GemSelect Newsletter - Spring Greens
The month of March heralds the coming of spring and also St Patrick's Day; an Irish national holiday which is celebrated by wearing green. Ireland is known as the "Emerald Isle" because of its beautiful green landscape. Therefore, with a nod to both spring and St Patrick's Day, the theme of this month's newsletter is green gems. No color embodies the spirit of spring like green, which suggests nature springing forth after a dormant phase.
When most people think of green gemstones there is one gem in particular that comes to mind. Without a doubt, the best-known and loved green gemstone is emerald. The history of emerald goes back thousands of years, to the ancient Egyptians, Moguls and Mesoamericans, and there are tales of beauty, love and adventure that feature this stunning green beryl jewel. Emerald is traditionally defined as medium to dark-green beryl that is colored by chromium, though many regions including the US also accept vanadium-colored green beryl to be emerald. Emerald varies between medium and dark-green and from a little yellowish- to bluish-green. The most valuable aspect of emerald is its color and the most desirable emeralds are medium-dark slightly bluish-green gems. With emerald, inclusions and flaws are accepted attributes of a natural gemstone. Emerald is the classic "precious" green gemstone, but it is not the only green stone in the jewelry box.
Depending on the exact green that is desired, there is plenty of choice. One of our favorite green gems is tsavorite garnet, which is colored by chromium or vanadium. Tsavorite has a color that rivals fine emerald and tends to be cleaner and completely untreated. In fact, tsavorite can easily be mistaken for fine emerald. Until recently, tsavorite garnet was only found in the Tsavo National Park region in Kenya and on the other side of the border in Arusha Region of Tanzania. In the 1990s, tsavorite garnet was found in Southern Madagascar. However, there are fewer tsavorite stones produced in Madagascar. The only downside with tsavorite is that it is extremely rare in gems weighing over 1 carat.
Another rare green garnet gem is demantoid garnet, which is prized not only for its yellowish- to deep-green color, but also for its exceptionally high refractive index. This gives demantoid garnet an incredibly high level of brilliance. This, along with the highest dispersion rating of any jewelry gemstone and an adamantine luster, means that demantoid garnet is a genuine dazzler of a gem. If you like green gems with a lot of sparkle look no further than demantoid garnet gems, which may tend to be on the small side, but light up any piece of jewelry. Unlike tsavorite garnet, demantoid garnet gems tend to have visible inclusions. In fact, inclusions that resemble a horsetail are prized in demantoid garnet because they are an indication of favored Russian origin.
For those who are looking for larger and more affordable green gems, tourmaline is a great choice. Tourmaline is a gem group known for its many types and colors, including green. Green dravite is a rare, chromium-bearing tourmaline variety which is found along with tsavorite garnet. Chrome tourmaline is a forest-green color. A more common variety of green tourmaline is also known as verdelite, which varies from bluish-green to yellowish- and brownish-green. Often, tourmaline shows more than one color in a single gemstone, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. The beauty of tourmaline gems for jewelry is that they can be easily found in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some say that the variety is the spice of life and tourmaline has this in abundance.
Sapphire is a gem that is best-known in its blue rather than green form. Green and other non-traditional sapphire colors are often referred to as "fancy sapphire". Green sapphires are typically colored by traces of iron and can be pale, yellowish-green to dark, forest-green, with some unusual bluish-green and silver-green color variations. In addition, some color-change sapphires are green. Beautiful color, superior hardness and durability are what make sapphire one of the most popular jewelry gemstones of all time.
Another wonderful green gem is peridot. This tends to be more olive-green than emerald green. Its yellowish-green color provides a nice contrast with rose gold settings and pink gems. Peridot is an idiochromatic gemstone, which means that its color comes from its composition rather than trace impurities. Therefore, peridot only occurs in green, though the color of peridot varies from yellowish-green to brownish-green.
For those who love cabochons and carved gems, prehnite is a great green choice. Our prehnite is available in some interesting leaf and fruit carvings, which embody the spirit of spring. Prehnite gems can have a translucent, hazy quality to them, which along with their soft apple green color makes them quite unique. Prehnite is not a very well-known gem type because it used to be quite scarce. Most prehnite is now mined from China, where it is sometimes traded as "grape jade". Prehnite is typically green, but can also be found in brown, yellow, blue, orange and white.
The above is not a comprehensive list of green gemstones with which to celebrate a serene spring. There are several green gems not mentioned here, such as other green cabochon gems including maw-sit-sit, jade, chrysoprase, agate, amazonite, serpentine, seraphinite, turquoise, variscite and malachite. Further examples of faceted green gemstones are sphene, hiddenite, idocrase, kornerupine, enstatite and chrome diopside. For more detailed information on green gems, please refer to our green gemstone article.
Rubellite is a trade name for a rare and sought-after pink to red tourmaline which varies from deep-pink to red, often with a purple tint. Now and again, we acquire a few rubellite gems, which always sell out very quickly, even when heavily included. We are excited about our latest rubellite gems, because they are eye clean and around 2 carats in weight. In addition, many of our new rubellite tourmaline gems have been pre-certified by Burapha Gem Lab. The colors of these gems are absolutely awesome! If you like rubellite, you will fall truly, madly and deeply for these stones.
Lapis lazuli has been admired and used as a gemstone since ancient times, but some of our new lapis gems have been given a more modern look. We have recently acquired some lapis lazuli that have been faceted with a modified rose-cut, which is a popular cut given to black gems such as black spinel, melanite, black agate and black tourmaline. Modern trends have created a demand for such cuts. As you can see in the photo on the right, these lapis gems have flat bottoms like cabochons, with facets on the top. These unusual lapis gems are perfect for pendants.
Kunzite is a pale pink to light-violet spodumene gem that was named after George Frederick Kunz; American mineralogist and buyer for Tiffany & Co., who also identified another pale pink gemstone known as morganite. Both kunzite and morganite were first discovered in California, USA, but are now mined in other places such as Afghanistan and Madagascar. Kunzite is a versatile and durable jewelry gemstone that is best worn in the evening because it can fade after prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. For those who love large pink gems, kunzite is an affordable option. It is believed that kunzite enhances communication between lovers and encourages good fortune.
Large rough diamonds are always being discovered, but a recent discovery by Lucapa in Angola will be hard to beat. The D-color diamond weighs 404.2 carats; almost twice the weight of the previous record-breaking 217.4-carat diamond, which was discovered in 2007. The latest discovery is now the largest recorded Angolan diamond.
After approximately thirty years in a bank vault, the confiscated jewelry of former Philippine First Lady, Imelda Marcos, is set to be auctioned. Following a recent appraisal by Christie's and Sotheby's, the collection was given an estimated value of $21 million. Among the seized jewelry are a 25-carat pink diamond and a diamond tiara by Cartier.
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Happy Gem Hunting!
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- First Published: March-01-2016
- Last Updated: June-15-2017
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