Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thank you for reading and following my blog. I have learned a lot writing the gemstone blog posts and I hope you have enjoyed reading them and maybe gotten some useful information from them.

I'm going to resume the gemstone blog posts after the first of the year. I'm taking a little holiday break. I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, or if you celebrate a different holiday, a Happy Holiday Season. Please celebrate safely. May the new year bring you peace and happiness.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zircon is the Gemstone of the Week

Zircon is considered to be one of the birthstones for those born in December. Although this stone has been known since the Middle Ages, the oldest known Zircons, from Western Australia are 4.4 billion years old. There are several theories as to where the name comes from, but the most common one is that it comes from Persian word "zargun" which means gold colored, even though Zircons come in several different colors. Clear or colorless Zircons can rival diamonds for sparkle and shine. They are often considered to be a cheap substitute for diamonds, but can often be a valuable gemstone.

Zircons are a dense gemstone which means that the carat size of this gemstone will look smaller than the same carat size of a different gem. It is a remarkable mineral in that it can be found in many different types of rock. It is one of the most widely occurring minerals and can be found throughout the world. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7.5, so it is a fairly strong gemstone.

Natural Zircon comes out of the Earth in brown, yellow, green and bright red. Some of the trace elements that give the stones their color can sometimes be radioactive. These stones are heat treated and that can produce the much desired blue color, along with white, purple, colorless, orange an pink. Heat treating is the most commonly used enhancement for Zircons. It is done to stabilize the stones and for coloring. Heat treating semi transparent grayish brown and reddish brown stones in an oxygen free environment will give it a blue color. If the same stones are then heat treated with air, the color will turn golden brown. Almost all colorless and blue Zircons are heat treated.

Zircon occurs in beach sand in many parts of the world, especially in Australia, India and Brazil. Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam are major sources of Zircon. It can also be found abundantly in Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. It is also found in Quebec, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Madagascar.

It is believed that Zircon helps one be more at peace with oneself, bring honor and and wisdom and to aid in peaceful sleep. It is also thought to promote inner renewal, foster independence, spirituality and friendliness, and bring inspiration.

Hindu poets wrote of the Kalpa Tree. This ultimate gift to the gods was a gemstone tree with leaves of green Zircon.

Natural Zircon
Photo courtesy of R.Weller/Cochise College

Blue Cambodian Zircon


Monday, November 28, 2011

Topaz is the Gemstone of the Week

Topaz is a gem of many colors, although the name is primarily associated with the color yellow. The gold or yellow topaz is considered to be a birthstone for November and the blue variety is considered to be the birthstone for December. Pure Topaz is colorless, with the other colors being created from impurities/minerals in the stone or enhancement of some type. The variety of colors, the strength, and a relatively good supply make Topaz a very popular gemstone. The name Topaz is believed to come from the Sanskrit word "tapas" which means fire.

Topaz is often found with flourite and cassiterite in various mountain areas including the Urals, in Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Italy, Brazil, and Sweden. Some clear Topaz crystals from Brazil, which is the largest producer of Topaz, can reach boulder size and weigh hundreds of pounds. A Topaz called the American Golden Topaz weighs in at 22,892.5 carats.

Topaz is often called by many different trade names for the different color varieties. Some of those are Azotic Topaz, an orange pink stone with a rainbow color effect. It is synthetically colored by a thin film deposition of a thin metallic layer over the gemstone. It is named for the company that created this kind of finish-Azotic. London Blue Topaz is a deep sky blue color. It is darker than Swiss Blue Topaz. Mystic Topaz has a rainbow finish very similar to Azotic Topaz. Sherry Topaz has a light orange brown to brownish pink color. Silver Topaz or White Topaz are both trade names for the clear variety of Topaz.

Citrine can resemble Topaz and sadly, there are unscrupulous dealers who sell the less expensive Citrine as Topaz. Some of the names this false Topaz is sold under are Bahia Topaz, Citrine Topaz, Gold Topaz, Maderia Topaz, Spanish Topaz and Topaz Quartz. Smokey Topaz is really Smokey Quartz, and Indian Topaz, King Topaz and Oriental Topaz are really orange yellow Sapphires. As with any gemstone purchase, do your research and find a reputable dealer to buy from.

It is believed that Topaz balances emotions, calms passions and releases tensions. It is also believed to inspire leadership abilities and spiritual growth.

This is the American Golden Topaz which is on display in the Smithsonian. On the left is the Lindsay Uncut Topaz which weighs 70 pounds. On the right is the Freeman Uncut Topaz which weighs 111 pounds. They are also in the Smithsonian.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Citrine is the Gemstone of the Week

Citrine, a beautiful gemstone ranging in shade from yellow to gold to orange is one of the birthstones of November. A member of the quartz family, the name comes from the Latin word "citrina" which means lemon. The color comes from the presence of iron.

Natural Citrine, which is a pale yellow color, is not common. It is sometimes marketed as Lemon Quartz. Most of the Citrine on the market today is heat treated Amethyst or Smokey Quartz. The color can be changed by heating to a relatively low temperature-around 750 degrees Farenheit and the darker colors can be achieved by heating to around 1700 degrees Farenheit. Almost all heat treated Citrine has a reddish tint to it.

Brazil is the main source of Citrine, with other deposits being found in Argentina, Madagascar, Zaire, Namibia, Spain and Russia. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7. Flawless stones of many carats are not uncommon with the gemstone.

Citrine is most often confused with orange-yellow topaz which is very similar in color. Topaz is the more valuable stone and sometimes, unscrupulous dealers will pass Citrine off as topaz. Some of the more common trade names for these gems are "Madeira Topaz", "Gold Topaz" and "Bahia Topaz".

Citrine's sunny color has given it the reputation of being a gemstone that radiates positive energy and one that dissipates negative energy. It is also known as the "success stone" because it is believed to promote success, prosperity and abundance, especially in business. It is also believed that Citrine will relieve depression, self doubt and anger and can reduce self destructive tendencies. It is also believed that Citrine can aid in sleep disturbances, digestive and thyroid problems, and strengthen the immune system. Citrine is also believed to be valuable in healing the spiritual self and to enhance the enjoyment one gets from life.
This is a picture of the largest cut Citrine in the world. It weighs in at a whopping 20,200 carats. Itis on display in Malaga, Spain in a special exhibition of rare gemstones.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ametrine is the Gemstone of the Week

The name Ametrine comes from a combination of Amethyst and Citrine, which is exactly what Ametrine is. The color is the result of iron in the quartz. Ametrine colors come in bands of yellow and purple and often show and abrupt color change in the stone. This is the only stone where you can get “two” gemstones for the price of one.

There is only one basic source for Ametrine and that is the Anahi Mine in Bolivia. In the seventeenth century, this mine became famous when a Spanish conquistador received the mine as a wedding gift when he married Princess Anahi of the Ayoreos tribe. He knew the unique gemstones would find favor with the Spanish queen, and introduced Ametrine to Europe. The mine has only been commercially worked since the 1980's.
Being a member of the quartz family, it is a fairly durable gemstone. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7. Ametrine is typically cut to give a 50/50 color split. It is popular among among gemstone cutters and carvers because of the color variations and play in the stone. Despite the fact that there is only one source for this beautiful gemstone, it is reasonably priced.

Ametrine is rarely enhanced, but if it is, it is enhanced by a heat treatment. Natural Ametrine only comes on purple and yellow, so if you see some blue-yellow or geen-yellow combinations being sold, be aware that they are synthetic, lab created stones.

It is believed that Ametrine helps achieve a balance between the spiritual world and the material one, and can enhance cooperation with others. It is alsosaid to help with headaches and backaches. It is also said that the purple part of the stone helps one visualize the future one wants, while the yellow part of the stone helps achieve those goals.

I don' thave any Ametrine to photograph and show you, and I couldn't find any photos to include that wouldn't violate somebody's copyright, so here is a link to page of Google Images for

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opal is October's birthstone and the Gemstone of the Week

Opal is the featured gemstone this week, because it is also the birthstone for October. Often called nature's fireworks, this gemstone is composed of hydrated silica. Since the structure is not truly crystalline, it is considered a mineraloid, rather than a mineral. Opal has the same chemical composition as quartz, but has a water content between 3% and 21%, although the average water content is between 6% and 10%. Fine examples of opal can be more valuable than diamonds. It is a somewhat soft stone. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 5.5-6.5.

The internal structure of opal makes it defract light and, depending on the conditions in which it was formed, the stone can take on many colors. These colors can range from clear, white, gray, yellow, orange, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive brown and black. Red hues against black are the most rare, with white and green being the most common. The iridescent color flashes, are called opalescence, and change depending on the angle from which the stone is viewed.

Most opal is over 60 million years old, which dates it back to the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Opal has been considered a gemstone since Roman times when it was considered to be second in value only to emeralds. The name, “opal” probably comes from “upala”, the Sanskrit word for precious stone.

Opals are usually sold in one of three ways. The solid gemstone by itself, although it is usually enhanced by some type of wax treatment to protect it from drying out. Opal doublets are thin slices of opal glues to a base material such as ironstone, basalt or obsidian. The darker color backing emphasizes the play of colors in the gemstone. Opal triplets are doublets topped with a domed cap of clear quartz, resin or plastic. This protects the relatively soft stone from scratches, while magnifying the play of colors in the stone.

Opals are most commonly from Australia, but are also found in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, and in the United States, in Nevada. In 2008, NASA also announced that they had found opal deposits on Mars.

Opal is believed to aid in the healing of eye diseases, enhance creativity, and to foster love and warmth. The ancient Romans considered the stone to be one of good fortune, while the Russians considered it to be bad luck. Queen Victoria loved opals and she and her daughters created a fashion trend for opal jewelry.
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Rough opal from a Nevada mine

The Queen's Opal weighs in at 203 carats or 41 grams.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chalcedony is the Gemstone of the Week

Chalcedony (cal-see-doh-nee) is the name for a group of stones made of microcrystalline quartz. This just means that the quartz crystals are too small to be seen without high magnification. In the gem trade, chalcedony is usually used to describe the white, gray, light purple, or light blue translucent stones. The light blue and the light purple are the most popular colors. Chalcedony occurs in many different forms, colors and patterns and has been used in jewelry for centuries.
The varieties of Chalcedony are often named based on color. Agates are a multicolored variety of Chalcedony. Carnelian, aventurine and jaspers are also Chalcedony varieties. Chalcedony is well suited for jewelry with a hardness on the Moh scale of 6.5 to 7. It is a porous stone and is often dyed to enhance the color. The name comes from the ancient Greek town of Chalkedon in Asia Minor.

Chalcedony is found in many locations. Turkey is a good source for purple and blue stones, along with several different locations in Africa. There are also active blue and purple mines in the U.S.. It is also found in Brazil, Germany, Russia, Canada and Indonesia.
Because of the abundance and durability of Chalcedony, its usage goes back to as early as the 7th century B.C..The early Mesopotamians used it in seals and that practice was adopted by the Romans. It was also used as projectiles, knives and containers.

It is believed that Chalcedony aids in emotional balance, energy, generosity, charity and friendliness. It is also said to banish fear, depression, and touchiness. It is also thought to aid eyesight, reduce fever and stimulate creativity.

Light Blue Chalcedony

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sapphire is the Gemstone of the Week

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gemstone of the week. Sapphires are the most precious and valuable of the blue gemstones, although they come in many other colors. Sapphires are made from the mineral corundum, like rubies, and are the second hardest gemstone after diamonds. On the Moh scale, they are a 9. All corundums that aren't rubies, are classified as Sapphires.

Padparascha is a pink orange variety of Sapphire that is very rare and highly valued. The word comes from the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom. Along with rubies, they are the only type of corundum to be given their own name rather than being called a particular color of Sapphire. The original mines are in Sri Lanka, but other deposits are found in Viet Nam and Africa. It is often higher priced than even the finest blue Sapphires. More Sapphires of the color have appeared in the market lately due to a new treatment called “lattice diffusion”.

Fancy color Sapphires are how the green, yellow and pink varieties are often classified. Pink Sapphires deepen in color as the amount of chromium increases. The deeper the pink, the higher the value, as the color then trends towards ruby.

 Star Sapphires are stones that exhibit a star like phenomenon known as asterism. This is caused by intersecting needle like inclusions that cause a six rayed star to appear when viewed with an overhead light source. The Black Star of Queensland is believed to be the largest Star Sapphire ever mined, weighing in at a whopping 733 carats. Star Sapphire value not only depends on the size of the stone, but the body color and the intensity and visibility of the star.
Sapphires are treated by several methods to improve the clarity and color. Heat treatment is the most common method. Evidence of heat treating these stones goes back to Roman times. Un-heated stones are very rare and will often be accompanied by a certificate from an independent gem lab stating that there is no evidence of heat treatment.
Diffusion treatments are controversial as they add elements to the stone to improve color. Beryllium is diffused into a stone using very high heat, just below the melting temperature of the stone. Orange Sapphires were originally created with this process, but it now extends to all colors. It is unethical to sell these treated stones without disclosing this treatment fact and the price should be much lower than an untreated or just a heat treated stone. Treating stones with this diffusion method is frowned upon because if the stone chips or is repolished or refaceted, the color layer can be removed. Treated stones are very difficult to detect and it is recommended that you get an certified gemological lab certificate before investing in the stone. The Federal Trade Commission states that any sort of treatment on a stone that significantly affects the value of a stone, must be disclosed.

It is believed that Blue Sapphires inspires creative expression, intuition, and meditation. Green Sapphires are believed to bring luck, Pink Sapphires encourage love, loyalty and generosity,Padparascha sapphires augment wisdom, optimism and friendliness. It is also believed that Star Sapphires develop independence and balance.

A piece of pink Sapphire rough and some pink Sapphire beads that I have. 

The Logan Sapphire Brooch

The Black Star of Queensland

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rose quartz is the Gemstone of the Week

This blog post is dedicated to Julie Ann and Jacinda Twigg. The world has lost two beautiful people. Julie Ann sold on ArtFire as well as Etsy. She was a joy to all, especially the Mentors and Mavens on ArtFire. People remind me of certain gemstones, and Julie Ann always reminded me of Rose Quartz. In the world of gemstones, Rose Quartz is believed to bring love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance. I saw all of those in Julie Ann at one time or another in her posts. Her loving presence is missed by many on ArtFire. R.I.P. with your angel, little koala.

The beautiful Rose Quartz variety of quartz is one of the most desirable varieties of quartz on the market today. It ranges in color from a pale, pastel pink to a rose red. The color comes from iron , titanium and manganese impurities in the rock.

Most Rose Quartz on the market today has been dyed to maintain a uniform color, but you can find some that is natural. It is all photosensitive and will fade in the sunlight. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7. Rose Quartz generally has a cloudy look to it, and is not transparent, so clarity is not a high consideration when buying this gemstone.

The oldest known use of Rose Quartz goes back to Mesopotamia in 7000 B.C. when it was used as beads. Historically, it was valued as a stone of love and beauty.

Rose Quartz is found in Madagascar, Brazil, India, Germany, Scotland, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Namibia, and several states in the U.S. including Maine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Gemstone of the Week is Quartz

Quartz is the most abundant gemstone found on Earth, it makes up about 12% of the Earth's crust, and is the gemstone of the week this week. There are many colors and types of Quartz used in jewelry. The color and variety coming from different mineral inclusions. Quartz is a component of almost all kinds of rocks. It is in the silica family. There are a lot of gemstones in the Quartz family.  I'll cover three types of quartz in this posting.  

Clear Quartz or Rock Crystal is clear and colorless and is one of the most common varieties. It has often been used in hardstone carvings. On the Moh scale, it is a 7. Roman ladies used to carry quartz crystal balls to cool their hands in warm weather. Roman soldiers used it to capture sunlight to cauterize wounds. Since the middle ages, quartz crystal balls have been used for telling the future. Quartz is believed to be a universal healing stone, able to clarify what needs healing and balancing and to aid in doing this. It is also believed to enhance the properties of other gemstones.

Rutilated Quartz is considered to be one of the most unusual types of quartz. Rutilated Quartz has a Moh hardness of 6-6.5. It is easily recognized by the gold “rutiles”, which are a titanium dioxide, that run through it. They sparkle and look like liquid gold in the vein of the clear Quartz stone. No two stones are alike. One may only have a few inclusions, while another is almost opaque with inclusions. Where most stones are less valuable when there are visible inclusions in it, this particular type of Quartz is more valuable the more inclusions there are in it. Also called Venus hairstone, this stone has been used in jewelry for centuries. It is believed that Rutilated Quartz has the power to aid sleep, help depression, slow aging and enhance creativity. It is also believed to enhance self reliance and diminish fear.

Tourmalinated Quartz also has rutiles, but they are due to the inclusions of tourmaline in the stone. The inclusions are a dark green or black. The quartz can be clear to dark gray in color. It is believed that Tourmalinated Quartz can balance and unite concious with subconcious, spirit with matter and heaven with earth.

There are stones on the market that are called quartz, but are really glass. Some of the names they are sold under are cherry quartz, pineapple quartz, blueberry quartz ,moonstone quartz or opalite, cloud quartz, blue quartz, watermelon quartz and pepper quartz. These imitations have a lower resistance to scratches and may occasionally have air bubbles in them. As always, when buying gemstones, buying from a reputable seller helps cut down on the chances of getting imitations.


Clear Quartz

Rutilated Quartz

Tourmalinated Quartz

Friday, August 5, 2011

Peridot is the Gemstone of the Week

This lovely transparent green stone is one of the few gemstones that are found only in one color. It is a magnesium iron silicate with the amount of iron determining the deepness of the green. The iron content can vary the color from yellow green, to olive green to a brownish green. The most valued color is a dark olive green. Peridot is the gemstone quality stone of the olivine family of rocks which are often found in lavas, but aren't gem quality.

The name, Peridot, is probably derived from the Arabic word “faridat”, for gemstone. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 6.5-7.
Peridots have been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Historically, the volcanic island of Zabargad (St. John), east of Egypt in the Red Sea was the most important source of this gem and was mined for 3500 years. There are still small deposits where the stones are gathered today. The beaches near the deposits are green with tiny crystals. Peridot is also mined in North Carolina, on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico in the United States. Other areas where it is found are Pakistan, which produces fine quality stones, Egypt, Myanmar (Burma),Australia and Brazil.

Peridot is rarely enhanced with any treatment. There is enough production from the mines around the world to meet the demand easily. Peridots are often confused with green sapphires, diopside, chrysoberyl and synthetic spinel and sometimes, Emeralds. It is believed that Cleopatra's Emerald collection was about one quarter, if not more, Peridots.

 It is believed the Peridot increases strength and vitality, helps dreams become a reality and attracts love. The ancients believed that Peridot was a gift from Mother Nature to celebrate the annual creation of a new world. Leaders who wore this stone were thought to be fair, wise and gentle.

The first photograph is of some rough Peridot. The second is a Peridot that is in the Smithsonian and is 310 carats.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Coral is the Gemstone of the Week

Coral is the gemstone of the week, even though it is not a mineral gemstone, but rather a macrobiotic substance formed from small plant like sea life. Most commonly found in red, pink (angel skin) and white, coral also occurs naturally in blue, orange, violet, red, gold and black. The ox-blood red coral is the color that is most valued for jewelry. Coral that comes from Italy is said to be the best quality.

The basic composition of coral is calcium carbonate with a little magnesium and a trace of iron. It is semi-translucent to opaque and is relatively soft. On the Moh scale, the hardness is 3.5 to4. Coral is actually the skeletal remains of marine polyps. The polyps are surrounded by a fleshy skin and secrete a substance that allows the coral to grow. Over the centuries, the names that different corals are given have been based a lot upon their shapes. Bamboo coral resembles bamboo shoots, brain coral, the human brain, mushroom coral, mushrooms, sponge coral, sponges and so on.

Coral is found in many parts of the world. The best quality red coral is found in the Mediterranean Sea, the the Red Sea and the sea around Japan. Pink coral, or angel skin coral, is found in limited amounts in the Mediterranean area, China, India and Japan. The pink Hawaiian coral is also quite well known. Blue coral is found in the sea around the Philippines. Black coral is found around Hawaii, Australia, the West coast of Africa and parts of the Mediterranean. There is not much demand for the blue and black kinds, so the price for those is not as high as the prices for red and pink coral.

The most common enhancement for coral is dying. This is done to either change color or to make the color more uniform. Sometimes it is bleached. Coral is often filled and coated with an epoxy substance to fill cracks and cavities.  

Many species of coral are endangered, but not all of it. Some coral, like bamboo and sponge coral are farm grown specifically for the market place. They are fast growing corals that are harvested in shallow water farms which makes them a sustainable resource. Global warming, pollution and harvesting for aquariums are the major causes of coral depletion.
Another form of coral that is popular for jewelry is Fossil Coral. Since that is a whole different variety, I will use another post to talk about that.

It is believed that coral can aid in the healing of lung, stomach and heart problems and help with circulation issues. It is also said that it helps in the development of courage, initiative and vitality.  

Mushroom coral and Bamboo coral


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Aventurine is the Gemstone of the Week

The gemstone for this week is Aventurine, a member of the quartz family that is found in a variety of colors. It can be translucent or opaque, and the presence of mineral inclusions give it a shimmering effect called aventurescence. Colors range from a creamy green, to a medium green, peach, orange,yellow, brown and blue. Chrome bearing fuchite, (a type of mica) is the classic inclusion and gives the stone a silvery green or blue sheen. Oranges and brown get their coloring from hematite or goethite. The orange and reddish orange Aventurine is often mistaken for Sunstone and the greenish variety for Jade or Amazonite. Besides being used in jewelry, Aventurine is often used for ornamental purposes like vases, figurines and bowls. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 6.5.
The name Aventurine comes from the Italian for “a ventura” which means “by chance”. Most of the green and blue green Aventurine comes from India. Creamy white, gray and orange stones often come from Chile, Spain and Russia. The main markets for this stone are landscaping and building stone, monuments, figurines and jewelry.
Legend says that Aventurine is an all purpose healer, used to develop confidence, reduce stress, and improve prosperity. It has long been used as a talisman and is a popular stone for gamblers. An ancient Tibetan legend says that Aventurine can be used to reduce near sightedness and increase the wearer's creativity. Many believe it can bring about inner peace and calm a troubled spirit.

          Orange Aventurine

     Green Aventurine

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ruby is the Gemstone of the Week

Ruby is the birthstone for July and is the gemstone of the week. Rubies are the most famous red gemstone. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum (aluminum oxide), which technically makes it a red Sapphire since Sapphires are the other mineral/gemstone made from corundum. Since Rubies have such a special allure and historical significance, they have always been classified as a seperate gemstone and never as a Sapphire. The red color is determined by the prescence of the element chromiun. The name, Ruby, comes from the Latin, “ruber”, meaning red. Pigeon Blood red is the most valuable color in Rubies. The finest Ruby color is described as being a vivid medium dark toned red. These are found in Myanmar (formerly Burma) and have a bluish hue to them. The first laser was created using a Ruby.
On the Moh scale, Rubies have a hardness of 9. Among natural gemstones, only moissanite and diamonds are harder. All natural Rubies have imperfectons in them, including color impurities and rutile needles known as “silk”. These needle inclusions help distinguish natural Rubies from simulated or synthetic stones. The color is determined by the amount of chromium and iron in the stone. There are also Rubies that are called Star Rubies. These stones have rutile needles in them that form stars, also called asterism. Stones like this are cut into cabochons, while other Rubies are often faceted.
Almost 90% of the Rubies on the market today have undergone heat treatment ,which is the most common form of enhancement. This dissovles the silk inside and improves the color. These heat treatments are done with temperatures around 1800C or 3300F. Another treatment that has been used in the last several years is lead glass filling. It's a four step process that fills the fractures inside the stone with lead glass, making a previously unsuitable stone suitable for jewelry. It's possible to find high quality gemstones that have not been enhanced.

Rubies are found in Myanmar, Thailand, although production is declining there, Madagascar, Tanzania, India, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Kenya. The color varies depending on the country of origin.
Famous Rubies include the 167 carat Edwards Ruby on display in the British 
Museum of Natural History, the 138.7 Rosser Reeves Star Ruby, which is in the Smithsonian, and the 100 carat DeLong Star Ruby on display in New York at the Natural History Museum. Rubies have long been a part of royal insignia and other famous jewelry. Some famous large Rubies in the British Crown Jewels, the Black Prince's Ruby and the Timur Ruby are actually spinels. Up until the 19th century, spinels were belived to be Rubies.

There are many beliefs and legends about this gemstone. Rubies have long been considered a stone of love and passion. It is believed that the person who wears a good quality Ruby will have a life of peace and harmony, protected against danger and blessed with good health. It is also believed that the stone aids in the healing of peptic ulcers, depression, fever and gout.

This photo is the Rosser Reeves Star Ruby.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flourite is the Gemstone of the Week

Flourite has been nicknamed “the most colorful mineral in the world.” It comes in a range of sparkling colors from purple, blue, green, yellow, colorless, brown, pink, black to reddish orange. Intermediate pastel colors can be found in between the colors in some stones, also. Some Flourite is a single color, but most have multiple colors arranged in bands. A now scarce variety of purple blue Flourite, known as Blue John, is found in one of the oldest known localities for the gemstone, Castleton, Derbyshire, England. It is still mined there, but only a few tons per year.
Flourite was first called flourspar. Flourite derives from the Latin noun, “fluo” meaning stream or flow. Flourspar comes from the German “flusse” meaning stream and “spaerstan” meaning spear. It is a relatively soft stone, a 4 on the Moh scale. It is composed of calcium flouride.
Flourite is a widely occuring mineral found in large deposits in many areas of the world. Deposits are found in China, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, England, Norway, Mexico, Kenya, and Ontario, Newfoundland, and Labrador, in Canada. In the United States, deposits have been found in Missouri, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kentucky, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, New Hampshire, New York, Alaska, and Texas. In 1965, Flourite was named the state mineral of Illinois since at that time, Illinois was the largest Flourite producing state in the U.S.. In 1995, the last Illinois mine was closed.
Besides being used as a gemstone, Flourite also has industrial uses depending on which of the three purity grades it is. Metallurgical grade Flourite, the lowest grade has been used a flux to lower the melting point of raw materials used in steel production. Ceramic 
grade, the middle level of purity, is used in making opalescent glass, enamels and cookware. The highest grade, which is 97% pure, is acid grade Flourite which is used to make hydorgen flouride and hydorflouric acid by decomposing the Flourite with sulfuric acid. There is also synthetically grown Flourite which is used instead of glass in some high grade telescopes and camera elements.
When it come to the metaphysical aspect of Flourite, it is believed that Flourite opens pathways of the brain to higher dimensions of light, increases alertness and mental activity and helps in grasping complex and abstract concepts. It is also thought to bring in objectivity and concise thoughts, action and behavior.

These photos show some of the different colors, and the banding of Flourite.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tiger's Eye is the Gemstone of the Week

The gemstone of the week this week is Tiger's Eye. There are several variations on the name, among them Tiger Eye and Tigereye. All the names refer to the silky, golden brown gemstone of the quartz family. It is a brown quartz silcon dioxide with yellow and brown parallel fibers. Iron oxide gives the stone it's yellow gold color. The glitter on the surface of the stone is known as chatoyancy (sha-toy-ancee).
Tiger's Eye is a vitreous stone-hard, unbendable and glasslike. On the Moh scale it is a 7. This makes it suitable for all types of jewelry, although care should be taken against exposing it to sudden temperature changes, as that could cause the stone to crack.

Tiger's Eye is usually cut as cabochons as this best shows off the chatoyancy and color. Heat treatment is the usual enhancement for this gemstone. Red Tiger's Eye is heat treated. The heat oxidizes the iron and turns it red. Years ago, I had some Tiger's Eye stones. My mom and I put them on a cookie sheet, in a 325 degree oven for 12 hours and they turned a lovely red. To prevent cracking,we did not preheat the oven, but put the stones in the oven, then turned it on, allowing the stones to gradually warm. Every couple of hours, we would turn the stones with tongs. We also left them in the oven to gradually cool down after we turned the oven off.
Tiger Eye is mainly found in South Africa, but is also found in Austrailia, Myanmar, Namibia and California.
Tiger Eye is said to help lower blood pressure, help with asthma and heart disease. It is also believed to pull someone into a more flexible and positive attitude and give the wearer courage and confidence. Roman soldiers often wore carved Tiger Eye into battle.

In these photos, you can see the different banding and how each stone varies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Moonstone is the Gemstone of the Week

Moonstone, the gemstone of the week, is also the European birthstone for June.  This mysterious beauty has been used for jewelry since before AD 100. The ancient Romans believed that is was created from the solidified rays of the Moon. It is considered to be the second birthstone for the month of June. During the Art Nouveau period, this was a very popular gemstone. Famous jewelry houses such as Cartier's and Tiffnay used it in a lot of their pieces.
Moonstone is a member of the feldspar family, and is a potassium aluminum silicate. It is an opalescent stone and, like Labradorite, has flashes of color called schiller. In Moonstone, schiller is more often called adularescence-a billowy, floating color effect. It comes from the word “adularia” which was the first name for this gemstone. It was called after the first place moonstone was found, Mt. Adular, in Switzerland. Adularescence is created when light falls between two layers of feldspar that have intermixed, causing the light to scatter, producing the schiller effect.
On the Moh scale, Moonstone is a 6-6.5. The colors can range from blue, peach, green, pink, yellow, brown or gray, all with a silvery sheen. Rainbow Moonstone is a milky white with a rainbow sheen. The most valuable moonstone is one that has a colorless, transparent to semi-transparent appearance with a vivid blue adularescence. Ideally, the sheen should be centered to the top of the gemstone. Moonstone is found in Brazil, Madagascar, Europe, Myanmar, Tanzania, and in the U.S. in Pennsylvania and Virgina. The highest quality gemstones come from Sri Lanka. They are most often cut in cabochons to best display their adularescence.
Moonstone is believed to refresh memory, soothe and balance emotions and act as a digestive aid. It is also believed to heal strife between lovers and awaken passion.

Here are some of the moonstones I have.
Rainbow briolettes, rainbow faceted beads, peach, rainbow, white and gray and faceted peach beads.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pearls are the Gemstone of the Week

The birthstone for June, Pearl, is the gemstone of the week. This precious gemstone has been used in jewelry and ornamentation for centuries.
Most gemstones are minerals, but Pearls are organic and formed by living organisms. They are formed in the soft tissue layers of mollusks, such as oysters and mussels and begin forming when an irritant such as sand, gets inside the shell. They are made of calcium carbonate and organic conchiolin, that build up as concentric layers . (If you cut a pearl in half, the inside layers would resemble tree rings.)This is done in order to protect the inside of the oyster or mollusk from the irratant. This process can take anywhere from 4 months to 7 years. The longer it takes, the larger the pearl.

There are two basic kinds of Pearls-natural and cultured. Natural pearls occur in nature without assistance from humans and are very rare and because of the rarity, they are very expensive. Cultured pearls are created when humans insert the irritant into the shell. Cultured pearls are grown on pearl farms where they are cared for while the pearl grows. Some pearls are started from an irritant type of nucleus, some, like the Akoya pearl, are formed around a bead nucleus. Only one out of four cultivated mollusks lives to grow a marketable pearl. Since natural pearls are so rare, it is safe to assume that most pearls on the market today are cultured. Pearls are among the softest gemstones on the market. On the Moh scale, they are only 2.5.
The most valuable pearls are perfectly symmetrical, fairly large and naturally produced. They have a shimmering iridescence which is called orient. I've listed a few of the more common terms used for 
pearls. Baroque pearls have an irregular shape. Biwa pearls are from the freshwater lake, Lake Biwa, in Japan and also have an irregular shape. Blister pearls grow attached to the inside of the shell. Freshwater pearls grow in freshwater mollusk and resemble puffed rice. Mabe pearls are cultivated blister pearls. Oriental pearl is another name for saltwater pearl.
Pearls are often enhanced by dyeing. They are very porous and accept dye well. It is the easiest, and least expensive way to get a matched strand. One drawback to this is that the dye can fade over time. They can also be bleached to increase their whiteness. Irradiation darkens the nucleus of the pearl to produce darker pearls like blue gray and black. Most experts believe this to be permanent. Metallic pearl colors are often both dyed and irradiated. As a general rule, all bright or striking pearl colors are dyed or enhanced in some way.
Pearls are found in Japan, China, Tahiti, Ceylon, Scotland, Norway, Australia, Indonesia, the Gulf of Mexico, and Myanmar. The finest Oriental Pearls are found in the Persian Gulf.
It is believed that Pearls help people see themselves, and eliminate emotional imbalances. They are also thought to give wisdom through experience. Ancient Chinese myths told of pearls falling from the sky when dragons thought. The ancient Greeks thought that pearls were the tears of the gods.

These photos are some of the Pearls I have in my gemstone stash.

 Faceted Pearls
 Keishi Pearls
Pale Pink Pearls

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sunstone is the Gemstone of the Week

The sparkling gemstone, Sunstone is the gemstone of the week. Sunstone is a member of the feldspar family. When veiwed from certain angles, it has a brilliant, spangled appearance. This optical effect can be from tiny scales of red hematite which are irregular in shape. This gives it a look similar to aventurine and it is sometimes called aventurine-feldspar. Some crystals contain pyrite which gives it an extra flash of sparkle. Darker stones contain copper. Sunstone is formed in molten lava and then thrown out to earth by a volcano. As the lava weathers, or breaks up, Sunstone crystals are released. It is a sodium calcium aluminum silicate.

Sunstone is a relatively hard stone with a hardness that varies from 6-7.2.. Also called, Heliote, which comes from the Greek word “helios” and “lithos” meaning stone, Sunstone is the state stone of Oregon.

Sunstone was not common until recently, when, in the 80's deposits were found in Orgeon. It has also been found in Norway, Siberia, India, Canada, Russia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Oregon Sunstone is the only variety that contains copper inclusions.

The Vikings considered Sunstone to be a talisman for navigation and this gem has been found in Viking burial mounds. Sunstone is believed to bring luck, instill optimism and boost the energy level. It is also believed to boost physical energy in times of stress or illness. It is said that Sunstone also inspires freedom and originality.

These pictures are some of the Sunstones I have. I love the peachy tones this stone has.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sodalite is the Gemstone of the Week

Sodalite,an opaque, royal blue gemstone with white streaks, is often confused with Lapis Lazuli. It is one of the minerals that makes up Lapis. The chemical compostion of Sodalite is sodium aluminum silicate chloride. The chloride is what differentiates this from Lapis. Lapis contains sulphur. There are two ideas for where the name comes from-one is for the sodium content and the other is from the Latin word “solidus” for solid, since it was a solid used in the process of glass making. It will fuse to a colorless glass if heated to a high enough temperature.
Sodalite is a hard mineral, yet because of the crystal structure, fragile with a hardness on the Moh scale of 5-5.6.
Sodalite is sometimes referred to as Princess Blue after Princess Patricia, granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She fell in love with this gemstone after a visit to Ontario, Canada and used it to decorate Marlbourough House in England. Sodalite has been discovered in ancient ruins and tombs in ornamental forms. It was often used as a substitute for Lapis Lazuli.
Signifiacant deposits of Sodalite are found in Bancroft, Ontario, Mont-St-Hilaire, Quebec, Lichtfield, Maine, and magnet Cove, Arkansas. Smaller deposits are found in Brazil, Bolivia, Portugal, Romania, Burma, and Russia.
It is believed that Sodalite was used by Egyptian priests to dispel fear and promote a clear insightful mind. It is also believe to help with a wide range of physical aliments from diabetes, and digestion issues to thyroid problems. It is also thought to be a soothing stone and to instill confidence.

Monday, May 16, 2011

ArtFire Daily Email-a Chance to Win $100 Gift Certificate

If you click the link on the right, you can sign up for the ArtFire Daily Email. By signing up, you will have a chance to winn $100 gift certificate to any ArtFire studio. Like Vintage goodies, sign up, like handcrafted goodies, sign up. All ArtFire studios are participating in this so when you win, you can shop anywhere on the site. It does have to be spent in one studio, though. Enter now-who knows, you might be the next winner drawn.

Monday, May 9, 2011

This week Serpentine is the Gemstone of the Week

Serpentine is the name given to a large variety of rock forming minerals that are green, yellowish green, or brownish green in color. There are over twenty varieties of Serpentine and they are not always easy to tell apart. All Serpentines are a basic magnesium silicate. The name comes from the Latin “serpentinus” meaning snake rock. The mottled colors do give it the appearance of snakeskine. In mineralogy and gemology, Serpentine is divided into three groups, antigorite, chrysotile and lizardite.

Serpentine ranges from opaque to translucent and the Moh scale hardness varies within the different varieties. On the Moh scale hardness ranges from 2.5 to 5.5. Antigorite is the hardest variety. Serpentine is often streaked with the minerals calcite and dolomite. These minerals are what give Serpentine the white and gray streaks.

Several trade names have been given to Serpentine to distinguish the different varieties. These are bowenite, connemara,verde-antique and williamsite. It is often sold under the names of new jade, lemon jade, olive jade, Afghan jade and green jade. When buying, this is something you need to be aware of as these stones are not jade at all, but Serpentine.
Serpentine is found in many places around the world, including Afghanistan, Burma, China, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Norway, and the U.S.. In the U.S. it is found in Northern California, Rhode Island, Conneticut, Mass., Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.
It is said that Serpentine can restore self confidence, repel fear, and enhance meditation. It is also believed to bring good luck and to help people obtain their dreams.
This Serpentine piece is in a necklace I made. It is a yellowish green, almost chartreuese color.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Emeralds are the Gemstone of the Week

This week, the gemstone of the week is also the birthstone for May, the beautiful, enchanting, lush green Emerald. The name comes from the French word “esmaraude” which in turn, goes back via Latin to the Greek root “smaragdos” which simply means “green gemstone”.

Emerald is the most precious and expensive member of the Beryl family of gemstones. It is classified as one of the four traditional gemstones along with diamonds, sapphires and rubies. Along with being the birthstone for May, it is the gemstone for the 20th and 35th anniversary.

Clarity is important for Emeralds, but inclusions or flaws, are much more tolerated with this stone than they are with other gems. They help assure the buyer that they are getting a genuine Emerald. This gem has a hardness on the Moh scale of 7.5-8. Inclusions do make this stone brittle and more difficult to cut. Because of the enhancements to Emeralds, which I will cover a couple of paragraphs down, these stones should not be cleaned using ultrasonic jewelry cleaners.

Color is the main consideration when grading and pricing Emeralds. By definition, Emerald is a medium or darker green to bluish green. The most valuable stone is slightly bluish green with a medium dark tone with strong to vivid color saturation. Emerald color comes from chromium, vanadium or a combination of both. Emerald is a beryllium aluminum silicate.

Emeralds are often enhanced by oiling.This is done by placing the stone in a vacuum chamber with heated oil, and sometimes resins. Not only does this improve the appearance of the stone, but also helps to fill in the inclusions it has. Steam cleaning, using solvents or ultrasonic jewelry cleaners will remove these oils and change the appearance of the stone. Clean an Emerald with a soft, dry cloth.

Almost all Emerald mining is done from host rocks where the Emerald has grown into small veins or on the walls of cavaties. Columbia is the world center for Emerald mining. Northwest of Bogota is a mine called the Muzo mine which produces deep green, fine quality stones. To the Northeast of Bogota is the mine called Chivor which also has high quality deposits of Emeralds. Brazil also has Emerald mines which produce a lighter color green gem. There is also a mine in Brazil which produces a rare form of Emerald known as a Trapiche Emerald. This stone is characterized by star shaped rays that come from the center of the stone in a hexagonal pattern. This pattern is caused by black carbon impurities that form in a star pattern. Emeralds are also found in Transvaal, Zimbabwe, Russia, Australia, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zambia. Not all of these deposits produce high quality stones, some are suitable only for beads and cabachons. They are also found in the U.S. in North Carolina which has made Emerald the official state gemstone.

Emeralds have been mined since around 1500 B.C.. Many museums have incredible collections and there have been many famous Emeralds over time. One of the most famous and legendary Emeralds is the Mogul Emerald which dates from 1695. It weighs in at 217.80 carats and is 10cm high. One side is inscribed with prayer texts, the other side has floral engravings. In 2001, Christies auctioned this off for $2.2 million dollars to an unidentified buyer. The Viennese Treasury contains an Emerald vase that is 4.5 inches high, has a carat weight of 2205 and was carved from a single Emerald crystal. One of the largest Columbian Emerald crystals is on display at the New York Museum of Natural History. It is called Patricia and has a carat weight of 632. The Bank of Bogota has a collection of five Emerald crystals with carat weights that range from 220 to 1796. Other countries also have incredible, historic Emeralds in their palaces and treasuries, including Iran, India and Turkey.

Stories and legends have sprung up around Emeralds for centuries. It is believed that when worn, it will protect from epileptic seizures, give the wearer wisdom, faith and success in love. It is also believed it will drive away evil spirits, aid in spinal ailments, mental illness and neurological ailments and as an antidote for poison.

Synthetic Emeralds have been on the market for several years. They are considerably lower priced than genuine Emeralds. Watch out for these names, they are often synthetic-Biron, Chathan, Gilson, Kimberly, Lennix, Regency, and Zerfass. Some of the names given to green dyed glass and passed off as genuine are Broughton, Endura, Ferrer's, Medina, Mt. St. Helens, and Spanish Emerald. Sometimes, other stones are sold as Emeralds. Green Flourite has been called African and Bohemian Emerald, South African and Transvaal Emerald. Dyed quartz, prehnite, peridot and green sapphires are passed off as Emeralds also. Another practice is the selling of Emerald doublets. A doublet is created when two lesser quality stones are adhered together with a colored paste and passed off as a single stone. Since a good quality Emerald is an investment, be sure to buy your stone from a reputable dealer and do some research so you know what you are buying.
 The pictures are 1. The front of the Mongul Emerald. 2. The Patricia Emerald 3. The Emerald Vase from the Viennese Treasury.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kyanite is the Gemstone of the Week

This sapphire blue, shimmery, multi purpose gemstone with unusual properties, is the gemstone of the week. For many years, this stone was considered more of a mineral than a gemstone. The name comes from the Greek word, “kyanos”, meaning dark blue.
Kyanite is unusual in the fact that it has the same chemical compostion as andalusite. Both are aluminum silicate, but have different crystal structures. In addition to being used for jewelry, kyanite is also used in industrial applications including spark plugs, electrical insulators and heat resistant ceramics to reduce the shrinkage as it expands.

Kyanite has been mined for about a century, but little is known about it's history. The color of Kyanite is not always uniform and can be blotchy and streaky. The crystals can be transparent to translucent and the crystals are found in long blades or columns. The stone can also be found in green and black and occaisonally, rarely, yellow, white and gray. Depending on which way the crystals are cut in a particular stone, the harness on the Moh scale can range from 4.5-6.5. The blue color comes from trace elements of iron and titanium. Green Kyanite gets the color from vanadium. Faceted Kyanite is a rareity. Because of the hardness variations in each stone, this complicates the faceting process.
Interest in Kyanite as a gemstone has been low, mostly due to the lack of sufficient supplies of gem quality rough. A recent find of gemstone quality rough in Nepal will probably raise the interest in this beautiful stone. Other sources of Kyanite are Austria, Brazil, India, Myanmar, Serbia, Switzerland, Namibia, and California. California has mostly green Kyanite.

It is believed that Kyanite is the stone of channeling, altered states, vivid dreams and dream recall. It is said that it will protect the wearer during these states. It is alos believed to bring loyalty, tranquility and honesty to the wearer.
The photos below are different color ranges of Kyanite that I have in my collection.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Gardening Break

It was so nice this weekend, low 80's with a nice light breeze blowing, that when we went out running errands, I picked up some plants for my flower bed.  I like to add some annuals for color until the perrenials bloom and I have a trellis that needed something on it. I've got some honeysuckle planted there, but it will take a while for it to climb up and I am impatient.

I love my flower bed. It was a birthday present one year. About 50 years ago, there was a house behind the one we live in now. (Rumor has it, it was so high off the ground, cows could walk under it.) The big oak in the backyard got hit by lightening and ended up burning the house down. There was a ton of broken, mossy, cool looking brick around and I had been talking about making a flower bed out of them. So, one birthday weekend, my husband came home with mortar and concrete and I learned out to do brick work. It was a lot of fun and I had a blast.

I used to have Alaska Daisies planted all around the outer border. They were white and had huge blooms on them. The butterflies loved them. Winter before last, the armadillos not only dug them up,  (I'm used to that-rushing out to replant the morning after) but they ate the roots, too. I haven't replaced them, not sure why. I think I got tired of digging them up and dividing them every year. I had run out of room for them. So, I have moved on to the next phase of the flower bed. I have some small, yellow daisies, I think they are called Lamb's Ear Daisy because of the shape of the leaves. They are going to need digging up and dividing this fall. I will use them around the border in place of the white daisies.

Here's a little photo tour of this bed, along with what's old and what's new.
This is a shot of what I think are the Lamb's Ear Daisies. The partial pot in the top left corner is full of Impatiens. I have a ton of those hanging in baskets under the cedar tree in back and they just keep reseeding themselves. Everything that has ever been under those baskets has at least 3 or 4 Impatiens in it. Impatiens are the only thing I really have growing that isn't drought tolerant. Since we seem to be constantly in an extreme drought situation, I've been growing drought tolerant plants for years.


This red beauty is what I got to go on the trellis. It's called Crimson Sun Parasol. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw. It looks like red velvet. It's already clinging to the trellis.

I love Periwinkles. I have some in there every year. They are almost as good at reseeding as the Impatiens, but this year, they haven't started to sprout. I got some in different colors than what I had in there last year. Bright fuschia, and a medium pink. I tried to find some white ones, but nobody had any in stock. I'm good with these, though. I know the butterflies will like them.

I also got a couple more Dianthus (or pinks). They were marked down to .50 because they were so rootbound they were dying. I got a bright pink one and a little white one. I am pretty sure this pink one will make it. The little white one, I don't know. I already had 3 or 4 in assorted shades of pink.These have such a great spicey smell to them. Reminds me of cloves and something else, but I've never been able to figure out what the something else is.

Here's a shot from the end of the flower bed. The tall, sword shaped leaves are Candy Lilies. They are orange and yellow. It's a cross between a day lily and a blackberry lily. Most of the ones you see here have grown from seeds dropped from the flowers. They are a perennial, too . They are fairly cold hardy. The leaves will die back, but not the roots. The flowers come up from the center of the leaves on a skinny stalk and last a couple of days. It's a summer bloomer.  The rust color pot in the back has 9 jade plant leaves in it. I repotted my jade plant a few weeks ago and these fell off, so I stuck them in a pot of dirt. They seem to be surviving so far.

Last, but not least is Lantana. I have always loved this stuff, but never had any. They are sitting in two planters on either side fo the steps. The planters are actually the things that go inside a chimney when you build a house. Can't think of the technical name for it right now. They were "rescued" leftovers from a building site because I though they would make neat planters.  They have a nice mossy patina on them that helps keep the soil moist. They are some sort of unglazed clay/ceramic material and do tend to dry out easily.    I had no idea that Lantana has small, soft thorns on them until I started putting them in the planters.
I hope you enjoyed the tour, If you would like some Candy Lily seeds, let me know and about late August or early Sept., I can send you plenty of them. :)