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Coloured Gemstones


What are the basic gemstones, apart from diamonds?
There is a whole world of beautiful gemstones to choose from! Some are very well known, but others, despite their attractiveness and wonderful qualities for beautiful rings, earrings, necklaces, and other ornaments, are not well-known. Coloured stones are very much in fashion right now. It used to be that few people had ever heard of a Tanzanite or a pink sapphire. These days people are becoming much more educated about coloured stones and are enjoying owning and wearing them. Era’s ever changing stock includes some fine examples of rare and unusual gemstones. Ask us about special gemstones and watch this space for information about them.

Here are basic facts about several particularly precious stones. However, less well known stones can be just as beautiful – and may cost a lot less.

Sapphire. The birth stone for September. Sapphires are excellent stones for daily wear.  Since they measure 9 on the hardness scale, they are fairly resistant to chipping and scratching. Sapphire is part of the corundum family and occurs in every colour of the rainbow except red – a fact may come as a surprise to those who automatically think “blue” when the word “sapphire” is pronounced! The better known blue sapphire occurs in sky blue, cornflower blue, and many shades of blue in between. We especially love greens, pinks and purples. Recently, green sapphires have become secret favourites of our Vancouver clients.

Ruby. Rubies are excellent stones to wear everyday.  They measure 9 on the mohs hardness scale (diamonds are 10). Ruby is part of the corundum family, and is found in many parts of the world. Some the finest rubies are currently found in Burma. A ruby should be a clear true red colour; its body colour should not have strong pink, purple or brown undertones. Most rubies today are heat treated to improve their clarity (this is an industry-accepted treatment). Flawless rubies in larger sizes are much rarer and can be more expensive than diamonds.

Emerald. Emeralds are the most famous of the deep green gemstones – although there are other such green stones. Colour is the most important factor in choosing an emerald.  It should be a deep,very intense green. Inclusions are, unfortunately, very common in emeralds. When choosing a emerald it is important to make sure the inclusions are not located along the edges of the stone, since they will render it more prone to damage. The emerald is a brittle gemstone, that is easily shocked by heat or cold.

Tanzanite. Has become very popular over the past few years for its’ beautiful blue/voilet colour. It is found in only a few places in the world (Tanzania) and it has some unusual optical characteristics. It is a trichroic gemstone, meaning that there are three distinct colours in the stone that your eye cannot blend together. When you turn the stone you can see strong flashes of blue, pink and purple. Tanzanite is soft and brittle so care must be taken when wearing this beautiful gem.

Aquamarine. Aquamarine is the March birthstone and is a beautiful pale blue gemstone. It is found in Brazil and parts of Africa. It is frequently cut into rectangular emerald cuts to enhance its natural clarity and pale colour. It was very popular in vintage jewellery. There are some very famous examples of Art Deco platinum and aquamarine jewels in the British Royal jewellery collection.

Amethyst. Is the February birthstone, and is an ever popular gemstone for its’ deep purple colour. It belongs to the quartz family, and is found all over the world. The gemstone can occur in very large crystals and is cut into many different shapes including the popular briollete.

Citrine. Is part of the quartz family. Its’ colour ranges from pale yellow to a deep sherry colour. It can occur in large crystals, and is cut into many different shapes. It is frequently mistaken for Topaz, and sometimes called: citrine topaz, or smokey topaz. These are misnomers as citrine is a far less expensive alternative to topaz.

Tsavorite Garnet. Tsavorite garnets are a less common intense green gemstone. They are 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale and are generally free of inclusions. Tsavorite garnets can resemble the finest quality emeralds. For this reason they are gaining in popularity, as many world famous jewellery designers are using this beautiful gemstone.

Garnet. Garnets are the January birthstone. This versatile gemstone occurs in many colours other than the famous red. Some popular colours right now are the mandarin garnet that is a vivid orange, the pale green demantoid garnet that has more sparkle than a diamond, and the deep green tsavorite garnet.

Opal. Opal is the October birthstone and it is popular for its fiery play of colour. No two opals are the same, and the play of colour can range from green to blue to purple to red. The most famous opals are the Australian black opal, that have a dark grey to black body colour that showcases the flashes of colour. More recently Mexican fire opals with their orange colour have been showing up in more jewellery.

Pearl. Pearl has been long prized as one of the organic gemstones. Pearls are formed in fresh and saltwater mollusks. Nacre is the lustrous coating mollusks secrete to cover particles that invade the organism. Today most pearls are cultured, meaning a mother of pearl bead is inserted into the living mollusk, and over time a layer of nacre forms over the bead. Pearls are cultured in Japan (saltwater) China (freshwater) Tahiti (saltwater), and the United States (freshwater). Pearls occur in many beautiful colours such as: cream, white pink, grey, black, and golden yellow. Large irregular pearls have been featured in many fashion magazines. Pearl is the birthstone for June.

Peridot.  Peridot is a lime or olive green gemstone that is the birthstone for August. It measures 6.5 to 7 on the hardness scale. The vivid colour of peridot can look wonderful set in white gold or used with pearls.