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25 Gemstone Facts You Probably Never Knew

25 Gemstone Facts Your Probably Never Knew

You've been wearing jewelry for as long as you can remember with accents including sapphires, rubies, emeralds and more. Maybe you love your birthstone and wear it all the time, or maybe you wish your birthday fell on another month, claiming a different birthstone as your own. Either way, you definitely have a favorite! Sure, all gemstones are captivating and beautiful in their own right, but what does it mean when you wear them? It's good to know the back story as you don your birthstone or favorite gem. We're here to fill you in on some facts you probably never knew!

Emeralds

14K Yellow Gold Emerald, Ruby and Diamond Bangle, $17,550 || 18K Rose Gold Emerald and Diamond Ring, $5,720 || Platinum Emerald and Diamond Ring, $2,595 || Antique 14K Yellow Gold Emerald and Diamond Necklace, $4,475

1. The name for emerald originates from the Old French word emeraude (circa 1300) meaning "bright green precious stone"further derived from the Greek word smaragdos, meaning "green gem".

2. In Ancient times, the Egyptians considered emeralds to be sacred symbols of fertility, life and immortality. This gemstone was worn by many including the most famous, Cleopatra, who was known for adorning herself and her palace with emeralds as well as giving them as gifts.

3. Emeralds were known to have medicinal value, believed to be good for eyesight, a cure for dysentery and a preventative for epilepsy. It was also known to assist with childbirth, drive away evil spirits, and protect the wearer's chastity.

Sapphires

14K White Gold Sapphire and Diamond Ring, $3,750 || 18K Yellow Gold Sapphire and Diamond Necklace, $12,400 || 18K White Gold Star Sapphire and Diamond Earrings, $8,750 || 14K White Gold Sapphire and Diamond Pendant, $4,300 || Platinum Natural Sapphire and Diamond Ring, $9,600

1. Sapphires are well-known for their blue hues but they also come in pretty much any color you can think of, except for red! This is because the gemstone that would be considered a red sapphire is actually called a ruby.

2. Sapphires are notoriously associated with the British Royal Family due to the famous Ceylon sapphire and diamond engagement ring bestowed to Princess Diana from Prince Charles. What is often unknown is that the connection of sapphires to royalty dates all the way back to the 2nd Century A.D. when Kings would wear them around their necks to protect them from danger and to ward off their enemies.

3. The Ancient Greeks used to associate sapphires with the god Apollo and would often wear them at the infamous oracle of Delphi as sapphires were believed to be their connection to the spirit world.

Rubies

14K White Gold Ruby and Diamond Ring, $7,600 || 18K Yellow Gold Ruby, Diamond and Enamel Elephant Pin, $3,900 || Chaumet 18K Yellow Gold Ruby Bracelet, Paris, $13,500 || 18K White Gold Ruby and Diamond Earrings, $3,900

1. Associated with love, anger, passion, danger and romance, the word ruby comes from the Latin work "ruben" meaning red.

2. Rubies symbolize power and protection. When worn as a talisman, it was believed to help keep warriors in battle safe from harm, and wearing a ruby on the left would make its wearer invincible. This belief was so strong that some warriors would even insert rubies into their flesh underneath the skin-now that's dedication!

3. Rubies were believed to restore youth as well as rid the body of toxins when rubbed on your skin. They were also believed to improve blood circulation.

Aquamarine

14K Yellow Gold Aquamarine and Diamond Ring, $950 || 14K Yellow Gold Aquamarine Studs, $475 || 14K White Gold Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant, $2,700 || 14K Yellow Gold Aquamarine and Diamond Pendant, $6,600

1. Aquamarine, meaning "sea water", was known in ancient times as a precious treasure from mermaids. This gem was believed to protect sailors if worn as amulets engraved with the Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. This would keep them safe at sea, ward off sickness and protect them from evil.

2. Dating back as far as 500 A.D., aquamarine has been used for its beauty, healing powers, and its ability to both calm and sooth the nerves. Known even today as a meditative tool, most likely due to its clear blue color not unlike the ocean, it is said to lead the wearer to its core spirituality.

3. Considered today a symbol of faithfulness, courage, and friendship, this March birthstone is also used as the wedding anniversary gemstone for the 19th year of marriage.

Pearls

14K White Gold Cultured Black Mabe Pearl and Diamond Earrings, $1,730 || 14K Yellow Gold Cultured Pearl Three Row Bracelet, $1,350 || 14K Yellow Gold Cultured Pearl and Diamond Ring, $1,115 || 14K Yellow Gold Cultured Freshwater Pearl and Diamond Heart Necklace, $720 || 14K Yellow Gold Cultured Baroque Pearl and Diamond Bangle, $2,185 || 14K White Gold Cultured Pearl and Diamond Earrings, $1,300

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    1. Salt-water pearls are commonly referred to as Oriental Pearls whereas those produced by freshwater mollusks are called Freshwater Pearls. Cultured pearls are those that have been grown on a pearl farm.

  1. 2. As pearls are concretions formed by a mollusk, the color of pearls varies based on the mollusk and the mollusk's environment. A pearl can be any shade ranging from black to white, including cream, gray, blue, yellow, green, lavender, and mauve.

  2. 3. A pearl's color and value stems directly from the water it comes from. Pearls from Japan are cream/white with greenish tones, Persian Gulf pearls are usually cream, pearls from Mexico are black or reddish-brown, Sri Lanka pearls are pink, Australian pearls are white with greenish/bluish shades and pearls from the Gulf of Panama are golden-brown.

  3. 4. The cultivation of pearls in freshwater mussels began in 13th century China with "blister" pearls. After much experimentation, production of whole cultured pearls was started in 1890 by Mikimoto Kokichi in Japan. He discovered that when a very small mother of pearl bead is inserted into the tissue of a mollusk, it would stimulate it to produce a perfect, round pearl.

Garnets

      1. 14K White Gold Garnet and Diamond Ring, $725 || 18K Yellow Gold Garnet Earrings, $500 || 14K White Gold Tsavorite Garnet and Diamond Ring, $2,625 || 14K Yellow Gold Garnet and Diamond Pendant, $495 || 18K White Gold Rhodalite Garnet Bracelet, $1,995

1. The name garnet comes from the 14th Century Middle English work "gernet" meaning dark red which is further derived from the Latin word "granatum" meaning seed. Garnets were named this after the red seeds of a pomegranate.

2. Most known for its deep red hue, garnet actually exists in many colors, including green as shown by the ring in the video above.

3. At one point referred to as the "Gem of Faith", garnets were said to bring peace, prosperity and good health to a home. It was believed that those who wear garnet and do good, should expect more good in return. In contrast, it was said to bring bad fortune if one were to commit bad acts while wearing garnet.

Opals

      1. 18K Yellow Gold Opal and Diamond Ring, $1,020 || 18K Yellow Gold Opal Earrings, $800 || 18K White Gold Opal and Diamond Heart Pendant, $11,500 || 14K Yellow Gold Opal Pin/Pendant, $875

    1. The name opal derives from the Roman word opalus, a Latin version of the older Sanskrit  word upala, meaning "precious stone".

  1. 2. Opal forms due to rain. Many believe that silica deposits would seep down into rock crevices by heavy rain. Once most of the water evaporates, it leaves the hardened silica gel that hardens even more, eventually turning into an opal. This theory is further proved by its water content which is usually in the 5 to 10 percent range.

3. This gemstone is known as a symbol of hope, purity and fidelity and it is the official gemstone gift for the 14th wedding anniversary.

Zircon

      1. 14K Yellow Gold Blue Zircon and Diamond Ring, $1,075 || 14K Yellow Gold Blue Zircon and Diamond Earrings, $1,040

    1. Zircon takes its name from the Arabic word "zargun", further derived from the Persian word "zar" meaning gold and "gun" meaning color. This is most likely due to natural zircon crystal which comes in colors of earthy brown, bright red, strong green and yellow. Fiery and brilliant, treated zircon can come in a variety of colors from yellow, bright red, red, blue, purple, colorless white etc.

  1. 2. Worn as an amulet for travelers, zircon was also believed to endow the wearer with wisdom, honor and riches. During the Middle Ages, it was even believed to induce sleep and to drive away evil plagues and spirits.

  2. 3. In its colorless form zircon closely resembles diamonds, and it has been intentionally and mistakenly substituted for them in the past.

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Which estate piece is your favorite? Browse our full vintage & estate online collection or visit us in stores to see more vintage and estate birthstone jewelry!

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