Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Skills of Sri Lankan Jewellers

Sri Lanka has a long tradition in handmade jewellery - the skills of its
jewellers are generally confined to a particular caste and the skills passed
down from generation to generation.

Examples of Sri Lanka's traditional jewellery include the beautifully
handcrafted silver jewellery from the Kandy area.

Today, as jewellery exports increase, a greater number of jewellers are
creating cast jewellery - which is mass produced jewellery - aimed at the
export market.

Retailers: Gold manufacturers and retailers addressing the local market can
be separated into two distinct consumer focus groups; domestic customers
(mainly gold jewellery or pieces set with precious gemstones) and tourists
(jewellery with precious and semi-precious gemstones).

The Domestic Market - demands mainly gold jewellery in traditional designs
which are sold for weddings and special occasions. This segment is estimated
at US$50 million in annual sales.

The Tourist Market - prefer gem-set jewellery in contemporary designs.

If you are looking to buy jewellery in Sri Lanka, you will not be
disappointed because there's something for everyone. Glittering gold,
sizzling platinum, white gold, white, black and golden pearls, diamonds and
crystal - Sri Lankan consumers insist on the latest styles in jewellery.

Gold is the perennial favourite and the best seller - many consumers use
gold jewellery as a hedge against troubled times and inflation too. It is
also the traditional choice for wedding jewellery and most of the gold
jewellery sales in Sri Lanka are specifically for weddings and special
occasions.

Platinum is said to showcase certain gemstones, including diamonds, better
than other metals. While it was a favourite in Sri Lanka in the 1950s and
enjoyed a brief revival in the 1970s, platinum declined in popularity after
that, due to other external factors. However today, it is back in fashion
with many younger, more affluent customers asking for white metals,
especially platinum.

White gold is 18-karat gold with the contents of the alloy changed to give
the white colour. Platinum is a high value, extremely hard and shiny metal,
which actually costs about 50 percent more per gram than gold. It is highly
prized in Japan and the United States, where the traditional favourite for
wedding bands is platinum. Grades of platinum include Pt900, Pt950, and
Pt995 - these grades show the amount of pure platinum in your jewellery.

Sri Lanka is also home to a vibrant silver jewellery industry - in the
southern coast of the island, where many pieces are made for tourists as
well as for export. In the Kandy area beautiful silver jewellery is made in
very traditional styles, often with elaborate filigree work.

Silver jewellery is often a sector that shows the most innovation as well as
cutting-edge design trends because the relatively lower price of metal
allows designers and jewellery makers the freedom to experiment and design
more freely.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Rare gemstones of Sri Lanka

The most world famous rare gemstones are from Sri Lanka.

Among the Several world famous rare gems, Sri Lanka's blue sapphire Weighing
466 carats. the largest known sapphire in the world. Other famous rare gems
include the Blue giant of the Orient, Weighing nearly 500 carats and the
bluebell of Asia, which weighs in at 400 carats. The renowned Sri Lankan
Star sapphire is on permanent display at the Museum of Natural History in
New York, but due to an oversight, the stone has been called the star of
India. The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the
rough is the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a
sparkling rare gem of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection
when acquired by a Saudi prince.

Throughout history Sri Lanka's gems and jewellery have adorned the crown
jewels of many royal families. A very very rare gem- a 105 carat cat's eye-
discovered in a paddy field in Sri Lanka, gained fame among the royalty of
Britain and was Successively Admired by Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII
and Queen Elizabeth.

Alexandrite, the rarest gem in the world is Sri Lanka it was first pound in
the Urals in 1830 and is named after czar Alexander II who come of age on
the day it was found. This stone shines green in natural light but turns
raspberry red in artificial light.

The cat's eye is another stone which is considered valuable and rare. It
derives its name from fact that a silvery line runs across its greenish-gray
surface, giving it a remarkable resemblance to the eye of a cat. The rarest
type is the black cat's eye.

The most rare gems of Sri Lanka

1. Andalusite: Mineral found in Sri Lanka. Mainly green in color.

2. Apatite: Blue-green, yellow, and violet.

3. Diopside: Generally green, some show cat's-eye effect.

4. Ekanite: First found in Sri Lanka in 1953 and named after the man who
discovered it, F.L.D. Ekanayake. Green in colour.

5. Cordierite: Gem variety called iolite and is generally blue, but can also
be yellowish-white or colourless.

6. Kornerupine: Pale brownish-yellow, green and colourless.

7. Sinhalite: Recognised in 1952 as a new mineral - first found in Sri
Lanka. Pale yellow, brown or greenish-brown.

8. Taaffeite: Identified as a new mineral in 1945 after it was found in Sri
Lanka by Count Taaffe

Rare gemstones of Sri Lanka

The most world famous rare gemstones are from Sri Lanka.

Among the Several world famous rare gems, Sri Lanka's blue sapphire Weighing
466 carats. the largest known sapphire in the world. Other famous rare gems
include the Blue giant of the Orient, Weighing nearly 500 carats and the
bluebell of Asia, which weighs in at 400 carats. The renowned Sri Lankan
Star sapphire is on permanent display at the Museum of Natural History in
New York, but due to an oversight, the stone has been called the star of
India. The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the
rough is the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a
sparkling rare gem of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection
when acquired by a Saudi prince.

Throughout history Sri Lanka's gems and jewellery have adorned the crown
jewels of many royal families. A very very rare gem- a 105 carat cat's eye-
discovered in a paddy field in Sri Lanka, gained fame among the royalty of
Britain and was Successively Admired by Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII
and Queen Elizabeth.

Alexandrite, the rarest gem in the world is Sri Lanka it was first pound in
the Urals in 1830 and is named after czar Alexander II who come of age on
the day it was found. This stone shines green in natural light but turns
raspberry red in artificial light.

The cat's eye is another stone which is considered valuable and rare. It
derives its name from fact that a silvery line runs across its greenish-gray
surface, giving it a remarkable resemblance to the eye of a cat. The rarest
type is the black cat's eye.

The most rare gems of Sri Lanka

1. Andalusite: Mineral found in Sri Lanka. Mainly green in color.

2. Apatite: Blue-green, yellow, and violet.

3. Diopside: Generally green, some show cat's-eye effect.

4. Ekanite: First found in Sri Lanka in 1953 and named after the man who
discovered it, F.L.D. Ekanayake. Green in colour.

5. Cordierite: Gem variety called iolite and is generally blue, but can also
be yellowish-white or colourless.

6. Kornerupine: Pale brownish-yellow, green and colourless.

7. Sinhalite: Recognised in 1952 as a new mineral - first found in Sri
Lanka. Pale yellow, brown or greenish-brown.

8. Taaffeite: Identified as a new mineral in 1945 after it was found in Sri
Lanka by Count Taaffe

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unique gems of Sri Lanka

The most world famous gemstones are from Sri Lanka.

Blue Giant of the Orient - 466 carats
Mined in Kuruwita in 1907, this giant blue sapphire is one of the world's
most valuable gemstones. In rough, it was said to have been over 600 carats
and was fashioned into a jewel of 466 carats. It is the largest blue
sapphire in the world. This gem is in the collection of an American gem and
art collector.

Logan Blue Sapphire - 423 carats
Considered to be the second largest blue sapphire in the world on record. A
flawless specimen with a rich deep blue, the stone was gifted to The
Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC by John Logan.

Blue Belle of Asia - 400 carats
Discovered in the paddy fields of Pelmadulla, Sri Lanka in 1926, the Blue
Belle is held in high esteem because of its peacock blue colour and
excellent clarity. Today, it is part of the collection of a British gem
investor.


Star of India - 563 carats
The second largest star sapphire in the world was discovered in Sri Lanka.
It is almost flawless and unusual in that it has stars on both sides of the
stone. Part of the collection of the American Museum of Natural history.

Star of Lanka - 362 carats
Third largest star sapphire on record. The phenomenal stone is a rich
deep-blue in colour and has a well-defined six-ray star. Owned by the
National Gem & Jewellery Authority in Sri Lanka.

Rosser Reeves Star Ruby - 138 carats
The world's largest star ruby combining excellent colour, good transparency
and a well-defined star. Part of the United States National Gem Collection
at the Smithsonian Institute.

Hope Cat's Eye - over 500 carats
Probably the largest chrysoberyl cat's eye in the world, it was previously
part of the collection of Thomas Hope, the wealthy British banker and gem
investor. This cat's eye is carved to represent an alter surmounted by a
torch. Exhibited at the British Museum of Natural History.

Ray of Treasure - 103 carats
The stone displays the most desirable qualities of a "milk and honey"
effect, with good transparency and a well-defined silvery star. An almost
flawless specimen, its cut and proportions are excellent. It is part of the
collection of the Sri Lanka National Gem & Jewellery Authority.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sri Lanka vs. Madagascar

No other country has yielded such an abundance of gems in terms of quality
and variety than Sri Lanka. In the past decade however, competition has
taken place and the new king ascending the throne of the new millennium may
be Madagascar.

The list of gem varieties from this new island source reads like a
gemological textbook. From A to Z, you can find an abundance of Amethyst,
Apatite, Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Beryl, Chrysoberyl (& Chrysoberyl Cat's
Eye), Diamond, Emerald, Flurite, Garnet (Green, Orange, Purple, Red, Green
and never heard of before 'blue'), Helidor, Iolite, Jadeite, Kunzite,
Liddicoatite, Morganite, Quartz, Ruby, Sapphire, Spinel, Topaz, Uvarovite,
Vesuvianite and Zircon. This is only a fraction of the list.

That is the upper end of the list, and there is also a huge selection of
translucent and opaque gems such as Rose Quartz, Labradorite, Petrified
Woods, Fossilized Shells, Common Opal, Jasoper and Agate, which are used for
beads, cabochons and carvings. We are really pushed down to the second place
as we haven't got valuable varieties (traditionally called precious gems)
such as Diamond, Emerald and even Alexandrite and Ruby are rarely found now
in Sri Lanka, where as they are abundant in Madagascar.

Although Tourmaline and Garnet are considered semi-precious according to the
tradition, Pink Tourmaline, Chrome Tourmaline (Green), Blue Tourmaline (Also
known as Parabiba Tourmaline, after the first discovery at Paraiba in
Brazil), Tasvorite (Green Garnet) are priced much more than blue sapphires
(sometimes around US$ 15000-20000/carat) in the international gem trade.

We do not have those beautiful coloured tourmalines or Garnets that they
have. So is it not true that Sri Lanka is producing more than 70 varieties
of gemstones? It is true but about 97% of our gem exports by value
constitute of Sapphire (80), Cat's Eye (10), Alexandrite (5), Ruby (1) and
Topaz (1). All the other varieties together are less than 3% whereas in
Madagascar, the earlier mentioned varieties are in abundance.

With so much interest in the new discoveries in Madagascar, researchers and
traders have turned into Madagascar like never before. Text books on
Gemology are being revised like annual publications. Nowhere is quite like
Madagascar, the world's fourth largest island is nine times the area of Sri
Lanka with a population of 15 million people. It is the neglected, funny
looking cousin of a continent isolated about 200 million years ago during
the continental drift. The island developed a diverse and bizarre ecosystem
with 97% of all non-flying life forms, exclusive to the island.

One of the strange species have in fact given the place little fame it has
enjoyed in the past. Lemurs, perhaps the cutest of all primates, with
colorful dog-money faces were more famous than the many other things in the
island until gems of all kinds were found recently. There from north to
south and east to west, one can hardly find a place without gems.
Comparatively in Sri Lanka where there are not many rivers flowing to north,
north-west or north-east, and also there are no gem bearing source rocks,
north-east is virtually devoid of gem deposits.

During the past few years, almost all the restrictions for the gem trade
have been removed in Sri Lanka. One of the noteworthy moves was the removal
of duty and tax on the import of rough and cut and polished gemstones
including diamonds. This was done in order to make available raw materials
to sustain the gem cutting industry in Sri Lanka and also to attract foreign
buyers who would not only arrive here for buying Sri Lankan gemstones but
also what is not produced in Sri Lanka. So that a buyer need not go to many
countries to purchase their requirements.

Having learnt about the potential of gem resources in Madagascar, I
organised a gem trade delegation to that country in April 1999 as Chairman
of NGJA. The delegation consisted of 18 leading gem traders and officials of
the Sri Lanka Gem Traders' Association, Sri Lanka did not have diplomatic
ties established at that time, and due to poor communication facilities
there, it took nearly four months to make the tour a reality. Fortunately
for us one of my many correspondences to the Ministry of Energy and Mines
had been directed to a travel agency to arrange the itinerary, which could
not be done from here.

The following day a selected few met the Minister of Mines and the Secretary
to the Ministry of Trade and had discussions as to how we can get involved
in the gem trade in Madagascar. In the afternoon we took flight to Tulear,
the nearest major city to our destination, Illakaka which was further 260km
away. We were welcomed by 20 to 30 scornful Thai's who had already extended
their tentacles to Madagascar before we ventured.

Gemming was being done just around the corner, on a hill slope. There was no
water to be seen except a small stream at the bottom of the valley it was
being used for drinking, bathing, washing gem gravels and for all the other
human needs. The miners dwellings reminded me honey-comb shanties in Mumbai,
and Sri Lankan shanties would have been a luxury.

The abandoned gem pits lay miles long, and it is a sight you will not see in
Sri Lanka although we have been mining for centuries. Unfortunately for
Madagascar, we heard that most miners starting point of mining, is the
countries few protected areas. The miners seem to believe that the parks are
fertile ground of the gems, plus they are protected, so that they think
there must be something good inside!

After having a preliminary visit to the area, we set off to our night-stay
in a little hotel at Ihosy another 30km away. We managed to sleep because
everybody was so tired after day's travel. The following day morning we went
back to the gem trading and mining area and members of our team went wild
with having seen the gems so much similar, but cheaper to what we see in Sri
Lanka.

It was like putting fish into the water, they hardly needed a few minutes
before they started purchasing. In the evening we returned to Tulear and
following day I took flight to Tana and back to Sri Lanka via Mauritius and
Singapore, the usual route for a Sri Lankan going to Madagascar.

Our team wanted to stay a few days to continue studying and purchasing gems.
Throughout our tour, there were a few officials from the Ministry of Energy
and Mines to guide and look after us. It is interesting to look at why
gemstones of Madagascar look so much similar to those of Sri Lanka. Two
hundred million years ago the earth consisted of two continents known as
Laurasia and Gondwanaland. Gondwanaland was made of one single landmass of
South America, India, Africa, Australia and Antarctica together. During the
continental drift that took place afterwards, those countries were
separated. The origin of gemstones due to Igneous and metamorphic activities
took place around xxx million years ago.

So it has been established that there is a gem belt running across Sri
Lanka, Kerala, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Medagacar down to Antarctica.
Similarly the fossils as well as gems in these countries lends credibility
to the theory. Like Sri Lanka, Madagascar consists mainly of Precambrian
rocks, and the central part of Madagascar is called 'highland' and goes upto
3,000m in height. That is why gems formed during the same period under
similar conditions in Sri Lanka and Madagascar are similar. Since our tour,
through many seminars, I informed the gem traders of the gem potential in
Madagascar and the number of people travelling there grew steadily.

Over the past few years many thousands of people have visited the country
and imported gems and have become very successful. Since my return I
informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the importance of establishing
diplomatic ties with Madagascar, so that the hassle that our people have to
undergo to get a visa from Singapore or Thailand can be avoided. And also
there were a numerous instances where our people had been robbed, assaulted,
gems left at the Customs being lost. It took so much efforts on the part of
the then Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PA government to make contact
with their counterpart in Madagascar.

But none of those attempts were successful and finally Laksman Kadiragamar
had to meet the Foreign Minister of Madagascar at the UN meeting in 2000 and
pursue the matter. And finally in 2001, the Additional Secretary of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I visited Madagascar to sign the agreement
to establish diplomatic ties.

Once again I had been continuously pursuing with the ministry to establish
an honorary consulate and appoint a consul for Sri Lanka in Madagascar. With
the consultation of the Sri Lanka Gem Traders' Association and the consent
of the Additional Secretary, I recommended a qualified, experienced person
whom we met in Madagascar and later in Sri Lanka to be appointed as the
honorary consul.

Meanwhile Madagascar though not keen at first, probably having realised the
importance of it, established their consulate in Sri Lanka early 2002. But
still Sri Lanka is the world's best source for finest quality Sapphires,
specially Blue Sapphire and Sri Lanka has it's unique sapphire called
patparascha. Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Sapphires are the highest valued in the
world market. Perhaps this value will be remain or grow in the future.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gemstones of Sri Lanka

For centuries and perhaps the last thousand years, Sri Lanka has reined as
the king of the world's gem producing nations. Sri Lanka has been the
world's centre for coloured gemstones and from time immemorial has given the
world many diverse facets of romantic overtones. Among them is that Prince
Charles mesmerised Lady Diana with an engagement ring, set with a priceless
Blue Sapphire. The Blue Sapphire is Sri Lanka's gem supreme and can be
considered the highest prized of all gems, while being second only to the
diamond in hardness. The largest known Sapphire in the world weighing 42
pounds, was found in the gem gravels of Sri Lanka.

A well-known legend says that in Biblical times, King Solomon in his wisdom
used precious stones from the paradise isle to woo the Queen of Sheba.
Factually, Solomon sent emissaries to the City of Gems in the Orient
(Ratnapura in Sri Lanka) to procure the precious stones that won him the
hand, and then the heart of Queen Sheba. Since, and even before, Sri Lanka's
priceless gems have dazzled kings and rulers.

These coloured precious stones have adorned their crowns and thrones and
bedecked royalty world over, including Queen Victoria, in recent times,
according to diverse sources on gems and jewellery.

In the Adventures of Sinbad in Serendib (Sri Lanka) Sinbad became a
household word among the Arabs and Jazirat Kakut or Island of Gems became
equally known.

The Great Aqua of Sri Lanka, with a weight of 1,890 carats in the rough is
the largest gem found in the island. This aquamarine yielded a sparkling gem
of 946 carats, which became part of a royal collection when acquired by a
Saudi prince.

Gems are deeply embedded in the traditional beliefs and religious life of
the majority of Sri Lankans. Sinhalese mythology says that rubies were born
when heavenly beings (gods) sprinkled the land with dew. Priceless gems are
among the treasures kept in the relic chambers of great Buddhist stupas.

Many people all over the world attribute occult powers to gems.

They believe that certain kinds of precious stones have the power to ward
off evil planetary influences. Many of the world's leading gem collectors
believe that every precious stone carries with it different therapeutical
properties and wearing of such stones prevents and cures diseases.

Today, approximately 25,000 men and women are employed in Sri Lanka's
jewellery manufacturing industry, according to National Gem and Jewellery
Authority (NGJA) statistics. Traditional jewellery worn by Sri Lankans is
handcrafted and intricately designed. However, to meet the demands of the
international market, simple and contemporary designs are introduced. The
finished pieces display a high degree of Sri Lankan ingenuity. The major
buyers of Sri Lankan jewellery are Germany, Japan, the United States and the
United Kingdom.

According to geological surveys, 90 per cent of the country is estimated to
be potential gem bearing land and the earth's greatest concentration of fine
gems are found here with over 60 varieties of precious and semi-precious
stones, which include: Corundum - Ruby, Star Ruby, Blue Sapphire, Star
Sapphire, Yellow Sapphire, Golden Sapphire, Padparadscha, White Sapphire.
Chrysoberyl - Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye, Alexandrite, Alexandrite Cat's Eye,
Chrysoberyl. Spinel - Blue Spinel, Red Spinel, Mauve Spinel. Topaz - White
Topaz. Beryl - Aquamarine, White Beryl, Pale Green Beryl. Zircon - Green
Zircon, Yellow Zircon, Brown Zircon, Red and Blue Zircon (very rare).
Garnet - Rose red colored garnet, Red, Mauve, Hesonite Garnet, Spessartine
Garnet. Tourmaline - Green, Brown varieties. Quartz - Yellow, White, Brown,
Rose, Purple (Amethyst). Feldspar - Moonstone.

Sri Lanka's rare gemstones include: Andalusite, Apatite, Cordierite,
Diopside, Ekanite, Dpidote, Euclase, Fibrolite, Florite, Idocrase,
Kornerupine, Kyanite, Sinhalite, Scapolite, Taffeite.

A unique feature of Sri Lanka's gem pits is that there is almost never an
`illam' (deposit) of any one type of gem. Always there is an assorted
collection of stones like Spinels, Corundums (Sapphire and Ruby), Star
Stones, Cat's Eyes and many others.

Among the outstanding gemstones that Sri Lanka has produced in the
contemporary era are the Blue Giant of the Orient (466 carat), Logan Blue
Sapphire (423 cts), Blue Belle of Asia (400 cts), Rossar Reeves Star Ruby
(138.7cts), Star of Lanka (293cts.), Star Sapphire and Ray of Treasure (105
cts. Cat's Eye). The first three gems are on display at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington USA. The Star of Lanka and the Ray of Treasure are
in the proud possession of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chrysoberyl

The species name chrysoberyl is given to a transparent, faceted gemstone
that does not show a color change between daylight and artificial light (the
chrysoberyl which shows a colour change is called alexandrite). The ideal
colors of chrysoberyl are green and yellowish-green. In addition, due to
strong dichroism, one may see an attractive bi-coloured chrysoberyl
occasionally. Hardness is 8.5 on the Moh's scale. The high refractive index
of the stone makes it very lively when properly cut and polished.

The mineral or gemstone chrysoberyl, not to be confused with beryl, is an
aluminate of beryllium. Chrysoberyl is transparent to translucent and
sometimes chatoyant. An interesting feature of uncut crystals of chrysoberyl
are the cyclic twins called trillings. These twinned crystals have a
hexagonal appearance, but are the result of a triplet of twins with each
"twin" taking up 120 degrees of the cyclic trilling. The word chrysoberyl is
derived from the Greek chrysos, "golden," and beryllos, of uncertain
etymology.

Varieties - Alexandrite, Color change green to red, Chatoyant, Various
shades of green and yellow; brownish, reddish.

Sources - Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Myanmar.

History - The name chrysoberyl comes from the Greek, chrysoberyl meaning
golden beryl. But chrysoberyl is more hard and therefore different from the
classical gem beryl, which is much softer. Chrysolite is another name given
to the light greenish yellow variety of chrysoberyl that was in fashion
during the nineteenth century. A magnificent 47 carats chrysoberyl is listed
in the catalog of the British Museum of Natural History.

Cut and uses - Chrysoberyl and Alexandrite is usually faceted. Chrysoberyl
cat's eyes must be cut en cabochon to display a chatoyant effect.

Translucent yellowish chatoyant chrysoberyl is called cymophane or cat's
eye. Cymophane has its derivation also from the Greek words meaning wave and
appearance, in reference to the chatoyancy sometimes exhibited. In this
variety, microscopic tubelike cavities or needlelike inclusions of rutile
occur in an orientation parallel to the c-axis producing a chatoyant effect
visible as a single ray of light passing across the crystal. This effect is
best seen in gemstones cut in cabochon form perpendicular to the c-axis.

Although other minerals such as tourmaline, scapolite, corundum, spinel and
quartz can form "cat's eye" stones similar in appearance to cymophane, the
jewelry industry designates these stones as "quartz cat's eyes", or "ruby
cat's eyes" and only chrysoberyl can be referred to as "cat's eye" with no
other designation.

There are main three chrysoberyl varieties. The first type is simply faceted
transparent Chrysoberyl that is usually found in yellowish green to green,
yellow and shades of brown. It is a fine gemstone, but is over-shadowed by
its two cousins. The second variety is the "cat's eye", also known as
cymophane. The effect is caused by microscopic needle-like inclusions that
reflect light into a single dynamic sliver of light running along the center
of the crystal thus making it look like a living cat's eye! The third and
perhaps most interesting is Alexandrite. This rare and valuable gemstone has
the unique property of changing color depending on the type of light that
hits it. In sunlight, it appears almost emerald green, while in artificial
incandescent light it appears a violet-red. Some sapphires show similar
ability, and synthetic sapphires are now on the market being sold as
"Alexandrites" but at substantially lower prices than natural Alexandrite.

Until recently the main producers of fine quality chrysoberyl were Brazil
and Sri Lanka, but now much more productive mines are in Madagascar and
Tanzania. Because Sri Lanka Chrysoberyl has the finest quality and high
value most of the Madagascar rough is sold as genuine Sri Lanka stones.

When choosing a Chrysoberyl gemstone, due to the pastel color of
chrysoberyl, special attention should be given to the cut and overall
proportions of the stone. When choosing a cat's eye gemstone priority should
be given to the ray or eye of the stone.

Tourmaline

Tourmalines are precious stones displaying a unique splendour of colours.
According to an ancient Egyptian legend this is the result of the fact that
on the long way from the Earth's heart up towards the sun, Tourmaline
travelled along a rainbow. And on its way it collected all the colors of the
rainbow. This is why nowadays it is called the "Rainbow gemstone".

Tourmaline is a group of minerals comprised of a complex boron-aluminum
silicate with one or more of the following: magnesium, sodium, lithium,
iron, potassium or other metals. It appears in light from dark red to purple
as well as brownish variations of these hues - light to dark green,
yellowish-green, greenish-yellow, brownish-orange. It also grows
bi-coloured.

Varieties - Bi-colored, watermelon, cat's eye, alexandrite-like (rare).

Sources - Sri Lanka, Brazil, USA (California, Maine), Madagascar, Tanzania,
Kenya, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan (prime new source).

History - Dutch children played with tourmaline because of its ability to
attract light objects. The stones were called "aschentrekkers" (ash
drawers).

Cut and Uses - Any cut may be used. Some are carved, some fashioned into
beads. Cat's eye are always cut en cabochon. Sometimes carved to make use of
more than one colour.

However, the name "Tourmaline" has been derived from the Singhalese
expression "tura mali", which translates as "stone of mixed colors." The
very name already refers to the unique spectrum of colors displayed by this
gemstone, which is second to none in the realm of precious stones.
Tourmalines are red and green, range from blue to yellow. Often they show
two or more colors and are cherished for this parti- or multi-coloured
appearance. There are Tourmalines which change their colour from daylight to
artificial light, others display chattoyance. No Tourmaline exactly
resembles another one: this gemstone shows many faces and is thus
excellently suited to match all moods and tempers. It does not come as a
surprise, then, that ever since ancient days it has been attributed with
magical powers. Tourmaline is supposed to be an especially powerful
influence on love and friendship, lending them permanence and stability.

In order to understand this multitude of colors you will have to polish up
your knowledge of gemmology: Tourmalines are mixed crystals of complex
aluminium-borosilicate varying in their composition. The slightest changes
in composition will result in completely different colours. In fact,
crystals showing one colour only are quite rare; generally one and the same
crystal displays several shades and colours. Not only the wide range of
colours characterises this gemstone, it also shows a remarkable dichroism.
Depending on the angle of view the colour will be different or at least show
different intensity. The deepest colour always appears along the main axis,
a fact that the gemstone cutter has to keep in mind when cutting the stone.
This gemstone is excellently suited for wearing and is uncomplicated to care
for, since all Tourmalines show a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs' scale.
Thus Tourmaline is an interesting gemstone in many aspects indeed.

Tourmaline seems to have a special place in the hearts of mineral collectors
as well as in that of gem and gemstone enthusiasts. Its nearly universal
popularity is based on two very important facts: first, it is a bright and
beautiful gemstone that can be found in just about any color; and second,
materials that are of acceptable quality are affordable to most purchasers.

The word "rainbow" is used figuratively to describe tourmaline. In reality,
it is a well recognized fact that tourmaline's diversity in color is not
limited to the seven colors of the rainbow. Tourmaline can be colorless to
just about any color, hue, or tone known to man. And if range of colors
among different tourmalines is not enough, individual crystals can vary in
color along their length or in cross-section. The variations in color along
a crystal's length give rise to the bicolor and tricolor tourmalines which
have multitudes of color combinations. The variation in color in
cross-section can be concentric, as in the case of "watermelon" tourmaline,
a pink core surrounded by a green rind. Or the variation may have a distinct
triangular pattern as in the case of liddicoatite. The four most common and
well known tourmalines are distinguished by their color and transparencies.
Elbaite is the gemstone tourmaline and comes in many varied and beautiful
colors. It is transparent to translucent and is highly prized as minerals
specimens and as gemstones. Elbaite is easily the most colorful of all the
gemstones.

The iron rich schorl is the most abundant tourmaline and is black and
opaque. It is a common accessory mineral in igneous and metamorphic rocks
and can form nice crystals. Although too opaque to be used as a gemstone,
schorl is used as an ornamental stone when found as inclusions in quartz, a
stone is called "tourmalinated quartz". Usually when someone refers to
tourmaline they are referring to either elbaite or schorl.

The main suppliers of tourmalines are Madagascar, North America, Brazil,
Myanmar (Burma), Africa, Siberia, Australia, Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Tourmaline
and opal are the birthstones of the month of October. Tourmaline is the
national gemstone of the United States.

Tourmaline has a wide variety of colors. Usually, iron-rich tourmalines are
black to bluish-black to deep brown, while magnesium-rich varieties are
brown to yellow, and lithium-rich tourmalines are practically any color:
blue, green, red, yellow, pink etc. Rarely, it is colourless. Bi-colored and
multicoloured crystals are relatively common, reflecting variations of fluid
chemistry during crystalisation. Crystals may be green at one end and pink
at the other, or green on the outside and pink inside: this type is called
watermelon tourmaline. Some forms of tourmaline are dichroic, in that they
appear to change color when viewed from different directions.

The most common variety of tourmaline is schorl, first described by
Mathesius in 1524. It may account for 95% or more of all tourmaline in
nature. The word tourmaline is a corruption of the Sinhalese word turamali,
meaning "stone attracting ash" (a reference to its pyroelectric properties).
The meaning of the word "schorl" is a mystery, but it may be a Scandinavian
word.

Tourmaline is used in jewelry, pressure gauges, and specialist microphones.
In jewellery, blue indicolite is the most expensive, followed by green
verdelite and pink rubellite. Ironically the rarest variety, colourless
achroite, is not appreciated and is the least expensive of the transparent
tourmalines.

Tourmaline is a very special stone indeed and holds an outstanding position
in the fascinating world of gemstones. Its excellent availability and unique
splendour of colours make it one of the most popular gemstones - and besides
almost every Tourmaline is an original.

Peridot

Peridot is a beautiful olive green stone. It is much less expensive than
green tourmaline. It is worn in necklaces, earrings, pendants and bracelets.
Like other gems, peridot was believed to offer special powers.

Peridot is the best known gem variety of olivine, a species name for a
series of magnesium-iron rich silicate minerals. This bright yellow-green to
green gemstone has caught the fancy of humans for thousands of years. Some
historians even suspect that at least some of the "emeralds" worn by
Cleopatra were actually peridot. Much of its recent popularity can be
explained by its currently being recognized as the birthstone for the month
of August, people wear the stone because it is supposed to bring the wearer
success, peace, and good luck.

Peridot is the birthstone of August.

Varieties - Peridot top grades: medium to dark, slightly yellowish-green.
Chrysolite - greenish-yellow, light to dark yellowish-green to
brownish-green to almost brown.

Sources - Sri Lanka, Island of Zeberget (Egypt), Burma, USA, Mexico.

History - The ancients called it the "gem of the sun." They attributed to it
the power to dispel enchantment and evil spirits due to its association with
the sun (which drives away darkness). In order to be worn as a talisman, it
had to be set in gold. The Red Sea island of Zeberget, off the southern tip
of Egypt, was worked for this stone as early as 1500 B.C. At that time, the
island was known as "The Island of Serpents," because it was infested with
poisonous snakes. Later, the reigning Egyptian king had the snakes destroyed
to facilitate prospecting for peridot. Prospecting was done at night because
the gem could not be seen in sunlight. The workers would mark the spots and
return the next day to dig them out.

Cut and Uses - Usually faceted. Step-cut is best; oval, round and pendeloque
cuts are common. Very suitable for brooches, pendants, earrings, but not for
rings or bracelets because it abrades easily.

Throughout time, Peridot has been confused with many other gemstones, even
emerald. Many "emeralds" of royal treasures have turned out to be peridots!
And although peridot is distinctly a different shade of green, many jewelers
refer to peridot as "evening emerald". Emerald is a dark green as opposed to
a yellow green and always contains inclusions. Other green gemstones
confused with peridot include apatite (which is much softer); green garnets
(have no double refraction), green tourmaline and green sinhalite (both of
which are strongly pleochroic), moldavites (no double refraction) and green
zircon (significantly heavier). All of these gemstones rarely have as nice a
yellow component to their green color as does most peridot, but darker green
peridot can be confusing when good crystal form is not discernible.

Peridot is an ancient and yet currently very popular gemstone. It is so old
that it can be found even in Egyptian jewellery from the early second
millennium BC. The stones used in those days came from an occurrence on a
little volcanic island in the Red Sea. Peridot, however, is also a very
modern stone, for only a few years ago Peridot occurrences were discovered
in the Kashmir region and Sri Lanka, and the stones from there show a unique
beauty of color and transparency, so that the image of the stone, which was
somewhat dulled over the ages, has received an efficient polishing.

The most beautiful stones come from Sri Lanka and the Pakistan-Afghanistan
border region. Peridot as gemstone does also exist in Myanmar, China, the
USA, Africa and Australia. Stones from East Burma, today's Myanmar, show a
vivid green with fine silky inclusions. Peridot from the American state of
Arizona, where it is quite popular in Native Indian jewellery, often shows a
yellowish to golden brown shade

Peridot is a gain for the green gemstone' colour palette. There is trend to
use it not only as individual stone, but also in jewellery series. And since
the world of fashion has just discovered a preference for the colour green,
the popularity of this deep green gemstone has increased accordingly.

Peridot is a beautiful gemstone in its own right and is widely popular. Its
popularity is said to be increasing yearly and with new finds in Pakistan
producing exceptionally well crystallized specimens, peridot can be fun to
collect for years to come.

Monnstones

Moonstones are usually colourless to white, semi-transparent to translucent,
and characterised by a glowing light effect known as adularescence, the
visibility of which is confined to a restricted angle of view. The most
valuable of the feldspar gems.

Moonstone shows an almost magical play of light as its characteristic
feature. It owes its name to this mysterious gleaming which appears
different whenever the stone changes its position in movement. Experts call
this the "adularescence", and in earlier times the phases of waxing and
waning moon were though to be discerned in this phenomenon.

Moonstones are Nature's treasures with a sensuous and seductive charm. The
do not only ask to be looked at and admired, the require to be worn and
moved a lot. Because only then the soft veil of light which makes this
gemstone so attractive will be able to display its beauty to the best
effect.

Varieties - Some may exhibit cat's eye effect.

Sources - Sri Lanka

History - Considered a love charm, moonstone has been attributed the power
to arouse tender passions and foretell the future. Therapeutic qualities
include protection from lunacy, appeaser of anger and relief from fever.

Cut and Uses - Usually en cabochon, sometimes carved into cameos. Generally
used as an inexpensive stone for rings, pendants, etc

Moonstone from Sri Lanka, the classical country of origin for Moonstone,
shimmers pale blue on almost transparent ground. Specimen from India shoe
cloudlike plays of light and shade on beige brown, green, orange or simple
brown background. These subdued colors in combination with the fine shine
make Moonstone an ideal gemstone for jewellery with a sensuous and feminine
character. This gemstone was once before extremely popular, about a hundred
years ago in the times of Art Nouveau. It used to decorate a striking amount
of pieces of jewellery created by the famous French Master Goldsmith René
Lalique and by his contemporaries. These pieces are usually only found in a
museum or in collections nowadays.

Moonstone symbolizes a holistic view of man and woman. Its soft shine will
support the emotional and dreamy tendencies of a person. The associations
thus involved make Moonstone of course the ideal stone for lovers, reputed
to bring forth feelings of tenderness and to protect true love. It is also
reported that wearing a Moonstone will further intuition and your
sensitivity for others.

The mystical stone belongs to the large mineral family of feldspars, which
provide almost two thirds of all stones on our Earth. In the case of
Moonstone, we are looking at the feldspar variety called "adularia" a
silicate of potassium aluminium in gemstone quality, which is also found in
the European Alps near the Adula-group - thus the name "adularia". Another
synonym for Moonstone is "Selenite", according to the Greek goddess of the
moon, Selene.

The classical, bluish and almost transparent Moonstones traditionally came
from Sri Lanka. But they are also found in the USA, in Brasil, Australia,
Myanmar, and Madagascar. Since blue Moonstones in fine qualities have become
more and more scarce in recent time, the prices have increased accordingly.

For some years now also green, blue and peach or smoke and champagne
coloured, black and reddish specimen have been offered, which come mainly
from Sri Lanka. Some of these show not only the typical the typical floating
play of light, but also a cat's eye or a multi-rayed star. These stones,
then, are not only cut as cabochons, but also cut as intricate cameos,
sometimes engraved as children's -, moon - or gargoyle face. They also show
the play of light which is so typical for Moonstone, just like the spheres
and beads made from suitable raw material to be crafted into fine necklaces.

When purchasing Moonstone you will be astonished at the striking differences
in price. The more intense the color, the larger and more transparent the
stone, the more valuable is the gem. Really top quality fine blue Moonstone
show an incredible "three-dimensional" depth of colour, which you will see
clearly only when playfully tilting the stone and moving it. Such specimen
are very rare and thus highly coveted, and of course accordingly valuable.
The brighter coloured Indian Moonstones are not only a fashion trend. They
are usually a little less expensive than the classical blue variant, so that
everybody today may pick his or her favourite Moonstone to meet exactly all
requirements of taste and budget.

Garnet

Garnet is the name which can be applied to six similar mineral species,
namely almandine, pyrope, spessartine, grossular, andradite and uvarovite.
To further complicate matters, many garnets are actually a combination of
these minerals. Rhodolite garnet for instance, is a combination of almandine
and pyrope, and is sometimes referred to as pyrope-almandine garnet. There
are also many trade names and other commonly used names which only adds to
the confusion, such as Rhodolite, Tsavorite, Hessonite, Malaya, Mozambique,
Mandarin, Ant-hill, Leuco, Hydrogrossular, Demantoid, Melanite, Topazolite,
Thai. Other names such as "cape ruby" are simply misleading and deceptive.
Some garnets also exhibit color change and stars.

Garnet displays the greatest variety of color of any mineral, occurring in
every color except blue. For example, grossularite can be colorless, white,
gray, yellow, yellowish green, various shades of green, brown, pink,
reddish, or black. Andradite garnet can be yellow-green, green, greenish
brown, orangy yellow, brown, grayish black or black. Pyrope is commonly
purplish red, purplish red, orangy red, crimson, or dark red; and almandite
is deep red, brownish red, brownish black or violet-red. Spessartite garnet
can be red, reddish orange, orange, yellow-brown, reddish brown, or blackish
brown. A few garnets exhibit a color-change phenomenon. They are one color
when viewed in natural light and another color when viewed in incandescent
light.

Varieties:
Rhodolite- violet to purplish-red;
Almandite - red, brownish-red, violetish-red or Purple;
Pyrope - red;
Grossularite - green, yellow, brown, white, colourless, light violet, red,
orangey-red;
Varieties: hessonite (orange to brown), transparent, green, grossularite
(tsavorite); Some show a colour change from a mauve-brown to orange-red.
Andradite - green, yellow, black. Green called demantoid (high lustre and
dispersion); Spessartite - yellow to yellow-brown, dark orangey-brown,
reddish-orange, orange; Uvarovite - emerald green, found only in tiny sizes,
usually opaque.

Sources:
Rhodolite - Sri Lanka, North Carolina, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa,
Brazil.
Almandite - Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, star from Idaho - USA.
Pyrope - Czechoslovakia, South Africa, Zimbabwe - Rhodesia, Brazil, Arizona.
Grossularite - Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Canada.
Andradite - demantoid: Russia, Italy; translucent yellowish or
greenish-brown, Arizona.
Spessartite - Sri Lanka, Burma, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya.
Uvarovite - Russia, Finland (hardly mined at all).

History - Since earliest times garnets have been carried as amulets against
accidents in travel. Asiatic peoples and even our Southwest Indians used
them as bullets, believing that their rich, glowing colour might cause more
deadly wounds. The Persians have given the garnet a favoured place as a
royal stone, allowing it to bear their sovereign's image. Red garnet was
once used to relieve fever, yellow garnet to cure jaundice. If the powder
failed, the apothecary was accused of using a substitute.

The use of garnets as a gem or gemstone can be traced to prehistoric times.
However, the first industrial use of garnet appears to have been as coated
sandpaper manufactured in the United States by Henry Hudson Barton (founder
of Barton Mines Corp.) in 1878. Its use has grown from that single sample of
garnet coated sandpaper, to world industrial uses of more than 110,000 tons
per year. In 1994, United States production of industrial garnet was valued
at about $14 million, while gem garnet production was valued at only about
$233,000.
Garnets are isostructural, meaning that they share the same crystal
structure. This leads to similar crystal shapes and properties. Garnets
belong to the isometric crystal class, which produces very symmetrical,
cube-based crystals. The most common crystal shape for garnets however 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. Most garnets are red in color, leading
to the erroneous belief that all garnets are red. In fact a few varieties,
such as grossular, can have a wide range of colors, and uvarovite is always
a bright green. As a mineral specimen, garnets usually have well shaped and
complex crystals and their color and luster can make for a very beautiful
addition to a collection. At times, garnets are accessory minerals to other
valuable and pretty gem minerals such as topaz, beryl, tourmaline,
vesuvianite and diopside making these specimens extra special.

There is a misconception that garnets are only a red gem but in fact they
come in a variety of colors including purple, red, orange, yellow, green,
brown, black, or colorless. The lack of a blue garnet was remedied in 1990's
following the discovery of color-change blue to red/pink material in Bekily,
Madagascar but these stones are very rare. Color-change garnets are by far
the rarest garnets except uvarovite, which does not come in cuttable sizes.
In daylight, their color can be shades of green, beige, brown, gray and
rarely blue, to a reddish or purplish/pink color in incandescent light. By
composition, these garnets are a mix of spessartine and pyrope, as are
Malaya garnets. The color change of these new garnets is often more intense
and more dramatic than the color change of top quality Alexandrite which is
frequently disappointing, but still sells for many thousands of dollars (US)
per carat. It is expected that blue color-change garnets will match
Alexandrite prices or even exceed them as the color change is often better
and these garnets are much rarer.

Six common varieties of garnet are recognized based on their chemical
composition. They are pyrope, almandine or carbuncle, spessartite,
grossularite (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and
tsavorite), uvarovite and andradite. The garnets make up two solid solution
series; 1. pyrope-almandine-spessarite and 2.
uvarovite-grossularite-andradite.

Garnet is the birthstone for January, and has been used since the Bronze
Age.

Pure crystals of garnet are used as gemstones. Garnet sand is a good
abrasive, and a common replacement for silica sand in sand blasting. Pyrope
varieties are used as kimberlite indicator minerals in diamond prospecting.

Garnets are very abundant in the lower crust and mantle and thus play an
important role in geochemical understanding of the Earth.

Zircon

The name "zircon" is believed to have derived from the Arabic words, "zar",
meaning gold, and "gun", meaning color. For many centuries, the brilliance
of zircon has captured the hearts of those who gazed upon this magnificent
gemstone. Zircon's popularity began to grow in the sixth century when
Italian artisans featured the stone in jewelry designs. During the Middle
Ages, zircon was believed to contain curative powers, protecting the wearer
from diseases and banishing insomnia.

Zircon is a minor gem, but a valuable source of zirconium metal and a major
mineral for today's geologists. Zircon always occurs in crystals. Although
the middle may be stretched into long prisms. Most often brown, zircon also
can be blue, green, red, or colorless. Gem zircons are usually turned blue
by heating brown or clear stones.

Zircon has a very high melting point, is fairly hard (Mohs hardness
6.5-7.5), and is resistant to weathering. As a result, zircon grains can
remain unchanged after being eroded from their mother granites, incorporated
into sedimentary rocks, and even metamorphosed. That makes zircons valuable
as mineral fossils.

Varieties - High, medium and low property.

Sources - Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand.

History - The terms hyacinth or jacinth were often applied to the
reddish-brown zircon. During the Middle Ages, hyacinth was claimed to have
the power of inducing sleep, of promoting riches, honour and wisdom and of
driving away plagues and evil spirits. The pale yellow to colourless stones
from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were called jargoons.

Zircon has long had a supporting role to more well-known gemstones, often
stepping in as an understudy when they were unavailable. In the middle ages,
zircon was said to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honor and wisdom
in its owner. The name probably comes from the Persian word zargun which
means "gold-colored," although zircon comes in a wide range of different
colors.
Zircon occurs in a wide range of colors but for many years, the most popular
was the colorless variety which looks more like diamond than any other
natural stone due to its brilliance and dispersion.

Today the most popular color is blue zircon. Most blue zircon, which is
considered an alternate birthstone for December, is a pastel blue, but some
exceptional gems have a bright blue color. Zircon is also available in
green, dark red, yellow, brown, and orange.

Zircon is mined in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Australia, and
other countries.

Zircon is one of the heaviest gemstones, which means that it will look
smaller than other varieties of the same weight. Zircon jewelry should be
stored carefully because although zircon is relatively hard, it can abrade
and facets can chip. Dealers often wrap zircons in individual twists of
paper so that they will not knock against each other in a parcel.

The pervasive occurrence of zircon has become more important since the
discovery of radiometric dating. Zircons contain amounts of uranium and
thorium (from 10 ppm up to 1 wt%) and can be dated using modern analytical
techniques. Since zircons have the capability to survive geologic processes
like erosion, transport, even high-grade metamorphism, they are used as
protolith indicators. The oldest minerals found so far are zircons from the
Narryer Gneiss Terrane, Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, with an age of
4.404 billion years. This age is interpreted to be the age of
crystallization. These zircons are not only the oldest minerals on earth,
they also show another interesting feature. Their oxygen isotopic
composition has been interpreted to indicate that more than 4.4 billion
years ago there was already water on the surface of the Earth. This is a
spectacular interpretation that has been published in top scientific
journals but is currently the subject of debate. It may be that the oxygen
isotopes, and other compositional features (the rare earth elements), record
more recent hydrothermal alteration of the zircons rather than the
composition of the magma at the time of their original crystallization.

The wide variety of colors of zircon, its rarity, and its relatively low
cost make it a popular collector's stone. Collectors enjoy the search for
all possible colors and variations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Alexandrite

Hidden for millennium deep within the earth's crust, Alexandrite first came
to light in the XIX century. Discovered by an unnamed farmer in the outposts
of the Urals, a single glowing green crystal was found under the roots of a
stunted tree. This crystal was thought to be an emerald queen of the
empire's jewels. Other glowing crystals were discovered in the same region
and hidden in the Empress Ekaterina's jewel vaults. Unknown to her, a lowly
caretaker of the royal vaults sold these glowing crystals at a high price to
a visiting German Prince who had them cut and set into magnificent settings
for his wife, the Princess. The Princess bejeweled herself with her
Alexandrite ring, Alexandrite earrings, natural Alexandrite white gold,
yellow gold, platinum; many an Alexandrite gemstone in glorious settings.

The alexandrite variety displays a color change (alexandrite effect)
dependent upon light, along with strong pleochroism. Alexandrite results
from small scale replacement of aluminium by chromium oxide, which is
responsible for alexandrite's characteristic green to red color change.
Alexandrite from the Ural Mountains in Russia is green by daylight and red
by incandescent light. Other varieties of alexandrite may be yellowish or
pink in daylight and a columbine or raspberry red by incandescent light. The
optimum or "ideal" color change would be fine emerald green to fine purplish
red, but this is exceedingly rare. Because of their rarity and the color
change capability, "ideal" alexandrite gems are some of the most expensive
in the world.

Varieties - Various shades of green and yellow; brownish, reddish.

Sources - Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Russia, Brazil, Zimbabwe - Rhodesia, Burma.

History - Alexandrite received its name because it was discovered on the
birthday of Czar Alexander II of Russia in 1830. Red and green are also the
colors of the Russian Imperial Guard.

Alexandrite was first discovered in 1831 in an emerald mining region of the
Ural Mountains in Russia. The name comes from Tsar Alexander II of Russia,
on whose birthday the gem was discovered in that country. It was named
"alexandrite" in his honor by the mineralogist Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld. It
is an interesting coincidence that the Russian national colors are green and
red, which may have originated from this gem.
The finest alexandrites were found in the Ural Mountains, the largest cut
stones being in the 30 carat (6 g) range, though many fine examples have
been discovered in Sri Lanka (up to 65 cts.), India (Andhra Pradesh),
Brazil, Myanmar, and especially Zimbabwe (small stones usually under 1 carat
(200 mg) but with intense color change). Overall, stones from any locale
over 5 carats (1 g) would be considered extremely rare, especially gems with
fine color change. Alexandrite is both hard and tough, making it very well
suited to wear in jewelry.

Coveted for their beautiful and mysterious optical effects, when you look at
a Cat's Eye Alexandrite you can see a single band of light on its surface.
Technically known as the "Asteric Effect", this intriguing phenomenon is
unique to the world of gemstones. It is caused by minerals reflecting a band
of light back to the eye like a mirror. Cat's Eye Alexandrite makes
particularly stunning signet rings and are a powerful display of a unique
sense of style.

Russia has remained the primary source of alexandrite since gems from the
mines of the Urals became available on the market. When the Russian deposits
were thought to have been exhausted, interest in the unique colour miracle
decreased - especially since alexandrites from other mines hardly ever
displayed the coveted color change - . But the situation changed
dramatically in 1987, when alexandrites were discovered in a place called
Hematita in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The Brazilian alexandrites showed both a
distinctive colour change and good clarity and color. Thus the somewhat
dulled image of the miraculous stone received another boost. The color of
the Brazilian stones is admittedly not as strong a green as that of Russian
alexandrite, but the color change is clearly discernible.

Today Hematita is one of the most important deposits of alexandrite in
economic terms. Occasionally alexandrite with chatoyancy is discovered
there, an effect which has not yet been observed in Russian alexandrite.
Alexandrites are also recovered from sources in Sri Lanka, but the hue of
these stones compares less than favourably with that of the Uralian
alexandrites. They appear green in daylight and a brownish red in artificial
light. The Tunduru area in southern Tanzania has also produced some
outstanding specimens since the mid-1990's. Alexandrites are also found in
India, Burma, Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Although this stone is still
considered a rarity, specialised gemstone dealers do stock it, especially
since improved trade relationships between Russia and the rest of the world
have ensured a better supply of Russian alexandrites to the market.

With its good hardness of 81/2, alexandrite is an uncomplicated stone to
wear. The more distinct the change of colour, the more valuable the stone. A
fine alexandrite should show a vivid bluish-green in daylight and a
purplish-red in artificial light, without any trace of undesirable brown or
grey. If the origin of the stone is known beyond dispute to be Russia, we
are talking about a real rarity of enormous value. Finely faceted
alexandrites above one carat are thus among the most expensive gemstones in
the world, rarer than fine ruby, sapphire or emerald.

Alexandrite is a stone for experts, enthusiasts and connoisseurs, a true
understatement stone. Its uniqueness and high value are not evident at first
sight. The mysterious color change will only occur on exposure to different
light sources. But if you really get involved in alexandrite, you will be
utterly fascinated by this gem. Maybe you will also feel some of the
mysterious magic and lore ascribed to it. It is considered a stone of very
good omen. In critical situations it is supposed to strengthen the wearer's
intuition, and thus help him or her find new ways forward in situations
where logic will not provide an answer. Alexandrite is also reputed to aid
creativity and inspire imagination.

Spinel

Spinel is a very attractive and historically important gemstone mineral. Its
typical red color, although pinker, rivals the color of ruby. In fact, many
rubies, of notable fame belonging to crown jewel collections, were found to
actually be spinels. Perhaps the greatest mistake is the Black Prince's Ruby
set in the British Imperial State Crown. Whether these mistakes were
accidents or clever substitutions of precious rubies for the less valuable
spinels by risk taking jewelers, history is unclear. The misidentification
is meaningless in terms of the value of these gems for even spinel carries a
considerable amount of worth and these stones are priceless based on their
history, let alone their carat weight and pedigree.

Today, expensive rubies are still substituted for by spinel in much the same
way a diamond is substituted by cubic zirconia. Not to commit a fraud or
theft but to prevent one. Spinel may take the place of a ruby that would
have been displayed in public by an owner who is insecure about the rubies
safety. The spinel probably is still valuable but better to lose a $100,000
dollar spinel than a $1 million dollar ruby!

Spinel and ruby are chemically similar. Spinel is magnesium aluminum oxide
and ruby is aluminum oxide. This is probably why the two are similar in a
few properties. Not suprisingly, the red coloring agent in both gems is the
same element, chromium. Spinel and Ruby also have similar luster (refractive
index), density and hardness. Although ruby is considerably harder (9) than
spinel, spinel's hardness (7.5 - 8) still makes it one of the hardest
minerals in nature.

Varieties - Star material is very rare.

History - Two of the stones among the Crown Jewels of England are spinels,
although they were once thought to be rubies. They are the Black Prince's
Ruby and the Timur Ruby. The 361 carat Timur Ruby is the world's most famous
spinel. Spinel was recognized as a separate species as early as 1587 in
Burma.

Spinel is the great imposter of gemstone history: many famous rubies in
crown jewels around the world are actually spinel. The most famous is the
Black Prince's Ruby, a magnificent 170-carat red spinel that currently
adorns the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels after a long
history: Henry V even wore it on his battle helmet! The Timur Ruby, a
352-carat red spinel now owned by Queen Elizabeth, has the names of some of
the Mughal emperors who previously owned it engraved on its face, an
undeniable pedigree!
In Burma (Myanmar), where some of the most beautiful colors are mined,
spinel was recognized as a separate gem species as early as 1587. In other
countires the masquerade lasted for hundreds of years after that. Spinels
were most often referred to as "balas rubies" which may have referred to
color or to country of origin.

Now treasured for its own sake, spinel is a favorite of gem dealers and gem
collectors due to its brilliance, hardness and wide range of spectacular
colors. In addition to beautiful rich reds, spinel can be found in a range
of beautiful pastel shades of pink and purple. Of particular interest is a
vivid hot pink with a tinge of orange that is mined in Burma that is one of
the most spectacular gemstone colors in any gem species. Spinel also comes
in beautiful blues which are sometimes called cobalt spinel, but these are
very very rare.

Because spinels made in a laboratory are often used for imitation birthstone
rings, many people think "synthetic" when they hear the name "spinel." They
have often never even seen the real thing. In fact, the main thing holding
back greater recognition for spinel is rarity. Fine spinels are now more
rare than the rubies they used to imitate. Strangely, they are also more
affordable: in the gem world, too rare can be a drawback because so few
people even get a chance to grow to love these gem varieties.

In addition to Burma, now known as Myanmar, spinel is mined in Sri Lanka,
Tanzania, and Tadjikstan, part of the former Soviet Union.

Spinel is a durable gemstone that is perfect for all jewelry uses. It is
most often faceted in oval, round, or cushion shapes and is not currently
found in calibrated sizes due to its rarity.

The name "spinel" is derived from the Greek word for spark, in reference to
the fiery red color of spinels often used for gems. The transparent red
spinels are also called spinel-rubies or balas-rubies and were often
confused with actual rubies in ancient times. "Balas" is derived from
Balascia, the ancient name for Badakhshan, a region in central Asia situated
in the upper valley of the Kokcha river, one of the principal tributaries of
the Oxus river. Yellow spinel is called rubicelle and violet-colored
manganese-bearing spinel is called almandine.

Spinel is found as a metamorphic mineral, and also as a primary mineral in
basic rocks, because in such magmas the absence of alkalis prevents the
formation of feldspars and any aluminium oxide present will form corundum or
combine with magnesia to form spinel. This is why spinel and ruby are often
found together.

Sri Lanka produces blue spinels colored by cobalt. Such cobalt blue spinels
are highly sought after by collectors. The best pieces are an intense blue
unique in the world of gems.

Aquamarine Gemstones

Aquamarine is the blue, or perhaps more correctly, blue-green or aqua
variety of the mineral beryl. Other gemstone color varieties that belong to
beryl include emerald, morganite, and heliodor. Other colors of beryl are
simply referred to by their colour, such as red beryl. Most gem aquamarines
have been heat treated to produce the popular blue-green varieties from less
desirable yellow or pale stones.

Its light blue arouses feelings of sympathy, trust, harmony and friendship.
Good feelings. Feelings which are based on mutuality and which prove their
worth in lasting relationships. The blue of aquamarine is a divine, eternal
color, because it is the color of the sky. However, aquamarine blue is also
the colour of water with its life-giving force. And aquamarine really does
seem to have captured the lucid blue of the oceans. No wonder, when you
consider that according to the saga it originated in the treasure chest of
fabulous mermaids, and has, since ancient times, been regarded as the
sailors' lucky stone. Its name is derived from the Latin aqua (water) and
mare (sea). It is said that its strengths are developed to their best
advantage when it is placed in water which is bathed in sunlight. However,
it is surely better still to wear aquamarine, since according to the old
traditions this promises a happy marriage and is said to bring the woman who
wears it joy and wealth into the bargain. An ideal gem, not only for loving
and married couples.

Treatments - Almost all aquamarine is heat-treated to enhance its blue
color. Irradiation with neutron, gamma rays or with x-rays. Colour change is
permanent and is an accepted practice. A morganite (pink beryl) turns deep
purple blue (Maxixe type) upon ultraviolet irradiation, though the color is
not stable.

History - The word aquamarine comes from the Latin for sea water. In 1910 a
243 lb. crystal was found in Brazil. The outside was greenish and the inside
was blue. It sold for $25,000 and was cut into many high quality gems. The
American Museum of Natural History has a 13 lb. uncut piece of the green
outside portion.

Aquamarine (Lat. aqua marina, "water of the sea") is a gemstone-quality
transparent variety of beryl, having a delicate blue or blue-green color,
suggestive of the tint of sea-water. It's closely related to the gem
emerald. Colors vary and yellow beryl, called heliodor; rose pink beryl,
morganite; and white beryl, goshenite are known.
Aquamarine is one of our most popular and best-known gemstones, and
distinguishes itself by many good qualities. It is almost as popular as the
classics: ruby, sapphire and emerald. In fact it is related to the emerald,
both belonging to the beryl family. The color of aquamarine, however, is
usually more even than that of the emerald. Much more often than its famous
green cousin, aquamarine is almost entirely free of inclusions. Aquamarine
has good hardness (7_ to 8 on the Mohs scale) and a wonderful shine.

That hardness makes it very tough and protects it to a large extent from
scratches. Iron is the substance which gives aquamarine its color, a colour
which ranges from an almost indiscernible pale blue to a strong sea-blue.
The more intense the color of an aquamarine, the more value is put on it.
Some aquamarines have a light, greenish shimmer; that too is a typical
feature. However, it is a pure, clear blue that continues to epitomise the
aquamarine, because it brings out so well the immaculate transparency and
magnificent shine of this gemstone.

The bright blue of this noble beryl is making more and more friends. The
various color nuances of aquamarine have melodious names: the rare, intense
blue aquamarines from the Santa Maria de Itabira mine in Brazil, which make
every gemstone lover's heart beat faster, are called 'Santa Maria'. Similar
nuances come from a few gemstone mines in Africa, particularly Mozambique.
To help distinguish them from the Brazilian ones, these aquamarines have
been given the name 'Santa Maria Africana'. The 'Espirito Santo' colour of
aquamarines from the Brazilian state of that name is of a blue that is not
quite so intense. Yet other qualities are embodied in the stones from
Fortaleza and Marambaia. One beautiful aquamarine color was named after the
Brazilian beauty queen of 1954, and has the name 'Martha Rocha'.

It can be seen from the names of aquamarine colors just how important Sri
Lanka and Brazil are among the countries where aquamarine is found. Most of
the raw crystals for the world market come from the gemstone mines of that
large South American country. Every now and then, large aquamarine crystals
of immaculate transparency are also found with a magnificent color, a
combination which is very unusual in gemstones. And very occasionally,
sensationally large aquamarine crystals come to light in Brazil, such as the
crystal of 110.5 Kg found in 1910 in Marambaia/Minas Gerais, or for example
the 'Dom Pedro', weighing 26 Kg and cut in Idar-Oberstein in 1992 by the
gemstone designer Bernd Munsteiner, the largest aquamarine ever to have been
cut. However, aquamarines are also found in other countries, for example
Nigeria, Zambia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There is hardly any other gemstone in modern jewellery design which is
refined in such a variety of ways as aquamarine. Whether it is fashioned as
a clear, transparent gem in the classical step cut, or creatively cut in a
more modern design, it is always fascinatingly beautiful. Uncut too, or with
many inclusions which can be brought into play by the designer in the way in
which the stone is cut, it can be refined to produce the most beautiful
creations.

Designers call it their favourite gemstone. Again and again they take the
world by surprise with a new, modern artistic cut, and when they are
breaking new ground, aquamarine is a gem that they particularly like to work
with.

Without doubt, these creative designer cuts have contributed to the great
popularity of this gem. The lucid colour of aquamarine makes it easy to see
inclusions. For this reason, aquamarine should always be of the greatest
possible transparency. On the other hand, particularly charming effects can
sometimes be achieved in the way the gemstone is cut by bringing the
inclusions into play. The light color of aquamarine leaves the gemstone
designer free to bring out the brilliance of the gem with fine grooves,
notches, curves and edges. In this way, each aquamarine becomes a unique
specimen, whose magical attraction no woman can resist.

Quartz Crystals

Quartz is the most common mineral on the face of the Earth. Gem varieties
include amethyst (purple), citrine (yellow), milky quartz (cloudy, white
variety), rock crystal (clear variety), rose quartz (pink to reddish-pink
variety), and smokey quartz (brown to grey variety).

The word amethyst comes from the Greek amethustos meaning "not drunk".
Therefore, it has been considered a charm against intoxication. A legend
accounts for the origin of the stone. Supposedly, Bacchus, the god of wine
and conviviality, grew angry at a slight and swore revenge. He decreed that
the first mortal to come across his path was to be eaten by tigers.
Amethyst, a beautiful maiden on her way to worship at the shrine of Diana,
happened to be the victim. Diana, the huntress, changed Amethyst into
colorless quartz to protect her from the tigers. When Bacchus witnessed the
miracle, he repented and poured wine over the stone, staining it purple. The
wine failed to cover the entire stone evenly, and the feet and part of the
legs remained clear crystal. So, in keeping with the legend, amethyst
crystals are usually uneven in color with a colourless base.

Varieties - A variety of quartz, silicon dioxide, which appears to be dark
purple in transparent light. A transparent variety of quartz, silicon
dioxide, occurring in yellow to red-orange to orange-brown. The name is
derived from citron, which is French for lemon.

Treatments - Poor quality amethyst is often heat-treated to achieve a
desirable citrine colour.

History - The name "quartz" comes from the German "Quarz", which is of
Slavic origin (Czech miners called it krem). Other sources insist the name
is from the Saxon word "Querkluftertz", meaning cross-vein ore.
Quartz is the most common material identified as the mystical substance
maban in Australian Aboriginal mythology.

Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed quartz to be permanently frozen
ice. He supported this idea by saying that quartz is found near glaciers in
the Alps and that large quartz crystals were fashioned into spheres to cool
the hands. He also knew of the ability of quartz to split light into a
spectrum.

Nicolas Steno's study of quartz paved the way for modern crystallography. He
discovered that no matter how distorted a quartz crystal, the long prism
faces always made a perfect 60 degree angle.

Charles Sawyer invented the commercial quartz crystal manufacturing process
in Cleveland, OH. This initiated the transition from mined and cut quartz
for electrical appliances to manufactured quartz.

Quartz is one of the most common minerals in the Earth's continental crust.
It has a hexagonal crystal structure made of trigonal crystallized silica
(silicon dioxide, SiO2), with a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. Density is
2.65 g/cm³. The typical shape is a six-sided prism that ends in six-sided
pyramids, although these are often twinned, distorted, or so massive that
only part of the shape is apparent from a mined specimen. Additionally a bed
is a common form, particularly for varieties such as amethyst, where the
crystals grow up from a matrix and thus only one termination pyramid is
present. A quartz geode consists of a hollow rock (usually with an
approximately spherical shape) with a core lined with a bed of crystals.
Quartz is one of the world's most common crustal minerals and goes by a
bewildering array of different names. The most important distinction between
types of quartz is that of macrocrystalline (individual crystals visible to
the unaided eye) and the microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline varieties
(aggregates of crystals visible only under high magnification). Chalcedony
is a generic term for cryptocrystalline quartz. The cryptocrystalline
varieties are either translucent or mostly opaque, while the transparent
varieties tend to be macrocrystalline.

Although many of the varietal names historically arose from the color of the
mineral, current scientific naming schemes refer primarily to the
microstructure of the mineral. Colour is a secondary identifier for the
cryptocrystalline minerals, although it is a primary identifier for the
macrocrystalline varieties. This does not always hold true.

Not all varieties of quartz are naturally occurring. Prasiolite, an olive
colored material, is produced by heat treatment; natural prasiolite has also
been obeserved in Lower Silesia in Poland. Although citrine occurs
naturally, the majority is the result of heat-treated amethyst. Carnelian is
widely heat-treated to deepen its color.

Because natural quartz is so often twinned, much quartz used in industry is
synthesized. Large, flawless and untwinned crystals are produced in an
autoclave via the hydrothermal process: emeralds are also synthesized in
this fashion.

Quartz occurs in hydrothermal veins and pegmatites. Well-formed crystals may
reach several metres in length and weigh hundreds of kilograms. These veins
may bear precious metals such as gold or silver, and form the quartz ores
sought in mining. Erosion of pegmatites may reveal expansive pockets of
crystals, known as "cathedrals."

Quartz is a common constituent of granite, sandstone, limestone, and many
other igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

Tridymite and cristobalite are high temperature polymorphs of SiO2 which
occur in high silica volcanic rocks. Lechatelierite is an amorphous silica
glass SiO2 which is formed by lightning strikes in quartz sand.

Quartz is also a type of piezoelectric crystal that creates electricity
through a process called piezoelectricity when mechanical stress is put upon
it. One of the earliest uses for a quartz crystal was a phonograph pickup.
Today, one of the most ubiquitous piezoelectric uses of quartz is as a
crystal oscillator -- in fact these oscillators are often simply called
"quartzes". The same principle is also used for very accurate measurements
of very small mass changes by means of the quartz crystal microbalance.

Topaz

Topaz comes in many colors such as blue, yellow, pink, brown, green and
clear. Orange-red "Imperial" topaz is rare. Blue Topaz is much less
expensive than aquamarine and as such very popular. It looks beautiful in
rings, bracelets, necklaces, and pendants. Topaz looks magnificent with
almost any outfit.

Topaz is a common gemstone that has been used for centuries in jewelry. Its
golden brown to yellow color is classic but is confused with the less
valuable citrine, which is sold under the name topaz. The blue topaz that is
often confused with aquamarine is rarely natural and is produced by
irradiating and then heating clear crystals. Topaz is the November
Birthstone. Topaz crystals can reach incredible size of several houndred
pounds. Topaz can make very attractive mineral specimens due to their high
luster, nice colors and well formed and multifaceted crystals.

Topaz is a fluosilicate of aluminum, occurring in transparent yellow,
yellow-brown, orange-brown, light to almost medium red, very light to light
blue, very light green and violet colours.

Varieties - Coloured varieties, Imperial (reddish-orange), chatoyant
material (very rare).

Sources - Prime source is Brazil. Sri Lanka (blue), Mexico (mostly poor
quality, brownish-yellow), Russia, South Africa (blue), Utah, Afghanistan.

Treatments - Heat and chemical treatments.

History - The stone began to be used in Marco Polo's time (13th century).
Topaz mounted in gold and hung around the neck was believed to dispel
enchantment. When the powdered stone was put in wine, it was considered a
cure for asthma, insomnia, burns and haemorrhages. Topaz was supposed to
become obscure in contact with poison and to quench the heat of boiling
water. All these powers were believed to be increased or decreased with the
changes of the moon.

It has an easy and perfect basal cleavage and so gemstones or other fine
specimens should be handled with care to avoid developing cleavage flaws.
The fracture is conchoidal to uneven. Topaz has a hardness of 8, a specific
gravity of 3.4-3.6, and a vitreous luster. Pure topaz is transparent but is
usually tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine or straw-yellow. They
may also be white, gray, green, blue, pink or reddish-yellow and transparent
or translucent. When heated, yellow topaz often becomes reddish-pink. It can
also be irradiated, turning the stone a light and distinctive shade of blue.
A recent trend in jewelry is the manufacture of topaz specimens that display
iridescent colors, by applying a thin layer of titanium oxide via physical
vapor deposition.
The Egyptians said that topaz was colored with the golden glow of the mighty
sun god Ra. This made topaz a very powerful amulet that protected the
faithful against harm. The Romans associated topaz with Jupiter, who also is
the god of the sun. Topaz sometimes has the amber gold of fine cognac or the
blush of a peach and all the beautiful warm browns and oranges inbetween.
Some rare and exceptional topaz are pale pink to a sherry red.

Wear topaz only if you wish to be clear-sighted: legend has it that it
dispels all enchantment and helps to improve eyesight as well! The ancient
Greeks believed that it had the power to increase strength and make its
wearer invisible in times of emergency. Topaz was also said to change color
in the presence of poisoned food or drink. Its mystical curative powers
waxed and waned with the phases of the moon: it was said to cure insomnia,
asthma, and hemorrhages.

Perhaps the most famous topaz is a giant specimen set in the Portuguese
Crown, the Braganza, which was first thought to be a diamond. There is also
a beautiful topaz set in the Green Vault in Dresden, one of the world's
important gem collections.

Brown, yellow, orange, sherry, red, blue and pink topaz is found in Brazil
and Sri Lanka. Pink topaz is found in Pakistan and Russia.

Today we also have blue topaz, which has a pale to medium blue color created
by irradiation. Pale topaz which is enhanced to become blue is found in
Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and China. In early 1998, a new type of enhanced
topaz made its appearance, the surface-enhanced topaz, with colours
described as blue to greenish-blue or emerald green.

Topaz is the birthstone for those born in the month of November.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cat's Eye Gemstones

A cat's eye like effect, known as 'chatoyancy', appears to move on this
stone's surface. Cat's eye is a gem variety of chrysoberyl.

There are generally two varieties of cat's eye - the alexandrite cat's-eye
and the chrysoberyl cat's-eye, which is very popular in the Far East,
particularly in Japan. The ideal colors of the chrysoberyl cat's-eye are
yellowish-brown, which is called the honey colour, and the yellow-green,
which is called the apple green colour. A very good cat's eye, apart from
being of ideal color, should have a high degree of transparency and a
well-defined unbroken ray. It should be free from any distracting inclusions
visible to the unaided eye. The chrysoberyl cat's-eye is one of the most
beautiful gemstones because of the "chatoyancy" or the eye effect.

Varieties - Chrysoberyl and Alexandrite, Color change green to red,
Chatoyant, Various shades of green, yellow, brownish, and reddish.

History - Cat's eye has been regarded as a preserver of good fortune. The
natives of Sri Lanka still consider it a charm against evil spirits. British
royalty often use it as an engagement stone.

A translucent variety of chrysoberyl (beryllium aluminum oxide) which
exhibits a silvery white line across the stone. This moves as the stone, the
light source or the observer moves and may appear to open and close like an
eye. The finest quality has a sharp eye that appears to open and close as
the stone is rotated, and exhibits a strong "milk and honey" effect (stone
on one side of the eye appears lighter than the other). These colours switch
as the stone or light source is moved. The most highly prized body colours
are greenish-yellow and brownish-yellow (honey color).
When a gem specimen exhibits both chatoyancy and change of colour, one or
both phenomena will suffer. It is more common to find a good eye with poor
change of color. The conditions necessary for one phenomenon conflict with
those needed for the other. The term cat's eye when used alone refers to
chrysoberyl. Other minerals exhibiting chatoyancy must be qualified, e.g.
tourmaline cat's eye.

Often, the name chrysoberyl is spoken in the same breath as that of the
beryl group, the most well known representatives of which include the
emerald and the aquamarine. The name 'chrysoberyl' comes from the Greek and
means 'gold-colored beryl'. In spite of its name however, it is not actually
a beryl at all. Together with alexandrite, chrysoberyl forms an independent
gemstone, in which the former, which appears to change its colour, is
regarded as the most attractive representative, though in fact it is quite
definitely the chrysoberyl cat's eye which is entitled to stake that claim.

From a mineralogical point of view, chrysoberyls are aluminium oxide
containing beryllium, and thus actually have little in common with the
beryls, which belong to the silicate family. Indeed, with their excellent
hardness of 8_ on the Mohs Scale, they are clearly superior to the beryls.
The popular chrysoberyls come in many nuances between lemon and greenish
yellow, and in honey colors and shades from mint green to brownish green,
and are mostly found in the gemstone deposits of Brazil, Sri Lanka or East
Africa.

Since ancient times, chrysoberyl has been regarded as a gemstone which
protects its wearer and keeps disaster at bay. The cat's eye most of all is
seen as a particularly effective protective stone and talisman. On account
of its golden tones, chrysoberyl is often also associated with wealth - and
this idea is certainly not without foundation, since in its most beautiful
form as a high-quality cat's eye it is up among the gemstones of the luxury
class.

Discipline and self-control are the qualities mainly associated with
chrysoberyl in modern gemstone therapy. Chrysoberyls are said to promote
concentration and the ability to learn, and to enable the wearer to think
clearly and far-sightedly. Thanks to the secret power of the chrysoberyl,
negative thoughts are said to be transformed into positive energy. And these
positive qualities are said to be even more marked with a chrysoberyl cat's
eye. However, chrysoberyl is also regarded as a gemstone which promotes
tolerance and harmony, and it is one of the lucky stones for those born
under the sign of Leo.

Chrysoberyl cat's eyes are genuine rarities which are found only in a few
deposits in the world, together with other varieties of chrysoberyl. One can
hardly imagine that a gemstone could wink like the eye of a cat in such a
remarkably genuine way. Is it magic, or Nature? And apart from that, what is
it that causes this irresistibly beautiful show of light?

Scientists have discovered that very fine inclusions, deposited in the
stone, are responsible for this fascinating phenomenon. The incident light
is reflected off them, so that a bright strip of light appears, running
perpendicular to the inclusions, similar to the eye of a feline predator.
When the stone is turned, this strip seems to glide away across the surface
of the stone. In technical terminology this phenomenon is known as
'chatoyancy', which comes from the French chat (for cat) and oeil (for eye).
Whilst chrysoberyls lacking the cat's eye effect are mostly faceted, cat's
eyes are always cut into cabochons, since only tall, rounded shapes render
the line of the eye properly visible.

The chrysoberyl, with its hues ranging from honey-coloured to mint green, is
a popular gemstone, and one which is esteemed by connoisseurs and gemstone
lovers the world over. In its most attractive variety, the cat's-eye, it is
an extremely valuable stone for those in the know. In general, the value of
a chrysoberyl - as with other gemstones - depends on its quality, that is to
say its beauty, color and attractiveness, the depth of the color and its
transparency. Anyone who wants to acquire a cat's-eye of good colour and
with a finely marked eye-line will be obliged to dig fairly deep into his
pocket, for these gems fetch much higher prices on account of their beauty
and rarity. When buying a cat's-eye, you should be aware of this: it is
important that the 'eye' has a fine line running right through it, and that
it can be recognised clearly. In particularly good specimens, it seems to
open and close when the stone is turned. Fine cat's eyes should be of a
distinctive color and be as transparent as possible. The most popular ones
are those of a beautiful honey yellow and those with fine green tones.

Chrysoberyl cat's eyes are among the most beautiful things that Nature has
created. Again and again, they fire the enthusiasm of those who are looking
for something individual and unique. Cat's eyes are also well suited to
being worn as jewellery by men. And without doubt, there is many a man who
has allowed himself to be seduced by a beautiful cat's eye too

Until recently the main producers of fine quality chrysoberyl were Brazil
and Sri Lanka, but now much more productive mines are in Madagascar and
Tanzania. Because Sri Lanka Chrysoberyl has the finest quality and high
value most of the Madagascar rough is sold as genuine Sri Lanka stones.

When choosing a Chrysoberyl gemstone, due to the pastel color of
chrysoberyl, special attention should be given to the cut and overall
proportions of the stone. When choosing a cat's eye gemstone priority should
be given to the ray or eye of the stone.

Star Gem Stones of Sri Lanka

Star stones of the corundum family are either star sapphires or rubies. When
light falls on these stones, a star effect is visible (known as asterism).

Sri Lanka is the best known source for star sapphires and star rubies. Star
sapphires range in colour from grey to bluish-grey and from medium blue to
medium dark blue. The very slightly purplish medium dark blue is the best
colour grade for star sapphires. Star rubies range from light pink-red to
purple-red through deep purple-red. The intense red star rubies are
extremely rare. A good quality star stone should have a high degree of
transparency and a well defined star with no weak or missing rays. It should
be reasonably clean and in the face-up position, no distracting inclusions
or cracks should be seen. There should be no excess weight at the bottom of
the stone.

Star sapphires and rubies are hard stones (9 on the Moh's scale), which can
take a high degree of polish and retain the shinefor a long time. The
special optical phenomenon of a well-defined six-ray star is a fascinating
sight. The wearable qualities of the star stones make them suitable for
men's rings.

Varieties - Star sapphire, Star Ruby

Treatments - Heat treatments. Treatment of Ruby and Sapphire stones are
permanent.

History - One of the world's finest large example, the Rosser Reeves Star
Ruby, was mined in Sri Lanka. The Star of Sri Lanka (wrong uses as India),
at 563 carats, is the largest and most famous star sapphire in the world.
Formed some 2 billion years ago, it was discovered, allegedly more than 300
years ago, in Sri Lanka. Industrialist and financier J. P. Morgan presented
the sapphire to the American Museum of Natural History in 1900. Today, the
Star of Sri Lanka (India) and the Rosser Reeves Star Ruby resides in the
Morgan-Tiffany Collection in the American Museum of Natural History in New
York City.

The presence of the mineral rutile in the Star of India gives the stone its
milky quality. This also yields the star effect, as tiny fibers of the
mineral, aligned in a three-fold pattern within the gem, reflect incoming
light in the star pattern. This effect is known as asterism, and, along with
color, is one of the characteristics that makes star sapphires so highly
prized. Such stones are polished in the domed shape you can see here, called
a cabochon, to best reveal the star, which moves with changing angles of
illumination and observation.

Star sapphires and rubies are hard stones (9 on the Moh's scale), which can
take a high degree of polish and retain the shinefor a long time. The
special optical phenomenon of a well-defined six-ray star is a fascinating
sight. The wearable qualities of the star stones make them suitable for
men's rings.
Star sapphire is the result of reflection of light from fine, oriented,
rutile needles. Like star ruby, star sapphires may be heat treated to high
temperatures to dissolve the rutile and produce blue sapphires of good
clarity. Such has been the recent fate of much of the Sri Lankan Geuda
material that might have otherwise been uncutable (too dark and/or cloudy).
Unfortunately, some reports state that much of the good star material is now
suffering the same fate. The same characteristics apply to good star
sapphire as to star ruby (see above). The best body color is an intense pure
blue, but such natural stones are rare and one more frequently encounters
blues that are more gray. Fine blues are more translucent than even good
gray-blues and are cabbed thicker as a result. Such stones may appear to be
"overweight" with bulky bases, an important consideration when paying by
weight but a necessity to maintain a deep blue color. This is not the case
for average blue stones, however, and you should not pay for excess weight
unnecessarily.

Choosing a Star Stone

Star Gemstones have long been coveted for their beautiful and mysterious
optical effects. Glance at a star gemstone and you will see four, six or
even twelve rayed stars silently gliding across the gemstone's surface.

This intriguing optical phenomenon is unique to the world of gemstones.
Technically known as the "Asteric Effect", it is caused by sets of parallel
needle-like inclusions of foreign minerals. Sometimes known as "silk", the
needles are oriented in all or some of the directions of the crystal
structure. These needles are responsible for reflecting intersecting bands
of light back to the eye.

Sri Lanka and Burma are the world's top producing Star Ruby and Sapphire
locations. Generally, Sri Lanka for Blue and Fancy Colors, Burma for Red,
Blue and Fancy Colors. However, Star Rubies and Sapphires are found in
virtually all Ruby and Sapphire producing locations. Ranging in quality from
grayed-out colors with indistinct stars, to beautiful color hues with bright
and distinct stars, prices can range from just a few dollars to many
thousands.

The value of star rubies and sapphires are influenced by two factors: the
intensity and attractiveness of the body colour and the strength and
sharpness of the star. All six legs should be straight and equally
prominent. Star rubies rarely have the combination of a fine translucent or
transparent colour and a sharp prominent star. These gems are valuable and
expensive.

Judging the quality and value of star gemstones is best done underneath
singular light sources. Singular light sources such light bulbs, candles,
direct sunlight, spotlights and penlights are ideal to judge star gemstones.
Diffused illumination, such as fluorescent strip lamps, greatly blurs the
effects leading you to make an erroneous conclusion. Avoid making any
judgments underneath diffused lighting. At Thaigem.com all our Star Gems are
selected, described and photographed under single light sources.

The Distinctiveness Of The Star: The star of a gemstone should ideally be
well contrasted against the body color of the gem. The more distinct the
star, the better the quality. The Length & Straightness Of Each Ray:
Straight rays that reach almost girdle-to-girdle are the most desirable and
valuable. In reality, perfectly straight girdle-to-girdle rays are rare.
Color: As always, color is a deciding factor with gemstones. A gem should
have bright vivid coloration that is free from dull overtones and is evenly
distributed across the surface of the Gem. The Cut & Star Position: The
outline of the gem should ideally be regular and well cut around the girdle.

When you look at the star, it should appear to sit in the middle of the gem,
not to one side. Stars that sit on top of the gem are most desirable. Carat
Weight: As always, carat weight affects the per carat price. Higher weights
are more rare than smaller weights and thus command a higher premium per
carat.

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