Here at Team SB we are tasked with finding the perfeect stones for our clients everyday. Whether it be for engagement rings, life celebrations or just a new piece of sparkle, we love sourcing the right stone for each piece. With this in mind, we thought whilst we are all being kept at home it could be both informative and fun to tell you more about these precious stones and so follows our instagram series “Behind the Stones”
The birthstone for September and the gem of the 45th anniversary. A variety of the mineral corundum is considered to be one of the three main “precious gemstones” alongside, emerald and ruby. You’d be forgiven for thinking that all sapphires are blue… Blue sapphire’s are by far the most commercial of these gemstone but corundum occurs in a variety of colours ranging from the prettiest of pinks to yolk like yellows and everything in between. A truly remarkable variety of sapphire is a padpardscha which is pinkish orange and extremely rare therefore commanding a much higher price.
The birthstone for July. Rubies, are considered the king of gems and represent love, health and wisdom. It was believed wearing a fine red Ruby bestowed good fortune on its owner. Many don’t know that a ruby and a sapphire are in fact the same type of stone… They are both types of corundum, it is the presence of different metal impurities in the crystalline structure that differs the two. In a ruby this chromium. These are hard gemstones therefore very suitable for jewellery such as engagement rings. The most valuable rubies are those called “pigeon blood” rubies which are a deep clear red however they are more commonly a beautiful pink colour making it hard to distinguish them from pink some pink sapphires.
Beryl crystals are naturally occurring hexagonal formations that can be metres in size. Pure beryl is colourless, it is the impurities found in the stones that give them colour. Well known varieties of beryl incl. emerald and aquamarine.
The birthstone for March. Aquamarine is blue beryl. The ancient Romans believed that aquamarine would protect against any dangers while travelling at sea, and that it provided energy and cured laziness.
The birthstone for May. Emerald is green beryl. Considerably rarer than other beryl occurrences and therefore more valuable. Emeralds have been mined in countries across the world from Austria to Colombia with the latter being prized for their transparency and fire.
Beryl is a brittle stone therefore it is not something we would recommend for jewellery that is worn every day such an engagement ring as it won’t take the wear and tear very well. A cocktail ring, pendant or earrings though are just the trick for these beautiful gems…
The birthstone for January and the stone and the gem that celebrates your 2nd year of marriage. Garnets are characterised by their similar crystal formations but each type of garnet has a different chemical composition resulting in a different colour. Our favourite amongst Team SB are Grossular and Tsavorite which are both green however these gemstones also come in a range of colours from red to yellow and even pink. We use a lot of Tsavorite Garnet in engagement rings as it provides a brilliant alternative to the racing green of an emerald without being as brittle. Much better for everyday wear and tear.
The birthstone for April. A diamond is the hardest natural material on earth… Made up of pure carbon and formed over 1 and 3.5 billion years ago up to 250km below the earths surface, this is the king of gemstones. Although diamonds have been used in adornment for centuries advertising campaigns are largely held accountable for our modern fascination with these gemstones. Graded via the 4 C’s of carat, colour, cut and clarity to this day a diamond is the most popular stone for an engagement ring. Coloured diamonds are hugely rare and therefore command the highest price tag.
The birthstone for August. This gemstone is famous for being a ruby imposter. This is because throughout most of recorded history, gem “experts” couldn’t tell them apart. In fact, some of the world’s most famous “rubies” are actually red spinels. For me they catch the light and contain a fire more than any other gemstone. The name spinel comes from the Latin word “spinella”, which means spine in reference to its pointed crystals. Like many of the gemstones we have looked at previously spinel comes in a variety of colours.
The birthstone of June. A pearl is a hard, glistening object produced within the soft tissue of a mollusk. The ideal (read commercial) pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes, known as baroque pearls, can occur. We at SB love baroque pearls for their unique characters. The most valuable pearls occur in the wild, but these are extremely rare and are referred to as natural pearls. Cultured pearls from pearl oysters and freshwater mussels make up the majority of those currently sold.
The birthstone for October.
Tourmaline is a crystalline boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. The name comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli, which means “stone with mixed colours”
Tourmaline comes in a variety of colours. Iron-rich tourmalines are usually black to bluish-black to deep brown, while magnesium-rich varieties are brown to yellow, and lithium-rich tourmalines are almost any colour: blue, green, red, yellow, pink, etc. Rarely is a tourmaline colourless.
Multi coloured crystals are common, reflecting variations of fluid chemistry during crystallisation. My personal favourite is a watermelon tourmaline which is pink at one end and green at another.
Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic meaning they change colour when viewed from different directions.
There is one truly special variety of Tourmaline called a Paraiba Tourmaline what we like to refer to as a “Disney gemstone” – only mined from South America these gems are the most incredible colour.
The birthstone for February. Amethyst is a variety of Quartz that carries a spectacular purple colour that ranges from a blend of deep violet and red to a lighter lilac hue. Ancient Greeks believed that the stone protected the wearer from drunkenness and enabled them to keep a balanced mindset. We in Team SB love a bit of green amethyst.
The birthstone of December. Tanzanite is the blue and violet variety of the mineral zoisite. Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania and was discovered in 1967, in a very small mining area approx. 7 km long. The gemstone was given the name ‘tanzanite’ by Tiffany & Co. after the country in which it was discovered. The scientific name of “blue-violet zoisite” was not thought to be consumer friendly enough by Tiffany’s marketing department, who introduced it to the market in 1968. In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose tanzanite as a December birthstone, the first change to their birthstone list since 1912.
The birthstone for November. Topaz is considered a semi-precious gemstone. It naturally occurs as either clear or pale brown. A variety of impurities and treatments may make topaz wine red, pale gray, reddish-orange, pale green, or pink which is extremely rare. There are many superstitions around Topaz, an English superstition held that topaz cured lunacy, The ancient Romans believed that topaz provided protection from danger while traveling and during the Middle Ages, it was believed that attaching the topaz to the left arm protected the owner from any curse and warded off the evil eye…