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Joy to the Jewel

Joy to the Jewel

With ancient history rooted in folklore, spiritual influence, medicinal and cultural values, jewels have captures human interest for thousands of years. The perfect application of minerals, time and pressure create these precious treasures of the earth, with nature determining their rarity. Everything else about gemstones is created by human interest, such as their value, fashionability, legacy, cultural importance, and all the fun stories (including how effective they are at warding off bad luck).

In honor of National Jewel Day today, we put together a collection of our top gemstone picks. You'll find these beauties bedazzling many of our top selling styles, as these stones offer high color saturation, hardness, quality and durability for daily wear-and-tear. There's a reason that royal jewels have stood strong through centuries of politics, family dynasties, drama and debacles... they're strong and beautiful, just like the women who wear them.

loose rubies

Birthstone: July
Anniversary Stone: 15th, 80th
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For thousands of years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. The Sanskrit word for ruby is "ratnaraj," which means something like "king of the gemstones." It has everything a precious stone should have: magnificent color, excellent hardness, outstanding brilliance, and extreme rarity. For a long time, India was regarded as the ruby's classical country of origin. 

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, one of the hardest minerals on Earth, named from the Sanskrit word "kuruvinda." Only red corundum is entitled to be called ruby, with all other colors being classified as sapphires. The close relationship between the ruby and the sapphire has only been known since the beginning of the 19th century, thanks to modern technology allowing us to study mineral composition. Up to that time, red garnets or spinels were also thought to be rubies, and many famous historical rubies were later discovered to actually be spinels.

color sapphires

Birthstone: September
Anniversary Stone: 5th, 10th, 45th, 70th
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If there is talk of the sapphire, most gemstone aficionados think immediately of a velvety blue. However, the beloved royal blue is only one of a rainbow of colors in the family of sapphire gems. Composed of corundum, a mineral second only to diamond in hardness, the sapphire is actually defined as any color of the mineral besides red (reserved for ruby). The most valuable are genuine Kashmir stones (pure, intense blue with subtle violet undertone), with Burmese sapphires valued almost as highly; then come the sapphires from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Star sapphire varieties feature a star-like phenomenon known as “asterism,” when direct light shows star-like rays throughout the stone. Other rare sapphire colors include orange, green (mostly found in Thailand and Australia) and the most rare and highly prized of all: the Padparadscha sapphire (the enchanting coral stone found in Princess Eugenie’s engagement ring).

loose emeralds

Birthstone: May
Anniversary Stone: 20th, 35th
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Shop Emerald Jewelry

The famous green stone has a long and colorful history (one of the oldest of all gemstones) and was the preferred stone of Cleopatra. This variety of beryl can grow to fantastic sizes: the Bahia Emerald, one of the biggest found in the world, is 840 pounds and is worth over $372 million.

Emerald is known for its verdant green coloring, which is its most important characteristic when estimating its value. It is also known for its flaws, which are tolerated more than any other stone as a mark of its character. Most emeralds feature tiny fissures, cracks, and inclusions, and flawless stones are extremely uncommon. Some actually prefer a stone with minute flaws over a flawless one as proof of its authenticity. Oil and resin treatments are common in the industry to improve the appearance of these imperfections.

tanzanites and tanzanite jewelry

Birthstone: December
Anniversary Stone: 8th, 24th
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Shop Tanzanite Jewelry

Tanzanite is a fairly new to the gemstone world. It was discovered in 1967 by Masai tribesman Ali Juuyawatu, who happened upon the glittering stones weathered from the earth and brought the find to ruby prospector Manuel de Souza.

So far the extremely rare stone has only been found in the original region of its discovery, the Mererani Hills in Northern Tanzania. It is a transparent indigo blue stone that resembles sapphire in coloring, brilliance, and luster. Given its pleochroism (change in color depending on orientation to the light), tanzanite can appear bright blue, violet purple, and rarely have a desirable burgundy flash. The stone was officially added as a birthstone for December in 2002 by the American Gem Trade Association, the first stone added since 1912.

Pastel colored tanzanite is far more common than darker-colored stones – about 80% of  mining production is pastel in shade, from soft greyish blues to lilacs. This is partly because the smaller tanzanite stones do not “hold” a deep blue color well, meaning that dark blue tanzanite is typically only available in larger stones over 2.50 carats. Supply of the stone is extremely limited and is expected to run out in the next 25 years. 

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shop garnet

shop topaz

shop aquamarine

Megan Davis, Contributor
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