Garnet - January
If you are loyal, devoted and energetic, then perhaps the garnet is your stone. Red garnets were believed to promote sincerity, stop hemorrhaging or other loss of blood, cure inflammatory diseases, and cure anger and discord. And if you engraved a well-formed lion image upon it, it will protect and preserve honors and health, cure the wearer of all disease, bring him honors, and guard him from all perils in traveling. All in all, quite a worthwhile stone.
A hard, durable, often very brilliant stone, available in many colors of greens, reds, yellows and oranges, it affords versatility and opportunity for adorning jewelry.
Garnets are also a deceptive stone. Some red shades appear like rubies, some greens like emeralds, and some yellows for topaz.
Garnets can be found in every color except blue. It is best known in a deep red variety, sometimes with a brownish cast, but it is commonly found in orangish brown shades, and brilliant wine red shades as well. Other colors include orange, red purple, violet, and pink. A non-transparent variety, grossularite, has a jadelike appearance and may be mistaken for jade when cut for cabochons or carved. There is also a star garnet found in the U.S. that is a reddish to purple variety, which displays a faint four-rayed or six-rayed star.
Amethyst - February
Amethyst, a transparent purple variety of quartz, is one of the most popular of the colored stones. In contemporary times, recognized as the of February, it was once believed to bring peace of mind to the wearer. It was also believed to prevent the wearer from getting drunk, and if the circle of the sun or moon was engraved thereon, it was believed to prevent death from poison.
Amethyst is available in shades from light to dark purple, it is relatively hard, fairly brilliant, and overall a good versatile wearable stone. Amethyst is available in good supply even in large sizes. Note that large sizes with deep color are becoming scarcer. Amethyst is probably one of the most beautiful stones available at a moderate price, although one must be careful because "fine" amethyst is being produced synthetically. Synthetic amethyst exhibits color zoning often looking like chevrons.
Amethyst may fade from heat and strong sunshine. Guard your amethyst from these conditions and it will retain its color indefinitely.
Aquamarine or Bloodstone
To dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends and to wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection. Aquamarine, a universal symbol of youth, hope, and health, blesses those born in March. Prior to the 15th century it was thought to be the for those born in October.
Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family, which includes emerald, but aquamarine is less brittle and more durable than emerald. Aquamarine ranges in color from light blue to bluish green to deep blue, which is the most valuable and desirable color. Do not purchase a shallow cut stone, since the color will become paler as dirt accumulates on the back. Aquamarine is a very wearable gem, clear and brilliant, and, unlike emerald, is available with excellent clarity even in very large sizes. Larger size aquamarines are becoming scarcer, therefore more valuable. Long considered a beautiful and moderately priced gem, aquamarine has moved into the "expensive" classification for stones in larger sizes with a good deep blue color.
One must be careful not to mistake blue topaz for aquamarine. While topaz is an equally beautiful gem, it is usually much less expensive. Topaz is usually treated to obtain its desirable color. For those that cannot afford an aquamarine, blue topaz is an excellent alternative, as long as it is properly presented and properly priced.
Diamond - April
The diamond has been one of the most coveted gems in history. Uncut diamonds adorned the suits of armor of the great knights. Cut diamonds have adorned crowns of kings and queens throughout the ages. Today the diamond is internationally recognized as a symbol of love and betrothal and is the recipient of increasing interest as a source of investment.
The diamond has been credited with many magical powers. At one time it was considered the emblem of fearlessness and invincibility. It was believed that the mere possession of a diamond would endow the wearer with superior strength, bravery, and courage. It is also believed to drive away the devil and all spirits of the night.
In the 1500's it was believed to enhance the love of a husband for his wife. In the Talmud a gem believed to be a diamond, from its description, was worn by the high rabbi and served to prove innocence or guilt. If the accused was guilty, the stone grew dim, if innocent, the stone shone more brilliantly than ever.
The Hindus classed diamonds according to four castes. The Brahmin diamond, colorless, gave power, friends, riches and good luck. The Kshatriya diamond, brown/champagne, prevented old age. The Vaisya, color of the "kodali flower", brought success, and the Sudra, a diamond with the sheen of a polished blade-probably gray or black-brought all types of good fortune. Red and yellow diamonds were exclusively royal gems, for kings alone.
Diamonds have been associated with almost everything from producing sleepwalking to producing invincibility and spiritual ecstasy. Even sexual power has been strongly attributed to the diamond. There is one catch to all the associated powers; one must find the diamond "naturally" in order to experience its magic, for it loses its power if acquired by purchase. However, when offered as a pledge of love or friendship, its powers may return, hence the use in engagement rings given in love.
Diamond have been found to occur naturally in almost every color and shade, blue, red, green, yellow, lavender, pink, gunmetal blue, coffee brown, and black. The color may be intense or very pale. These are very expensive because they are very rare, some more than others are. The most common fancy colors are shades of yellow, very intense, bright yellow called "canary", orange and brown. Among the most rare and most valuable are the reds and blues, and the least valuable are the black diamond.
Emerald - May
Emeralds have been used for ornamentation since 4000 BC. The vibrant greens of Emeralds have long been associated with fertility and rebirth. Many cultures have used Emerald as treatment for eye diseases, epilepsy and poisoning. Emeralds have been held under the tongue as a way of foretelling the future. Emeralds were dedicated to the Goddess Venus and were considered an aid in revealing the truthfulness of one's lover. But their incomparable beauty is reason enough for owning the gem.
The first stones were mined in Cleopatra's Mines in the Egyptian desert near the Red Sea. These mines were abandoned after being worked for thousands of years. They were rediscovered in 1818 and today the Egyptian Emerald lodes are small and dark stones.
The top Emerald producing countries are Columbia, Zambia, Brazil and Zimbabwe. Emerald deposits are typically found in metamorphic rocks with no particular surface indications for possible mining locations. Mining for the 6-sided Emerald crystal is primarily done by hand.
Emeralds are part of the Beryl mineral family, along with Aquamarine, Golden Beryl, Goshenite, Bixbite and Morganite. The name for Emerald is taken from the Greek smaragdos, meaning green stone. Inclusions are generally accepted in Emeralds. These inclusions help to separate natural from synthetic Emeralds and possibly the country of origin.
Although Emeralds have a hardness of 8, they still must be treated with care to prevent chipping. Emerald jewelry should never be ultrasonically cleaned nor steam cleaned. Since most Emeralds exhibit some type of visible inclusion, the degree of clarity is not as important as with other type of Beryl. Most natural Emeralds have tiny surface breaks that fill with air and are visible to the eye. For centuries, organic oils and resins have been used to prevent these surface breaks from being visible. Since these oils have a tendency to dry out over time, manmade substances, including epoxies, are now being used to lessen the surface fissures. The best way to care for emerald jewelry is to use warm, soapy water and a soft brush.
The top color for Emerald is a deep, rich green. Emeralds are available in a range of green tones, including yellowish green, bluish green and pure green. Emeralds that are transparent in the top color command the highest prices.
Pearl - June
The pearl, pure and fair to the eye, has been recognized since the earliest times as the emblem of modesty, chastity, and purity. There are two types of pearls available today. The natural or Oriental pearl-the real "genuine pearl"-is considered a precious gem, since they are relatively rare in nice sizes. Most commonly found today is the cultured pearl from pearl farms. Pearls are produced by oysters in saltwater and by mussels in freshwater lakes and rivers.
Quality and value are determined by:
When all of these factors come together in a set or stand of pearls, acquiring them may be excessively costly, but you will have the finest available. If any quality factor is lessened, the savings can be significant.
Pearls should be handled with care. It is best to keep them in a separate pouch and to exercise some caution when wearing to avoid contact with certain substances such as vinegar (when making a salad), ammonia, inks, and certain perfumes, since these can spot the pearls surface. Also frequent applications of hair spray while wearing pearls will coat them and make them very dull, but this coating can be cleaned by washing with nail polish remover.
Pearls are available in many colors including gray, black, pink, and blue. Unfortunately, the colors are often produced using surface dying techniques. A qualified gemologist should be able to detect dyed pearls.
Ruby - July
Prized through the ages, even by kings, as the "gem of gems...surpassing all other precious stones in virtue," and today's for July, ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum. Historically, it has been symbolic of love and passion, considered to be an aid to firm friendship, and believed to ensure beauty. Its color ranges from purplish or bluish red to a yellowish red. The finest color is a vivid, almost pure spectral red with a very faint undertone of blue, as seen in Burmese rubies, which are considered the finest. The ruby is a brilliant stone and is very hard, durable, and wearable. Ruby make an unusually fine choice for any piece of jewelry.
Translucent varieties of ruby are also seen, and one variety exhibits a six-ray star effect when cut as a cabochon. This variety is called star ruby and is one of natures most beautiful and interesting gifts to man.
Peridot - August
Today for August, peridot, was also a favorite of the ancients. This lovely transparent yellowish green to deep chartreuse stone was quite a powerful gem. It was considered an aid to friendship and was also believed to free the mind of envious thoughts. Because of the yellowish green color, it was also believed to cure or prevent diseases of the liver and dropsy. And, if that were not enough, if peridot was worn on the left arm it would protect the wearer from the evil eye. It is also popular today, but probably more for its depth of green color than its professed powers. While not particularly brilliant, the richness of its color is exceptional. Peridot comes in shades of yellowish green to darker, purer green colors. Peridot is widely available in small sizes but larger sizes are becoming scarce, so prices for larger sizes are now fairly high for good quality material. Some caution should also be exercised when wearing peridot. It is not a very hard stone and may scratch easily. Some stones may look like peridot-green sapphire and green tourmaline-and may be mistaken for peridot or be misrepresented.
© Jewelry &
Gems, The Buying Guide, Antoinette L. Matlins & A.C. Bonanno
Sapphire - September
The sapphire is the symbol of the heavens, bestower of innocence, truth, good health, and preserver of chastity. Sapphire is part of the variety corundum. While it is known best for the blue variety it is available in nature in almost every color. The red variety of corundum is the ruby. The sapphire's hardness, brilliance, and availability in so many beautiful colors make it an important and versatile gemstone.
The finest sapphires are considered to be the blue variety, specifically those from Burma and Kashmir, which are the closest to the pure spectral blue. Many of the current sapphires used in jewelry today are very dark but can be treated to lighten the color for better beauty. Sapphires from Ceylon are mare pastel looking than the deep rich color of Burmese and Kashmir sapphires.
Blue sapphires are also mined in Australia, Tanzania, Brazil, Africa, and the U.S. in Montana and North Carolina. Blue sapphires are found in a translucent variety that may show a six-rayed star effect when cut in cabochon style. These are known as star sapphires and there are numerous synthetic star sapphires on the market. Fancy sapphires are becoming increasingly popular in colors of yellow, pink and green.
Opal - October
The opal has suffered from an unfortunate reputation as being an evil stone and bearing ill omen. There are several explanations for the ominous superstitions surrounding this wonderful gem, but the evil associations have never been merited and probably resulted from a careless reading of Sir Walter Scott's Anne of Geierstein.
Among the ancients, opal was a symbol of fidelity and assurance, and in later history, it became strongly associated with religious emotion and prayer. It was believed to have strong therapeutic value for diseases of the eye, and when worn as an amulet, it would make the wearer immune from all such diseases as well as increase the powers of the eyes and the mind. Many believed that to the extent the colors of red and green were seen, the therapeutic powers of the stones with those colors-red and green-the powers were also to be enjoyed by the wearer, the power to stop bleeding (ruby) and the power to cure kidney disease (emerald). The black opal was particularly highly prized as the luck stone of anyone lucky enough to own one.
This stone, whose brilliant colors resemble the colors of the fall, is unique among the gems, displaying an array of very brilliant miniature rainbow effects, all mixed up together. This is opal's most distinctive characteristic. This effect is created by opal's formation process, which is very different from that of other gems. Opal is composed of hydrated silica spheres. The mini rainbows seen in most opals result from light interference created by these spheres. The arrangement of the spheres, which vary in size and pattern, is responsible for the different colors seen.
Opal is usually cut flat or in cabochon since there is no additional brilliance to be captured by a good faceting job. Color is everything. The more brilliant the color, the more valuable the gem. This is probably truer of opal than any other stone. The more beautiful the stone and its color, the more it will cost.
The finest of all opals is the black opal. Black opals are usually a deep gray or grayish black with flashes of incredibly brilliant color dancing around within and about the stone as it is turned. One must be careful when purchasing a black opal; to ensure it is not a doublet or triplet, a stone composed of two or three pieces of stone glued together. There are many such doublet and triplets in the market because of the black opal's rarity, beauty, and extremely high cost. A natural black opal the size of a lima bean could cost as much as $50,000 in today's market. The black opal doublet and triplet provides an affordable alternative to the one who loves them but can not afford them. Beware, this also presents an opportunity for misrepresentation that can be very costly to the consumer.
Generally speaking, the purity of color, absence of dead spots, called trueness, flawlessness, and intensity or brilliance of color are the primary variables affecting value. Those opals with an abundance of red are usually the most expensive, and those strong in blue and green are equally beautiful but not as rare, so their prices are somewhat less. Some opals are very transparent and are classified as "jelly", "semi-jelly", or "water" opals.
One word of caution must be offered. Opals require special care because some tend to dry out and crack. Avoid exposure to anything that is potentially drying. Bathing an opal occasionally in olive oil or coating it with olive oil when not in use will help preserve it. But do not soak any opal in oil because soaking some opals for only a few hours can cause them to lose some or nearly all of their fire.
Topaz - November
True topaz, the symbol of love and affection, aid to sweetness of disposition and on November, is one of natures most wonderful and least known families. The true topaz is rarely seen in jewelry stores. Most people know only the quartz (citrine) topaz, or glass. In the past almost any yellow stone was called topaz.
Topaz occurs not only in the transparent yellow, yellow brown, orange brown, and pinky brown, but also in a very light to medium red, very light to light blue, very light green, light greenish yellow, and colorless. Topaz is a hard, brilliant stone with a fine color range.
Blue topaz has become popular in recent years and most of it is treated for color. Blue topaz closely resembles the finest aquamarine and offers a very attractive affordable alternative to aquamarine. Some of the fine, deeper blue treated topazes have been found to be radioactive, and according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, may be injurious to the wearer. The true topaz family offers a variety of color options in lovely, clear, brilliant, and durable stones.
Turquoise - December
A for December, and ranking highest among all the opaque stones, turquoise, the "Turkish stone" is highly prized throughout Asia and Africa, not only for its particular hue of blue, a robins-egg blue or sky blue, but more importantly for its prophylactic and therapeutic qualities. The Arabs consider it a lucky stone and have great confidence in its benevolent action. Used in rings, earrings, necklaces, head ornaments and amulets, it protects the wearer from poison, reptile bites, eye diseases and the evil eye. It was also believed capable of warning of impending death by changing color. Also, the drinking water in which turquoise has been dipped or washed was believed to cure bladder ailments. Buddhists revere the turquoise because it is associated with the legend in which a turquoise enabled Budda to destroy a monster. Even today, turquoise is considered a symbol of courage, success, and love. It has long been associated with American Indian jewelry and art.
Turquoise is an opaque, light to dark blue or blue green stone. The finest color is an intense blue, with poorer qualities tending toward yellowish green. The famous Persian turquoise, which can be a very pleasing and intense blue, is considered a very rare and valuable gem.
All turquoises are susceptible to aging and may turn greenish or possibly darker with age. Care must be taken when wearing turquoise, both to avoid contact with soap, grease, and other materials that may discolor it, and protect it from abuse, since turquoise scratches fairly easily.
Exercise caution when buying turquoise. This is a frequently simulated gem. Very fine adulterated stones and reconstructed stones saturate the market, as does synthetic turquoise.
We have a GIA Certified Gemologist on staff.
Pioneer Loan and Jewelry
520 N. Eastern Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Office hours are from 9am to 8:00pm Monday through Saturday
and 10am to 5pm Sundays
Phone: (702) 384-2970 or (800)-943-1100
FAX: (702) 384-2465
In an effort to honor those customers who have served, or who's family members have served their country, Pioneer Loan has begun a project called "The Veteran's Wall of Honor." This will be a series of 4x4 metal sheets covered with 3x6 metal plaques engraved with the Name, Rank and Branch of Service of those who served.