Birthstones of the Month
January - Garnet
This gem comes in every color except blue, and its green hue is nearly impossible to find over one carat. Garnets are usually carried as an amulet to avoid accidents during travel. The Asiatic and South West Indians used them as bullets while the Persians regarded them as royal gems. The red garnet is believed to relieve fever and the yellow garnet to cure jaundice.
February - Amethyst
There are many shades of this purple crystalline quartz. The amethyst was originally thought to ward off drunkenness. Those who wore the stone believed they could keep and project a serious and sober mind no matter how abundant the wine flowed. Amethysts have distinctive inclusions that resemble tiger stripes or individual thumbprints making each stone as individual as its owner. Amethyst has a calming and soothing effect on its wearer.
March - Aquamarine
From the Latin word meaning seawater, aquamarines have been most preferred in the sea-green hue. However, after the nineteenth century, the color of choice became the sky and dark blues. To enhance the color, most of these stones have been heat-treated. However, too much heat can cause the stone to become colorless. Though the best gem quality aquamarines are found in Russia, Afghanistan, and India, Brazil has offered up the supreme choices in these gems- including a 243-pound aquamarine found in 1910. The American museum now carries a 13-pound chunk of this stone.
April - Diamond
The hardest of all stones, the diamond is also considered the most valuable. Formed under high pressure and over fifty miles underground, the diamond comes in a variety of colors. Though clear is the most popular, diamonds can also be found in yellow, brown, green, blue, pink, red, gray, and black. Western civilizations believed the diamond could bring courage, fortitude, superior strength, and marital happiness. No wonder the diamond is a girl's best friend!
May - Emerald
Throughout history, as far back as 4,000 B.C., emeralds have been viewed as one of the most coveted gemstones in the world. First traded in the Babylonian gem market and mined in ancient Egypt near the Red Sea, gem quality emeralds are rare; they can be considered just as much, if not more valuable than diamonds. It is said Nero used giant emeralds as sunglasses to watch the chariot races. Emeralds are believed to help women in the ills of childbirth as well as increase fortune.
June - Pearl
Once believed to be tears of the Gods, pearls are actually formed in shellfish as a natural defense against irritants. Secretions known as nacre are built up around the irritant- usually grit- and eventually form a solid pearl. They come in a variety of colors, white, pink, brown, or black, depending on the shellfish and the water. Pearls were once royal gems worn only with permission by the elite. It was thought their color depended on the weather of the sea; good weather meant white pearls, dark weather meant black pearls.
July - Ruby
Second only to the diamond in hardness, the ruby is a perfect gem for setting. The deep red color led the ancient Burmese to believe that it came from a deep valley and its blood related hue helped with blood related ailments. A little closer to the heart however, rubies could stop evil thoughts, rekindle desire, and stop lover's disputes.
August - Peridot
An olive or bottle green crystal, the peridot is a stone with a mystical reputation. Brought to Europe by the crusaders, it was said this stone was an eye into the future and held intense powers. Peridots are actually specimens of the mineral "olivine" and have a distinctive oily or greasy luster. Good quality crystals are very hard to find.
September - Sapphire
Although usually associated with the color blue, sapphires occur in a wide range of colors; including violet, reddish-orange, clear, and pink. Since the Middle Ages, sapphires have symbolized the peace and tranquility of the heavens. The sapphire is also believed to have the power to suppress wicked and impure thoughts in the wearer. For its powers to be utilized, the stone was said to have to be worn directly on the skin. That is why sapphires are often cut so that, when set in jewelry, it will make contact with the skin. At the same time, Ancient Persians ascertained that the world rested on a giant sapphire. Hard to believe that just prior to this, sapphires were used as fire-starting flint.
October - Opal
Much like amber, the opal is not a crystalline gem, but a hardened silica gel that contains 5-10 percent water. It is thought to crack or dry out after time, but its beauty is timeless. The precious opal, the most common in jewelry, is iridescent and shows flashes of color. The Romans believed the opal to be a symbol of hope and purity. At the same time, Arabs believed the opal was born from flashes of lightning and protected the wearer from disease.
November - Topaz
Topaz is believed to be from the Sanskrit word topas, meaning, "fire." Topaz comes in a myriad of different shades from yellow and blue to pink and green. However, true pink stones are very rare as most pink stones on the market are merely heat-treated yellow gems. Topaz is considered the wonder drug of all stones, being powdered to cure asthma, insomnia, burns, and hemorrhage. Though thought to ward off enchantment, the topaz "powers" change with the moon.
December - Zircon
Derived from the Arabic word zargon, meaning "Gold Color," the zircon is ironically, in its purest form, colorless. It is for this reason that it has been used on purpose and by accident in place of a diamond. It is its slight impurities that cause its yellow, orange, blue, red, brown, and even gold colors. Blue stones that revert to brown can return to a blue color after being reheated. So, in all practicality, zircon is the mood stone in the gem world. It was believed that these stones would enable the wearer with wisdom, honor, and riches. Its loss of luster was said to warn of danger.
At Vogan Gold & Silver Works, Inc., we believe every gemstone is beautiful and uniquely individual just like the person who wears and enjoys it.
Mohs Scale of Hardness - Hardest to Softest
10 - Diamond
9 - Ruby and Sapphire
8 - Alexanderite and Topaz
7 - Amethyst, Tourmaline, Garnet, Emerald, and Citrine
6 - Tanzanite, Peridot, Zircon, and Moonstone
5 - Opal, Turquoise and Lapis
4 - Pearl and Coral
3 - Malachite
2 - Amber and Ivory
1 - Sulphur