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Gemvara Blog » Birthstones
9 December

How to Buy a Gift She'll Really Love

What makes a gift truly memorable?  It’s a cliché but the thought really does count. Picking something that tells the recipient that you really know her and appreciate her for who she is makes even a modest gift touch her heart.  Here are five sure-fire tips on picking the right gift for the women in your life.

1. Make Her the Heroine of the Story

The best gifts say something about what makes her special to you.  It can be as simple as a pair of blue topaz studs “that remind you of her beautiful blue eyes,” a purple sweater that matches her favorite handbag, a gift card to her favorite store or site.  The key here is to show that you pay attention to everything about her. To make this work you need to tell her why you picked this for her: doing it in a hand-written card gets you extra points.

2. Get Personal

Choosing something that is personalized automatically makes it more special.  Get her a pendant with her initial or her zodiac sign. She’ll be touched at your thoughtfulness.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Mushy

Design a ring with your two birthstones and tell her you made it because you are born to be together.  Choose a locket and put a picture of the two of you and a tiny love note inside.  A book of poetry is even more romantic with a note from you on the first page. For your mom, a gift with the kid’s birthstones is extra special.

4. When in Doubt, Go for the Gold

Believe me, jewelry is always a good idea. Give your mom a chance to have you wrapped around her finger with a ring set with your birthstone: she’ll tell the story to everyone she knows! Your sister would love a fashionable initial necklace. Every teen you know would kill for a stylish key.  And if she’s the one, jewelry is definitely required.

5. Engrave it on Her Heart

A personal message added to a gift takes it to a new level, whether it’s embroidered on a jacket or engraved on the inside of a ring or on a pendant.  If it’s a romantic gift, the message should be a secret that just you two know.

Follow one of the above tips and you’ll be sure to please. Combine two or more? Your gift will be remembered for years to come.

1 December

December Blues

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As December’s skies turn gray, December’s gems are blue skies all the way.  Traditional turquoise has been superceded by modern blue topaz and tanzanite as December’s birthstones.

The beautiful blue of the sky on a summer’s day sparkles in every blue topaz. Fresh and breezy, blue topaz is one of the most versatile gems in nature’s palette. It is affordable and available in both small and large sizes, making it a designer favorite.

Blue was once the rarest color of topaz, but today it is the most common, thanks to a stable color enhancement process involving irradiation and heat that was developed in the 1970s.

Legend says that topaz dispels enchantment. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz has the power to increase strength and make its wearer invisible in times of emergency. Topaz was also said to change color in the presence of poisoned food or drink.

Tanzanite has a velvety twilight purplish-blue unlike any other gem. Mined in only one place in the world, a five-square mile area in Merelani in Tanzania near the feet of majestic Kilimanjaro, tanzanite is exceptionally rare. This gem was discovered in 1969 and named by Tiffany & Co., who was the first to bring it to market.

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.

What blue is best for you?  The noon sky of blue topaz or the velvety twilight of tanzanite?

11 November

Citrine: Fall's Color

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If autumn’s golden sunset light were captured in a gem, it would be citrine.  How appropriate, then, that citrine is a birthstone for the month of November. So many of fall’s favorite moments are reflected in its tawny facets: the flickering tongues of the first fire of the season, apple cider, golden leaves.

Citrine is the yellow shade of quartz, the gem family that gives us so many affordable beauties, including amethyst, green amethyst, rose quartz, smoky quartz, and rock crystal.

This sunny gem can set any jewelry design aglow. Often paired with amethyst, the gem on the opposite side of the color wheel, citrine also complements greens, reds, pastels, and earth tones too. At Gemvara, our customers love to complement lemony citrine with the lime shade of peridot.

Citrine’s affordability is due in part to the fact that throughout history, it’s been confused with precious topaz, another golden-hued gemstone. Citrine even shares its status as November’s birthstone with gem too.

When you discover its affordable elegance you’ll realize that citrine is as easy to wear as it is easy to own. The perfect complement to yellow gold and a warming note to sterling and white gold, citrine helps you mix all the jewelry metals in your wardrobe.

11 October

October's Colorful Choices

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Is it tribute to the beautiful colors of changing leaves?  That bright bowl of Halloween candy? If you are born in October, you have the most colorful birthstone choices of the year.

First of all there’s opal, which can have a whole rainbow inside.  Then there’s fire opal: the brightest of gems in a blazing bright day-glow orange.  Born in the fire of Mexico’s volcanoes, fire opal’s natural bright orange is unmatched in the gem kingdom. Unlike most opal, fire opal is often faceted, so you can choose sparkle as well as color. Its juicy color is just the right accent to earth tones or black and also looks great paired with other bright tones.

Pink TourmalineThen to top it off, there’s tourmaline, which comes in every color, including gorgeous pink and green. 

Pink tourmaline was an obsession for the last empress of China, who slept on a pink tourmaline pillow to inspire good dreams. The empress set off a tourmaline rush in the San Diego area at the turn of the century, buying tons of California pink tourmaline for her court. Everyone wore tourmaline buttons as badges of honor.

Green TourmalineGreen tourmaline’s restful verdant color blends well with other gems, just as green leaves make the flowers around them more lush. Green tourmaline jewelry will complement all the colors in your wardrobe too.

In addition to uniquely varied beauty, tourmaline has unusual electrical properties. Crystals acquire a polarized charge when heated or compressed.

Which color will you choose?  Well, tourmaline is the gem of intuition and creativity so if you need some help deciding which of your many-splendored birthstone choices expresses you best, maybe you could benefit from these special gem powers?

3 September

Sapphire: True Blue

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What makes the sky blue? The ancient Persians believed the earth rests on a giant sapphire and its reflection colors the heavens. Does wearing sapphire make you tell the truth? Maybe: this gem’s supposed power to make an honest woman of you is why we say loyal friends are “true blue.”

September’s birthstone is also the gem of the soul. That makes sapphire engagement rings a perfect symbol of a promise to wed. Princess Diana is among the many European royals whose engagement rings are sapphire.

Because sapphire, which comes from sappheiros, Greek for “blue,” is now synonymous with the color: many people don’t realize that the ultimate blue gem comes in other colors too. In fact, sapphire and ruby are twins separated at birth: different colored crystals of the same mineral, corundum, which comes in every color of the rainbow. Pink sapphire is even rarer than blue: in some ways it has more in common with ruby than the other colors of sapphire. Gem experts often debate where ruby ends and pink sapphire begins, since pink is really just light red. Yellow sapphire has a sunny color and enviable brilliance. White sapphire resembles diamond but is more affordable.

Not all sapphire is the perfect color when it is mined. Before it’s polished, most sapphire is heated to almost 2,000 degrees to see if its color will improve and its value increase. Heat enhancement is stable, doesn’t require any special care, and doesn’t reduce a sapphire’s value. You should assume a sapphire is heated unless a respected lab confirms it is unheated. Some retailers also sell inexpensive sapphire that has color diffused into its surface. Diffusion-treated sapphire needs to be clearly labeled since it is worth much less.

Sapphire is the gem of the fifth and 45th wedding anniversaries and the zodiac gem for Virgo. But, really, when is a gift of this beautiful gem not appropriate?

19 August

Birth & Stones

When I had my sons, I had never heard of a “push present.”  That term didn’t exist yet. But the idea did: it’s obviously a good idea to mark such a big life transition with a piece of jewelry that celebrates it.  However, I did fib a bit to my husband when I told him it was a long-standing tradition in my family that the mother gets a gift of the child’s birthstone when the baby is born.  So I got lovely pearls when my first son was born in June.  I planned the second child better: he was born in April so I got diamonds.

I also passed this “tradition” on to all of the men with whom I worked and bullied them into buying these birth gifts. So I have a lot of experience with birth gifts and can offer some advice.

Do not, under any circumstance, plan your  “push present” before the baby is born.  For one thing, babies aren’t known for punctuality so the birthstone may not be what you think it will be.  But the main reason to wait is that once a man experiences the literal meaning of the word labor, he will buy a spectacular piece.  I know when my first son was born, my husband was going to buy me a pearl ring and came back from the jewelry store with a ring, string of pearls, and a bracelet.  And now I think of that adorable baby every time I wear them.

22 July

Peridot: Lime Twist

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Lime-green peridot is born deep in the earth in the heat and pressure of the volcano that will carry it to the surface, often explosively. Because of its fiery birth, in Hawaii peridot is treasured as the goddess Pele’s tears. The island of Oahu even has beaches made out of tiny grains of peridot.

The fresh color of peridot is instantly recognizable, an essential part of its structure and its appeal. If you love citrus tones or earth tones, you’ll find that peridot is essential to your jewelry wardrobe too. Its yellow-green hue is also an ideal foil for sky blue. A peridot cocktail ring is a cool accent to everything you wear.

Heat and beaches? Cool cocktails with a twist of lime? Peridot is definitely the right choice for August’s birthstone.

Although its spring color is the essence of earth’s green gardens, peridot isn’t exclusive to our planet. Peridot crystals, some big enough to facet into gems, have also been discovered inside meteorites.

Of course, the peridot in your ring isn’t from a beach or a meteor but it probably does come from an ancient volcano in the United States. Today most peridot is mined, often by hand, by Native Americans on the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona.

In addition to being the birthstone for August, peridot is also the zodiac stone for Leo and the 16th anniversary gem.

The ancient Romans called peridot “evening emerald,” since its green color did not darken by candlelight. The ancient Egyptians prospected for peridot by night because they thought it was too bright to be seen by day. By day or by night, this green gem is an increasingly popular way to add a fresh squeeze of color to everything you wear.

9 July

Ruby: Gem of Passion

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No one can ignore a lady in red. Worn by passionate women with a flair for the dramatic, ruby is the gem of courage and emotion. Its fiery brilliance attracts the eye and quickens the pulse.

In legend, ruby is the gem of the heart with the power to kindle the flame of desire. Burning with an unquenchable fire, ruby has long been a symbol of undying love, making it a popular choice for gemstone engagement rings.

Because ruby derives its name from the Latin word for red, it’s not surprising that ruby is a red carpet favorite. Like red lipstick, it’s bold and classic at the same time. Salma Hayek and Naomi Watts both turned heads in Cannes this year in eye-catching ruby earrings.

Couples looking for something more daring than diamonds are choosing ruby engagement rings, reviving a tradition from European royalty.  Sarah Ferguson received a ruby engagement ring from Prince Andrew.

The epitome of red, ruby inspires jewelry designers to the height of drama. Just look at how its bold color adds an extra dimension to these rings by Jessica Behzad.

Ruby is the birthstone for July, the fifteenth and fortieth anniversary gem, and the zodiac gem for the sign of Cancer. But this bold gem can’t be put into a box: those who love it are born to wear it, no matter what the calendar says.

1 July

Pearls: Organic Perfection

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According to ancient Chinese legend, pearls are made of moonlight, which lends them a celestial glow.

Today, pearls are made for the spotlight, adding luster to most of the world’s most powerful women. To name just a few, Nancy Pelosi, Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, and Angelina Jolie are known for wearing pearls. June’s birthstone, pearls are the organic gem, created when a mollusk like an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre, the “mother of pearl.” Pearl farms promote biodiversity, by creating a clean, sustainable marine industry that shelters other sea creatures too.

Some pearls form naturally in oysters. These natural pearls are very rare and valuable. In 1917, Cartier purchased its Fifth Avenue building in New York with a natural pearl necklace.

Most pearls today are cultured by man. A shell bead or mantle tissue is placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water for at least a year, sometimes longer. The mollusk covers the implanted shell or with layer after layer of luster creating a cultured pearl.

Although the culturing of pearls began in Japan with the saltwater white Akoya pearl, today the majority of the cultured pearls on the market, even traditional-looking white strands, are freshwater pearls cultured in the lakes of China. China has added beautiful natural pastel shades to the pearl palette: lovely warm pinks, oranges, and purples.

In the warmer waters of the South Pacific, bigger mollusks produce South Sea cultured pearls and black Tahitian cultured pearls, which come in larger sizes. South Sea golden cultured pearls are the world’s most valued pearls for their buttery color and natural satiny luster.

Natural cultured pearl colors are much more valuable than dyed pearl colors, which often look too vivid or harsh to come from nature. In addition to color, the quality of a cultured pearl is judged by its luster, the reflectivity and shine of the surface, and orient, which is the soft

iridescence caused by the refraction of light by the layers of nacre. Also look for any flaws or spots in the nacre: the best pearls have an even smooth texture. Other factors that affect value are the regularity of the shape, size, and color.

Pearls today are one of the best values in fine jewelry. With freshwater cultured pearls today priced considerably less than a mansion on Fifth Avenue, it doesn’t make sense to settle for imitations. Cultured pearls can be distinguished from imitation pearls by a very simple test. Take a pearl and rub it gently against the edge of a tooth. Cultured (and natural pearls) will feel slightly rough, like fine sandpaper, because of the texture of natural nacre. Imitations will feel as smooth as glass because the surface is molded or painted on a smooth bead.

10 May

Emerald: Go Green

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Emerald is the gem of goddesses. In ancient Rome, it was dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love.  The Incas had an emerald goddess the size of an ostrich egg. Smaller gems were smashed in sacrifice to her.

In ancient Egypt, mummies were buried with an emerald on their necks to symbolize rebirth. Cleopatra’s emeralds were the talk of the ancient world.

Both Jacqueline Kennedy and Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson, the woman King Edward gave up his throne to marry, had emerald engagement rings.

Emeralds also adorn the goddesses of the screen, from Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich to Angelina Jolie and Julianne Moore.

Because the rich green color of emerald is the color of spring, it has long symbolized love and rebirth. As the gem of Venus, it was also considered an aid to fertility.

In addition to reigning as the birthstone for May, emerald is also the gem of the 20th and 35th anniversary, a suitable tribute to life-long love.

But no one who loves emerald should have to wait that long! Since this green gem symbolizes new beginnings, it’s the perfect symbol to celebrate a fresh start at a new job, a new house, or a recommitment ceremony.

Contemplating a new workout regime, a new blog, a vow to hold your temper? Surely any promise to turn over a new leaf will be much easier to keep while wearing emerald! So indulge your inner goddess and give it a try.

Angelina Jolie Wears Emeralds

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