Birthstones – which one is yours?
Garnet can be found in metamorphic rocks, granites and volcanic rocks.
Greek mythology states that the garnet originated with Persephone, the Greek goddess of sunshine. Persephone was captured by Hades, the god of the underworld. Before Hades released Persephone, he wanted to guarantee her return, so he gave her some pomegranate seeds. The word garnet comes from the Latin “granatus”, which means seed.
Amethyst is popular for its colour and crystal shapes that produce beautiful, purple, sparkling clusters.
According to Greek myth, Dionysius, god of intoxication, was angered by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish. Along came the beautiful maiden, Amethyst, on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the tigers. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quarts purple, creating the gem we know today.
Aquamarine is a variety of the mineral Beryl, which forms inside granites as magma cools deep inside the Earth.
Aquamarine’s name comes from the words “aqua” and “mare”, meaning water and sea, from its intense blue-green colour. Because of its resemblance to the ocean, sailors used to wear talismans made of aquamarine depicting the god Neptune, who ruled the seas. They believed the talisman would provide them with help from their god Neptune to offer them protection from the elements.
Diamond is a form of carbon with a tightly bound crystalline structure that gets formed deep inside the Earth under extreme pressure.
Diamonds are the most familiar gemstone and they are known for their prismatic beauty and hardness. At one time, it was even thought that if you took a diamond into bed with you, it would cure your illness!
Emerald is another variety of Beryl. It is very common for emeralds to contain flaws and veins of chemicals called inclusions.
The ancient Egyptians mined the Earth thousands of years ago, suffering through extreme conditions to find the prized green emerald. Cleopatra was so taken with these stones that she claimed the mines for herself. She was known for wearing lots of huge emerald jewellery, and gave emeralds carved with her portrait to her important visitors.
When light enters the Moonstone, it is bounced back and forth between these layers before it exits as the glowing moon-like effect we see.
Moonstone is a form of the mineral oligoclase feldspar. Moonstone’s name comes from the fact that its shiny iridescent and refractive properties resemble the glowing moon. Moonstone (also called sunstone) can be blue-white or peach in colour. Ancient peoples believed that the stone had mystical properties and could help with spiritual awareness. Some even believed that wearing this stone could make the wearer invisible.
Ruby originates from metamorphic rock, and is a variety of the mineral corundum, second only to the diamond in hardness.
The ruby is one of the most highly valued gems. Royalty used ruby to ward off evil because it was believed to have magical powers for the rightful owner. One such magical power was that the ruby would get darker in the presence of evil and lighter when the evil was gone.
Peridot is a type of olivine, and comes in various shades of green, from light to a brilliant olive green.
The Arabic word for gem is “faridat” and that is where the name for the gem peridot comes from. Ancient Egyptians called the Peridot “the gem of the sun” because of its stunning beauty and bright colour. It was believed that peridot glowed with its own inner light even after sunset, and that miners used to locate the stones at night to retrieve them during the day.
Any form of corundum that is not red is called Sapphire.
In ancient cultures Sapphires were believed to have special protective powers, such as preventing envy and protecting the wearer from poisoning. Some even thought that if a sapphire container held a venomous snake, it would die. In addition, people believed that sapphire could cure colic, rheumatism, blindness, and mental illnesses.
Geologists can determine the temperature of the rock at the time the opal formed by the presence of water in the mineral structure.
Ancient monarchs valued Opals for their protective powers. They were worn in crowns or in jewellery to ward off evil and to protect the wearer’s eyesight. They even ingested Opal in a ground-up powder to protect against nightmares.
Some Citrine can begin as purple amethyst, but heat from nearby molten rock can change it to a warm yellow colour.
The Romans were the first civilization to wear citrine (a yellow variety of quartz), shaped into cabochon-polished but unfaceted cuts of stone worn in jewellery. During the Romantic Period in turn-of-the-century Europe, Citrine became more popular for the way it visually enhances gold jewellery. Citrine was believed to have magical powers like all forms of quartz, and was worn as protection against snake venom poisoning, as well as evil.
Turquoise comprises of hydrated copper and aluminium phosphate. It forms in deserts when circulating water alters other aluminium-rich rocks.
Turquoise was first mined by the Egyptians, and was one of the most valuable opaque minerals in the jewellery business. Native Americans and Persians valued it for its decorative and ornamental beauty. The Navajo believe that turquoise is a part of the sky that fell to Earth.