ancient dyeing technique. Roman soldiers wore Onyx as a talisman; a kind of spiritual aid that imbued them with courage and connected them to the mythical warriors that they engraved onto the gem.
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P

Peridot

Peridot is remarkable for its yellowish, olive-oil colour, which evokes an image of the forest canopy after hours of rainfall. Like Emerald this gemstone is only ever green and its form is also very delicate, in as much as the angle of the facets on the pavilion are crucial. Its original name was Chrysolite, derived from the Ancient Greek word 'chrysolithos', meaning 'golden stone'. It might strike you as a poorly chosen title for a green gemstone, but it actually pertains to a glimmer of gold often found deep within its glow.
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Pink Amethyst

Amethyst is a type of Quartz recognised for its violet colour and subtle variations. Indeed it's a versatile gemstone that occurs in myriad shades and hues, from lucid lavender to the deep purple of dark grapes. Interestingly Amethyst is pleochroic, which means that light transforms the colours it effuses – usually a palette of reds and blues – causing them to merge and reform, depending on the angle of observation.
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Pink Sapphire

Pink Sapphires are both rare and widely desired, creating a chink in the chain of supply and demand. Recently Pink Sapphires have become particularly popular, demanding a higher price per carat than the prized July birthstone, Ruby. They share a colour border with Ruby and similarly effuse a shimmering array of vivacious hues and tones. They're also available with an encompassing pink body colour or with pink sparks of brilliance, yet in every instance they hold the same soft, superlative glow.
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Pink Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a kind of chameleon stone that's often mistaken for other gems. One historic example of Tourmaline trickery is evidenced by the story of the Russian Crown Jewels, which were thought to include abnormally huge rubies, although it later transpired that were actually dark Pink Tourmalines. This gem is recognised for its myriad hues and soft colouration created by the lithium within its structure. However the pink variety is often known as 'Shocking Pink Tourmaline' and recognised for its vivid, electrifying colour.
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Q

Quartz

Quartz is a talismanic mineral associated with the power-giving substance 'maban', which is so prolific in Australian Aboriginal myths. It was often found embedded in the walls of European passage tombs and is also linked with common burial traditions. The Irish refer to it as the 'stone of the sun', perhaps alluding to its innate power, and its use there dates back to Prehistoric Ireland, when vein crystal and rock crystal were incorporated into the lithic technology of our blunt-witted ancient ancestors.
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R

Rose De France Quartz

Commonly found in the steamy tropics of Brazil, Madagascar, South Africa and Sri Lanka, Rose De France Quartz is about as refined and pretty as its name suggests. Usually it effuses a delicate and faint pastel hue shaped by its chequered facets. It's also one of the lesser known types of Amethyst, as well as being the lightest shade, toeing the faint line between lavender and lilac.
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Rose Quartz

Ruby might be adored for being the gem of love, but Rose Quartz is widely-acknowledged as the gem of true love. If you allow yourself to be swept up in this romantic illusion you might be struck by how overpowering Rose Quartz is. It's certainly anything but lurid, seeming to emanate the spirit of authenticity.
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Ruby

Ruby is considered to be the gem of love and for that reason it brings a nigh-ethereal power to those who submit to its charm. In Sanskrit, the Ruby was known as 'ratnaraj' meaning 'the king of precious gems'. Ruby's value was realised through its supposed ability to protect its wearer from misfortune, whilst also exiling sadness, nightmares and illnesses.
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S

Sapphire (General)

This elegant and subtle gemstone is suffused with an aura of sophistication. It has also benefited from a recent upsurge in popularity due, in part, to its association with British royalty. Last century Prince Charles gave Princess Diana an exquisite Ceylon Blue Sapphire engagement ring to seal their engagement. After Diana's tragic death this same ring was then passed down to their eldest son Prince William, who placed it on Kate Middleton's finger in 2010.
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Smokey Quartz

The gemstone Smokey Quartz is a wild jewel also called the Cairngorm Quartz after the ragged Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland, where it was often mined. It's also the national gemstone of Scotland and the untamed spirit of the highlands lives inside its deep, brooding effusion. Supposedly Smokey Quartz is a bringer of peace and harmony, capable of converting negative energy and encouraging stronger relationships.
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Smokey Topaz

It might surprise you to hear that, in spite of the fact it's often advertised, Smokey Topaz doesn't actually exist. Some dealers attempt to shift Smokey Quartz under the unscrupulous designation Topaz simply because Topaz is more expensive. Not only is this a form of cheap manipulation, but it also serves to undermine the unique allure of Smokey Quartz, which, while inexpensive, is also both unique and beautiful in its own right.
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Spinel

Spinel is another slippery chameleon stone that inadvertently masquerades as other gems. In fact, so skilful is its disguise, that it tricked the Queen of England into thinking she had a Ruby fixed to her Crown Jewels, when it was actually a Spinel. The implied misfortune that surrounds this story is, in our opinion, indicative of an elitist attitude and outright dismissal of Spinel's individual merits. No less divine than a Ruby, Spinel is actually a very robust and beautiful stone that's steeped in history.
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T

Tanzanite

A vivid and exceptionally rare gemstone, Tanzanite was first discovered in the green Mererani Hills of Northern Tanzania in 1967. Naturally formed Tanzanite is very hard to come by though. In fact this lone deposit, situated on a five-square-mile hilltop in Tanzania, is the only place on earth where it's known to exist. The young gem appears to be reddish brown in its rough state, but it's also pleochroic, which means it develops a whole palette of colours depending on the angle of observation.
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Topaz

Discovered over 2500 years ago, Topaz was amongst the collection of prized gemstones used to festoon the twelve holy gates of Jerusalem. Historically it has long been regarded as a magnetic stone attracting love and fortune, as well as providing illumination. In the 1100's a huge Golden Topaz was donated to a monastery by the wealthy wife of the Dutch Count Theodoric.
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Tourmaline

Tourmaline wasn't acknowledged as its own gem variety until 1703, when a collection of mixed gems was sent from Sri Lanka to Holland, labelled 'turmali', which means 'mixed precious stones' in Sinhalese. The story maintains that Dutch kids were playing with the stones on the street when they realised the stones attracted dirt particles if they were first heated by the sun. This ability to attract particles is called pyroelectricity.
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Tsavorite

There are no known gems, aside from maybe Emerald, that offer such a brilliant green and high refractive index as Tsavorite. Since its discovery in 1968 it has been regarded as the most desired of all Garnets, challenging the vivid body colours of other, more established gems with its piercing forest greens. But that's not the only way this gem evokes time spent with the quietude of the forest.
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Turquoise

Turquoise has been cherished by civilised man ever since the time of the Egyptians. Its colours are lucid and distinct, ranging from bold, midday blue to the tranquil azure of an unclouded morning. It's also one of a slim number of instances where the name of a colour is actually taken from a gemstone.
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W

White Sapphire

Sapphires are most widely coveted for their vivid blue variety and yet this gem comes in a whole palette of colours, all of which can achieve a similar effect. Amongst this neglected selection is the prized, colourless White Sapphire. Sapphires can be counted amongst those very well-travelled gems found in some of the most far-flung regions of the Earth. Predominantly, though, Sapphires are sourced from the entrenched markets of Australia, Thailand, China, Madagascar and the US.
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White Topaz

White Topaz is an aluminium silicate with additional fluoride and hydroxide ions. It's commonly sourced from the 'gem island' (Sri Lanka), as well as Brazil and Nigeria, where it's unearthed as part of serrated granite and pegmatite deposits. In its most perfect state Topaz is colourless, but it's also available in a range of dazzling hues and shades. Of all these body colours and variations White Topaz is the closest to perfection. It's also the most popular and affordable of all white gemstones. It's often used in rings, pendants and bracelets, supposedly enhancing the wearer's memory and invigorating them with an unbounded enthusiasm for life.
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Y

Yellow Sapphire

Sapphires are known for offering a diverse range of body colours and one of the most in-demand of these is the shining Yellow Sapphire. This unique gemstone often effuses an uplifting canary yellow that proves what a potent combination clarity and brilliance can be. In addition, Yellow Sapphires are also available in a variety of other tones and saturations, every one of which is susceptible to a sudden change of mood, depending on how the light decides to strike it. Expect anything from sunflower yellows to the mingled orange and gold lament of a summer sunset.
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