Gemstones & Birthstones
The Earth's Treasure
Most gemstones were formed in the Earth's crust, miles beneath the Earth's surface, millions to billions of years ago. Since our humble, hairy origins, gemstones has captivated humanity for thousands of years.
A Birthstone is a gemstone that represents a person's period of birth. It's a fun way to personalise a piece to make it specific to the person.
There are over 200 species of gemstones, but for our sakes we'll narrow it down to just 12.
A dark red gemstone. It's been used as a gemstone and an abrasive since the Bronze Age.
The name Garnet comes from 14th-century Middle English 'Gernet', which means dark red. It stems all the way from Latin 'Granatus', and is thought to be in reference to 'pomum granatum', or pomegranate, whose fruit seeds are similar to garnet crystals.
Part of the Quartz family, Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz. It can be found in all shades of purple, from light lavender or rose, to intense Siberian amethyst that displays highlights of magenta.
The Ancient Greeks believed it protected its owner from drunkenness. See if it works?
The sparkling Aquamarine can be found in sea green, sky blue, and dark blue. It's part of the Beryl family, which made Cleopatra's mines famous throughout the world.
Aquamarine is dichroic, which means it has or shows two colours, so the colour changes depending on the angle it's viewed from.
Diamond is a solid form of pure carbon with its atoms arranged in a crystal. It's the hardest material on Earth, with a 10 rating on Mohs scale of hardness. The other solid form of pure carbon is Graphite, (our humble pencil) which has a 1 rating.
Natural diamonds are formed billions of years ago, and are easily the most popular gemstone of today.
Mysterious, royal, and rare, Emeralds have long been regarded as a superior gemstone. From the family of Beryl (same as Aquamarine), the soothing green colour was thought to be restful to eyes under strain.
Gem cutters would keep emeralds on their workbenches, and would rest their eyes on them after long hours of work on other gems.
The Romans admired Moonstone, believing it was derived from solidified rays of the Moon. In more recent history, Moonstone was very popular during the Art Nouveau period (1890 - 1910).
Moonstone is part of the feldspar family.
The most important of gem families, Ruby comes from the family corundum. The finest colour is pure red with a hint of blue, as seen in glowing coal, otherwise known as Burmese 'pigeon's blood' rubies.
Rubies are embedded inside mechanical watch movements, to reduce friction from the gears and to act as a bearing point!
A hardy gemstone that comes in a variety of colours - from red and pink, to blue, black and grey. Due to their hardness, they are very suitable for engagement rings as they last through the years.
The name comes from the Latin word 'spinella', which means spine in reference to its pointed crystals.
Sapphire comes from the family corundum - like ruby. They're actually the same stone, except with different colours. Sapphire comes in every colour of the rainbow, but people know it best for its deep blue.
Sapphire is used in non-jewellery applications, as it's so hard. You might have heard 'sapphire-crystal glass' when you're buying a watch. There is talk about using sapphire-crystal glass for smartphone screens - the screen repair market will definitely lose business if that happens!
Opal & Tourmaline
Home sweet home! Opal is one of Australia's most iconic and famous stones.
Opal is actually mostly comprised of water, and isn't classified as a true mineral. As water runs down the earth, it carries silica from sandstone and seeps into deep cracks and voids in the Earth's crust.
Another member of the Quartz family, (like amethyst), citrine is the yellow variety. It ranges in colour from pale to golden yellow, honey or almost brown.
The name comes from the French word 'citron', meaning lemon.
Turquoise & Blue Topaz
December gives us two stones. Double trouble.
Turquoise has always been considered a lucky stone. It's still so popular today, people don't just mine it, they try imitate it.
Topaz is normally golden brown, but there's also blue. The name is believed to have come from the Sanskrit word 'tapas', which means 'heat', or 'fire'.