The four precious gemstones are Diamond, Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire. Everyone knows this. There is however a whole world of semi-precious gemstones that many people have heard of but are not confident in. So, here are our top three semi-precious gemstones you should know about, each with a very different character.
Aquamarine is probably the most popular gemstone choice after diamond and sapphire. They generally come in light, bright sky-blue tones. The very finest pieces have a deeper, richer, grey-blue colour which is known as ‘Santa Maria’. These pieces come almost exclusively from Brazil, in particular the Santa Maria mine in Minas Gerais in the South of Brazil which is now all but retired. That colour now is very rare. The more familiar, lighter material is bright and fresh and makes for a lovely gemstone around which to base a piece of jewellery. A matching pair as earrings would be a simple way to give aquamarine. Or how about a bulbous pear shape set with some diamonds around it as a cluster ring?
Because of the naturally occurring shape of the Aquamarine crystal, which is actually the mineral Beryl, the same as emerald, it is possible to find nice long gemstones like this one. It would be excellent as a plunging drop pendant with an old-cut diamond or three above, reminiscent of the slender elegance of the Edwardian era. They loved these long elegant sophisticated shapes. It doesn’t have so many natural flaws and fissures as its cousin Emerald so the integrity of the stone tends to be greater and is fine for everyday wear. Aquamarines work best in white metal and are a good accompaniment to pearls.
For centuries red spinel was thought to be the same as Ruby. We now know that it is its own group of minerals from which come some very fine gemstones. They are to be found in several places, primarily Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Tanzania, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. The most desirable are vivid reds and blues but they also manifest a broad range of lilacs, purples and violets.
When well cut they are bright and lively and at 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness perfect for jewellery. For the lover of colour, the Spinel should be on your radar. Here is a lovely 4.54cts raspberry-coloured cushion cut – it would make an excellent cocktail ring or pendant.
Zircon is the oldest known mineral on earth, specimens from Australia are 4.4 billion years old. They are to be found on pretty much every continent of the earth with most coming from Australia and Africa. It has a very high refractive index which means it returns a lot of light to the eye – a reason why it has historically been confused with diamond. Zircon comes in an array of colours from vivid blues and greens through many more earthy shades with notes of orange, brown, flinty-grey and olive. When well cut it has to our eye a sort of cool, frosty brightness to it. There is something in the nature of the reflection and colour that just says Zircon.
We have three to show here, a lovely chunky green pear shape, a sea-blue square cushion share and a rare colour change variety. Under incandescent light, this long cushion cut shows a vivid green changing to bright blues and purples under ultraviolet light. Zircon is 6-7 on the Mohs hardness scale so fine for everyday wear though one needs to be a little more mindful.
If you find yourself taken by any of these semi-precious gemstones,please contact us. We can talk you through the process of commissioning bespoke jewellery.