|Amber is fossilized tree resin. It is organic not mineral. The oldest amber dates to the Upper Carboniferous Period, about 320 million years ago.|
An ant inside Baltic amber
|Scientists and collectors treasure amber that contains suspended animal or plant fragments. These fossilized parts of once-living things were trapped in the hardening amber, creating a time capsule.|
Amber's warm luster is featured in beads, carvings, pendants, cabochons, as well as decorative items. Transparent amber is more valuable than cloudy. A plant or animal inclusion adds greatly to the value of an amber specimen.
|Peter the Great’s Amber Room near St Petersburg was made from six tons of amber. A Prussian gift in 1716, It was lost during WW II, but recreated in 2003.|
The word amber means brownish yellow, but the gem can be yellow, golden, white, orange to reddish brown, or even bluish or greenish.
|Cutting and polishing amber for jewelry makes it more susceptible to oxidation by removing or thinning the harder exterior surface. Fine translucent yellow or orange amber can gradually darken to reddish brown and eventually black.|
|Emeralds are a form of beryl, showing the richest green which is caused by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Emerald has been a favorite of the elite throughout history.||Its attributes include the ability to foretell the future, bring good luck and protect against illness.|
Emeralds in antiquity were mined by the Egyptians and in Austria, as well as Swat in northern Pakistan. A rare type of emerald known as a trapiche emerald is occasionally found in the mines of Colombia. A trapiche emerald exhibits a "star" pattern. It is named for the trapiche, a grinding wheel used to process sugarcane in the region. Colombian emeralds are generally the most prized.
|Golden beryl can range in colors from pale yellow to a brilliant gold. Unlike emerald, golden beryl has very few flaws. The term "golden beryl" is sometimes synonymous with heliodor.|
Both golden beryl and heliodor are used as gems.
|Morganite, also known as "pink beryl", "rose beryl", "pink emerald", and "cesian (or caesian) beryl", is a rare light pink to rose-colored gem-quality variety of beryl. Orange/yellow varieties of morganite can also be found, and color banding is common. |
Pink beryl was first discovered on an island on the coast of Madagascar in 1910. In December 1910, the New York Academy of Sciences named the pink variety of beryl "morganite" after financier J. P. Morgan.
|Red beryl (also known as "red emerald") is a red variety of beryl. It was first described in 1904 for an occurrence at Juab County, Utah.|
Red beryl is extremely rare and has only been reported from a handful of locations. The greatest concentration of gem-grade red beryl comes from the Violet Claim in the Wah Wah Mountains of mid-western Utah, discovered in 1958. While gem beryls are ordinarily found in pegmatites and certain metamorphic stones, red beryl occurs in topaz-bearing rhyolites. It is formed by crystallizing under low pressure and high temperature from miarolitic cavities of the rhyolite.
|In the first century A.D. Pliny wrote of the opal, "for in them you shall see the living fire of the ruby, the glorious purple of the amethyst, the sea green of the emerald, all glittering together in an incredible mixture of light", and later Shakespeare was to describe it as the "Queen of Gems".|
Due to its colour play the opal has been subjected to many superstitions and myth. Opal was said to ward off diseases and for this reason was worn in amulets. In Roman times it was included in the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor.
|Opal, from the Greek, "Opallos", meaning 'to see a change (of colour)', is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel.|
Millions of years ago, the gel seeped into crevices and cracks in the sedimentary strata. Through eons of time and through nature's heating and moulding processes, the gel hardened and can today be found in the form of opals.
|Black opal is the rarest and most valuable type. It is generally found as a bar of various colours forming natural water horizontals in dark grey to black "potch nobbies" or "nodules". The unique patterns are as complex as an artist's imagination.|
95% of the world's supply of this radiant, dark lustrous gem is mined at only two pinpoints on the globe - Lightning Ridge and Mintabie, Australia.
|The world famous black opal field of Lightning Ridge was discovered in 1903 and is still producing gems.|
The discovery of light opal in 1915 made famous the name of one of the most hostile and remote places on the Australian continent - Coober Pedy, the largest opal producing centre on earth.
|Coober Pedy, an Aboriginal name meaning "White man in a hole", adequately describes the mines and miners' dwellings - burrows dug into the scarp, in order to escape the soaring temperatures of the day and the freezing winds at night.|
|Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. All garnets possess similar physical properties and crystal forms, but differ in chemical composition. The different species are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, uvarovite and andradite.|
Garnet is available in a plethora of colours and is found around the world. Rarest and most valuable are blue garnets. They were discovered in 1998 in Bekily, Southern Madagascar. They are actually colour change garnets, appearing blue under fluorescent light changing to reddish-purple under incandescent light. The color change is pronounced and these rare garnets have become highly sought after by collectors.
|Color change garnets are due in part to varying concentrations of vanadium and chromium. The blue-green to purple color change garnets have relatively high concentrations of vanadium and low concentrations of chromium.|
Very fine, gem quality blue garnets over 10 carats are scarce and valuable.
|Chrome tourmaline is a special member of the tourmaline group. Found only in east Africa, it is usually found in small sizes. What it lacks in size it makes up for in color - it displays perhaps the richest, most intense green in the gemstone world.|
|There are similarities between chrome tourmaline and tsavorite garnet. They are found in the same locations in Tanzania, and both are colored by chromium and vanadium. Chrome tourmaline, in many ways, is equal to the finest tsavorite.|
Chrome tourmaline is a distinct variety of tourmaline, called chrome dravite.
|Like emerald and tsavorite garnet, fine chrome tourmaline is a pure forest green with slightly yellowish to bluish secondary hues. With a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale and no cleavage, tourmalines of all types have good durability.|
Generally, tourmalines are Type II clarity stones, showing inclusions. However, one can find eye clean green chrome tourmalines. Most would only buy chrome tourmaline graded IF (internally flawless) to VS (very small inclusions).
|Alexandrite undergoes dramatic shifts in color depending on what kind of light it's in. A variety of Chrysoberyl, alexandrite's color-changing properties is due to an exceedingly rare combination of minerals that includes titanium, iron and chromium. Originally discovered in Russia’s Ural Mountains in the 1830s, it’s now found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil.|
Fine, gem quality material is exceptionally rare and valuable. Alexandrite's mohs hardness is about 8.5.
|Spinel is a hard vitreous magnesium aluminum oxide that has been used as a gemstone for centuries. Spinel has been mistaken for ruby and sapphire in the past. Spinel occurs in a range of colors.|
|Spinel can be distinguished from other gemstones by its octahedral crystal structure and single refraction. Spinel has a lower Mohs hardness than ruby and sapphire. Spinel occurs with ruby and sapphire, and significant deposits have been found in Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and Thailand.|
The rarest and most desirable spinel gemstones are vivid ruby-like red, followed by cobalt blue, bright pink and bright orange. Prices for 'class A' color-change spinel offer excellent value. According to some experts, current prices for color-change spinel are an insult to their beauty and extreme rarity.
|Elbaite is one of the most varied minerals in terms of color. Colors include green, red, pink and blue. White, colorless, black, brown, yellow, orange, and purple colors are less common.|
Crystals are frequently multicolored, containing two or more distinct colors. Some specimens are pleochroic.
Faceted Watermelon Tourmaline
|Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and fluorine.|
Pure topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually found tinted by impurities; typical topaz is wine, yellow, pale gray, reddish-orange, or blue brown.
|There is no official standard for imperial topaz. Some dealers use the term for colours that are orange to pink to red to purple, others reserve the term for certain saturated shades.|
It’s the colour, not the term “Imperial” that gives topaz its value. Imperial Topaz, with its distinct peach, pink, orange or champagne hues, is the rarest topaz variety and the most valuable.
|The primary source is the Ouro Preto mines of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Deposits were also found in the Urual Mountains in Russia. Imperial topaz was named in honor of the Russian monarchy who prized it. Today imperial topaz is classified as a very rare collector's gem. |
The price and value of imperial topaz vary depending on the size and quality of the gemstone. True imperial topaz is always untreated, and material which has been colored by artificial means such as irradiation is not regarded as genuine imperial topaz.
|Tourmaline occurs in virtually every color, but blue is the rarest. The blue tourmaline that has attracted the most attention recently is the rare paraiba variety that was first discovered in Brazil in 1989, and then in Nigeria and Mozambique. These gems, colored by copper, have a neon-like quality that is highly coveted by collectors.|
|The main sources of indicolite tourmaline are Brazil, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Madagascar.|
|Jadeite is a pyroxene mineral with composition NaAlSi2O6. It is monoclinic and has a Mohs hardness of about 6.5 to 7.0 depending on the composition. |
The Latin version of the name, lapis nephriticus, is the origin of the term nephrite, another variety of jade. Jadeite is formed in metamorphic rocks under high pressure and relatively low temperature. In all well-documented occurrences, jadeitite appears to have formed from subduction zone fluids in association with serpentinite.
Jadeite from the Motagua Valley, Guatemala, was used by the Olmec and Maya, as well as the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica.
Typically, the most highly valued colors of jadeite are the most intensely green, translucent varieties, though traditionally white has been considered the most valuable of the jades by the Chinese.
Natural Icy Imperial Emerald Green Jadeite Dragon's Fang Pendant 16 carats.
|Top-quality jadeite is very rare. Vivid, sleek, and translucent, magnificent jadeite commands some of the highest prices among gems in today’s international market. Jadeite’s three most important qualities, in order of their impact on its market value, are color, transparency, and texture.|
The finest-quality jadeite is known as Imperial jade. The royal court of China once had a standing order for all available material of this kind, and it’s one of the world’s most expensive gems.
The Hutton-Mdivani necklace by Cartier sold for $27.4 million, a world record for a Cartier jewel.
Jadeite and diamond pendant £180k
|Jadeite’s transparency ranges from opaque to semitransparent. The best jadeite is semitransparent. The finest-quality jadeite is usually cut into cabochons.|
A jadeite snuff bottle, 1780–1880. It sold for HK$ 1.5 million
A pair of jadeite and diamond ear pendants. Est HK$3,800,000-5,800,000 ($480,000-750,000)
A magnificent jadeite ring. Est HK$28,000,000-38,000,000 ($3,500,000-4,800,000)
Art-deco jadeite, enamel, gem-set and diamond brooch from Cartier, circa 1927. HK$7,000,000-8,000,000
Jadite Bangle. HK$6,000,000 – HK$8,000,000 ($777,816 - $1,037,088)
|Kunzite is the best-known variety of the mineral spodumene. It’s named after gemologist George Frederick Kunz, who was the first to identify it as a unique variety of spodumene around 1902. Kunzite gets its color from trace amounts of manganese. California’s San Diego County is an important source of kunzite. It’s also found in Afghanistan, Brazil, and Madagascar.|
|Mandarin Spessartite Garnet is a rare form of orange garnet colored by manganese. |
The combination of vivid color and garnet's very high refractive index make spessartite garnet one of the most brilliant stones in the world of colored gems. Its hardness is around 6.5 - 7.5 on the Mohs scale, making it ideal for jewelry.
|The gems occur in a range of colors from yellowish orange to reddish orange and orange-red. The pure orange, known as mandarin or fanta orange, is very rare and has been found in only a few deposits in Africa, notably in Nigeria. |
Top spessartites are highly sought after by gem collectors and are considered investment grade. Very little in the way of new material has been found recently.
|The most prized of all the sapphires and highly regarded throughout the ages, padparadscha sapphires are as beautiful and exotic as their name.|
The term padparadscha is derived from the Singhalese word for a salmon colored lotus blossom. Overall, padparadscha sapphires are pinkish orange in color, but vary in hue and tone.
Today, padparadscha is narrowly defined by gemologists as a Sri Lankan sapphire of delicate pinkish orange color.
|Most lotus blossoms are far more pink than orange, and in ancient times, padmaraga was described as a subvariety of ruby. Today, some define the gem's color as a blend of lotus and sunset.|
|The original source for padparadscha is Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and purists today believe the term should be restricted only to stones from Ceylon. However, fine stones have also been found in Vietnam’s Quy Chau district, Tanzania’s Tunduru district, and Madagascar.|
|The new type of tourmaline, known as paraiba tourmaline, came in blue and green. Brazilian paraiba tourmaline usually contains abundant inclusions. It was found the element copper was important in the coloration of the stone. These cupriferous tourmalines are small, rare and precious.|
Their turquoise to green colours are not duplicated in any other gemstone in the world.
|Another highly valuable variety is chrome tourmaline, a rare type of dravite tourmaline from Tanzania. Chrome tourmaline is a rich green colour due to the presence of chromium atoms in the crystal; chromium also produces the green colour of emeralds.|
|Peridot is gem-quality olivine, which is a silicate mineral with the formula of (Mg, Fe)2SiO4. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that occur in only one color: an olive-green. The intensity and tint of the green, however, depends on the percentage of iron that is contained in the crystal structure, so the color of individual peridot gems can vary from yellow, to olive, to brownish-green. In rare cases, peridot may occur in a medium-dark pure green.|
|Olivine in general is a very abundant mineral, but gem quality peridot is rare. This is due to the mineral's chemical instability on the Earth's surface. It's mohs scale hardness is 6.5–7, making peridot suitable for most jewellry.|
|There has been increased interest in fine pink tourmaline gems. A major reason is the market for pink tourmaline, like much of the jewelry industry, is driven by Chinese demand, where growing wealth has fueled an insatiable appetite for fine jewelry.|
Elbaite is the most well-known and valuable form of tourmaline. Almost all of the tourmaline gemstones are of the elbaite variety.
Wallace Chan's ’Vividity’ brooch, with a rare elbaite tourmaline in the centre.
Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi. A large pink tourmaline, along with pearls, adorns her headdress.
|China’s demand for pink tourmaline, and the pinkish-red variety known as rubellite, is not new. Part of this penchant for the pink stone is owed to the fact that pink tourmaline was the favorite gemstone of the Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi of China in the late 19th century.|
During the late 1800s, much of the pink and red tourmaline mined in California, where the gem was first found in 1890s, was shipped to China.
|The gemstone’s popularity has pushed prices for high quality pieces to ever higher levels.|
White gold, one 14.27-carat cushion-shaped rubellite, brilliants. Cartier.
Buccellati Dream Cuff Bracelet in white and yellow gold with tourmaline and diamonds
Panthère de Cartier Bracelet set with a rubellite, pink sapphires, diamonds and onyx
Van Cleef & Arpels Lady’s Cocktail Ring set with diamonds, carved rubellite and turquoise
|Star rubies and star sapphires display a six-ray star that seems to glide across the surface of the gem when moved. This six-ray star is caused due to an optical phenomena known as "asterism".|
The term is derived from the Greek word "aster", which means star, so asterism is commonly referred to as "star" or "star-effect". Other popular gemstones that display asterism are rose quartz, garnet, diopside, moonstone, spinel and opal.
|Black Star Sapphires with golden stars are one of the most fascinating forms of sapphire. Black star sapphires differ from other colours of star sapphires because the star is formed not due to rutile silk but due to hematite plates.|
|The Delong Star Ruby resides in the Natural History Museum in New York City. Weighing 100.32 carats, it is a purplish red stone from Burma. |
The Rosser Reeves Star Ruby; a fine-quality star ruby of 138.70 carats from Sri Lanka.
|Star of Asia A round six-ray star sapphire weighing 329.7 carats. The stone's origin is Burma, and it's part of the Smithsonian Museum's collection.|
Weighing 27.62 carats, the Star of Bharany Ruby is one of the world’s finest star rubies.
|Traditionally, star rubies were worn by knights in the battlefields to protect themselves from the enemy. Local tales in Karnataka (India) say that if it is worn as a visible pendant or as a headgear then anyone who faces you as an enemy looses half his valour. |
The power of star ruby is said to be the highest during full moon.
|The Tahitian pearl (or black pearl) is an organic gem formed from the black lip oyster (Pinctada margaritifera). Tahitian pearls come in a range of colors and may contain various undertones and overtones of green, pink, blue, silver and yellow. The most valuable of these are of the darker variety. Tahitian pearls are unique. A true black Tahitian pearl is extremely rare, and considered one of the most beautiful pearls in the world. Most Tahitian pearls that are identified as “black” are actually charcoal grey, silver, or dark green.|
|The pinctada oyster, which reaches a foot or more in diameter, produces very large pearls. This oyster is sensitive to the pearl culturing process, which makes the pearls very costly to produce.|
|The Tahitian pearl is French Polynesia’s largest export, making up over 55 percent of the country's annual exports.The cultured Tahitian pearl farms are located in the blue lagoons of the Tuamotu-Gambier Archipelago, which is one of the five archipelagos which make up French Polynesia.|
|Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite. It was discovered in the Mererani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967, near the city of Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro.|
Naturally formed tanzanite is extremely rare. Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism, appearing alternately sapphire blue, violet and burgundy depending on crystal orientation.
|Tanzanite is a relatively new gemstone in the world of gemology and jewelry. Since its discovery, tanzanite has sold for as little as $20 per carat and as much as $1,000 per carat or more, for gem-quality, finely coloured stones.|
|That price may seem like a bargain in time, as tanzanite is a one-source gemstone and that source is expected to be mined out within the next 15 to 25 years.|
|Pleochroic means tanzanite offers three distinct colors in three crystal directions. Tanzanite has a Mohs hardness of 6 to 7. |
|Tsavorite is a variety of the garnet group, a calcium-aluminium garnet with the formula Ca3Al2Si3O12. Trace amounts of vanadium or chromium provide the green color. Green colors of tsavorite and demantoid overlap, but they are different garnet group minerals. Tsavorite is green grossular and demantoid is green andradite. Andradite is softer than grossular with a higher refractive index and higher dispersion.|
The name tsavorite was created by Tiffany in honor of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya. Apart from Tanzania it is also found in Madagascar. Small deposits of gem grade material have been found in Pakistan and Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. No other occurrences of gem material have been discovered.
|Tsavorite Garnet is a rare gem that has begun to challenge emerald as the finest of the green gemstones. Unlike emerald, tsavorite is always untreated. It has more brilliance than emerald due to its higher refractive index. |
Tsavorite garnets over 2 carats are very rare, and fine stones over 4 carats are exceptionally rare. Colors range from mint green to a deep chrome green.
|Tsavorite garnets are famed for their brilliance. Their eye-catching radiance and favourable properties for setting in jewellery makes them highly desirable gems.|