Gemstones have added glitz to jewellery for centuries and are still in vogue as an accessory to beautify ornaments. Today, gemstones are graded and classified by international standards, which ensures that worldwide, consumers can be sure of what they get from a jeweller.
Gemstones are worn selectively, often based on zodiac signs. They are available in a variety of colours, cuts, clarity, and carat. In fact, all these four characteristics are used to grade gemstones. In a jewellery designing course, the subject of gemology elaborates on the process of gemstone grading.
A gemstone is valued based on its qualities viz. visual appeal, size, durability, and shape. Their visual features may be influenced by random factors called inclusions. Internal inclusions create unique patterns inside the gemstone, becoming its intrinsic feature.
Cutting out gemstones into shapes and polishing them to perfection is practiced at a jewellery design school as part of lapidary training.
Gemstones are broadly classified into precious and semi-precious. Earlier, only Cardinal gems were treated by gemologists. These include diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald and amethyst, that top the charts in terms of value. Then there are also rarest of gems viz. andalusite, cassiterite, clinohumite, iolite, and axinite.
There are also synthetic or artificial gemstones that imitate the originals. As it is taught in jewellery design courses, one should know that by law, such gemstones should inscribe “Imitation” or “synthetic” on them to keep customers aware.
Here are some gemstones and the fascinating facts about them.
It’s the hardest gem. The saying “diamonds are forever” refers to its timeless beauty and sturdiness. Biologically, diamonds were created beneath the earth’s crust over a billion years ago, as evolved forms of carbon.
Diamonds, besides pure white, are available in colours of the rainbow. Among natural diamonds, yellow and brown are very common, while green, orange, blue and red are very rare. Coloured diamonds are also made in the labs.
Diamonds are associated with the zodiac sign Aries. Big scale diamond mining is done in many parts of the world including USA, Russia, South Africa and Brazil.
Ruby has been for a long time and is considered as the king of gems. Known best in its red variety, they are also available in shades of purple, bluish red and orange-red. The most valued shade for a ruby is the “pigeon blood” red ruby. The name “ruby” comes from the Latin word “rubens” which means red.
The finest of rubies are called “Burmese Rubies” following the reputation of rubies sourced from Myanmar, Burma. Ruby is associated with the passion of love.
Ruby stands next to diamond in hardness. If a ruby is rubbed on a stone and does not lose weight, it’s taken as a good ruby. High-quality ruby shines in the dark.
Ruby is the birthstone of zodiac sign Cancer.
Sapphire is often associated with loyalty and dignity. The stone, like ruby, belongs to the corundum family. Unlike ruby, it is non-red in colour.
The stone gets its name from the Latin word “sapphiru”, meaning blue. Though blue is the gemstone’s most popular colour, it comes in other colours viz. yellow, white, green, pink, brown, purple and orange. A rare orange-pink variety of sapphire is pricier than a blue sapphire.
A variety of sapphires changes colour in different lights; blue in natural light and violet in artificial light. A star shaped effect called ‘asterism’ is seen in certain sapphires that have inclusions of tiny rutile needles. Another rare property in sapphires is a thin band of light in the center of the stone, known as Chatoyancy.
Sapphire is the birthstone of zodiac sign Virgo.
An emerald’s value increases with the darker shade of green. Coming from the Beryl family, it’s associated with fertility and flourish.
Emeralds often have an inclusion that gives each piece a signature texture. Columbia contributes over 50% of worldwide emerald production. The soft, soothing colour of emeralds help lapidaries relax their eyes from stress. Emerald’s hardness comes between 7.5 and 8 on the Mohs scale, meaning it’s vulnerable to damage. This factor only adds to its value.
It’s the birthstone of zodiac sign Taurus.
Amethyst comes from the Quartz family. It comes in shades of purple viz. deep purple, lavender, and lilac.
The gemstone has been believed to prevent drunkenness by ancient Greeks. The stone has graced royalty throughout history and is traditionally worn by bishops as amethyst rings. Brazil is the primary source of amethyst today. Good quality amethyst is also found in Italy, Mexico, Zambia, Germany, Colorado, and Canada.
Amethysts are called Siberian, Uruguayan or Bahrain for its high, medium and low quality referring to the places they are sourced from.
Amethyst is the birthstone of the zodiac sign Aquarius.
While learning gemology, at a jewellery design institute one gets a world of information and ideas about designing and using a variety of gemstones. At Hamstech Institute, the curriculum includes training in designing jewellery with gems added to the design.
Knowing more about the legacy, specialty, and applications of gemstones makes one a better jeweller and/or a jewellery designer.