Opal - mineralogy - Opals' (Precious Opal) name is derived from the Indian word for 'stone'. Opals are divided into three categories : opalescent Precious Opals, yellow-red Fire Opals and Common Opals.
Precious Opals are a fragile gemstone. 'Opalescence' is their character defining trait that creates a rainbow-like iridescence when the gem is shifted. The gems are composed of silica and water. Opals' unique 'play of colour' is attributable to its composition, which is sometimes described as 'layers of ping-pong balls'. Precious Opals are again divided into two distinct groups : the jewels with a light or white basic colour are called white or milky Opals, while their darker counterparts that feature a dark grey, dark blue, dark green or sometimes (rarely) black background are referred to as 'Black Opals'. Australia hosts the most important Opal deposits. Opals are also found in Czechoslovakia, Brazil, and Guatemala. White and Black Opals have only been produced as synthetics since the 1970's.
Fire Opals cheifly hail from Mexico. They are more uniform in colour than other Opal varieties, most often displaying a beautiful yellow to orange. 'Girasol' is an alias for Fire Opal and is derived from the Latin 'turn to the sun'.
Opal - myths and lore - The mysterious, shifting colours of Opal capture the imagination in all of the colours of the rainbow. Opals, with their pulsating display of light and colour were long believed to hold magical powers and for this reason the gems were often reserved only for royalty. Magic, love, and hope are symbolized by Opal. In the Orient the Opal stands for loyalty and hope. Opals as amulets are believed to facilitate astral projection, balance the psyche, improve the memory, and to awaken or strengthen clairvoyant powers. Black Opal is the only gemstone that is said to bring good luck and fortunes to all signs of the zodiac. The superstition that wearing a White Opal is only lucky for those born in October is a reference from Sir Walter Scott' s novel, 'Anne of Geierstein'.
Tourmaline - mineralogy - Tourmaline forms in many colours and no other gemstone can compete with the richness and depths of its varied colours. Some Tourmaline gems display more than one colour simultaneously. Multi-coloured 'Watermelon Tourmaline' are pink and green often with a white line delineating the two distinct colours.
Tourmalines many colours are referred to by specific names. 'Achroite' is Greek for 'no colour'. Pink to red or Ruby colours are called 'Rubellite'. Yellow brown to dark brown stones are differentiated by the name 'Dravite'. 'Verdelite' gems are a rich, vivid pure leek green to the more complex shades that are 'touched' with yellow, brown, or blue. 'Indigolite' and 'Indicolite' refers to all of the various shades of blue. Lilacs to violet blue jewels are categorized by the name 'Siberite', and lastly 'Schorl' is an old mining term that specifies a black Tourmaline.
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Tourmaline - myths and lore - Legend attributes Tourmaline with the ability to attract friends and lovers, protect its wearer from making bad decisions and to shield its owner from danger. African Witch Doctors, Native American Medicine Men and Australian Aboriginal Shamans are said to use Tourmaline amulets for healing. Blue Tourmaline is believed to be extremely helpful in promoting a restful sleep and in alleviating stress. Pink stones are also believed to aid sleep and reduce fears. The rich and fertile colour of Verdelite or green Tourmaline is said to inspire creativity and draw prosperity. Jewels of yellow Tourmaline stimulate the brain, thus increasing psychic powers, wisdom and understanding. Healed emotions, balanced ying and yang energies and stabilized sexual energies are all attributed powers of Watermelon Tourmaline. Many New Age healers recommend the use of Tourmalines for various ailments.
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Topaz - mineralogy - Trace minerals in Topaz create the gems in a variety of colour and hues. The palette of Topaz can be intoxicating. Topaz can occur in blue, green, pink, sherry, yellow, and colourless. Pink topaz is the most valuable. The mesmerizing hues of 'Precious Topaz' invite us to 'drink in' their beauty. Their colour ranges from the pale golden amber of aged cognac to warm glowing browns of fine sherry or old whisky.
Blue Topaz' voluptuous colour speaks for itself. Rivaling Aquamarine in colour the hues range from the breathtaking pastel blue of an Alpine glacier to the glow of a mid summer sky and finishing as the refreshing deep aquatic blue of an ocean.
Currently, the most important suppliers of the gem are Brazil, Sri Lanka, Russia and Burma, but there are many further deposits throughout the world. Cut Topazes that weigh several thousands of carats are housed at The Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
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Topaz - myths and lore - Topazos, now Zebirget, an island in the Red Sea, is probably responsible for the gem's name. In antiquity all brown and yellow gemstones (and often even green ones) were referred to as Topaz. Topaz crystals are known to have weighed several pounds. Known as 'the sun jewel', Topaz is associated with the setting sun. Topaz reminded the Egyptians of Ra and the Romans equated Topaz to Jupiter. Rich deposits of Precious Topaz were discovered in Russia. Many of the jewels were set into the Russian Czarina's jewellery and thus earned the name 'Imperial Topaz'. Topaz is considered one of the most 'well-omened' gems. Topaz has long been regarded as a stone of divine majesty and protection. In the home, it reportedly guards against fires and accidents. When worn in jewellery Topaz is believed to draw love, promote courage, stimulate intellect, and dispel negativity. It is also thought to protect its wearer from black magic, injuries, jealousy, and madness. Topaz was often worn as an amulet against harm. It was also thought able to improve eyesight and invested with the power to breaks spells. Topaz has a history of use as a diving rod to aid in locating water, precious metals, and buried treasures. Powdered Topaz was once available to the public in apothecary shops. It was sold as an antidote to madness, and was said to cure asthma, and insomnia.
Citrine - mineralogy - Citrine is a member of the 'Quartz Group'. It is the top selling yellow-orange stone because of its affordability. Citrine ranges in colours from a light yellow that draws us in and lightens our mood to the drama and intensity vibrating in a deep golden brown. Its most commonly seen lemon yellow colour (Latin - citrus) is the source for its name. Citrine is often referred to as 'Madeira Topaz' (when the gem is suffused with amber, orange or honey colours) or 'Gold Topaz'.
Citrine - myths and lore - Ancient civilizations believed the sparkling Citrine, with its sunny colour, guarded the wearer from snake venom and evil thoughts. Cheerfulness, youth and vitality are the messages the gemstone Citrine bears today.
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Turquoise - mineralogy - The colour of Turquoise ranges from blue to green. Iran is the source for the rarest sky-blue Turquoise. Turquoise occurs in fissures as dense, grape like masses. It most often sports veins of brown, black, or dark grey matrix. Found in arid and semi arid lands, Turquoise is one of the gems that man first began to mine. The deposits in Sinai had been worked out by 4000 B.C. The name means 'Turkish Stone' and is in reference to the trade route through Turkey to Europe. Light, heat and oils can negatively affect the exquisite colour of the gem.
Turquoise - myths and lore - The mystic Turquoise was believed by Native Americans to be the embodiment of the blue of heaven and the green of earth. They consider Turquoise a highly prized and luck-attracting gem. Turquoise was once said to protect the wearer from the danger of falling from a horse and to have the ability to conjure rain. Turquoise amulets have been worn for protection on quests and journeys through the unknown and for strength. Turquoise is reportedly a healing stone that will give strength to the entire anatomy.
Zircon - mineralogy - Zircons possess a great brilliance, superb dispersion, and intense fire. Blue Zircon is easily mistaken for and often unfairly tagged as 'imitation Diamond'. Zircons can be colourless, yellow, brown, orange, red, violet, blue and green. Green Zircons are very rare. The colouring is caused by very advanced radioactivity and the natural gems are highly sought out by collectors. The majority of Zircon deposits are in Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Zircon - myths and lore - Zircons have long been a symbol of purity, innocence and constancy. Zircon has been given the enviably ability to heal disease and to bring sound sleep. During the plague in fourteenth century Europe, Zircon was used as a protective amulet reputed to banish evil spirits and counteract deadly poisons.