Monday, March 2, 2015

Aquamarine, The Treasure of Mermaids

Oval Cut Aquamarine

Birthstones Series - March Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the official birthstone for the month of March as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. It is also commonly recognized as the zodiac stone for the constellation of Scorpio (although it is usually referred to as beryl in this regard).

Aquamarine evokes the purity of crystalline waters, and the exhilaration and relaxation of the sea. It is calming, soothing, and cleansing, and inspires truth, trust and letting go.

The name Aquamarine was derived from the Latin words, "aqua" meaning water, and "mare" meaning sea. This is because of its color's close resemblance to sea water. Aquamarine was considered sacred to the god of the sea, Neptune. It is documented that it was used by the Greeks between 480-300 BC. They would wear Aquamarine amulets engraved with the water god Poseidon to protect them against perils and monsters of the sea. Legend also says that Aquamarine was the treasure of the mermaids and for this reason, sailors would wear it to keep them safe on voyages out to sea and prevent seasickness. Today it protects all who travel by, over, or near water, and opens the channels of clear and heartfelt communication.

It is said that Aquamarine will provide its wearer with everlasting youth and happiness, provide courage, cure laziness and quicken the intellect. Aquamarine can replace anger and negativity with mental peace and clarity, providing the wearer with emotional and mental balance. For these reasons it is considered to be an effective treatment for anxiety.

As a love crystal, it is believed that pale blue Aquamarine encourages a lover to return, helps two people with different lifestyles to live together in harmony, and reduces the effects of sensitive issues that cause quarrels. Aquamarine is often given as a love token or eternity ring, and increases commitment and fidelity "as long as the waters of the earth flow".
30.5 ct Aquamarine Pendant
ADORA by Simona Original Design

Aquamarine is the blue variety of Beryl, being mined mainly in Brazil, but also found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique. The gorgeous aquamarine pendant featured in the ADORA by Simona original design pictured on the left comes from Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil, where some of the highest quality specimens of brilliant blue stones are mined. The pendant is a 30.5ct antique cushion cut flawless aquamarine, set in vermeil (14K gold over sterling silver) and enhanced by 23 white sapphires.   

The pictures below show the difference between a raw aquamarine stone and a cut, polished and enhanced stone. They are both beautiful!

                                          Happy Birthday to all of you born in March!

For one-of-a-kind jewelry designs created with both raw and enhanced stones please visit ADORA by Simona.

Sources: American Gem Society and Gem Select.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Amethyst, The Crystal With A Mysterious Energy

Oval Cut Amethyst
Birthstones Series - February Amethyst 

The official birthstone for the month of February is Amethyst, a gemstone that has been highly esteemed throughout the ages for its stunning beauty and legendary powers to stimulate and soothe the mind and emotions. Amethyst has always been associated with the month of February and it is said to be the stone of St. Valentine and faithful love. It carries the energy of fire and passion, creativity and spirituality, yet bears the logic of temperance and sobriety.

The Greek word "amethystos" may be translated as "not drunken", from the Greek a- "not" + methustos "intoxicated".  In Ancient times, Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why ancient Greeks and Romans routinely studded their goblets with Amethyst believing that wine drunk from an Amethyst cup was powerless to intoxicate.

The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from the Greeks. Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, got angry over an insult and determined to avenge himself.  He decreed that the first person he should meet would be devoured by his tigers. The unfortunate mortal happened to be a beautiful maiden named Amethystos on her way to worship at the shrine of Artemis. As the ferocious beasts sprang, she sought the protection of the goddess and was saved by her by being turned into a pillar of clear, white crystal. Dionysus, regretting his cruelty, poured the juice of his grapes over the stone as an offering, giving the gem its lovely purple hue.
The Empress of Uruguay
By today’s classifications amethyst is a semiprecious stone, but to the ancients it was a “Gem of Fire,” a precious stone worth at times in history as much as a Diamond. It belongs to the microcrystalline branch of quartz and it occurs in primary hues from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple (due to iron and aluminum impurities), sometimes exhibiting red and blue secondary hues. The best varieties of Amethysts can be found in Siberia, Sri Lanka, Brazil and the Far East. Green quartz is sometimes incorrectly called green amethyst, which is a misnomer and not an appropriate name for the material, the proper terminology being Prasiolite.

Situated just an hour from the Cairns international Airport on the beautiful Atherton Tablelands, The Crystal Caves are home to the world’s biggest Amethyst Geode, “The Empress of Uruguay”. At well over 11 feet tall and weighing 2.5 tons, its size is certainly impressive but it is the sheer beauty of the tens of thousands of perfect, deep purple Amethyst crystals that nature has formed naturally inside, that truly amaze everyone who sees her.

An interesting gemstone from the same family (and a favorite of mine) is Ametrine, a natural bicolor combination of amethyst and citrine. Color band combinations in ametrine can range from pale-violet to deep-purple and from pale-yellow to gold-brown. The colors of the zones visible within Ametrine are caused by different oxidation states of iron within the crystal, which occurred due to temperature changes across the crystal during its formation.

Amethyst is a powerful and protective stone, a crystal with a mysterious energy. It is said to be a meditative and calming stone that works in the emotional, spiritual, and physical planes to provide calm, balance, patience, and peace.

Sources: Wikipedia, Gem Select and Crystal Vaults. Images courtesy of Gem Select and Panoramio 

Happy Birthday to all February babies!

For quality one-of-a-kind jewelry created with Amethyst please visit ADORA by Simona. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Garnet, The Stone of Eternal Friendship

Oval Cut Almandine Garnet
Birthstones Series - January Garnet

The traditional birthstone for those born in the month of January is Garnet. It symbolizes a light heart, loyalty and enduring affections. It also signifies eternal friendship and trust, and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet is the Zodiac birthstone for Aquarius and the stone that celebrates the 2nd anniversary of marriage.

The word Garnet, derived from the Latin granatum which means “grain”, is possibly a reference to pomegranate because some garnet crystals resemble the red color and seeds of this fruit. There are many different myths about the origins of garnet. One such myth suggests 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.

Most people think of the garnet as a red gemstone, but in fact, Garnet is a group of minerals
Star Garnet
that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the fiery orange of Mandarin Garnet to the vibrant green of Tsavorite Garnet and to the most widely recognized deep red color of Pyrope Garnet.
The garnet’s variety of colors comes from metals such as manganese, iron, calcium, and aluminum. Some varieties known as Star Garnet even contain mineral fibers that produce the illusion of a four or six-rayed star within the stone, an effect called “asterism”. 
Color Changing Garnet

Color-changing Garnet is an especially rare and valuable member of the garnet group of gemstones. It is highly desired for its distinct ability to change color depending on the type of light source with which it is viewed. It can have several color combinations, especially brown or orange in daylight to a pink or light red in incandescent light.

There are many forms and varieties of Garnets, categorized in six main mineral types:
ALMANDINE  (reddish brown to brown) 
ANDRADITE (brown, black or green)
GROSSULAR (colorless, orange or green) 
PYROPE (dark red to ruby red)
SPESSARTINE (orange, pink or brown) 
Green garnets are most highly prized but are very rare. Emerald green and colorless stones are highly valued, followed by pure red garnets.
Varieties of Garnet
The most common crystal shape for garnets is the rhombic dodecahedron, a twelve sided crystal with diamond-shaped (rhombic) faces. This basic shape is the trademark of garnets, for no other crystal shape is so closely associated with a single mineral group like the rhombic dodecahedron is with garnets. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.

References to the gemstone date back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays in jewelry. In ancient Rome, signet rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax that secured important documents. Ancient warriors believed that garnets brought victory. The Crusaders used them as protection against wounds and accidents during their journeys. In contrast, Asiatic warriors believed that glowing garnets, used as bullets, inflicted more severe wounds.

As with many precious stones, garnets were once believed to hold medicinal powers. In Medieval times, it protected its wearer against poisons, wounds and bad dreams, and cured depression. Red garnets relieved fever, hemorrhages and inflammatory diseases.

Happy Birthday to all January babies!

For one-of-a-kind jewelry designs created with garnet please visit ADORA by Simona