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What are Gemstones?

A gemstone is the name given to a piece of mineral (or other rock or organic material) that after it has been cut and polished has been made into a piece of jewellery or another accessory. Although gemstones are commonly made from minerals, material such as jet or amber or rocks like lapis lazuli can also be utilised in the creation of gemstones. The majority of gemstones will be hard to the touch but depending on the piece of jewellery that is being created, some soft minerals are also utilised. Take a look at Moh’s Scale of Hardness to find out more about this.

Some other names for a gemstone include:
Gem / Fine Gem
Precious stone / Semi-precious stone
Jewel

How Are Gemstones Formed?
Even though the vast majority of gemstones are created below the surface of the earth, there are a number of different ways that the individual stones can be created. A great number of these precious stones are created when the minerals react with water that is found just below the surface of the earth and the minerals then dissolve. This process allows the minerals to form with gemstones like opals, agates and amethysts forming when the solution cools or evaporates.

Gems like malachite, azurite or turquoise are formed when water blends with rocks that are rich in copper. There is a strong history attached to turquoise gems with the ancient Egyptians regarding them to be an extremely precious gem. This means that turquoise gems have been around for 4,000 years or even longer!

Gemstones & Birthstones

Allure Jewelry is pleased to offer an extensive collection of fine precious and semi-precious gemstones. From loose stones to finished jewelry- Allure Jewelery offers a collection of colored stones that will exceed all expectations. Our extremely knowledgeable Certified Professional Gemologist will help you choose the right colored gemstone or jewelery to suit your budget.

The most valued precious gemstones are emerald, chrome tourmaline, sapphire, ruby, and topaz. When determining the value and quality of a precious gemstone, color is the primary characteristic. Gemologists divide gemstone color into three categories: hue, tone and intensity.

Many gemstones have been chemically enhanced or treated to improve color and appearance to the naked eye. Some of these treatments are permanent and undetectable, while others can be identified and may cause the color of the gem to change over time. Such enhancements must always be disclosed to the customer to ensure an informed buying decision is made.

As an example of how a gemologist evaluates color, examine September’s birthstone: the sapphire. Sapphires can form naturally in all colors of the rainbow, except red. When a gemologist evaluates a blue sapphire, the color can vary anywhere between a pale watery gray-blue to deep greenish-blackish-blue.

Sapphire can be extremely common and inexpensive, or rare and pricey; this is primarily determined by the color.

The list of varying semiprecious stones is long and expansive and many are fond of birthstones like aquamarine, topaz, amethyst, and peridot. Refer to the birthstone chart below to select the perfect semiprecious stone for a birthday or important occasion.


Garnet

January Birthstone | Garnet

Garnet, the birthstone for January, signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry. Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.


February Birthstone |Amethyst 

Amethyst, the gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the middle Ages to symbolize royalty. It has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethysts were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewelry. Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine material can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.

Amethyst

Aquamarine

March Birthstone | Aquamarine

The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. This gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and level-headed. Its pale, cool color beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes. Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.


April Birthstone |Diamond

As the April birthstone, diamonds are the ideal gift for a loved one. And now you have more choices than ever. Get creative and give the ultimate gift of beauty: a fancy-color diamond. Fancy-color diamonds are natural, rare and truly exotic gem of the earth. Diamonds in hues of yellow, red, pink, blue, and green range in intensity from faint to vivid and generally the more saturated the color, the higher the value. In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense color are rare and may be priced higher than a colorless diamond of equal size. Because fancy-color diamonds are very desirable, color is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called color-treated diamonds. When purchasing a fancy-color diamond, the shopper should ask if any enhancements or treatments were used to improve its color and/or clarity.

Diamond

May Birthstone | Emerald

As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.


June Birthstone |Pearl

Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries. They were one of the favorite gem materials of the Roman Empire; later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl age. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural pearls in the market.

A pearl is formed when a foreign object, such as a grain of sand, accidentally finds its way into an oyster or mollusk. In an effort to heal, the mollusk secrets a crystalline material called nacre which builds layers on the object lodged inside. After some period of time, the layers of nacre appear smooth, hard and luminescent- and a pearl is born! 

Pearl

Natural pearls, formed by the process identified above are very rare and very expensive because this process is based solely on chance. To accommodate the growing retail market, most pearls sold today are cultured pearls. Cultured pearls are made with the help of humans inserting an object into an oyster. The oyster is placed in to warm water while slightly open to help the pearl form over a period of several years. The process of creating cultured pearls began in japan in the late 19th century and has aided the industry in creating pearls of varying shape, color, size and quality in mass quantities.

Pearl Characteristics

Pearl quality can vary dramatically, and just like other gemstones, only a tiny percentage are beautiful enough for use in jewelry. Characteristics that contribute to the value of a pearl are luster and nacre thickness, surface, shape, color and size.

LUSTER
Luster is an important factor in determining the value of a pearl. It is a combination of surface brilliance and glow. The thickness of the iridescent layers surrounding a pearl's nucleus dramatically affects a pearls luster. This combined with color and size is how a price is valued.

SHAPE
Perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable. Baroque pearls, which are asymmetrical in shape, can be lustrous and appealing, and often cost less than round pearls. A clean, smooth, blemish-free surface is also preferred and more valuable.

COLOR
Cultured pearls can be found in a wide variety of colors- shades from rose to black and everything in between may be created by the oyster or dyed by man. Whatever the color, it should appear to emanate from deep within the pearl.

SIZE
Millimeter size is how cultured pearls are measured. They can be smaller than one millimeter, as in the case of tiny seed pearls, or as large as twenty millimeters for a big South Sea pearl. As with diamonds, size influences price.

PEARL ORIGINS

In addition to quality, pearls are identified and labeled based on their origin:
AKOYA
Cultured in China and Japan. Most known for their luster, akoya pearls are considered the classic pearl. They are generally white or cream colored with overtone colors of rose, silver or cream. Sizes range from 2 to 11 mm.

CHINESE FRESHWATER
Cultivated in mussels in lakes and rivers, these pearls grow in an awesome variety of colors and shapes. These pearls are very affordable.

SOUTH SEA PEARLS
Cultured from the silver or white-lip oyster, primarily in the northern waters of Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines, these pearls grow to exceptional size; 10 to 20 mm. These are highly prized and precious.

TAHITIAN PEARLS
Cultured from the black-lip oyster in the waters of the South Pacific, these pearls come in larger sizes, from 10 to 20 mm, and a variation of colors including black, gray, burgundy, peacock and gold. Mystical and dark, the popularity of Tahitian pearls has surged in recent years, making strands of these pearls one of the most sought-after pieces of jewelry.


Ruby

July Birthstone | Ruby

There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday. Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love. Ruby is a variety of the gem species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear. Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red. If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire.


August Birthstone | Peridot

Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year. As peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. This gemstone comes in several color variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens. Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.


Sapphire

September Birthstone | Sapphire

Sapphire, the September birthstone, has been popular since the Middle Ages and, according to folklore, will protect your loved ones from envy and harm. Medieval clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven, while commoners thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. Blue sapphires range from very light to very dark greenish or violetish blue, as well as various shades of pure blue. The most prized colors are a medium to medium dark blue or slightly violetish blue. Sapphire is a variety of the gem species corundum and occurs in all colors of the rainbow. Pink, purple, green, orange, or yellow corundum are known by their color (pink sapphire, green sapphire). Ruby is the red variety of corundum.


October Birthstone |Tourmaline

Tourmaline has become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designer, and gem collectors the world over. Since it is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone's taste. Tourmaline also is known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone.  These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized.  One multi-color variety is known as watermelon tourmaline, and features green, pink, and white colors bands; to resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge.  Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.

Tourmaline

Topaz

November Birthstone | Topaz

Topaz is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colors. Prized for several thousand years in antiquity, all yellow gems in antiquity were called topaz. Often confused with citrine quartz (yellow) and smoky quartz (brown), quartz and topaz are separate and unrelated mineral species. The most prized color of topaz is called Imperial topaz after the Russian Czars of the 1800s and features a magnificent orange body color with pinkish undertones. Topaz also comes in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and the many popular blue tones.


December Birthstone |Tanzanite

Discovered in the late 1960s in Tanzania, and found exclusively in this tiny area of the world, tanzanite exhibits a rich violet-blue color for which the gemstone is treasured; often it is heat-treated to achieve this color.  Colors range from blue to purple, and tanzanites that are medium dark in tone, vivid in saturation, and slightly violet blue command premium prices.  As tanzanite can be less expensive than sapphire, it often was purchased as an alternative.  However, it has increased in popularity and now is valued more for its own beauty and brilliance than as a sapphire substitute.

Tanzanite