Alexandrites and Pearls: Birthstones for June

pearl-necklaceMaybe it’s because of June’s association with the Gemini zodiac sign that birthdays in this summer month get two birthstones, one for each side of the twin personality. Both pearls and alexandrites are recognized as birthstones for June, though Crystal Cure reveals that four other months have at one time or another claimed the pearl as a birthstone. Because it isn’t a traditional, glittering gem you may not consider a pearl to be a precious gemstone. However, pearls have been sought-after symbols of affluence and wealth for centuries. Other than their appearance, the element that sets pearls apart from other gemstones is that they come from a living creature rather than being mined from the earth. The Farmer’s Almanac says that pearls symbolize purity, and that’s why they’re often worn by brides and sewn onto their gowns.

pearl-ringJune’s alternative birthstone, the alexandrite, is a relatively new gem, having only been discovered as recently as 1834, says the International Colored Gemstone Association. It’s possibly the alexandrite’s unique ability to change color that made it a logical choice to be the birthstone symbol for the duality of Geminis. Alexandrites are a variety of chrysoberyl. The highest quality stones appear green in natural light, but become red or a reddish-purple when viewed under artificial light. Geology.com says that alexandrites can even display different hues of green, red or purple, depending on which angle you view them from.

Like all gemstones, both June birthstones are thought to possess protective and healing qualities. The Gemological Institute of America tells pearl enthusiasts that it is a moon gem, and that pearls are thought to protect wearers from fire and even fire-breathing dragons. Geminis who favor alexandrites over pearls may be people who don’t fear dragons but who are looking for love or improved fortune. AJS Gems says that alexandrites are believed to facilitate romance and encourage joy for those who are excessively disciplined. The color-changing stones are also said to give hope and strength to the despairing and increase creativity, imagination and intuition.

23 Jan 2015

Emerald: May’s Birthstone

Emerald: May's BirthstoneEmeralds have a history of being connected to love, fertility and rebirth, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Maybe that’s why they were chosen to represent the springtime birthdays of people born in May. Unless you speak Greek, you may not see the clear link between the lush green gem’s name and the Greek word “smaragdus,” but it does translate to “green.” Naming a stone after its color is appropriate for this gem, especially since the word “emerald” has come to represent a specific deep, rich jewel-tone shade of green.

The American Gem Society reveals that as early as 330 B.C. emeralds were mined in Egypt. These days, high-quality emeralds are hard to come by. Most of the emeralds on the market come from Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia and Zambia. The United States, however, is fortunate to have one source for the green jewel. Located near Hiddenite, North Carolina, is a small emerald mine that Geology.com says produced over 20,000 carats of the precious gemstone in the 15 year period between 1995 and 2010. emerald-stonesConsidering that one of them was 1869 carats and about 6 inches long, that’s not too shabby for a “small” North Carolina mine.

As with most precious stones and crystals, emeralds are thought to have positive effects on emotions and health. Crystal Vaults reports that emeralds have a calming, yet invigorating effect. While this might seem contradictory, consider that calming the emotions allows a person to more easily think and reflect, and even be more creative. As a heart crystal, emeralds have been used to alleviate heavy emotions in the heart and promote hope, abundance and encouragement. As for physical benefits, emeralds are said to rejuvenate and have anti-aging effects. Emeralds have been put to use to strengthen the heart and other organs such as the gall bladder, liver, lungs and kidneys. As a symbol of fertility, emeralds are thought to improve the reproductive system and provide assistance during childbirth.

16 Jan 2015

Aquamarine: March’s Birthstone

aquamarine-and-turquoise-beads-necklaceThe cool, pale-blue crystal known as aquamarine is the gemstone that represents March birthdays. Aquamarines are brilliant and clear, though the actual shade can vary from stone to stone and sometimes can even be affected by the size of the crystal. Although aquamarine stones can be found in shades ranging from blue-green to greenish blue, the tone in all aquamarines tends to be light, with larger stones often displaying more intense color. Gem Select reveals that heating aquamarine stones at low temperatures is a trick jewelers use to alter the color of the gems, bringing out the blue and reducing the yellow and green tones. (more…)

11 Jan 2015

Diamond: April’s Birth Stone

diamond is april's birth stoneDiamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but the glittering, icy stone is symbolic for everyone born in the month of April, men and women alike. The diamond is a symbol of flawless excellence as well as everlasting love, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Obviously, that is why diamond rings are the traditional gift that signifies a wedding engagement. However, diamonds were also used to evoke courage, so the gift of any type of diamond jewelry is appropriate for those whose nerve needs a bit of encouragement in the face of difficult times. (more…)

10 Jan 2015

Diamond Cutting

DiamondThe fact that diamonds are supposed to be the hardest substance on the planet is well-known — but so is the fact that the brilliant gems don’t come out of the ground ready for mounting in a setting. Everyone knows that to get it’s sparkling brilliance, a rough diamond has to be cut. How, then, do you accomplish diamond cutting when there’s nothing harder than the rock you’re attempting to cut? According to WiseGeek, there’s more than one way to cut a diamond, but the most common diamond cutting techniques tend to be the oldest. That’s because, for all of the advanced technology available today, the old ways are still the best ways to cut diamonds. (more…)

04 Jan 2015

Amethyst: February’s Birthstone

amethyst purple jewelryIf you were born in February, you have the good fortune of having the amethyst as your birthstone. The stone’s color is a rich combination of red and violet that produces the stunning deep purple color the gemstone is known for. The American Gem Society says that the regal jewel has been used throughout the ages to adorn the ceremonial dress and objects of English royals, and possibly for more reasons that their sparkling opulence. Considering that amethysts were believed by ancient Romans and Greeks to facilitate clear-headed quick thinking, it’s easy to understand why a king or queen would want to decorate their crowns and scepters with several of the gemstones. (more…)

01 Jan 2015