Gemstones are beautiful and precious and have been used in the fields of astrology, medicine and fashion for thousands of years. With time and technological innovations, fake or synthetic gemstones have also made their way into the gem market. If you are spending significant money on buying gems, make sure that you are getting the ones that are real, as the chances of getting conned are very real as well.
In this article, we discuss some of the techniques and methods that you can use at home to distinguish between real and fake emeralds and ambers. As the commercial says “The more you know…”.
How to identify a fake emerald
These green beauties are one of the most prized and beautiful gemstones out there. They can be used as ornaments in any style of jewelry, be it a bracelet, necklace or earrings. Emeralds are relatively harder than other gemstones, but real emeralds are not as hard as synthetic ones. Natural emeralds contain internal imperfections, which make them easier to break, compared to synthetic ones that are manmade and free of imperfections.
What are fake emeralds?
Fake emeralds are usually categorized into two categories
‘Natural’ fake emeralds: Since emeralds belong to the beryl family that is green, natural gemstones of the same color shade are often also sold off as emeralds. Peridot, olivine and green garnet are usually sold in the name of emeralds.
Synthetic emeralds: Synthetic emeralds that are created in the lab possess the same internal crystal lattice as natural emeralds, so in theory, they are not fakes. If you are going to buy a synthetic emerald then make sure that it is priced less than the natural ones.
A simple way to tell whether a stone is synthetic or natural is to observe its surface texture. Synthetic emeralds appear cleaner than natural emeralds since they don’t possess any natural impurity.
Some other techniques which can help you find out the genuineness of an emerald:
Check hues and reflection
A natural emerald usually doesn’t possess non-green hues. The secondary undertone of any color other than green indicates that the emerald is a fake. Another way to check is to expose it to light. If the stone exhibits colorful reflections, it is probably bogus. Real emeralds don’t reflect strong flashes.
Clarity can tell the authenticity of an emerald
Remember a general rule, the clearer the stone looks, the greater the chances that it is fake. You can use a normal magnifying glass to check the clarity of the stone. In natural emeralds, you will observe bubbles and crystal formations inside the stone, while synthetic ones don’t possess such imperfections.
How to identify fake Ambers?
Falling in the color range between gold and orange, this gem made of a fossilized tree resin has been appreciated by human beings since the Stone Age. It is imperative to know the difference between real and fake ambers because real ambers are used for different purposes.
They are used as decorative objects and in jewelry
Since they are a tree resin, real ambers are also used as ingredients in perfumes and scents
Many people use amber for its range of healing properties
If you want to test the beads of amber for their originality, then you can conduct a salt solution test. Put the amber stones in a supersaturated salt solution. Real ambers will not sink, while the fake ones will touch the bottom.
Remember that not all ambers are same in their price. Ambers that are used for health benefits are cheaper than the ones that are used in jewelry. Only inexpensive amber can be subjected to this test. Just scratch the surface of the amber with any metallic object using soft hands. Fake ambers (usually made of glass) won’t get any scratches on their surfaces.
There is another tree resin by the name of copal, which is also sold as amber because its surface texture is almost identical to real amber. To know whether you are holding amber or a copal, you can simply perform an electrostatic test on the stone to find its authenticity.
When rubbed continuously for a minute, real amber produces an electrostatic field around it. You can test this using a tiny piece of paper or a strand of hair. If paper pieces or hair strands stick to the stone, it means that there is an electrostatic field presentand that the stone is real.
A man went to a jewelry store and requested to look at some rings for his future fiance. After several rings that were shown to him, he picked a 1-carat diamond with an emerald cut. Not being an expert in the diamond field, he purchased it for $4000.00.
A couple of years later, he told his fiance that he wanted to get her a new ring. So they went to diamond dealers to sell the current one and were told that the ring wasn’t worth more than $900.00. Frustrated, they settled for the $900.00 and left.
Why Do People Get Ripped Off When Buying Diamonds?
What was the man’s mistake? He never asked for a GIA certificate to confirm what he was getting. “The GIA Diamond Grading Report includes an assessment of a diamond’s 4Cs – color, clarity, cut, and carat weight – along with a plotted diagram of its clarity characteristics and a graphic representation of the diamond’s proportions.”.
Of course, you can buy a diamond without a certificate and that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get ripped off, but why take the chance?
In the example above, this is a 1.5-carat diamond. It has a clarity rating of SI1 (slight imperfections, but not to the naked eye). Its color rating is H (near colorless. Yellow tint exists but is not visible).
In general, if a diamond dealer tells you they can’t give you gem grading authentication, go somewhere else.
In this article, we will find out what factors make this beloved gemstone so valuable, what to look for when you are buying one, and how it has been part of human history for so long, so let’s begin with some facts about diamonds that you should know before purchasing one.
Mined Diamonds Need Some TLC Before They Become Jewelry
Diamonds don’t come out of mines ready to be sent to the jewelry market. They go through tedious refining before a jeweler even sees them. Most of the natural diamonds from the mines never make it to that beautiful refined state because they come with too many imperfections and consequently, those diamonds are only suitable for industrial use.
Since the majority of mined diamonds can’t be used in jewelry, we are left with very few grades of diamonds that have such quality, the ones that can be used for decorative purposes, and they don’t come cheap.
It’s the simple imbalance of supply and demand that makes this gemstone expensive. However, there are additional four main characteristics that determine a diamond’s value. Let’s take a look at what each of these characteristics is.
The 4cs of Diamonds
Although the 4cs rating system is found to be the most popular among diamonds, it can apply to any mineral or gemstone, but since we are focusing on diamonds now, let’s continue using this stone as our basis for the 4c’s standard.
The more colorless (or ‘whiter”) a diamond is, the rarer and more valuable it will be.
A diamond’s color is one of the determining factors regarding price. Most of the naturally occurring diamonds contain a noticeableyellowish hue.
It is hard to find one that is completely colorless; thus, the more colorless (or ‘whiter”) a diamond is, the rarer and more valuable it will be.
From an aesthetic viewpoint,as diamondsappear whiter, they give off the appearance of looking brighter to the eye and that adds a more appealing quality; therefore these diamonds automatically become more expensive.
The color or tint of diamonds is gradedalphabetically. Starting with the letter “D”, which representsthe most colorless of the gems; that is, one that is pure white, but this grade is hard to find. After “D” is “E” and “F”. All three of these grades are part of the colorless family and subsequently, sell for a higher price.
Then there’s “G, “H” and “J”, which represent near colorless. “K” to “M” has some faint yellow tintattributed to them and “N” to “Z” equates to a light yellower tint, but the yellow gets stronger as you move towards the end of the alphabet.
The most popular diamond color grade is “I”. When traces of the yellowish hue increase, the demand, and price of the diamond decreases.
Jewelry experts suggest getting a diamond just outside of the “D” to “F” range, such as “G” or “I” where the yellow tint may be so small you still can’t see it with the naked eye, but you can save a bundle compared to those in the “D” to “F” range.
Diamonds are a result of carbon being exposed to intense heat and pressure under the earth’s mantle for hundreds of millions of years.
This long process can add internal and external imperfections called inclusions and blemishes. The number, size, nature, and position of these imperfections affect the clarity of the stone.
The clarity scale has six categories: flawless (FL), internally flawless (IF), very, very slightly included (VVS1 and VVS2), very slightly included (VS1 and VS2), slightly included (SI1 and SI2), and included (I1, I2, and I3). FL diamonds account for less than 1% of the current diamond supply. These are the highest-valued diamonds.
A flawless diamond (FL) is one where imperfections can’t be seen even by 10x magnification, but these diamonds are rare and subsequently, very expensive. Many diamond experts recommend that you get a diamond that has some inclusions since the price would be much less.
Diamonds rated as VS1 and VS2 will have inclusions but are not visible to the naked eye. These are a good balance when you are looking to buy a stone but don’t want to mortgage your house to get one.
Tip:The differences between VS1 and VS2 are hardly noticeable, so it may be worth your while to purchase a diamond with a VS2 rating and save some money.
Diamonds rated SI1 have some inclusions that are, for the most part, visible under 10x magnification, but not to the naked eye, and as such, are considered the best bang for your buck. The reasoning being is that when others look at your diamond, they will visually see a flawless gem. Even though it is not flawless, no one expects them to pull out a microscope to see what it is.
Also, it should be noted that clarity is considered the least important of the diamond‘s 4c’s. This chart provides a nice illustration of diamond clarity.
A clarity of VS1 or S1 is recommended if you want to save money. They may have some imperfections but won’t be noticeable for the most part.
Acut is the most important element to consider when buying a diamond
Specifically, the refractive index is the comparison between the speed of light through the air (386,000 miles/second) to the speed of light when it hits a diamond. A diamond’s refractive index rating is generally around 2. This means that light travels through a diamond approximately 2 times slower than it travels through the air, or another way of stating this is that the light bends with a refracting index of 2.
The more the bending of light, the more the fire, and of course, the more expensive it will be. But for the light to bend properly (or perfectly), it has to be cut correctly which requires the precision of a diamond cutting expert to do it right.
The better the cut, the better the fire and brightness. The cut scale contains five grades: excellent, very good, good, fair, and poor, or ideal, very good, good, poor, and low, depending upon the company that cuts.
An excellent or ideal cut allows light to enter the stone and disperse it proportionality, reflecting through the top. When a diamond’s cut is too shallow or too deep, the light will escape through the bottom of the stone.
As mentioned, mined diamonds can’t be fitted directly onto jewelry. They have to be polished and cut into a shape. Getting the perfect cut is a tricky prospect. With that said, a diamond cut is the most important element to consider when buying one. As mentioned, this is where the sparkle and fire materialize. If a diamond is not cut correctly, all the carats in the world won’t give it its flashy sparkle.
There is a tremendous balancing act involved in which the cut has to be made to enhance clarity without reducing the weight of the stone. There is always the chance that the weight and size of a diamond may be compromised while removing some visible imperfections from it.
You can save money by purchasing a good or very good cut, as a good cut will have a decent amount of light shining from it and a very good cut will have almost as much sparkle as an Ideal cut but will cost less.
Many think that a diamond carat refers to the size when it refers to weight. As carat weight increases, so does the rarity and price of the gemstone. The larger the carat, the more expensive the diamond.
Metrically, a “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams, which is 0.2 grams or 0.0070 of an ounce, so this should give you an idea of how small a carat is. Because of the large difference in the monetary value of diamond weights, the carat is further broken down into ‘points’, where 100 points are equal to one carat or 1/100th of a carat.
In diamond social circles, one might refer to a stone that weighs 0.50 carats as a fifty-pointer. Diamonds greater than one carat are expressed in carats and decimals, so a 1.25-carat diamond would be referred to as “one point eight carats.”
A simple analogy would be that one 3-carat diamond would weigh about as much as a raisin.
When looking to buy a diamond, look for the fractional ones; such as 1.48, 2.14, or .24 carats. These would be lesser in price than purchasing a diamond with carat weights of 1.5, 2.25, or .25 respectively.
Here are some references you can use:
An F color grade with VS1 clarity would be about $10,500. A G color grade and VS1 clarity would be around $8000. A 1-carat engagement ring with an H color and VS2 clarity will yield around $6000. Same ring but VS1 clarity would be $7000. Same VS1 clarity but grade is $4,500.
So a diamond’s price with the same color grade, clarity, cut, and shape will increase significantly as the carat size increases.
Even though diamond shapes are not a part of the 4 C’s, they will still have a major impact on the appearance of your stone and can have significant price differences depending on the current trends of the time.
Also, depending upon the shape, they reflect light differently, giving each shape its unique fire and shine.
Specifically, a diamond’s shape refers to the geometry of the diamond, while cut refers to how the diamond’s proportions reflect light, but both factors determine their sparkle, so even if you get an Ideal cut stone. you still need to know the shape that will define the gem’s brilliance for better or worse.
The shapes for diamonds are the following: Round, Princess, Marquise, Cushion, Emerald, Radiant, Pear, Oval, and Asscher.
The round cut called the round brilliant cut is the most popular shape of a diamond and is a favorite among jewelers to sell, as this cut offers great brilliance and has great flexibility within the four C’s. This means that to bring out the most brilliance in your round stone, you would want to complement it with high grades of color, clarity, and cut.
Have Diamonds Always Been so Popular and in Demand?
Diamonds have not come to the forefront from the Renaissance, agricultural, or industrial revolution. They have been important since ancient times when the Greeks ruled the world. Even the name ‘diamond’ is said to be derived from the Greek word ‘adamas’, meaning indestructible, because the Greeks associated the radiant and ever-glowing glitter of the diamond with being an indestructible sign of love.
Generally, throughout history and various civilizations, diamonds have always been considered a sign of supreme power. Many cultural dogmas consider diamonds to contain magical powers that can be used to cure madness and repel evil spirits. Plato, the famous Greek philosopher shared the thought that diamonds were living spirits. Diamond powder, due to its curing abilities, has also been used in medicines.
There are a lot more historical anecdotes that can be mentioned to highlight the fact that the diamond has always been popular. It’s this popularity that makes it so expensive.
Moving Up the Ladder
It may be noteworthy that there are jewelers with high-standing reputations such as Tiffany* who maintain their standards by selling only the perfect cut. Of course, the price may be a bit higher than a standard jeweler.
* HowardFenstermMinerals.com, its staff, consultants, or associates do not have any affiliation with Tiffany or any other companies mentioned in this article in any manner. The purpose of this article is for knowledge purposes only.
There are six metals in nature that are rarer than gold and possess their own unique properties. In this article, we will shed some light on these relatively unknown elements and their uses.
In the 1840s, Russian chemist, Karl Ernst Claus, provided evidence for the existence of a new element in platinum ore. This new element was then named after the ancient name of Russia, Ruthenia.
Ruthenium has a silver-like sheen. It is a hard metal with a melting point between 2300 to 2450 degrees Celsius and a boiling point that ranges between 3900 to 4150 degrees Celsius. Ruthenium is a relatively non-reactive metal. It doesn’t dissolve in most acids and reacts only with those metals that have similar chemical properties. At room temperature, it doesn’t react to air, but higher temperatures can make it reactive to oxygen.
In nature, it is mostly found in platinum ores. Ruthenium is also obtained as a byproduct of nickel refining. This platinum metal is so rare that its abundance is only 0.0004 parts per million in nature.
Ruthenium is used in the production of different alloys due to its hardness and inertness to oxygen. Electrical contacts used to measure extreme temperatures usually contain ruthenium alloys.
It resembles ruthenium in appearance, but has vastly different physical and chemical properties For instance, unlike ruthenium, it dissolves in aqua regia. Like other platinum group elements, palladium is mostly found in copper and nickel ore, however, small deposits of uncombined platinum have been found in Brazil. Palladium is 15 times rarer than platinum and is considered to be highly toxic and carcinogenic.
It is used in the making of an alloy — white gold — which is extensively used in jewelry making. Nowadays, palladium is being used in many electrical appliances as the component material of multi-layer ceramic capacitors.
Rhenium was discovered by a German team in the 1920s. It was the last discovered naturally occurring element. Chile, The United Kingdom, and Germany are major exporters of this rare metal. Rhenium is usually extracted from molybdenites and columbite ores.
Rhenium is used to make superalloys that are used to make parts of jet engines and gas turbine engines. They are also used in the making of temperature-controlling devices and heating elements.
Rhenium is also used as a catalyst to fracture the natural petroleum extracts into more useful products like gasoline, diesel.
Iridium is another rare earth metal with a high density and a melting point. Its reactive tendencies are similar to that of gold. Iridium is also extracted during the process of nickel refining. Like other platinum family group members, it is very rare and used for very specific purposes.
Alloys made of iridium are used to make bearings used in compasses. Due to its high density and melting point, it is also used to make standard meter bars. It is also used as an electric contact in spark plugs due to its inertness and high melting point.
Rhodium is another rare metal from the same family of rare elements. In fact, it also resembles other metals of the group. Rhodium is highly conductive and is extremely resistant to corrosion.
Rhodium is used as a catalyst in the making of acetic acid, nitric acid and other hydrogenation reactions. One of the distinctive uses of rhodium is the part it plays in catalytic converters of cars. It is used to reduce the formation of nitric oxide in exhaust gases of the car.
It is the densest of all the rare metals of the platinum family. It is a hard bluish metal with powerful properties as an oxidizing agent. It can be extracted from platinum-bearing ores in North America, South America and the Urals.
Due to its high density, it is used to make different instrument pivots and electrical contacts. An amorphous form of the metal can be used for staining on microscopic slides and detecting fingerprints.
The distinctive and unique uses of all these six rare metals tell us that while they belong to the same metal family, their properties go beyond the familial bond they share. Each individual metal has its own unique traits that distinguish it from the rest.
In all the naturally occurring substances, gemstones catch our attention the most. Due to their color, shapes, sizes and textures, gemstones are intrinsically rare and always an eyecatcher. And among all the elite and rare stone types, there are some which are considered as the rarest due to their scarcity of nature.
Let’s find out some details about these gemstones that are the rarest of the rare.
Alexandrite: Emerald by Day, Ruby by Night
Named after the Russian tsar Alexander-II, Alexandrite belongs to the family of Chrysoberyl family. It was first found in the Ural Mountain range in Russia in early 18th century. Due to some digression from Chrysoberyl minerals, it became one of the rarest gemstones on the face of the earth. Alexandrite is famous for exhibiting hues of emerald and ruby when seen in the presence of light and darkness respectively.
When it shines under different light sources, it appears with different shades of green, magenta and blue which clearly indicate that Alexandrite possesses splendid color features. The impurities of iron, titanium and chromium are supposed to be the reason why it stands alone among all the other Chrysoberyl gemstones.
Tanzanite: A Gift from Foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro
This gemstone belongs to the family of zoisite gemstones with blue color. The rarity of this stone can be understood by the fact that the only known deposit of this stone is found in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. Therefore, this zoisite gem is even named after the country.
The bluish-purple stones are found and mined in decades, and therefore it is considered rarer than diamonds. Tanzanite also exhibits different hues under different crystal orientations and light conditions.
Red Diamonds: A Rare Tale of Romance
The combination of red color and diamond stone can be the ultimate gesture of love. Red diamonds are considered to be the fanciest and rarest diamonds. Unlike other fancy diamonds which get their color from different impurities, diamonds get red hue due to a rare bend in its atomic structure known as plastic deformation. There are very few red diamonds in the world (some estimates suggest that only 30 diamonds exist with such color formation).
Grandidierite: Madagascar’s Another Natural Offering
Grandidierites are extremely rare gemstones only found in very few places such as Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Namibia. They were first discovered in Madagascar in the early 19th century by a French mineralogist and named after Alfred Grandidier who is thought to be the first authority on the natural history of the region.
Grandidierite comes in bluish green color patterns, shades which come from the tinge of iron impurities in it. They come in orthorhombic crystal structures. The typical rare Grandidierite appears completely transparent.
Poudretteite: An Exquisite Pink Gem
Poudretteite was first discovered in Canada and named after the family which operates the quarry from which this stone was discovered. Even after more than 50 years, it can only be found in two locations in Canada and Myanmar which makes this gemstone incredibly rare.
The color of Poudretteite depends on the optical phenomenon in which different the color appears when observed at different angles. However, Poudretteite shows light pink and purple hues mostly. Manganese is the color giving element present in Poudretteite, so the color saturation depends on the amount of Manganese present in the stone’s crystal structure.
Benitoite: A Californian Rarity
Benitoite is a rare gemstone that is extracted from the only and limited deposit near San Benito River in California. It was discovered in 1907. Benitoite comes in blue and purple shades and glows like blue chalk when put under UV light.
Due to its unavailability, Benitoite is not used as a typical gemstone in jewelry items. It is almost impossible to find in the open market and is usually part of rare gem collections.
Musgravite: Distinctive among all the Taaffeite
Musgravite is a rare oxide gemstone belonging to the family of Taaffeite gemstones. Musgravite was first discovered in the Musgrave Range of South Australia. It is very difficult to differentiate them from all the other Taaffeite stones and only an expert can do this. Musgravite exists in grey, mauve, grey purple and light olive green shades.
Due to its exuberant display of color, opal has often been compared with erupting volcanoes, galaxies and fireworks. A stone exhibiting such grandeur inherently appears mystic and mysterious. And we humans are always intrigued and fascinated by such characteristics. Therefore, opal comes in an elite category of stones that have always been appreciated and revered the world over.
What is an Opal?
The opal stone is classified as mineraloid, a mineral-like substance that doesn’t possess the characteristics of crystalline structures. Opal is an amorphous form of silica which displays a mix of various colors giving it its enhanced enchantment quality. The colors are borne out of the chemical and physical conditions in which the stone is formed.
Most common opals have green and white hues, while black opals are considered to be the rarest. Let’s look into the history of opal to know how this gemstone has been perceived over time.
Historical Journey of the Opal
The Opal became mainstream with its discovery in South Australia in the 18th century. However, anthropology tells us that opals were in use way before this discovery.
An opal artifact was discovered from a cave in Kenya which dates back to 4000 B.C. According to anthropologists, these artifacts were brought over from Ethiopia.
Apart from that, opal is also depicted in many ancient paintings as a part of ornaments and jewelry. In ancient Europe, Hungary was the origin of opal mining and it is believed that Spanish soldiers introduced this stone to the rest of the world in the 16th century.
The historical significance of opal can also be authenticated by the origin of the name ‘Opal’.
According to some references, the name opal is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Upala’ which means ‘precious stone’.
Many historians associate the word opal with ancient Rome where two languages were dominant, Latin and Greek. A Latin word ‘Opalus’ means ‘precious stone’ is also thought of as the origin of the name, while the Greek word ‘Opallios’ meaning ‘to see a color change’ is also considered to be a strong contender for the origin of the word Opal.
It is quite evident that whichever origin story you want to buy, the characteristics of opal have always been linked to magnificence.
Types of Opal
Opal is categorized into different types according to its optical density and colors. There are numerous types of opals according to their appearance, however, we will discuss the ones that are found commonly and are more popular among all the different types.
Fire Opal: They are mostly mined from Western Australia and contain the background color combination of yellow and red with an overall semi-transparent appearance.
Black Opal: Opals are called black due to less transparency which makes their appearance darker. Black opal exhibits a beautiful play of color which makes them one of the most attractive and popular opals out there.
Boulder Opal: This type of opal is basically housed in the fractures of a stone in the form of a vein-like meshwork. These opals are mostly mined along with their host stone so that the opal remains in its natural state.
Common Opal: Common opals have the highest opacity and do not exhibit any play of color. However, common opals can be used in ornaments due to their lustrous appearance.
Gem Therapy with Opal
Gem therapy has been practiced in a plethora of cultures around the world. Although not scientifically proven, anecdotal evidence suggests that gems do have healing powers. With that said, some health benefits that might be associated with opal are:
Fire opal is thought of having healing power for blood-related diseases. Its psychological benefits include getting rid of laziness and depression.
Black opal has therapeutic benefits for reproductive disorders. By wearing black opal people can also get rid of the stress that comes with those reproductive disorders.
White opals are considered very effective for people who have been experiencing neurological disorders.
People who are facing sleeping disorders and have frequent nightmares can wear almost any kind of opal stone. Opal is known to relax and therefore, help you sleep.
Zodiac Association of Opal
Opal is considered as the gemstone for the month of October in the Gregorian calendar. It is said to be a suitable gemstone for all those zodiac signs that are ruled by Mercury. People with zodiac signs of Cancer, Libra, Pisces and Scorpio might want to wear opal for its potential benefits.
Since ancient times, the Emerald has caught the interest and fascination of humans. Like many other gifts of nature found in lush green shades, real emeralds are also found in stunning green color. There are other green gems such as peridot and tourmaline but none are as famous, beautiful and rightfully expensive as emeralds. In this article, we will try to shed some light on the historical significance of the stone. Let’s start with its name origin and some ancient history.
Emerald’s name origin
Historians are agreed on the fact that the word ‘Emerald’ is the distorted form of a Greek word ‘smaragdus’ which means ‘green’.
Trace back of emerald in the history
The first mining of emerald was reported in the ancient Egypt dating back to 300 BC. In Egypt, emerald was revered as a precious gemstone. Cleopatra, the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt considered the manifestation of beauty, was fond of emerald and it is used as part of many of her royal adornments.
History also suggests that Roman were also fond of this magnificent gemstone. According to the writings of famous Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder, in ancient Rome people stared into emerald to relieve tediousness and exhaustion.
In the following discussion, we will try to look into the importance of emerald in different cultural and religious symbolism.
Emerald: Equally loved by ancient gods
In many religious beliefs, offering emerald to the spiritual deity results in different rewards for the people. For instance, Hindus were the belief that people who offer emerald to the god Krishna become high in heaven and god rewards these generous offerings with the knowledge of soul and eternity.
There is another historical trace of people offering emeralds to their gods. A Spanish historian from the 16th century AD, who had extensively researched on the north of South America, also hinted about the emerald offering of the natives to their gods. According to him, people used to burn emeralds and gold before the depictions of the Moon and Sun which are considered the highest divinities.
Emerald used as a rewarding gift to gods implies that not only humans but gods were also fond of this gemstone.
Emerald: A stone embedded in the breastplate of Aaron
The breastplate of Aaron, which is discussed in the Old Testament, had different gemstones embedded in it. Scholars are still debating the type of those gemstones because revision to the original text has changed the names and categorization of the stones. Apart from that, the linguistic changes through the course of time have also altered the names of different gemstones.
It has been cited that a greenstone was used in the breastplate of Aaron. It could be the real green emerald, green feldspar or any other green stone but historical indications are stronger towards the use of emerald. Emerald began to be mined near the ancient site of Nubia, Egypt before the era in which the breastplate got made.
The Peruvian goddess made of emerald
In the 15th century, when Spanish kingdom was roaring around the South America, people of the city of Manta in present-day Peru used to worship a goddess named Umina. The goddess was made of an emerald of the size of an ostrich egg. It was displayed to the public only on feast days by the priest.
According to their dogmatic belief, followers can worship the goddess by only bringing her daughters. Small size emeralds were called the daughters of the Umina. When the city was captured and conquered by the Spaniards, they found plenty of emeralds there however they failed to trace the emerald goddess Umina.
Spaniards also waste many of these precious gemstones in order to determine their originality. They smashed emeralds on anvil because they were of the thought that original emerald is the hardest gemstones and it can withstand this smashing.
Emerald Symbolism embedded in depiction of mystic and mysterious cities
There are many tales and folklore in India which talks about the mysterious cities and forts with walls, facets and entire temples made of gold and other precious elements. There are paintings which depict these cities and their features. According to the pictorial depictions of those wealthy cities, leaves of plants and trees have dripping emeralds and rubies.
From the above discussion, it is quite clear that emerald has always been an important part of different historical religious and cultural reference spread all across the world.
Zircon is a mineral compound composed of the elements zirconium and silicon. Zircon is commonly found in nearly every type of rock formations all around the world. Zircon has been used as a gemstone for millennia. Even though zircon comes in different colors but the most sought after is colorless zircon due to its close resemblance with diamonds, thanks to its fine dispersion and brightness.
Name and history of zircon
Zircon faces chronological injustice because most of people know it as an imitation element due it its extensive use as a low-cost diamond substitute in the beginning of the 20th century. However, the stone is naturally found in many different shades. Even the origination of the name ‘zircon’ indicates that the other colors of the mineral were equally popular in the past.
Name origin of zircon
There are two popular theories regarding the name origination of this mineral stone:
Some historians think that ‘zircon’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘zarkun’ which translates to vermilion or cinnabar, both represent different shades of red.
Other historians are of the thought that zircon is borrowed from the Persian word ‘zargun’ meaning gold colored.
With zircon’s natural occurrence in a wide variety of color shades, either of the name origination can be true.
A prized stone during medieval times
Different variants of zircons held an important place during the middle ages. People believed that these stones had the ability to repel evil spirits. Possessing zircon was associated with good fortunes and wisdom.
Important ornamental stone of Victorian era
Zircon became widely popular during Victorian era. Many jewelry specimens of the time were fitted with rare blue variants of the gemstone. A famous gemologist of the time, George Kunz was known for his fondness of zircon. He even proposed the change in name of the stone to highlight its vivid characteristic.
Geology of the stone
Igneous rock formations that have undergone the process of metamorphism usually host zircon gemstone. They are also found as an accessory mineral in granite deposits. Most of this zircon goes unnoticed because its aggregate is present in very small size dispersed in a larger volume of the given ore.
Gem-grade variety of zircon can be found in the soil and sedimentary rocks. Due to their high resistance to grazing and chemical reactions, they remain to keep their shape and structure even when the rock formation around them undergo erosion. Therefore, there are certain billion-year-old deposits of zircon as per their carbon dating. The bigger the cut of zircon, the better it would be to be used as a gemstone.
Even in modern times, zircon gemstones are used in many jewelry items. Most of the famous choices of zircon gemstone are brown, red and yellow and treated variants of green and blue. We have already discussed that colorless zircons are used as the low-cost diamond substitutes. The other in-demand type of modern times is blue zircon.
Perfect fit for pieces of jewelry
Due to its greater value of hardness on the Mohs scale (7.5) and good cleavage grading, it is suitable to be used in different ornamental items including earrings, brooches, rings, and bracelets. Jewelry items featuring zircon as the primary gemstone can last for many years without losing the sheen and magnificence of the stone.
Industrial and gem-grade mining of the stone
Since the use of zircon is not limited to the domain of jewelry and gems anymore. Industrial use of zircon has also been established with time. Mining of both types of grades is usually done in separate geological sites.
Gem-grade deposits of zircon are being mined for centuries from the alluvium deposits located in the far eastern countries of Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Sri Lanka is also famous for the mining of gem-grade zircon.
Now more mining of the stone is done for the sake of its industrial uses. Australia tops the chart for mining zircon for its industrial uses. Brazil, China, and Kenya also have some noteworthy land and marine alluvial deposits of industrial-grade Zircon.
Due to its high-temperature resistant characteristic, zircon is used as a refractory lining that is installed inside furnaces and kilns. By converting zircon minerals into zirconium dioxide at extremely high temperatures, it gets into an amorphous form which is then used as a pigment in different industrial and manufacturing processes.
Ammolite are gem-grade fossilized shells of ammonites. They are known to have spectacular display of sparkling colors in the presence of reflective lights. Different variants of ammolite produces different spectrum of colors; some only reflect one or two colors. These fossilized remains are considered gemstones because they can easily contend the exquisiteness and color strength of established gemstones such as opals and labradorite.
Anatomy of Ammolite
When dissecting the anatomy of this colorful gemstone, one comes to know that ammolite are thin gleamed coverings of ammonite fossils. It should be noted that not all ammonite fossils have ammolite as their coverings. Two species of this extinct marine molluscs are festooned with this organic gemstone. Most of the present day ammolite deposits are found along the riverside of St. Mary in Alberta, Canada.
Geological History of Ammolites
The host fossil of ammolite, ammonite was present in the waters as a living species nearly 70 million years ago. As their extinction started, the shell of dead ammonites fell to the bed of the seaway and gradually covered with mineral sediments resulting in the formation of gem-quality ammolites.
Ammolite: From Its Original Form to Gemstone
Transforming journey of ammolite from its original fossil form into a gem-grade entity is an interesting one. In the first step, the slender shell of ammonite fossil is removed from its dark shaded base. Since most of the ammolite strips are so delicate to handle therefore they are not subjected to any further processing to enhance the texture and color of the gemstone. Instead, ammolite receives the stabilization treatment. There are few steps involved in the process of stabilization:
The fragile specimen of ammolite is reinforced by adding thin block to its back. Usually darker color shale slabs serve this purpose
To protect the surface for which ammolite is known, covers of clear transparent minerals are used. Thin covers of spinel and quartz are used so that the surface of ammolite can be protected without affecting its beautiful natural display.
There is another relatively less used method to stabilize ammolite in which the specimen is soaked with an epoxy solution. Rare cuts of ammolites don’t require stabilization and can be used in jewelry in their indigenous form.
Quality Determination of Ammolite and its Uses in Ornamental Items
Apart from their size, there are few other characteristics of ammolite that determine its quality as a gemstone.
Ammolites that display more than one glowing color
Ammolites that display the phenomenon of iridescence from various angles
Ammolites with color bends that are not broken up by gaps are also considered very precious. Gaps are formed ammolite surfaces due to fractures and the inclusion of other minerals
Ammolites that fulfill all these three requirements are then cut and used in different type of jewelry. Capping or transparent covering of the stones is done as per the customer’s requirement. For instance, people who want to have the best and more natural view of ammolite will prefer less dooming. On the other hand, some people like this dooming because it enhances the visual character of the stone.
Ammolites that are totally uncapped or covered can be used in jewelry items such as earrings, pins, and brooches that are less likely to face abrasion.
Historical Significance of Ammolite in Different Cultures and Religions
Ammonites found in the fossil sediments of Gandaki River in Nepal usually show golden luminescence and have been used to show the characteristics of Vishnu and his chakra. This attribution of the stones earned itself veneration from Hindus.
In Native America
To the Niitsitapi nation of Native America, ammolite and other fossil stones are associated with an abundance of resources, healing and good fortune.
In Chinese Culture
The believers of the ancient Feng Shui philosophy recommend ammolite as the stone used to cure financial problems. Ammolite is also named after a mythological Chinese beast ‘Qilin’ and hence called Qilin or Kirin Stone. In Chinese tradition, ammolite is also attributed to traits of longevity and non-violence.
It is interesting to see that the same stone is revered in different geological locations and demographics for different reasons. However, it can be inferred that this shared reverence from different cultures and religions is there due to ammolite’s unique iridescence.