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Gemvara Blog » Gem Class
3 January

The Rich Hues of Garnet, January’s Birthstone

One of our favorite things about January (besides is marking the start of a new year) is its beautiful birthstone: garnet! This remarkable gemstone has been a staple of jewelry for centuries, adorning the necks of Egyptian pharaohs and embedded in the signet rings of the Romans.
January's Birthstone - Red Garnet
Garnet comes in a wide range of colors and here at Gemvara we offer two spectacular shades of Garnet to customize with. The traditional red garnet, also known in ancient times as “carbuncle,” and the vibrant rhodolite garnet, a rich raspberry hued gemstone. Both garnets are stunning and pair well with any metal type, from silver to rose gold. To help you get started we have included some “insider” tips on January’s birthstone.

January's Birthstone - Rhodolite Garnet

When you are shopping for garnet, the most important value factor to consider is the quality of the garnet – the more vivid and bright the color, the more valuable the garnet. Cut is even more important than clarity, since a well-cut garnet will dance with light and because all Gemvara jewelry is made to order, we hand-select fine-quality garnets to perfectly suit your design.

With two shades of garnet to customize in, creating a piece of birthstone jewelry has never been easier. Not to mention you can create with the shade of garnet you love most. How do red garnet and rhodolite garnet inspire you?

17 October

Which Gemstone Shape Fits You Best?

At Gemvara, we offer eight gemstone shapes to create your perfect engagement ring.  Each cut and shape has different qualities to make your gemstone sparkle and stand out.  If you’re more classic, you can’t go wrong with a round cut (the Carrie Ring is a customer favorite).  If you’re looking for something a little more unique, a marquise cut stone has a distinct, eye-catching shape sure to turn heads. No matter the cut of the stone, every ring is unique to you and your style.  Which gemstone shape fits you best?

 10_15 Gemstone Cut Blog

CushionHeart •  PearMarquise

30 August

Shades of Sapphire: September’s Birthstone

A gem loved by royalty, the lusciously hued sapphire is also the birthstone for the month of September.  Gemvara offers four shades of sapphire to customize with (blue sapphire, pink sapphire, yellow sapphire, and white sapphire), but sapphires actually come in every color except red.  That’s because the red version of the stone is, in fact, actually a ruby, as both sapphire and ruby come from the mineral corundum.

Sapphires are widely popular and have been used as the center stone of engagement rings for centuries, but have been popularized in the modern times by Princess Diana and Duchess Kate Middleton.  It’s also said that the Heart of the Ocean from the movie Titanic was based on an actual sapphire lost at sea on that fateful voyage.

Celebrating a birthday this September?  Sapphire jewelry is the perfect gift, especially when you can pick the shade of sapphire you love most on Gemvara.  Which shade of sapphire is your favorite?

September Birthstone Sapphire

9 December

Gem Class: Tanzanite and Blue Topaz

Demand attention at your next holiday party with one (or two) of December’s birthstones, tanzanite and blue topaz. These two gemstones are stylish and stunning, perfect in any piece, created for you or your special someone.

A member of the mineral family zoisite, tanzanite is a relatively new gemstone. In fact, it only became a birthstone 10 years ago. Tanzanite was only named December’s birthstone in 2002. It’s velvety purplish-blue color is unique.  Manuel d’Souza was looking for sapphire in 1967 when he stumbled upon a new gemstone in northeastern Tanzania, East Africa. The natives took him to an area in the region of the Merelani Hills near Mount Kilimanjaro and he found precious blue stones originally believed to be sapphire. When he realized they weren’t, he started mining.

Soon Tanzanite started to become the focus in America and Europe. In 1970, Tiffany and Co. began a marketing campaign to introduce it to the public. Henry Platt of Tiffanys named the stone tanzanite. The secret to tanzanite’s mesmerizing color is trichoism: crystals of tanzanite are three different colors from different directions. This means that blue and purple dance together in the depths of the gem as it moves and catches the light.

This is one of the most successful and exciting discoveries in the field of gemstones in a century. The original stones are over 500 million years old and are the only tanzanite stones that are naturally blue. The Smithsonian Institute has  an impressive tanzanite collection including a 122.7 carat stone.

Topaz, the second and equally impressive December birthstone, actually means “fire” in Sanskrit.  It was given this name because many cultures believed that the sun is responsible for it’s color. Some of the mystical properties that topaz offers are warding off colds, enhancing the breathing process, and help those with insomnia.

The most famous topaz is a colorless topaz that was thought to be a diamond. It is a 1680 carat stone known as the “Braganza Diamond” set in Portuguese Crown Jewels.

Blue topaz, however, is the most common color variety and is also used as December’s second birthstone. Gemvara’s blue topaz has a bright and lively color that looks gorgeous set in every metal. We also offer a second shade of blue topaz, a London Blue Topaz that has a darker more intense shade of blue.

Which stone do you prefer?


3 November

Gem Class: Citrine

November’s honey-glowed birthstone, Citrine, is named after the French word ‘citrin’ meaning lemon. It comes in a multitude of colors that range from straw and sun yellow to a clay orange or a Maderia red. The red variety is the most valuable, the natural yellow is the most rare, but the straw and orange hued are the most popular.

The ancient Romans used citrine to make beautiful jewelry, however it didn’t become popular until the 18th century. The Arc Deco period, between World War I and II, graced us with many large citrine pieces for the likes of Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford. It is often used for rings with larger stones because of it’s lower price and ultimate shine.

Historically, citrine could be found in Spain, on the Scottish island of Arran, France and Hungary. Nowadays, most of the citrine comes from Brazil but most of the Brazilian material is just heat-treated amethyst. Real, natural citrine can be found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, Dauphine France, and Madagascar.

Citrine has many alleged miraculous powers. It symbolizes light-heartedness, joy, and happiness. Many times it is used as a protective talisman that calms and soothes the owner. Another signature of citrine is wisdom and peace. It enhances creativity and motivates writers.

This gemstone has also been known to possess magical healing powers. It is said to be beneficial for the digestion, stomach aches and  eliminating nightmares. It can also help treat diabetes and relieve depression and also reduces the harmful effects of electrical products and environmental toxins.

Not only is Citrine November’s birthstone, it’s also used to celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary.

Do you believe Citrine’s mystical powers?

28 October

Gem Class: Haunted Jewelry

Haunted Gems

Feeling spooky? With Halloween in three days, we thought we could learn about some of history’s most haunted jewelry. Folklore follows these pieces’ stories of the owners falling ill, losing their wealth, and even dying.

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond is 45.52 carats and is the largest blue diamond in the world. It was first purchased in a crude cut (and 112.19 carats!) by the French merchant Jean Baptiste Tavernier. He sold the stone to King Louis XVI of France in 1668 who had it re-cut and set in gold. As we well know, Louis XVI attempted to flee France in 1792 and was guillotined along with his wife. The diamond was stolen during a looting.

Later the diamond was owned by King George IV of England but was sold after his death in 1830 to cover his debts. Passing through many different private buyers, eventually the stone was bought by Henry Philip Hope where it gets its namesake. It was passed down through his family but again was sold to pay off their debts. Again and again, the diamond was sold and then resold to cover debts.

In 1909, Evalyn Walsh McLean, an American mining heiress socialite, bought the diamond. Her son died in a car accident, her daughter died of a drug overdose, her husband died in a sanitarium and her family was forced to sell their newspaper. Her death in 1947 lead Harry Winston Inc. to buy her collection. He then donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. where it resides to this day.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

This 105.6 carat diamond was found in the Kollur mine in India. It’s name means “mountain of light”.  The gem has been traded through many hands of the Hindus, Mongolians, Persians, Afghan, and Sikh rulers who fought for its ownership in bloody battles. According to ancient folklore, the Koh-i-Noor’s description warns that a man who owns this diamond will know misfortune and that only God or a woman can wear it with impunity.

It was acquired by the British in 1849 and has only been worn by women since. Queen Victoria in 1850 and then Queen Alexandra of Denmark, Queen Mary of Teck, Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother.

It is currently one of the jewels within a British Crown at the Tower of London Jewel House. India is lobbying to get the diamond back, but British Prime Minister David Cameron believes that the British government owns the gem fair and square.

The Blood-Red “Great Imposter”

This ruby isn’t really a ruby – it is a large spinel (a hard glassy mineral that crystallizes in various shades) in a fiery shade of red. Spinels are worth significantly less than rubies which is why this “gemstone” is known as an impostor. The “ruby” is believed to be mined from Badakshan, present day Tajikistan. It was first recorded at the Moorish Kingdom of Granada by Don Pedro the Cruel when it was stolen.

The Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock, owned this ruby because of his success on the battlefield. In 1415, King Henry V got the ruby and added it to his collection. King Henry V won the Battle of Agincourt wearing this fake ruby. This stone was passed through British royalty until King Charles I was beheaded and the stone was stolen.  Charles II brought the stone back but almost lost it in a robbery attempt. Currently, it is on the Imperial State Crown of England.

The Delhi Purple Sapphire – “Cursed” Quartz 

Another impostor is this “sapphire” stone. It isn’t actually a sapphire but an amethyst. This stone was only rumored to have been stolen by a British soldier from the Temple of Indra, the Hindu god of war and weather in 1857. It was brought to England by Colonel W. Ferris who thus suffered financial and health problems.  Edward Heron-Allen was the next owner in 1890 who started having bad luck as soon as he received it. He gave it away to many friends who always returned the stone upon suffering misfortune.

Heron believed the stone was cursed and stained with blue and will strike dishonor on whoever owns it. He kept it locked in seven boxes and surrounded by good luck charms. This gemstone is now on display in the London National History Museum after being donated by his daughter. She wrote a cautionary letter to them.

Do you believe that these stones cause misfortune or is it just simply coincidence?

21 October

Gem Class: Three Stone Engagement Rings

Three stone engagement rings have three stones that most commonly represent the past, present and future. They are known to symbolize the power of love and there can be different combinations of gemstones to represent whatever you’d like.

These rings are also sometimes called trinity rings or trilogy rings – which is a religious reference, representing the Holy Trinity. People also buy these rings to celebrate a child’s birth or anniversary.

The common three stone engagement ring has a larger center stone with two accent stones. The accent stones are meant to enhance the overall look of the ring without being distracting from the center stone.

What would you buy a three stone ring for?

14 October

Gem Class: Gemstone Cuts

At Gemvara we offer eight beautiful gemstone cuts for any engagement ring that you’d like. These different cuts make your future engagement ring special. Gemstone design has been around for decades, it makes the gemstones look the best they can possibly look with the most shine.

round cut is one the most popular way to cut a gemstone. This cut is said to have come from an old miner cut which was popular in the seventeenth century. This ancient cut didn’t have the facets that today’s round cut has. A round cut diamond has 57 facets.

The second most popular shape gemstone cut is the princess cut. This cut is a relatively recent development in gemstone design but it is a great way to cut colored gemstones. It solved a problem that was – what is the most attractive way to cut a square or oblong gemstone? This cut emphasizes color and luster.

Emerald cut gemstones have a rectangular shape with oblong facets on each side and the corners. Gemstones with this cut are gorgeous stones with the facets the sparkle really shines. It has understated elegance and a well-refined look. This cut was originally made for emeralds because of the difficulty in cutting them because they have more inclusions than diamonds.

The marquise cut is known as the “Navette cut”. This cut is credited to King Louis XV of France who wanted to create a diamond cut to reflect the beautiful shape of the mouth of his mistress. This shape is like a long oval which has been stretched out to a point at each end.

Lazare Kaplan, a Russian born diamond cutter, is credited with the oval cut. He came from a family of jewelers but his specific still was taking a rough diamond and splitting into smaller stones.  As well, he was prided for his capabilities of taking imperfect diamonds and making a valuable cut. In the 1960s he created the oval cut.

Cushion cuts were very popular during the nineteenth century. The basis for this cut was the Old Mine Cut which has a square cut with rounded corners, deeply cut with a high crown. The modern Cushion cut resembles a cross between the Old Mine Cut and a modern oval cut.

The pear cut was very popular during the Renaissance. Louis van Berquem of Belgium created this cut in 1458. He also invented a polishing wheel called a scaif that enabled him to cut facets in a diamond. A pear cut is a half oval and half marquise, the stone is pointed at one end and rounded on the other.

Heart cut is the ultimate symbol of love and the most romantic of all shaped diamonds. It is essentially a pear shaped diamond with a cleft at the top. It has 59 facets. It was during the 1400s this was invented.

What cut do you prefer?

7 October

Gem Class: Ancient Egyptian Jewels

Ancient Egyptian jewelry has been around for as long as the pyramids themselves. It is considered some of the most rare and exquisite jewelry of all time and a valuable piece of history. Men and women alike wore large amounts of jewelry and it was never limited to just necklaces and rings. The Egyptians wore stylized and brightly colored anklets, collars, bracelets, fillets, and earrings on a regular basis.

Egyptians wore jewelry for various reasons but first and foremost, they wanted to protect themselves from evil. The jewelry was to ward off magic spells and guard from different forces. The jewelry made them feel lucky, just like a rabbit’s foot. They used stone to create these talismans. Materials were chosen based on religious beliefs and symbolism. Colors that were used were symbolic such as turquoise for the green of the spring or lapis lazuli as the blue of the sky.  Green also is symbolic of prosperity and fertility.

The first evidence of jewelry in Ancient Egypt was during the Badarian and Nagari eras. Materials used were natural resources such as wood, stones, horns, and bones. It wasn’t until later that metals were used. Precious metals were finally accessible the real ornate jewelry known from the Ancient Egyptians started to be made. Making gold and silver was easier and during the dynastic era. There was an assortment of metals, stones, and minerals used. Silver was the favorite until the Middle Kingdom when gold took over.

The use of gold represented the flesh of the gods, the fire and glory of the sun, and an eternal luster because gold never stopped shining. Lapis lazuli was the favorite gemstones but turquoise, amethyst, garnet, and opal were also used. Much of the jewelry had religious icons and symbols.

The Egyptians buried jewelry with their deceased. The scarab was one of the most popular amulets to be buried with the dead in Ancient Egypt. It was symbol of rebirth. It was believed that the Egyptian god Ra pushed the setting sun along the skyline the same way that a beetle rolls dung into a ball for eating and laying eggs. Many scarab artifacts have the beetle pushing the sun in the sky.

2 October

Gem Class: October Birthstones

October is a special month. There are two awesome types of gemstones and three bright colors offered at Gemvara.

Fire opal has many different properties. It can be charged with every type of energy for use in magic spells, they have been carried for invisibility, and used as a protection stone.  If your looking to start something new, use fire opal. It brings out spontaneous action, initiates new ideas, stimulates enthusiasm, and acts as a magnet to draw in money. It is also a symbol of faithfulness, protection, and loyalty.

3 Fun Facts about Fire Opal:

1) 97% of the opals in the world come from Australia

2) The name opal comes from the Greek “opallios” coming from the Sanskirt “upala” meaning precious stone

3) Opals can express every color in the visible spectrum

Tourmaline is the second birthstone for October. We have green and pink tourmaline on Gemvara. Tourmaline is the gem of intuition, a source of artistic inspiration. It is known to strengthen the mind, spirit, and is a valuable part of Far Eastern medicine. Egyptians used tourmaline for both physical and emotional remedies. It is supposed to have strong healing powers.

3 Fun Facts about Tourmaline:

1) Tourmaline’s name comes from Sinhalese word “turmali” which means “mixed”

2) For the 8th wedding Anniversary

3) In South America, where the majority of such gem-quality material is found, green tourmaline is still referred to as the “Brazilian emerald”

Were you born in October? Which gemstone do you prefer?

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