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.
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:
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.
Healing Properties of Gemstones
Some people believe gemstones hold different healing properties. Below is a general guide.
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.