Commonly thought of as a dark red stone, it is actually a large family of gems occurring in every color but blue. Brilliant, colorful and durable, garnets have been found on every continent, but most are mined in Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa.
Amethyst has been prized ever since, particularly by nobility, for its rich purple hues. It may be found in colors ranging from the palest lavenders to the deepest purple. Generally, the deeper the color the more highly prized the stone.
A member of the quartz family, amethyst is mined extensively in Brazil and Zambia.
|March.............Aquamarine or Bloodstone|
Like emerald, aquamarine is a member of the beryl family. It is frequently free of flaws and may occur in very large crystals. The aquamarine is not a brilliant stone, but depends on its size and purity of color for effect.
Brazil is the most prolific supplier of aquamarine, which is often found in shades of blue-green.
Although the most desirable diamond is colorless, distinct body colors such as blue, green, red, pink, and yellow are known. These natural fancy colors are rare and highly prized.
While India was the world's main source of diamonds for over 2,000 years, most diamonds now come from Africa, Russia and Australia. Of all diamonds mined, only a quarter are of gem quality.
The choicest member of the beryl family, the ideal shade for emerald is an intense green, distinct from any other green gemstone. Larger size stones tend to contain slight faults or flaws. Accordingly, good sized perfect stones are extremely rare, which accounts for their costliness.
Colombia and Africa are the major sources for emerald.
|June..............Pearl, Moonstone or Alexandrite|
Both natural and cultured pearls form when a piece of sand, shell or other irritant causes the oyster to coat the foreign body with the pearly substance known as nacre. The value of a pearl is determined by several factors: the perfection of its shape, size, color and freedom from blemishes.
Today, Japan is a major source for cultured pearls.
A member of the corundum family, as is sapphire, the hardness of a ruby is only surpassed by that of a diamond. While the color can range from a pink-red to a purple-red, the most dramatic stones are a bright, intense red.
The world's finest deep red (pigeon blood) rubies come from Burma. Today, the world's major sources of rubies are in Thailand. Thai rubies are mostly dark and brownish-red.
|August............Sardonyx or Peridot|
Its color ranges from a springtime yellow-green to a warm olive green. Peridot is also distinguished by its soft, velvety appearance. Color is the most important quality for peridots. Hence, the greener the peridot, the higher its value.
Mined on the island of Zebirget in the Red Sea since ancient times, peridot also comes from Burma, although most is found in Arizona and the southwestern United States.
Sapphire is a member of the corundum family. And while red corundum is known as ruby, all other colors are known as sapphire.
Most sapphires are mined in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma and Australia.
|October...........Opal or Tourmaline|
The characteristic feature of the gem opal is play of colors; pure colors can be seen in rapid succession as the gem is moved about. Derived from the Sanskrit "upala" and the Latin "opalus", meaning "precious stone", no two stones are ever alike.
Found primarily in Australia as well as Mexico, opals are delicate by nature.
|November..........Topaz or Citrine|
A common misconception is that all topaz is yellow. Once the name given to all yellow gems, true golden topaz is labeled "Imperial". "Precious" topaz may be yellow, golden-brown, blue, green, pink or sherry colored.
Brazil is the most important source of this stone.
|December..........Turquoise or Zircon|
Color is the superlative gem property of turquoise. Turquoise can be green yellow-green, blue-green, pale blue or dark blue. It may or may not include a "matrix" of rock which can form intricate lace-like patterns throughout the stone, adding character, but detracting from value.
Found in the southwestern United States and Mexico, the richest blue specimens are from Iran.