Aquamarine takes its name from “aqua marina”, Latin for sea water: its distinctive hue immediately brings to mind the soft shimmer of the ocean. It possesses an exquisite luster and is almost entirely free of inclusions. Aquamarine is a hard gem whose distinctive color results from the presence of iron.
Carnelian was one of the first stones used in jewelry, probably because of its abundance. Yet it is rare to find carnelian with a rich, natural coloring. Each gem-cutter has his own method of obtaining a perfect hue, one which usually remains shrouded in secrecy.
Cubic zirconia (CZ), a flawless diamond simulant, is widely considered as the finest simulated diamonds in the world today. The similarities of cubic zirconia to a diamond are so remarkable that even gemologists can’t tell the difference easily. Cubic zirconia possesses less brilliance, but has more fire (flashes of rainbow color) when compares to diamonds. Due to the hardness and clarity of cubic zirconia, it can be cut using the same proportions used in cutting fine diamonds. In addition, Cubic zirconia does not have internal flaws, it sparkles with perfection and is nearly indestructible.
Diamonds are the purest and hardest of the natural gemstones. A diamond is said to last an eternity, making it the ideal stone to symbolise the eternal bond of marriage. A diamond is made up of virtually pure carbon which formed millions of years ago into a crystal, many miles below the earth’s surface. Diamonds are cut into all different shapes and sizes and owing to their natural formation each diamond is completely unique.
Worshipped for their rarity and their exceptional beauty, emeralds take their name from the Latin "smaragdus", the heart of stone. Emerald is a type of beryl mineral, they are colored green by trace amounts of chromium. Most emeralds are highly included, which makes them sensitive to pressure.
Malachite comes from ancient Greek "moloché", which originally means mauve, though the most famous type of malachite is known for its green hue. An opaque stone with light and dark striations, malachite was mined as early as 4,000 BC by the ancient Egyptians. Its distinctive shade results from the presence of copper. Because of its recognizable green color and the fact that it usually accompanies copper deposits, malachite is used as a guide when prospecting for this metal.
Mother-of-pearl is produced organically inside sea shells. It consists of a blend of minerals secreted by oysters and other marine creatures with shells to protect their bodies from parasites and foreign objects. Although iridescent white mother-of-pearl is the most well-known color, grey mother-of-pearl is more mysterious, reflecting the light in a rainbow prism of ever-changing colors.
With its fine texture and luxurious black color, onyx has been popular since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans. A black variety of chalcedony, onyx is similar to agate but with straight bands as opposed to curved ones. Some onyx also displays white bands or ribbons against a black background: if the layers are even, this type of onyx may be carved into cameos.
Opal is a mineraloid gel formed many millions of years ago in the fissures in rocks. Precious opals – such as black and Ethiopian opals - are distinguished by their combination of milky to pearly opalescence and their attractive play of many colors. They are very rare and highly prized. Common opals like the pink opal do not exhibit this play of colors, but can be very highly polished. Fire opals, famous for their yellow, orange, or red hue, are unique in the lush world of opals.
Throughout most of recorded history, rubies have been the world’s most valuable gemstones apart from colored diamonds. In the Sanskrit language, ruby is called "ratnaraj" meaning King of Gemstones. They are composed of aluminum oxide and minute quantities of chromium, which accounts for their distinctive hue and also their rarity. While chromium gives ruby its superb color, it also causes a multitude of cracks within the crystals. Only a tiny proportion of ruby crystals are able to grow intact into larger sizes and form perfect gemstones.
In earlier times, some people believed that the firmament was an enormous blue sapphire in which the Earth was embedded. The word sapphire comes from the Greek word "sappheiros", meaning blue stone. Although commonly associated with the color blue, sapphire can in fact be any color other than red. Trace amounts of titanium, iron, or chromium can give the gem blue, yellow, pink, orange, or greenish shades.
Tiger’s eye is a chatoyant gemstone. Its iridescent silky luster is caused by the reflection of light within the material’s thin fibrous bands. A member of the quartz group of chalcedonies, tiger’s eye typically displays glossy alternating bands of yellow and brown, which resemble the eye of a tiger.
Imported from Sri Lanka at the beginning of the 18th century, tourmaline comes from the Singhalese "tura mali", which means stone of various colors. Its chemical formula is complex and includes many elements. This explains both its incredible range of colors and the numerous inclusions and flaws which can be found within the stone. When transparent and containing very few flaws, its colored varieties are cut as gems. Transparent crystals of tourmaline are strongly dichroic, which means that its color varies and changes as it is turned in the light.
With its blue hue, turquoise is among the oldest known gemstones. A hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum, turquoise is a secondary mineral deposited by circulating water: it mainly occurs as an opaque, granular vein running through a host rock. Its name comes from the French “pierre de Turquie” ("stone from Turkey") ever since the stone first arrived in Europe via the Turkish after the Renaissance era.