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The Mysterious Appeal
Most gemstones are made from minerals and are found in the Earth’s surface or much further towards the heart of the planet. Gemstones, with their exquisite colours and traditional meanings, make them precious to many. However, it is their rarity, hardness and durability that make them doubly valuable. Their natural beauty, colours and strength have inspired beliefs with supernatural origins and magical powers.
There are over 3,000 different minerals, but only 50 are commonly used as gemstones.
Shiels carries many different types of gemstones, both natural and created. Shiels is proud to stock several pieces set with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz and aquamarines.
Created gemstones are made in laboratories or factories, not in the earth’s surface. They have virtually the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural gemstones so their optical and physical properties are very similar. However, they can usually be identified by the difference in their inclusions.
Because of the way created gems are made, they may show subtle difference in shape and colour that help to distinguish them from their natural counterparts. Some created gems may also have uneven colour distribution. Created gems have different inclusions from natural gems, so often the best way to tell them apart is to examine them with an eye loupe.
It is also possible to enhance authentic gemstones by hiding cracks and flaws, or by heat-treating or irradiating them to improve their colour.
Birthstones, Zodiac-Stones, Wedding Anniversaries
Certain gems have traditionally been associated with different months of the year, and thought to be lucky or important for people born in this time. This tradition stems from the ancient belief that gems came from the heavens.
The custom of wearing birthstone jewellery started in 18th century Poland and has since spread throughout the world. The most popular selection is show in the chart below. Remember that diamonds are considered good for all months!
Wearing Gemstones and metals that are under the influence of their zodiac planets has been practiced for many centuries in the Middle and Far East.
The practice of wearing material to mark a wedding anniversary, filtered into Europe from Asia and the Middle East
The finest quality Rubies are mined in the Mogok region of Burma, where the vibrant red colour is compared to pigeon’s blood. A few are mined from the marble in which they were formed, but most are recovered from river gravels.
From the 1300’s to the 1600’s, physicians believed strongly in the power of Ruby to preserve the wearer’s physical and mental health. In the past, Ruby has been believed to banish sadness, dispel nightmares and protect its wearer from plagues! These beliefs still hold true for some around the world today! Middle Eastern physicians will often prescribe a preparation of finely ground ruby for some ailments.
Rubies are said to also symbolise love, passion, warmth and a strong sense of vitality.
Emerald, the birthstone of May and the thirty-fifth anniversary stone is also the zodiac birthstone for Cancerians. Emeralds have long been cherished for their brilliant green beauty. Highly valued and desired, the brilliant green colour of emerald has never ceased to impress. For centuries only those of great wealth could bestow such a priceless a gift- the symbol of faith, kindness and purity. It is quite unknown that a fine quality emerald of good colour and clarity is actually more valuable than diamonds.
The ancient Egyptians mined emeralds nearly 4,000 years ago, and Cleopatra was an avid emerald collector. South America’s rich bounty of Emeralds was discovered by 16th Century Spanish explorers who found large Emeralds in the possession of the Aztecs and Incas.
Today, most of the world’s Emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil and Zambia. These gemstones are cut into a variety of shapes, ranging from the traditional rectangular step-cut, known as the “emerald cut,” to rounds, ovals, squares and cabochons.
One of the largest Emeralds in the world is the “Mogul Emerald”. It dates back to the year 1695, weighs 217.80 carats and is about 10 cm high. One side is inscribed with prayers, on the other side is engraved opulent flower ornaments. The legendary Emerald was auctioned off at Christie’s of London for $US2.2million to an anonymous buyer.
Emeralds have been coveted ever since ancient times. Some of the most famous Emeralds are housed in museums and collections. For example, The New York Museum of Natural History not only shows a cup from pure Emerald, which was owned by Emperor Jehingar, but also a Colombian Emerald crystal weighing 632 carats. The collection owned by the Bank of Bogota contains no less than five valuable Emerald crystals weighing between 220 and 1796 carats.
Emerald green is the colour of life and of eternally returning spring. For centuries, however, it has also been the colour of beauty and of eternal love. Even in ancient Rome, green was the colour dedicated to Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Today there are still many cultures and religions where green holds a special position. For example, green is the holy colour of Islam.
Sapphires also the stone of wisdom, royalty, prophecy and divine favour. Sapphires are steeped in history and lore of nearly every religion. In ancient and medieval times, blue Sapphires were the ultimate symbol of celestial hope and faith, and was believed to bring protection, good fortune and spiritual insight. It was a symbol of power and strength, but also of kindness and wise judgment.
In Hebrew folklore, King Solomon and Abraham both wore talismans of Sapphires. The Greeks wore sapphires for wisdom at Delphi when seeking answers from the Oracle at Apollo’s Shrine. Buddhists believed sapphires brought spiritual enlightenment, whilst the Hindus often used sapphires in their temple offerings and to align astrological influences. In Christianity it was used in ecclesiastical rings, and was cherished by kings and nobility for its powers of protection and insight.
As a talisman, Sapphires were thought to preserve chastity, discover fraud and treachery. They protected its wearer from poison, plague, fever, skin diseases as well as black magic and mystical ill-wishes.
Sapphires may be transparent to opaque. Blue is considered Sapphire’s “true” colour and the colour most often associated with the stone but can be found in a range of hues from pale to deep azure or dark royal blue, to indigo, with the most highly desired colour being the velvety cornflower blue.The name Sapphire is derived from the Latin sapphirus, Greek sappheiros, and Sanskrit sanipryam, meaning “blue stone.”
In modern times, Sapphire is still considered to be the birthstone of those born in September and can be gifted for 23rd wedding anniversaries. More recently the blue sapphire enjoyed a renaissance when Kate Middleton was betrothed in 2010 with the same engagement ring which was originally owned by Princess Diana. This engagement ring that was initially given to the then Lady Diana Spencer for her engagement to Charles, Prince of Wales in February 1981, was chosen by Diana simply because she loved it. The engagement ring set in 18 carat white gold, consisted of 14 solitaire diamonds elegantly surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire. This ring would be valued at £28,000 at today’s current exchange rates. This ring provides the perfect inspiration.
Aquamarine, the birthstone of those born in March and also perfect for a 19th wedding anniversary is a stone to said to bring its wearer more spiritual awareness. This stone is often used in deep meditations.
Aquamarine is a blue-green stone that comes from Colombia and Brazil. Aquamarine takes its name from the Latin ‘aqua marinus’, meaning ‘water of the sea,’ and directly refers to its sparkling ocean-like colour. This pale blue, transparent gemstone has been treasured over time for its colour was considered to be under the influence of the moon, different phases of the moon are said to increase the aquamarine’s fortune telling properties.
The aquamarine is the stone of sailors, believing it would be protect its wearers from the dangers of the oceans. The Romans used the aquamarine for diseases of the stomach, and believed it could cure liver and throat troubles.
Today, Aquamarine is still used as a powerful meditation stone, as it brings a great peace and serenity.
Topaz, mentioned in the Book of Exodus, has long been used to awaken cosmic energy. Topaz is a soothing, empathetic stone that will direct energy to the place it is most needed. Topaz is often used to heal, energise and to reveal truths or promote forgiveness.
Topaz can be found in Brazil, USA, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Russia, Australia, Pakistan and Mexico
Topaz comes in a range of different colours: deep golden yellow (Imperial Topaz), blue, light to medium brown (Champagne Topaz), pink, and white or clear topaz.Topaz, as it comes in its purest form, is a transparent stone. But naturally the stone is rarely found without impurities. The impurities found within the gemstone are responsible for the various colourations of the stone.