Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

A

Abalone

Abalone, a type of Mother of Pearl, is also known as the 'Paua Shell'.  For centuries the Maori tribes of New Zealand have used Abalone for mystical carvings and jewelry.  This Mollusks shell has been referred to as "Sea Opal' because of its colorful resemblance to the Opal.

 

Agate

No stone is more creatively striped by nature than Agate.  From the Chalcedony family, Agate must show the striped, band effect to carry the name Agate.  It's found in a wide range of colors including, black, grey, brown, yellow, pink, blue and green.  Agate is a porous stone and can be dyed to enhance the color.  In ancient times the stone is said to have had the power to quench the thirst and protect against fever.  The mining of agate was documented as early as the 1490's in Germany; the stone is also mined in South America.

 

Alexandrite

Alexandrite is among the rarest, most spectacular and expensive gemstones in the world and possesses an enchanting chameleon-like personality.  In daylight it appears as a beautiful deep green, sometimes with a bluish cast.  However, under artificial lighting the stone turns reddish-violet or violet.   The stone is named after Prince Alexander of Russia, who was to become Czar Alexander II in 1855.  Discovered in 1839 on the prince's birthday, Alexandrite was found in an emerald mine in the Ural Mountains of Russia.  In addition to the Ural Mountains, quality Alexandrite is found in Brazil as well as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Tanzania and India.  Alexandrite is believed to increase confidence and self esteem, bringing about success and prosperity. 

 

Amazonite

Usually polished as a cabochon, Amazonite is a beautiful blue green stone that is usually seen with white streaks running through it. The green color comes from copper that infuses as the crystals are forming.  One quality that makes this stone popular is schiller. Schiller is similar to iridescense. It comes from light reflecting off different planes within the crystal structure of the mineral. Light reflects differently in each of these minerals causing the effect of schiller.  Some say the name comes from the Amazon River and although this beautiful green stone has been found in Brazil it was not close to the Amazon.  Primarily found in the USA, Russia,  Brazil and Madagascar.   Considered a soothing stone, Amazonite is said to inspire confidence, hope and enhance creative expression.

 

Amethyst

The name 'Amethyst' comes from the Greek which means 'sober'.  In ancient Greece, the gemstone was associated with the god of wine (yes there really is one!) and it was common practice to serve wine from amethyst goblets in the belief that this would prevent overindulgence.  Since purple has always been the color of royalty, amethysts abound in the British Crown jewels and in the adornments of ancient Greeks and Eqyptians.  Famous for it's rich purple color, Amethyst is produced when manganese is present in clear quartz, while the amount of iron contained in the specimen accounts for the depth or purple. Today, most amethyst gemstones on the market are heat-treated to produce a deeper color.  This process is permanent and these gems will not fade over time.  When heated to 550-560 Centrigade, they turn yellow and are then called Citrine. 

 

Amber

Amber, fossilized tree resin millions of years old, is a time capsule containing souvenirs from the early history of life on our planet.  The value of a piece of amber is strongly affected by the types of “inclusions” there are inside.  Insects, flowers and even  small animals can be found preserved for millions of years inside the amber.  Amber is usually a glowing, dark golden color.  It can also be found in  greens and blues.  The two main sources of amber on the market today are the Baltic states and the Dominican Republic. Amber from the former is older, and thus preferred on the market, but that obtained from the latter is more likely to have insect inclusions.

 

Ammolite

Mined in Alberta, Canada, ammolite was recognized by the International Colored Gemstone Commission (ICGC) in 1981 as a new organic gemstone and is considered the rarest gemstone in the world.  Ammolite is the mineralized remains of an ammonite, the predecessor to the nautilus. This creature swam the oceans from the Paleozoic to the end of the Cretaceous era 65 to 70 million years ago and had coiled shells with chambers that filled with gas and provided both buoyancy and propulsion in the water.  Although fossilized ammonites are found all over the world, supplies of the colorful iridescent gem quality ammolite are found only in southern Alberta, Canada, and only about 5% of this material actually yields gemstone material.

 

Aquamarine

Aquamarine, meaning "water of the sea" is a member of the beryl family and considered a sister gemstone to Emerald.  Most Aquamarine has a pale blue color but deeper blue hues are actually more valuable.  They are often set with pearls as both gems have a symbolic infinity with the sea. Although Madagascar was the historical source, most of the world's aquamarines are now mined in Brazil.  Other sources include Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, The Ural Mountains in Russia, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

 

Aventurine

Aventurine is a translucent to opaque variety of microcrystalline quartz. It contains small inclusions of shiny minerals which give the stone a sparkling effect known as aventurescence.  Inclusions of mica will give a silverish sheen, while inclusions of hematite give a reddish or grayish sparkle. The name for the stone is derived from an accident. Sometime during the 18th century, Venetian glass workers were preparing molten glass when copper filings
accidentally fell into the batch producing a glass with sparkles. The name aventurine comes from the Italian "a ventura," which means" by chance".  Aventurine is found in India, Chile, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Austria, and Tanzania.

 

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B

Baguette Cut

A long rectangular gemstone shape, somewhat similar in shape to a loaf of French bread, hence the name.

 

Beryl

The Beryl family comprises several stones (Aquamarine, Emerald and Morganite) that each have their own unique color yet share the same properties.  These typical hexigon beryl crystals are mainly found in gemstone deposits in South America and Western Africa.  They also occur in Russia, Ukraine and the USA.

Brilliance 

The reflection and refraction of light displayed through a stone. Brilliance is sometimes referred to as "internal luster" to distinguish it from surface luster.

 

Briolette 

A tear-shaped stone cut in triangular facets.

 

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C

Cabochon

Cabochon describes a gemstone that has been domed and highly polished as opposed to faceted.  Cutting and polishing in this way is usually applied to opaque stones, while faceting a gem would normally apply to a transparent stone.  The softness of the stone has to be taken into account as any stone with a Mohs hardness rating of less than 7 is too soft to be formed as a cabochon because it will scratch too easily.

 

Cameo

Cameo is a method of carving a gemstone or shell, where the design is raised above a background of a different color.  The three materials that are usually used in this process are shell, glass and Agate.

 

Carat

A carat is a unit of mass used for measuring gemstones and pearls.

 

Carnelian

Carnelian is a form of Chalcedony, a member of the quartz family and most Carnelian is heat treated today to enhance the reddish brown color.  Folklore suggests that carnelian was used protect the traveler after death and guard against evil.  It is found in Australia, Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, South Africa, and the USA.

 

Chalcedony

Chalcedony, which is found worldwide, is the name for a group of stones made of a microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline variety of quartz, which means the quartz crystals are too small to be seen without high magnification.  Chalcedony forms from watery silica gels at relatively low temperatures. The silica is often released by the weathering of rocks that are initially void of silica, for example basalt, and accordingly the formation of chalcedony took place very near to the surface. Chalcedony can be found in weathering volcanic rocks, but also in sedimentary ones, often together with agate.  Chalcedony is a dense, more or less translucent, but never transparent and never opaque material. Pure chalcedony appears homogeneous and is white, gray or blue.

 

Chrome Diopside

A relative newcomer in the gemstone world, Chrome Diopside has attracted increasing attention for its intense green color, reminiscent of tsavorite garnet.  It is a relatively soft stone that doesn't qualify for rings or bracelets, but it makes stunning earrings and pendants.  A major find in 1988 in Russia, the material didn't really begin to reach the market until after the Berlin Wall fell at the end of 1989. 

 

Chrysocolla

The gemstone Chrysocolla is often confused with turquoise. It is a copper bearing mineral found wherever copper deposits occur especially in areas of the southwestern USA, Chili, Zaire, Australia, France and England.

 

Chrysoprase

Chrysoprase is an opalescent apple green colored variety of chalcedony. Most green stones owe their color to chromium or vanadium, but chrysoprase derives its color from the nickel content. It is found in Australia, Brazil, the Ural Mountains, and the U.S. and is the rarest of the chalcedony group.

 

Citrine

Citrine is a variety of quartz that ranges in color from very pale yellow to the most valuable deep, burnt orange.  Citrine has a very special energetic quality; it does not absorb or transmit negative enegry, but dispels it.  It can improve mental focus and physical endurance.  Citrine is one of the birthstones for November.

 

Coral

Coral is an organic gemstone.  The distinguishing features of coral are its durability and intensely colored skeleton.  The coral typically grows on rocky sea beds at depths of between 10-300m in areas around Japan, Taiwan and near the straights of Gibralter.

 

Corundum

Corundum is named by its color.  Red corundum is called Ruby and blue corundum is called Sapphire.  In its most rare and pure form, Corundum is colorless and called White Sapphire.  The mining of the stone takes place in different parts of the world, including Thailand, Sri Lanka and Australia.

 

Clarity

Referring to a stone's lack of inclusions or other visual defects.

 

Crystal

Crystal is a high quality glass containing at least 10% lead oxide.  Lead is added to the melting process to produce a very clear glass that resembles Rock Crystal.  Crystal is colored by adding various metal oxides during the melting process.

 

Cultured Pearl

Long ago, pearls were seen as a financial investment alongside property and artwork.  They were so rare because they were created by chance in the sea.  Today, however, Pearls are created artificially by placing shell beads into the oyster which is then placed back in the sea for several years.  Most of the cultured pearls today are created in Japan in the warm waters of the South Pacific.  Tahitian Black pearls are created from larger oysters and freshwater pearls are created inside mussels from China.  This method of creating pearls was invented in 1893 by Kokichi Mikimoto.

 

Cubic Zirconia (CZ)

A lab- created diamond simulant, often abbreviated as CZ.  When created, the stone is usually opticallly flawless with no colors.  However, colors can be added during the forming process with chemicals.  Not to be confused with Zircon, a natural gemstone.

 

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D

Diamond

Diamonds get their name from the Greek word 'adamas' which translates to 'The Unconquerable'.  Diamonds are formed from carbon (basically coal) that crystallizes under immense pressure over a very long period of time.

 

Diamond Cut 

Also known as the Brilliant Cut, the style of cutting a stone with multiple facets to maximize brilliance. Modern round brilliant cuts have 58 facets.

 

Druzy

Druzy, druse, drusy, drusies - different spellings, but they all mean tiny quartz crystals that form within or on the surface of other
stones.  When ground water carrying dissolved silica is forced into a porous area of the rock, rapid cooling often occurs, causing the formation of tiny crystals on the surfaces or in cavities of the rock. The clear crystals often form on top of previously deposited minerals.

 

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E

Emerald

The name Emerald derives from the Greek word 'Smaragdos' which literally means 'Green Stone'.  Emerald is the most precious stone in the Beryl family which includes Aquamarine, Golden Beryl and Morganite.  The finest specimens of Emerald are clouded by inclusions.  These are not necessarily faults in the stone as they can be used to prove that the stone is genuine.

Significant deposits of Emerald are found in Columbia, however only a third of the stones from the Columbian deposits are worth cutting.  Good quality specimens have been mined in Zimbabwe where the crystals are small but of a gemstone standard.  Other known deposits can be found in Brazil, Zambia, Afghanistan, India and Ghana.

 

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F

Facet

The cut and polished flat plane of a gemstone. There can be dozens of facets on a stone.  These flat surfaces are created on gemstones to enhance the overall appearance and beauty of the stone.  Faceting the perfect angles is vital and a very crucial part of making the stone more reflective because light reflection is how a gemstone brings out its individuality and inner beauty.

 

Fancy Cut 

Sometimes used to refer to a gemstone cut in any shape other than the standard round cut, but also used to refer to gemstones that are cut in a shape other than the well known shapes of round, oval, pear, trillion, marquise, etc.

 

Filigree

Filigree is gold or silver wire that has been twisted into patterns and then soldered to create different types of jewelry.  This type of jewelry production goes back to the Egyptian Pharoahs.

Fire

The rainbow or colors that light rays form as they move through a gemstone. This is another word for "dispersion".

 

Freshwater Pearls

Freshwater Pearls form in various species of freshwater mussels, which live in lakes, rivers, ponds and other bodies of fresh water, both in hotter and colder temperature areas such as Scotland (where they are totally protected under law).  That said, most freshwater cultured pearls sold today come from China.

 

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G

Garnet

Garnet technically refers to a family of gemstones that come in every color of  the rainbow except for blue.  The gemstone that we usually mean when we say “garnet” is the almandite or pyrope garnet which comes in deep shades of  red.  The properties that make garnet a wonderful gemstone are its very  high luster (ability to reflect light almost like mirror) and range of very  strong colors.  Garnets are found in the USA (Arizona), South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar, Scotland, Switzerland and Tanzania.
 

Gold

Gold is a highly sought after precious metal which has been used since prehistoric times for making jewelry, coins and ornaments.  The purity of gold is measured in karats; pure gold (24K) is very, very soft - one gram nugget can be hammered into a sheet one meter square.  Due to the softness of the metal, when it is used for jewelry production it has to be alloyed with other metals.  This, therefore, alters that hardness, durability, color and various other properties of the gold.  For example, to create Rose Gold, 25% copper is added to the melt with 18K gold.  White gold is created when either nickel or palladium are added to the alloy.  South Africa and China lead the way in gold extraction and output.

 

Gold Filled

Gold filled jewelry is composed of a solid layer of gold bonded with heat and pressure to a base metal such as brass.  For a piece of jewelry to be legally stamped with the telltale 'GF' marking, its weight must be at least 1/20th gold.  Gold-filled items, even with daily wear, can last five to 30 years but will eventually wear through.  Naturally, they are also more expensive than gold vermeil as they simply contain more gold. The price still represents a significant break when compared with solid gold, however, and since gold filled jewelry is virtually indistinguishable from pure gold in terms of appearance, feel, and wear, it is thought to be a great balance of cost and quality.

 

Gold Plating

Gold plating is a process that applies a layer of gold to a surface of another metal, usually silver or copper, to give it a brighter, lasting finish.  However, over time and due to the chemical reaction between the metals, tarnish will occur and the thickness of the gold layer and the quality of the process will influence the time span of the layer resisting tarnish.  Please see Vermeil for more details.

 

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H

Hallmarking

Hallmarks are official or standard stamps that are applied to precious metals.  Mainly, Hallmarks are used to indicate the metal's fineness, while additional hallmarks are used to identify the sponsors/manufacturers.  An example of a Sterling Silver hallmark is '925' which means '925 parts to 1000'.  In layman's terms, its 92.5% pure silver.

 

Howlite

Howlite, also referred to as 'snow white' is a very soft mineral which is white to grey in color and occasionally has black veins running through it.  Howlite is usually dyed to create imitation Turquoise or into other colors as desired.

 

I

Inclusions 

Foreign matter that is "included" within a stone. This may be a foreign body such as a crystal, a gas bubble or a pocket of liquid. There are many varieties of inclusions and they are important visual clues for identifying the type of gemstone and for identifying the origin of the stone.

 

Iridescent

An iridescent object, such as Moon Stone, is an object that can display a change of colors when the light or angle-of-view changes.  Another example would be an abalone shell.

 

Iolite

Iolite, which means 'violet stone' is also known as 'water sapphire' or 'lynx sapphire'.  It is a stone that displays many colors, from violet-blue to light blue to yellow-grey.  Iolite has been mined in many countries including Brazil, Burma, Canada and India to name a few.

 

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J

Jade

Jade is a semi-precious stone that has a wide range of colors from green to black to white to brown.  There are 2 minerals that are known as jade: Jadeite and Nephrite.  Jadeite is the harder of the two and is more often used in jewelry.  The most valuable form of jade is known as imperial jade, an emerald green color that comes from Myanmar. Jades also appear in mottled green and white, and the rarer colors of yellow, pink, purple, and black. The range of greens are light to dark, creamy, grayish, and also white.  A dark green jade, known as Canada Jade,  is found in Western Canada.

 

Jasper

Jasper's name is derived from the Greek meaning 'The Spotted One'.  Jasper is an opaque and fine grained variety of Chalcedony. It is found in all colors including: red, brown, pink, yellow, green, grey/white and shades of blue and purple.  It often contains organic material and mineral oxides which give it interesting patterns, bands and colors. Many of these patterns resemble landscapes with mountains and valleys, thus the name "picture" is part of the name of many well know jaspers.  Jasper has been discovered all over the world including Brazil, Egypt, Canada and the USA.

 

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K

Karat

Karat (kt / K) is how gold is measured for it's purity.  Below is a table showing how pure the gold is at each level.

24 K = 100% Gold

18 K = 75% Gold

14 K = 58.3% Gold

10 K = 41.7% Gold

 

Kunzite

Kunzite is a rare and unusual gemstone ranging from nearly colorless to rich  electric pink.  Color is the most important feature of a kunzite is assessing its value.   This is both the hue of the stone and the saturation.  The most valuable  color of kunzite is a warm pink that tends toward orange or peach (vs. purple).  Kunzite gemstones must be protected from the sun, prolonged exposure to bright  lights or extreme heat as this will cause the color to fade.   It is found in California, Brazil and Afghanistan.
 

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L

Lab Created 

Refers to gemstones created in a laboratory rather than by nature. A lab created gemstone is typically the same material chemically as its natural counterpart.

 

Labradorite

Labradorite is an opaque mineral that displays splashes of many colors after the polishing process.  It was discovered in Canada in a place called "Paul's Island", near the town of Nain, Labrador

 

Lapis Lazuli

This semi precious stone is a very rich blue color and is made or rock, not mineral.  The blue color of the gem comes from the sulphur content and may range from pure ultramarine to a lighter blue.  The finest color is intense blue with small flecks of golden pyrite.  The stone is porous, quite soft and scratches very easily.  Because of this, if Lapis is left in water too long it will dull the sheen.  Lapis is regarded by many people around the world as the stone of friendship.  It has been mined in Afghanistan for over 6000 years and is also found in Chile, Argentina, Canada, USA, Siberia and Pakistan.

 

Lariat

A lariat is an open-ended necklace which either is looped into a knot or used with a slide knot.

 

Larimar

Larimar is a rare form of pectolite, which was discovered in the 1970's and is only found in the Dominican Republic.  It has an extraordinary blue appearance similar to the color of the ocean in tropical areas.  The name "Larimar" comes from a combination of Larissa and Mar and was given to the stone by a Dominican who named the stone after his daughter Larissa and Mar, the Spanish word for sea.

 

Lever Back

A lever back is the enclosure of an earring, made for pierced ears. The back is often curved like a fish hook. The enclosure bends and latches behind  the ear.  Think of the lever as a safety device that protects your earring from accidentally coming undone and falling out.  With a slight curvature, you will find that this earring is extremely comfortable to wear.
 

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M

Malachite

Malachite is an opaque semi-precious stone with very deep and light green layers, sometimes with thick veins of black running through it.  Malachite is often coated in a colorless wax, oil or hardening agent to enhance appearance and increase durability.  The main source of Malachite is the copper mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mexico, New South Wales, Israel and Australia.

 

Marcasite

Marcasite, whose name is derived from the Arabic word for Pyrite, is a common and attractive mineral. In jewelry, marcasite is the name used for another mineral called Pyrite.  There IS a mineral named marcasite which is similar in appearance, but the "real" marcasite  is far too brittle and too unstable to be put to any practical use.  The fashionably well-to-do of the 18th century favored jewelry with diamonds set in sterling silver. For those who could not afford such luxuries, marcasite became a popular stand-in for the diamonds.

 

Marquise 

The marquise shape is an elongated oval with points on both ends. Said to be named after the Marquise de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV.

 

Mineral

A mineral is a solid material which is formed as a result of a naturally occurring geological process in the earth's crust.  To be classified as a mineral it must be solid a possess a crystal structure.  A good example of a crystal mineral is a Diamond.  The physical hardness of a mineral is measured according to the Mohs Scale.

 

Morganite

Morganite is a member of the Beryl family.  Its color ranges from pale pink to a hint of orange.  Inferior qualities of the stone can be improved by heating them to 4000 C.  it was named after the financier and mineral collector John Piermont Morgan. 

 

Mohs Scale

In the case of minerals and gemstones, hardness refers first to scratch hardness then to cutting resistance of each mineral. 

 

Mollusk

The word Mollusk describes many varieties of Shell Fish, some of which can naturally produce Pearls and Mother of Pearl shell.

 

Moonstone

Moonstones are believed to be named for the bluish white spots within them, that when held up to the light project a silvery play of color very much like moonlight.  When the stone is moved back and forth, the brilliant silvery rays appear to move about, like moonbeams playing over water.  The best quality deposits of Moonstone are found in Sri Lanka; deposits can be found in Mexico, Tanzania, Myanmar and Madagascar.  It can also be found in the USA, specifically Pennsylvania and Virginia.  Labradorite and Albite are rare forms of Moonstone.

 

Mother of Pearl

Mother of Pearl is an organic material produced by some Mollusks on the inner layer of their shells.  The material is very strong, resilient and iridescent.  it has many uses from jewelry to pistol handles.  The main sources of Mother of Pearl are the warmer waters of Asia, while the freshwater variety can be found in many rivers across the USA, Europe and Asia.

 

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N

Nacre

Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is the material produced by some mollusks as an inner shell layer; it is also what makes up the outer coating of pearls.  It is a strong and resilient material that is lightweight and transparent, allowing light to pass through its surface, creating a subtle glow on the pearl’s surface.

 

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O

Obsidian

Obsidian is actually a type of glass and is literally lava that cooled from its molten form so quickly, there was not time for any crystals to form. The actual composition of the rock is dependent on what minerals, gases, and such were in the immediate area when the lava cooled.  There are several types including: Black, Snowflake, Apache Tears, Blue, Blue/Green, Gold Sheen, Mahogany, Rainbow, Red and Silver Sheen. 

 

Onyx

Onyx comes from the same Greek word which translates to 'nail' or 'claw'.  Onyx is a member of the Chalcedony quartz family and it's color is usually black or white. 

 

Opal

The word 'Opal' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'upalao' which means 'Valuable Stone'.  Opals are divided into 3 subgroups: Precious Opals, Fire Opals and Common Opals.  Precious Opal's have a rich iridescence and remarkable play of color.  It displays rainbow-like colors that can be seen right through the stone, especially in round cut stones.  Fire Opal, named after its orange color, is usually milky in appearance.  However, its best qualities can be clear and transparent which are suitable for faceting.  Common Opal is opaque and rarely translucent. 

In order to display the stone's best qualities, it must be polished and cut into round or oval cabochons.  Opal has a high water content; sometimes as high as 10%.  If the stone becomes dry it can become brittle and cracks may start to appear.  The color will also start to fade. For this reason, opal must be worn by the owner as often as possible so the stone will receive the required amount of air and humidity..  The best way to store Opal is on damp cotton wool.  Almost 95% of the world's Precious Opal originates from Australia.  Deposits of Fire Opal can be found in Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala and the USA.

 

Opalite

A beautiful stone in varying shades of dark purple, lavender and creamy white with swirls of dark and light yellowish brown and pink areas takes a high polish when cut as a cabochon.  It is mined in Utah, USA.

 

Opaque

Opaque means blocking the passage of light as opposed to translucent or transparent.

 

Organic (gemstone) 

Most gemstones are minerals with a crystal structure but some gems, such as amber and pearl, are organic rather than mineral, being formed by plants and animals.

 

Oxidization

This blackening of certain metals is a natural chemical reaction and occurs when exposed to oxygen.  This effect can also be induced by chemicals.

 

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P

 Padparadscha 

Derived from the Sinhalese term for "lotus flower," padparadscha refers to a lush pink and orange sapphire resembling the color of the lotus.

Palladium

 Palladium is a naturally silvery-white metal that is increasingly used in jewelry making as a precious metal substitute for platinum or white gold, which requires a rhodium plating to achieve its neutral color. Palladium can also be used instead of silver or nickel, to alloy white gold. White gold that is created with palladium has the added benefit of being hypoallergenic.

 

Paraiba

A rare copper-bearing tourmaline with an intense blue or blue-green color, first found in the state of Paraiba in Brazil in 1989. There have been recent finds in Nigeria and Mozambique of similar material, and the term "paraiba" is now used to refer to all examples of this copper-bearing tourmaline.

 

Pave Setting

A pave setting is where small stones are set as close as possible, so that the piece literally looks like it has been 'paved' with stones.

 

Pearl

Pearls are unique in the gemstone world because they are the most precious organic gems.  They are not created in the earth's crust, but rather when a piece of debris such as a bit of coral or sand enters a mussell or oyster shell.  The oyster or mussel cannot expel such an object once it sticks to its flesh.  Instead, it coats the irritant with secretions of calcium carbonate (known as Nacre), which over several years forms a pearl.  For most of human history, pearls have been extremely rare and expensive.  However, in the last century, methods of pearl cultivation have been developed to make fine pearls more accessible to everyone.  See Cultured Pearls and Freshwater Pearls.

 

Peridot

Peridot, also known by the mineral name Olivine, is among the oldest known gemstones.  It is said that many "emerald" pieces of royal treasures and Cleopatra have turned out to be peridot.  Peridot is found in lava, meteorites and volcanic basalts, formed deep within the earth under tremendous pressure and heat.   Peridot's most striking feature is its bright, glowing shade of green.  Inclusions such as black specks of biotite, veils that look like a milky ribbon and liquid-gas inclusions called lily pads are common in Peridot, making clear pieces more valuable.  It is not exceptionally rare but large pieces with intense color can command high prices. The finest specimens of Peridot are found in Myanmar and now Pakistan.  China also produces some, but in a much lighter color, making them less valuable.

 

Platinum

Platinum is a heavy, malleable, precious, grey/white metal that is highly resistant to corrosion, and occurs in some nickel and copper ores. Platinum's wear-resistance, hardness and tarnish-resistance make it well suited for fine jewelry.

 

Prehnite

Prehnite was once a very obscure and rare gemstone. But new deposits have made this very interesting mineral more widely available. Prehnite is a form of calcium aluminum silicate with a vitreous mother-of-pearl luster. It has a hardness rating of 6 to 6.5. It was first discovered in South Africa by Colonel Hendrik Von Prehn, an early Dutch governor of the Cape of Good Hope colony. Prehnite was actually the first mineral to be named after a person, an interesting bit of gemological trivia.  Prehnite is typically found in yellow-green or brown-yellow, and though it is translucent, it is cut in many ways -- faceted, en cabochon and carved.

 

Prasiolite

Prasiolite is light mint green quartz, the brother of amethyst and citrine.   It is also sometimes incorrectly referred to as “Green Amethyst” . Prasiolite is the result of an amethyst (purple quartz) gemstone being exposed  to high heat.  This process can occur naturally inside the earth, or by  humans in a laboratory.  Not every amethyst will produce prasiolite  when heated (some will turn into citrine).  Prasiolite that is not treated  is very rare and most of it comes from one mine in Brazil.

 

Pyrite

Pyrite (or chemically speaking, Iron Sulfite) gets its name from  the Greek word "pyr" or "fire" because it makes a spark  when struck with metal.  Shimmering like flecks of gold, Pyrite has fascinated people for thousands of years. The French called it the "Stone of Health" and it is said to strengthen willpower, increase brain activity and even bring wealth and good fortune to the wearer

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Q

Quartz

Quartz is a crystalline mineral that comes in many forms, including Amethyst, Aventurine, Citrine, Opal, Rock Crystal, Tiger's Eye, Rose Quartz and many others under the heading Quartz.  Rutilated Quartz and Tourmalinated Quartz have needle-like occlusions of other minerals.  These occlusions can enhance the appearance dramatically.  This mineral can be found right around the globe - from Brazil to India, California to South Africa.

 

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R

Rhinestones

Rhinestones are highly reflective glass pieces cut and polished to imitate gemstones.  The best made today are formed from highly reflective leaded glass which is cut and polished.  Rhinestones were initially sourced from the Rhine River.

 

Rhodium

Rhodium is a white porous precious metal that is quite expensive.  Rhodium is often used in the plating of base and precious metals to give it a Platinum-like sheen.  Rhodium plating is also used to prevent black tarnish on .925 sterling silver. The main source of this alloy is South Africa.

 

Rhodolite

Rhodolite, which means 'Rose Stone' in Greek, is a member of the Garnet family.  It has a color range from purple-red to pink-red.  The main deposits of the stone are Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Kenya and the USA.

 

Rock Crystal

This is one of the most common minerals of the earth's crust.  The name 'crystal' comes from the Greek for 'Ice' and it was believed that Rock Crystal was eternally frozen.  Important deposits have been found in Brazil, Madagascar, the USA and the Alps.

 

Rose Gold

Rose Gold or 'pink gold' does not occur in nature but is actually a pure 'yellow gold' and copper alloy that is widely used for specialized jewelry, and is prized for its pinkish color tint. This pinkish tint works well with certain fair skin tones, and it has a unique quality that stands apart from its more commonly used yellow counterpart.

 

Rose Quartz

Rose Quartz is named after its pink color.  It's a form of quartz that can have traces of rutile needles which can cause a Six-Rayed Star when cut into cabochon.  Deposits are found in Brazil and Madagascar as well as India, Nambia and Sri Lanka. 

 

Ruby

Rubies are arguably the most precious and valuable of all the colored gemstones.  Ruby is characterized by its vibrant shades of red, excellent lustre (facets reflect light almost like a mirror) and hardness.  Most natural rubies have some cloudiness or imperfections inside: very few are perfectly clear and value increases dramatically for these.  Ruby is the red variety of the mineral Corundum.  Sapphire, the other gem variety of Corundum, encompasses all colors of Corundum aside from red. In essence, Ruby is a red Sapphire, since Ruby and Sapphire are identical in all properties except for color. However, because of the special allure and historical significance, Ruby has always been classified as an individual gemstone, and is never identified as a form of Sapphire.  Ruby is said to stimulate deep understanding and attainment of the heart's wishes; it also provides a very strong shield of protection for the mind.  Rubies come from all over the world but good gemstones are found at Thailand, India, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, North Carolina in the U.S., Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, and perhaps most notably, Burma.

 

Rutilated Quartz

Rutile is a major ore of titanium, which is a metal used for high tech alloys. It often forms needle-like crystal inclusions inside quartz.  This form of quartz is known as rutilated quartz and it looks like small bars of imbedded gold.  This beautiful stone is usually cut as a cabochon and is also known as Venus' Hair Stone, Cupid's Darts and Fleches D'Amour (Arrows of Love).  Rutilated quartz is said to slow down the aging process and is said to be a strong healer.  It is found in Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Norway, Pakistan and the United States.

 

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Sapphire

Sapphires are a very precious stone that has a wide range of colors from blue to white, green to purple; blue is by far, the most popular.  Sapphires are part of the Corundum family and in ancient times, were worn around the necks of royalty as a shield against poison and harm.  The finest specimens of Sapphires are mined in Kasmir; others are found in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Australia and China.

 

Shiva Shell

Shiva Shell, also known as Shiva Eye, is the protective coating at the opening of the Turban snail shell.  Toward the end of the snail's natural life this protective door detaches and sinks to the seabed.  On one side if the Shiva eye shell is a beautiful spiral.  The exact shape of the spiral is unique from one shell to the next.  The color varies from beige to deep green, depending on the sea snail's diet, while the background always remains a milky white.

 

Satin Finish

A matte finish achieved by sandblasting, brushing with a stiff wire brush or chemically altering a high shine surface.  A Satin finish has a soft, pearl-like luster instead of a bright polish.

 

Schiller

Schiller is a lustrous reflection from planes in a mineral grain and is similar to what is more commonly known as iridescence. The schiller is caused by a feature of the stone's crystal structure.

 

Smoky Quartz

Smoky Quartz is a member of the Quartz family, occurring in shades of grey-brown.  Natural Smoky Quartz is always found in igneous rock, and deposits have been found in Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland and the Ukraine.  

 

Sodalite

Sodalite is a mineral which can contain streaks of many colors - some being white, grey or even green.  In the past, it has been used for carvings and jewelry.  Sodalite is one of the main minerals components that make up Lapis Lazuli.  it has been mined in many countries such as Russia, Italy and the USA.

 

Silver

Silver is a fine, precious metal.  Its color is silver-white and it is often used in jewelry.  Silver has to be alloyed (mixed) with other metals in order to use in jewelry production.  The mixing of metals makes it more durable and rigid.  Jewelry is traditionally made from Sterling Silver, an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper.  Silver is often plated with Rhodium for a bright, shiny look which doesn't tarnish as quickly..However, under normal conditions without plating, Silver will tarnish - it's the mixture of moisture and sulphur in the air we breathe that causes Silver to tarnish.  Russia produces around 15% of the world's silver output, followed closely by Mexico.  Canada, Peru, Bolivia, Germany and the USA also have notable deposits.

 

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Tanzanite

Tanzanite, the ultimate prize of a gem safari, has a mesmerizing blend of rich purples and blues with a velvety deepness of color unlike any other gem.

Discovered in 1967 in Tanzania, in a five square mile area in the foot hills of majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzanite in its roughest form is a reddish, almost brown color. After mining, virtually every tanzanite is heated to permanently change its color from brown to the spectacular violet-blue color for which this precious gemstone variety is prized. In the last 20 years, popularity and value has skyrocketed, with deposits seeming to be mostly exhausted.

 

Tiger's Eye

Tiger's Eye is a member of the quartz family and often cut into cabochons.  The semi-precious stone is dark brown to yellow in color with red color being produced by applying heat to the stone.  Tiger's Eye exhibits a changeable silky luster as light is reflected within the thin parallel fibrous bands. This effect is due to the fibrous structure of the material.  According to legend,  wearing Tiger's Eye  is beneficial for health and spiritual well being, great for business, and an aid to achieving clarity.  Tiger's Eye is mined in Western Australia, South Africa, USA, Canada, India, Namibia, and Burma.

 

Toggle Clasp

a toggle clasp (also known as a T-Bar) is a fastener that can appear on either a bracelet or a necklace. It comprises a ring on one end and a bar shaped like the letter T on the other end which has to be wider that the ring to prevent it slipping out.  The bar is passed through the ring which it then sits across to secure it in place.

 

Topaz

Topaz in its purest form has no color.  it is usually colored by the impurities from the surrounding land.  Topaz can be found in many colors, some of which do not occur naturally.  For example,  Mystic Topaz is created by applying an artificial coat to the stone which gives it that magical look.  Blue Topaz in its natural form is very rare, so manufacturers heat treat colorless topaz to create a deeper blue, from Swiss Blue to London Blue.  Topaz can be found in many countries around the globe including Germany, Japan, Norway, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, USA and the Czech Republic.

 

Tourmaline

Tourmaline is a gemstone with the widest color range of any gemstone; the lighter colors being the most valuable.  There are many variants of this stone which make it easier to break down the color range,  Rubelite can be rose red to pink in color, Shorl is dark black in color, Indicolite is light blue to a pale green and Verdelite is green.  Gemstone quality Tourmaline is mainly mined in Brazil and Africa, but there are several other countries that have notable sources: Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

 

Translucent

A translucent material will allow light to pass through it, however it will scatter the light across the material/stone.  Stones that can be translucent include Carnelian, Moonstone and Opal. 

 

Trillion Cut 

A faceted cut in a triangular shape with 44 facets.

 

Tsavorite

Tsavorite is a rare member of the Garnet family.  Its deep green color is similar to that of Emerald however it's a more durable stone and much rarer.  The gemstone was originally found in 1967 in Kenya.

 

Turquoise

The name 'Turquoise' means 'Turkish Stone'.  It gets this name from the route it took to get into Europe.  Turquoise is a porous semi-precious stone, having either a blue (pure blue stones are very rare) or green colored surface with veins of black running right through it.  Turquoise can be very soft and may be treated with a wax to help preserve the stone's life a little longer.  The finest specimens of the stone come from deposits in Persia, Iran.  Other well known deposits are the USA, Israel, Mexico, Afghanistan and China.

 

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Vermeil

Vermeil (pronounced: Vehr-MAY) is gold that has been electroplated onto sterling silver.  In order to be considered Vermeil, the base metal (underneath the gold) must be sterling silver and the gold must be a minimum of 10K with a thickness of at least 2.5 microns.  Gold vermeil  is popular because it gives you the look of solid, high-carat gold but at more affordable prices.

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White Gold

White Gold is a gold alloy that is mixed with at least one white metal, usually nickel or Palladium.  Like any other gold it's purity is measured in Karats.  Almost all white gold jewellry is Rhodium plated since gold alloyed with Palladium or nickel never comes out white, but tinted brown.  it is therefore plated with Rhodium to mask the tinted shade and make it a true white color.

 

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Zircon

Zircon is a mineral that can appear in many colors from colorless to red to brown to green.  Colorless specimens that show gem quality are a popular substitute for diamonds.  Zircon is not to be confused with Cubic Zirconia, which is a synthetic substance with a completely different chemical composition.  Primarily found in sedimentary rocks, irgeous and metamorphic rocks, Zircon can be sourced widely from Australia to Quebec, Canada.  Australia leads the way in mining, producing 37% of the world's total output.

 

Zoisite

Zoisite has three known forms: Anyolite, Tanzanite and Thurlite.  They are green, blue/purple and pink in color respectively.  Zoisite can be sourced in Tanzania (Tanzanite), Kenya (Anyolite) and Norway (Thulite).