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Semi-precious stones.

What you need to know when choosing semi-precious stones like amethysts, aquamarines and tanzanites. These are some of the facts from our illustrated talk on the subject. Alternatively you can click to learn about precious stones or learn about birthstones.

  Amethyst Amethyst earrings the purple variety of Quartz with manganese and iron making it coloured. Named from the Greek ‘Not Drunk’  

A very popular stone, remaining a perennial favourite.

Colour: Highest quality is considered to display a deep rich purple with a tinge of red.

Cut: most commonly as cushions, trillions

Clarity means few inclusions, and ought to be less cloudy.

Used in Mesopotamia for seals, Ancient Egypt for Jewellery. Traditionally associated with purity and piety hence the association made it the choice for Bishop's rings. Not as rare as in earlier times due to the discovery of large Brazilian deposits. Other sources include, Uruguay and Zambia, though commonly found in other localities

 
             
  Aquamarine Aquamarine Cocktail Ring a variety of Beryl (like emerald) is named from the Latin words for water and sea.  

These beautiful blue and blue-green stones are becoming evermore popular choices for central stones in engagement and eternity rings.

Colour: ranges from pure deep blue " Santa Maria" to blue/green. Some are heat treated to make them more blue (acceptable) Greener ones are slightly less valuable. Colour should be uniform throughout.

Cut: most commonly as emerald cuts or ovals.

Clarity: due to their high clarity aquamarines should be almost totally free from inclusions and flaws as these will be very obvious in the finished jewellery.

 
             
  Citrine Citrine pendant a yellow to reddish-brown variety of the quartz. Name is derived from French ‘citron’ for lemon.  

Traditionally the darker orange tones were considered best: the so called Zenith in ‘ Madeira’ citrine, named after the wine.

Colour: Today many people opt for the richer yellow tones. The colour is caused by iron. Natural coloured stones are increasingly rare.

Cut: Ovals and pear-shapes are most popular. Yellow colour can also be produced by the heat treatment of amethyst as it is often found in the same places as amethyst, and may even occur in the same crystal. It is then called ‘ametrine’.

High clarity means few inclusions, but natural small ones add to the beauty.

 
             
  Kunzite Kunzite Cocktail Ring the youngest member of the spodumene family first studied in 1902 by gemmologist George Frederick Kunz.  

Increasingly in popularity and a good choice for a "fun" ring.

Colour: a delicate pink hue often displaying a hint of violet The more intense the colour: the more valuable the stone.  Be careful sunbathing: the colour can fade in direct sunlight.

Cut: Extremely difficult to cut but very rewarding. Can sometimes shatter at the polishing stage! Ovals and pear-shapes are most popular.

High clarity means few inclusions

Main commercial sources are Brazil and Afghanistan.

 
             
  Peridot Peridot Cocktail earrings a yellowish green iron silicate gemstone, sometimes referred to as ‘Olivine’.  

It is so old that it can be found even in Egyptian jewellery from the early second millennium BC. from a little volcanic island in the Red Sea named Zebirget, about 50 miles off the Egyptian coast, rediscovered only around 1900 and completely exploited since.

Colour: The highest quality is considered to be stones of a rich yellow green this colour caused by iron.

Cut: Brilliant and oval shapes are most popular.

High clarity means few inclusions.Often mistakenly classified as an emerald in ancient times. The modern sources of Peridot include Burma, China, Pakistan.

 
             
  Tanzanite a voilet blue variety of Zoisite uniquely mined in Tanzania since 1967.  

The gemstone of the 20th Century. Rarely occurring as blue in nature (more of a golden brown & then heat treated). Very beautiful, subtly different to sapphires in colour and a lot less dear per carat! As they are only found in one locale, new Tanzanites may one day be a thing of the past.

Colour: is the main factor & ranges from ultramarine to a lightish purple-blue. Very light or dark shades are possibly less desirable, but it is a matter of personal choice. A new classification scale exists: Bv (predominantly blue); vB (predominantly violet) and then grade 1 (deepest colour) to grade 5 (lightest) There is a new AnchorCert (UK) classification with stones split into 4 classifications: from A for 'Pale' and AAAA for 'Vivid'.

High clarity means few inclusions. They are classified as IF (Internally Flawless), Clean, SI (Slight Inclusion) or I (Included) They are generally sold as larger carat stones (1cts and up)

Cut: frequently as cushions, trillions and ovals Never clean these stones in an ultrasonic cleaner.

 
             
  Topaz (Blue) Blue topaz ring are naturally pale to medium blue, the aluminium silicate blue topaz is enhanced by irradiation to produce a more intense blue colour. Derived from the Sanskrit word for fire.  

Colour: In terms of value red topaz is considered best, yet due to the rarity not commonly seen. It can exhibit a colourless, blue, yellow, pink or red body colour.

Cut: frequently as cushions, trillions and ovals, squares and pear-shapes.

High clarity so very few inclusions.

The stone was known to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. The source in those days already being Sri Lanka. In the 17th century the Portuguese crown was set with a 1,600 carat colourless stone named the Braganza. It was then said to be the world's largest diamond but is now thought to have been a Topaz. Modern sources of Topaz include Brazil, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and several African countries.

 
             
  Tourmalines Tourmaline Cocktail Ring a complex aluminium and boron silicate mineral. Name derived from the Singhalese phrase ‘Tura mali’ meaning ‘Stone of many colours’.  

A peculiarity of tourmaline is that, when heated, the crystal acquires an electric charge which gives it magnetic properties.

Colour: Displays the largest range of colours and can display several colours in one stones. Great variety of colour caused by small changes to complex chemical composition. After the rare paraiba the red and pink is most valuable.The many different colours are described by different names. Examples are Rubellite for red, Indicolite for blue and Verdite for green.

Cut: generally as emerald-cuts and baguettes as the long crystals tend to be more suited to make rectangular shapes.

High clarity so very few inclusions.

A very rare electric blue variety from the Paraiba mine in Brazil was the most valued ever. Other blue green tourmalines are often passed off as Paraiba Tourmaline. Due to an abundance of material, Tourmaline has many sources including, Afghanistan, Brazil, East Africa and the United States.

 
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