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Amethyst was as expensive as ruby and emerald until the 19th Century, when Brazil’s large deposits were discovered. It was believed to prevent intoxication—amethystos means “not drunk” in ancient Greek. Today, as the most valued quartz variety, amethyst is in demand for designer pieces and mass-market jewelry alike, and its purple to pastel hues retain wide consumer appeal.
Aquamarine’s name comes from the Latin for seawater and it was said to calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. March’s birthstone was also thought to enhance the happiness of marriages. The best gems combine high clarity with limpid transparency and blue to slightly greenish blue hues. Like many beryls, aquamarine forms large crystals suitable for sizable fashioned gems and carvings.
According to ancient lore, blue topaz will heighten your ability to express yourself in a meaningful way. Its wintry blue hue is appropriate, as it is December's birthstone.
Citrine is rare in nature. In the days before modern gemology, its tawny color caused it to be confused with topaz. Today, its attractive color, plus the durability and affordability it shares with most other quartzes, makes it the top-selling yellow-to-orange gem. In the contemporary market, citrine’s most popular shade is an earthy, deep, brownish or reddish orange.
Natural green quartz is considered very spiritual, encouraging wearers to be more in tune with nature and their inner selves.
Morganite’s subtle color is caused by traces of manganese. Because morganite has distinct pleochroism—pale pink and a deeper bluish pink—it’s necessary to orient the rough carefully for fashioning. Strong color in morganite is rare, and gems usually have to be large to achieve the finest color.
The ancient Egyptians mined peridot on the Red Sea island of Zabargad, the source for many large fine peridots in the world’s museums. The Egyptians called it the “gem of the sun.” Today this gem is still prized for its restful yellowish green hues and long history. Large strongly-colored, examples can be spectacular, and attractive smaller gems are available for jewelry at all price points.
Called the Heart Stone, pink quartz has been used as a token of love since 600 BC.
Smoky quartz is thought to elevate moods, overcome negativity and relieve depression.
Red garnets have a long history, but modern gem buyers can pick from a rich palette of garnet colors: greens, oranges, pinkish oranges, deeply saturated purplish reds, and even some blues. Red garnet is one of the most common and widespread of gems. But not all garnets are as abundant as the red ones. A green garnet, tsavorite, is rarer and needs rarer rock chemistries and conditions to form.
Sunstone is a member of the feldspar group. Both the orthoclase and the plagioclase feldspar species boast a sunstone variety. Other feldspar group gems include moonstone, non-phenomenal orthoclase, phenomenal and non-phenomenal labradorite, and amazonite. Sunstone from Oregon is gaining attention as a natural and untreated product of the United States.
Found in just one place on earth, tanzanite is a relatively recent discovery. Because the crystals show different colors depending on the viewing direction, cutters can fashion gems with a range of color from violetish blue to bluish violet depending on how much weight they want to retain from the rough.