Semi-precious gemstones and their types
Since only the quartet mentioned in our previous article are considered true gemstones, the remaining almost 200 stones are semi-precious. In this article, we will present those stones for which you can find jewellery in our e-shop.
Pearls are organic gemstones that are formed when an oyster coats a foreign body with beautiful layers of nacre.
Today, pearls are cultivated. Shell beads are placed inside the oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. Later, when the oyster has coated the pearl with layers of nacre, the pearls are harvested. Most cultured pearls are produced in Japan. In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, larger oysters are used to produce South Sea pearls and larger black pearls are produced in Tahiti. Freshwater pearls are cultivated in mussels, mainly in China.
The quality of pearls is judged by orientation, i.e. the soft iridescence caused by the refraction of light in the nacre layers, and lustre, i.e. the reflection and shine of the surface. Fine pearls do not have pearlescent blemishes or spots: they have a smooth, even texture. Other factors determining value are regularity of shape, size and colour: pink shades are most favoured.
A very simple test can distinguish cultured and natural pearls from imitations. Take a pearl and rub it (gently!) against the edge of your tooth. Cultured and natural pearls will be slightly rough, like fine sandpaper, due to the texture of the natural nacre. Imitations will look as smooth as glass because their surface is moulded or painted on a smooth bead.
Amethyst is a semi-precious stone often used in jewellery and is the traditional February stone.
Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz whose purple colour is due to irradiation, admixtures of iron and in some cases other transition metals and other trace elements, which result in complex alternations of the crystal lattice. The hardness of the mineral is the same as that of quartz, making it suitable for use in jewellery. Its colour is unique and seductive, although in fact this gemstone, of all gemstones, is said to protect the wearer from temptation.
Amethyst is an extravagant purple colour. For many thousands of years, the most prominent member of the quartz family has been a gemstone coveted by both ecclesiastical and secular princes. Moses described it as a symbol of the spirit of God in the official robes of the Jewish high priest, and Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, sent thousands of miners to the Urals in search of it. In popular belief, amethyst protects against drunkenness, as the Greek word "amethystos" means "not intoxicated".
Because it was thought to give the wearer a pure mood and symbolise trust and piety, the amethyst has been a very important part of Catholic clergy jewellery for centuries. It was the stone of bishops and cardinals.
The crystal has properties that stimulate and calm the mind and emotions, enhancing intelligence, spirituality and happiness. It also brings success in business. The vibrations emitted by Amethyst purify negative energies. What's more, it creates a protective veil of light for its wearer. Amethyst looks stylish when worn as an accessory and at the same time is a powerful spiritual relic that neutralises the negativity in life. Topaz
This is a fluoroaluminium silicate that comes in yellow, yellow-brown, honey-yellow, flax, brown, green, blue, light blue, red and pink... and sometimes it has no colour at all. The colour is imparted by impurities of iron, titanium, chromium and vanadium. Bluish topaz is very rare, but it can be obtained by heating a colourless mineral. Pink is even rarer, and when heated it produces orange or brown. Topaz fades when left in the light for long periods.
Topaz has been known for at least 2000 years and is one of the gems that form the foundations of the twelve gates of the Holy City of New Jerusalem. These so-called apocalyptic stones are supposed to serve as a protection against enemies and as a symbol of beauty and splendour. It cannot be definitively proven whether the name topaz comes from Sanskrit or Greek, although the Greek name 'topazos' means 'green jewel'. The Romans dedicated the topaz to Jupiter.
Topaz is usually found in yellow colour. In mysticism, topaz is said to have a cooling and appetite stimulating effect. It is said to dispel sadness, anger and night terrors, warn the wearer of poison and protect against sudden death. It is said to make men handsome and intelligent and barren women fertile and happy.
However, it is probably best not to put too much faith in its magical powers, as it has also been claimed that if a topaz is thrown into boiling water, it is possible to submerge the hand and pull it out again without injury! This is the stone of November.
Garnet comes in a variety of colours: red (pyrope), brownish red (spessartine andradite), violet-red (almandine, rhodolite), pink (rhodolite), green (grosular, andradite, uvarovite), yellow-green (grosular), black-brown, black (melanite) and colourless (grosular).
Thanks to their rich colour spectrum, garnets today can confidently keep pace with changes in style and colour fashion trends. And thanks to new finds, there is also a reliable supply. So it is in fact this group of gems that is giving a new impetus to the jewellery world today. The garnet world is also full of rarities such as star garnets and stones that change colour depending on whether they are seen in daylight or in artificial light.
And what else makes this group of gems stand out from the rest? Well, first of all, it has a good hardness - 7-7.5 on the Mohs scale. With a few exceptions, this applies to all members of the garnet group, and this is the reason for the excellent wearing qualities of these gemstones. Garnets are relatively insensitive and easy to work. The only thing they really don't like is breaking or improper heat treatment. Another advantage is their high refractive index, which makes garnets shine brightly.
The shape of the rough crystals is also interesting. Garnet means 'grainy' and comes from the Latin word granum, meaning grain. This refers not only to the typical round shape of the crystals, but also to the red colour of the pomegranate, which often resembles the seeds of a ripe pomegranate. In the Middle Ages, the red garnet was also known as the 'carbuncle stone'.
Pomegranates have been known to man for thousands of years. It is said that Noah used a pomegranate lantern to help him navigate the ark on a dark night. Garnets are also found in jewellery from early Egyptian, Greek and Roman times. Many early explorers and travellers liked to carry a grenade with them, as the garnet was popular as a talisman and as a protective stone because it was believed to illuminate the night and protect the wearer from evil and misfortune.
Garnets convince with their natural, unadulterated beauty, their variety of colours and their enormous sparkle. Anyone who purchases garnet jewellery can be sure that the joy that this beautiful gemstone, gifted by nature, gives them will be long-lasting and enduring.
Agate is not a true mineral, but rather a mineral aggregate made up of various forms of quartz, most commonly chalcedony. Agate is a word of Greek origin, linked to the name of the Sicilian river Achate (Latin: Achates, Italian: Dirillo, Acate), where it was first found. Each individual agate is formed by filling a rock cavity. The agate is therefore often found as a rounded tuber with concentric bands like the rings of a tree trunk. The bands sometimes resemble eyes, elaborate scallops or even a landscape with trees.
Agate has a characteristic texture of concentric bands of different shades. Often there is a quartz crumble in the middle of the agate. It can be variegated, monochrome or banded. Feathery, fan-shaped, tubular, opaque or semi-transparent mineral formations resemble trees, mosses, algae, rose blossoms, bird feathers. They can be in a wide range of colours: white, grey, azure, yellowish, red, black, brown, orange, pink. Moss agate is almost colourless, grey or milky white with green chlorite inclusions similar to moss.
In ancient times, agate was highly valued as a talisman or amulet. It was said to quench thirst and protect against fever. Persian magicians used agate to divert storms. The stone is quiet and peaceful, but its effects are strong and long-lasting. It awakens your courage and determination, and gently and non-violently restores your self-confidence and self-love. Agate strengthens your love of truth and encourages you to speak your mind and stand up for what you really think. This mineral helps to overcome bitterness and pain in the heart. It teaches you to manage the inner anger that we hide even from ourselves: the emotions that, when uncontrolled, tear the physical and spiritual body to pieces; the tension that you build up through the endless desire to be seen and noticed.
Agate improves concentration, helps to overcome distractions, helps to solve problems.
Quartz is a silica mineral. The colour of quartz varies widely from dark black to colourless, depending on the various impurities.
Beautiful quartz, 'rock crystal', used in ancient times to make crystal balls and bowls, is more commonly found today in gold jewellery.
Quartz is the most abundant mineral on the earth's surface and is found in all parts of the world. It can form at virtually any temperature, and igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks are particularly favourable. The mineral is highly resistant to the physical and chemical effects of weathering, so its durability means that it dominates mountaintops, beaches, rivers and deserts - there is virtually no place where quartz cannot be found, and deposits are found year after year around the world. For example, the white sand that is often found in riverbeds or on beaches is also mostly composed of quartz.
The incredible variety of varieties of quartz:
Agate - banded chalcedony, opaque;
Amethyst - a purple transparent variety of quartz;
Amethyst - amethyst with citrine zones, or vice versa, the colour in the crystal changes abruptly from violet to yellow and from yellow to violet;
Chalcedony - a cryptocrystalline variety of quartz, but the name is only used for white or light-coloured minerals, other colours have specific names;
Citrine - a yellow, orange, greenish-yellow variety of quartz;
Rock crystal - clear, colourless quartz;
Morion - black, dark brown opaque quartz;
Smoky quartz - grey, transparent quartz;
Onyx - agate with straight, uniform bands;
Jasper - opaque chalcedony with impurities;
Avantiurine - semi-transparent chalcedony with fine, evenly distributed impurities (usually mica) which sparkle;
Rose quartz - pink, semi-transparent quartz.
Bursting with life and vitality - a dazzling, hypnotic play of colours - opal has inspired the nickname Queen of all gems, because it captures the full rainbow in one stone.
Opal is a mineral of the oxide class. Opal is essentially made up of water and silica (the main component of glass). Its silica structure contains between 3 % and 20 % water.
Opal comes in several varieties, ranging from semi-transparent to opaque: the most common white opal is clear or white in body colour with bright pastel flashes of iridescent colours. Considered the king of the opal world, the black opal has a blue, grey or black body colour that reveals a more dramatic play of colours. Boulder opal is usually a black opal, with part of the ironstone matrix in which it originated still intact, and has become a great favourite with designers. Crystal opal is a transparent or semi-transparent dark or light body shade in which bright flashes of colour float. Fire opal is transparent or translucent, ranging from yellow to light orange and an intense bright red which may or may not have a play of colour.
On the Mohs scale, opal has a hardness of 5 to 6.5, making it the best gemstone for jewellery such as earrings, pendants and pins, which are rarely subjected to impact. In rings, the bezel setting helps protect the stone. It is usually a stable material, but it can be broken by extreme heat or sudden changes in temperature. Use a soft dry or damp cloth to clean the opal. Do not soak it or use mechanical cleaners or chemicals.
Throughout history, this chameleonic gemstone has symbolised good luck and was believed to inspire love and creativity, build self-confidence and ease life's transitions. The October birthstone, Opal, is a gemstone of positive transformation, revealing the colourful qualities of those who wear it. Magical, mysterious and lively, opal's diversity will captivate new admirers.
The luminous sky blue colour is one of the most popular in the world of jewellery and fashion.
Turquoise is a copper aluminium phosphate with a hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale, much softer than quartz. In nature, it comes in a wide range of shades - from sky blue to grey-green - and is most often found where soils contain high concentrations of copper. However, turquoise is really only turquoise of the very best quality; its colour is usually paler, bluish-green or greenish. Turquoise is an opaque stone. Because of its sensitivity, turquoise is almost always treated in one way or another, although this can take many forms.
The blue colour is produced by copper, the green by divalent iron and some chromium. Often the material contains veins or stains which are brown, light grey or black, depending on where they are found. These lively, more or less regular patterns are known as 'turquoise matrix'. The crystals are microscopically small and almost never recognisable to the naked eye.
In many cultures of the Old and New World, this gemstone has been valued for thousands of years as a sacred stone, a bringer of good luck or a talisman. It certainly has the right to be called "the jewel of the nations". The earliest evidence of this claim was found in Egypt, where grave goods with turquoise inlays dating back to around 3000 BC have been discovered.
In the ancient kingdom of Persia, sky-blue gems were formerly worn around the neck or wrist as protection against unnatural death. If they changed colour, the wearer was thought to have reason to fear impending doom. Meanwhile, it has been found that turquoise can indeed change colour, but this is not necessarily a sign of impending danger. The change in colour can be caused by light or by a chemical reaction caused by cosmetics, dust or skin acidity.
The Turks entered Europe only through the Crusades. It is from this period that the name 'turquoise', meaning 'Turkish', originates. At all times and all over the world, turquoises have been worn as a natural protection against the forces of darkness. Whereas in earlier times they protected the horse and rider from unexpected falls, today they are seen as a protective stone for pilots, aircrews and other professions that are particularly at risk. Modern gemstone therapy recommends wearing a turquoise or turquoise beaded chain for depression sufferers. The cheerful colour of turquoise is said to give more self-confidence to reserved personalities. It is also often given as a friendship stone, as turquoise is said to be responsible for fidelity and constancy in relationships. Turquoise makes us feel happy and cheerful because it combines the light blue of the sky with the stimulating green of the sea. In fact, it is such a unique colour that we have coined the term turquoise in our languages specifically for it. Anyone who chooses turquoise is sure to enjoy a slice of heaven... on earth.
Turquoise should be protected from cosmetics, heat and bright light. It is not a gemstone to take with you when you go sunbathing. It is best to wipe it occasionally with a soft cloth.
Moonstone is a mineral of the silicate class, the feldspar group. This enchanting gemstone belongs to a large group of minerals, the schists, which make up almost two-thirds of all rocks on Earth.
Unpolished moonstones are rather nondescript and do little to reveal what really makes their charm - the mysterious glow of light. For this radiance is only really revealed when the art of polishing is applied.
The luminous glow of a moonstone is something very special in the fascinating world of gems. Specialists call this phenomenon 'adularisation'. It is caused by the gemstone's flat inner structure. The incident light rays are refracted and scattered within the stone. This creates the unique light effect that makes a moonstone so unique and desirable.
These subdued colours and soft lustre make the moonstone the ideal gemstone for sensual jewellery with a feminine aura. There is a great deal of mystique and magic surrounding this gemstone. In many cultures, such as India, it is considered a sacred, magical gemstone. In India, moonstones are also considered to be 'dreamstones' which bring beautiful visions to the wearer at night. In Arab countries, women often wear moonstones sewn into their clothes as the moonstone is a symbol of fertility in their culture. Its soft glow enhances our emotional and subconscious aspects. Because of its associations with this, it is a 'lover's stone', evoking tender feelings and protecting the true joys of love. Wearing a moonstone is also said to enhance our intuition and ability to understand.
However, this beautiful gemstone has one weakness - its relatively low hardness, which is only 6 (6.5) on the Mohs scale. Moonstones should therefore be handled with care, as they are sensitive. However, minor defects that may occur after a stone has been worn for some time are relatively easy to correct. A jeweller can repolish a frosted moonstone, after which it will shine again just as it did on the first day.
Moonstones are natural treasures with a sensual and seductive aura. Not only do they love to be looked at and admired; they are also perfect for wearing and for moving around a lot, because only then does the soft flicker of light that makes this gemstone so desirable really come through.
Labradorite is a mineral of the silicate class, the feldspar group. A variety of plagioclase whose composition varies from sodium-aluminium silicate albite to calcium-aluminium silicate anorthite. Labradorite derives its name from the Labrador Peninsula in Canada, where this variety of plagioclase is found. The colour of the material ranges from colourless to dark. It is unique. It is rich in colour.
Legend has it that these stones are home to the magnificent Aurora Borealis. And indeed, the beautiful mineral is inextricably linked to the magic of the night sky. The next time you wear a piece of Labradorite jewellery, imagine you're wearing your very own piece of the Northern Lights. Born from the storms of the Northern Lights and found in the Labrador region of Canada, this healing crystal has healing properties that help you tap into your own wonderful wellspring of creativity and connect with higher consciousness. The surface of Labradorite can be found in a wide range of blue, green, fiery gold and smoky colours. This is a reminder that the greatest healing stones are often associated with all the elements - the earth beneath your feet, the roaring ocean and the stretching sky and stars above.
A mystical stone will give the wearer the peace and inner quiet that we all so often lack. The stone will help you to discover the divine light within. Although the world can sometimes rob us of much-needed energy and precious resources, Labradorite teaches us how to bring vital energy into all areas of the soul - from the body to the mind and those deep, hard-to-reach corners that keep us all in balance. It is a stone that points the way to self-soothing, artistic ambition, cosmic energy and increasing our own clarity of mind.
Clean with warm water and mild soap; dry thoroughly with a soft cloth. Do not use ultrasonic cleaners and avoid harsh chemicals. Labradorite is also not hard, with a Mohs scale of 6-6 ½. It is rarely treated, but can sometimes be oiled.