Deriving from the Latin 'granatum' meaning 'pomegranate', garnet is commonly seen in a spectrum of red, from orange rust and deep-violet to rich red hues reminiscent of the fruit.
The variety of garnet species have a range of hardness on the Mohs scale from 6.5-7.5 due to their differing chemical compositions. Manganese, iron and chromium are responsible for the different colours seen. There are five main types of garnet:
- Almandine Garnet: purple to orangey reds
- Pyrope Garnet: purples to orangey reds
- Spessartine Garnet: oranges to yellows
- Andradite Garnet: yellows to yellowish greens
- Grossularite Garnet: colourless to yellow, to orangey red, to vibrant green (rare)
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Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz and the birthstone of February. It is also the official gemstone for the 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries. Amethyst occurs in many shades, from a light, slightly lavender pinkish to a deep purple. Historically, aristocratic and royal families the world over have prized the gem in different eras. One such monarch was Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, who owned a gorgeous amethyst tiara containing several high quality large, oval-shaped stones from the mines of Siberia.
Amethyst is a relatively tough gem 7 on the Mohs’ Scale of Hardness so it can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft cloth or brush.
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Aquamarine is the soft pale blue variety of the Beryl family of gemstones, which also includes Morganite, Goshenite, Yellow Beryl and Emerald. One of the most popular blue gemstones, Aquamarine is steeped in myth and legend. Known as the gem of the sea, even the name ‘Aquamarine’ comes from the Latin ‘aqua’ for ‘water’ and ‘marina’ for ‘of the sea’. Aquamarine can have wonderful clarity, meaning that it dazzles with a bright, energetic sparkle.
The alternate March birthstone Bloodstone is an opaque polycrystalline chalcedony (a type of quartz) consisting of dark green jasper with spots or larger areas of red, iron oxide inclusions. Bloodstone is found embedded in rocks or in riverbeds in countries such as India, Brazil, Australia, Germany, the United States, Italy and South Africa.
Diamonds are one of the most coveted gemstones, and for good reason. Unparalleled in lustre, hardness and transparency. The name 'Diamond' derives from the ancient Greek word ‘adamas’ meaning 'invincible'. Diamond is the birthstone of April, and is the given gift of the 10th, 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries. It is also commonly given as an engagement gem of choice. Read more about the formation of natural vs lab grown diamonds here.
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Emerald is often viewed as one of the most desirable, famous and historical gemstones. Emerald is the birthstone for May and the anniversary gemstone for the 20th, 35th and 55th year of marriage. Emeralds are a member of the Beryl family of gemstones, making them a close relative of Aquamarine, Morganite, Golden Beryl and Heliodor.
Emeralds are coloured green by impurities in the gem’s crystal structure – usually a mixture of chromium and vanadium and sometimes iron. Their colour ranges from pure green to yellowish or bluish green. It is still thought that emeralds from the Colombian mines such as Chivor, Muzo and Cozquez are the finest in the world. Other localities that produce emeralds are Brazil, Russia, India, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and North Carolina, USA.
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Pearl is one of the birthstones for June and is the given stone for the 3rd and 30th wedding anniversaries. Pearls come in many different colours, from white and pink to grey, blue and green and display varying colours of iridescence. Pearls form when a parasite or tiny irritant invades the mantle and causes the oyster to cover it with successive layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl, which is a combination of calcium carbonate in the form of aragonite platelets, and conchiolin.
Saltwater oysters and freshwater mussels form these natural wonders with their pearly lustre. Pearls are an extremely soft gem material and are susceptible to damage. They have a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs’ scale. To clean your pearls we recommend using a very soft lint-free microfiber cloth and do not submerge them in water.
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Ruby is the birthstone for July and the gem commonly used for the 15th and 40th anniversaries. It holds an iconic status in the world of gems, and is by far one of the most popular gemstones with a rich history. Within folklore and history, it has been said that the wearer of a ruby would enjoy romance, friendship, energy, courage and peace.
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Peridot is one of the most visually striking gemstones, with its mix of bright summery greens and gorgeous glowing golden tones. Peridot is the birthstone for August and the gem for the 16th anniversary. It can also be given as an alternative choice for the 1st anniversary.
Its greens range from bottle green to an almost yellowish, olive color, and its surface appearance can often have a naturally oily, greasy look. The gem is also mildly pleochroic, meaning that it is possible to see different shades from different angles. Peridot is the zodiac gemstone for the sign Libra.
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Sapphires are known and revered the world over for their beauty. Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the anniversary gemstone for the 5th, 45th and 70th anniversaries. It is also linked with the star sign Taurus.
Any stones beyond the blues of Sapphire and the reds of Ruby earn themselves the title Fancy Sapphire (sometimes Parti Sapphire) and almost every color under the sun can occur. There are bright pinks, oranges, yellows, greens, purples and even color change and clear varieties.
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Opal is one of the birthstones for October (along with Tourmaline) and is the gemstone given on a 14th wedding anniversary. The characteristic bright colours given out by Opal are caused by tiny amounts of moisture and silica trapped within the stone.
Opals are gorgeous gems, with the most beautiful Opal specimens containing every colour of the rainbow. Opals are doubly attractive as they often also have a beautiful iridescence, known as opalescence. The incredible play of colour witnessed in gem quality Opals is caused by the refraction of light.
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The birthstones for November are topaz and citrine. The variety of topaz hues includes colourless, light blue, yellow, orange, pink, violet and brown. The vast majority of blue topaz seen today is the permanent result of treating colourless topaz with irradiation and heating. The rainbow effect seen in “Mystic Topaz” is created by coating colourless topaz with a thin artificial film. Topaz is an 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, but it has poor toughness, so care is required to avoid chipping or cracking.
Citrine is November’s birthstone, a stunning, vibrant and glowing yellow, this gemstone has a warm tone that seems to have magically captured the last glow of a sunset. As Citrine is a member of the Quartz family, it is also sometimes referred to as Citrine Quartz. Along with Topaz it forms the birthstone of November and is also recognised as the gemstone to celebrate the 17th wedding anniversary.
With a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale it is very resistant to scratches.
Tanzanite is known for its deep indigo hue and its single-location source in the country after which it is named - Tanzania. Tanzanite is the birthstone for December and the anniversary gemstone for the 24th wedding anniversary. It has made its way onto these two lists remarkably quickly, considering it was only first unearthed in 1967. The Gemological Institution of America added the gem to the official birthstone list in 2002 - the first time the list had been updated since 1912. Tanzanite is a variety of the mineral Zoisite, which was, at best, a very minor gemstone before the discovery of this vivid blue variety.
Explore our range of tanzanite jewellery here.