Visit this page again as we add more exciting and exotic
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The color chameleon alexandrite is a June birthstone
alternative to pearl and moonstone. As the transparent variety of the
chrysoberyl family, alexandrite changes color under different lighting
conditions. At their most dramatic, alexandrites appears reddish-purple
in daylight and bluish-green in artificial or candlelight. Though alexandrite
mined today rarely displays the vibrant color change that propelled the
stone to fame as "Ruby by day, emerald by night," this rare
gem possesses an extraordinary allure, notwithstanding its split personality.
Amethyst, the February birthstone, is named after the
mythological Roman maiden who captured the heart of Bacchus, the wine
god. In legend, the hot-tempered Bacchus accidentally turned his beloved
to stone during a fit of anger. Despondent over his thoughtless action,
Bacchus shed tears of wine onto Amethyst’s crystallized body, forever
staining her purple.
So began the stone’s association with temperance, sobriety and mental
clarity. Reveling Romans drank wine from amethyst cups in the belief they
would be protected from drunkenness. Healers who believed in the stone’s
cleansing powers used ground amethyst in medicinal potions for a variety
In reality, amethyst is the purple variety of quartz. Its regal color
has been a favorite of popes and princes, emirs and emperors around the
world. Russia’s Catherine the Great was an amethyst connoisseur who
collected vibrant, violet stones with flashes of red mined from her country’s
Ural Mountains, a legendary source of some of the world’s most treasured
Before large deposits were discovered in South America during the 19th
century, fine amethyst was rare, costly and highly prized. Today, the affordable
stone is mined worldwide, making it available in a wide range of light
to dark tones, sizes and color depths from pastel lavender to deep, rich
Some amethysts contain alternating bands of lighter or darker color. When
choosing an amethyst, especially a larger gem, look for color evenness
across and within the stone. Because amethysts can be sensitive to light,
stones may fade when exposed to prolonged or bright sunlight.
Ametrine is a bicolor quartz variant from Bolivia and
Brazil that shows zones of purple amethyst alongside yellow citrine.
Although not an official birthstone alternative, ametrine may be of particular
interest to February’s children whose skin tones are flattered
by citrine's warm golden tones, or anyone captivated by the gem's singular
Aquamarine, a gemstone with a name as soothing to the
ears as its colors are to the eyes, is named after the Latin word for
seawater. The March birthstone seduces stone-gazers with its crystal-clear
blue hues softened by a hint of green.
Neptune, legendary King of the Sea, chose aquamarines as gifts for his
mermaids. Native healers used the gem to soothe ailments of the eyes and
lungs, perhaps equating the stone's eye-pleasing pastels with restfulness
and its exceptional clarity with purity.
Gemologists consider aquamarine part of the beryl family of gems and thus,
a relative to the most well-known beryl of all − emerald. Like its
greener cousin, aquamarine is more scratch-resistant than quartz but not
as hard, nor as hardy, as ruby or sapphire.
Unlike emeralds, aquamarines are known for their transparency, if not
flawlessness. Gem crystals from Brazil can be enormous, much to the delight
of jewelry designers and fashionistas. This winning combination of color,
clarity and size makes aquamarine a clear choice for statement pendants
and large cocktail rings.
The alternate March birthstone is a spotted variety of chalcedony quartz
known as bloodstone. To Christians of an earlier age,
the gem's speckled red flecks against a dark green background recalled
the blood of Christ. That unusual appearance fueled belief in the stone's
special powers as an amulet of healing.
To believers, bloodstone could not only stem bleeding but could also stir
passion, which made the tough gem a fitting choice for men's rings since
the time of King Solomon. Today, opaque to semitranslucent bloodstone is
a suitable birthstone alternative for men to sport in cufflinks, rings
November’s alternate birthstone is citrine, a
variety of quartz. This sun jewel takes its name from the Latin citrus for
its warm shades of yellow to orange. Brazil is a major source for this
lemony gem as well as topaz, where both can occur as massive crystals
weighing many pounds. Citrine is sometimes confused with topaz but is
more abundant in nature and thus, less costly. Lapidaries use large and
lovely citrine for gem carvings ranging from decorative perfume bottles
to soaring crystal sculptures.
The April birthstone is one of nature's most remarkable creations. Although
composed of merely the element carbon in its purest state, diamonds'
amazing properties set them apart from all other gems on earth.
Diamond may be the most extreme gem of all. In terms
of their geological age, diamonds are old − very old. The stones
we admire today were actually formed hundreds of millions to billions of
years ago. The famed Hope Diamond that now resides in the Smithsonian Institution
is believed to be more than 3 billion years old, or more than half the
age of the Earth itself.
For sheer drama, diamonds' fiery beginnings are beyond awe. The dazzlers
we wear today were born nearly one hundred miles below the earth's surface
in a geologic inferno of turbulence, heat and pressure. After, they rocketed
towards the earth's surface in violent eruptions of ancient volcanoes.
The remnants of these tracts are mined to this day in South Africa and
recently, in subarctic Canada. In other diamond-bearing areas such as western
Africa and India, diamonds landed in locales thousands of miles or continents
away from where they were first spewed, transported over millennia in colossal
movements of landmasses and water.
Hardness is another extreme for which diamond is known. The gem's strong
crystal structure is credited with making diamond the hardest substance
found in nature. Perhaps it was this unique property that led diamond's
earliest admirers to name the gem after adamas, an ancient Greek
word meaning invincible or unconquerable. Later coveted for its unparalleled
beauty and brilliance, diamonds came to symbolize clarity, strength and
eternity in cultures around the world − and have been forever linked
to the bonds of love.
Emerald's green is its unique calling card. It is the lively green of
nature as in the first shoots of springtime grass. Though there are green
varieties of sapphire, garnet, diamond, jade and other gems, there is
no greener green in the gem world than that of emerald.
The earliest emerald mines were located in the Sinai Desert and were known
as Cleopatra's Mines. Named after the ancient Egyptian queen whose love
for emerald was legendary, the mines yielded pale and cloudy stones that
gemologists today might consider a less exciting variety known as green
It was the 16th century arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in South
America that forever changed the way the world viewed and valued emerald.
After discovering remarkable Incan riches of gold and spectacular emeralds,
the Spaniards plundered the natives' bounty with abandon. Vast treasures
were shipped back to the invaders' European homeland from which traders
introduced emeralds to the far reaches of the earth, creating a global
fever for the stone that remains heated to this day.
Emerald is the May birthstone and the most famous member of the beryl
family of gems. Unlike its higher clarity cousin, the March birthstone
aquamarine, emerald is distinguished by its natural birthmarks or inclusions.
To emerald lovers, these birthmarks impart a sleepy quality to the gem
and enhance its intrigue, which the French refer to as jardin,
While such inclusions are a basis for emerald's allure, they can also
contribute to its frailty. Inclusions may make a stone brittle, especially
if they are large, reach the stone's surface or are located in less protected
areas of its jewelry setting.
Contrary to a popular belief that emerald is a soft stone, it is actually
relatively hard compared to quartz, some garnets, jade, tanzanite and many
other stones. Still, emeralds require gentle care and should be chosen
in jewelry settings that offer an appropriate degree of protection for
the sometimes-fragile jewel.
Gem merchants routinely oiled emeralds to enhance their beauty and transparency.
Over time, these surface oils may be stripped by routine wear and care.
Emerald lovers may wish to consult their jeweler when buying or maintaining
emerald jewelry to determine when their stones should be professionally
Red garnets have traditionally been linked to loyalty,
strength and affection. The stone’s long lifeline dates back to
Stone Age cave-dwellers who left behind relics comprising some of mankind’s
earliest jeweled artifacts. Millennia later, ancient Egyptians adorned
themselves in rich cascades of garnet bead jewelry during that era’s
glory days. Noah of Biblical fame was said to harness the light from
a massive garnet secured to the bow of his Ark to ensure safe passage
in the night. Closer to modern times, Europe’s 18th and 19th century
Bohemians strutted their stuff bedecked in garnet confections.
The January birthstone known as the friendship stone takes its name from granatum,
or pomegranate seed. While such darker-toned reds remain garnet’s
most familiar color variety, nature gives birth to garnets in a beguiling
range of colors - all colors, in fact, but blue.
In red, garnets mimic the varietal tones of the wine palette as in the
deep, syrah-like red of pyrope, the red-brown bordeaux tones of almandine
and the pinot noir-like pinkish red of rhodolite.
Beyond red, fancy garnets abound in shades of yellow and orange, often
tinged with a whisper of pink. African tsavorites and Russian demantoids
fill out garnet’s color wheel in shades of green. At
their finest, tsavorites and demantoids may not only approach emerald’s
verdant hues but also, the brilliance of diamonds.
Garnets are moderately hard and durable in any color, making this birthstone
an easy choice for everyday wear. For evening, luscious orange, green and
pink-hued garnets light up the night, especially in the elegant company
Gem-quality crystals of the mineral cordierite are known as iolite,
a naturally blue gemstone that can look surprisingly similar to sapphire
or fine tanzanite. Iolite displays strong pleochroism, a property that
makes the gem's color appear different depending on the direction in which
it is viewed. Iolite can appear blue, gray, violet, yellow or even colorless,
for which it was once known as "water sapphire."
The Vikings used this light-polarizing property to navigate the North
Atlantic on cloudy days, using a thin piece of iolite to help identify
the exact position of the sun. In fine blue or violet-blue colors, iolite
provides an affordable alternative to sapphire and tanzanite. Like the
latter, it is a gentle-care stone and may be fractured if struck in its
cleavage plane. Choose protective settings for iolite in rings and use
gentler cleaning methods. Ultrasonic and steam cleaning should be avoided.
Perhaps due to its optical properties or its captivating colors, iolite
is rich in folklore as a gem linked to vision, creativity and journeying.
Today's sources of the popular gem include India, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and
Lapis lazuli is actually a rock composed of many minerals.
Its peculiar sounding name simply means blue stone though prized lapis
shows speckles of white calcite and flecks of golden pyrite in a background
of rich blue azurite.
Long before Marco Polo visited Afghanistan’s storied mines, lapis
was cherished all over the cradle of civilization. The stone was lavishly
set in the mask of King Tutankhamen, perhaps in the belief lapis protected
its wearer from evil. Though dropped from the official American birthstone
list in the 1950s, lapis remains popular in beads, men's jewelry, cabochon
shapes and carvings.
Moonstone is an alternate June birthstone. In Hindu
mythology, moonstones were believed formed from moonbeams turned solid.
Indeed, the stone's mysterious beauty and inner light resembles a moonlit
glow. Across southern Asia, moonstones were once used to foretell the
future and remain associated to this day with wisdom and good fortune.
Unlike many other gems, moonstones are usually not faceted. Rather, these
dreamy stones are more often cut en cabochon or carved. Moonstones are
a popular choice in bead necklaces or bracelets, and are especially mesmerizing
when they show shifting shades of blue, white or grey.
Opal, the traditional October birthstone, has been
treasured by cultures around the world for thousands of years. Ancient
Romans considered opals the luckiest of stones as their flashing colors
were thought to hold the powers of many birthstones within a single stone.
Half a world away, native Australians believed opals were formed when
packets of rainbows fell to earth. Closer to home in Mexico, radiant
red and warm orange fire opal varieties are beloved to this day for their
intensity and, some believe, their ability to spark the imagination.
Though opals are harder than pearls, these singular beauties require a
gentle touch. Wear them best in pendants or earrings, made even more
luxurious in diamonds settings. If you prefer rings or bracelets, choose
protective settings that respect the stone’s delicacy and special
care requirements. Use gentle cleaning methods with your opals, avoiding
heat, ultrasonics or harsh chemicals. Instead, keep your opal jewelry opulent
by wiping it with a soft and damp lint-free cloth.
The traditional June birthstone is pearl, one of the
most beloved gems in history. Cleopatra was said to have won a famous
bet with Roman ruler Marc Antony by drinking a pearl-laced libation.
Queen Elizabeth I was so loveuck for pearls that she had hundreds
of them sewn into her garments. More recently, the late Princess Diana
rekindled love for pearls with her signature look bedecked in a pearl
A classic symbol of purity and innocence, pearl is a favorite gemstone
choice to mark graduation, marriage, anniversaries and the birth of a child.
Pearls are organic gems that form inside a living thing. Natural pearls
are created when an irritant enters the shell of certain mollusks. The
mollusk reacts by laying down layer after layer of a substance called nacre
around the irritant, forming a pearl. Cultured pearls follow the same natural
process, except that humans introduce the irritant into the mollusk, usually
a bead or piece of soft mantle tissue, which provokes the same nacre deposition
to eventually yield a pearl. Nearly all pearls sold today are cultured.
Pearls vary widely in shape, size and color to accommodate a range of
personal tastes and skin tones. From white high-luster round Akoyas to
larger golden South Sea and black Tahitian pearls in exotic shades and
shapes, there are pearls to match any heart's desire.
By nature, all pearls are porous and thus, susceptible to damage from
environmental elements such as smoke, beauty products and perfume. Wise
pearl lovers remember to put pearls on after completing beauty routines,
remove them first after wear and to store them in soft cloth pouches or
The August birthstone peridot is a sun jewel in shades
of golden green. Ancient Hawaiians considered peridot the tears of volcano
goddess Pele. In other parts of the world, traditional beliefs held that
peridot protected children from night terrors and fear of the dark, which
lead caretakers to tuck these stones inside babies' cribs and swaths.
Peridot originates miles below the earth and rockets to the surface as
a hitchhiker embedded in volcanic kimberlite, a rock form better known
for its other, more famous passenger − diamond. Peridot has also
been found in meteorites, proving origin that is simultaneously out of
this world and beyond the deep.
While the gem's pale, olive or brown-toned varieties appear subtle or
neutral, prized peridot also occurs in more attractive lime and brighter
green tones. Pakistani peridot is known for its fine quality and livelier,
seductive shades. A major global source for the jewel is located stateside
within Arizona's San Carlos Indian Reservation.
The gem's green hues may appear warmer when set in yellow gold. Brighter
stones take on a cool elegance in white gold settings, especially alongside
diamonds' sparkle. Peridot's neutral versatility invites interesting multicolor
looks when coupled with citrine, amethyst, blue topaz, tanzanite and other
Keep peridot clean by wiping larger stones with a lint-free cloth or gently
soaking and brushing peridot jewelry in warm, soapy water. Steam and ultrasonic
cleaning methods are not recommended.
Ruby is the color of love, passion and the heart. Known as the King
of Gems to ancient Hindus, rubies were the most prized stone of all,
coveted far more than diamonds for thousands of years. According to the
Bible's Job, "the price of wisdom is above rubies" [Job 28:18].
Ruby's powers were invoked by rulers to give them strength and courage;
by the sick to regain health and vitality; and by all wishing success in
the battle for love. Those fortunate enough to possess rubies in the ancient
world believed the stones brought them peace with their neighbors and enemies.
Star rubies were considered especially magical talismans.
The July birthstone is named after rubor, the Latin word for
its signature red color. At its most esteemed, ruby's red is a pure and
vibrant hue favored by romantics and extroverts, known to connoisseurs
as pigeon's blood red.
Ruby is the red variety of sapphire. Its color derives from trace amounts
of chromium present within the stone's crystal structure. That same element,
when present in a different crystal, colors emerald green.
Burma was the traditional source for many of the world's most prized
rubies. Today, rubies reach global markets from countries such as Thailand,
Vietnam and Madagascar.
Because ruby is a hard and tough stone, it makes an excellent choice
for rings, cufflinks and bracelets, as well as earrings and pendants.
Faceted rubies may have a sleepy quality somewhat like emeralds due to
the presence of silky inclusions inside the stone. Others prefer rubies
cut as a domed shape or en cabochon.
September's stone is most beloved in blue, the favorite color of most
Americans. Blue's historical popularity coincides with that of sapphire,
which civilizations worldwide considered a precious gem, its classic
color a beacon of peace and strength.
Ancient astrologers associated sapphire with the planet Saturn. In Judeo-Christian
scripture, the Laws God delivered to Moses on the Mount were engraved on
a huge sapphire tablet, which scholars today might translate more accurately
as lapis lazuli. Sapphire was one of the twelve stones set in the Breastplate
of Judgment described in Exodus (Exodus 28: 15-30) to represent the twelve
tribes of Israel to Jews or the twelve apostles to Christians.
Star sapphires were considered especially potent as their crossed rays
symbolized faith, hope and destiny. Early travelers to the Far East astounded
native hosts by revealing their star sapphire talismans, a near-magical
sight believed to bring good luck to all.
September's birthstone enjoys a royal heritage. The notion that sapphire
attracted the goodwill of man and divine spirits made it a favorite of
kings and nobles, who took comfort in sapphire's protective powers against
envy and poisoning. Monarchs and traditional Europeans today choose sapphires
for engagement rings.
While sapphire's intense blue is its best known hue, sapphires occur in
many other colors, as well as a colorless variety. Popular pink sapphire
is a feminine fashion statement followed by golden sapphire as a more affordable
alternative to yellow diamonds. Uncommon purple sapphires are lovely in
light and darker shades, yet not as rare or costly as the highly prized
orange-pink variety known as padparadscha. Red sapphire has its own special
Like ruby, sapphire belongs to the corundum family of gems. All corundum
is ranked 9 on the Mohs hardness scale where diamond is 10. Sapphire's
ranking might make it seem as though sapphire as nearly as hard as diamond,
but in truth a greater degree of difference exists between the two gems'
hardness than numbers suggest. In practical terms, this hardness difference
means sapphire can be scratched by diamond jewelry, from which it should
be separately stored.
As Nature's second-hardest natural gemstone, tough and hardy sapphire
makes an excellent choice for rings and bracelets. The gem's varied color
wheel makes it an ideal stone for rainbow jewelry designs. Modern choices
abound in Australia's perky pink and inky dark blue-black stones to small
cornflower blues mined in Montana's Yogo Gulch region or the color varieties
arriving from Madagascar, making sapphire dreams come true for all tastes
The translucent to opaque gemstone sardonyx is the
alternate August birthstone. This abundant variety of quartz was well
known to earlier civilizations as an ornamental stone used in chalices,
carvings, cameos, seals and rings.
Museum-goers familiar with Greco-Roman and Egyptian artifacts will recognize
sardonyx in inlays or relief carvings that revealed the stone's multilayered
colors, bands and swirls.
Sardonyx is a variety of the microcrystalline quartz family of gems known
as chalcedony. Onyx and sard are two other closely related chalcedonies,
among many others.
Sardonyx ranges in color from brown to shades of brownish orange or brownish
red. Interesting patterns can occur when sardonyx features black or white
bands intermixed with colored zones. This distinctive appearance has made
the gem a favorite of jewelry designers, carvers and decorative artists
for thousands of years.
The newest December birthstone was adopted in 2002 by the American Gem
Trade Association − tanzanite, the first gemstone
added to the official birthstone list in nearly a hundred years. Tanzanite
seduces admirers in shades of royal blues to violets. Following its 1967discovery
in Tanzania, the country for which the stone was named and still the
only place on earth where the blue beauty is found, tanzanite skyrocketed
Tanzanite's beauty comes at a price. Besides requiring special care during
and after wear, per-carat prices for the stone’s deepest and most
captivating violet-blue colors are steep. Quality larger-sized stones become
harder to find every year. Despite its rarity and special needs, the gem's
rich hues have prompted gemologists to wonder whether tanzanite is the
blue sapphire always wished it could be.
In colors of autumn leaves, topaz is the traditional
birthstone for the month of November. Ancient Greeks associated topaz
with strength, perhaps in recognition of the gem’s hardness and
exceptional clarity. Across the world, topaz has been linked in legend
and lore with more curative powers than any other gemstone. A long held
belief in India maintains that a topaz worn above the heart assures not
only a long life but also beauty and intelligence.
Topaz occurs in a wide range of colors, from colorless to golden tones
and sherry browns. Most pretty pink and soothing blue colors seen today
have been permanently induced by heating or irradiating topaz, which has
made these popular hues more affordable and readily available. A harder
gem than quartz, topaz can still break when struck in its weak plane. Shield
topaz with protective settings in rings or bracelets and the stone will
show lasting beauty in a variety of cuts and shapes.
October’s birthstone alternative is tourmaline,
a gemstone better suited than opal to more active lifestyles. The gem’s
name derives from an ancient word meaning “of many colors” as
tourmaline occurs in every color of the rainbow. Two American locales
are famed for gorgeous pink and green tourmaline: nearby San Diego county
and the state of Maine. California pinks so enchanted the last dowager
empress of China that she imported most of San Diego’s turn-of-the-twentieth-century
production for her personal collection.
Turquoise is the classic December birthstone, a choice
befitting one of the world’s most admired gems. Over the ages,
turquoise has enjoyed worldwide popularity, from Egypt’s royal
families to masterful Chinese carvers. Native Americans attached ceremonial
importance to the gem, which they believed combined the magical powers
of the earth's green and the sea's blue. Many tribes attached pieces
of turquoise to arrowheads in the belief the stone improved their accuracy.
The color palette of natural turquoise ranges from soft sky blues to robin's
egg blue − the most prized variety − to the spider-webbed greenish
blue hues popular in American southwestern jewelry. Regardless of hue,
turquoise has been associated with the power to protect its wearer from
illness and evil.
Zircon is a gemstone that has been linked to wisdom
and honor for centuries, particularly in India and Sri Lanka, where the
stone is widely popular and beloved. To Americans however, zircon's name
sometimes causes it to be confused with synthetic cubic zirconia,
to which it is completely unrelated.
Rather, zircon is a natural gemstone with a lovely, if limited, range
of colors. Heating brown zircon produces a permanent, distinctive and lively
shade of blue, the stone's most well-known hue. Until the late 20th century,
fiery colorless zircon was used as a diamond substitute before good quality
synthetics were widely available.
ABOUT US • CONTACT
US • JEWELRY
© 2007-2013 LIBERTINE® All Rights Reserved Terms