Learn about Gemstones

Want to Know About Gemstones?

Roslyn Gemstones, Birthstones & Zodiac Signs Designing Jewelry

What are Gemstones?

Gemstones are so fascinating, I love to tell readers and customers a little about the gemstones that we use in our handcrafted artisan jewelry.  What is a gemstone? A gemstone is the natural occurring crystalline form of a mineral that when cut and polished, is made usable to create jewelry. They are desirable for beauty, valuable for their rarity and durable to be enjoyed for generations. Their colors, properties, myths and legends are diverse and there is folklore dating back to ancient times about the virtues of gemstones in almost all cultures.
Most gemstones are found deep in the earth and have to be mined. They are nature’s gift to us. 

Sisters:Springtime Jewelry

Sisters” features coral mountain jade paired with chariote and rhodochrosite.

Precious or semi-precious gems?

The distinction between precious and semi-precious gems came about in the 18th century. The difference was based on value; the value determined by rarity and quality. The precious stones are diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. But today there are many exceptions to this rule for example, a high quality garnet or an extremely rare specimen of tanzanite is worth more than a low quality diamond, so the distinction doesn’t hold the same meaning.  Aside from diamonds ,rubies, and sapphires, there are over 400 amazing varieties of semi-precious stones from which small stones are cut and drilled for use in beaded jewelry design. These have traditionally been referred to as semi-precious gems. Very often in commercial use, these two terms can be misleading. I read an ad from a jeweler who said there is no such thing as a stone being half precious, so he refers to all the stones he uses as gemstones. We prefer to use the terms semi-precious or gemstones and we write the name of the stones on our tags for our customers knowledge.

How do jewelry artisans choose a gemstone?

An important criteria in selecting stones for jewelry design is the hardness of the stone, which means its resistance to being scratched or its ability to scratch other things. Most gemstones are hard and selected for durability while soft gemstones may be selected more for their aesthetic value. Take a look at this example below, using the Mohs hardness scale which runs from 1-10 with 10 being the hardest:

Described in Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, a popular supply source.

Described in Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, a popular supply source.

I wouldn’t use a gemstone like Fluorite with a rating of 4 in a bracelet that could get banged around as it is more prone to being scratched. However, it does make for a lovely delicate necklace with its variation of color in pale aqua and purple.

Gemstones as Birthstones

Where did this idea to designate a particular stone or two as a birthstone come from? For the history of birthstones and folklore stories try reading The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by George Frederick Kunz.  He states that the custom of wearing birthstones probably became popular in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. Many people enjoy owning a piece of jewelry that is their birthstone and it has become a popular gift. Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 6.09.54 PM

Healing Properties of Gemstones

Some people believe gemstones hold different healing properties. Below is a general guide.

As seen in Positive Med

Some of our designs using semi-precious stones

 

At Earth and Moon Design, we have created over 1,000 beaded necklaces using semi-precious beads as one of our favorite materials. Being able to combine the richness of these stones with other materials has enabled us to continue to create one-of-a-kind necklaces with unique designs and style. Stop and think about the experience of wearing a handcrafted beautiful piece of jewelry that no one else owns and visit EarthandMoonDesign.com  to explore our gemstone creations.

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Roslyn
I loved going to work each day for 30 years as a professional career counselor. When I retired, I explored my creativity and regard for crafts until I discovered beading. At age 68 I turned my new found passion- jewelry design, into a business. At age 72 I took on learning about social media marketing and developing my computer skills. I am sharing my journey from inception, to frustration, to elation -in the hope of inspiring others that 'it is not too late to start again'. Welcome to my re-invention!

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  1. Thank you for this very informative article about gemstones. I didn’t realize there was a division of opinion in the jewelry world about what they should be called. I like the idea that soft, fragile stones can do very well as delicate necklaces.

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      Thanks Beth Niebuhr for your comment. When we first started designing beaded jewelry 6 years ago, I was often confused by the use of all these terms. So much depends on who is using them. A fine jeweler will more likely use gems, precious gemstones or gemstones. Someone selling bead supplies will call them gemstones or semi-precious gemstones, while we, the end user will only use term like semi-precious. It can be misleading.

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  2. Thank you for sharing about gemstones. Each stone is very beautiful and has it’s own uniqueness about it. Very informative information. I like the their healing properties as well. Your pieces are very creative with such great colors and designs.

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      Thanks Meryl Hershey Beck for your comments. I know many readers are attracted to the healing properties of gemstones which is why I included the chart. This topic could probably be made into many articles.

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  3. Oh, Roslyn, this is one amazing blog. I must continue to learn from you (and get my 1,000 words) as your blogging activities improve. Today I learned so much about gemstones and, even though I don’t want you to give me a quiz, thank you very much, I now know more than I did this morning and I think I can make an intelligent decision when I buy jewelry from you. Do you custom design for babies? I have a granddaughter (2) and a future great-niece (due in February). Neither would wear jewelry now, but gee, their mothers could keep them, right, until they’re old enough to appreciate them? What do you think?

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      Tina- Thanks for your great comment and guess what- I don’y want to be quizzed either. So much to learn about. I’m amazed my brain can store it all. I have a 2 , almost 3 yr old granddaughter who loves to play with my necklaces & does put them on when she visits. Her mom doesn’t think she’ll be ready until 5 or 6 and then, probably a stretch bracelet with inexpensive beads. Beads have weight to them. Have to give this question some thought.

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      Thanks Kristen Wilson. I’ve been writing on topics with substantial content for some time and of course like tying it in with our products. I’m being more aware of marketing ins & outs. Like being called a ‘smart cookie’. Means I’m finally getting it.

  4. Wow Roz! Thank you for that incredibly interesting history and enlightenment about the stones. I never know ANY of this and I loved learning about it. You continue to amaze me with your gorgeous jewelry and your varied and intriguing posts. I always look forward to each one because I learn something new and you give me things to think about that expand my knowledge.

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      Thanks Julie Latz for your wonderful comment. It is challenging to come up with new and interesting topics, so if you have any questions you’d like me to address, please ask.

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  5. Love this. I used to work in a nice jewelry store so I learned a lot about the stones. I learned a little about the healing properties over time. Gems are more precious than many realize and they are just simply pretty!

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  6. Great information about gemstones, semi-precious and precious stones. I am a fan of colored stones; diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they are just not interesting enough to me. Give me my emeralds (my birth stone) any day!

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      Thanks Jackie Harder for your comment. It also seems that women who love emeralds because it is their birthstone, also love many green stones and jewelry using it. It helps to have red hair.

  7. Its nice to know that my birthstone, the emerald is a precious gemstone. This article was very interesting and informative. There is so much more than just design and color to consider when you create your jewelry. I had really not thought about that. My younger brother, where my mother lives, is a rock hound. That is one thing that attracts him to Nevada, the mining industry. He has worked in all facets of mining especially gold mines but in the process he understands and knows about so many other rocks or gems. A fun activity when visiting him is to go hunting in the mountains for turquoise and similar stones. At one point he had quite a collection of stones and even had some made into jewelry. Unfortunately, someone broke into his truck and stole his entire collection. I was very sad when that happened.

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      Sorry to hear that your brother lost many treasures Pat Moon. I was facinated by geodes and rocks and did stone tumbling with my kids. Their Dad taught Science and Earth Science and we all shared this interest. Never thought I’d be blogging about it or using gems and designing jewelry.

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  8. Love the healing properties, have shared that on my Pinterest healing Vision board, 🙂 I use crystal , and at the same time want to know more about the healing properties so i have a crystal card deck and draw a card daily to expand my knowledge. Love you story in your bio 🙂 Your pinterest is awesome thank you xx

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      Thanks Renee. This was my first ‘evergreen’ blog. We updated with new jewelry. So many readers like the healing information, we wrote our 2nd ‘evergreen’ blog that I’ll bring around again in a few weeks.

  9. Great piece to learn about the gemstones and their healing properties and best uses based on their Moh’s hardness. I actually have two polished fluorite bracelets and once polished, I believe they do have the ability to last, even withstanding my wrist movements. I really love the citrine necklace featured on this piece, even though it isn’t something I often wear as a colour. I do have citrine in my house and do have one bracelet as well. My house is filled with gemstones and I often carry them with me as well. Always wear them on my wrist and my neck as well. Enjoyed this article and seeing how it ties in with your jewelry!

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      Thanks Beverley for sharing your connection to gemstones. I recall we talked about your love of stones. I always look forward to the added information you bring to our blogs.

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      Sorry Beth, I failed to mention I was repurposing my first ‘evergreen’ blog. We updated the jewelry. Sometimes on a reread you pick up other information.

  10. This is fascinating!! I only knew a few tidbits about the different qualities that are desired in a few different gems, but this is a lot more info and I love learning!!

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  11. Seems I’ve been claiming the wrong birthstone 🙁 A friend pointed it out a while ago and I told them they were wrong – oh well, we’re still friends. Now I’m off the to jewelry shop to look at Alexandrite 🙂

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      Sue, Alexandrite is an alternative birthstone for June while Pearl is usually preferred. Alexandrite is a color changing stone so look at it in different light. We have semi-precious Alexandrite beads if you would like to own a necklace in this stone.

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      Thanks, Sherri Frost for your comment. We aim to educate and delight. Turquoise is a popular and there are many varieties depending on where it is mined.

  12. I was born in January (garnet) but believe I was really an April gal because I LOVE diamonds! This has inspired me to go through my jewelry box and pick out some pieces I haven’t worn in a while. Thanks for the informative article Roz!

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  13. You always create such beautiful and inspiring pieces. I always enjoy reading your posts. You share such great information and I always find myself learning something new. Gemstones are very fascinating.

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      Meryl Hershey Beck, as a former bead jewelry maker, Iso appreciate your commenys. I hope you wore one of your own creations to your self-wedding.

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  14. I never knew that there was a scale to determine whether a gemstone was soft or hard but it certainly makes sense if you are going to be using them for different purposes.

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  15. I love learning about gemstones! I love expanding my collection and particularly love getting rings in different gemstones such as tanzanite and morganite. But my necklace collection in my largest. Thank you for all the information you give us to make better choices!

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  16. As I reread this great post again, I remember how my daughter was drawn to crystals and gemstones at a very young age. They seemed to speak to her and she somehow recognized their healing power. Both of us always wear some kind of jewelry everyday that has gemstones in it. For me, it is bracelets and pendants and same for her. As far as favourites, I love turquoise and amethyst (my birth stone). At different times, I am drawn to different energies and have continued to collect both gemstones on their own and in my jewellery. Thanks for the wonderful research and for your own love to designing with gemstones!

  17. You know.. that is a great point… knowing the difference between the types of material you use is important. It’s important because folks want to know what they are paying for… and there IS a difference in quality… so they need to know the difference.
    Curious – do you put in a note in the box when someone gets a piece of jewelry explaining what a “gem” they have?

  18. We don’t miss the effort you put into your blogs, Ros. They get better all the time and I don’t like to miss ’em. Look at all the comments!

  19. This is really interesting. I have always loved my birthstone (Emerald) for more than just its color. After reading this, it makes even more sense how sometimes it even feels like a comfort to me to wear the stones. Great, informative and interesting post. Thank you.

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  20. I had no idea there was such an official rating scale for hardness of gemstones. It makes sense to judge a gemstone on that and then determine how you would use such a stone in a piece. There is so much more to the craft of jewelry than just stringing things together! You do a fabulous job, Roslyn.

  21. Great article, Roz, on gems and semi-precious stones. I love that you not only included what they are, but their healing properties and which ones are often given for specific birthdays. Love the necklaces and the various designs you offer with the blog post.

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      Thanks, Debbie Takara Shelor- I know you could write many articles on these topics. It was hard to limit so this was an overview. We wrote another blog on healing properties as that was what resonated with many of our readers. Will update and publish in near future.

  22. Providing comprehensive information about gemstones about its historical background, characteristics and healing properties is a great contribution to all gemstone lovers.

  23. This is fascinating. I had always wondered about semi-precious vs. precious. I understand that one is more rare than the other, but you you cleared up my questions regarding “exceptions” to the rules.

    I also love the healing chart. I have long kept healing stones nearby. Even if it is all in my head, hey it works… 🙂

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  24. I’m a gemstone person, Roslyn and am interested both in gemstones for healing and the Hindu astrology aspect of gems for solutions. More often than not, if I am attracted to a gem it means that there is something going on in my life where the gem can give me support. My favorite must haves are ambers, amethysts, rose heart crystal and red garnets for chakra balancing. The key in the Hindu system is that the gem must touch the skin and I have written quite a bit about my findings in my metaphysical blog from a layman’s perspective. Your pieces of art (I can only describe your jewlry as art) would help the user achieve their desired goal. Thank you for an informative post.

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      Thank you, Vatsala Shukla for your added information to this topic. Would love to have you be a guest contributor knowing how knowledgable you are on the topic of gemstones.

  25. One of the things I haven’t mentioned yet in any of my comments, is that I find it fascinating how I am drawn to different gemstones at different times in my life. I’ve also heard that if you lose a favourite stone or piece of jewelry, to trust that you do not need the energy of that stone any longer. I carry hematite in my pocket to help ground me and often it disappears at times and then reappears just when I need it. I love how you incorporate so many different gemstones in your pieces and how the combinations are both visually stunning and also have deep healing power as well.

  26. Hi Roslyn, This is so interesting, I would love to know the healing properties of turquoise as I am surrounded daily by this beautiful stone. It is kind of interesting that my favorite stone that has been a part of my life for years is now my child’s birthstone. Great post, easy to read, great work Roz

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      Lisa of My western heart, the primary healing property of Turquoise is protection. Great when used for travel. Some believe it is a universal stone that will guide them to become one with the universe.

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  27. Wow! I took an Uber the other day and my driver, who was from India, told me that my name is very similar to a saying that means the most precious part of something, usually jewelry, like the pendant or gemstone in a ring or necklace. I love all this info about stones.

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  28. Great post. Love the information, it interesting to see how things have evolved and all the gemstones that are gaining popularity. I never thought about the hardness of a stone and it’s use in jewelery, makes so much sense. Love the necklaces!

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  29. Ooh! I’m loving the Blue Lace set, too! Gosh…so many choices! Interesting tidbit about the hardness of stones. Of course, I knew some were softer than others, but I had no idea there was an official scale. Should have known!

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      Yes, Jackie Harder, you should have known given you love jewelry.You know how marketers say to write to your target audience. I write with you in mind.

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  30. Thank you for the information. I didn’t know about the hardness or what the difference between precious and semi-precious was before. Your jewelry is beautiful.

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  31. As my family will attest, I’m obsessed with jewelry. I even thought about making jewelry as a side biz/hobby. I bought the tools, stones and materials–only to discover my arthritic hands preferred rest after a long day on the computer. The section on precious versus semi-precious stones surprised me when I read the sentence about the value of tanzanite possibly exceeding a lower quality diamond! Had no idea! Really enjoyed reading about gemstones and perusing your beautiful, unique creations.

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      So pleased you got value Meghan Monaghan from this roundup. Now, I didn’t know you were a jewelry lover. Do you have a preference in style, gemstones versus chain, long vs short, fav colors, etc. Just some inside info for you is that my hands tremble & I’m amazed I can bead at all.

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