GARNET - JANUARY
Specifically, a rhodolite garnet, which opens up a whole can of worms so let's get a few basics out of the way. First, a gemstone is that, a gemstone, because it has certain qualities those being, rarity, beauty and desirability. Second, most gemstones are what they are because of their physical and optical properties as a mineral. (Why most and not all; well, amber for instance, is a gemstone but not a mineral.) Historically we didn't possess enough knowledge to determine the identity of a stone other than with primarily visual tests like color and other aspects of appearance. The scratch test was another identifying test and so stone dealers would carry in their pockets several known-to-them specimens, including diamond, to scratch offered gems for sale as a test of their identity. Through the years science refined the process and now we know a bit more to help identify stones. Some famous gems are now infamous such as the Crown Prince Ruby belonging to the British Crown Jewels which is, in fact, a very fine red spinel. Oh well! It's just part of the long, long story of gems. Enough of this, let's get back to garnet! Pictured here is a rhodolite garnet in a ring designed and made by Tomo of Jan David Design Jewelers. The very best thing to know about January's birthstone is that garnet is available in just about every color except blue! This means, of course, if the typical brownish red usually hawked as January's birthstone doesn't do anything for you, well, pick another color! There's a variety of shades of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds including rhodolite that can have a pretty purple tint to it. Garnet is a feast for January!
The birthstone for February. Once known as "Royal Purple" amethyst is actually that when it's at it's best: a deep, velvety gorgeous purple. However, a lighter shade known as rose de' France is very pretty as well IF the stone has been cut well and has beautiful clarity. For what makes a gemstone beautiful? It is NOT "The darker the stone the better" for that is but half of the saying. The remainder is the important part and which has been ignored for far too long by purveyors selling that which they know next to nothing about! The remainder: "...while maintaining clarity and brilliance." For that is what a gemstone has to possess aesthetic beauty...clarity and brilliance!
Amethyst and Diamond Pendant. Tomo and Lisa for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
Aquamarine is found on every continent and the best sources are Zambia, Nigeria and Brazil. The name of this beautiful gem is derived from the literal Latin translation, water of the sea. So pretty, and so interesting! As a talisman aqua was worn to protect babies and as a talisman for seafaring men, was a cure for hiccups and an aid to digestion, was thought to bring about mental clarity and, best ever, wearing aquamarine earrings was thought to bring love and affection.
Aquamarine and Diamond Ring. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
What's new is this, colored diamonds so know this, colored diamonds have no relationship whatsoever to fancy colored diamonds sold at auction for record setting prices. Generally, colored diamonds and "black" diamonds being hawked by mass merchandizers are poor quality stones that normally would have been made into sandpaper or drill bits. "Fancy colored diamonds" are natural color, very rare, command record setting prices and is a legal term. As for wearing diamond as your birthstone, diamonds are magic! Diamonds were thought to have exceptional healing properties and to be a magical stone possessing qualities and superpowers far beyond the understanding of ordinary humans.
Diamond Pendant. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
Another gemstone belonging to the beryl family. So, you might wonder how a gemstone is one in a family of gems and it's as simple as this analogy: all robins are birds but not all birds are robins. What makes a stone a beryl is the chemical composition of this particular mineral. Trace, trace, elements of other minerals within the stone will affect the absorption of light; the light that isn't absorbed is the "color" that is seen. Trace amounts of chromium in beryl creates emerald. Emerald has an interesting past: it was a symbol of fertility and rebirth to ancient Egyptians. Emeralds were believed to cure eye diseases, to strengthen the memory and to ward off evil spells and, what I find most interesting, an emerald held under the tongue could allow one to see the future. Emerald and Diamond Ring. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
Pearl and alexandrite co-chair as the birthstones for June. Both are incredible gemstones with really interesting histories. A favorite bit of romantic folklore regards pearls as being moondrops that fell into the ocean during the night and captured by oysters. Pearl bearing molluscs are found all over the world, in both freshwater and saltwater environments. In recent history, the Japanese pearl industry helped China with their entree to the pearl industry (those funky cheap and nasty pasty flash-in-the-pan rice pearls don't count). Such a gift! There are now gorgeous symmetrical drop pearls, big natural color pearls and so many beautiful pearls thanks to the new pearl farms. As a birthstone, the pearl is perfect for, not only is the pearl thought to be the oldest gemstone but it has always been a symbol of love. Frog Earrings. Tomo & Lisa for All Animal Jewelry.
Sit up and pay attention! If ruby is your birthstone, the single most important thing to know about ruby is this: if the gemstone is being called Ruby and it is pink then it is not a ruby. A RUBY is red, Red, RED. Not pink, not ever, never. I'm not even going to tell you anything else about ruby because I want you to learn this about all else.
Ruby throated hummingbird. Tomo for All Animal Jewelry @ allanimaljewelry.com
PERIDOT - AUGUST
Bloodstone is an alternate August birthstone, an opaque gem that is interesting but not so pretty. If you like green then there is hope because peridot is especially victim to the modern merchandising of big stores. Ick, ick and double ick. Mass merchandised gems tend to be washed out in color and poor quality because they are bought en masse and they all have to be the same. Pilgrim, find thee a small custom store where they hand select fine gemstones one at a time! Peridot was worn to protect from terrors of the night. Pirates wore peridot to ward off evil and, placed on the stomach of a woman in labor, peridot was thought to relieve pain. Peridot was worn to ensure faithfulness, increase clairvoyance, prosperity, and patience, enhance mental clarity, and ward off emotional stress. Hawaiian legend has peridot as the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess. Peridot and Diamond Ring. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
Pick your favorite color and you can have it as your birthstone! That's right, sapphire is found in all the colors of the rainbow with but one exception, red. The scientific name for sapphire is corundum, and all colors of corundum are known as sapphire except red corundum. Even pink corundum is pink sapphire, but red corundum is ruby! So, take your pick and know this about your birthstone: sapphire is considered the most sacred of gems and known as the Stone of Truth. Sapphire is also thought to have healing properties and aid in clairvoyance. Sapphire's properties are thought to be only for the original owner.
Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
An amazing gem with an amazing history. Ancients thought opal was the result of lightning strike, that they were actually holding a bit of crystallized lightning! Know what you are buying. A doublet or triplet is two or three layers to create a normal looking gem, but only one of those layers is a very very thin piece of opal! Opal is sand that has been dissolved by water over millennia. The round shape that remains of the sand granules is responsible for the play of light seen from the stone. Opals are believed to favor and protect children, friendship and feelings, to keep one safe from disease to give the powers of foresight and prophesy.
Opal and Diamond Pendant. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com
Here's a beauty and rarity, a real Topaz. Topaz naturally is found in one of four colors: peach/golden, (called precious topaz), deep sherry red throughout the stone (the very, very, very rare variety and known as Imperial Topaz), blue, or colorless (which can and usually is heated to blue). What Topaz is NOT is the citrine that is frequently sold as topaz. And as for Smokey Topaz, there is no such thing; what that is the beautiful Smokey Quartz. Real Topaz is incredible and a fabulous birthstone with an interesting history. Topaz is thought to assure beauty, fidelity and long life and is worn as a symbol of cheerfulness, a cure for insomnia, asthma, and sadness, to strengthen the intellect, bestow courage, and as an emblem of friendship.
Precious Topaz and Diamond Ring. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers.
The newest and the only mercenary birthstone for December, Tanzanite was added to the birthstone list to help bolster sales. That said, Tanzanite is a beautiful stone. What it is usually not is the color it is known for. Tanzanite is usually green and is heated to make it the beloved blue. The shade and intensity of blue depends on the shade and intensity of the green that it was. Tanzanite was discovered in the late 1960's so you'll have to make up your own folklore, myths, legends, and properties to bestow! A gorgeous gem, wear with care as you would an opal and best stay away from all but round or oval shapes.
Tanzanite and Diamond Ring. Tomo for Jan David Design Jewelers @ jandavid.com