Metal Studio Jewelry Blog
Explaining Gold "Loss" in jewellery production
A Guide to Birthstones and Choosing the Right Gemstone for your Jewelry
1. January ~ Garnet
Garnet is typically known as a deep red gemstone with a very clear internal structure. While the majority of garnet is deep red in colour it can be found in colours ranging from orange into the green spectrum. Garnets can be found in deposits all over the world. Garnet is overall one our most popular gemstones because of its stunning beauty and because of its highly accessible price when compared to ruby.
2. February ~ Amethyst or Pearl
Amethyst is a variety of quartz crystal that comes in various shades from light to dark purple. It is a crystal that is found in abundance in South America. One of the most interesting characteristics about amethyst is the way that it is formed and found naturally. Amethyst crystals form inside geodes which are hollow rocks that have crystal structures growing inside them. The outside looks just like a regular rock but break the rock open and there are stunning crystals growing inside of the hollow rock.
3. March ~ Aquamarine
4. April ~ Diamond
Due to careful marketing on the part of the diamond industry diamond is often referred to as the only April birthstone. However the high price of diamond often puts off customers looking for more affordable birthday gifts. While Metal Studio Jewlery does have some diamonds in the collection we often prefer to make diamond jewelry by customer order rather than stock pieces.
A secondary option for people wanting a piece of diamond jewelry but not looking for the high prices of cut diamonds are rough diamonds. Rough diamonds are how all diamonds come from the earth before they are cut and polished. Rough diamonds have simply not been cut prior to setting giving them a rough look. Rough diamonds are becoming increasingly popular especially as wedding or engagement jewelry
Another very good option for April jewelry gifts is Opal which is the other lesser known birthstone of April. Opals are one of Boom's favourite gemstones and we have a large selection of opals. Opals are stunning gemstones usually found either in Australia or Ethiopia however the look of Australian and Ethiopian opals is very different.
Australian opals tend to be found in very thin slices and are often bonded with a substrate to form larger flat pieces with stunning blue and green colouration. Australian opals tend to have very vibrant fire and a lot of movement that moves through the gemstone as it passes through different light sources.
Ethiopian opals are usually found in larger deposits and because of this are often cut into solid pieces and not backed with a substrate. They typically have more red and orange colouration and a white to creamy yellow medium.
5. May ~ Emerald
The gemstone of May is one of the most rare and valuable gemstones. Emerald is a deep green variant of Beryl. The stunning green colour has made these gemstone highly sought after and their rarity makes them highly valuable. Excellent quality specimens with few inclusions are more valuable than a similarly sized diamond.
6. June ~ Pearl / Alexanderite
Alexandrite is one of the most recent additions to the list of birthstones. While most gemstones on this list have been used as decoration throughout history, Alexandrite was only discovered in 1830 in the Ural mountains of Russia. Alexandrite is a fascinating gemstone because of its fascinating property of changing colour depending on the light source. While in mixed or bright daytime light Alexandrite appears to be deep purple, in fading light or by candle light it changes to a vivid yellow or orange. The change is very dramatic with not just a flash of yellows coming through the gemstone but the entire gemstone changing colour.
Alexandrite is incredibly rare and valuable. While we don't currently stock alexandrite we are able to obtain pieces on a one off basis for custom orders.
Pearl is the other more common birthstone of June. While not technically a gemstone because of the way it is formed pearl is nonetheless valuable and highly sought after. Pearls are often farmed inside of oysters. A small particle of sand or other foreign body is placed inside of a live oyster. In response to the invasion the oyster will coat the inclusion in a layer of calcium. The longer the inclusion is allowed to grow inside of the oyster the bigger it will become. While pearl is quite common larger pearls or uniquely coloured pearls, especially ones that are perfectly round are very valuable.
7. July ~ Ruby
Ruby is a pink to deep red variant of the mineral corundum. It is common through India and Burma with the Indian version being more pink in coloration with more inclusions. The Burmese variant is especially valuable and sought after. The Burmese rubies are a deep red in colour and very clear.
The value of ruby is tied into the coloration and how free of inclusions it is and of course the carat weight with the deep red or 'pigeon blood' variation being the most sought after. These stunning gemstones are additionally valuable and prized in Thailand because of the long history of use in Thai and Southeast Asian jewelry.
Rubies are also incredibly hard with only a diamond and moissanite being harder.
8. August ~ Peridot / Spinel
Peridot, one of the shared birthstones of August is one of the few gemstones that comes in only one colour, green. Various shades of green can be found in the peridot family depending on the amount of iron in the crystal structure. Peridot is a fairly common and affordable gemstone but the deep olive green colour makes it a very pretty gem that really stands out when placed in jewelry. It also makes a very cost effective alternative to the more rare and valuable emerald.
Spinel is a stunning gemstone that typically has a very clear internal structure. Spinel comes in a huge range of colours form pinks, purples, blues, to black and even nearly translucent specimens.
An interesting bit of history of spinel gemstones is that they have been around for a long time however before scientific testing of the internal mineral structure was possible they were classified as ruby. This was especially true of pink or even deep red spinel which can look virtually identical to ruby to the naked eye.
9. September ~ Sapphire
Sapphire is another gemstone that is deeply ingrained in Thai traditions and traditional jewelry designs. Its internal structure is very closely related to ruby and is part of the corundum family of gemstones. Sapphire is most commonly a deep blue in coloration but can also be found in pinks, greens, yellow, purple and orange. While many of the best rubies in the world come from Northern Thailand and Burma. Sapphires come from central Thailand on the border to Cambodia. The Chantaburi sapphire markets are world renowned for mining and trade of gemstones.
10. October ~ Tourmaline / Opal
Tourmaline is another gemstone that is very similar to spinel in that it comes in a huge variety of colours. Often tourmaline has a graduation of colours within a single gemstone. Of these gemstones watermelon tourmaline, so called because of the gradient that changes from green to yellow and then to pinkish red, is a hugely popular and stunning gemstone for use in jewelry. Typically these watermelon tourmalines are cut into flat pieces that display the gradient. Tourmaline beads that have a range of colours are also another very popular option for tourmaline jewelry designs.
Tourmaline is classified as a semi precious gemstones and because of this can be used to create affordable pieces of jewelry with large very high quality gemstones.
*See April birthstones for a more full write up of opals and their use in jewelry
11. November ~ Citrine / Topaz
Citrine is a variety of quartz that produced a brilliant yellow gemstone that can range from very light in colour to yellow that has a nearly dark brown colouration. Most Citrine comes from Brazil and South America and makes a very unique gemstone to use in jewelry because of a lack of other gemstones that have a similar colouration. Citrine and Amethyst are very similar and can often be found together in a single crystal. If you were to cut the citrine and amethyst together to have a yellow to purple gradient in the gemstone it would be known as ametrine.
While all topaz can be used for jewelry the traditional birthstone of November is the more rare orange topaz. Typically topaz comes in a light blue colouration but can be found in a gambit of colours including a very dark blue (known as London Blue Topaz) oranges, pinks and purples. Topaz is closely related to citrine and there is often misidentification between the two gemstones.
12. December ~ Zircon, Tanzanite and Turquoise
While Metal Studio Jewelry does not typically have zircon one tanzanite jewelry in stock we do have some loose gemstones and if you have your heart set on a piece of zircon or tanzanite jewelry we would be happy to talk to you about a custom design.
We do however have a large selection of turquoise gemstones and jewelry. Turquoise is a gemstone that has been used for jewelry and decoration for thousands of year. Its unique deep blue to green hue makes it very easy to identify. Turquoise is often associated with the deposits in the American South and was commonly used as a gemstone and decoration prior to Spanish arrival. It continues to be popular in the American South West today. However Turquoise is not limited to American deposits and is also found in abundance in Tibet and is commonly used in Tibetan and high Himalayan cultures and traditions. In recent years closures of many of the most prolific American Turquoise mines have caused the price of American Turquoise to skyrocket.