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About Gemstones

Below are the gemstones we typically use to design our pieces, arranged in a rainbow of color.  Hover over photos to learn more about each gemstone, its origins, nomenclature, history and other interesting facts.

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Garnet

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Garnet comes in a variety of colors and has many different varieties. However, the most widely-known color of garnet gemstones is dark red. When the term "garnet" is used, it is usually connotative of the dark red form; other color garnets are usually given more descriptive gemstone terms.  Pyrope garnet is the most common with a dark rich reddish-brown color. The original deposits of Pyrope were in Bohemia, in the Czech Republic. These sources are more historical than practical, and little material comes from there today. The main Pyrope deposits are in Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, China, and the U.S. (Arizona and North Carolina).

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Amethyst

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Amethyst is the name given to quartz which is transparent and light to dark purple in color. Although amethyst is found on almost every continent, the dark transparent and clean stones are relatively rare and always in demand.  Deposits exist in Brazil, Madagascar, Zambia, Uruguay, Myanmar (Burma), India, Canada, Mexico, Namibia, Russia, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

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Aquamarine

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Aquamarine is the sky blue or turquoise colored variety of beryl. It is one of the most popular and important gemstones, well known for its exceptional clarity and often large sizes. The name aquamarine is derived from Latin: aqua marina, "water of the sea."  It occurs at most localities which yield ordinary beryl -- Brazil, Nigeria, Myanmar (Burma), India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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Diamond

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Diamonds are among the earth's most precious resources.  It is the hardest gem of all and is made of only one element: carbon.  Most diamonds are over 1 billion years old and are formed deep within the earth's surface at high temperatures.  Diamonds are primarly found in South Africa, Russia, India, and Canada.  Smaller deposits have been found throughout Africa, northern South America, Australia and China.

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Emerald

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Emerald, the green variety of beryl, is the most famous and valuable green gemstone. Its beautiful green color, combined with durability and rarity, make it one of the most expensive gemstones. In general the paler the color of an emerald, the lesser its value. Very pale colored stones are not called emeralds but rather "green beryl."  The principal emerald deposits are currently mined in Colombia, Brazil and Zambia.

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Alexandrite

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Alexandrite was discovered in 1830 in the Ural mountains of Russia. Alexandrite is also found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and most recently in Madagascar. The alexandrite variety of chrysoberyl is one of the rarest and most sought after of all gems.

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Ruby

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Ruby is distinguished for its bright red color, being the most famed and fabled red gemstone. Beside its bright color, it is a most desirable gem due to its hardness, durability, luster, and rarity. Transparent rubies of large sizes are even rarer than diamonds. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum.  Primary ruby deposits are in Mozambique and Myanmar (Burma).

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Peridot

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Peridot is the gemstone variety of the mineral olivine. The most beautiful peridots come from the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Fine peridot has also been found in Myanmar (Burma) for hundreds of years. Although peridot is also mined in the US, China, East Africa, and North Korea, the sizes are rarely very large and stones over five carats are quite rare. Peridot is one of the few gemstones which is available in only one color.

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Sapphire

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Sapphire is in many respects one of the most important of the colored stones. With a hardness of 9 on Moh's scale, sapphires are extremely hard and second only to diamonds in this respect. Tough and durable, they are suitable for use in any kind of jewelry.  Primary deposits are in Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Thailand, Australia and Montana, US.  The most valuable color of sapphire is a cornflower blue color, known as Kashmir sapphire or cornflower blue sapphire. Another extremely valuable Sapphire form is the very rare, orange-pink Padparadscha.

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Citrine

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Citrine refers to any quartz crystal or cluster that is yellow or orange in color. Natural citrine is not common; most citrine on the gem market is produced by heat treating amethyst and smoky quartz.  Brazil is the largest producer of citrine. Other sources are Argentina, Madagascar, Zaire, Namibia, Spain, and Russia.

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Spinel

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Spinel is the great impostor of gemstone history - many famous rubies in crown jewels around the world are actually spinel. In Myanmar (Burma), where some of the most beautiful colors are mined, spinel was recognized as a separate gem species since 1600 but in other countries, the masquerade continued for hundreds of years. Historically, fine red spinels were esteemed as much as ruby, and sometimes even more. Next to ruby and the rare red diamond, spinel is the most expensive of all the red gems.  The most outstanding spinel in size, color, and quality is from Myanmar (Burma). Other sources of gem spinel are Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Madagascar.

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Topaz

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Topaz makes an ideal gem. A good hardness and desirable colors, combined with a relative abundance and availability make it one the most popular gemstones. The most valuable colors of topaz are the golden orange-yellow type and the dark pinkish-red and orange-red colors, sometimes called Imperial Topaz. Value increases with a deepness of color in orange and reddish hues. The most commonly used colors of topaz in jewelry are the blue types. It was not until this past century that blue topaz became widespread on the gem market since virtually all blue topaz is irradiated and heat treated.

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Tourmaline

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Tourmaline is a gemstone noted for the large and unsurpassed range of colors in which it occurs. It is a tough stone hard enough to be used for a pendant or a ring. Tourmaline is the family name which includes the following varieties: chrome (green), indicolite (blue), and rubellite (red). Yellow and green tourmalines are simply called tourmaline with the color as a prefix.  Important deposits of tourmaline are in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), and the United States (California and Maine). Several African countries have recently become big producers of gem quality  tourmaline, specifically Madagascar, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Malawi.

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Morganite

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Morganite is the pretty, peachy-pink variety of beryl, cousin to more familiar beryls like emerald and aquamarine. It is found chiefly in Brazil and Madagascar. Intense colors are hard to find and even light colors may command high prices. Morganite was first discovered in California in the early 20th century and soon thereafter in Madagascar. Though there are also small deposits in Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, and Russia, high-quality morganite remains relatively rare.

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Opal

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Opal is the most colorful of gems. Its splendid play of color is unsurpassed, and fine examples can even be more valuable than diamond. The play of color consists of iridescent color flashes that change with the angle at which the stone is viewed. This phenomenon is often called opalescence. The play of color may consist of large, individual flashes of color (known as schillers), or may be of tiny, dense flashes. The intensity and distribution of the color flashes is a determining factor in the value.  Deposits are mostly in Australia (Lightning Ridge for black opals) and in Mexico for fire opals.  Recently, white opals have been mined in Ethiopia.

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Pearl

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Pearls are unique in the world of colored gemstones since they are the only gemstone formed within a living creature. Because natural pearls are so rare and difficult to recover from the ocean's depths, man invented the technique of culturing salt and freshwater pearls from mollusks carefully seeded with irritants similar to those produced by nature. Today, cultured pearls are grown and harvested in many parts of the world including the fresh waters of the Tennessee River. The majority of cultured pearls come from Japan, China, and the South Pacific.

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Tanzanite

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Tanzanite or blue zoisite with its rich violet-blue colors have made it one of the most popular colored stones in recent years. Found only in Tanzania near the town of Arusha, tanzanite is a rare gemstone irregularly available in enough quantity to meet the strong demand.  A little known fact is that zoisite comes in many different colors.

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Zircon

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Zircon is known for its distinctive beauty and occurrence in a broad range of colors. It can be blue, green, colorless, brown, red, orange or yellow. The most popular color is blue and it is considered to be an alternative birthstone for December. Because of its similarity to diamond, colorless zircons have also been popular for years.  Zircon sources include Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Australia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

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