Gemstones are minerals prized for their beauty, relative scarcity and durability. Out of the approximately 3,000 minerals available, only about 300 are valuable enough to be cut into gems. Gemstones may last forever, but the world of gemstones is always changing. New sources are discovered, new cutting methods perfected, new fashion colors introduced, and new ways of using gemstones are constantly being developed.
Most gemstones are hard minerals formed by nature, deep in the earth, without assistance from man. Gemstones range in color from crystal clear to deepest black and every color of the rainbow in between. Some are opaque, like jade or onyx, meaning no light passes through them. Others, like diamonds and sapphires, are crystalline and reflect light in sparkling brilliance.
People in all parts of the world either wear or carry gemstones as an ornament or as a talisman. Certain gemstones are thought to have certain metaphysical abilities, like healing, health or inspiration. Gemstones may also be birthstones, and are believed to reflect traits of persons born in designated months. Whether gemstones have supernatural traits is up to the wearer.
There are three different types of gemstones: natural, lab-created and simulated.
- A genuine gem is one mined from nature. No assistance from man was given to create these stones – they occur naturally. These gemstones will either be unmarked or noted as "genuine" stones.
- A lab-created (or synthetic) gemstone has all the physical properties of a natural stone – including chemical composition, crystal structure and optical and physical properties - except it has been "grown" in a lab. Only a well-trained gemologist can tell if a stone is natural or lab-created. Lab-created gemstones are less expensive, primarily because of their availability – man can always make more. When purchasing, the fact that gemstones are "lab-created" or "synthetic" must be included on the label.
- A simulated gemstone is one made entirely by man and has no natural counterpart. Simulated gemstones can be made of glass, resin, crystal or other materials. When purchasing, the fact that gemstones are "simulated" but be on the label.
At Piercing Pagoda, you can find a variety of gemstone jewelry.
- Diamond – One of the most popular gemstones, diamonds are the hardest of all. Diamond is also the traditional birthstone for April.
- Alexandrite - A brilliant chameleon, alexandrite changes from greenish-blue in sunlight to reddish-purple in artificial light.
- Amethyst – While the most popular color of amethyst is bright purple, it's also available in pale pink, deep violet and a variety of greens. Amethyst is the traditional birthstone for February.
- Aquamarine – Beautiful and unique, aquamarine is a dichroitic gemstone, meaning it appears either icy blue or colorless, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. It is the traditional birthstone for March.
- Blue Topaz – Ranging from palest sky blue to mid-toned Swiss blue to deepest London blue, this topaz is the traditional birthstone for December.
- Citrine – A warm and welcoming gemstone, citrine is commonly a rich golden-yellow, while Madeira citrine has an intense orange hue. Citrine is the traditional birthstone for November.
- Crystal – Crystal used in jewelry is often manmade using quartz, sand and other minerals. Crystals can be created in many different colors and are frequently used to simulate gemstones.
- Cubic Zirconia – A luxe alternative to diamonds, cubic zirconia has basically the same chemical makeup. They are an affordable substitute to diamonds.
- Emerald – Rarer than diamonds, most emeralds today are lab-created. They range from pale green to bluish green, and are the traditional birthstone for May.
- Garnet – Found in practically every color except blue, the most popular is rich maroon red. Garnet is the traditional birthstone for January.
- Onyx – Generally thought of as being solid black, onyx ranges in color from white to black and may display bands or ribbons of color.
- Opal – A unique and elegant stone, opals are said to exhibit all the colors of the rainbow. Opals range from white to black, with iridescent white being most popular. Opal is the traditional birthstone for October.
- Pearl – A true gem of the sea, most all pearls today are cultured in fresh and saltwater pearl farms. Available in many colors, pearl is the traditional birthstone for those born in June.
- Peridot – Ranging from soft grass green to deep olive, peridot is a gemstone reminiscent of spring. It is also the traditional birthstone for August.
- Pink Sapphire – Sapphires are the second hardest mineral and are found in many colors. Fresh and feminine, pink sapphire brings new energy to any style.
- Ruby – Rubies can range from pink to deep red to reddish brown. Ruby is also the traditional birthstone for those born in July.
- Sapphire - Sapphires are the second hardest mineral and are found in many colors. The most popular color sapphire is brilliant blue.
- Topaz – Most topaz is born brown. Once treated with heat, its colors materialize. Topaz ranges in hue from bright white to rich warm yellow to breathtaking shades of blue.
- White Sapphire - Sapphires are the second hardest mineral and are found in many colors. White sapphire is an affordable alternative to diamonds.
There is a different and beautiful birthstone for every month of the year. And when it comes to a truly meaningful gift, birthstone jewelry is the perfect choice. Birthstones are gemstones that have personal, astrological or mythical meaning to the wearer. Most gemstones, including birthstones, are thought to hold unique healing powers.
What's your birthstone? And what does your birthstone mean? Our handy birthstone guide is a quick reference for each of these significant gemstones.
- Garnet is believed to be the gemstone of friendship, loyalty and devotion.
- Garnet is typically a rich brownish-red in color.
- Shop Garnet Jewelry
- Often worn as a talisman, amethyst is said to ward off evil spirits.
- Amethyst ranges from pale pinkish-lavender to rich, deep purple.
- Shop Amethyst Jewelry
- Sought after as a stone of healing, aquamarine is worn as protection from the dangers of the sea.
- Aquamarine is generally a light, icy blue.
- Shop Aquamarine Jewelry
- Diamond is said to be the gemstone of everlasting love.
- Diamonds range in hue from white to brown to black and are available in many colors.
- Shop Diamond Jewelry
- Long associated with fertility and rebirth, today emeralds are believed to signify wisdom and patience.
- Emeralds range from pale to deep green.
- Shop Emerald Jewelry
- Thought to be the tears of goddess Aphrodite, pearls are symbolic of love and purity.
- Pearls can be found in many colors, but the most popular is white.
- Shop Pearl Jewelry
- Regarded by ancient Hindus as the "king of the gems". Today ruby signifies love and passion.
- Ruby ranges in color from pale to rich red.
- Shop Ruby Jewelry
- Believed to have the power to attract wealth, peridot is a gemstone of strength.
- Peridot ranges from pale to rich spring green.
- Shop Peridot Jewelry
- Thought to guard against evil, today sapphires symbolize purity, fidelity and wisdom.
- Sapphires are available in every color except red, however blue is the most popular.
- Shop Sapphire Jewelry
- Unique and opulent, opals symbolize faithfulness, confidence, hope and purity.
- Opals are available in many colors with iridescent white being the most popular.
- Shop Opal Jewelry
- Said to draw all good things unto the wearer, citrine is also symbolizes energy, creativity and flexibility.
- Citrine boasts warm and sunny tones, while golden-yellow stones are highly prized.
- Shop Citrine Jewelry
December: Blue Topaz
- A symbol of love and affection, blue topaz is worn to increase strength, wisdom and courage.
- Blue topaz ranges in hue from pale Swiss blue to deep London blue.
- Shop Blue Topaz Jewelry