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JUNE BIRTHSTONE: THE PEARL

Vintage Mabe cultured Pearl button earrings

The June Birthstone

The most well-known June Birthstone is the pearl. However June is one of only two months that has three birthstones associated with it. That means the lucky people born in June a choice of gemstones among pearl, alexandrite and moonstone.

In this blog we will only tell you about the pearl,  since it’s most associated as the June Birthstone. Let us share some interesting information with you about pearls.

About Pearls: The most well-known June Birthstone

Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures. Mollusks produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants that get lodged in their shells—usually not a grain of sand, as commonly believed.

While any shelled mollusk can technically make a pearl, only two groups of bivalve mollusks (or clams) use mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent “nacreous” pearls that are valued in jewelry. These rare gems don’t require any polishing to reveal their natural luster. The finest pearls have a reflective luster, making them appear creamy white with an iridescent sheen that casts many colorful hues.

Cultured freshwater pearls can also be dyed yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple or black.

Black pearls—which are mostly cultured because they are so rare in nature—aren’t actually black but rather green, purple, blue or silver.

The June Birthstone: The History of the Pearl

Pearls have been used as adornment for centuries —at least as far back as ancient Greece, where they believed pearls were tears of the gods. The oldest known pearl jewelry was discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess who died in 520 B.C.

Ancient Japanese folktales told that pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures like mermaids and nymphs. Early Chinese civilizations believed that dragons carried pearls between their teeth, and the dragon must be slain to claim the pearls—which symbolized wisdom.

Other cultures associated pearls with the moon, calling them “teardrops of the moon.” Hindu folklore explained that dewdrops fell from the moon into the sea, and Krishna picked one for his daughter on her wedding day.

Because natural pearls were so rare throughout history, only the richest echelon could afford them. During the Byzantine Empire, rules dictated that only the emperor was allowed to wear these treasured gemstones. Ancient Egyptians were often buried with their prized pearls.

Tudor England was known as the Pearl Age because of the stone’s popularity with the upper class during the sixteenth century. Portraits showed royals wearing pearl jewelry and clothing adorned with pearls.

Source: www.americangemsociety.org

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May Birthstone: All about Emeralds

May birthstone May birthstoneMay birthstone

Green has been associated with “envy” since Shakespeare’s time. It’s true today, too. You can’t help but be envious that the May birthstone is the beautiful emerald. Of course, emeralds are so loved, people own and wear them regardless of their birthdate. The May Birthstone is considered to be a symbol of rebirth and love. Emeralds are the rarest gemstones and are typically mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia.

All About Emeralds

A little bit of the lore

Emerald’s lush green has soothed souls and excited imaginations since antiquity. Its name comes from the ancient Greek word for green, “smaragdus.” Rome’s Pliny the Elder described emerald in his Natural History, published in the first century AD: “…nothing greens greener” was his verdict. Even today, the color green is known to relieve stress and eye strain.

Emerald is the most famous member of the beryl family. Legends endowed the wearer with the ability to foresee the future when an emerald was placed under the tongue, as well as to reveal truth and be protected against evil spells. Emerald was once also believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria. Wearing an emerald was believed to reveal the truth or falseness of a lover’s oath as well as make one an eloquent speaker.

Legend also states that emerald was one of the four precious stones given by God to King Solomon. These four stones were said to have endowed the king with power over all creation.

Its color reflects new spring growth, which makes it the perfect choice of a birthstone for the month of May. It’s also the gemstone for twentieth and thirty-fifth wedding anniversaries.

The first known emerald mines were in Egypt, dating from at least 330 BC into the 1700s. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald, and used it in her royal adornments.

The History of Emeralds

Emeralds are gem-quality specimens of the beryl mineral family with a rich, distinctly green color. They are found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks in a small number of locations worldwide.

For over 5000 years, emeralds have been one of the most desirable and valuable colored gemstones. Ancient civilizations in Africa, Asia, and South America independently discovered emeralds and made them their gemstone of highest esteem.

Emerald is defined by its green color. To be an emerald, a specimen must have a distinctly green color that falls in the range from bluish-green to green to slightly yellowish-green. To be an emerald, the specimen must also have a rich color. Stones with weak saturation or light tone should be called “green beryl.” If the beryl’s color is greenish blue then it is an “aquamarine.” If it is greenish-yellow it is “heliodor.”

Gem experts differ on the degree of green that makes one stone an emerald and another stone a less-expensive green beryl. However, to be considered a “real” emerald it should be deep and saturated enough in color.

Synthetic Emerald

The first synthetic emeralds were produced in the mid-1800s, but it was not until the 1930s that Carroll Chatham began producing emerald in commercial quantities. To date, several companies including Chatham Created Gems, Gilson, Kyocera Corporation, Lennix, Seiko Corporation, Biron Corporation, Lechleitner, and Regency, have produced synthetic emeralds by flux and hydrothermal processes.

Synthetic emeralds, also known as lab-created emeralds, have the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural emeralds. They are sold beside natural emeralds in most mall jewelry stores in the United States. When compared to natural emeralds, the synthetics have superior clarity and a more uniform appearance than natural stones of equivalent cost. Many consumers purchase them for their attractive appearance at a lower cost.

Need more information? Have questions? Comments? Contact us via our link on the home page.

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April Birthstone: All about diamonds

two rows diamond Eternity Ring

The history of the April Birthstone: Diamonds

Before we delve into the April birthstone, let’s consider “who the heck created birthstones?” Well, it was too long ago to consider it a ploy to generate more business.  The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of  (Biblical) Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. As time wore on, the 12 gems became associated with the zodiac and the months connected to it.

Aaron started the tradition of wearing a colored stone each month as a sort of good luck charm. Initially people wore all twelve stones, rotating according to season. The current list dates back to 1912 with only one addition since then – the Tanzanite was added to December.

The Chronology of diamonds

Diamonds have been around as long as mankind. Diamonds have a long history as beautiful objects of desire. In the first century AD, the Roman naturalist Pliny stated: “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.”
 

The world’s love of diamonds had its start in India, where diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams. Some historians estimate that India was trading in diamonds as early as the fourth century BC.  Gradually, though, this changed. Indian diamonds found their way, along with other exotic merchandise, to Western Europe in the caravans that traveled to Venice’s medieval markets. By the 1400s, diamonds were becoming fashionable accessories for Europe’s elite.

Things changed in the 1700’s

In the early 1700s, as India’s diamond supplies began to decline, Brazil emerged as an important source. Diamonds were discovered in the pans of gold miners as they sifted through the gravels of local rivers. Once it reached its full potential, Brazil dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years.

The story of the modern diamond market really begins on the African continent, with the 1866 discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa. Entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited 22 years later, in 1888. By 1900, De Beers, through its mines in South Africa, controlled an estimated 90 percent of the world’s production of rough diamonds. Today, South Africa accounts for a much smaller percentage of diamond production. In fact, production is spread all over Africa and many countries in the world.

The lore of diamonds… 

Getting back to the April birthstone, diamonds have been admired for centuries; some historians estimate it was traded as early as 4 BC. Before man understood diamonds were produced under earth’s surface and pushed to the top, many ancient civilizations believed that diamonds were lighting made real on earth. Perhaps this is the reason that diamonds have often been associated with great healing powers. Many thought the diamond could cure brain disease, alleviate pituitary gland disorders and draw toxins from the blood. But there’s more…

The Healing Powers of Diamonds. 

During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to hold healing powers and to cure ailments stemming from the pituitary gland and brain. By heating the crystal and taking it to bed, it was thought to draw out the harmful toxins that were crippling the body.

It was also believed that diamonds could have an effect on an individual’s balance and clarity and could boost their energy when combined with other crystals like amethyst.

The diamond as the April gemstone has garnered the hearts of many and is the most coveted crystal to date. Deemed as the “King of all Birthstones,” diamonds make the ideal choice for an April birthday gift. And, diamonds were beloved by the ancient aristocracy..;

Historically, the diamond first became a popular gemstone in India, when the Moghuls and Imperial Colony easily mined diamonds from deposits along three major rivers. Today, the diamond is most widely known as the stone to give as part of an engagement ring.

Diamonds: A variety of colors. Often called Fancy Diamonds. Adopted from the Greek work adamas, meaning “invincible,” diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. For instance, yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron. The planet’s most valued gems are fancy color diamonds. Only one in 10,000 diamonds has a fancy color. Red, green, purple, and orange are generally the most rare, followed by pink and blue. Yellows and browns are the most common fancy colors, but they’re generally less valuable than the rarer colors. To learn more about diamonds, check out Gemological Institute of America.

With fancy color diamonds, their value generally increases with the strength and purity of the color. Large, vivid fancy color diamonds are extremely rare and very valuable. However, many fancy diamond colors are muted rather than pure and strong. Blacks, grays, and fancy whites are considered fancies, too. Some have been fashioned into gems. The 67.50-carat Black Orloff diamond, named after the Russian Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orloff, is the most well-known example. It’s shown here.

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March Birthstone

MARCH BIRTHSTONE

For the lucky individuals born in March, the March birthstone are actually two. They are associated with this early spring month: aquamarine and

Aquamarine-Bloodstone

bloodstone.

Both stones are very different from one another in appearance, but each share a similar symbolism of preserving or enhancing the health of the wearer. More about each March birthstone is discussed below:

AQUAMARINE OVERVIEW

The first March birthstone is a serenely colored aquamarine invokes the tranquility of its namesake, the sea. In fact, the name aquamarine is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. It was said to calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. The March birthstone was also thought to enhance the happiness of marriages.

The best gems combine high clarity with limpid transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Like many beryls, aquamarine forms large crystals suitable for sizable fashioned gems and carvings.

This gem is mined in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

Not only is aquamarine one of the March birthstones, it’s also used to celebrate 19th wedding anniversaries. It’s a beautiful stone with little or no yellow in it, so it looks great in many settings with different colored metals and gemstones. Like emeralds, this gemstone is actually a variety of a mineral called beryl. Large stones have been found all over the world, including one stone found in Brazil that weighed over 240 pounds. Aquamarine grows in large, six-sided crystals that can be up to a foot long, making it a great gem to be cut and polished in larger carats for statement pieces.

BLOODSTONE OVERVIEW

Bloodstone is also called heliotrope, a word from the ancient Greek that means “to turn the sun.” Many believe it was probably named such because of ancient ideas about how minerals reflect light. In fact, some believed that the sun itself would turn red if this stone was put into water.

Bloodstone is sometimes also known as another name, Blood Jasper. But really these stones are chalcedony, a crypto crystalline quartz. There are two forms of bloodstone: one is more transparent (heliotrope) with red spots while the other is more opaque (plasma) and has little or no red spots.

For those looking for a good quality bloodstone, it is generally considered that a solid green color with visible veins of red is best. It also comes in many shapes and cuts including traditional cuts like emerald, oval, and cushion.

Bloodstone may not have the overt beauty of aquamarine, but many prize this stone for its symbolism and other properties.

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Jet Jewelry: A brief history

Jet Jewelry

A brief history 

Well, you may not have been thinking long and hard about jet jewelry. But we think you will be intrigued and surprised to learn about this ancient gemstone. This article may not tell you everything, but it will tell you more than you know now and refer you to sources of information.

As a stone of good luck, Jet Jewelry was believed to make a great gift for someone starting a new job or beginning a new business pursuit. It has been said that Jet can bring clarity to a confusing situation.  Those who are struggling through multiple trials and tribulations will appreciate Jet’s supportive powers. That’s what they say and many have believed. For more about the lore, here’s an article.

That’s the lore about Jet Jewelry.

Jet is also called “Mourning Jewelry.” Queen Victoria popularized jet jewelry after her beloved husband, Prince Albert, died. She insisted that everyone in the royal court wear jet (mourning) jewelry, which they did for three years.

Whether it’s a good luck charm. A means for protection. Or for mourning, much of the jewelry carved from the stone are unique and beautiful.

Jet Jewelry: The protector of man

According to Helen Muller, a Jet jewelry expert and author, “Jet has been used as a jewel and talisman for over

four thousand years.”According to Ms. Muller, Jet is a type of brown coal, a fossilized wood of an ancient tree similar to our present day Araucaria. These trees flourished in the Jurassic period about 180 million years ago. How they are converted to Jet is too lengthy to cover here. But trust Ms. Muller, through a series of evolutionary steps, Jet gems emerge.

Jet: first gem to be discovered.

Coincidentally Jet was discovered during the stone age. Primitive man used it as an adornment, and, because it had electrical properties, they would also use it as a protector or potent talisman.

Germany has unearthed jet artifacts that have been dated to 10,000 years B.C. They are mostly small, primitively carved amulets in the shape of animals. Other ancient pieces of Jet have been found, in a variety of forms from simple to intricate, in France and England.

When the Romans invaded Britain they found high-quality hard jet, which impressed them. By the 3rd

Jet stone carved stone
A Roman jet pendant/medallion (3rd or 4th century) showing a man and woman in relief.

Century A.D. they were hard at work producing rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, dagger handles and dice. These artifacts have been uncovered during excavations of areas in Britain.

Workshops have never been found in Germany (although Jet pieces have been unearthed), it is assumed that they were brought in from Britain (York).

In the 7th Century AD… 

Christianity arrived in Yorkshire and for the next thousand years or so, jet was mainly used for ecclesiastical jewelry. Rosaries, rings and crosses were made for the monks.

St James Jet statue
A 16th century statuette of St. James.

In Spain, Jet was discovered in three provinces. The Moors wore a jet phallic hand to protect them from the evil eye and this practice      continues in Spain today.

From the 9th Century AD…

Jet was used to make souvenirs for the pilgrims to the shrine of St. James. From the 13th Century there was a successful jet trade, with workers organized into the Brotherhood of Jet Workers. The trade declined in the 17th century and very little work is being performed today.

While very common on the Continent, in America jet is found only in Utah and Colorado. Pueblo Indians used it in their jewelry, often combining it with turquoise and shell.

The rediscovery of  jet Jewelry.

It is said that the introduction of the lathe in 1800 was the start of the Whitby jet industry in England. Of course, other changes in the world, such as the railroad, helped spread the demand for jet jewelry around England. With the start of the Regency period, with heavier, darker dresses, the larger, dark jet jewelry was perfect. The history that follows jet into the 19th century is very interesting. Of course, Queen Victoria insisting that Jet be worn into the court, helped with its popularity, even among those not in the court.

Regency Jewelry’s sale of Jet Jewelry.

We have a large collection of antique jet jewelry in our showroom. We have also put selected items on sale at 50% off in our online catalogue. Or, in-store during the month of September. If you want to learn more about the history of jet gemstones, you can purchase Helen Muller’s book on its history at Amazon.com. Ms. Muller is a respected historian especially about the Jet gemstone.

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February Birthstone

February Birthstone: The Amethyst

Amethyst is the February Birthstone and the gem for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries. It is also one of the emblems of the twelve apostles.

The lore behind the February birthstone include its wine-like color, leading early Greek legends to associate amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine. Other legends reflected beliefs that amethyst kept its wearer clear-headed and quick-witted in battle and in business affairs. Because amethyst was associated with wine, it was believed that wearing amethyst prevented people from getting drunk.

Fine amethysts have been set in religious jewelry and royal crown jewels for ages. It was once considered equal in value to ruby, emerald, and sapphire. It’s no wonder that fine amethyst adorns the fingers of bishops as well as the coronation regalia of British royalty.

February Birthstone: St. Valentine and Camillo Leonardo

It is said that St. Valentine, the patron of romantic love, wore an amethyst ring carved with the image of Cupid. Camillo Leonardi, the astrologer, wrote that amethyst quickens intelligence and gets rid of evil thoughts.

Here are two other beautiful amethyst pieces of jewelry we found in our antiquity search. Whether all amethyst or integrated with other gems, the amethyst always adds to the beauty of any piece.

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January Birthstone

Garnet

What’s the January birthstone?

Unlike December, where there are four birthstones, the January birthstone is a single stone: the garnet.  January birthstone

But—surprise—on the bright side, the garnet comes in a variety of colors. Most people think of garnet as a deep red stone (which it is as shown in the picture on the right).

Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form.  The variety of garnets is shown in the photo below. To learn more about the Garnet, its history, myths and varieties go to the encyclopedia of gems. It is published by GIA, an authority on everything gem.

A brief history of the Garnet (source: GIA educational site)

Thousands of years ago, red garnet necklaces adorned the necks of Egypt’s pharaohs, and were entombed with their mummified corpses as prized possessions for the afterlife. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents.The term carbuncle was often used in ancient times to refer to red garnets, although it was used for almost any red stone. Carbuncle was thought to be one of the four precious stones given to King Solomon by God.

Centuries later, in Roman scholar Pliny’s time (23 to 79 AD), red garnets were among the most widely traded gems. In the Middle Ages (about 475 to 1450 AD), red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility.

Red garnet’s availability increased with the discovery of the famous Bohemian garnet deposits in central Europe around 1500. This source became the nucleus of a regional jewelry industry that reached its peak in the late 1800s.

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Antique or Vintage Jewelry

antique ring

How to identify Antique or Vintage Jewelry

If you are interested in older (vintage) or antique jewelry, an important issue you have is  how to identify antique or vintage jewelry.  After all,  just because someone tell you it’s antique or vintage, doesn’t make it so. You need to know how to look for tell-tale signs that the piece is actually what they say. 

Here are five ways about how to identify antique or vintage jewelry:

  1. Look at the findings and fittings on earrings
  2. Identify the findings and fittings on brooches
  3. Identify the material
  4. Use color to guess the time period
  5. Check out the marks and hallmarks

We will discuss each point below.

 1: Fittings and Findings for Earrings

The invention of different earring findings will help date your jewelry. Jewelry findings are ready made pieces that jewelers use such as clasps, pin stems, hinges, etc. Fittings refer to the parts that can be custom-made for a piece.

The drawing below shows the styles when they were introduced into the market. In order of date, the styles are named as follows: shepherd hook, image two is not named, kidney wire, screw-back (pierced), lever back, screw-back, post & butterfly, spring clip, and omega back. 

Earring posts

 

Brooch backings

 2: Fittings and Findings for Brooches

 First of all, most answers to understanding jewelry can be found by looking on the backs or undersides. Brooches have evolved over one hundred years, and the backs provide much of the information we need to date the piece. Again, the drawing above shows the different types of clasps used on brooches or pins with the approximate date as to when they first appeared.

Sometimes you will notice lumpy solder on the backside of a brooch. This can mean it was altered or repaired. It doesn’t mean it’s not an older piece, but it could be a newer piece altered to appear like a vintage or antique brooch. 

But there’s more. Now onto a popular material, black jewelry.

 3: How to Identify the Materials of Black Jewelry

Black jewelry can be found in abundance at flea markets, estate sales, and antique stores. Identifying what the black material is can make a big difference in determining when it was made and how much it could be worth. Black jewelry most likely made of one of the following: plastic, glass, stone, jet, gutta-percha, crepe stone, bog oak, and bakelite. There are ways for you to test each one of these materials to determine what it is.

 

  • Color of stone: Vintage and Antique JewelryPlastic is the most obvious of all materials to decipher. Plastic is very lightweight and you can tap it on your tooth to hear a “click” sound. Use your loupe to look for a mold line. A mold line will go all around the piece splitting in two.
  • Glass will be heavier and reflects light. Holding it in your hand will warm up the material.
  • Stone would remain cold if you held it in your hand.
  • Jet is as light as plastic, and hard and coal-like in material. 

And there are more ways to test:

  • Gutta-percha can also be black. It is made from the sap of a Malayan tree. It was used primarily in the Victorian Era. Running this material under hot water will cause it to emit a strong burnt rubber smell.
  • Crepe stone is another black material and is made of glass. It was introduced in 1883 by the Fowler brothers in Providence, Rhode Island. It was called English Crepe Stone and has a very distinctive look. 
  • Bog oak is also another black material that is very easy to identify because it is oak wood that has been preserved in the bogs of Ireland. This jewelry is visually identifiable because of the Irish motifs.
  • Bakelite can be made black, but not all Bakelite is black. A good test for Bakelite is to put 409 bathroom cleaner on a cotton swab and touch a small hidden area. If the cotton swab is yellow after touching the surface of the tested piece then it is Bakelite.

 4: Using Color to Date Your Jewelry

Colors: Vintage and Antique JewelryThe use of color gemstones and enamel correlates to architecture and decorative art of the times. For example, color in the Renaissance was almost gaudy, while the use of color during the Victorian Era was somber because the death of Prince Albert caused Queen Victoria to declare an extended period of mourning. After the Victorian Era, the period of Art Nouveau utilized soft and delicate colors with rich gold and silver metals. This was short-lived as the Art Deco era moved to the forefront with its use of bolder colors and geometric designs. A devil-may-care attitude influenced the look.

 Color palettes dominated different time periods throughout history. Knowing which color gemstones were predominant at certain times in history goes a long way in helping to date a piece of jewelry.

 5: Marks and Hallmarks

Hallmarks and markings are an important clue to help date a piece of jewelry. Most often these marks are hidden on the inside of a shank on a ring, the inside of a bracelet, or on the inside back of an earring. Using your loupe, you will often find some kind of mark identifying the jeweler, designer, retailer, or manufacturer. If you bring this to a jeweler, they may be able to date the piece based on the marks.

These marks can also make a tremendous difference on the value and collectability of the jewelry. Remember that the value is not always about the intrinsic value. The trademark can also provide information about when and where a piece was made.

Resources to show you how to identify vintage or antique jewelry

Good sources for this information can be found at: Researching Costume Jewelry History and the Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers’ Marks  Plus this article appeared in Hobbylark.com By: Karen Malzeke-McDonlad, October 18, 2016. We borrowed it, with edits, so that you might learn from their thorough piece. 

Of course, if you purchase antique or vintage jewelry from Regency Jewelry, you can rest assured we have done the research for you. You can trust it is antique or vintage if that’s what we tell you. Come in to our showroom to see our collection of beautiful antique and vintage jewelry and giftware. Our address, phone number, email and store hours can be found here. Can’t do that right now? Check out our antique and vintage jewelry on our website 

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December Birthstones

December Birthstones

Oh you lucky birthday babies. You don’t just have ONE birthstone, you have FOUR December birthstones. They include Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Tanzanite and Zircon.

We’re posting some pictures of the December birthstones but to learn about the history and choices you have for December birthstones,  visit the GIA encyclopedia, where you can learn about each. For example the Zircon comes in a variety of colors as do the blue topaz and Tanzanite. Here’s the link to the site https://www.gia.edu/ so you can learn all about your birthstone. If you aren’t a December baby, you can go to the link and search for your birth month or birthstone (if you know it) and find out everything about its history, lore and the variety the stone is available in. You’ll be surprised.

Here’s what December Birthstones look like. Oh so, beautiful

Turquoise

Turquoise is a semi-translucent to opaque gem that ranges from blue to green and often has veins of matrix (remnants of the rock in which it formed) running through it. This December birthstone has been cherished for millennia. The pharaohs and other rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with it. Chinese artisans carved it more than 3,000 years ago.

The turquoise birthstone was thought to possess many beneficial powers, like guaranteeing health and good fortune. From the 13th century on, it was believed to protect the wearer from falling (especially off horses), and would break into several pieces at the approach of disaster. Hindu mystics maintained that seeing a turquoise after beholding the new moon ensured fantastic wealth.

This turquoise birthstone also played an important role in the lives of Native Americans. The Apache thought turquoise could be found by following a rainbow to its end. They also believed that attaching the December birthstone to a bow or firearm made one’s aim more accurate. The Pueblo maintained that turquoise got its color from the sky, while the Hopi thought the gem was produced by lizards scurrying over the earth.

December birthstones: Tanzanite
Cushion cut tanzanite ring with diamonds

Tanzanite may be a relative newcomer to the world of colored stones, but it was one of the most exciting gem discoveries of the 20th century. Blue stones emerging from Tanzania were identified as the mineral zoisite in 1962. Not until 1967, though, did prospectors locate the primary source for this December birthstone: the Merelani Hills. It was eventually named tanzanite in honor of its country of origin. The tanzanite birthstone is often described as “velvety,” mostly because of its deep and saturated color, which ranges from a pure rich blue to violet, with the blue considered most valuable.

Tiffany & Co. believed that tanzanite had international appeal and became its main distributor. In 1968, Tiffany launched a major advertising campaign to promote it. With its vivid colors, high clarity and potential for large cut stones, tanzanite quickly became a sensation. Today, it is not only a December birthstone, but it is also the gem for the 24th wedding anniversary.

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All About Opals

All About Opals…their history and lore Types of Opals

If you were born in October, then you want to know all about Opals. After all, it’s the October birthstone and it’s said to carry magical powers for those who wear it.

Writers have compared opals to volcanoes, galaxies, and fireworks. Admirers gave extraordinary opals poetic names like Pandora, Light of the World, and Empress. In ancient Rome, this gem symbolized love and hope. The Romans gave it a name—opalus—that was synonymous with “precious stone.”

Because opal has the colors of other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all. The Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. When Australia’s mines began to produce opals commercially in the 1890s, it quickly became the world’s primary source for this October birthstone.

All About Opals…Supernatural Powers?Perfect Opal Fire Stone

Many cultures have credited opal with supernatural origins and powers. Arabic legends say it falls from the heavens in flashes of lightning. The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them from disease. Europeans have long considered the gem a symbol of hope, purity, and truth.

All about Opals…how they form

Opal is the prodTypical Opaluct of seasonal rains that drenched dry ground in regions such as Australia’s semi-desert “outback.” The showers soaked deep into ancient underground rock, carrying dissolved silica (a compound of silicon and oxygen) downward.

Bluish OpalDuring dry periods, much of the water evaporated, leaving solid deposits of silica in the cracks and between the layers of underground sedimentary rock. The silica deposits formed opal.

For more information about the history and lore of opals, go to the Encyclopedia of Gems

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