Throughout the centuries jewelry has been created and worn by people of different cultures. Every culture had it gemstones that they valued and they attributed a special meaning to each. Today the list of precious and semi-precious gemstones is very large and each one has a history and folklore associated with it. The Quality Jewelry Directory has created a list of the most popular gemstones and gives a brief outline of each. The following is the second half of two pages on Gems- History, Folklore and Mineral Data.
Citrine: Citrine is a form of quartz that comes in a variety of colors ranging from yellow, yellowish-brown, orange to reddish brown. Because of the variations in this color range its name is derived from the word “citrus”. Citrine is a form of quartz and can be found in it’s original state but most citrine is created through a heating process. Citrine is found throughout the world and in locations such as Madagascar, France, Russia and primarily Brazil. Folklore notes that citrine is a bringer of success and abundance and was thought to provide protection from snake bites. Thought to help in digestion and sleep.
Agate: A interesting type of silica is agate. Agate is not a unique form of mineral but is actually the mineral silica but in the form called “chalcedony”. Due to the way silica is percolated and deposited in vapor-vesicles it will form layer upon layer of chalcedony and quartz resulting in a layered appearance. Agate comes in many different forms and each type forms in different metamorphic conditions. Agate is found throughout the world and notably in the United States, Iraq, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and other countries. Believed to improve concentration and memory, it is valued for the belief that it increases a persons knowledge. Considered a healer of the emotionally sick and deemed a discerner of an individuals honesty.
Aquamarine: Aquamarine belongs to the mineral family beryl and has a slight blue to turquoise color that is indicative of seawater. The beautiful aquamarine color is caused by a concentration of iron within it. The greater the intensity of color the higher the value of the aquamarine. Aquamarine is found around the world, but the best gemstone deposits come from Africa and from the mines of Esperito Santo and Minas Gerais in Brazil. The Aquamarine name comes from the Latin word ‘aqua’ for water and ‘mare’ for sea. Ancient legends tell the story of the aquamarine and how it came from the treasure chests of beautiful mermaids. The gemstones would wash up from the chests to the shore where they were found. Ancient sailors prized the aquamarine because it was believed that the God, Neptune considered the gem sacred and would grant them a safe and prosperous voyage.
Quartz: One of the most common minerals on Earth is Quartz. Quartz forms large and small crystals that form six sided shapes in the form of prisms and pyramids. Quartz is formed in pegmatites and in veins and is commonly found in deposits of granite, limestone, metamorphic and sandstone deposits. It’s sister varieties are often called agate, onyx, tiger’s eye, citrine and others. It is also used in scientific equipment due its ability to be used as an oscillator when exposed to electrical current. Many cultures throughout the world recognize quartz in its mythology and folklore and is a common gem that is used in many types of jewelry
Jade: Jade is a prized gemstone that encompasses two mineral types. These two types of jade are Jadeite and Nephrite. Even though both are considered Jade, the silicate mineral structures for both are different. Jadeite is a silicate of sodium and aluminum and forms an oily translucent appearance and Nephrite is composed calcium and magnesium and has a appearance similar to glass. Jade can occur in a variety of colors which can range from green, red, purple, yellow and brown. Jade is a tough mineral that can be shaped into tools and fine jewelry and mineral deposits be found throughout the world. The best quality jade can be found in Myanmar, New Zealand, United States, Canada and Russia. The value of jade is determined by its color intensity, vividness, clarity and transparency. Colors that are most valued are imperial jade, green apple and spinach green with lighter colors of white. Yellow and pink tones have greater value in the Far East.
Amber: Amber has been around for millions of years and is in reality a fossil resin that is secreted in pockets and canals from the epithelial cells in plants. Amber is not indicative to any one plant but is produced from large trees and plants that were specific to certain areas of the world. Amber can be found in rocks ranging in time periods from 30 to 90 million years of age. In its mineralized state, amber is prized for its glossy and warm appearance. Amber was once used as a heat source but is now used in beautiful jewelry and is prized for its scientific interests when fossilized creatures are entombed within it. Amber can be found in Russia, Lebanon, Denmark, Norway, England, Mexico, Germany and many other locations throughout the world.
Lapis Lazuli: Lapis Lazuli is a dark blue crystalline rock that is composed of different minerals but primarily in the form of “Lazurite” which is a form of silica mineral. Lapis Luzuli in the true sense is not considered a mineral because it is a combination of different minerals locked together in the form of rock. Minerals are one constituent only. Lapis is mined throughout the world and is found in deposits in Afghanistan and in other minor deposits in the United States, Burma (Myanmar) and Chile. The name “Lapis Luzuli” is a combination of two terms and variations, of which “Lapis” is Latin for stone and “azul” for blue. It is often coined as the “Stone of Azure”. Lapis is one of the oldest mined rocks and has a colorful history dating back thousands of years to Mesopotamia, the Indian subcontinent and all the way to Pakistan and Egypt. Many of the most priceless paintings in history are colored from Lapis to impart the beautiful blue coloration. Mystical and metaphysical properties were associated with Lapis. Regarded as a stone of truth and friendship it was endowed with the ability to bind relationships. Often thought to enhance openness, awareness and insight. Considered a holy stone in some cultures and is often associated with royalty. Listed on the Mohs Scale of Hardness as a 5.5 and is considered a stone that is easily scratched of damaged. Care must be taken when wearing Lapis.
Garnet: The Latin name for the Garnet, is called “Granatus” or “Granatum” which translates to “Seed or Grain”. It is often associated with the pomegranate for seeds that resemble the shape and color of garnets. Most garnets are red but in fact many different colors can be attributed to it. These colors can range from orange, green, black, purple and in differnet variations dependent upon the minerals in it. The names of these different variations of garnet include Alamandite, Melanite, Hessonite and Pyrope. The clearer the garnet gemstone the higher the price can be associated with it. Garnets have a rich history and mythology and are still valued for their attributes of “Health”. These attributes are for remedies for inflammatory diseases, hemorrhaging wounds, the balancing of the energy with the human body and to protect the wearer from poisons. It was also used while sleeping to ward away bad dreams and to alleviate depression. Garnets symbolize and embody friendship and were worn to the “betterment of personal relationships”. Noted to promote light-heartedness, loyalty and long felt affections and successful business ventures. Garnets are found throughout the world and are primarily located within the Russian Federation, the North and South Americas, the African sub-continent and Australia.
Red Coral: One of the nicest gemstones is the beautiful coral. Coral is composed from single polyp heads linked together with each other to form colonies. The two types of coral are calciferous and conchiolin and are primarily composed of polysaccharides and proteins in an aragonite matrix. The most precious type of coral is red coral. Prized for its spiritual meanings, coral is believed to ward off evil spirits, prevents illness and symbolizes the life force. Coral comes in a variety of colors such as white, black, brown, pink, yellow and red. Often called “fire coral”, the material is becoming more and more scarce due to its high demand. Located throughout the world, coral can found primarily in the Mediterranean Sea, in the reefs off Australia, the seas off of Japan and the South Pacific.
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The following list is small breakdown of each gemstones history and folklore. The list is not intended to be the end all of gemstone information and should not be looked upon as such. Each gemstone has it’s own mineral data, history and folklore and all data cannot be written about each one. It is recommended to seek other websites for deeper knowledge on each.