Happy Birthday October!

By Amanda L. Colborn

Happy birthday to all the October babies out there! October features two very unique and different birthstones.  Tourmaline and Opal, two of the most gorgeous and diverse birthstones make beautiful and vibrant jewelry.  Let’s explore them individually:

Tourmaline

Tourmaline has become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designers, 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 from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline from AGS headquarters

Tourmaline rings from Suna Bros.

Tourmaline rings from Suna Bros.

Opal

The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).”  Opals range in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. An opal’s beauty is the product of contrast between its color play and its background.  Opal is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature’s heating and molding processes, the gel hardened into the form of opals. The opal is composed of particles closely packed in spherical arrangements. When packed together in a regular pattern, a three-dimensional array of spaces are created that give opal its radiance.

Fire Opal from AGS headquarters

Fire Opal from AGS headquarters

Yellow gold and Opal pendant from Spark Creations.

Yellow gold and Opal pendant from Spark Creations.

Close-up shot of a Opal pendant from Sydney Rosen Company

Close-up shot of a Opal pendant from Sydney Rosen Company

On behalf of everyone at AGS, we wish all the October babies out there a very happy birthday!

To find a beautiful opal and tourmaline jewelry in your area from an AGS credentialed jeweler, please check out our Find a Jeweler tool here: https://www.americangemsociety.org/find-a-jeweler

Celebrating September with Sparkling Sapphire

We’re getting a jump-start on September!

September’s birthstone is the sapphire, a beautiful gemstone that has been popular since the Middle Ages. According to folklore, sapphires bring wearers good fortune, spiritual insight and provide them with protection from envy and harm.

Blue sapphires range from very light to very dark greenish or violet-blue, as well as various shades of pure blue.  The most prized colors are a medium to medium dark blue or slightly violet-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 (e.g. pink sapphire, green sapphire).  Ruby is the red variety of corundum.

Sapphires are one of our favorite gems here at the American Gem Society. They’re versatile and can be worn with just about anything, but strike a beautiful chord when paired with diamonds and white gold. While there are many shades of sapphires to choose from, the gem’s radiance never fails to attract attention. Here are the top three reasons why we’re in love with sapphires:

Blue Sapphire necklace and ring from Omi Privé

Blue Sapphire necklace and ring from Omi Privé

  1. They’re always in fashion. From blue to pink, sapphires of all colors are stylish staples of luxury. Sapphires hit the Hollywood stage every year, making regular appearances on the red carpet and in the collections of well-known celebrities and even royalty.
  2. They complement fall attire. Sapphire jewelry adds a touch of color to fall fashion apparel. The gem accents other fall colors really well, especially gray, red, and orange hues. Wearing a sapphire makes a statement and adds a vivacious aura that brings warmth to the crowd. They wouldn’t be called the September birthstone if they didn’t.
  3. They’re durable and stable. Sapphires (and Rubies) are second only to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale, ranking at a solid 9 compared to a diamond’s 10. This hardness allows sapphires to be worn every day without the constant worry about them scratching or becoming damaged. Though it’s important to take care of your gemstones, sapphires can withstand chipping and breaking while being knocked or bumped. They’re also able to handle heat, light, and chemicals really well, bringing needed peace-of-mind to their wearers.
Blue and Pink Sapphire earrings from AG Gems

Blue and Pink Sapphire earrings from AG Gems

We’re excited to see what kinds of sapphires our members share with us this year! For more information about sapphires, please visit the American Gem Society website. Happy September!

Happy Birthday August!

By Amanda L Colborn

With tomorrow marking the first day of August, we’d like to wish all the August babies a happy birthday! You have two special birthstones associated with the month of August. Both of which are not only unique and beautiful, but very representative of power and courage. Read on to learn more about the birthstones of August, peridot and sardonyx.

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.

14K yellow gold, peridot and diamond earrings from Parlé Jewelry Design

14K yellow gold, peridot and diamond earrings from Parlé Jewelry Design

Sardonyx

Sardonyx is a form of onyx and is recognized by its layers of reddish brown and white banding.

It was popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans who carried into battle talismans of sardonyx engraved with images of heroes such as Mars or Hercules, believing that this would bring courage and victory.

Because of its attractive banding, sardonyx has long been used to fashion cameos (carved raised figures) and intaglios (the reverse of cameos).  This gemstone is found throughout the world.  The most attractive specimens are found in India, but material also is mined in Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, and in the United States.

14k yellow gold filigree ring circa 1950 from Stanley Jewelers Gemologist, Little Rock, AK

14k yellow gold filigree ring circa 1950 from Stanley Jewelers Gemologist; Little Rock, AR

To all of those celebrating birthdays in August, we wish you a very happy birthday. And to everyone, we wish you a very happy August. If you’d like to learn more about any month’s birthstone, click here.

 

Rah! Rah! Rubies!

By Amanda L. Colborn

There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday.

Ruby earrings by Omi Privé

Ruby earrings by Omi Privé

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 gems species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear.

Ruby earrings by AG Gems

Ruby earrings by AG Gems

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.

3 Fun Facts About Rubies:

  • Rubies are historically known as the stone of love.
  • Followers of Hinduism believe that wearing a ruby protects them from their enemies.
  • In addition to being the birthstone for July, rubies are also a traditional gift for those celebrating 15th or 40th anniversaries.
Diamond and Rubies waiting to be set at Nanci Knott & Company

Diamond and Rubies waiting to be set at Nanci Knott & Co.

 

Pearls of Wisdom for June 2015

By Amanda L Colborn

Happy birthday to all the June babies out there!

You’re all very lucky in that you have three very unique birthstones commemorating this special month! Unfortunately, I am not creative enough to also be able to work “Alexandrite” and “Moonstone” into this blog’s title.

But, let’s jump right into pearls!

PEARLS

Historically, pearls have been used as an adornment for centuries.  They were one of the favorite gems of the Roman Empire. Later, during the Tudor period in England, the 1500’s 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 though we are seeing a strong revival of natural pearls.

Natural Pearl Necklace from Matoloni Pearls

Natural Pearl Necklace from Matoloni Pearls

Pearl Necklace from Mastoloni Pearls

Pearl Necklace from Mastoloni Pearls

ALEXANDRITE

A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare Chrysoberyl, with chameleon-like qualities.

Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light.  Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone.  (Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.)

Here we have a video featuring a rare 6 carat Alexandrite ring from AG Gems:

A close-up of an Alexandrite Ring from AG Gems

A close-up of an Alexandrite Ring from AG Gems

MOONSTONE

The third birthstone for June is the Moonstone.  It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone’s appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century.

A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones show a floating play of light (called adularescence) and sometimes show either a multirayed star or a cat’s eye. Considered a sacred stone in India, moonstones often are displayed on a background of yellow (a sacred color) and are believed to encapsulate within the stone a spirit whose purpose is to bring good fortune.

Part of the family of minerals called feldspar, moonstone occurs in many igneous and metamorphic rocks and comes in a variety of colors such as green, blue, peach, and champagne. The most prized moonstones are from Sri Lanka; India, Australia, the United States, Mayanmar, and Madagascar are also sources.

Moonstone

Moonstone

On behalf of everyone at the American Gem Society — we wish you a very happy June, full of joy and jewels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy birthday May! We’re celebrating with Emeralds!

By Amanda L Colborn

As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth.

Emerald and diamond ring from Omi Privé

Emerald and diamond ring from Omi Privé

According to Almanac.com, “The emerald, was one of Cleopatra’s favorite gems. It has long been associated with fertility, rebirth, and love. Ancient Romans went so far as to dedicate this stone to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Today, it is thought that emeralds signify wisdom, growth, and patience.”

Emerald and diamond ring from Suna Bros.

Emerald and diamond ring from Suna Bros.

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.

Emerald earrings from AG Gems

Emerald earrings from AG Gems

So enjoy your birthday, May babies! And enjoy the rich and beautiful Emerald gemstone all year round!

 

Happy Birthday April! It’s your time to shine!

By Amanda L Colborn

At the American Gem Society and especially in AGS Laboratories, we look forward to April all year long!  With the diamond being April’s birthstone, it’s yet another opportunity to celebrate our favorite things: bright, shiny diamonds!

Don’t get us wrong, all other months and their birthstones are just as special! However, being part of an organization that offers you the highest quality diamond grading reports…we do have a special soft spot for diamonds.

A gorgeous 7 carat, cushion cut from Alson Jewelers.

A gorgeous 7 carat, cushion cut from Alson Jewelers.

History of the Diamond as the April Birthstone

Diamonds are a thing of beauty and the ultimate gift for a loved one. Thought to be one of the hardest substances on the globe, diamonds date back billions of years. The diamond is the traditional birthstone of April and holds significant meaning for those born in that month, thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and an increase in inner strength. Wearing diamonds is purported to bring other benefits such as balance, clarity and abundance.  It’s also symbolic of eternal love, and those fortunate to call April the month of their birth will enjoy the following history behind this rare gem.

Diamond engagement rings by Suna Bros.

Diamond engagement rings by Suna Bros.

Diamond Gemstones

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. Yellow stones have minuscule traces of nitrogen while blue ones contain boron.

A stunning pear shape diamond from Philip's Diamond Shop.

A stunning pear shape diamond from Philip’s Diamond Shop.

The History and Beliefs Surrounding the Diamond

As told through the Encarta, Sanskrit texts dating back before 400 B.C. found that people associated significant value and wonderment with crystals. There is also significant research that dates back to the 1330s showing diamond cutting in Venice. The diamond trading business flourished towards the 15th century with the opening of Eastern trade routes. Ancient theories touting the magical powers of diamonds were prevalent: some thought lightning bolts formed diamonds, while other theories asserted that diamonds were the tears of god.

Engagement rings by Ritani.

Engagement rings by Ritani.

The Healing Power 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 believed that diamonds could also 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. She’ll love you for it! Find a trusted diamond jeweler near you.

 

March birthstone: Aquamarine

By Amanda L Colborn

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.

Aquamarine and diamond ring from Mitchener-Farrand Jewelers.

Aquamarine and diamond ring from Mitchener-Farrand Jewelers.

The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded.  Its pale, cool color beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes.

Aquamarine ring in yellow gold from Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts.

Aquamarine ring in yellow gold from Maertens Fine Jewelry & Gifts.

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.

Aquamarine cocktail ring from Ricardo Basta Fine Jewelry.

Aquamarine cocktail ring from Ricardo Basta Fine Jewelry.

Read more about all birthstones here, and to find an AGS jeweler who can show you the gemstone in a variety of settings, click here. We’ll also be continuing the conversation about Aquamarine throughout March, so join us on Facebook!

 

Celebrating the birthstone of February – Amethyst!

By: Amanda L. Colborn

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.  Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethyst 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.

Raw amethyst at the AGS headquarters

Raw amethyst at the AGS headquarters

Amethyst pendant from Parlé Jewelry Designs

Amethyst pendant from Parlé Jewelry Designs

Amethyst ring from Parlé Jewelry Designs

Amethyst ring from Parlé Jewelry Designs

 

September Sapphires Fuel Our Fire

By Kevin P. McVay

September’s birthstone is the sapphire, a beautiful gemstone that has been popular since the Middle Ages. According to folklore, sapphires bring wearers good fortune, spiritual insight and provide them with protection from envy and harm. As one of the more well-known gemstones in the world, sapphires are commonly worn in jewelry. Though blue is the most common shade, sapphires can come in a variety of colors including yellow, green and even pink.

Sapphires are one of our personal favorite gems here at the American Gem Society. They’re versatile and can be worn with just about anything, but strike a beautiful chord when paired with diamonds and white gold. While there are many shades of sapphires to choose from, the gem’s radiance never fails to attract attention. Here are the top three reasons why we’re in love with sapphires:

  1. They’re always in fashion. From blue to pink, sapphires of all colors are stylish staples of luxury. Sapphires hit the Hollywood stage every year, making regular appearances on the asfred carpet and in the collections of well-known celebrities and even royalty. Penelope Cruz, Victoria Beckham, Elizabeth Hurley, Kate Middleton and Nicole Ritchie are just a few of many popular figures that have been spotted wearing elegant sapphires.
  2. They complement fall attire. Sapphire jewelry adds a touch of color to fall fashion apparel. The gem accents other fall colors really well, especially gray, red and orange hues. Wearing a sapphire makes a statement and adds a vivacious aura that brings warmth to the crowd. They wouldn’t be called the September birthstone if they didn’t.
  3. They’re durable and stable. Sapphires are second only to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale, ranking at a solid 9 compared to a diamond’s 10. This hardness allows sapphires to be worn every day without the constant worry about them scratching or becoming damaged. Though it’s important to take care of your gemstones, sapphires can withstand chipping and breaking while being knocked or bumped. They’re also able to handle heat, light and chemicals really well, bringing needed peace-of-mind to their wearers.

 

We’re excited to see what kinds of sapphires our members share with us this year! Do you adore sapphires because of a different reason? Please share your sapphire story with us in the comments. For more information about sapphires, please visit the American Gem Society website. Have a happy September!

photo.