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A-Z of Popular Gemstones

Amethyst, a stone prized by royalty throughout the ages for its regal purple hues, is recognised as the birthstone for the month of February. It get its name from the Greek word "amthystos" which means "not dunk" as it was believed that the stone could protect the wearer from alcohol intoxication.

This popular gemstone lacks diamond's fire and luster, but is intriguingly pure and clear. Belonging to the mineral family beryl, and nearly flawless (or free of chemical impurities), aquamarine is usually heated to permanently purify its pale sky-blue to intense sea-blue shades. According to lore, aquamarine was invisible when placed in the sea where mermaids amassed it in their treasure chests. The gem's legendary powers protect sailors, portend good fortune, and promise everlasting youth and fidelity. Likewise, March’s birthstone symbolises hope and good health.

Cubic Zirconia
Cubic Zirconia actually starts its life in a laboratory and is a synthetic gemstone. It shares many of the same qualities as diamond and will often require an expert to tell the two apart. CZ is seen as the more affordable alternative to diamond as the April gemstone.

Fondly referred to as a girl’s best friend, diamond has an enduring popularity and is the most desired gemstone. April's traditional birthstone is thought to bring forth purity and inspire creativity in the wearer. For more information on Diamonds, check out our Learning Guide.

Superb colours elevate emeralds to among the most precious gems, and their velvety green hues come from impurities (called inclusions) that cloud the clarity. These fissures in emeralds are also called "a jardin" for their plant-like appearance that deepens their vivid garden shades. Treasured from antiquity as the queen of gems, May’s birthstone symbolises spring and renewal and communicates harmony, beauty, and eternal love.

Unlike other gemstones, garnets are natural beauties whose consistently deep colour needs no manipulating. As an extra added attraction, garnets change shades between daylight and artificial light. January’s birthstone is associated with imagination and inspiration, and is said to signify truth and faith.

Although Moissanite can be found naturally it is extremely rare and in almost all cases the Moissanite you buy will have been made in a laboratory. It displays very similar properties to diamond although the gem’s sole producers, Charles and Colvard, prefer to market it as a jewel in its own right. Moissanite displays considerably more ‘brilliance’ than any popular gemstone and twice the ‘fire’ of diamond. While the standard round brilliant continues to be the most popular cut for Moissanite, fancy cuts such as cushion, square brilliant, and oval are also available in limited quantities.

Opal is considered to be the most beautiful and desirable of all gems because it is highlighted with all the colours of the rainbow. As the birthstone of October, the Opal symbolises hope and purity.

Produced naturally in the body of salt and freshwater molluscs, perfectly round pearls are very rare. A process known as cultivation was developed in the early 1900s--it takes approximately 20-24 months of intensive husbandry to cultivate a saltwater pearl and somewhat less time to cultivate freshwater pearls. June's birthstone symbolises beauty and chastity.

Anointed "the evening emerald" because night heightens its vibrant green shade, August’s birthstone symbolises purity and wisdom and alludes to renewal and spring. Iron causes peridot’s yellow-to-olive green colours, and the transparent gem form of the mineral olivine has been found in meteorites and volcanoes.

Called the "king of gemstones," ruby is among earth’s most precious and durable gemstones. This red variety of the mineral corundum is usually enhanced by heat to permanently intensify its deep reds. Symbolising love and immortality, July’s birthstone mythically epitomises power and abundant passion.

This clear variety of the mineral corundum is usually considered to be blue but it can be almost any colour. To avoid confusion non-blue sapphires are often referred to as Fancy Sapphires. This precious gemstone is September’s birthstone and symbolises truth, sincerity and faithfulness.

Once thought of as the stone of the sun due to its yellow colour, Topaz is now known to come in a variety of colours. It is the yellow variety that is November's birthstone and it is associated with friendship and faithfulness. Nowadays Topaz is best known, and is most popular, as a blue stone.

Tourmaline is a bright and beautiful gemstone that comes in an impressive range of colours ranging from red to green, a quality which has earned it the nickname the "rainbow gemstone." It is considered an alternative to opal as the birthstone for the month of October.

Sometimes called the "holy gemstone", turquoise is an opaque blue-green gem that has been a popular stone throughout history. It is December’s birthstone and symbolises happiness and good fortune.