Pure gold is so soft it is rarely used in jewelry. Jewelers deal with various gold alloys, collectively called karat gold. Karat (K) tells the number of parts, by weight, of gold in 24 parts of alloy. The higher the percentage of pure gold, the higher the karat. Pure gold is 24K; 18K is 18 parts fine gold and 6 parts metal; 14K is 14 parts fine gold and 10 parts metal; and 10K is 10 parts fine gold and 14 parts other metal.
A diamond certificate is a report that attests to the authenticity of a diamond. It is a reliable and accurate statement of the diamond's identity and grade based on an internationally recognized system. The grade or quality of the diamond is based on the Four C's: carat weight, color, clarity and cut. These are analyzed by several gemologists who use their experience in combination with state-of-the-art equipment to produce an accurate description of the characteristics of the diamond.
Most diamonds appear colorless but actually have slight tones of yellow or brown. The closer the stone comes to colorless, the more valuable it is. Diamonds are graded on a color scale ranging from D (colorless) to Z (heavily tinted).
It is very common for diamonds to be formed with slight imperfections. These are known as "inclusions" and can come in many forms, including tiny white points, dark dots, or feathery cracks. The fewer inclusions, the more the stone is worth. A diamond's clarity ranking is determined by the number, size, type, and placement of the inclusions.
Carat is the term used to describe the weight of any gemstone, including diamonds. Although the definition of a carat has changed over time, since 1913 the international standard has been 200 milligrams, or 1/5 of a gram. Often, jewelers describe carats in 1/8 increments.
In jewelry pieces with more than one diamond, the carats may be described in terms of total carat weight (T.W.). This is the combined total weight of all the stones in the piece.
Because round brilliant cuts follow exact standards, you can make a good estimate of the carat weight of the stone based on the stone's diameter. The following chart compares the relative sizes of stones and describes how much a round brilliant diamond of a certain size is likely to weigh. This chart is for educational purposes and represents a guideline for diameter and carat weights. It is not representative of other cuts or shapes. It is also not applicable to colored gemstones which have a different density from diamonds.
Cultured pearls are sold by diameter, measured in millimeters. In general, larger cultured pearls are rarer and more costly. Price rises significantly with the size of a pearl.
A pearl is formed when an irritant, such as sand or a parasite, becomes lodged in the shell of an oyster. The oyster deposits layers of a semi-translucent crystalline material called "nacre" around the intruder, where it builds up in layers like the rings of a tree. This process of building up can continue for years, resulting in a natural cultured pearl.
The Cultured Pearls we carry in our stores have replaced the natural variety as a result of cultured pearl farms that scientifically control the production. The process begins when a mother-of-pearl bead is inserted in the living tissue of the mollusk, which coats the bead with nacre. A cultured pearl is produced in one to three years.
Freshwater Cultured Pearls are cultivated in a freshwater mollusk from a lake, river or pond.
Quartz: Watches use a quartz crystal for time measurement and a battery for power. They require no winding.
Kinetic Quartz: Kinetic quartz is exclusive technology to Seiko. It is a quartz watch without a battery. The Kinetic quartz generates electrical energy to power itself from the natural movement of the wearer's arm and wrist. It stores the energy in a capacitor. The reserve energy lasts 3 to 14 days in a motionless watch.
Solar Quartz: Watches use a quartz crystal for time measurement. Any light source is absorbed through the crystal and dial. A solar cell converts the light into energy to power the watch.
From the time gemstones were discovered, they were believed to have mystical powers and attributes that could be passed to the wearer. The red of ruby was fiery and passionate; cool blue sapphire was calm and composed. About 2,000 years ago, writers began pairing each of the stones and their attributes with the months of the year and the signs of the Zodiac, and with time, the mythology of birthstones evolved. People were expected to share the attributes of the stone related to their sign of the Zodiac or month of birth.
Agate is a semi-precious gemstone which is classified as a banded chalcedony or micro-crystalline quartz. The individual bands or layers give this gemstone its uniqueness and character.
The layered agate material used in producing cameo gem carvings is usually cut from agates with even parallel layers, a lighter layer above a darker one. The agate used in today's cameos is naturally multiple shades of gray in color, ranging from a milky white translucent to dark gray. The lower and softer layer is dyed to produce the highly desirable blue chalcedony color, while the harder, lighter colored upper layer does not accept dying and remains white or milky in appearance.
Only two percent of all agate material mined is of a quality suitable for detailed cameo cutting. It is important to note that of this small percentage, an even smaller percentage can be dyed blue making the enclosed cameos precious and rare.
The exquisite motifs and silhouettes featured in our cameo offerings have been carved relief-style, employing the use of a highly sophisticated ultrasonic etching process and elegantly framed
Discovered in Russia in the early 1800s, alexandrite is named for Tsar Alexander II and was the national gemstone of tsarist Russia. With an ability to change its color from green to red depending on the light source, alexandrite is a very unique and beautiful gemstone. A Mohs hardness rating of 8.5 makes alexandrite a very durable and trouble-free gemstone.
Amethyst was a valuable gem until the discovery of large deposits in South America in the late 1800s; Brazil is the primary exporter to this day, although it is common in many countries. Still, its deep and attractive color makes it extremely popular. Banding - darker and lighter zones of color - is quite common. A good amethyst will be very clear, and the deeper the color, the better. The most common enhancements are heat and irradiation. Try not to expose an amethyst to excessive amounts of bright sunlight, as this can fade its color.
Perhaps the most unusual magical power ascribed to the amethyst is its ability to prevent drunkenness. It also is supposed to bring peace of mind to the wearer, and if properly carved, prevent fatal poisoning. In some legends, it represented piety and dignity.
Amethyst is the birthstone for February.
Although aquamarine comes in many colors, the most prized is a rich, clear, watery blue. Fairly large and clear, aquamarines with good color are among the more valuable semi-precious gems. They are often given step cuts, also known as "emerald" cuts, much like aquamarine's mineral sister, emerald. Good clarity is important in these stones, especially lighter ones where flaws will be more visible. Brazil is the primary source of aquamarine, although it is mined in other places as well.
Aquamarine has long been a positive stone according to legend, bringing with it health, hopefulness and youth. It was traditionally a favorite of sailors, and is said to be a good choice for anyone who loves the sea. It could also bring love and affection if worn properly. Its supernatural powers were remarkable; legend has it that a person with an aquamarine in his or her mouth could summon the devil and get questions answered.
Aquamarine is March's birthstone.
The origin of the name Beryl is thought to derive from the Sanskrit word 'veruliyam,' an old term for the gemstone chrysoberyl. It is also believed to derive from the Greek Word 'beryllos' which means crystal and was originally applied to all green gemstones, but was later used for beryl alone.
Legend says that beryl was once used to ward off demons and evil spirits and will protect the wearer from danger while traveling. Other legends also indicate that beryl can be used to bring good luck, cheerfulness, energy, and can give eternal youthfulness.
Beryl is colorless in pure form, but different element impurities give it a wide variety of colors. It has a vitreous luster and can be transparent or translucent, but is frequently tinted by impurities. Members of the beryl family include the aquamarine, emerald, and morganite. Beryl has a 7.5 to 8 Mohs hardness rating and is a durable stone ideal for all jewelry purposes.
The rich and regal spinel is a gemstone that ranges in color from pale pink to deepest black. In fact, the spinel is known as the "great imposter" in the world of gemstones. Several of the "rubies" in the Queen of England's crown jewels are actually spinels.
The black spinel is one of the rarest spinels. Spinels are associated with love and supposedly help the wearer to put his or her ego aside in devotion to another person. Spinel is also thought to encourage passion and increase the duration of one's life. Black Spinel in particular is said to be a protective stone that assists in re-establishing relationships and resolving issues. It is also believed to ease sadness.
Spinels range in color from pale pink to deep black. Spinels are rated at 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness and are durable stones, making them suitable for all jewelry purposes and perfect for everyday wear.
Topaz, and especially blue topaz, has grown in popularity over the years. The "pure" topaz color is yellow, and was often confused with chrysolite, the yellow variety of peridot. However, the use of distinct colors has helped topaz come into its own. Blue topaz has a watery blue color similar to aquamarine, but often without the green overtones, and its hardness and good clarity make it an excellent gem. The blue color is often enhanced through heat treatment and irradiation.
Topaz was believed to have incredible medicinal powers in the Middle Ages, even against the plague. For a healthy individual, it brought about a pleasant disposition and patience and was a symbol of fidelity and love.
Blue topaz is the traditional birthstone for December.
For hundreds of years, some of the most beautiful diamonds in the world laid beneath the frozen Canadian Arctic. In only the last century, these exceptional gemstones have been discovered, mined and sold - completely free of violence and human-rights issues. Canadian diamonds are known for their exceptional clarity and color. The Canadian diamonds sold at Zales are accompanied with a Certificate of Authenticity guaranteeing their Canadian origin. Certified Canadian diamonds also include a certificate, photo and description of the diamond, which guarantees quality and can be used for insurance purposes.
The rich, orange-red carnelian is a form of chalcedony (kal-SID-nee), an elegant gem commonly found in India and South America. Carnelian has a long and storied past, and was once considered strictly the property of the noble class. People holding a high social status were often buried wearing or holding this gemstone. The carnelian is said to be an energy booster, as well as giving the shy person confidence. It is also thought to increase the sense of humor.
Carnelian ranges from orange to red to brownish-red. Carnelians are rated at a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. They are strung and worn as beaded strands or cut into cabochons for pendants, earrings, and other pieces.
The cat's eye gemstone is actually a chrysoberyl. Chrysoberyl is derived from the Greek words "beryl," meaning green and "chryso," meaning golden. The two words combined mean "gold-colored beryl." In spite what the name implies, cat's eye is not actually a beryl at all. The name cat's eye is derived from the phenomena displayed by this stone known as chatoyancy, which in French literally means "cat's eye."
Cat's Eye has been treasured for many centuries, and is believed to be a powerful protective stone, particularly against evil spirits. Chrysoberyl has long been considered a good luck charm in numerous cultures. Cat's eye's color ranges from a golden honey to mint green, with the rich gold colors generally being the most valued. Cat's eye is rated at 8 to 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a tough, durable gemstone suitable for all jewelry purposes.
Genuine sapphires, including Ceylon sapphires, are part of the corundum gem family and are second only to diamonds in hardness. This strength makes them an excellent choice of jewelry because of their durability.
Ceylon sapphires are mined primarily in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). The sapphires mined in Sri Lanka are known for the unique color they produce. Because Ceylon sapphires occur naturally, the color of the stone varies. Colors range from very pale blue to the most vibrant, almost electric blue hue. Our collection of genuine Ceylon sapphires has been chosen from the middle of the color spectrum, capturing the heart of the color in its lustrous, soft blue color, with just a hint of lavender. This collection has been designed exclusively for Zales. Often, sapphires used in jewelry are heat-treated or given chemical diffusion to enhance their color, and these enhancements are permanent.
Sapphire is the birthstone of September.
Citrine is a clear yellow form of quartz and is often confused with yellow topaz; citrine, however, is more abundant. Because of its abundance, there are plenty of fairly large, clear stones available for jewelry. Clarity and a rich yellow color are qualities to look for in a citrine. It has some of the same characteristics as amethyst, such as alternating bands of lighter and darker color, but these bands are harder to see in citrine. Citrine often comes from Brazil.
Citrine is a cheerful gem. Its powers are said to include making its wearer lighthearted, bringing cheerfulness in tough times and offering hope. It was also believed to help relax people and expel impurities from the body. People who wore citrine could expect to look healthy and feel happy.
Citrine is the traditional birthstone for November.
Chalcedony (kal-SID-nee) has been in use almost as long as the earth has been inhabited, and some of the earliest primitive tools created by man's ancestors some 2.5 million years ago were made of various types of chalcedony. Owing to the huge number of varieties available, chalcedony soon graduated from being used just for tools to a popular material for decorative purposes and jewelry adornments.
Chalcedonies are believed to have been considered sacred stones by Native Americans and they were often used for ceremonial purposes, particularly for promoting stability within the tribes.
Chalcedony is a translucent stone with a waxy luster and a medium light blue-green to turquoise color. Chalcedony is rated at 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness and is a tough, durable gem that is suitable for all jewelry applications.
Like many others with odd monikers, the name chrome diopside doesn't do this gemstone justice. A relatively rare, yet modestly priced gemstone, chrome diopside is known for its rich green, almost emerald-like, color. Diopside is believed to be a creative stone, increasing creative visualization and helping to manifest desired goals. It has also been said that diopside can improve the wearer's intellect, particularly with regard to mathematical and analytical abilities.
Diopside is most often bottle-green in color, though it can be found colorless, brown, black, violet-green, and blue colors. The two most well-known varieties of diopside are the emerald-green-like chrome diopside and the Black Star diopside. Diopside is rated at 5.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness and though it is suitable for jewelry purposes, care should be taken with this stone for it is relatively soft and brittle.
Crystal is created using a combination of silica (quartz sand) and natural minerals. To avoid stress and inclusions, the glass is cooled slowly.
Cubic zirconia (also called CZ) is a synthetic crystalline substance used as an affordable alternative to diamonds and gemstones. Cubic zirconia is not a mineral; it is a man-made substance, not to be confused with the natural gemstone zircon. Though much less expensive than diamonds, the brilliance and crystal clarity of cubic zirconia make it one of today's most popular stones for an attractive, yet inexpensive, diamond-like jewelry.
Most cubic zirconia is bright white to mimic the diamond. However, cubic zirconia can also be enhanced with other minerals and be manufactured in most any color of the rainbow. Cubic zirconia has a rating of approximately 8 to 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The denseness of cubic zirconia makes it about 75% heavier than diamonds.
Every diamond is different, incorporating a complex constellation of factors that determine its rarity and value. Although gemologists train for years to master the art and science of diamond appraisal, with a little basic instruction, anyone can learn how to read an appraisal and compare the grades of different stones.
Each diamond is as unique as the person who owns it. Just as a diamond reflects the color of the light it bears, it should also reflect the personality of the individual who wears it. Here lies the art of selecting a diamond for yourself or as a gift.
Your knowledge of yourself or a loved one is expressed in your selection. Through your choice of a diamond, you are making a public statement about yourself, your loved one, or about your relationship--and that statement is repeated every time the diamond is worn.
This is why, for many women, there is such mystique in a diamond jewelry gift, and why, for many men, there is such uncertainty in its selection. What is important in the selection of a diamond has little to do with the cost of the jewelry and much to do with the way the jewelry speaks to the relationship.
Truly flawless diamonds are very rare and very expensive, so you will seldom face the task of selecting a perfect diamond. It is a fairly simple matter to find beautiful diamonds with no flaws visible to the naked eye, and to buy them at reasonable prices.
Diamonds are graded using a system that judges the stone on its color, clarity, cut and carat weight - commonly known as the "four C's." Diamonds of uncommonly high quality and size are often sold as "certified diamonds" and come with a certificate that proves the stone's value. Even non-certified diamonds, however, should be evaluated using the four C's to help determine cost and value.
Drusy is a sparkling carpet of fine sugar-like crystals that form over a quartz when dissolved silica carried by ground water is deposited in the porous areas of the rocks. The variety of beautiful colors comes from a special process in which the drusy is vapor coated in a special chamber with titanium or other precious metals. Drusy is believed by many to be associated with peace, tranquility, patience, intuition, unconditional love.
Drusy is a gemstone with a natural surface texture much like fine sugar crystals that formed on the quartz by the phenomena of micro-crystalline facets millions of years ago. Drusy quartz ranges from bright white to tones of pink and even violet. Drusy quartz is rated at 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness and is best suited for pendants, brooches, and earrings rather than rings and bracelets because of the concern of the drusy being detached.
Emerald is one of the most valuable gems on the market. The brilliant green of a fine emerald is unmatched by any other stone, and the extreme rarity of top-quality emeralds - the most prized emeralds come from just a handful of mines in Columbia - make it fairly costly. However, there are supplies of emeralds coming out of other mines.
Almost all emeralds have inclusions in them; the fewer these impurities, the rarer and costlier the stone. Because of these inclusions, emeralds can be brittle, so protect your emeralds from hard contact when you wear them. Ultrasonic cleaners, which use vibrations to remove dirt and buildup, can be dangerous to heavily included emeralds. Natural emeralds also tend to have thin scratches on the surface. A layer of wax or oil is usually applied to smooth out their appearance and enhance their color. This layer may have to be replaced professionally every few years.
Emerald was believed to sharpen wits, bring wealth, foretell the future, tell whether a lover was lying and cure all types of evil and illness.
Emerald is the birthstone of May.
While garnet is often viewed as a ruby substitute, it has its own unique qualities that can be appreciated on their own. It comes in a variety of colors, including many shades of red, from very pale to brick to a red-black. It comes in larger sizes, usually has good clarity and has a respectable hardness that allows it to wear well.
Like many red stones, garnet was once believed to stop bleeding. It was a symbol of loyalty and energy, promoted sincerity, and was said to have illuminative powers, both physically and spiritually. Garnet was also said to alleviate anger, promote tranquility and offer protection in health and travel.
Garnet is the birthstone for January.
Glass is fashioned from a mixture of sodium silicate, calcium silicate and silicon dioxide. Colored glass is made by adding specific metal ions to the molten glass while it is being made. Metals are transition elements and show characteristic colored compounds. Glass can be used to create look-alike gemstones.
Glass is usually clear; however, the addition of different metals and minerals can change the glass to most any color imaginable. Glass is rated at 5.5 to6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Because it can be brittle, glass is generally set in a durable metal. Glass beads are an extremely popular jewelry item.
The name iolite comes from the Greek ios, which means violet. Iolite is sometimes known as "water sapphire" because of its light violet blue color, but other iolite gemstones may range from clear to honey yellow.
The ability of iolite to exhibit different colors depending on how it is cut is what led Viking explorers to use it for navigation as a polarizing lens to look directly at the sun.
Originally prized for its toughness and used in tools and weapons by prehistoric man, jade has a varied history. This gem has been known as the "royal gem" in China for 5000 years, and it was once valued more than gold by the Mayans and Aztecs. The name "jade" is derived from the Spanish "piedra de ijada" or loin-stone where it was thought to have medicinal powers to heal kidney ailments.
Jadeite and nephrite are two different minerals that are both considered genuine jade. Nephrite is the more common of the two and may range in color from dark green to grey-green. In some instances it can also be white, reddish or yellowish. Jadeite, which is rarer, is usually green but also includes white, pink, red, violet, black and brown hues. It's normal for jade to contain streaks and other blemishes. These are not necessarily considered flaws; in fact, some of the patterns created are considered to add value to a piece.
The name lapis lazuli is derived from the Latin 'lapis' meaning "stone," and the Persian 'lazhward,' meaning blue.
Elders in ancient times referred to lapis lazuli as "a fragment of the starry firmament" in admiration of its deep blue color and twinkling gold pyrite inclusions.
Lapis lazuli has long been considered a stone of truth and friendship that can enhance awareness, insight and intellect. It has also been deemed a stone of peace and harmony, and self-awareness and enlightenment. Lapis lazuli has long been admired for its intense deep blue color, with less desirable shades ranging through light grayish blue, to greenish blue, to a dark violet blue. Lapis lazuli is rated at 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Lapis should be worn and stored with care to avoid any permanent damage to the stone.
Quartz is one of the most versatile gemstones on earth. Many people do not know that some of the most popular gems such as citrine, amethyst, onyx and chalcedony are varieties of quartz.
Quartz has a long history in the gem and jewelry world. The word "Quartz" comes from the Greek word krustallos, meaning ice, because it was believed that quartz was ice formed by the gods. Throughout history varieties of quartz have been used in place of the more expensive gems like yellow sapphire, yellow diamond, and even jade.
Light citrus-shaded quartz, called lemon quartz, is a very sunny and bright stone. It is very fashionable and coordinates well with pastel colors and stones such as blue topaz and peridot.
Since most quartz has been heated to enhance its color, the stones should be kept away from prolonged exposure to strong light or heat, as this can fade its color.
Malachite derives its name from the Greek word "moloche," meaning mallow, which makes reference to Malachite's green color.
Malachite is a widely occurring gemstone. Supply easily meets demand, making it a low- to moderately-priced, easily accessible semi-precious gemstone.
Malachite helps the wearer to enjoy harmony and loyalty. In addition to this, Malachite helps to improve spiritual growth, is a powerful assist to those on a spiritual path and is a great help with healing both physical and mental problems. Malachite is thought to ease a period of quickly, and is also believed to bestow prosperity.
Malachite is found in various shades of green, but its base color is most usually dark green. Malachite very often exhibits banding, where bands of lighter or darker green run around the stone at irregular intervals. Malachite is rated at 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale of hardness, meaning that this gemstone is best suited to pins/brooches, earrings and pendants.
Marcasite derives its name from the Arabic word for pyrite, and is a common and an attractive mineral use in jewelry making and in other applications. The two minerals, marcasite and pyrite, are often confused due to their similar characteristics. Marcasite is a polymorph of pyrite which means that it has the same chemistry as pyrite but a different structure and, therefore, different symmetry and crystal shapes.
Marcasite has a unique silvery-black, almost gun-metal appearance that is highly prized in jewelry applications.
Marcasite is commonly bronze, light brassy yellow, tin white; often gray or brownish-black.It is rated at 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Marcasite should be worn and stored with care to avoid any permanent damage to the stone.
A member of the beryl family, morganite found its name in 1911 when it drew the attention of one of the world's most esteemed gemstone experts, George Kunz of Tiffany & Co®. He named it in honor of millionaire banker and mineral collector John Pierport Morgan.
Legend says that beryl was once used to ward off demons and evil spirits and that it can protect the wearer from danger while traveling. Other legends also state that beryl can be used to bring good luck, cheerfulness, energy, and eternal youthfulness.
Morganite is believed to nurture feelings of love and to increase tenderness in a relationship. Morganite can enhance one's communications skills and provide patience to help focus during times of stress. Along with aquamarine and emerald, morganite is probably the least-known of the beryl family, and its rarity stands in the way of it becoming a common jewelry stone.
Morganite's color can range from a soft pink, to peach, to violet-pink. Morganite is commonly heat-treated to remove any unwanted yellow tones and to produce the more desired pure pink color. Morganite is rated at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness and is a durable stone that is ideal for all jewelry purposes.
Mother of pearl is the iridescent internal layer of mollusk shells and is composed of the same material as pearls. Though technically not a gemstone, mother of pearl is used in all types of jewelry from watch faces to fashion jewelry.
Mystic Fire Topaz is a colorless topaz that is enhanced with a patented azotic coating, producing a permanent and stable blue-green appearance with a rainbow of color accents. The Mystic Fire topaz is similar to the rainbow topaz but is enhanced in a completely different manner. Mystic Fire topaz is not found in nature.
With its glassy luster, obsidian is a distinctive stone. Obsidian is formed as lava from volcanic eruptions cools within the earth. The speed at which it cools prevents crystallization and the rock forms as solid volcanic glass.
Obsidian was revered by ancient cultures. It was one of the major barter materials, and prized for its ability to be worked to razor-sharp edges for arrows and spears. It has been used since prehistoric times for making tools, masks, weapons, mirrors and jewelry.
Although the most common color is black, obsidian can also be found in light brown, brown mottled with black, and black with a beautiful golden or silvery sheen. Snowflake obsidian is dotted with white patches where parts of the rock have begun to crystallize. The most prized obsidian is the rainbow obsidian variety with purple, green and gold bands. Obsidian is rated at 5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This soft stone is easily scratched and is best in applications such as a pendant or earrings. Obsidian should be worn and stored with care to avoid any permanent damage to the stone.
Onyx is part of the chalcedony family of colored quartz, which includes agate, cornelian and jasper. The striking black and crisp lines of onyx makes it especially popular for jewelry. Because the lines can form in many different ways, each piece of onyx has a unique appearance. Onyx is also popular for cameos - when an image is carved into onyx, the color of the next band shows through. Onyx is opaque, meaning no light shines through it. Therefore, it is usually cut into a smooth, rounded, polished dome called a cabochon.
Onyx has a variety of myths associated with it. It was supposed to drive away evil and high tempers. It was said to cool the passions of love and promote independence between lovers - which could be good or bad. Some people even believed it was a symbol of discord, a belief probably suggested by the sharply divided lines in the stone.
Opal is made of the same ingredients as quartz, except it contains a little water and has not been compressed into crystal form. As a result, it is softer than quartz and has to be treated a little more carefully to avoid damage. The shifting colors seen in opal, called "fire," are the result of microscopic spherical structures within the stone which reflect different wavelengths of light depending on their spacing, creating the colorful shimmering effect. There is no other gemstone that looks remotely like opal. It comes in both black and white varieties, with black being the rarer. Australia is the principal source of opal today. Like other non-transparent stones, it is usually cut into a smooth, rounded, polished dome called a cabochon.
Some legends say that opal is good for the eyes, both improving vision and warding off eye troubles. It also has a reputation for sharpening the mind and the emotions. Opal is a symbol of fidelity, but it came with a price, since it would bring trouble to someone who was unfaithful.
Opal is October's birthstone.
Peridot is an ancient stone, mined at least as long ago as the ancient Greeks. Peridot is also often called chrysolite or olivine, which is the proper name for the mineral. Its color is its most important quality, and can range from yellow green to a striking chartreuse. The chrysolite name, in fact, often refers to peridot that is more yellow than green. The stones have good clarity and are appropriate for faceted cuts since light sparkles through them. They are relatively soft and should be protected from abuse.
Peridot offered protection from depression and deception in Roman times, was used for inspiration and eloquence in the Middle Ages, and was also thought to cure liver disease and promote friendship. In general, it was believed to ensure good thoughts in the mind of the wearer.
Peridot is the birthstone of August.
Quartz is one of the most common crystal minerals on Earth, and offers an amazing array of varieties and names. Quartz varieties are commonly separated into two groups based upon the size of the individual grains or crystals; macrocrystalline quartz, in which individual crystals are visible to the unaided eye, and cryptocrystalline quartz, in which crystals are only visible under high magnification.
Gemstone quartz varieties include agate, amethyst, bloodstone, carnelian, citrine, jasper, rose quartz, and smoky quartz.
Ranging from light, pinkish violet to deepest black, quartz can be found in almost any color Quartz is rated at 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. Quartz is greatly important to the gem trade, accounting for a vast, diverse population of gemstones that are for the most part suitable for all jewelry applications.
Derived from the Greek words "rhodon" and "lithos," meaning rose stone, rhodolite is a type of garnet that varies in color from red-violet to a rich pink-red. Rhodolite is rated 6.5 - 7.5 on the Mohs scale and is suitable for all types of jewelry.
Along with the emerald and sapphire, ruby is one of the most prized colored gem available. The main quality of the ruby is its bright red color. The best color usually comes from Burma and is very costly; stones from Thailand are darker but clearer and much more common. Only red stones are called rubies. If the color is too light to be called red, it is a pink sapphire.
Corundum, the main material of ruby, is the second-hardest material known after diamond - rated 9.0 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Inclusions and flaws are fairly common, and many rubies are treated to enhance their color. In general, one should look for a bright red stone with as few inclusions as possible. Synthetic rubies offer good color, clarity and size, and are more affordable.
Rubies were the most valuable gems in ancient Southeast Asia, where they are found. A fine ruby had all sorts of magical powers. Its color was thought to come from an undying flame inside the stone - or, in some legends, a piece of the planet Mars - and it allowed its owner to live in safety, even in the midst of enemies. It was believed to bring its owner protection and to stop bleeding. In Burma, it could make one invincible - as long as it was embedded in the skin. In more modern times, rubies became the symbol of love and passion.
Ruby is July's birthstone.
Any color of corundum except red is called "sapphire," although cornflower blue to bright blue is the most popular and sought-after sapphire color. Sapphire comes from the same places and in the same qualities as its sister stone, ruby, with the best color coming from Kashmir and Burma. The name "sapphire" alone refers to the blue variety. All other colors have the color name added to the stone, as in "orange sapphire," "pink sapphire," etc.
Sapphire often has some inclusions, but clarity is still quite good. Its base material, corundum, is the second hardest in existence (at 9.0 on the Mohs scale) and so wears very well. Often, the sapphires used in jewelry are heat-treated or given chemical diffusion to enhance their color; these enhancements are permanent. Like rubies and emeralds, there are good synthetics available for people who like the color but not the cost.
Sapphire is said to be a mind-opening gem. It is supposed to relax the wearer and clarify thought, as well as attract "divine favor." On a personal level, it prevents envy and fraud, and brings truth and good health. It also was said to be a powerful antidote for poison.
The Star Sapphire is an opaque variety of this gemstone that displays a six-rayed star, called an asterism, under certain light. Prized for jewelry, this stone is also available in a less-expensive synthetic.
Sapphire is the birthstone of September.
Discovered in Greenland in 1806, sodalite did not become an important ornamental gemstone stone until 1891 when large deposits of gem-quality material were discovered in Canada. Sodalite is a dark blue stone with white calcite interspersed. It is sometimes confused with lapis lazuli as it also has small specks of pyrite in it. The largest deposit of sodalite is in Brazil.
Sodalite is the stone of athletics, as it stimulates endurance. It is said sodalite will harmonize the inner being or the conscious and subconscious mind. Sodalite promotes peace and harmony, and is thought to be extra lucky for writers.
Sodalite comes in a very narrow range of colors from a dark blue to a violet blue, often with white, yellow or red veining. Sodalite is rated at 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Sodalite should be worn and stored with care to avoid any permanent damage to the stone.
While zoisite has been known for some time, gem-quality zoisite wasn't found until 1967, when a deposit was uncovered in Tanzania. This is still the only source for tanzanite, one of the most recent additions to the gem world. It gained almost immediate popularity both for its scarcity and its rich, blue-violet color. It is often heat-treated to bring out a uniform color. While a prized stone, caution should be used when it is worn in rings, since it is fairly soft (6 to 7 on the Mohs scale) and can be scratched or chipped. Although it usually has good clarity, tanzanite can be damaged by ultrasonic cleaners, so alternate cleaning methods are recommended.
Turquoise is undoubtedly one of the oldest gemstones known to man and has been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs, dating back as far as 3000 BC. It has been considered a good luck talisman by many civilizations including the Persians, the Aztecs and indigenous American Indian tribes.
The Native Americans believed that wearing turquoise jewelry provided a direct connection to the heavens above and sources of abundant water supply below, whereas the Aztecs believed the stone was holy, and often adorned their ceremonial masks with turquoise gemstones.
Turquoise provides the bearer/wearer with strong, mutually fruitful relationships and lends self-confidence to individuals who may usually be withdrawn. Moreover, turquoise is a gemstone that has always been associated with good luck. For this reason it was often cherished by travelers wishing to ward off/balance bad luck.
Though the most valued of turquoise has a sky blue color, it can also be found in various shades of green to yellowish grey. The blue color is created from traces of copper, while the green shades are created from traces of iron or chromium. Turquoise is rated at a 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness and because it is a reasonably soft gemstone, care should be taken with it to avoid scratching.
The unique appearance of tiger's eye is caused by fibrous inclusions of crocidolite that have been replaced by silica. Light is refracted from inclusions, giving tiger's eye its chatoyancy (changeable luster). Its rating is 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale.
Traditionally carried as an amulet, lustrous tiger's eye was thought to help make decisions and promote harmony and balance. Associated with self-confidence and courage, tiger's eye is usually cut as a cabochon.
Topaz, and especially blue topaz, has grown in popularity over the years. The "pure" topaz color is yellow, and was often confused with chrysolite, the yellow variety of peridot. However, the use of distinct colors has helped topaz come into its own. Blue topaz has a watery blue color similar to aquamarine, but often without the green overtones, and its hardness and good clarity make it an excellent gem for jewelry. The blue color is often enhanced through heat-treatment and irradiation.
Topaz was believed to have incredible medicinal powers in the Middle Ages, even against the plague. For a healthy individual, it brought about a pleasant disposition and patience, and was a symbol of fidelity and love.
The name tourmaline derives from the Singhalese word "turamali" meaning gemstone. Known as the "rainbow gemstone," tourmaline comes in every color of the rainbow - and most tourmaline gemstones are multi-colored. Gem cutters focus on bringing out the deepest color when cutting tourmaline. Still, when viewed from different angles, a tourmaline may exhibit different colors.
Tourmaline is reputed to have a powerful positive influence on love and friendship. With a Mohs hardness rating of 7 to 7.5, tourmaline is a durable and easy-to-maintain gemstone perfect for everyday wear.
Tsavorite is technically a garnet and is a relatively recently discovered gemstone. Tsavorite was discovered in 1967 by the British geologist Campbell R. Brides. Initial export problems delayed the worldwide "launch" of this beautiful gemstone; however in 1974, Tiffany & Co®. began marketing this gemstone to the world.
Tsavorite is said to be the stone of romantic love and passion, with the power to enhance sensuality and intimacy. It is said to awaken creativity, positive energy and self-confidence, helping to bring success to careers or businesses. Tsavorite is also considered to be a protective stone, effectively shielding the wearer from evil and nightmares.
Tsavorite is found in shades of green ranging from pale through mid-green, to vivid blue-green. The most desirable and sought-after are those that display a well-balanced emerald green color without being overly dark or yellowish. Tsavorite is rated at 7to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it a durable gemstone. The hardness of this gem makes it ideally suited to all jewelry applications and resilient enough to be worn every day.
A relatively common metal, jewelry made with aluminum has the advantage of being nickel-free and non-reactive - perfect for those with sensitivity to metals. Aluminum is malleable and can be worked into detailed designs that would be difficult with other metals. Aluminum is valued for its versatility. It is lightweight - just one-third the weight of steel and just as strong. The metal is also corrosion-resistant, a good electrical conductor and is easily worked by standard forming methods. Both anodized and aircraft-grade aluminum are used to make jewelry.
Both cost-effective and fashionable, brass has been used to create jewelry since ancient times. Brass is mainly a mixture of copper and zinc and radiates a lovely warm reddish-copper glow. Brass items also generally contain nickel, aluminum and occasionally tin, so those with sensitivity to nickel may find brass jewelry difficult to wear. Items made with brass are usually exquisitely detailed. One drawback to brass is its propensity to change color. A coating of oil can usually prevent brass from turning.
Both cost-effective and fashionable, bronze has been used to create jewelry since ancient times. Brass is mainly a mixture of copper and tin and radiates a lovely warm brownish-copper glow. Bronze items also generally contain nickel and aluminum, so those with sensitivity to nickel may find bronze jewelry difficult to wear. Items made with bronze are usually exquisitely detailed. One drawback to bronze is its propensity to change color. A coating of oil can usually prevent bronze from turning.
Ceramic (or titanium carbide) carbide is a relatively new in the jewelry arena. Ceramic carbide is a man-made product - not the ceramic usually found in stoneware or pottery. Industrial ceramic carbide is extremely durable and nearly impossible to scratch. In combination with other materials like tungsten carbide, ceramic jewelry becomes a good choice for the active person. Ceramic carbide is also a material that people with metal allergies and sensitive skin can enjoy since it is completely hypoallergenic.
Cobalt chrome jewelry is made from the same material used to build jet aircraft engines. Cobalt is harder than stainless steel and therefore, harder to scratch. Although not 100% scratchproof, cobalt chrome is much harder than titanium and all other precious metals including platinum, gold and silver. Cobalt is also hypoallergenic. It is also used to make surgical tools and reconstructive implants.
Gold has the longest and most storied history of all precious metals. It is soft enough to be worked into interesting shapes, and its warm color and scarcity gave it great value in early civilizations. It has been the foundation of many monetary systems, and remains important to our economy even today.
As jewelry, it was gold's softness and natural beauty that made it appealing, in addition to the fact that it doesn't corrode or tarnish. It is so soft, in fact, that pure gold is rarely used in jewelry. It is mixed with another metal, usually copper or silver, to make a stronger gold alloy, or mixture of metals. The quantity of gold in a given alloy is expressed in karats (abbreviated as K or KT). Pure gold is 24K; 18K gold is 75% gold and 25% other metals. In other words, each karat is equal to roughly 4.17% of the total of the alloy.
As the karat weight drops, the metal becomes more durable but less yellow. Sometimes gold that is a lower karat weight will be plated in high-karat gold to enhance the color. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you pay a fair price. Also keep in mind that gold plating will wear off with time and your jewelry may need to be re-plated.
When buying gold jewelry, look for a stamp with a karat mark, the manufacturer's registered trademark and the country of origin.
White gold has the same properties as yellow gold, but it has been mixed with different metals to give it a white color. Instead of the copper and silver used in yellow gold, white gold contains such metals as nickel, zinc, or even platinum. However, white gold should not be confused with platinum, which is much rarer than gold and hence more valuable.
The karat weight system used in white gold is the same as that used in yellow gold (see the "Gold" section above). 18K yellow gold and 18K white gold contain the same proportion of gold; only the remaining 25% of the alloy is different. Sometimes, white gold is plated with an even whiter metal, such as rhodium (a very rare member of the platinum family), to enhance or brighten its appearance.
White gold was developed to give a different look to jewelry. The white color is an excellent setting for very white diamonds, and when used side by side with yellow gold, it creates a striking effect. Jewelry using both white and yellow gold is called "two-tone."
Rose gold has the same properties as yellow and white gold, but it has been mixed with different metals to give it a pinkish color. More copper-colored alloys are added to lend a rose tone to the gold.
The karat weight system used in yellow and white gold is the same as that used in rose gold (see the "Gold" section above).
Rose gold was developed to give a different look to jewelry. The pinkish or rose color is an excellent setting for white diamonds, colored stones (particularly morganite, Rose de France amethyst, garnet and smoky quartz), and enhanced cognac, blue, black and champagne diamonds. Rose gold is also used with white gold to create rich-looking two-toned jewelry.
Gold fill (also called rolled gold) is a layer of 10K or better gold, mechanically bonded under pressure to one or more surfaces of supporting base metal - usually brass, bronze or silver - then rolled or drawn to a given thickness. In the jewelry industry the quantity of gold must be at least 1/20th by weight of the total product. Gold-filled jewelry should receive the same care as regular gold items.
Gold over brass is a cost-effective way to transform brass jewelry into its warmer, golden counterpart. Also known as gold plating, gold over brass jewelry uses the same carat gold (usually 10, 14 or 18K) to plate, but the thickness is lesser than vermeil - usually only 0.5 - 1.0 micron or so. Gold vermeil is considered the finest of all gold-plated jewelry.
Gold over bronze is a cost-effective way to transform bronze jewelry into its warmer, golden counterpart. Also known as gold plating, gold over bronze jewelry uses the same carat gold (usually 10, 14 or 18K) to plate, but the thickness is lesser than vermeil - usually only 0.5 - 1.0 micron or so. Gold vermeil is considered the finest of all gold-plated jewelry.
Gold over silver is a cost-effective way to transform sterling silver jewelry into its warmer, golden counterpart. Also known as gold plating, gold over silver jewelry uses the same carat gold (usually 10, 14 or 18K) to plate, but the thickness is lesser than vermeil - usually only 0.5 - 1.0 micron or so.
Gold plate is a layer of gold applied to a base metal (generally silver, brass or bronze), usually by electroplating. This is usually a very thin layer, and the gold is likely to wear more quickly than a gold-filled item. Vermeil is considered the epitome of all gold-plating.
Gun Metal Tone is a layer of silvery-grey powder coating applied to a base metal - generally silver, brass or bronze - giving the piece the look of silvery-blue-black steel.
Platinaire® is a patented premium luxury metal alloy of silver and platinum that consists of 97.5% pure precious metal (92.5% silver and 5% platinum by volume). It offers the durability and look of 14K white gold at a fraction of the price. More durable than silver, Platinaire® is hypoallergenic, environmentally responsible and nearly impervious to tarnish.
The most precious metal commonly found in jewelry is the silvery-white metal platinum. It is a relative newcomer to jewelry, having become popular in the past 200 years or so. Like gold, it is rare and heavy, but it is more durable than gold and is sold in purer form. It is sometimes mixed with a small amount of iridium and ruthenium, which are similar to platinum but much rarer, for added strength. Platinum is not sold according to karat weight. Jewelry is stamped PT or plat in the United States to indicate that it is platinum.
Because of its purity, platinum is an excellent choice for people who are allergic to other metals. Its light color also makes it popular. Like white gold, it makes very white diamonds appear bright.
Platinum has enjoyed an enormous resurgence in popularity in recent years. It has a very understated and old-fashioned look that is enjoying popularity, leading more jewelry designers to work with this metal.
Resin is made from liquid plastic that turns solid when a hardener is added. It is typically made from something called "casting resin." Casting resin is a solution of two liquid chemicals that, when combined, create a hard and durable plastic. Resin molds are used to make watch bands, beads, bezels and pendants. Because resin is a plastic, it is not unbreakable. Resin is also easy to scratch.
The standard for sterling silver has remained unchanged since 1300 when Edward I of England established an early trade practice rule for silversmiths, decreeing that sterling must consist of 92.5 percent pure silver alloyed with 7.6 percent copper. The term "sterling" refers to the composition of the metal, never to the weight of a finished item.
Silver is much more plentiful than gold; however, silver tends to tarnish, making it less popular in some forms of jewelry. Like gold, silver is too soft for use in its pure state and must be combined with other metals for durability. Jewelry made of silver parts and gold parts must carry dual designations such as "Sterling and 10K."
Titanium is versatile, lightweight and strong, with a silvery-white metallic color. This metal is as strong as steel but is 45% lighter in weight, and is similar to platinum in its resistance to tarnishing. This metal has many uses ranging from armor plating, spacecraft and aircraft parts to jewelry design. Titanium's strength, durability, and lustrous beauty make it an ideal choice for jewelry, especially for rings and bracelets that are subject to daily wear.
Silver tone is jewelry that is electro-plated with silver and has no measurable karat weight, or is silver colored. It provides an expensive look at a fraction of the cost of sterling silver or white gold.
Stainless steel is a metal with many uses. Stainless steel has a silvery-white color with a mirror finish that retains its shine and color very well and resists tarnishing. The most popular use for stainless steel in jewelry is in watches, bracelets, rings, earring posts and body jewelry since it is easy to clean, keeps a mirror shine and is strong enough for daily wear.
Gold tone is jewelry that is electro-plated with gold and has no measurable karat weight, oris gold colored. It provides an expensive look at a fraction of the cost of real gold.
Chrome plate is electro-plated chrome over a base metal.
Silver plate is a layer of silver applied to a base metal, usually by electroplating. This thin layer will wear over time, especially with regular wear or use.
Silver Select is Art Carved's invention (patent pending). It is more precious than sterling silver, and harder than many tarnish-resistant metals. Like sterling, it has a brilliant white shine but with the addition of platinum is much stronger and more durable.
Siladium is similar to stainless steel. It polishes to a bright white luster, and is strong and durable.
Copper is a bright shiny reddish-gold metal that is soft and easily malleable. Copper has been recorded as being used as far back as 10,000 years ago in many different artifacts, long before gold was used. Ancient civilizations used copper as decorative body wear and jewelry; as parts of weapons, plumbing, cook ware; and as mirrors. Today copper is still widely used and desired for its color and versatility.
Pewter has had many uses throughout history. Since the Middle Ages, pewter has been used to make dishes, utensils and serving ware, as well as decorative items such as sculptures, candlesticks, ornaments and jewelry. Pewter is a soft metal and easily malleable by hand tools for carving, engraving, or presses - which makes it an excellent choice for detailed jewelry or keepsake pieces. Like sterling silver, pewter is shiny and bright but does needs regular cleaning to maintain its luster.
The name of this metal is Swedish and Danish "tung sten" meaning "heavy metal." Tungsten is very heavy with a steel gray to tin-white color and a lustrous finish. This metal has the highest melting point and the most tensile strength of all metals. Due to the hardness of this metal, the shine is not apt to fade as with other metals that must be polished. Tungsten also has natural hypoallergenic properties that make it a good choice for use in jewelry making. Highly durable, this metal has a weighty feel similar to precious metals.
The word "vermeil" is a French word which came into use in the English language in the 19th century. Vermeil is a combination of sterling silver, gold, and other precious metals, commonly used as a component in jewelry. Usually, vermeil jewelry is a sterling silver item coated with 14 carat (58%) gold. To be considered vermeil, the gold must be at least 10 carat (42%) and be at least 2.5 micrometers in thickness. Gold vermeil is considered the finest of all gold-plated jewelry.
YellOra™ is a precious metal blend of 25% pure 24K gold, 21% silver and 2% palladium. YellOra™ offers the pure yellow color of traditional gold throughout the metal - it's not a coating or plating. YellOra™ provides the durability offered by real gold at a far more affordable price. YellOra™ jewelry requires no special care; simply use the same commercial cleaner you would use for your regular gold jewelry. YellOra™ jewelry can be re-sized or repaired at any reputable jeweler.
Zirconium is a very strong, malleable, ductile, lustrous silver-gray metal. Its chemical and physical properties are similar to those of titanium. Zirconium is extremely resistant to heat and corrosion. Zirconium is lighter than steel and its hardness is similar to copper. Known for its extreme durability, zirconium is used in all types of applications besides jewelry, including surgical instrument and tool manufacturing, industrial coatings and even dental prosthetics.