Birthstones of February

Amethyst

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Faceted Amethyst gemstones from the AGTA. 

Happy birthday, February babies! Your birthstone is Amethyst, a violet variety of quartz.  Amethyst is a semiprecious stone and is the traditional birthstone for February. Amethyst owes its violet color to irradiation, iron impurities, and the presence of trace elements. Amethyst occurs in primary hues from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple. Amethyst may exhibit one or both secondary hues, red and blue. (Green quartz is sometimes incorrectly called green amethyst, which is a misnomer and not an appropriate name for the material, the proper terminology being prasiolite).

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Amethyst crystals from a cluster here in the store. 

The Greek word “amethystos” may be translated as “not drunken”, from Greek a-, “not” + methustos, “intoxicated”. Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it. In his poem “L’Amethyste, ou les Amours de Bacchus et d’Amethyste” (Amethyst or the loves of Bacchus and Amethyste), the French poet Remy Belleau (1528–1577) invented a myth in which Bacchus, the god of intoxication, of wine, and grapes was pursuing a maiden named Amethyste, who refused his affections. Amethyste prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the chaste goddess Diana answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethyste’s desire to remain chaste, Bacchus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple.

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Close-up shot of some faceted Amethyst beads available here at Studio Jewelers.

It was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians and was largely employed in antiquity for intaglio engraved gems. Beads of amethyst were found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England, and Medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets as protection in battle in the belief that amethysts heal people and keep them cool-headed.  Some Tibetans consider amethyst sacred to the Buddha and make prayer beads from it. Purple has long been considered a royal color, so it is not surprising that amethyst has been so much in demand throughout history. Fine amethysts are featured in the British Crown Jewels and were also a favorite of Catherine the Great and Egyptian royalty. In the Old World, amethyst was considered one of the Cardinal gems, in that it was one of the five gemstones considered precious above all others. Great thinkers like Leonardo da Vinci believed that amethyst could dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence. Anglican bishops wear an episcopal ring often set with an amethyst, an allusion to the description of the Apostles as “not drunk” at Pentecost in the Bible.

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A small selection of Amethyst jewelry available here at Studio Jewelers.

There is an excellent article on the history of Amethyst online at the Thoughts on Jewelry blog at https://thoughtsonjewelry.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/history-of-amethyst/ . Thanks and credit to Wikipedia.com and AGTA for information used in this article. 

 

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December’s Birthstones

Birthstones of December

Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise

Photos and some information courtesy of AGTA. Thanks also to Wikipedia.com and Geology.com. You can also visit our Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise boards on Pinterest for more photos and info!

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Tanzanite

Tanzanite was added to the birthstone list by the American Gem Trade Association in 2002, the first gemstone added since 1912. The gemstone is an exotic, vivid blue, kissed by purple hues. Tanzanite has the beauty, rarity and durability to rival any gemstone.

Tanzanite is mined only in Tanzania at the feet of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Legend has it that the gem was first discovered when some brown gemstone crystals lying on the dry earth were caught in a fire set by lightning that swept through the grass-covered hills. The Masai herders driving cattle in the area noticed the beautiful blue color and picked the crystals up, becoming the first tanzanite collectors.

One of the most popular blue gemstones available today, tanzanite occurs in a variety of shapes and sizes and also provides a striking assortment of tonal qualities due to remarkably strong trichroism. Rarely pure blue, tanzanite almost always display its signature overtones of purple. Tanzanite can also appear differently when viewed under alternate lighting conditions. The blues appear more evident when subjected to fluorescent light and the violet hues can be seen readily when viewed under incandescent illumination. In smaller sizes, tanzanite tends toward the lighter tones and the lavender color is more common. While in larger sizes, tanzanite typically displays deeper, richer color.

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Zircon

Zircon is a popular gemstone that has been used for nearly 2000 years. It occurs in a wide range of colors and has a brightness and fire that rivals those of diamond. Zircon should not be confused with cubic zirconia, which is a man-made material. In the middle ages, zircon was said to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honor and wisdom in its owner. The name probably comes from the Persian word zargun which means “gold-colored.” The fiery, brilliance of zircon can rival any gemstone. The affordability of its vibrant greens, sky blues, and pleasing earth tones contributes to it’s growing popularity today.

Zircon is mined in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, and other countries. Because it can be colorless, green, blue, yellow, brown, orange, dark red, and all the colors in between, it is a popular gem for connoisseurs who collect different colors or zircon from different localities.

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Turquoise

Turquoise is among the oldest known gemstones- it has been mined since 3,200 BC. Isolated from one another, the ancient people of Africa, Asia, South America and North America independently made turquoise one of their preferred materials for producing gemstones, inlay, and small sculptures. It graced the necks of Egyptian Pharaohs and adorned the ceremonial dress of early Native Americans. This robin egg blue hued gemstone has been attributed with healing powers, supposedly promoting the wearer’s status, wealth, well being, and luck.

Turquoise is an opaque, light to dark blue or blue-green gem, the finest color is an intense blue. Turquoise forms best in an arid climate, and that determines the geography of turquoise sources. Most of the world’s turquoise rough is currently produced in the southwestern United States, China, Chile, Egypt, Iran, and Mexico. In these areas, rainfall infiltrates downward through soil and rock, dissolving small amounts of copper. When this water is later evaporated, the copper combines with aluminum and phosphorus to deposit tiny amounts of turquoise on the walls of subsurface fractures.

Turquoise may contain narrow veins of other materials either isolated or as a network, these can be black, brown, or yellowish-brown in color. Known as the matrix, these veins of color are sometimes in the form of an intricate pattern, called a spider web. Some turquoise localities produce material with a characteristic color and appearance. People who know turquoise can often, but not always, correctly associate a stone with a specific mine.

Welcome!

Hello all, and welcome to our new blog! Hanna Cook-Wallace has been in the jewelry business for most of her life, and has worn many hats in the industry. We’ll be sharing her thoughts and knowledge here, as well as posts by Studio Jewelers staff members.

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