Gemstone Guide

Here at Les Olson, we love playing with different colors and patterns! We have a fantastic variety of gemstones in the store, and we can even order any stone you want – including opals, aquamarines, and pearls!
Here are just some of the many options available to you:

Amethyst

The deep violet color of amethyst has long made it a prized stone for royal jewelry, with church officials and the British Crown Jewels having many pieces made with the gemstone. Based on Greek myths, amethysts originated from a nymph named Amethystos who refused Dionysus, the god of wine.

Today, amethysts are used in almost all types of jewelry, including rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and many others. They are commonly found in Africa and South America and have relatively abundant supplies, thus being an affordable stone.

Properties

  • Color: Violet, purple, or red-violet
  • Hardness: 7
  • Specific Gravity: 2.6 – 2.7
  • Cleavage: None
  • Crystallography: Hexagonal
  • Luster: Vitreous
  • Refractive Index: 1.544 – 1.553

Symbolizes

Wisdom, contemplation, peace

Amethyst has often been linked to many positive symbols. Given their historical association with preventing intoxication, the stone was also believed to improve mental clarity and wisdom to help people make better decisions. Many also consider the amethyst to be a stone of peace that allows the wearer to balance their emotions and get rid of anxious thoughts and feelings.

Proper Care

Given their durability and hardness, amethysts can be cleaned with ultrasonic cleaners, but the general procedure is to use warm, soapy water. However, the stone is brittle, so it may be scratched or chipped if not handled with care. In terms of storage, amethysts are best kept enclosed in a box or in a dark area since exposure to sunlight can cause their color to fade.

Citrine

Citrine was once regarded as a luxurious stone due to its rarity, but over time, it has become more accessible to many. In early times, it was often called the sun stone due to its yellow citrus color, and Romans believed it to be the stone of the messenger god, Mercury. This gem stone was prominently used in jewelry pieces designed during the Art Deco period.

Nowadays, citrine is a popular and affordable stone for jewelry since it can easily be customized into intricate cuts based on your preference. It appeals particularly to people who enjoy earthy tones. However, citrine found in the market is often treated as the natural form is much rarer and more expensive.

Properties

  • Color: Golden yellow to red-orange
  • Hardness: 7
  • Specific Gravity: 2.651
  • Cleavage: None
  • Crystallography: Hexagonal
  • Luster: Vitreous
  • Refractive Index: 1.544 – 1.553

Symbolizes

Joy, energy, wealth

Citrine is also believed to be a healing stone associated with the solar plexus chakra, providing the wearer comfort and healing. Due to its sun-like color, the gem often evokes a sense of joy and happiness, as well as mental clarity. Some also consider it to be the merchant’s stone as its golden color is linked to wealth and prosperity among businessmen and traders.

Proper Care

Citrine can be cleaned with warm, soapy water and ultrasonic cleaners, but the latter is not appropriate if you are dealing with dyed or fracture-filled stones. Steam cleaning is also not recommended since the stone does not react well to heat and may fracture when exposed to sudden temperature changes.

Diamond

In modern day, diamonds are often said to be a girl’s best friend. However, even back in ancient times, these precious stones have already been used as gemstones in different parts of the world. Having the highest level of hardness on the scale, they were traditionally used to make and polish tools.

As a gemstone, diamonds are evaluated based on the 4 Cs, namely carat, cut, color, and clarity, which are assessed to determine their value. These stones can be found in places with high temperatures and pressures, including South Africa, India, Brazil, and Australia.

Properties

  • Color: Colorless, white, gray, black, brown, green, shades of yellow, and others
  • Hardness: 10
  • Specific Gravity: 3.4 to 3.6
  • Cleavage: Perfect octahedral
  • Crystallography: Isometric
  • Luster: Adamantine
  • Refractive Index: 1.544 – 1.553

Symbolizes

Clarity, faithfulness, purity

Aside from being a stone used to celebrate special occasions, diamonds have also been associated with Sahasrara, which is the seventh and the highest chakra. This has made the stone linked to better clarity for the wearer. Similarly, diamonds have often been considered the stone for romantic love because they represent faithfulness and purity, which are believed to help relationships thrive and remain strong.

Proper Care

While diamonds may be known as the hardest mineral, you must still handle them with proper care to preserve their beauty. Clean them with warm water and soap, and occasionally ultrasonic cleaners if needed. Make sure you store these gems separately as they can scratch other diamonds or stones. Likewise, be careful not to expose your diamonds to high temperatures as they may be heat-resistant but can still burn if exposed to extreme heat.

Emerald

The emerald has long been viewed as a cherished and powerful stone because of its definitive green color. The famous philosopher Aristotle referenced this stone in one of his works, saying that it helped people in business, lawsuits, and other similar situations. Cleopatra was also known for her attraction to the stone, while Roman Emperor Nero found its color to be calming.

Up until today, emeralds continue to be one of the most valuable colored stones, along with rubies and sapphires. They are regarded with high esteem and can be found primarily in South America, specifically in Brazil and Colombia.

Properties

  • Color: Deep to medium green
  • Hardness: 7.5 – 8
  • Specific Gravity: 2.68 – 2.78
  • Cleavage: Indistinct
  • Crystallography: Hexagonal
  • Luster: Vitreous
  • Refractive Index: 1.569 – 1.5602

Symbolizes

Hope, rebirth, romance

The rich green color of the emerald has often been associated with spring, making the gem a symbol of hope and rebirth. Its calming effects are thought to help promote optimism and give people hope with their aspirations and dreams. Historically, the emerald has also been linked to romance, with the stone believed to protect lovers and keep their relationship intact while they were together.

Proper Care

Emeralds are best cleaned with warm water, mild soap, and a soft brush. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaning since these can remove the protective oil or resin in the stone. When storing an emerald, make sure you provide enough cushion to prevent it from getting scratched or damaged from potential falls and blows.

Garnet

Garnet is the name used for a group of silicate minerals that include almandine, pyrope, andradite, grossular, uvarovite. Historically, it was one of the most popular gemstones used for burial jewelry and signet rings during the Roman Empire age and continued to be a top stone choice for jewelry in the Victorian era.

Under different lighting conditions, garnets may reflect unique colors. These stones are mostly found in Madagascar, South America, Africa, Russia, India, and the United States. Mozambique garnets are particularly coveted in jewelry as they are known for their quality and warm tones.

Properties

  • Color: Commonly deep red to violet-red
  • Hardness: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Specific Gravity: 3.5 – 4.3
  • Cleavage: None
  • Crystallography: Isometric
  • Luster: Vitreous
  • Refractive Index: 1.72 – 1.95

Types and Varieties

Garnets are more diverse than what many people realize. Many of its groups and varieties can be used and even blended as gemstones for jewelry, with some of the most familiar beings:

  • Almandite. Almandites are one of the most common members of the garnet group. While they come in many colors, the almandite-pyrope blend has the deep red color that you often associate with a garnet.
  • Pyrope. Pyropes are mostly red with a slight brown tint, but it is the only type of garnet that always appears red in its natural state. One of its varieties include rhodolite, which exhibits a pinkish purple color.
  • Grossular. Contrary to most other garnets, grossulars are mostly yellow or orange, rather than the traditional red. Tsavorites, which resemble the emerald green color, are one of the raregrossular species that usually come at a higher cost.
  • Andradite. Andradites are the most lustrous, but also one of the rarest, green Demantoids, in particular, are recognized as one of the most valuable stones in the gemology world.
  • Spessartite. Spessartites have a predominantly orange hue and, much like other garnets, are often blended with other types.

Symbolizes

Protection, Love, Friendship

In medieval times, garnets were thought to give protection or guard people against harm or sickness. Travelers would often wear them to have a safe journey, and many believed the stone’s red color to be a cure for many inflammatory diseases. Garnets have also been associated with virtues like friendship, with the stone commonly being exchanged by friends to strengthen their connection.

Proper Care

Generally, garnet stones can be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap. You can safely use ultrasonic cleaners for most garnet varieties except demantoids, but avoid using steam for any type since this may affect the stone’s color.

Peridot

Peridot has a rich history dating back to 1500 BC during the ancient Egyptian times where it was used to create talismans. It was recognized as the gem of the sun and later became the national gem of Egypt as it was widely used by pharaohs from long ago. At times, peridot is also called the evening emerald due to its olive-like color.

Peridot can be found in many locations, but the finest quality gems are often sourced from Australia, South Africa, China, Norway, and Brazil.

Properties

  • Color: Pale lime green
  • Hardness: 6.5 – 7
  • Specific Gravity: 3.2 – 4.39
  • Cleavage: Imperfect or weak
  • Crystallography: Orthorhombic
  • Luster: Oily or vitreous
  • Refractive Index: 1.635 – 1.879

Symbolizes

Compassion, health, spirituality

Peridot is viewed to be a calming stone that helps in grounding emotions and calming irrational thought to show more compassion to others. Throughout history, it has been believed to have healing properties, protecting the wearer and giving them restful sleeps. The stone is also a symbol of vitality and spirituality, encouraging a person to pursue their passions.

Proper Care

Peridot can be sensitive to many external conditions, so the best way to clean it is with warm, soapy water. Do not use ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaners since these can cause damage. If you are engaged in heavy or strenuous work, make sure to remove any peridot jewelry to avoid scratching or shattering the gem.

Ruby

Dubbed as one of the world’s precious stones, ruby is an extremely durable gemstone, with its most characteristic and desired color being a deep red shade. Even centuries ago, rubies were already used to design armors and weapons. Many ancient cultures viewed the stone with high regard, so much so that the Hindus would divide rubies based on their “social class.”

Rubies can exhibit different colors based on their chromium and iron content, but they are most valuable when they are blood red. Burma, in particular, is known for having some of the highest quality rubies and the most pigeon blood rubies in the world.

Properties

  • Color: Various shades of red
  • Hardness: 9
  • Specific Gravity: 3.99 – 4.1
  • Cleavage: None
  • Crystallography: Hexagonal
  • Luster: Vitreous, adamantine
  • Refractive Index: 1.757 – 1.779

Symbolizes

Love, power, vitality

The bold color of rubies, which resembles blood, easily made them a stone of love and power. Ruby jewelry pieces are often popular during Valentine’s Day or for engagement purposes as they symbolize the love between two people. The stone also evokes a sense of vitality, encouraging the wearer to live their life to the best that they can.

Proper Care

The best way to clean rubies would be using a soft brush and warm, soapy water. It is generally safe to use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner, but be careful not to boil the stone when using the latter. If your ruby is untreated, it may also be sensitive to certain acids and chemicals like lemon juice.

Sapphire

Precious Stone

Ancient Persians viewed sapphires so highly that they believed the blue skies were a reflection of the stone’s color. In more recent times, sapphires were classified as Corundum like rubies. While this precious gem is most prized in its pure blue color, it comes in a diverse range of colors, essentially encompassing all non-red Corundums.

Blue, pink, and pink-orange sapphires have the highest prices in the market. With blue sapphires, color is one of the biggest considerations. Factors like tone, saturation, and hue can all contribute to the stone’s vividness and resulting value.

Properties

  • Color: Various colors, including blue, blue-green, white, gray, colorless, and green
  • Hardness: 9
  • Specific Gravity: 3.99 – 4.1
  • Cleavage: None
  • Crystallography: Hexagonal
  • Luster: Vitreous, adamantine
  • Refractive Index: 1.757 – 1.779

Symbolizes

Focus, truth, fortune

Sapphires were historically linked to royalty, believed to bring fortune and luck to them. They have long been associated with sacred and heavenly things, so many also used the stone as a form of protection while travelling. Given that the color blue is known for its calming effects, it is also no surprise that blue sapphire is considered the stone of focus, mental clarity, and awareness.

Proper Care

As one of the most durable stones, sapphire can withstand most cleaning methods. The traditional warm, soapy water will work just as effectively, but you can use ultrasonic and steam cleaning techniques if needed. Be careful not to boil the stone. Since sapphires have a high hardness level, you must also store them separately and carefully to avoid scratching other gemstones.

Topaz

Topaz has always been considered a stone of love, so in ancient times, many would call almost every yellow and brown gemstone as topaz. The Greeks and Romans particularly valued this gemstone and used it for jewelry and other purposes. Back then, topaz was a rare stone due to its scarcity, but now, it is much more abundant and accessible.

Topaz can have varying characteristics based on its origin. Some of the most common sources include Russia, Brazil, Pakistan, Germany, and the United States.

Properties

  • Color: Various colors, including blue, white, gray, yellow, pale pink, and orange
  • Hardness: 8
  • Specific Gravity: 3.56 – 3.57
  • Cleavage: Perfect basal
  • Crystallography: Orthorhombic
  • Luster: Vitreous
  • Refractive Index: 1.607 – 1.649

Symbolizes

Communication, relationships, wealth

Topaz is connected to many empathic symbols as the stone is known to calm and soothe the wearer. It is often said to be suitable for mending relationships with people or resolving issues as it helps promote communication and understanding among people. Aside from this, topaz has also been largely associated with wealth as it is believed to honor the goddess of abundance, Demeter.

Proper Care

Topaz must only be cleaned the simplest way: through warm, soapy water. Do not use ultrasonic and steam cleaners since these can leave the stone and cause damage. Similarly, avoid exposing the stone to prolonged sunlight or abrupt changes in temperature since these can bleach its color.

Opal

Opal is often credited for being the most colorful gem as it almost resembles a rainbow in that the stone displays a spectrum of many vibrant colors. Like most other gemstones, opals come in many different varieties that each looks different. Among all of them, black opals are known to be the most valuable.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a blue variant of the beryl mineral and can come in different shades and hues, with richer and deeper blues holding more value. Commonly found in Brazil and Southeast Asia, this stone has often been associated with the sea and skies, invoking a sense of peace and calmness.

Pearl

The name pearl comes from the French word perle, referring to the leg of a mollusk. Compared to the other gemstones, pearls are organic gems since they are not minerals, so when shopping for them in the market, you may find them in their natural state or a cultured version that is grown on a pearl farm.