First discovered in the Russian Ural Mountains in 1830, alexandrite gets its name from Tsar Alexander II, the Russian ruler at the time. Today, this exotic gemstone can be found in few locations around the world, often in small sizes.
Alexandrite belongs to the chrysoberyl family, but its color-changing properties make it unique. This phenomenal gemstone changes color depending on the light source. In daylight, alexandrite appears green; in incandescent light, it appears a brownish or purplish red.
According to legend, amethyst was created by Bacchus, the god of wine. Found in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, and Zambia, it's considered to be a lucky, supportive gemstone. In Christian theology, amethyst symbolizes the authority of the church.
Seldom found in jewelry stores, apatite is popular with collectors because it comes in many colors and forms. However, since the recent availability of the neon blue-green variety from Madagascar, apatite's use in jewelry has increased. The astrological sign of Gemini is apatite.
The word aquamarine comes from the Latin words aqua marina, which means sea water. Mainly found in Brazil, aquamarine was known in ancient times as the gem of sea goddesses. Legend has it that it guards against storms. Aquamarine is considered to be lucky for sailors, fishermen, and divers.
A relatively common gem, beryl can be found all over the world. Popular types include emeralds and aquamarine, but heliodor, morganite, bixbite, and Fire Beryl also belong to the beryl family.
Varying in color from green to yellow to pink, beryl is colorless in its purest state. Praised for its six-sided, prismatic hexagon crystals, this gem can be faceted into many different types of cuts.
Deriving from the Latin word "carne", which means flesh, carnelian is translucent and rates a 7 on Moh's hardness scale. Legend has it that carnelian helps heal wounds and stop bleeding, and many people all over the world revere this rich, red-colored gem for different reasons.
Egyptians believed carnelian served a great purpose in the afterlife, which explains its presence in ancient tombs. Greeks and Romans thought carnelian protected them from evil. And in Tibet and India, Asians wore carnelian charms and pendants in hopes of benefiting from their special powers.
Citrine can be found in Brazil, Madagascar, Russia, Uruguay, Hungary, and the U.S. Often associated with lightheartedness, cheerfulness, and hope, it's the birthstone for November. Some people regard citrine as a guardian stone that wards off evil.
Legend has it that if you touch doors and windows of your home with a piece of coral, there will be good luck for all who live there. Coral is known to be a lucky and supportive stone for singers. Some believe it guards against accidents and acts of violence, while others feel it creates an emotional openness, generating excitement and enthusiasm.
Ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars that had fallen to Earth. To them, the fire within symbolized the constant flame of love. Today, diamonds are regarded as the rarest, most precious gem. Diamonds possess unique optical properties: brilliance (reflection of white light), dispersion (reflection of rainbow colors), and scintillation (twinkling light caused by motion).
According to legend, drusy is believed to promote creativity and energize and stabilize your body and aura. This gemstone has a crystallized outer layer that sparkles with naturally created smooth and flat facets. Found all over the world but mainly in Brazil, the most available drusy mineral is quartz. Often dyed to enhance its beauty, drusy may be coated with titanium for a gorgeous iridescent gleam.
Found in countries like Columbia, Brazil, and India, emeralds have been compared to the captured glow of fireflies. They're considered to provide luck to environmentalists, nurses, and doctors. Legend has it that emeralds protect against witchcraft, and promote honesty in the wearer.
Known as a symbol of marital love, garnet can be found in Kenya, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S. Some believe garnet helps promote healing and protects against thieves.
The stone of friendship, iolite can be found in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil, and the U.S. Its purple-blue color makes it a status symbol of luxury and prosperity.
Considered to be a gift from God, jade has various mystical and spiritual properties, including the ability to enhance inner purity, higher consciousness, intellectual superiority, and musical talent. Jade can be found all over the world, including Myanmar, Russia, Japan, and Guatemala.
Regarded as a stone of truth and friendship, lapis lazuli was prized in both Babylonia and Egypt — often worn by royalty. Legend has it that it protects against evil.
Marcasite has a rich, storied history. Favored by everyone from the Incas to Louis XIV, it was widely used in Georgian England to make buckles and hair accessories. Its shiny quality made it the most successful diamond substitute; and its ability to produce sparks made it the perfect replacement for flint in early firearms. Largely mined in Switzerland, marcasite experienced a surge in popularity amongst citizens because laws prohibited the wearing of diamonds and other precious stones.
First discovered in Madagascar in 1911, morganite was initially called pink beryl. Gemologist G.F. Kunz renamed it after his benefactor, the illustrious New York banker John Pierport Morgan. Today, morganite can be found in Brazil and the U.S., although it's becoming increasingly rare.
A member of the beryl family, morganite gets its pink hue from manganese present in the crystal structure. Recognized for its durability, this gem ranks approximately 7.5 on Moh's hardness scale.
What is widely known as onyx is actually black chalcedony, a variety of quartz. A symbol of clearness and dignity, it can be found all over the world, including Brazil and India. Onyx is often used in Art Deco, vintage-inspired designs. According to legend, ancient warriors wore onyx on their breastplates to give them courage.
Opals can be found in Australia, Mexico, and in various parts of the U.S. Some people use opals to help develop their psychic powers and to recall past lives. Many believe that wearing this stone helps improve their appearance. A symbol of tender love, opals are also associated with money, power, and luck.
After Max Ostro's passing in 2011, his son Maurice took over the family business, Ostro Minerals, and discovered a treasure trove of exquisite blue topaz that Max had been quietly collecting over decades. As a tribute to his father's passion for blue topaz and the company's 50th anniversary, Maurice decided to share the gemstones by launching the ostroblue collection.
Ostroblue topaz is masterfully cut to maximize its intensely blue color, pristine brilliance, and luster. Currently, only a very small percentage of the world's topaz is ostroblue. Ostro Minerals has processed tens of millions of carats in order to produce this extraordinary collection. The gemstone's rich, signature hue rarely occurs in stones smaller than 5 carats. Expert ingenuity and the most advanced technology are used for the exacting process of expertly controlled and heat irradiation to unlock the intrinsic potential of these wonderful gemstones.
Peridot, the birthstone of August, is believed to soothe enemies and drive away evil spirits. Egyptian priests used it to protect themselves against pharaohs' jealousy, and alchemists in the Middle Ages strengthened peridot's power by shaping the stone into beads and stringing them around their necks.
A versatile mineral, quartz is transparent, translucent, and can be colorless or colored. A wide range of popular gemstones are considered quartz, such as amethyst, citrine, onyx, and tiger's-eye. Stones that are referenced specifically as quartz include black quartz, chalcedony, ginger quartz, limon ® quartz, rose quartz, and smoky quartz.
Known as the philosopher's stone, quartz is thought to promote clear observation and stability. Some people believe quartz crystals show the future, facilitate meditation, and stimulate creativity.
Raspberry or magenta in color, rhodolite belongs to the garnet family.
Rubies can be found in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Norway, and the U.S. When you wear them to bed, it's believed you will have a nightmare-free, restful night's sleep. According to legend, a ruby grows darker or lighter depending on its proximity to danger or negativity. When Catherine of Aragon lost favor with King Henry VIII, her ruby was thought to fade in intensity. In China and India, rubies are considered to be the perfect offering to the gods. Some think rubies guard against wicked spirits, plague, and famine. Others have been known to wear them to strengthen their psychic defense system.
Sapphires can be found in many places including India, Thailand, Australia, and Montana. Sapphire is September's birthstone.
Tanzanite gets its name from its origin of Tanzania. In 1967, Manuel d'Souza discovered this extraordinary variety of the mineral zoisite while searching for sapphires. The Tanzania mines are located at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Widely seen as a geological phenomenon, this precious gemstone formed in the earth's surface over 585 million years ago during the pan-African event (the shifting of continents). It's also trichroic in nature, meaning that it radiates blue, violet, and burgundy from its crystallographic axes, depending upon the stone cut.
A commemorative gemstone for the 24th wedding anniversary as well as December birthdays, tanzanite is thought to balance emotions and clear the heart chakra, helping people accept change. Ranking a 6 or 7 on Moh's hardness scale, it's considered to be a soft gemstone and more fragile than sapphires. To clean tanzanite, use a gentle detergent and a soft brush. Allow ample drying time before storing. Ultra-sonic devices and steam-based cleaners are not recommended.
According to legend, tiger's-eye is a psychic protector that helps bring clarity to those who wear it. Tiger's-eye is also thought to balance negative and positive energy and promote spiritual well-being. Tiger's-eye is the accepted gemstone for the ninth wedding anniversary.
Called the fire stone by ancient Hindus, topaz is believed to protect your home from fire. Some think it prevents sleepwalking and nightmares if placed under a pillow. Others feel that topaz helps open lines of communication, and eliminate fear, anger, and greed. Legend has it that topaz attracts love to the wearer.
Turquoise can be found in parts of the Southwestern U.S., the Middle East, Mexico, and China. Turquoise is believed to protect travelers and guard against the evil eye and accidents. Pueblo Indians placed a turquoise stone under the floor of a new home in hopes of being protected by the Great Spirit. Originally called fayruz (ancient Arabic for lucky stone), turquoise is considered to be good luck for accountants and radio/TV broadcasters.
Carved zircon has been found in some of the oldest archaeological sites. Heralded as a symbol of purity and innocence, it's believed to promote inner peace within the wearer. Zircon gained popularity during the 16th century when Italians incorporated it into their jewelry designs. And in the 1880s, blue zircon was widely used in Victorian pieces. A popular alternative to diamonds, zircon is thought to be the true December birthstone.