Jewels and Gemstones

Man has been fascinated by shiny stones and colorful shells since the beginning of time.  Possession of these objects has always made him seem more important than any others were.  Gems are frequently regarded as bringers of love, riches and enchantment, especially today.

There are many types of minerals that can be used as gemstones. Some are classified as “precious” jewels.  The most famous four are the diamond, the ruby, the emerald and the sapphire.  Other gemstones are typically called “semi-precious” jewels.  This category includes turquoise, amethyst, peridot and many others.

Precious stones however, are not always favoured above the semi-precious stones and therefore the monetary price of a stone is not always an indication of its true value.


The Diamond is, as the saying goes “a girl’s best friend”, hardly surprising since they have been venerated and treasured for centuries.  This stone is classified as a “precious” stone and also comes in many shapes, colours and sizes.  Only after being discovered in Kimberley in South Africa have these stones become a must in the expression of “love” for almost every couple who wish to marry.

Only one element; carbon, makes up this hardest natural substance in the world.  The diamond is also used in many diverse industries across the world.  Since the first diamond was mined from the earth after being discovered in great quantities in Kimberley, they have also been found in many other countries with the most notable recent discovery made in Russia.

A “rough diamond” newly mined, requires a “master cutter” to produce the awe inspiring beauty of the gem and an uncommonly known fact is that diamonds shatter instantly if not cut correctly.  The cut of a diamond greatly impacts a diamond’s radiance.

Some of the most well-known diamonds in the world are:

The Great Star of Africa: weighing 530.4 carats, it’s colour is white, the clarity is flawless and the cut is pear-shaped.

The Orloff: weighing 300 carats, its colour is blue/green, the clarity is pure and the cut is rose-shaped.

The Centenary Diamond: weighing 273.85 carats, it’s clarity is colourless (highest grade D) and the cut is modern.

The ruby is one of the most vibrant jewels ever discovered.  The Latin word for “ruby” is derived from “Rubens” which means red in any shade.  This stone goes through the whole spectrum of pink/red.  Chromium, is the catalyst in the shade of the gemstones which are particularly found in Asia in it’s natural state.  Rubies can however be synthetically made too.  This stone is very versatile, used either as a jewel or in industry with a hardness of 9.

Imperfections in rubies are very common and it is a rare stone that does not have any flaws.  These flawless rubies can command prices similar to and even greater than those of the diamond.

Rubies are typically cut in the round, heart, oval and pear shapes.

Some of the most well-known rubies in the world are:

The Graff Ruby: weighing 8.62 carats, it’s clarity is purported to be flawless and it is cut in a cushion shape.

The Carmen Lucia Ruby: weighing 23.1 carats, it’s clarity is transparent and it’s cut in a modern shape.

The emerald is part of the beryl family that is coloured by vanadium.  The true emerald is coloured by the mineral chromium and vanadium.  This stone is a cool and very vibrant green colour and has forever been classified as precious.  Emeralds come in various radiant shades of green and have been most favoured above other precious gems.

Although, their resistance to breakage is very poor since they are “included”. For example, most emeralds are heavily flawed and most of all, these stones need to be cut with precision.  Emeralds measure around 7.5-8 on the mohs hardness scale.  Usually found in Columbia, they are now mined from many locations around the world.

One of the most famous emeralds in the world is:

The Mogul Emerald – weighing at 217.80 carats it’s clarity is a very deep green and it’s cut is rectangular.

Sapphires actually come in a rainbow of colours and each one is delightful to the eye.  However only the true intense, blue is the most accepted colour for the precious sapphire.  Coloured with the mineral corundum it is the second hardest substance on earth after the diamond with a rating of 9 on the mohs scale.

Coloured sapphires except the blue mentioned above, are often referred to as “fancy” sapphires.  Way back in time there were many names used for fancy sapphire varieties, these are no longer used, and one example is the Oriental Peridot, which was used to refer to the green coloured sapphire.  Sapphires are generally cut as are the emerald and ruby.

Thailand, Burma, Australia, India and Sri Lanka are the most famous producers of sapphires today.

One of the most famous sapphires in the world today is:

The Star of Asia –  weighing 329.7 carats, it’s clarity is pure, it’s colour is a dark blue and it is round.


Any gemstone that is not a diamond, ruby, emerald or true blue sapphire is called a semi-precious stone.

The “Semi-precious” does not mean it is less valuable than precious stones are, it is just that they are found in greater quantities, although today there are some exceptions.

Some semi-precious gems are made of organic material.  Amber, Coral and Pearl are some of these.  Usually a semi precious gemstone that is made by an organism is very precious.  Some pearls are more valuable and in demand that diamonds are.

Other  examples of semi-precious stones are the garnet, peridot, amethyst, topaz and turquoise.